SEATTLE — NBA basketball is returning to Seattle.
No, not the Sonics. Not yet, at least.
An official announcement was made Wednesday, live from Climate Pledge Arena, the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers will play a preseason game on Oct. 3 in the Emerald City.
Tickets go on sale for the "Rain City Showcase" on July 6.
There are several Seattle connections between the two Western Conference foes. The Trail Blazers are owned by Jody Allen, the Seahawks owner and sister of Paul Allen, who died in 2018 and left her both teams. The Clippers are owned by Steve Ballmer, the former chief executive officer of Microsoft. Both live in the Seattle area.
According to an LA Times report, Portland coach Chauncey Billups and Los Angeles coach Tyronn Lue, best friends since they were teenagers, came up with the idea in an attempt to spend time together before the regular season begins.
Seattle last hosted an NBA preseason game in 2018 — between the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors — before KeyArena was transformed into Climate Pledge Arena.
The Sonics were relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008 after being sold by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to a group headed by Oklahoma City native Clay Bennett.
Since the preseason matchup in 2018, Seattle's arena underwent a $1.15 billion renovation. Climate Pledge Arena hosts the Kraken, the Storm and ample entertainment events. Oak View Group and co-founder Tim Leiweke led the redevelopment.
Leiweke's group announced it was also building an arena designed for basketball in Las Vegas. Rumors have swirled ever since that the NBA will soon announce it is bringing expansion franchises to both Seattle and Las Vegas.
In a March phone interview with The Seattle Times, Leiweke said the following:
You more than anyone know we never get ahead of the commissioners. The decision on if and when the NBA will expand is up to (commissioner) Adam (Silver) and the 30 team owners. But if those owners decide they want to expand, we believe Seattle will be in good shape with the arena there. And Las Vegas will be in very good shape as well with this project.
Tod Leiweke, Tim's brother, kicked off Wednesday’s press conference by showing a video announcing the exhibition game.
"Welcome to the world’s most beautiful arena," he said with a smile.
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell then spoke, calling Seattle a “basketball city.”
“It’s apparent to anyone that knows Seattle what a great basketball city we are,” Harrell said.
Other speakers included Clippers president Gillian Zucker, former Sonics superstar Lenny Wilkins and Rainier Beach alum and 20-year NBA veteran Jamal Crawford.
“When I was a kid, the Sonics were everything to me,” said Crawford, who told stories of his time working at KeyArena as a teen.