Saturday, December 30
Make Some Resolutions
No other way to describe that game against Minnesota. After the Dallas loss at home, I figured the next 5 games would tell the tale for the Sonics' playoff chances this year - they'd probably win two home games, lose to Denver, then Minnesota ...?
Well, that question mark can firmly be labeled an L, and the Sonics' likelihood at the playoffs is somewhere around the likelihood of an outdoor swim in Minnesota or Denver this week.
Hopefully, the Sonics will rebound against the Celtics on New Year's Eve, but I'm not exactly holding my breath. Oh, in case you're thinking the Sonics will be able to get off to a good start in '07, here's their first two weeks' worth of opponents:
Dallas, Houston, Knicks, Golden State, Phoenix, Miami, Utah
Friends, it just doesn't get easier when you're the worst or next-to-worst team in the Conference.
With all of that in mind, here's some off-the-cuff resolutions for the Sonics for 2007.
Rick Sund - Find a way to deal either Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, or both. If you haven't guessed it by now, this team is going nowhere, and Sugar Ray - new child notwithstanding - is no spring chicken.
Bob Hill - Learn how to use workopolis.com more efficiently.
Clay Bennett - Return "How to Order Coffee and Speak Seattlese in 3 Easy Steps."
Earl Watson - Buy new set of luggage - you're gonna need it.
Danny Fortson - Ask Earl if you can use his old suitcases.
Mickael Gelabale - Stay in shape - you're gonna see a lot of minutes come February.
Ray Allen - Seriously consider selling your home in Seattle while the market's still favorable.
Luke Ridnour - Resolve to buy extra thank you cards for Earl for screwing up his chance at taking your job.
Rashard Lewis - Be thankful your injury keeps you out of crappy Sonic highlights on ESPN for the next two months.
Nick Collison - Resolve to visit mystic Hindu spa where you can find yourself, or at least find Reggie Evans' self, 'cause this Nick ain't the Nick we need.
Chris Wilcox - Resolve to send thank you note to Dunleavy for allowing you to come to Seattle, where you can now make $8 mil. a year to be an underachiever.
And, finally, Johan Petro - Just keep counting the days until free agency, when some dumb GM will undoubtedly give you a six-year deal.
Happy 2007, everybody!
Friday, December 22
Rashard Lewis Out 8 Weeks
Well, Ray's back at least.
Thursday, December 21
Ghosts of Supersonics Past
Does the slow death-watch of our beloved Sonics make you yearn for the glory years? Well, our pal Eric Neel of ESPN is working on a piece about the Sonics 40th Anniversary (remember that?) and he wants to know what YOUR favorite Supersonics memories are. Here are the specific questions he sent to me:
Leave your answers in the comments and I will make sure E-Neel gets them. My favorite Sonics memory? How about that 1987 Playoff run?
- What do the Sonics mean to you?
- What would you do if they left town -- how would you cope?
- What are your favorite memories over the years?
- Who do you blame for the position they're in now?
- How worried are you?
UPDATE: Thanks for all the fantastic memories &mdash keep 'em coming! But please leave your name so Eric can credit you on ESPN.com. Thanks!
It's Go Time
With a miserable 10-17 record, Seattle stands six games back of the #8 seed in the playoffs. And while some might say the playoffs are not important for this team's progress, I disagree. I think the playoffs are essential to the team's development - or else this ship needs to be blown up, and quick, because Ray Allen ain't getting any younger, people, and he ain't getting any better.
In the next 11 days, the Sonics play 5 games: Toronto, New Orleans, at Denver, at Minnesota, and finishing with Boston on New Year's Eve at Key Arena.
The Sonics must win 4 of those 5 to stand any chance at moving forward this year. A 4-1 mark would put Seattle's record at the end of 2006 at 14-18, which would put them amidst the Golden States, Minnesotas, and Portlands of the world. With Allen due back on Saturday, the Toronto game is now winnable again. Likewise, New Orleans and Boston at home. That leaves Minnesota as the one tough road game the Sonics must get.
If I'm Rick Sund and Clay Bennett, I'm giving this train until January 1st to get back on track. If the Sonics manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory more than once in the next 11 days, I'd seriously consider unhooking some of the cars from the train and start adding some different pieces.
