The on-again, off-again saga of saving the Sonics and KeyArena has taken another turn. Apparently the drop-dead date of April 10 for having a deal for the Steve Ballmer ownership group is really just a coma-threat. The group of heavy-hitter owners-in-waiting will simply go into hibernation once the Sonics decamp to Oklahoma City. Spokesman for the group, developer Matt Griffin, says that his group "of course" will keep an open mind about future opportunities, hinting broadly in a Post-Intelligencer story that Ballmer's $15 billion net worth will continue to interest the NBA for some future deal. Meanwhile, the owners (including Jim Sinegal of Costco and wireless mogul John Stanton) will go back to their day jobs. Griffin said that Mayor Greg Nickels had called him and asked "if something comes up in the next year, would we keep an open mind?" "We'd be stupid not to do that, at least," replied Griffin. It's not easy in this heavily lawyered story to know the bluffs from the realities. Was the group bluffing when they implied that no deal by April 10 would mean the end of their interest in ever owning an NBA team? If the City and Legislature failed to find the missing $75 million to fix up KeyArena as a way of holding or nabbing a new team, would that mean we could "move on"? Update:When Mayor Nickels declared the Ballmer bid has "expired" at a news conference today, then why is he also continuing the City's lawsuit and still trying to keep the team here? Apparently the hopes have not expired. As expected, the saga will go on for years as the City tries to find non-City money to fix up KeyArena and rescue it from being a financial drain, and as various groups diagram plays for how they can return basketball to Seattle. It might have been a greater public service if the Ballmer group made clear that they had given their best shot and now they were hanging up their basketball shoes. As it is, they will overshadow any other entity, such as the Fred Brown group, that dares to venture onto this dangerous court. And the fate of KeyArena will continue unresolved well into Mayor Nickels' third term.