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Seattle Hosed Itself
Seattle's settlement with the Sonics is amazingly bad. Leave out the emotion of being fan and what it means to lose your team. Look at it from a business perspective:

-- There's no guarantee of an expansion team replacing the Sonics. Only a promise from the NBA to "notify" the city when an existing team is for sale. Now there's a concession. A notification? That's nothing. Literally nothing.

-- The $30 million contingency fee will never happen. To get the money, the state has to pass a Key Arena remodel funding package in the 2009 session. Why would the state do that now without a team when it wouldn't do the same thing with a team?

-- The city settled for $45 million. Clay Bennett said if the team were forced to stay in Seattle the final two years of the lease it would lose $60 million. He made $15 million off the settlement.

-- Had the Sonics stayed for two years, the city would have made $10 million in rent and another $11 million in arena revenue. That's $22 million and doesn't include revenue from parking. $20 million from the settlement goes to pay off arena debt from the 1994 renovation, but that's not found money because the debt was to be paid with arena revenue -- revenue that now won't be coming in. So, that's $42 million that's basically a wash, leaving a measly $3 million in profit from the settlement. The Sonics were worth only $3 million to the city? 41 years of hoops history is worth $3 million?

-- The Sonics' team history goes to Oklahoma City. OKC will "share" the history -- the stats, the championship trophy, records, etc. -- if Seattle gets a team within five years. After that, the history stays with the OKC team. How would "sharing" the history even work? How do two franchises share records? The only reason Clay Bennett retained the right to the history is so he could sell it back to the city if Seattle gets another team.

-- The city had the leverage of the lawsuit, which was an hour away from being decided before the city caved. Most legal analysts said the city had an iron-clad lease. The city expected to win the lawsuit. Clay Bennett had every reason to settle because the longer he stayed in Seattle, the more money he lost. And yet the city could only extract an extra $3 mil from him?

-- Even if the city lost the lawsuit, an appeal kicks the can down the road, and the sides would still have to negotiate a buyout. It's not like the city would have been left empty handed. If the city wins the lawsuit, it has two years to figure out a solution. There was no reason to settle at this point. The city had the leverage and it still blinked.

-- In sum, Clay Bennett gets a new team for Oklahoma and saves $15 million over the next two years, while the city gets no future team, very little money and doesn't get to hang onto the team's history just in case. What did the city get out of the settlement?

Amazing.

Posted by Jason Thornbury at 7/3/2008 9:45:00 AM

Comments (2)

So Long Sonics
Pretty disappointed to hear the city of Seattle cut a deal with the Sonics and settled the Key Arena lease lawsuit for $75 million. Say hello to the Oklahoma City Sonics ... or whatever they're going be called. I understand that's a large chunk of cash, but you can't just replace a civic institution like a professional basketball team, especially one that's been apart of the region's landscape for 41 years. Who knows, maybe the city would have lost the lawsuit anyway, and even if the city won, that would only keep the Sonics around for the final two years for the lease until they bolted. But I would fought the case to the bitter end.

The details haven't emerged, but even with a promise of an expansion team and the Sonics' name, colors and history (like the in Cleveland Browns' case) I wouldn't sign that deal if I were the mayor. The granolas around town who want more dough for art projects and bike trails could vote me out of office; it wouldn't matter. Then again, competent government leadership wouldn't have let the whole ruckus get to this point in the first place. But it's doubtful an expansion team would come to Seattle anyway -- too many hurdles.

Congratulations, David Stern, you now have an NBA franchise in the sixth-most toothless state in the country.

Update: The settlement gives no guarantee of a future team in Seattle. And it's not a $75 million settlement. It's $45 million buyout, with another $30 million if the city doesn't have a team by 2013 OR if the state legislature approves funding in 2009 for a Key Arena upgrade. That last part isn't going happen, so basically the city sold out for $45 million, $25 million of which covers the two years left on the lease. So, the city made an extra $20 million by letting the Sonics leave. Big deal.

Posted by Jason Thornbury at 7/2/2008 4:43:00 PM

Comments (3)

Baron Davis to Clippers
Reports surfaced Tuesday night that Baron Davis has decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, potentially teaming up with Elton Brand to try to lead the Clippers back to respectability. On paper, Davis and Brand would form a point guard/power forward combination to rival any of the other outstanding such duos in the West: Chris Paul/David West, Deron Williams/Carlos Boozer, Tony Parker/Tim Duncan, Steve Nash/Amare Stoudemire, and Jason Kidd/Dirk Nowitzki. So, how would this move translate to actual team success? And more importantly, how would it affect the fantasy fortunes of all involved?

