Warriors' Rick Welts talks problematic path for Seattle to get NBA team

Warriors' Rick Welts talks problematic path for Seattle to get NBA team

The city of Seattle should have an NBA team.

Plain and simple.

The SuperSonics played in "The Emerald City" for 41 seasons from 1967 to 2008, but an ownership change resulted in the franchise moving to Oklahoma City.

Former Warriors superstar Kevin Durant played his rookie season for the SuperSonics. The next time the city hosted an NBA game was Oct. 5, 2018, when KD and the Warriors played the Kings in a preseason matchup at Key Arena.

It was an incredible night.

Will an NBA team call Seattle home within the next five years?

"I sure hope so. If there's one thing that I could wish for our league structurally, I think it would be to get a team back to Seattle," Warriors president Rick Welts told NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh on the "Habershow" podcast. "It's obviously a really personal issue for me. I know what that team meant to that city -- bringing the first professional championship to Seattle.

"It's an amazing market. A lot of the future of the world is being envisioned there. It's got a vibrant community that would really support an NBA team coming back."

Welts, a Seattle native, attended the University of Washington. He was a ballboy for the SuperSonics at one point, and he was their director of public relations when they won the NBA title in 1979.

He, more than anybody, knows the NBA belongs in Seattle.

"But the path is problematic," he said. "The good news is the NBA's business is really successful right now, and that means we have 30 teams operating without anyone feeling like they're in a market where they can't support NBA basketball.

"And the owners -- I would say probably to their credit -- have shown no interest. And the league hasn't really promoted any expansion agenda. So how do you get a team there? I don't think I'm going out on a limb to make the prediction that the next team -- the next new market in the NBA -- will be Seattle. But the path on how we get there is pretty murky right now."

Without expansion, a current franchise would need to relocate. The Kings nearly moved to Seattle in 2013 but will be staying in Sacramento permanently.

The Pelicans recently have been rumored to be a top candidate, but landing Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick last June might keep them in New Orleans.

It seems like Memphis (who moved from Vancouver in 2001) could emerge as the team to pack its bags.

Where would a hypothetical Seattle team play its home games?

"It's complicated. There are two parties involved in the construction of that arena that have to make the economics work, and neither one of them happens to be an NBA team," Welts explained. "There's a hockey team and there's a stadium construction company that are investing probably close to $1 billion to renovate the existing Key Arena into a new hockey facility.

"And the question becomes -- is there enough room there for an NBA team to enter that market and have the kind of economics that an NBA team would need, on top of the fair interests of the hockey team and the interest of the people who invested the money to build that stadium.

"Maybe is the answer. I think that's something that we haven't figured out yet because there hasn't really been a real opportunity to flush through what it would take."

Seattle's expansion hockey team will join the NHL for the 2021-22 season.

[RELATED: Why Warriors aren't thinking about draft now?]

We only can hope a professional basketball team joins the NBA shortly thereafter.

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Charles Barkley calls Steph Curry, Klay Thompson 'Stay and Kleph'

Charles Barkley calls Steph Curry, Klay Thompson 'Stay and Kleph'

Charles Barkley needs to put some respect on Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

But first, he needs to figure out how to say their names correctly.

At halftime of the Warriors-Blazers game, the TNT analyst was trying to say "Steph and Klay." Instead, he said this:

It was probably just a slip of the tongue, but considering it came from Barkley, Warriors fans wouldn't be faulted for thinking this was just another slight from the zero-time NBA champion.

All throughout the Warriors' five-year NBA Finals run, Barkley routinely criticized them. He kept saying a jump-shooting team couldn't win a championship (there's so many things wrong with that statement.)

Just last week, Barkley took a shot at Draymond Green, saying "Draymond don't talk as much since he's averaging that triple single."

On opening night in October, Thompson joined the TNT crew for their halftime show and Barkley told the All-Star shooting guard the Warriors wouldn't make the playoffs.

[RELATED: Steph targeting March 1 return]

In the end, Steph and Klay will always have the last laugh over Barkley. They have three rings (and counting). He has none.

Do you know how to say "none" correctly, Chuck?

Warriors' Steve Kerr doesn't have any 'clarity' on Kevon Looney injury

Warriors' Steve Kerr doesn't have any 'clarity' on Kevon Looney injury

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Warriors have spent much of the season seeking answers on Kevon Looney's health. Before Monday's matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers, Steve Kerr had none for his big man's immediate future. 

"I do not have any more clarity," Kerr said. "I was hopeful that he would play at some point by now. But perhaps later in the week."

For the last 13 games, Looney has been out of the lineup with abdominal soreness. Before his latest injury, he was limited with a neuropathic condition, forcing him to miss training camp and the first month of the season. When asked if the two injuries were related, Kerr declined to respond. 

"It's really something I'd rather not expand on,"  he said. "Just because I don't have enough grasp on it."

Looney -- who joined the team on the trip to Portland -- signed a three-year, $14 million contract with the Warriors last summer after becoming an integral piece in the Warriors' last two postseason runs. However, he began to feel discomfort in his hamstring last summer as a result of his neuropathic condition.

He returned in December after seeing a specialist, only to return to the injury report after nine games. Along the way, Looney expressed frustration with his season

"I just want to get my body healthy and work on my game," Looney told NBC Sports Bay Area last month. "I feel like I worked a lot over the summer to expand my range, and being hurt, you're trying to find your rhythm so you go back to what you know, trying to get back to what got me here. So, this season is about getting healthy and my body right, and continue to work on my game and get back to where I was on defense and work on the stuff I've been working on all summer."

[RELATED: Cauley-Stein 'already knew' his Chiefs would make Super Bowl]

For now, the Warriors are just hoping to get him back on the floor sooner rather than later. 

"He's such a big part of our team,"  Kerr said. "He's such a big part of our team, a huge part of the foundation in the last couple of years."