Saturday, June 30, 2007

Are They Just Going to Leave Town?



You look at a picture like that, you hope they aren't just going to follow Clay-Clay out of town.

I think Frank Hughes, as usual, said it best today:

"Is it worthwhile to get emotionally involved with something that you know may be unapologetically torn from your grasp in a short, finite period?"


These are some weird times for lifelong Sonics fans. I mean you want to let yourself get into the moves, think about how they could be a nightmare match-up if they keep Rashard and roll him out with KD and Green, all 6-8 to 6-10 guys that can score from multiple spots on the floor.

Further, I'm going to miss Ray-Ray, but let's be honest. He is on the downslope of his career, I don't care what he or anyone else says. The double ankle surgery is troubling to say the least, and while he's in amazing shape and not likely to get fat ala Mitch Richmond, you still have to consider his health as time goes forward. And there are also things to consider, like shots and touches for the "NEXT" great one in KD, and if Ray was on the team still, would he share the ball with the teenage superstar? Or would he be jealous? Like Ray or hate him, he's a player that demands a lot of shots. That's sure to have been a consideration for Presti in thinking about Durant and how those 2 would co-exist.

But that dead moose in the room is the arena issue that just won't get out of your head. I hope the Muckleshoots stuff comes to fruition. I had a good talk with a friend of mine at work on Friday, and this is what we think:

1) Was this a good basketball move? We think so. They are trading Ray-Ray at just the right time. Next year at this time, to think they could get the #5 pick, a servicable combo guard and a solid bench guy in Wally for Ray Allen and a 2nd rounder? I highly doubt it. The Sonics are dying for some size and defense in the backcourt, and if they have West play a lot at the 1, they have just that. Sort of an Antonio Daniels-type presence back there, and he can score a little bit too. In fact, Supersonicsoul's Nussbaum had a decent little top-10 list about West that might interest you. In a nutshell, he's much, MUCH better than Earl or Ridnour, and probably fits the Presti vision of team-first defense better than we can even fathom. Funny as it sounds, West might have been the key to this whole deal.

Jeff Green is an interesting player. Not a spectacular high-flyer that fills Sportscenter reels, he's just a very sound player regarded as an outstanding team-first guy who can play multiple positions, is smart, plays excellent defense and is a really good passer. In Presti's view, he might be the absolute perfect fit with Durant, plus the two have been friends for a few years playing hoops in DC.

2) Or was this just a slash-n-burn to the payroll, and Clay-Clay will gladly let Rashard walk? That might be the biggest indication yet. IF the Sonics actually bring back Rashard, that shows that the move to trade away Ray was made more for basketball decisions and they could put a very interesting product on the floor next year. But if Rashard flees and they don't do anything to replace him, such as letting him walk sans a sign-and-trade? That's really, really, really bad news.

Why? Several reasons really, but here's the big conspiracy in all this. I hate to turn this into a will they stay or go deal, but, it has to be addressed. Clay is set to lose TONS of money over the next several years. It's actually hard to grasp just how much, but it's staggering. Think of the math in these terms:

- He paid $350 million for a team that was worth by some estimates to be in the low-200 million mark. Instant loss right off the top of at least $100 million.

- If he ever gets his pie-in-the-sky arena (he won't), well, guess what? It will be years before the building is ready. As in, 2010 most likely. You know what the means? That means 07-08, 08-09, and 09-10 will be seasons played in the same lousy Key Arena, where they claim to be losing between $10 to even $20 million a year?

- If he gets his dream and the NBA lets him bail for OKC, well, the streets aren't exactly lined with gold either. There's the little issue of relocation fees, which, according to who you read, the word is that it's at LEAST $50 million to get into the room, and some speculate that the NBA fee would be closer to $60 million when it's all said and done. OUCH. The NBA will want to make him pay dearly for trading in a market for another that's at least 30 notches below Seattle, and breaking a lease in the process, something that's frowned upon and is really BAD for the sport, period. That's cash, all up front.

- And, of course, it's not just the relocation fee, but there's the other little matter of the Key Arena lease, which according to SonicsCentral.com's Brian Robinson, is seriously strong and is going to be difficult to break. In fact, the language of the lease clearly states that the Mayor's office can demand the lease be honored until the end. So if Clay-Clay tries to buy out the last couple of years, it's going to be a very pretty penny to get out. The city will also want to recoup damages from all the revenue that disappears for local businesses, and I think Frank Hughes once speculated that the city might get as much as $40 million out of him if he leaves early.

