The official position around here (“here” being “within 20 feet of my desk”) is that the Sonics aren’t going anywhere in the near future and definitely aren’t coming here (“here” being “Oklahoma City”) this fall..
And Joel Litvin, president of NBA league and basketball operations, says so himself:
Although Hornets owner George Shinn and NBA commissioner David Stern have both vowed to return the Hornets to New Orleans following the 2006-07 season, the Seattle Sonics have widely been assumed to relocate here in the event that the franchise’s new Oklahoma-based ownership group is not successful in acquiring a new arena.
Litvin, however, said that won’t be the case.
“It will be without a team after this season,” Litvin said of Oklahoma City. “But it’s got to be a natural next spot in the event of expansion or relocation. We’re not currently planning to expand further, and we hope not to have teams relocating, so we can’t offer any promises.
“But we can say that the city has very quickly moved to the top of the list of cities that are out there without an NBA team, but one that we all know can support a team, which they’ve done for two years in a very extraordinary way.”
A lot can happen between now and, say, 2010, when the Sonics’ infamous KeyArena lease runs out, or 2012, when the Hornets’ less-infamous New Orleans Arena lease runs out.
And nobody, so far as I can tell, is making noises about expansion, which we should assume is off the table. (Any expansion would likely be to 32 teams, which suggests one in the West presumably Oklahoma City and one in the East. The most plausible alternative would be to add two Western teams and shift one existing team to the East, but who would get moved? Minnesota? Memphis? New Orleans, fercryingoutloud?)