NBA intervenes in court fight over sale of Seattle team

SEATTLE — Seeking to protect the league's interests in Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz's bid to regain control of the former Seattle SuperSonics, the NBA on Tuesday filed a motion to intervene in the former principal owner's lawsuit in U.S. Western District Court in Seattle.

Schultz filed suit in April against the Oklahoma City-based ownership group, led by team chairman Clay Bennett, seeking to undo the $350 million sale of the team.

Schultz claims in the lawsuit that Bennett's group never intended to keep the team in Seattle and cites internal e-mails revealed in litigation between the city of Seattle and the new ownership group as evidence of the intentions of Bennett and his partners.

Schultz's lawsuit cites breach of contract, fraud and negligent misrepresentation. It seeks to rescind the sale of the team on the grounds that Bennett and his partners did not live up to a "good faith, best efforts" provision in the sale agreement to spend 12 months trying to negotiate a new arena deal in the Seattle area.

Hours before an expected ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman last week, Seattle and the Sonics agreed to a settlement that could bring $75 million to the city by allowing Bennett's group to break its lease with KeyArena and move the team to Oklahoma City.

However, when the city agreed to settle its case against the team, the settlement included no provision to dismiss Schultz's lawsuit.

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