Stern still OK with Sonics move
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — NBA commissioner David Stern knows a court order can only keep the SuperSonics in Seattle for the short term.
The Sonics are moving to Oklahoma City — either next season or in 2010 — and not even the desperate pleas of the dejected Seattle fans can save their favorite team from leaving this summer or in three years.
“Subject to all lawful orders of the court, the Sonics are moving to Oklahoma City, whether it’s the end of this season, next season or the season after that,” Stern said Friday. “Could I imagine circumstances, without precedent, where some court does something? It would be hard to imagine there would be any circumstances legally that would preclude the Sonics from moving at the end of their lease.”
Last week, NBA owners overwhelmingly approved the SuperSonics’ move to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season — provided the team can settle the lawsuit with its hometown for the last 41 years.
The move could be delayed when the U.S. District Court begins hearing the trial June 16 in Seattle over the team’s lease dispute. The court could rule for the city and say the Sonics must play in KeyArena for the final two years of the lease.
Stern said the league is prepared for the Sonics to play two more seasons in Seattle. Last week, Stern said the Sonics would likely lose at $30 million per season in such a situation.
There could be more headaches for the Sonics. Damaging e-mails involving Sonics owner Clay Bennett have been revealed that could slow or even stop the team’s move.
A filing by the city of Seattle this week in federal court in New York, where the city is seeking the NBA’s financial records and a deposition of Stern, includes e-mails to and from Bennett that show the NBA was concerned last summer that Sonics owners may be breaching their contractual promise of good-faith efforts to find a new arena in Seattle.
“I think, ultimately, despite the novel and face-saving attempts to construct cause of action, that the Sonics are moving to Oklahoma,” Stern said.
Texan signs with Bison
Nichole Jones, a 2007 Texas runner-up in the 800 meters, has signed to run for Oklahoma Baptist next season.
Jones, a senior at Holliday High School, qualified for regionals in the 800 all four years of her high school career, winning the event in 2007. She was a member of two state championship cross country teams at Holliday.
A member of the National Honor Society, Jones is fifth in her graduating class.
Waters ties RBI record
DENTON, Texas — The North Texas softball team went 2-2 last week, increasing its record to 24-28 and setting a new school record for wins with four regular-season games remaining.
Kristina Fowler of Meeker posted three hits in a three-game series against Western Kentucky over the weekend, including a double and a solo home run. In the circle, she has a team-best 2.90 earned run average and nine complete games.
Davenport product Rebecca Waters is second on the Mean Green with a .358 batting average. She tied a school record with a five-RBI game against Western Kentucky. She hit her team-leading eighth home run against WKU.
Waters is tied for fourth on the UNT single-season home run list. Only two other players, including her sister Susan, have hit more than eight home runs.
Rangers make changes
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The struggling Texas Rangers, beset by injuries, recalled catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Triple-A Oklahoma and activated left-handed reliever Eddie Guardado from the disabled list on Friday.
They replace right-hander Luis Mendoza, who went on the 15-day disabled list with an inflamed shoulder, and catcher Adam Melhuse, who broke a bone in the back of his right hand during Thursday’s game in Detroit and was given his release.
Saltalamacchia was batting .291 with two home runs and 13 RBIs for Oklahoma. The 22-year-old will share catching duties with Gerald Laird, allowing the Rangers to release the 36-year-old Melhuse instead of putting him on the DL.
His release also clears a spot on the Rangers’ 40-man roster for right-hander Sidney Ponson, who was 1-2 with a 3.47 ERA at Oklahoma. Ponson has a clause in his contract that would allow him to become a free agent if he isn’t promoted to the majors by May 1.
Daniels said Ponson “most likely” would be brought up to start Saturday against Minnesota.
Guardado, a 15-year veteran, pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings before going on the disabled list, retroactive to April 6, with a sore shoulder.
Mendoza left Wednesday’s game in the second inning, when he said his arm “shut down” while resting between innings.
He joins fellow starters Kason Gabbard and Brandon McCarthy on the disabled list. Also on the DL are starting outfielder Marlon Byrd and three reserves.
Harvick tests for drugs
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — Kevin Harvick Inc. has started a random drug testing program since recent revelations that former Busch and Craftsman Trucks driver Aaron Fike had used heroin on some race days.
Fike drove for Harvick in the Busch Series in 2006.
“The whole company will be tested within the next week,” Harvick said. “We’ve got most of them done. We haven’t had any failures yet, so that’s a good thing.”
An outside company was hired to administer the tests, and he said all the drivers and crew chiefs volunteered to go to the drug-testing facility. Harvick is hoping NASCAR will adopt a similar policy to help keep the sport clean. He initially approached officials pushing that idea last season.
“If you wreck or something and you have to go through the infield care center, it should be just standard procedure to take a drug test even if you’ve been through there 10 times in 10 weeks,” Harvick said. “I think that would fix a lot of the questions that we have and be a pretty simple solution.”
NASCAR’s substance abuse policy is based on “reasonable suspicion” and allows drug tests anytime. Fike and his fiancee were arrested in the Kings Island parking lot outside Cincinnati in July.