OKLAHOMA CITY -- The NBA wants to intervene in former SuperSonics owner Howard Schultz's bid to regain control of the team, claiming it would interfere with the stable operation of the franchise.
Schultz is trying to reverse his 2006 sale of the NBA franchise to Clay Bennett, claiming the Oklahoma City businessman failed to follow through on a promise to negotiate in good faith to keep the team in Seattle.
The league filed a motion Tuesday to intervene in Schultz's lawsuit in Seattle's federal court.
Last week, Bennett announced he had reached a settlement with the city of Seattle, the payment of up to $75 million to allow the team to move to Oklahoma City immediately.
That agreement included a clause that the deal would be broken and the team would return to Seattle if Schultz, the chairman of Starbucks Corp., were to prevail in this lawsuit, filed April 22.
An assistant to Richard Yarmuth, Schultz's attorney, said he declined comment.
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.
The NBA also claims that Schultz's ownership group signed a release as part of the league's approval of the 2006 sale that prevented the former owners from suing Bennett's Professional Basketball Club ownership group.