Shortly before Judge Marsha Pechman was to deliver a ruling on whether or not the Sonics must honor their lease in Seattle, Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times has word of a settlement:
A settlement has been reached in the Sonics lawsuit, Seattle City Hall sources confirmed today.
Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis and City Attorney Tom Carr briefed City Council members on the settlement today, according to sources.
A press conference is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
No word on what the settlement entails, although previous discussion of any settlement had focused mainly on a cash payment from the Sonics to the city to break the lease, as well as things like the team's leaving behind its colors, logo, name, and historical record, to be transferred to any future NBA team that may come to Seattle.
I have not yet seen discussion anywhere of a settlement that would include the team fulfilling the remaining two years of its lease.
Advocates for keeping the team have urged the mayor not to settle unless the settlement includes NBA basketball, in some form, in Seattle.
UPDATE: Just spoke briefly to Brian Robinson from Save Our Sonics. He says there could, theoretically, be a scenario whereby there is a settlement, and the team still fulfills the two years of its lease: If Clay Bennett gets another franchise to take to Oklahoma City.
But that would require a vote of the NBA's Board of Governors, and nobody thinks that vote has taken place.
Similarly, a vote along those lines would have to take place to give Seattle a promise of a future team, in the much more likely scenario that a settlement indicates an agreement to let the team go in exchange for cash and/or other considerations short of an NBA team.
UPDATE: Word that former Sonic owner Howard Schultz, who has a seperate fraud lawsuit pending atgainst Clay Bennett and the Sonic owners, has also been part of settlement talks.