How else can you explain the subsequent timeline of events: Bennett signing a settlement that agrees to return the Sonics if Howard Schultz wins his lawsuit followed immediately by the NBA getting elbow deep in that same court proceeding? That's right, the NBA itself is now filing motions to dismiss Schultz' lawsuit.
And yes, there's a pile of legalese in there. But my understanding here is that the NBA has rules in place to avoid a league owned team (that's a good rule) and they're using it to nullify Schultz' suit (that's a pretty malevolent application). And if you think that the NBA's lawyers just managed to come up with this, well, you're wrong.
The NBA claims in its motion that the transfer of the franchise to a court-appointed receiver and a subsequent transfer back to Schultz would both be prohibited by the league's constitution.
The motion also claims that if a court-appointed receiver were to be appointed, the NBA's constitution allows for the league's owners to put that team "under the management and control" of commissioner David Stern.
"The relief requested by plaintiffs is entirely inconsistent with these reasonable and lawful regulations of the NBA, and the disposition of this action therefore threatens the ability of the League to protect its justifiable interests," attorney Ralph Palumbo wrote in the motion.
In other words, Bennett essentially said "Fine, Howard, if you can prove that I played the role of snake in the grass all along, I'll let Seattle have the team back", knowing full well that Stern would step in and proclaim any Milwaukee Brewers-like ownership situation a violation. And it's a shame to see a guy trying so hard to make sure everyone knows how clean the league is step in and do something like this.
Unfortunately, Stern isn't likely to be stopped. First of all, who could/would stop him in the first place? (A: No one.) And secondly, Schultz' lawsuit has been viewed all along as somewhat half-hearted, despite its intentions.
But the city of Seattle knows it has already lost it's franchise. Of course, that doesn't mean they have to be roshamboed by the NBA while they're lying on the ground already writhing in pain, but Stern and Bennet don't seem to care.