Tuesday, December 19
Iverson a Nugget
To counter the Nuggets' acquiring Iverson, the Sonics are looking at picking up Penny Hardaway, as Mitch Richmond and Clyde Drexler refused to return their calls.
Anyhoo, Denver's lineup (and, remember, they're the second best team in the NW Division) now looks something like this:
C - Camby
PF - Nene
SF - Melo
SG - JR Smith
PG - Iverson
With Boykins, Najera, et al coming off the bench. Hey, Rashard Lewis, care to re-evaluate your thoughts today?
"Now we're in a position where we can catch up with [the Nuggets] easily," Lewis said of the Sonics (10-16). "You don't wish for things like [the brawl and suspensions] to happen, but now that it has, you think about how that can affect things in the division."
I know, that's a cheap shot at Rashard, as he didn't know Iverson would be on the next thing smokin' for the Mile High, but c'mon, did anyone seriously think the Sonics had any chance at passing the Nuggets this year?
Folks, the Sonics are in last place in the NW Division. The coach they let go - Nate McMillan - is currently leading the "rebuilding" Blazers to 4th place. The Timberwolves, whose roster was seemingly cobbled together by pulling names out of a hat, are 2 games up on Seattle. The Jazz and Nuggets are so far ahead of the Sonics in the standings, Bob Hill would need Dick Cheney to find him a defense contractor to build a $750 million telescope to see them.
This road trip has fried my last sense of loyalty to the Sonics organization. Trade Ray Allen, trade Rashard, make Fortson the new Wheedle - I really don't care. Good luck, Oklahoma City, I hope you enjoy this team more than we have.
Monday, December 18
Grin and Bear It
As the Sonics continue to stumble through a difficult road trip, I'm reminded of David Halberstam's book "Summer of '49," which detailed the incredible 1949 season from the perspective of the Yankees and Red Sox.
One story in particular stayed with me. The Yankees' pitching staff had a term for when a starting pitcher was forced to stay in the game in order to preserve the overall health of the staff, even though said pitcher was getting hammered and losing badly. They called it "your turn in the barrel," in that it was going to kill your ERA and you had no chance of winning, but you did it regardless.
From my perspective, the last four games have been the Sonics' "turn in the barrel." Even in a best-case scenario - a healthy Ray Allen, Robert Swift, and Earl Watson - the Sonics would have struggled on this trip. But with all 3 of those folks MIA for some or all of the trip, the Sonics really didn't have much of a chance. It kills us as fans, but it happens in the NBA. There are trips that you just have no chance in and you just have to muddle through.
That turn in the barrel ends tonight, though, when the Sonics travel to Memphis. The Grizzlies are just that - they've lost 6 straight and are a 2-point win over the Celtics from a 10-game losing skid. Memphis is a terrible rebounding team, and Pau Gasol's return from injury has yet to pay dividends.
If ever there was a team ripe for a home loss, it's the Memphis Grizzlies. The Sonics MUST take care of business tonight, regardless of it being the 2nd of a back-to-back on the troad. A loss tonight would put this club in full-fledged desparation mode, and Chris Wilcox has to be able to take advantage of the weaker Grizzlies for a bona-fide 20-10 night. Luke Ridnour has to punish Mighty Mouse and look more like the guy who went for 26 and 9 assists against the Warriors than the imposter who went for 2 and 1 against the Cavs a couple of nights ago.
Otherwise, with the Mavericks coming to the Key on Wednesday, Christmas could start to get ugly for Bob Hill.
Saturday, December 16
Anyway, I think it's fair to say that more than a few people who follow the Sonics are asking, "What Happened?" right about now.
“I just think our team is at a point right now, we’ve had so many injuries and our schedule has been so tough, they just don’t believe they can win,” Sonics coach Bob Hill said, courtesy of Frank Hughes at the TNT.
Ouch. Anytime you've got a coach saying his players don't believe they can win, you know things are in somewhat dire straits. As Gary Washburn points out in the PI, the Sonics have fallen behind by double-digits in their past three games - all losses. This was the same formula they perfected earlier in the season, and it's one we'd hoped had been lost on the last long road trip, when the Sonics seemed to be emerging from their early-season funk.
