The Grizzlies are for sale. That is no secret. Here is why I think it makes sense for them to end up in Seattle. It is practical and satisfies all the necessary criteria. This does not mean I want the Grizzlies to move or that some ownership group should purchase them under false pretenses, but it just makes sense. Let’s take a look at the case for Seattle.
The ownership group. A Ballmer-based ownership group would be good for the league. They are stable, will be able to ride the recession...not unscathed...but rather unbroken. Ballmer's group has the financial and political resources necessary to make it work in Seattle. They've already offered $75 million towards an arena upgrade which means they are serious.
The Arena; Regardless of it being the flashiest arena in the league - the Seattle Center Coliseum is a viable turn-key arena that can quickly accommodate a team on the fly. Does it need upgrades? Yes. What are they and who determines what is necessary? The City? The league? Schultz could not get an arena deal done because it had just been upgraded less then ten years after he bought the team and Seattle was still paying off two other new ball parks. Bennett didn't want an arena deal done - everyone knows that. In this new landscape the city will be more willing to work with a local ownership group who is already putting up their own money and is no threat of leaving. With the other stadiums debt paid off you can justifiably look to start upgrading the Coliseum - again as part of a total Seattle Center upgrade/expansion.
The Seattle market; Seattle is a top 15 market that supported a basketball team for 41 years. The fans didn't push the team away, Clay Bennett dragged them away. It's logical to assume Seattle would embrace another Sonics team and welcome it back into the fabric of Seattle. It's a large TV market with a built-in basketball fan base.
A politically correct move. After the bitterness of the OKC blunder experiment, the NBA could use some good press. Most writers and fans thought it was a huge mistake to morbidly rip a team away to the dustbowl after 41 years. Returning the Sonics would be a great story. A feel good story. The NBA could use that positive press right now - especially Stern. After witnessing the disaster Bennett unleashed on Seattle and it's fans, who would reject Seattle as a prime relocation site?
The Grizzlies need a new home. The team is floundering in Memphis. Will a local ownership group emerge? So far, none have stepped up. The team would be purchased under the condition and with the sole intention of relocating them to Seattle. There would be no illusions of any kind. The headlines would be "Grizz Sold - Off to Seattle". No hidden agenda. It would be done with support from all sides; from Memphis, Seattle and the NBA. There would be some buyout of the lease - likely negotiated before the team was ever sold. A savvy owner would not walk blindly into that negotiation knowing they are at the mercy of that single issue. The lease can be negotiated and I doubt it would be a hostile situation, like it was in Seattle. Ballmer's group would be rescuing a beleaguered franchise, not hijacking them underhandedly. That will lead to positive negotiating environment.
All emotional arguments aside, this is a practical business move for all involved. It relieves Memphis of the burden and drops it right into the waiting arms of a capable, competent ownership group, a hungry fan base and an expliotable market. There will be no expansion. The NBA has too many teams right now. They've over expanded, and as all businesses must do when hurting financially; they downsize, restructure...or relocate. No one wants to pry a team from the fans of Memphis. Sadly, the league has made it clear those voices do not matter.
Some will even argue that the Grizzlies Northwest roots make Seattle the sentimental favorite for their relocation, and that may be true, but that does not make the case on it's own merit. All the other points make the case and make it a practical one as well.
Let me know your thoughts