Tuesday, October 31

Wally’s Parting Shots

Frank Hughes has an interesting piece about Wally Walker in the TNT today; it deals with Walker’s somewhat surprising comments to a Tip Off Luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel on Monday in Seattle.

You should really read the article in its entirety, but one quote in particular stoked my anger.

“I have been the head of this organization for 12 years, and we have the fifth-best record in the NBA,” Walker said.

I’ve heard this argument a couple of times now, but it’s the first time Walker has taken it as his own. I think it deserves a little examination.

Let’s set some ground rules first. In my mind, taking credit for the accomplishments of others is bad form, and until the players you’ve acquired as a GM contribute at least 50% of the points to the team’s total, then it isn’t your team, it’s your predecessor(s)’. So, with that in mind, let’s examine Walker’s real accomplishments (and, if you think I'm being overly critical, think of it this way: If the Sonics win the championship this year, don't you think Wally would want/deserve some credit for what happens?).

Walker was hired to be the Sonics GM on July 22, 1994, replacing Bob Whitsitt, making his first season as GM 1994-95. But does he really deserve any credit for Seattle’s 57-25 record that year? Considering the only move Walker made was to sign Bill Cartwright to a 3-year deal, I’d say no. When the people you acquire contribute 2.4 ppg TOTAL to the team’s effort, I’d say that a 3-year-old could have done your job for that season. So let’s eliminate the 57-25 from Wally’s career accomplishments.

Moving on to 1995-96 and Walker’s first major move, acquiring Hersey Hawkins and David Wingate for Kendall Gill. The Sonics made it to the Finals, but Wingate, Hawkins, Sherrell Ford (!), and Eric Snow (!) – Wally’s Guys (WG) – gave the Sonics all of 25 ppg, so, again, a no go.

1996-97: It’s still Whitsitt’s team, as Walker adds Terry Cummings, Jim McIlvaine, ... well, just a boatload of crap, really. Still well below the 50% threshold.

1997-98: Ahh, now we’re talking. Vin Baker, Dale Ellis, Jerome Kersey, Greg Anthony, Aaron Williams – all WGs. The magic 50% mark has now been surpassed. From here on in, the Sonics are Wally’s Team. Let’s start the W-L count from here, then.

1997-98: 61-21
1998-99: 25-25
1999-00: 45-37
2000-01: 44-38
2001-02: 45-37
2002-03: 40-42
2003-04: 37-45
2004-05: 52-30
2005-06: 35-47

Now, let’s add the totals to see what we get ...... adding music .... 384 wins. Okay, what does 384 wins mean?

Well, let’s take a look at the Western Conference, because I’m too lazy to add up the entire league. How do the Sonics fare in relation to the other teams in their conference in this time period? There are 14 teams in the West. Guess how many won at least 384 games? 2? 3? 5?

Try seven. That’s right, during his tenure as general manager, when the players on the roster were players that he personally recruited, Wally Walker ranked in the absolute middle of the Western Conference pack. No better, no worse.

Sorry, Wally, you and your friends can parrot this “5th best record in the NBA during my tenure” crap all you want, but the sad truth is that when left to your own devices, you’re only capable of creating a middling team that makes the playoffs once every 3 or 4 seasons. You can dress it up all you want, but the truth is Walker was an average GM that will be lucky to ever get another job in the league, unless he manages to glom his way onto another millionaire.

Monday, October 30


Halloween-Seattle Supersonics styleIt’s Back!

Time for our Annual Top 5 Sonics Halloween Outfits, so ditch the witch, nix the Nixon mask, and get with the green and gold program, baby! Remember, all costumes are available at the supersonicsoul.com shop – our operator is standing by awaiting your order. We kindly request that you don’t ask any questions that deviate from the script, as Rupinder only knows costume-related English and we can’t afford to hire someone in North America. Um, thanks.

5. THE CLAYTON BENNETT – Comes with Voice-Altering Technology (VAT), allowing you to talk with the drawl befitting your costume, which includes cowboy boots, polyester suit, hairpiece, and mysterious boyfriend. Six shooters and miniature moving vans optional.

4. THE ROBERT SWIFT – Do you like tats? Do you imagine yourself as a 7’ white man with more ink than Jerry Falwell’s Bible? Seriously? Why would you imagine that? Don’t you have a life? Anyway, costume comes with fake tattoos and leg stretchers. Whatever.

3. THE WALLY WALKER – Previously known as the Invisible Man, the Walker is on sale this year for half-price as all outfits must go. BONUS!!! Costumes come with bag ‘o cash in the side pocket – think of it as a parting gift!

2. THE DANNY FORTSON – Last year’s top seller has been marked down and isn’t expected back next year, so if you’re looking for an affordable costume, you can’t go wrong here! Hair extensions, stomach pouch, and “rump filler” all included at no extra charge.

