After a recent preseason game at Key Arena in Seattle, many have wondered about a realistic return for the SuperSonics to the NBA.
If there is not a league expansion, one of the current organizations would have to change cities and take on the SuperSonics identity. When asked about the recent talk about Seattle and which team would have to relocate to make room for a franchise there, Tim McMahon speculated that the Grizzlies were a possibility (via ESPN):
“I still think Memphis is the one to keep an eye on there and that’s several years from now … Let’s see what their attendance looks like in a few years from now.”
Brian Windhorst said that Key Arena, which is where the SuperSonics would play if and when they franchise is reinstated, would be ready in 2021. He also mentioned that the organization may have an “arena out” opportunity that same year.
While team owner Robert Pera has said that he has no interest in moving the team, it would be ridiculously unlikely for him to announce such a huge intention this far in advanced.
Windhorst had previously mentioned Memphis as a “wildcard” option for a move to the Pacific Northwest. However, others have suggested that it would be a significant challenge to move the Grizzlies in the next nine years. Here’s what Geoff Calkins has said about the situation (via Commercial Appeal):
“It would be hard for any owner to move the Grizzlies before 2027. The lease binds the Grizzlies to Memphis through the end of the 2020-2021 season. After that, there is a gradually-descending termination fee that alarmists like to point out (correctly) would not be sufficient to keep the team in town. But the lease has another half dozen provisions that would make it hard to move the team before 2027.”
Such a change would still be years away, but as development continues in the Emerald City, it’s certainly something worth occasionally checking the pulse on the situation.