Commentary: It’s time to believe it, the return of the Sonics is closer than ever

I know there’s a ton of skepticism out there when it comes to the NBA and the eventual return of the Seattle Sonics – and rightfully so.

But make no mistake: The latest rumblings likely pack a lot of punch. Guys, this is NOT a drill.

According to the Sports Business Journal, the NBA is closing in on new broadcasting agreements that would pay the league around $76 billion over 11 years, which is three times the amount of their current deal. It likely includes deals with Disney and Amazon and a third package currently being pursued by multiple parties, including NBC.

That this is a boon for the league is an understatement. But crossing the finish line and finalizing those deals will be an even bigger boon for Seattle’s quest to bring the Sonics back.

Listen to the amplified rhetoric from commissioner Adam Silver in July last year: "We will turn to expansion once those new media deals are done… There’s no doubt there’s enormous interest in Seattle. That’s not a secret."

Then, in December on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Silver said: "We’ll see what the timing is on those national television agreements… once (they’re done) we’ll turn back to expansion, or turn to expansion."

Silver has also said he believes they could add two more teams without diluting the product. And, frankly, with 76 BILLION dollars on the table, I can’t see even the greediest owner griping about a further split of the pie. Especially when the price of each new team will be upwards of $3 billion more dollars, split among current teams.

By all indications, Seattle has simply been, and continues to be on the NBA’s timeline. That’s much different than more than five years ago when there was no suitable venue to house an NBA team. But everything we’ve heard and seen from Seattle’s side is that we’re now ready.

"Our focus (for the building) was on fan experience, not just for the Kraken, but for the Storm, for basketball games, for someday the NBA," Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke told Fox 13 last year. "The building was built for it. The locker rooms are ready to go. The economics are built for it. The ownership is committed to it. And I'm one that believes that it is coming back - and it's going to be a glorious day of redemption when it happens."

Which means this TV deal is the final hurdle before the real fun for us begins.

Earlier this week, in a letter to Seattle Kraken season ticket holders, team co-owner Samantha Holloway wrote, "Later this summer, you will hear more about our future Seattle Ambitions as we roll out a parent brand that will umbrella the Kraken brand and prepare for other big opportunities."

There is little doubt, in my mind at least, that one of those big opportunities is the NBA. It’s basically a continuation of what Leiweke et al have been saying all along: That they’re following the NBA’s lead and not getting ahead of themselves. But once the NBA is ready, we’ll be ready too.

As we approach the 16 year mark of the darkest day in Seattle Sports – the official move of the Sonics to Oklahoma City – I realize many out there have taken the stance, "I’ll believe it when I see it." I also understand some might have been so heartbroken and put off by the NBA’s stance toward Seattle that they take the extreme view that the league doesn’t deserve to have this city back.

But when all is said and done, whether it’s 16 years too late or should never have happened at all, once they’re back, they’re back, and they’ll be staying for good.

And in deference to those who continued to push for the Sonics return and especially the group bringing them back, I’d argue it will finally be time to let go of any grudge, and simply embrace our team coming home.


Washington Wolfpack underway, bringing arena football back to Everett

MLB, Nike announce changes to uniforms for 2025 amid player, fan scrutiny

New frontier for coaches, players alike at Seattle Seahawks rookie camp

Emerald Downs: Your ultimate guide to the races

To get the best local news, weather and sports in Seattle for free, sign up for the daily FOX 13 Seattle newsletter.