1. THE CHRIS WILCOX – The Sonics big ticket purchase is your big ticket purchase this Halloween! Hair extensions are part of the package as you slip into this pleasing ensemble. NOTE: supersonicsoul.com is not responsible for a mysterious lack of energy and inability to grab candy after purchase. No refunds and costume must be worn for next three Halloweens.

Yo Yo Yotam!

The world appears to have gone Yotam crazy.

First, the New York Times has an in-depth look at Yotam Halperin (thanks to True Hoop for the heads-up).

Then, Basketball Jones tells us that the Sonics second-round pick will be the new NBA Live cover boy ... in Israel.

And here I thought Yo-Yo was just another wasted draft pick that would never play a minute in the NBA. My bad.

Friday, October 27

The End of Wally World

Former Seattle SuperSonics CEO Wally WalkerIt's been a tough week for Sonics fans.

On Tuesday, the sale of the team to Oklahoma mogul Clay Bennett became official, clearing the way for a potential move to Okie-ville. The next day, starting center Robert Swift went down with a season-ending knee injury. This morning, it was annonced that team president Wally Walker was stepping down.

Well, I guess it wasn't all bad news.

A lot of Sonics fans have given Wally Walker the shaft over the years, blaming him for the decline of the team. To be fair, I thought we'd take a look at what Wal-Walk has accomplished during his tenure as Player, GM and CEO of the Seattle Supersonics:
1979 - Waves towel on bench as the Seattle Supersonics win the NBA Championship. Hooray!

1982 - The Sonics trade Walker to the Houston Rockets for a second round pick. Hooray!

1994 - Walker rejoins the Sonics, replacing "Trader" Bob Whitsitt as General Manager despite having zero front office experience.

1996 - The Sonics make the NBA Finals! Walker cracks open the champagne as Bob Whitsitt, who hired the coach, drafted Kemp and Payton, and traded for Detlef and Sam Perkins, sits alone and cries.

1997 - Walker signs Jim Macllvaine to to a seven-year, $33.6 million contract. The Reign Man is pissed.

1998 - Walker trades Shawn Kemp for Vin Baker, instantly killing both players' careers. Oops.

1998 - Despite leading the team to the playoffs every season (including the '96 Finals) and winning 61 games in '98, Walker refuses to re-sign coach George Karl and instead replaces him with golf buddy Paul Westphal. Westphal would last less than two seasons.

1999-2001 - Team officially sucks.

2001 - Walker convinces Starbucks CEO Howie Shultz to buy the team. Also convinces Shultz to appoint him team President. Walker quickly hires Rick Sund as GM, but still claims to be "responsible for everything".

2004 - Nate McMillan leads a rag-tag team (put together by Rick Sund) back into the playoffs! Hooray!

2005 - Walker, er, Sund refuses to re-sign McMillan and several key players from 2004 Cinderella squad. Team officially sucks again.

2006 - Walker arranges for Clay "Big Boy" Bennett to purchase team, forgetting that Bennett is hell-bent on bringing an NBA team to Oklahoma City. Whoops.

Today - Having finally accomplished his dream of completely gutting a proud sports team and selling it down the river, Walker resigns from the SuperSonics.

You see? He did accomplish something! Farewll, sweet Wally--may your replacement be as ridicule worthy as you.

Read Nussbaum's in-depth look at the Wally Years here.

Goodbye, Wally

Thursday, a troubled chapter in Sonics history ended as Wally Walker announced he was stepping down from the team’s front office. With Walker’s departure in mind, I thought we should offer a post-mortem on Walker’s career in Seattle. Too often, emotion got in the way of evaluating Walker’s performance and with time as our ally, maybe we can more objectively judge whether his time in Seattle was positive or negative.

Okay, fine, I hated the guy for ending the glory days of the Sonics, for accepting credit for Bob Whitsitt’s work, and for trading away Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, and firing George Karl (and, yes, I know Sund traded Gary because Walker was the CEO, and the trade worked out great for the Sonics, but Walker’s fingerprints were definitely there and Gary was, well, Gary). Regardless, here’s a quick and dirty on Walker’s career:

1. 2001 Draft. I’m not sure if Walker gets credit for this, given the sale of the team in March of ’01, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. The Sonics – in one draft – selected Vladimir Radmanovic, Earl Watson, and Bobby Simmons, a fantastic haul, considering the highest pick (Radman) was the 12th overall.
2. 1998 Draft. Finding Rashard Lewis in the 2nd round is probably the greatest draft move in Sonics’ history.
3. Trading Kendall Gill for Hersey Hawkins and David Wingate. I’m not as big on this move as others, but it was a solid move that enabled the Sonics to get rid of a problem (Gill) and acquire two players who would help them challenge Chicago for the title.
4. Trading Hersey Hawkins for Brent Barry. Hawkins was done as a starter, and Barry contributed to the Sonics for quite a few years.
5. 1997 Draft. Walker found Bobby Jackson with a low first round pick, and while Jackson never got a chance in Seattle, he’s been a strong player in the league.

