NBA Beat: With new commish, Seattle back on NBA radar

Kevin Durant of the Seattle Supersonics drives on the Golden State Warriors Al Harrington during the final game of the season on Wednesday, April 16, 2008, in Oakland, California

Contra Costa Times/ZUMA Press/Icon SMI

Perhaps no city without an NBA team is as passionate about landing one as Seattle. And for fans of the old SuperSonics, good news could be on the way.

Anyone who witnessed the Seahawks win the Super Bowl on FOX likely saw the network’s brief tribute to the Sonics of the Lenny Wilkens and Dennis Johnson era. Prior to the Seahawks’ championship, the Sonics of 1979 were the last Seattle team to win a title.

The NBA understands and appreciates the Sonics’ history, Seattle’s passionate base of NBA fans, and the strong support a team in Seattle would generate.

Those reasons and more are why it’s believed new NBA commissioner Adam Silver has Seattle on the radar.

The Sonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008. This was the NBA’s version of the Cleveland Browns moving to Baltimore. The Sonics had been around since 1967. Their arena was filled to the rafters with folks sporting the green-and-yellow color scheme. Those same fans also traveled well — and even today, it’s fairly common to see people in Sonics gear at random NBA games.

During a recent national broadcast of a Thunder game, former NBA coach and current analyst Jeff Van Gundy talked extensively about the Sonics, about their history, about how Seattle deserves a team.

Again, this is not something that’s lost on Silver, and once he settles into his new role, bringing back the Sonics could be among his priorities.

Whether that’s by relocation or expansion, league sources told FOX Sports Ohio, is yet to be determined. The league is not totally against adding a 31st team. It’s certainly not in favor of relocation. Last year, it looked as if the Sacramento Kings would become the Sonics, but new ownership swooped in to keep the Kings right where they are.

Now, people mention struggling franchises as the Milwaukee Bucks as a possible Seattle team — but despite some of their flaws, the Bucks are a valued franchise and Milwaukee a valued NBA city. Nobody wants that change.

So how does the league get a team in Seattle?

According to those in the know, the new commissioner and his staff will soon make it a priority to figure it out.

Double Dribbles

— Several reports say the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers are having talks that would deliver Lakers forward Pau Gasol to the Suns. In return, the Lakers would receive the expiring contract of Emeka Okafor. The surprising Suns are looking to stay in the playoff race (and about-face from the start of the season), and the Lakers have finally accepted the idea of going in the tank (another about-face). This is a deal both teams need to do, yesterday.

— Philadelphia has "stepped up" efforts to trade swingman Evan Turner, according to a report by As FOX Sports Ohio reported early in the season, the 76ers are also very open to moving forward Thaddeus Young and center Spencer Hawes. The Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks are all especially intrigued, according to FSO sources.

— Barring something unforeseen, the Washington Wizards are headed for the postseason for the first time since they were the Chicago Zephyrs. Not really, it just seems that way. In reality, the Wizards last made the playoffs in 2008. Despite this season’s semi-success, the Wizards are open to making a deal to complement their trio of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene Hilario. Don’t be surprised if they get in on the Turner/Young/Hawes sweepstakes before the Feb. 20 trade deadline.

— Another team that hasn’t made much news but could be active around the deadline: the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs feel as if they’re a piece away from challenging the likes of the Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and others in the West. If they can get Turner for a draft pick, they’ll do it.