Over the weekend, Gary Washburn -- a former Seattle Sonics beat writer who now plies his trade in Boston -- reported some comments from David Stern on basketball's future in the Emerald City.
"It would be my hope that within the timeframe that you mentioned, five years, that if everything works out perfectly, there would be a new arena and new team in Seattle. That's always, for the board of governors, but I know that many governors are favorably inclined."
The presumption has been that Seattle will get a new team as it lost its old one: relocation. But I don't think that Stern, who has been a tireless advocate for Sacramento, would suggest that "everything working out perfectly" would include the Kings leaving Sacramento or, say, the Bucks leaving Milwaukee. I would think that everything working out perfectly might entail Milwaukee and Wisconsin finding funding to keep the Bucks there (where they've enjoyed great support since the '60s) and that the Maloofs might stop Maloofing things up and the Kings would get their new arena in Sacramento.
Where would that leave Seattle?
The owners and their sycophants talked about contraction during the lockout. Everyone knew it to be a lie. Sports are business, and the league's owners don't actually care about talent dilution. That's a fan issue. Fans would prefer to see benches stocked with starter-quality players instead of high-ranking D-Leaguers. Owners don't really care -- they all think they can get the best bench players anyway.
Owners do care about revenue. Expanding back into Seattle -- a top-10 U.S. market -- expands the league's revenue base. Expanding into Seattle nets the league a hefty expansion fee, one split between current owners. And expansion gets Seattle into the league cheaper than team purchase would, and it solves Chris Hansen's No. 1 current problem.
The NBA likes to do these things in twos. Could Kansas City get a team? That could lead to minor re-alignment -- Memphis or New Orleans could move to the East, K.C. and Seattle would rejoin the West. The league could even switch to four-team divisions like the NFL. (The California Division!)
Maybe I'm reading too optimistically into some random comments. But hell, it's better than the alternative, which we certainly get enough of.