1. Jim McIlvaine. 7 years. ‘Nuff said.
2. 1996 Draft. Seattle picks Joseph Blair, Joe Vogel, Ron Riley, and Drew Barry. I know they were all 2nd round picks, but still.
3. Trading Shawn Kemp for Vin Baker. Of course, there was no way Walker could have known that Baker was going to spiral into oblivion, but anytime you trade the most exciting player in team history, you ought to get something better than a guy like Baker, right? Bonus points for creating the scenario that caused Kemp to have to be traded (See McIlvaine, Jim).
4. August 1999. Walker signed Vernon Maxwell and Ruben Patterson to 3-year deals, signed Jelani McCoy to a 2-year deal, signed Greg Foster for 3, and Vin Baker for 7. Wow.
5. Fired George Karl and replaced him with ... Paul Westphal.
6. Just because it’s such a lousy move, signing Calvin Booth.

Sonics Edge GS in OT

Seattle SuperSonics' Nick Collison drives past Golden State Warriors' Matt Barnes, left, Patrick O'Bryant and Ike Diogu in the fourth quarter of a preseason basketball game Thursday, Oct. 26, 2006, in Spokane, Wash. Seattle won 111-107.<br />(AP Photo/Joe Barrentine)Plenty of good news yesterday ... and one big piece of bad news. It appears that [Now confirmed on the Sonics' website; Swift is out for the year] Robert Swift may be out for the year, pending analysis of an MRI. That would be a blow to the Sonics, and a huge blow to Swift himself, who was hoping this year would be his opportunity to demonstrate his abilities to a greater extent.

Regardless of Swift's condition, the Sonics played quite well last night, especially the non-Allen and -Lewis part of the team, which has been frustrating to say the least in October. Among the highlights:

  • Chris Wilcox gets 11 / 6 in 19 minutes, with only 1 turnover.
  • Johan Petro hits 16 points, best of the exhibition season for him.
  • Luke Ridnour posts another solid outing.
  • Nick Collison again looked great, scoring 19 points to go with 12 boards.
  • The Omen grabbed 7 rebounds and scored 18 points.
  • The Warriors only hit 2 of 11 3-pointers, the best defensive performance of the exhibition season for Seattle.

I'm feeling a little better about the Sonics' chances today than I was a few days ago, which isn't saying much considering I expected them win about 37 games this season. We'll be back with our Predictions for the 2006-07 season in the next few days, so feel free to clip 'n save and throw those picks in our faces this spring.

Thursday, October 26


NBA Commish David Stern thinks the Seattle SuperSonics are swell. Really.You know how you can tell when David Stern is filling your ears with B.S.? Okay, it's an old joke, but get a load of this gem from Mr. Stern, courtesy of Frank Hughes' article in the TNT:

“I would say that Howard, we are indebted to him,” Stern said. “People forget that the success of the Storm is an important aspect of his tenure. The (Sonics) team was one of the most competitive teams in terms of his NBA tenure. And he was very much focused on social responsibility as a platform."

Now, put aside the other crapola in the statement, and focus upon this particular claim:

"The (Sonics) team was one of the most competitive teams in terms of his NBA tenure. "

Unbelievable. It's not enough that Stern, Schultz, Bennett, & Co. are attempting to extort the people of Seattle so they can make even more money, but now Stern is going to stand there and tell us that Schultz fielded "one of the most competetive team" during his tenure?

Really? The fact Stern's Sonics went 209-201 during the five years he owned them makes them "competitive?" Compared to what, the Hawks? Or the fact his "competitive" team advanced to the playoffs twice in five years, winning all of one series? That's competitive? What's uncompetitive in Stern's dictionary, suiting up a team of lemurs?

I'm sorry, I promised I wouldn't talk about this crap anymore, but when I read something like that from Stern it makes me want to vomit. Repeatedly.

Waivers Bring Roster to 15

The Sonics announced Thursday that Denham Brown (picked in the 2nd round this year) and Milt Palacio have both been placed on waivers, putting Seattle's roster at 15.

With Swift likely to head for the DL, that leaves Farmer, Rush, and Wilks competing for 1 or 2 spots.

In other news, Rick Brunson - the former Sonic who got practically no time last year in Seattle - got canned by the Sixers. I'm sad to see it happen in one sense, because Brunson was a Temple grad and a seemingly good guy (gotta love the A-10). On the other hand, maybe this puts him closer to being a head coach, if not at Temple, then perhaps as an assistant.

Thus endeth your waiver update.

One To Go

Don Nelson and the Warriors take on the Seattle SuperSonics tonightThe exhibition season is finally ending, with tonight's game in Spokane against the Warriors the final test. As you've heard by now, Robert Swift is out with a (possible) sprained knee - or worse, meaning that the center by committee situation just got even more messy.

