The Los Angeles Clippers are likely to change hands soon, from disgraced current owner Donald Sterling to Microsoft billionaire Steve Ballmer. The $2 billion price tag is a record for the sale of an NBA franchise.
This is bad news for Seattleites who hope to have the Sonics back as soon as possible. Ballmer and his deep pockets are now out of the picture as prospective owners, so now Seattle has fewer dollars in our corner when the next opportunity to snag a team arises.
Ballmer was part of the ownership group that sought to buy the Sacramento Kings last year and relocate the team to Seattle.
The other major owner of a resurrected Sonics team would have been Chris Hansen, a Seattle native running a hedge fund in San Francisco. Hansen sullied his reputation last year by making shady financial contributions to oppose efforts on the ballot to keep the Kings in Sacramento. His appeal as a buyer of a team is now badly compromised.
Hansen and Ballmer have also reportedly made offers to buy the Milwaukee Bucks and the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the current ownership of those teams made a point of guaranteeing they remain where they are.
Ballmer’s purchase of the Clippers is reportedly contingent on a commitment to keep the team in Los Angeles. The huge southern California market is a part of what makes the team worth the huge investment. The Clippers won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
The prospects of an expansion team being created for Seattle in the near future are slim to none, as stated by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
So keep dreaming, Sonics faithful. Seattle might be ready for an NBA franchise, but for the time being, there are none to be found.