Fortunately, Ray Allen is on the mend. Not so fortunately, Pau Gasol is as well, which means the Sonics might not have the same pot of gold sitting at the end of the rainbow they were expecting when the road trip finishes in Memphis. With the next game in Detroit, the final one in Memphis, and the start of a homestand against Dallas, a 6-game losing streak suddenly doesn't look so unlikely.
Worse, if the Sonics do lose all 3 of those games, they'll be standing at 10-17 on the season. Which means that in order to win 42 games - the absolute minimum I'd guess for a playoff bid - they'd have to go 32-23 for the remainder of the season, or basically win 60% of their schedule, something they've managed to pull off once(!) in the past nine seasons.
Thursday, December 14
Thursday Morning Whine
I live in Canada, and I don’t have extended cable, but I’d like to watch the Sonics play. These are my options:
1. Get digital cable, which enables me to see the Sonics about once every other week on the various Canadian all-sports channels.
2. Buy a satellite dish, and get somebody to install an illegal satellite chip that enables me to watch Fox Sports NW.
3. Buy NBA League Pass, which enables me to watch the games on tv ... and on the internet.
But here’s the kicker. This is the option I want, but cannot get:
4. Get NBA Broadband, but not League Pass
You see, I’m not interested in paying $200 for NBA League Pass for the occasional time I’d like to watch the Sonics play. I am interested in NBA Broadband, but according to NBA policy, you can only get NBA Broadband IF you order NBA League Pass, or, as the league puts it, “NBA LEAGUE PASS Broadband is not sold as a stand-alone product. You must be an active NBA LEAGUE PASS satellite or digital cable subscriber to get NBA LEAGUE PASS Broadband.”
My question is: Why? Why can major league baseball – perhaps the most stodgy of all the major sports – offer all of their games on the internet for about $15 a month, but the NBA can’t? Why am I forced to subscribe to something I don’t want – NBA League Pass – in order to get something I do want – NBA Broadband?
Can someone smarter than me explain why the NBA deems it necessary for their customers to buy League Pass, when there are thousands of people like myself who only want to watch the games on the internet, and who are willing to pay for it? That it’s either pay us $199 for League Pass, or nothing?
At this moment, you can go to mlb.com and sign up for mlb.tv all winter long for $15. Now, there’s not much going on in the winter, but that’s a heckuva deal. Why is Major League Baseball able to do this, but the NBA – the self-proclaimed purveyor of all things hip and now – is not?
Maybe there’s an intelligent explanation out there. Until I hear it, though, I’m forced to use things like TVU or SopCast to watch TV on the internet, and hope the connection works when the Sonics are on.
Wednesday, December 13
So, let's give in to impulse and ponder the unponderable - should the Sonics deal for Allen Iverson? What would it take? Who would you give up to get one of the greatest competitors in NBA history?
Ray Allen? Rashard Lewis? Paccelis Morlende? Ibo Kutluay? They're all fair game in this world.
So go ahead, channel your inner Bob Whitsitt and put on your trading cap. Let us know who the Sonics should deal to get AI (or, for that matter, if they should deal anyone). If you're unsure of salary-cap ramifications, turn to realgm.com for help.
My opening bid: Ray Allen and Danny Fortson for Iverson.
Tuesday, December 12
Well, yours truly is stuck at work this evening for at least an hour or so later than normal, which means I can check out the Bucks-Sonics game on the web. Feel free to comment as it transpires, and I'll try to do the same.
In the immortal words of Brent Musberger, "You are LOOKING LIVE at MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN!"
I agree with the comment posted earlier - Michael Redd v Damien Wilkins (or Lewis, depending on how the Bucks line up) will be huge. I think the Omen can slow down Redd, and I like the Sonics chances tonight. Here's my guess:
Sonics 112-Bucks 105
Meet the New Ball. Same as the Old Ball.
NEW YORK (AFP) - The National Basketball Association will return to using leather balls rather than the microfibre composite version that brought numerous complaints from players, NBA commissioner David Stern announced.
"Our players' response to this particular composite ball has been consistently negative and we are acting accordingly," Stern said.
Read the rest here.
Half-Full or Half-Empty?
Likewise, the Sonics' recent streak of five games. David Locke writes at the Sonics' website that the insertion of Nick Collison has been a cause for the recent streak of well-played games. Elsewhere, the web is abuzz with the Sonics' string of improved play.
