Muckleshoot leaders such as John Daniels Jr. don't get excited much, Santos says. Or if they do, you'd never know it.
"But his eyes lit up at the thought of the tribe saving the Sonics. They've become very energized about it."
Last week, the tribal council asked its staff to pursue the idea, including putting together a financing plan that would likely propose a sharing of costs among the Sonics, the tribe and the state.
It's far from a done deal. The tribe's chairwoman, Charlotte Williams, confirmed the tribe is interested but cautioned, "The matter has not progressed to the point where any serious discussions have taken place."
The idea has attracted interest since Sonics owner Clay Bennett met with tribal officials in February at former NBA star and Sonics coach Bill Russell's home on Mercer Island, said Bob Santos, the longtime civic and International District activist who arranged the meeting.
The tribal council last week directed its staff to examine a potential partnership with Bennett, and how a new arena would be financed, tribal spokesman Rollin Fatland said.