It's likely Johan Petro will start, with Fortson, Collison, Sene, etc. filling in as well. I suppose we could get all depressed about this, but, seriously, Robert Swift wasn't going to be the reason the Sonics made it back to the playoffs this year, and his injury is not going to be the reason why they don't. At this point in time, the Sonics' best lineup doesn't include Swift, Petro or Sene at center - it's with the undersized Collison. If Swift's injury means more minutes for Collison, well, that's not exactly a tragedy, now is it?

Tonight's game should be an interesting one, in that the Warriors are expected to contend for a playoff spot. Plus, there's the opportunity to watch basketball in the hotbed of hoops - Spokane!

Wednesday, October 25

Our New Dads

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 24: (L-R) Adam Silver, Clayton I. Bennett, and David Stern attend a press conference to announce the approval of the sale of the SuperSonics on October 24, 2006 at the Essex House Hotel in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)I would write some witty banter here about this ridiculous photo from yesterday's press conference, but those bastards at YAY SPORTS! already did. (Thanks to Matt Bailey for the tip!)

Predict-o-Meter:Chris Wilcox

Chris Wilcox of the Seattle SuperSonicsPerhaps no player is tied more closely to the fortunes of the Sonics this season than Chris Wilcox. He is the barometer (or, as Kramer would say, “thermometer”) of this team. Ray Allen will get 24 points, Rashard Lewis will get 20, Ridnour/Watson will combine for 12 points and 10 assists, and the youngsters will give absolutely nothing, so it remains for the Sonics to 1) incorporate Wilcox into their offense and 2) for Wilcox to demonstrate an ability to be a consistent producer – a mighty task indeed.

Let’s take a gander, then, at what we can expect out of Chris Wilcox this season, beginning with how he played for Seattle in the spring this year, the greatest contract drive since Calvin Booth’s 2000-01 playoff performance (wince).

After scoring in double-figures five times in the first four months of the season, Wilcox scored 10+ 20 times in the final 2 ¼ months – a prodigious rate for a previously frustrating player. What, beyond the simple reason of more minutes, caused this to happen? In what other areas was Wilcox above-career? (For explanations of some of the more obscure stats, look here.)

Career: 52 Sonics: 59 Pre-Season (PS): 50

Career: 68 Sonics: 79 PS: 61

True Shooting %
Career: 56 Sonics: 63 PS: 55

Turnovers per 40
Career: 3 Sonics: 1.8 PS: 2.9

Points per 40
Career: 16.3 Sonics: 18.7 PS: 10.1

FTA per 40
Career: 4.9 Sonics: 4.3 PS: 5.2

Turnover Ratio
Career: 13.7 Sonics: 10.1 PS: 22.7 (!)

Rebound Rate
Career: 13.55 (estimate) Sonics: 16.4 PS: 19.9

Phew. That’s alot of numbers to crunch in one sitting, I know, but I think it illustrates pretty well that Wilcox’ success was not solely attributable to increased minutes – it was more like (Increased Minutes + Improved Play) * What the Hell Happened to This Guy in Seattle? Oh, and that he’s stunk the joint up in the pre-season, causing Rick Sund to switch to a higher-potency brand of sleeping pills.

Let’s be realistic and assume Wilcox drops to somewhere above his Clippers’ numbers, below his springtime Sonics’ numbers, and better than his pre-season pre-season numbers (got all that?). What kind of player will we get this season?

Start with how many minutes he’ll play. There are 96 minutes for the PF and C. Say Swifty gets 20, Petro 15, Sene 3, Collison 20, and Fortson (!) 5, adding up to 63; leaving 33 for Wilcox, which I think is what the Sonics would expect from him, given the amount of money they’re paying him.

At 33 minutes, I expect Wilcox to get 10 shots and 5 FTs. At his career averages, he would make 5.5 shots and hit 3.5 FTs, give or take, for about 14 points a game. His rebounding numbers were actually improved in LA before the trade, so it’s reasonable to think he’ll maintain that production, putting him at about 8 boards a game.

Now, on the surface those numbers are good, not great, but good. I think most of us would take a 14/8 from the 4 any night of the week, especially when you add in a couple of monster dunks for good measure. Of course, we shouldn’t neglect the likely 2.5 turnovers per game Wilcox will commit, a whole extra TO per contest more than last season. Or the fact that he averaged 5 fouls per 40 minutes in 3 ½ years in LA before posting 3.8 per 40 in Seattle (backed up by his 4.9 fouls/40 in the pre-season).

On the whole, Wilcox should be a plus for the Sonics this season. I expect him to commit too many fouls, enabling Collison to get more PT (fine with me), to be occasionally frustrated with his role in the offense, to put up as many 25/15s as he does 8/6s, and to be generally acceptable as the team’s starting power forward.