But is it really improved play? After all, you'll recall that earlier this season, the Sonics went on a road trip where they lost two games by all of two baskets - games that from Sonics' fans' perspective were winnable. "If only Turkoglu had missed, or if the Heat had just not made one extra shot," we said, "we might have swept the whole road trip."
Funny how that "if only" applies to losses, but never to wins. For if one looks closely at this recent streak, one sees that the Sonics are two baskets away from losing three of five, rather than winning four of five. All of sudden, the Collison move isn't such a great one, is it? After all, Collison wasn't starting when the team played well on the road, was he? Ray Allen wasn't sidelined with a bum ankle and Watson and Wilkins revitalized, were they?
Of course, you'll remember how the Sonics played after that trip - they lost six of eight games.
The Sonics are due to start a five-game road trip tonight in Milwaukee. Four of the five games will be against playoff-caliber teams (okay, the Bucks aren't that great, but they're at home and the East kinda stinks this year), teams with a combined record of 27-11 at home. The Sonics will be picked to lose all four games on the road against the Eastern teams, and may be underdogs against the Grizzlies as well.
All of that means that the Sonics could come home from Memphis with a five-game losing streak, and all of that talk about how the Sonics are on the upswing will go straight down the toilet. Add in the continued absence of Ray Allen for the entire trip, and, well, count me as less than optimistic about the Sonics' chances.
Before the Warriors game I said I needed some more convincing before I could jump on the Sonics' bandwagon. The Sonics won, so I should be happy, right?
Well, I've come to the realization that the Sonics are going to continue to tease us all season. That's what mediocre teams do - they win games they shouldn't and lose games they shouldn't. You get overly exicted by mini-win streaks, then depressed after they lose at home to teams they should've destroyed. And who knows, maybe the Sonics will knock off the Bucks tonight and shock the Bulls on Wednesday, kick-starting a push for the top of the division.
I wouldn't bet on it, though.
Monday, December 11
Oh, Flip, You Make Me Laugh
"That's the kind of basketball I have played my whole life," sayeth Flip, regarding his role as the first option on offense for the second quarter of a recent game. "I've always been in that situation (No. 1 option). I just haven't found the right comfort zone in the NBA yet, where I can be that person."
This part, again:
"I've always been in that situation (No. 1 option)."
Right, Flip, you've always been the No. 1 option, if by No. option you mean "the first guy you put in when you're either leading or trailing by 15 points." Or, "the No. 1 option for selecting toppings on the lockerroom pizza."
Seriously, Murray's been in the league for going on five seasons now, and he still hasn't found a role as a starter in this league. Sorry, Flip, but if you think you deserve starter's minutes, perhaps you should give these guys a call.
Saturday, December 9
Nothing like a
Lost in the shuffle - D.E.F.E.N.S.E. I'm talking 14 steals and 26 New Orleans turnovers type of defense. Earl racked up 5 on his own, and Wilkins and Ridnour combined for 7 steals.
On Wilcox, check out these numbers:
FGA in two games since Ray Allen got hurt: 29
FGA in previous FIVE games with Ray in lineup: 31
In other words, the points Ray was getting are going directly into Chris Wilcox' pocket (as well as some other guys, of course; i.e., Wilkins, Watson, etc.). Honestly, I was totally wrong about Rashard Lewis stepping up - either the Hornets were waiting for him to do it and they overcommitted to stop Lewis, or he's just not capable of being the guy on a consistent basis.
More importantly, it hasn't mattered. As always seems to happen in these cases, other people have helped - Watson, Wilcox, Wilkins, Gelabale, Petro - easing the hurt of Ray's absence.
All right, let's take a deep breath. The Sonics just got done knocking off two teams that aren't exactly title contenders. The Hawks and Hornets were a combined 4-9 in their most recent games before taking on Seattle, so a little restraint is due.
To me, the real test will come on Sunday at home against the Warriors. Golden State is on an even playing field with the Sonics. Both are teams that have performed below expectations, but both have a large number of talented players. Most important, both are possible end-of-the-playoff-bracket type teams. A win against the Warriors before the Sonics head out east for a 5-game trip would be flat-out fantastic.
Friday, December 8
Allen out 7 games
Personally, I'm sorry for Ray, but excited for Rashard Lewis. The next two weeks are a great opportunity for him to show that he is ready to be a #1 guy in the NBA. Lewis ought to lead the Sonics in scoring every night, and I hope he can boost his scoring enough to get everyone to realize how talented he is.
