SEATTLE As the SuperSonics pack for the move to Oklahoma City, basketball fans and city officials were hopeful about the provisions of the team's departure deal that could lead to a new NBA franchise in Seattle.
But meeting those requirements will be no easy task. Basketball boosters will have to win over a balky state Legislature and local voters who have grown weary of building stadiums for pro sports teams.
The biggest linchpin in the process is a proposed $300 million renovation of KeyArena, which needs approval from the Washington state Legislature to cover $75 million. Another $75 million would come from the city of Seattle with $150 million from private investors.
"(Seattle) is ready to do its part. Local investors have stepped up. Now, the state Legislature must act," Seattle mayor Greg Nickels said.
Caught in the middle is the basketball fan in Seattle, who now must accept the reality that the green and gold of the SuperSonics is now a historic item.
The team is headed to Oklahoma City after 41 years and one NBA title in Seattle. The championship banners, the 1979 title trophy andthe retired jerseys of Jack Sikma, Lenny Wilkens and Nate McMillan will remain in storage in Seattle in the hopes that the SuperSonics name and colors will be resurrected.But if those jerseys ever hang in the KeyArena rafters again, perhaps alongside the numbers of more recent Sonics heroes such as Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, it will mean many obstacles have been overcome. Wednesday's settlement came with the blessing of NBA commissioner David Stern, but without the guarantee of a future team, leaving some Seattle fans feeling betrayed by city officials and the NBA.
NEW ARENAS DEAL: Gilbert Arenas has agreed to re-sign with the Washington Wizards for $111 million over six years, essentially taking millions less so that his team could have more financial flexibility, two newspapers reported Thursday. Arenas told the Washington Times and Washington Post that he was offered a maximum deal in the neighborhood of $127 million on Tuesday. "I'm basically giving back $16 million," Arenas told the Washington Times
HORNETS RE-SIGN PAUL: Chris Paul and the Hornets reached a contract agreement Thursday that could keep the All-Star point guard with the team for at least the next four seasons. Lance Young, Paul's agent, said Paul agreed to a three-year extension with a player's option for a fourth year. The total value of the deal is $68 million. Paul, who recently was selected to play for the United States in the Olympics, has one season remaining on his current contract. Under league rules, the first day the Hornets can formalize Paul's new contract is July 9. Meanwhile, Utah point guard Deron Williams will meet with Jazz management next week to work on a contract extension.
BEASLEY BACK AT PRACTICE: Michael Beasley returned to practice with the Miami Heat on Thursday, one day after the No. 2 overall pick in last week's NBA draft was knocked out of his first official summer-league workout with a chest bruise. Beasley was inadvertently elbowed by a teammate during a defensive drill about 45 minutes after Miami opened its summer-league camp Wednesday. He was taken to a doctor for evaluation and treatment, and he did not participate with his teammates Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Beasley returned for a non-contact session Thursday afternoon, the team said.