Is he worth $28 million over 3 season in today’s NBA? If you held a gun to my head, I’d say no, but he’s not a colossal free agent money pit along the lines of Jerome James or Nene, either. At least not yet.

Tuesday, October 24

SuperSonicSoul gets SLAMMED!

A week after being mentioned in Dime, Supersonicsoul gets some love from SLAM Online. The great BasketBlogger Marcel Mutoni interviews Paul Merrill (hey, that's me!) for their Sonics Preview.

Of course, if you prefer to read a "reality-based" season preview (unlike mine), I suggest Mr. Nussbaum's fine write-up (part one and part two).

Speaking of The Nuss, it sounds like someone has PLAYOFF FEVER!

Sonics Win! Print Playoff Tickets!

Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen (34) is fouled by Phoenix Suns' Amare Stoudemire, during the third quarter of their pre-season NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 23, 2006, in Phoenix.<br />(AP Photo/Roy Dabner)The Sonics finally got off the schneid with a 108-102 win over the Suns in Phoenix Monday night. Led by Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis (again), Seattle outscored Phoenix 58-43 in the second half. Ridnour had an especially nice game, with 11 points, 8 boards, and 6 assists.

Chris Wilcox had a decent outing, although one would hope he would eventually score in double-figures at some point this pre-season (also,that 3-for-6 mark at the foul line ain't making anyone happy).

Robert Swift continues to cement himself as the starting center, posting 6 points in 15 minutes while Johan Petro struggled, committing 3 fouls to go with 0 points and 1 rebound. Ouch.

Seattle's interior defense must have been awful, though, as Thomas, Stoudamire, and Marion combined for 50 points and 24 boards in 71 minutes - telling numbers indeed. Bob Hill can talk all he wants about how he wants to give the youngsters a chance to prove their worth, but deep down he has to sense the danger in not having a veteran post player to defend.

Monday, October 23

More Predict-O-Meter

Can Miss Cleo predict the future of the Seattle Sonics?The second in an ongoing series of Sonic Predictions:

BEST-CASE SCENARIO: Denver implodes as George Karl finally wears out his welcome (shocking!), Minnesota continues to struggle to build a team around KG post-Sprewell and –Cassell, Kirilenko gets hurt ... again, the Blazers fully commit to the Greg Oden Sweepstakes, and the Sonics muddle through to 47 wins and the NW Division Crown (which ranks somewhere between Best Foreign Language Screenplay in a Short Film and a kick in the groin as far as career accomplishments go). They lose in the first round to just about whomever they play.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO: The Sonics make it through November and December in decent shape, pulling into 2007 a hair below .500. In January the wheels come off, the Sonics stagger into the All-Star Break mired in an eight-game losing skid, after a dispute over injury status/playing time/foul prone-ness (take your pick) Danny Fortson gets into a fight with Bob Hill in the locker room, and, finally, the new owners point to the sagging attendance figures and call a press conference.

BEST REASON TO BE EXCITED ABOUT THE SEASON: Mouhamed Saer Sene, aka the Senegalese Assassin. Sene will get bluffed into jumping early more frequently than you’d care to see, but his fantastic leaping skills and highlight-reel abilities will provide a few opportunities for Sonic fans to go nuts this year.

BEST ROAD TRIP: Let’s pray the Sonics are still in the hunt come early March when they travel to play – in succession – the Knicks, Sixers, Boston, and Toronto. That’s about as easy as it gets for an East Coast swing.

BREAKOUT NW DIVISION STAR: Carmelo Anthony should get the nod here, but he’s already so well known he doesn’t really fit (that said, I wouldn’t pass on Melo if I was picking a fantasy team). No, the real breakout guy should be Deron Williams of the Jazz, who’s already putting up solid numbers in the pre-season. If AK-47 is healthy, and Jerry Sloan doesn’t kill someone on the sidelines, the Jazz could be pretty tough this year.

WHY CHRIS WILCOX IS WORTH THE MONEY: Power Forwards who can run and hit baseline Js do not grow on trees, and Wilcox has value in the NBA as a big man who can score and rebound, albeit inconsistently. Of note, Wilcox scored 20+ on six occasions for the Sonics after the trade with the Clippers. The Sonics went 5-1 in those six games, with the only loss coming against Orlando when half the team had the flu/food poisoning.

WHY CHRIS WILCOX IS NOT WORTH THE MONEY: If you read the above paragraph, you know the Sonics went 5-1 when Wilcox went for 20 points. Read between the lines, though, and you’ll notice that Wilcox played 29 games for the Sonics, which leaves 23 other games when he didn’t score 20. Did I mention he scored in single digits nine times, or half again as many times as he scored 20? Or that he finished the year by scoring 8, 7, 9, 6, and 10 points? It’s all well and good that Wilcox is capable of averaging a double-double, but, as the man says, you can hope in one hand and crap in the other – guess which one will fill up first.

BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT THE SONICS: That going 14-12 to end the season means anything. After studying dozens of teams in similar situations to the Sonics in the last couple of years, it became obvious that a team’s record in the final two months of a mean-nothing season has about as much relevance to their performance the following season as the weather on Opening Night. It’s fine and dandy that the Sonics played decent ball the last spring, but it doesn’t mean jack this fall. If you don’t believe me, try this on for size: The Rockets and Warriors finished the ’04-’05 season with a combined 39-11 record. Last year? Both were home for the playoffs.

Saturday, October 21

Sonics Fall to Blazers, Fans Jump in Sound

SEATTLE - OCTOBER 20: Damien Wilkins #12 of the Seattle SuperSonics goes up against Brandon Roy #7 of the Portland Trail Blazers during a preseason NBA game at the Key Arena on October 20, 2006 in Seattle, Washington. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006 NBAE (Photo by Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE via Getty Images)It's just the pre-season, right?


The fact the Sonics dropped a dud to the lowly Blazers last night - the team, along with Charlotte, most likely to get the #1 pick this coming June - at home, doesn't mean we're facing another season of ineptitude, right?

Well, let me throw some numbers at you. In statistical circles, one term you'll hear often is "outlier." An outlier is any value in a set of values that is markedly smaller or larger than other values. See if you can spot the outlier in the following set of values:

40, 37, 52, 35

If you haven't guessed that 52 is the outlier, well, head back to math class. If you haven't guessed that 52 is the number of wins the Sonics posted 2 years ago, then you're not much of a fan. And if you haven't gathered that it's more likely the Sonics will post 37 wins than 52, well, you're naively optimistic about this team's chances.

Read the gory details here about last night's loss.

Friday, October 20


Predictions for the Seattle SonicsAs the regular season draws closer and closer, it’s inevitable that we’d come out with our predictions for the season. Upcoming articles will detail the season more, but here are some quick glimpses at what I expect to see this year, the 40th in Sonic History.

BEST FRENCH-SPEAKING PLAYER: You’d expect a 2nd-year guy to win this, but I’m going with the rookie, Mickael Gelabale. Petro still seems so raw that I don’t expect him to get more than 10-15 minutes a night, while Gelabale could wind up supplanting Damien Wilkins in the rotation and becoming the regular backup to Ray Allen.

WORST STRETCH OF THE YEAR: Mid-December. The Sonics play consecutive road games against Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Memphis, before returning home to face Dallas. The Sonics would never have faced such a horrific Hannukah schedule if a Jewish guy owned the team ...

STEP FORWARD: I’d love to say Robert Swift, but I still think he’s too young to really make the leap this year. I’d also love to say Chris Wilcox, and I suppose going from a string of DNPs in L.A. to averaging 8 points and 8 boards would be an improvement. I still don’t buy into Wilcox being an above-average PF in this league, but just the simple fact he’s going to get minutes this year means his numbers will improve, at least relative to the rest of his career.

STEP BACKWARDS: I hate to say it, but Ray Allen is due for a come-down from his 25 ppg last season. His age (31) merits fewer minutes than the 39 he averaged last year, and shooting guards always begin a decline phase of their careers at around the 30-32 year mark. Allen is a remarkably-conditioned man, so perhaps he can forestall Father Time, but I’m not betting on it.

FIRST PLAYER TRADED: The smart money is on Danny Fortson to be traded at some point this year – but will he be the first to go? Wilkins’ relatively inexpensive contract makes him palatable to other clubs, but Fortson’s presence on a team with a surplus of big men has him the most likely to go first.



TOTAL WINS: 37. Think I’m being pessimistic? Check the Vegas lines, folks. There are 3 teams with longer odds to win the title than Seattle (currently at 115/1): Portland, Charlotte, and Atlanta. People, when you’re in the same sentence with those clubs, you are in a world of trouble. Right now, the Sonics are sitting at 35 ½ on total wins this year in the sports books – personally, I think that’s overly negative, and I’d expect the Sonics to do better than that, but not a whole lot better.

Thursday, October 19

Da Fort is Back!

Danny Fortson's knee might still be gimpy, but it sounds like his elbows are in mid-season form:
For the first time in training camp, Danny Fortson participated in a scrimmage, which was open to the media. He fared well until getting frustrated and flooring rookie free agent Kenny Adeleke with an elbow.

Fortson, who has not played in a game since Jan. 23, then left the scrimmage, iced both knees and went into treatment. It looks more and more as if he will open the season on the roster and could receive playing time if his gimpy left knee holds up.