Add in the extra minutes for Wilkins, Gelabale and Watson, and the lockerroom ought to be a lot happier these days.
The Sonics will host New Orleans tonight. The Hornets opened the season at 8-3, but have dropped 5 of 6 and now stand at 9-8, partially explained by their complete lack of offense in four straight games, where they failed to score 85 points even once. Jannergo Pargo has been huge off the bench in the Hornets' last two games, and I hope Earl Watson sees the challenge presented to him and finds a way to contain the young Hornet PG.
Obviously, this is a game the Sonics should win. They're at home and the Hornets are struggling, and that usually means a win. However, Allen's absence is the X factor - can the Sonics group together and play better, or will they use Ray's injury as a cop-out for a lack of intensity?
I see the Sonics winning - 105-94.
Thursday, December 7
The X Factor
As the rumors continue to swirl about a Rashard Lewis deal, today marks the anniversary of a trade that sent a Sonics legend and Seattle icon packing. On December 7th, 1990, the Seattle Supersonics sent Xavier McDaniel to the Phoenix Suns.
The trade, of course, turned out to be one of the best in team history, netting the Supes Eddie "not the child molester" Johnson and two first-round draft picks for an unstable player who was clearly past his prime. At the time, however, it was a dagger in the heart of the few Sonics fans left following the team in those bleak post-Lenny, pre-Karl years. X was the soul of the Sonics &mdash the antithesis of the squeaky-clean era of Magic and Bird. The one cool thing about an otherwise crappy team.
We all have our own favorite X-man moments. His spectacular rookie year (in which he was robbed of the Rookie of the Year award by Patrick Ewing, who was injured most of the year). His thundering dunk against the Showtime Lakers in the '87 Western Conference Finals. Choking Wes Mathews.
One of my favorite X-man memories, strangely enough, was after he left Seattle. In 1992, X was with the Knicks, taking on Chicago in the playoffs. The Bulls were at the start of their dynasty and Jordan was at the peak of his untouchableness. Did this intimidate X? Maybe this picture will tell you. X didn't back down to anyone, even His Airness.
To this day, when I see Ray Allen, I still think "How dare he wear number 34. Doesn't he know whose jersey that is?" That's how crazy I am about X.
And the Sonics traded him.
Painful trades, though, have always been part of the re-building process in sports, and the Sonics have been no exception. Trading Gary Payton helped build the miracle team of 2004. Trading Slick Watts helped build the '79 Championship team. Trading Jack Sikma cleared the way for the Chambers/Ellis/McDaniel years. And X-man's exodus ushered in arguably the greatest era in Sonics history &mdash the gold-rush years of Payton and Kemp.
It's just too bad X wasn't around to enjoy it.
Wednesday, December 6
Luke Ridnour’s biggest failing in the eyes of Sonics fans has always been his defense. Everybody loves Frodo’s ability to penetrate, hit the occasional jumper, and generally be his free-flowing Oregon self. It’s his inability to keep other people from doing the same thing that’s been his downfall as a Sonic.
How has he been in that phase of his game this year? Is he improving, or do the Sonics need Earl Watson to come out of his funk to ensure they have any chance of contending for a playoff spot in 2007?
First, Luke’s had a much greater impact on the offense than he has in the past, which gives him some extra leeway for whatever defensive shortcomings he possesses. So far, the Sonics score an extra 10 points per 48 minutes with Luke in the lineup than without, compared to an extra 2 points last year. Obviously, a bulk of that is due to Watson’s horrific performance relative to last season, but Luke has to get some of the credit.
But what about defensively? Again, the numbers are much better than last year – even better than his offensive improvement. Whereas last year the Sonics allowed 6 more points with Luke than without him, this year opponents score 3.6 fewer points per 48 minutes with Ridnour on the floor.
The numbers carry over in almost all phases of the game. Opponents have a lower eFG%, lower rebounding rates, fewer assisted field goals, and commit more turnovers when Luke’s on the floor.
Obviously, this is somewhat due to the fact that Ridnour is on the floor with the 1st unit more than in the past, as he averages an extra 2 minutes a game over last season. But the fact the Sonics allow seven fewer points (107 vs 100) with him on the court this year is a remarkable accomplishment.