If the parts mesh together, the Clippers could field a team to compete with the Hornets and Jazz as up-and-comers attempting to break into the Lakers/Spurs power structure. Brand is an underrated defender, and he should team with Chris Kaman protect the paint on defense. On offense, the question is whether a team with five scoring threats (Davis/Cuttino Mobley/Al Thornton/Brand/Kaman) can find a way to share the ball in an efficient way. Having a strong point guard helps that process, and despite being known as a scoring threat Davis has traditionally been a good playmaker as well when he wants to be. If he can facilitate the team offense to get both Brand and Kaman their touches, this team is dangerous.

That segues well into the fantasy fortunes. Kaman showed last season that he could potentially be a 20/10 guy himself with Brand out, but with Brand back his offense may suffer a bit. And with Davis in the fold as well, shots could be even harder to come by. I expect Brand and Davis to both average near 20 points, while Kaman is likely closer to 15. Thornton and promising rookie Eric Gordon should also be in the low-double figures. On the plus side, the presence of so many offensive threats should minimize the opposing defense's ability to focus on any one of them, leading to better shooting percentages and fewer turnovers.

Ultimately, Brand and Davis should not have their fantasy value affected much by this trade, with each worthy of a top-3 round pick. Kaman is more of a risk, but he shouldn't fall outside of the top-5 rounds. Thornton and Gordon make nice mid/late round upside picks, while Mobley becomes nothing more than a roto role player. All in all, the Clippers now appear to be one of the more relevant roto teams in the league.

Posted by Professor at 7/2/2008 7:52:00 AM
Comments (4)

The O.J. Mayo scandal: do you care?
On the Rotowire staff message board, one writer posted that he didn't care about the recent "scandal" involving whether Mayo took money from pro scouts in college. He wrote:

Take what you can get. The 19-year old rule is a stupid conspiracy between college and NBA. It has nothing to do with academics. I hope all those guys take the money and then quit before the end of their second semester.

I don't think there's any pretense that the 19-year-old rule (or, rather, wait-a-year-after-finishing-high-school rule) has anything to do with academics. David Stern has said it's to ensure they get people who are more physically and emotionally mature (see Korleone Young). That's only partially true -- it's just that NBA owners were tired of having to throw first-round money at unproven high school busts, and it made a ton of business sense to force those players to be vetted with a season at a big conference D1 school. The players association didn't care, as those bench spots wasted on 18-year-olds were eating up jobs for over-the-hill has-beens. With the owners and players aligned on this issue, it's no surprise they came up with the rule.

Back to Mayo, there's too much smoke here for there not to be a fire. If anyone caught the ESPN expose, despite the fact that it had some of the earmarks of sensationalist journalism and it appeared that supposed "whistleblower" Lewis Johnson just came forward because he got cut out of the money loop (I laughed out loud when he said he came forward because his conscience got the best of him), Rodney Guillory looked like a deer in the headlights when confronted. Do I care? I suppose there's a bit of an idealist in me that would like to think that purely amateur sports can remain purely amateur. But the more I think about it, the more I think that college athletes should get paid -- I'm tired of the B.S. that they're getting a free education (pardon the pun) -- since they generate so much revenue for the schools. And when in college at a big D1 school, I saw too many basketball players driving around in Escalades for it to be much of a coincidence to me. If I were O.J. Mayo, knew I was going to college on a pretense, and knew that I had a guaranteed payday the next year unless I lost an arm or a leg, I'd think long and hard about living that one year as comfortably as I could.

That being said, would any of you blame Mayo for what he allegedly did, if he did it (sounds like another former USC athlete...)? Should he be disqualified somehow, or USC be penalized with lost games? Should the Bill Duffy Agency be sanctioned? Do you not care about it? If you think this is a big problem in amateur sports, how would you propose to fix it?

Posted by Bret Cohen at 6/29/2008 10:18:00 AM

Comments (2)

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8/13/2006 - 8/19/2006
8/6/2006 - 8/12/2006
7/30/2006 - 8/5/2006
7/23/2006 - 7/29/2006
7/16/2006 - 7/22/2006
7/9/2006 - 7/15/2006
7/2/2006 - 7/8/2006
6/25/2006 - 7/1/2006
6/18/2006 - 6/24/2006
6/11/2006 - 6/17/2006
6/4/2006 - 6/10/2006
5/28/2006 - 6/3/2006
5/21/2006 - 5/27/2006
5/14/2006 - 5/20/2006
5/7/2006 - 5/13/2006
4/30/2006 - 5/6/2006
4/23/2006 - 4/29/2006
4/16/2006 - 4/22/2006
4/9/2006 - 4/15/2006
4/2/2006 - 4/8/2006
3/26/2006 - 4/1/2006
3/19/2006 - 3/25/2006
3/12/2006 - 3/18/2006
3/5/2006 - 3/11/2006
2/26/2006 - 3/4/2006
2/19/2006 - 2/25/2006
2/12/2006 - 2/18/2006
2/5/2006 - 2/11/2006
1/29/2006 - 2/4/2006
1/22/2006 - 1/28/2006
1/15/2006 - 1/21/2006
1/8/2006 - 1/14/2006
1/1/2006 - 1/7/2006