Read the rest in today's Seattle P.I.
And, in case you missed it the first time around, here's our Dannny Fortson comic book in all its glory:

Front Cover
Part One
Part Two

Tuesday, October 17

Sam's The Man

Former Seattle Supersonics forward Sam PerkinsThanks in no small part to the efforts of voters from supersonicsoul, Sam Perkins earned a spot on the Sonics' 40th Anniversary Team, joining Slick Watts as the 2 Wild Card entrants. Somewhere in Utah, Tom Chambers is cursing us all.

Dag! We're in Dime!

SELF-PROMOTION ALERT! Check out the latest issue of DIME for a brief (and I mean brief) Sonics season preview by yours truly. The guys at DIME are very cool, so please go buy several copies. Or just send them bags of money. Either way is good.

Saturday, October 14

Battle for Backups

Not much news to report on the Sonics front with the exception of a nice story in the PI about Kareem Rush and Earl Watson returning to Kansas City. Kudos to Gary Washburn for finding a story most people would have skipped - I'll bet 90% of us thought of Nick Collison when the words "Kansas" and "Sonics" appeared in the same sentence, but Washburn delved deeper and found two guys with stronger ties than Nick to the area.

With no games to review, let's take a look at how the battle for the final roster spots are going for the Sonics thus far. As I see it, the following guys are locked in for the season:

Allen, Lewis, Collison, Ridnour, Watson, Wilkins, Wilcox, Petro, Swift, Gelabale, Sene, Fortson.

That's 12 people, leaving 2 or 3 open slots. Of those 12, they break down this way by position:

PG - 2
SG - 3
SF - 3
PF - 3
C - 3

(Some guys can play multiple positions, so it's not faulty math on my part).

The Sonics will likely carry 13 or 14 guys, including the "King of DNP-CD" Danny Fortson, at least until he's moved to somebody else by midseason. That means the rest of the guys on the training roster are competing for 1 or 2 spots. Here are the competitors (And wouldn't this make a better reality show than most of the crap out there? Really, do we need 2 nanny shows?)

1. Denham Brown, 6'6", SF, 8-1
2. Desmon Farmer, 6'5", SG, 20-1
3. Mike Wilks, 5'10", PG, 10-1
4. Milt Palacio, 6'4", PG, 30-1
5. Kenny Adeleke, 6'8", F, 50-1
6. Kareem Rush, 6'6", SG, 5-1

The last bit in each line is my guess at the odds of each making the roster. Palacio and Rush have a leg up on the rest with their relatively extensive NBA experience, but the fact Milt's only gotten 8 minutes in the first two games shows where he ranks in my mind. Wilks' presence on the roster last season should be an edge for him, and Brown's extensive minutes in the Portland game shows how the staff seems to like him.

Obviously, this is a total crapshoot at this point, and the ends of the roster have (almost) zero influence on how many games the Sonics will win, but, hey, it's a Saturday and there isn't a whole lot else to talk about, so there you go.

Friday, October 13

Sonics All-Star Team

The voting is mostly done for the Sonics' 40th anniversary team (Actually, in a strict interpretation of the word, next year would be their 40th anniversary, because the first year doesn't count. Think of it this way: You get married in 1971. Would that mean that 1972 would be your 2nd anniversary? No, it would be your first anniversary. The Sonics' first season was in 1967-68, which means their 40th anniversary would be the 2007-08 season, not the 2006-07 season. But I digress).

The lone remaining spot is for the "Wild Card," and your options are:

Tom Chambers
Slick Watts
Brent Barry (!)
Sam Perkins
Bob Rule

I'm sorry, but I don't want to live in a world where Brent Barry gets more votes than any of those 4 guys. For the love of all that is holy, get yourself to supersonics.com and vote as often as you can for any of the other 4 guys. Personally, I'll mark a big X for Mr. Sam Perkins.

Sonics Fall to Lakers

ANAHEIM, CA- OCTOBER 12: Nick Collison #4 of the Seattle SuperSonics brings the ball upcourt during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Honda Center, on October 12, 2006 in Anaheim, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)<br />NBAE/Getty ImagesThe big story out of LA wasn't that the Sonics lost a pre-season game to the Kobe-less Lakers, but that Nick Collison is a MAN ON FIRE!

Collison contributed 20 points in a scant 24 minutes, his second consecutive impressive showing in the two pre-season games. In fact, comparing Collison to Chris Wilcox through two games, you get:

Collison: 31 points, 16 boards, 4 fouls, 51 minutes
Wilcox: 11 points, 13 boards, 5 fouls, 46 minutes

Conclusion? Pre-season games don't mean squat. Still, it's nice to see Nick isn't racking up fouls like Alton Lister on crack anymore. Hopefully, it will be a trend he continues during the course of the regular season as well.

In other news, Ray Allen broke the shotclock on a dunk, Luke Ridnour's thumb isn't broken but he'll still miss the next game, the Sonics will be playing in Collison's old gym, the Sonics' trio of young centers stunk up the joint last night, Bob Hill doesn't think Earl Watson should start, Gelabale impressed Hill by scoring in the post in the late stages of the game, and the Sonics have been outscored 45 to 18 from beyond the arc.