- Finally, if he does end up in OKC, he's going to continue to lose money! This is what's lost on a lot of people in how short-sighted the whole thing is. He has already stated in his wife's newspaper that Ford Center is not up to NBA standards and can't sustain long-term success, and will need the extra luxury suites, premium seats, etc, to get the higher revenues. So in the short-term, he'd be dealing with a building just like Key Arena. Granted the fight to get that extra stuff will be a lot easier on his home turf, and the city would probably give him a blank check based on the civic gift he's giving them, but still, he's in for more losses even when he gets home.

See where all this is going?? The man is losing cash with every breath he takes, and it's not going to end anytime soon. In the end, he can't win.

Here's what we think IS going to happen.

1) Later this summer, maybe September or even early October, the Muckleshoots come out with a great arena plan. It will involve very little public money, in fact in one interview on KJR a rep said that the public will have zero involvement with the land or the arena itself, and the only thing they will need to do is help pay for freeway access improvements around the arena, which will be easily swallowed by the most spineless politicians.
2) Bennett will reject the proposal, citing the distance from downtown Seattle and his seasonticket base in Bellevue and north as too far of a drive. Of course he'll ignore the fact that the 24 miles from Seattle is actually less than the Palace at Auburn Hills, and it's working just fine for Detroit, but that will be his way out. At least he THINKS that will be the way out!
3) He will apply for relocation at 12:01 on 10/31, and ask for the vote to be "fast tracked" by the board of governors so he can begin preparing for the move the day the 07-08 season is over.
4) David Stern will look at the Muckleshoot proposal and realize that it's in the best interest of HIS LEAGUE, of David Stern himself, to keep the team in the region. And, as he's said before, if a feasible arena situation emerges, he won't let the team move. Stern will advise the governors to vote NO on the move, and of course, they'll follow his lead and the request will be rejected.
5) This is where it could be ugly for Clay-Clay. At that point he'll have two choices. Door #1 is accept the Muckleshoots deal, the team stays here and that's it. He then asks the city for some relief on the lease, hoping to ease the pain over the last few years he's in the Key before moving to Auburn. He then cuts his losses and sells to a local ownership group led by David Sabey, and there are already rumors that Sabey is putting together a group right now, and some even speculated that Sabey's already made an offer to buy the team from Bennett.

Door #2 is an uglier option for Bennett. Stern demands he stay in the region, or else sell and get the hell out of the way. Stern and the NBA then does their own search and brokers a deal with the Sabey ownership group, he sets the price and the terms, and Clay-Clay goes home with his tail between his legs.

Now what will happen? Who knows. Maybe Bennett has been prepared to lose hundreds of millions this whole time and this is going down just as he predicted. Maybe he's going to recoup those losses from under the table deals in OKC when he brings the team "home". Or, maybe he's just so fed up with the whole thing and deep down knows that he can't win no matter what and just wants to stop the bleeding. All I know is it's going to be a very interesting next few months! Read more ...plus comments

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thanks For Stopping By, Junior



The interesting thing is that he said in a lengthly post-game interview that he WOULD like to return to Seattle and retire here. Does that mean they'll try and trade for him? Does it mean they'll hopefully try and sign him after 2008? Or does it mean he finishes his career elsewhere, then signs one of those 1-day deals ala Emmitt Smith? Time will tell. I can say this though, after seeing a couple of those bombs he crushed today, uh, yeah, the kid can STILL rake! Read more ...plus comments

Friday, June 22, 2007

There's Something in My Eye

And I think it's Junior's return tonight! I cannot wait for the ovation he gets tonight. He's a tough emotional nut to crack, and is typical of Junior he's downplaying the whole thing right now, but if anything is going to stir his emotions, ever, it's going to be tonight. I can't wait.



