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Saturday, June 10, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Stern says he can't do more for Sonics

Seattle Times staff reporter

DALLAS — The tough talk from NBA commissioner David Stern appears to have ended on the subject of the Sonics and their bid for a $220 million renovation to KeyArena.

"I really don't think I can do anything more," he said Friday morning during his annual address to the media at the NBA Finals.

Stern had been one of the franchise's staunchest supporters.

In February, he traveled to Olympia and lobbied state lawmakers alongside principal owner Howard Schultz. He has constantly lobbed not-so-veiled threats to city leaders over the past few months claiming that Seattle "isn't interested in basketball."

But even with the weight of the commissioner behind them, the Sonics have been unable to find common ground with the Seattle City Council on the team's plans for KeyArena.

The Sonics are committed to paying $18.3 million toward the project. However, several council members have indicated they want owners to shoulder substantially more of the financial burden.

The team's lease expires in 2010 and owners, who claim to have lost nearly $60 million since buying the team in 2001, have explored relocating to Bellevue and Renton. The Sonics are also considering selling to a buyer who would move the team out of the area.

"Yes, it's a stalemate, but they've got four years left [on their lease]," Stern said. "They're going to play out their lease, and hopefully something will happen."

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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