Thursday, October 12

Sonics knock NateBlazers, 99-89

Portland Trail Blazers' Zach Randolph expresses his displeasure to a referee in the fourth quarter of Portland's NBA preseason basketball game against the Seattle SuperSonics on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2006, in Portland, Ore. The SuperSonics won 99-89.<br />(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)Preseason already? I guess that means the Supersonicsoul Summer Vacation is over . . . (sigh).
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Rashard Lewis scored 13 of his 17 points in the third quarter and the Seattle SuperSonics defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 99-89 on Wednesday night in the first preseason game for both teams.

Zach Randolph had 20 points and seven rebounds for Portland, which squandered an 11-point lead.

Dan Dickau, acquired in a draft-day trade, scored eight straight points and gave the Blazers a 35-24 lead in the first half. Jarrett Jack and draft pick Sergio Rodriguez made consecutive 3-pointers to give Portland a 53-45 halftime lead.

Lewis' third-quarter outburst helped close the gap to 70-67, and Nick Collison's layup gave Seattle a 73-72 lead.

Read the rest here.

Monday, October 2

Greatest Dunkers

In light of the Sonics’ celebration of their 40th season, we thought we’d do our part to honor the heroic history of the Sonics, such as it were. Today’s entry highlights the 5 greatest dunkers in Sonic history, counted down, Casey Kasem-style.

Keep in mind that I’ve only been following the Sonics since the early 1980s, so apologies to fans of Spencer Haywood, Bob Rule, etc., as I just never saw them in action.

What? Derrick McKey? Pete, I thought this list was greatest dunkers, not most confounding small forwards!

Well, gentle reader, let me educate you on the gloriousness that was Derrick McKey in his young prime. Tell me, what other Sonic bumped his chin on the rim? I regret that YouTube is barren of evidence, but, trust me, McKey’s leaping ability had few equals.

What McKey had in grace, the X-Man had in power. Whether it was an offensive board put-back slam, or the cruising-in-from-the-wing fast break tomahawk, X was arguably the most powerful dunker in Sonic history (non-Olden Polynice Division). My favorite Sonic dunk will always be his alley-oop against the Lakers in January 1986 on CBS.

You have to respect the only man to win the Slam Dunk competition in a Sonic jersey. D-Mase’s speed and agility meant any number of beautiful, under-the-basket wraparounds, fast-break sprints, and just dozens of fantastic jams. His between-the-legs, show-it-left-and-right move sealed the deal for his 2001 Slam Dunk title at the All Star Game.

Ah, the Statue of Liberty: Seldom imitated, never duplicated. A forgettable career, but a remarkable feat, Stansbury was the true winner of the 1987 Dunk Contest, not the bald guy from Chicago. Stansbury’s dunk remains a thing of beauty, from the takeoff to the clenched fist at the end. I think everyone in my high school gym class at the time spent the next week trying to imitate that move.

There are dunkers, and there is The Man. The fantastic dash through the Knicks in the middle of traffic ... the unbelievable dunk and quasi-kung fu move against the Warriors in the playoffs. Like ice cream, everyone has their personal favorite, but we all can agree that Shawn Kemp has no equal when it comes to dunking greatness.
Honorable Mention: Tom Chambers, James Bailey, Ruben Patterson, Sedale Threatt.

Sunday, October 1

Support the team--GO TO THE GAME!

Do you want to keep the Sonics in Seattle? Of course you do. The best way to support the team is to buy tickets to the game, which is where my friend Jason Rubenstein comes in.

Jason works for the Sonics and is as passionate about the game as we are. He also wants to get as many people to games as possible, so he's offering some special deals to Supersonicsoul readers:
Hi everyone! We currently have seating available for season seats for the 2006-2007 season, 4 Games - $40 Total.


Wed., Jan. 10 Miami

Tue., Jan. 23 Denver

Wed., Feb. 14 Phoenix

Tue., Mar. 13 Detroit


Tue., Jan. 16 Cleveland

Sat., Feb. 10 Sacramento

Fri., Mar. 23 Minnesota

Fri., Apr. 6 Lakers

Seating is available in the $24 section, so it's a great value at almost 60% off. This also gives you guaranteed playoff priority and the privilege to add-on additional games at the package discount (This is the big benefit - add-on Opening Night, Chicago, Dallas, Spurs, etc...).

Seating is limited. Contact me with questions or to order your seats--I'm happy to assist!

Be sure to mention that you found my information on Supersonicsoul and I will be sure to get you down to the arena for a tour, complimentary game, and a great deal!

Jason Rubenstein
Official Supersonicsoul Ticket Representative,
If you want to help keep the team in Seattle, then do your part and buy some tickets.