Outside of the 1997 Apple Cup win at Husky Stadium where I cried like a newborn when it was all over, and the Seahawks NFC title game, the 1995 ALDS was the most amazing, emotional, fantastic moment in my sports life, and I'll never forget Junior's dash around the bases to win Game 5. To this day, I can still see that ball running up the left-field line off Edgar's amazing swing, and my eyes going from Gerald Williams running to the wall to picking up Junior absolutely FLYING around second, and thinking "OH MY GOD, THEY ARE GOING TO SEND HIM!" The man was floating, running at a speed that I've never, ever seen Junior hit and maybe he's never hit that gear again. I looked again back as Tony Fernandez caught the relay and make the quick throw, and then looked to the plate to see Junior sliding in ahead of the throw, and then it was eruption-city. What an unbelievable ride. Maybe the best thing of all was after they lost game 6 to the Tribe, and all the fans stayed in the Kingdome cheering. We didn't want to leave, didn't want it to end. I remember the Kingdome diamond vision cameras were just panning around the entire stadium, slowly, capturing all the fans that were still there, cheering, for 30 minutes after the game. I remember when the camera panned to Dave in the broadcast booth, and right in the middle of the postgame show, he stopped talking, stood up and waved and appeared to be choked up, and the crowd went bananas. I remember the M's players coming back out onto the field and throwing sweatbands, hats, t-shirts, etc, into the crowd, waving and thanking them. And I even remember Peter Gammons and Omar Vizquel doing an interview on the field, and the crowd was cheering so loudly you would have thought it was a Cleveland celebration, and Omar and Gammons were both amazed at what they were experiencing. Now THOSE WERE THE DAYS.


Meanwhile, look at that photo, and think about that power in the everyday lineup. A-Rod, Junior, Edgar and Buhner? A-Rod and Junior were legit MVP candidates, Edgar is the greatest DH of all-time and one of the best pure righthanded hitters of our generation, and oh yeah, Buhner could hit 40 jacks and drive in 100+. Just goes to show you that to win the whole thing, you gotta follow the pitching! Just like we look at a photo like that and shake our heads over how the hell they didn't win it all back in the day, the Yankee fans will look at photos of A-Rod, Jeter, Sheffield, Matsui, Giambi, etc, from the last few years and ask the same questions. Or Mets fans will look at Beltran, Delgado, Jose Reyes and David Wright and wonder the same thing. It's all about the arms. St Louis' pitching got hot last October, and Detroit's young guns blew through the AL like a hot knife through butter. Think back to teams like the Marlins, with those great young arms, or even the Angels and their power bullpen. The Red Sox could rake with anyone when they won it, but it was the pitching of Lowe, Schilling and Pedro plus the hot closer in Foulke that got them their title. Even the ChiSox of a few years ago with their pitching and power closer, or their opponent, Houston, with Oswalt, Rocket, Pettitte and Lidge in lights-out fashion. Follow the pitching!

I guess it gives me hope that someday the M's will put it all together. They have a pitchers ballpark, and they have a young stud to anchor the rotation if he can stay healthy. Maybe they'll catch lightning in a bottle, someday. Read more ...plus comments

Friday, June 08, 2007

Ouch!

Great find by AOL's Michael David Smith. This is one painful interview:



And they say home-schooled kids don't have "social" issues.....NAAAAHHH!

Oh yeah, there's a new little look at the Pac-10 impact players out on AOL. Now with mugshots! Hooray AOL.

Sorry, no Coug made the cut (only 3 on offense, 3 on defense, and 3 top potential newcomers). I tried to not make it a USC love-fest, but it's pretty difficult at this point. Think of it this way - we're down to Dwight Tardy and Chris Ivory at running back. USC has a nation-high 79 lettermen returning, including TEN Parade All-American running backs on their roster! Their level of talent is unbelievable. Read more ...plus comments

Friday, June 01, 2007

LeBron Was Amazing, but Better than MJ?

The guys at AOL have an interesting post about LeBron, basically debating his freakish 48 points, including 29 of the last 30 of his team's totals as he willed them to victory in a way we haven't seen, since, well, the original #23 was shredding RIP CITY. Remember this?:



MJ was sick that night. I still remember the goose bumps back then, where he was just on another plane.

Still, you have to put LeBron in the top-5 all time for single game amazingness. What a fantastic player, and still ONLY 22?!?! What were YOU doing when you were 22!??! Just unreal. The fadeaway 3's, shooting over the top of double-triple teams or going around and/or through the vaunted Detroit D, he just did it in a way that again, we haven't seen since MJ. Even in Seattle where we're losing hope by the day, it was still cool to have a reminder like last night to show you how fantastic it really can be to be a fan of the NBA. Even Clay Bennett can't take that away.

Read more ...plus comments