Add in his improved FG% (from 41 to 48), increased points (11.5 to 14.9), and improved 3-point shooting (29 to 42), and it looks like Ridnour may indeed be a point guard worthy of keeping around.
In fact, compared to other PGs, Ridnour is quickly becoming one of the upper echelon points in the NBA. His 3-point percentage ranks 5th, he’s 10th in 2-point percentage, 12th in steals per game, and 9th in offensive rebounds per game.
Maybe the easiest way to look at Ridnour’s defensive improvement is the PER for opposing point guards. Last year, Luke’s opponents were at 19.0 PER, clocking in with 9 assists per game and a 51% eFG. This year, the PER is down to 16.2, assists are down to 6.8, and eFG% is at 46 – huge drops across the board.
The increased minutes have negatively affected some aspects of his game (I’m wondering if his FT% will increase to career levels, or if it’s tougher for him to hit the shots when he’s more winded than usual), but it seems that the question is no longer who should be Seattle’s starting point guard, but rather, should Luke Ridnour be on the all-star team?
One team shot 23 3's, one team shot 8.
One team had 44 boards, one team had 28.
One team had 6 guys in double-figures, one team had 3.
Oddly enough, it was the Sonics who took fewer 3's, rebounded better, and featured balanced scoring. Naturally, it took an injury to their best player to accomplish those feats, but it was a great win nonetheless. Damien Wilkins had himself the kind of night we've been expecting for 2 1/2 years - 10 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, all in a mere 23 minutes.
But, to me, the best part of the win was seeing Rashard Lewis take over as the leader. For a long time, we've questioned Lewis' ability to be THE MAN on a team as he's always seemed like a second-banana, Scottie Pippen type player.
But maybe we're wrong, maybe Rashard IS capable of being the guy, he's just never had the opportunity. We often forget how young Rashard is, and how long it takes some guys to grow into their height and get used to the league. I'm not saying the Sonics should deal Ray Allen this weekend, but the idea of Rashard Lewis as team leader doesn't look so bad.
Tuesday, December 5
Vote for Jelly Belly
If you follow the sports world a little too in-depth, no doubt you’ve heard about the Vote for Rory phenomenon in the hockey world.
Rory Fitzpatrick, an anonymous defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks, has drawn more than 30,000 votes as a write-in candidate for the NHL All-Star game – all due to a website created by some goofy Canuck fan(s). By posting his appeal on message boards, and receiving publicity from places like deadspin.com, it has gotten to the point where Fitzpatrick – who has yet to register a goal or an assist this season – is now in the top 15 for defensemen.
Well, I’d like to take that attitude to the hoops world. My write-in candidate? One Mr. Mickaël Gelabale. The rookie forward from France doesn’t deserve to play in the all-star game, but since when did that mean anything?
Herewith, five reasons to vote for Mickaël Gelabale:
1. Best hair in the NBA – bar none.
2. He's the best player in NBA history from Guadeloupe.
3. He doesn’t just have game, he has “French game.”
4. He could kick Tony Parker’s butt.
5. He has an umlaut in his first name.
So, Sonic Nation, do your part. Go to the all-star ballot page, swing down towards the bottom, click on the write-in section, scroll down to Gelabale, and VOTE!
French Sonic Nation, put down your baguettes and help out!
German Sonic Nation, quit marveling at your Christian Welp poster and vote!
True Hoop, HoopsHype, all you big-time websites, do your part to spread the word.
Our goal is not to get Gelabale into the starting lineup, but merely to get his name in the top ten. If only we can frustrate one copy editor, then we’ll have done our part.
Monday, December 4
Roy Smalley and Ray Allen
One section in particular stayed with me. Will was a fan of the Cubs as a kid, and the Cubs’ shortstop in those days was one Roy Smalley (senior, not junior). Smalley was a dismal hitter, yet Will vividly recalled the team’s announcers talking about how Smalley was “due for a hit.” Will argued that Smalley was never due – that he was just a bad hitter and wasn’t due for anything beyond a strikeout.
Bill James took up this argument in a different form, in regard to people “breaking out of slumps” in one of his annual abstracts in the 1980s. James’ argument was that even if someone goes 4-for-5 after weeks of 0-for-4s, it doesn’t mean he’s going to run off a streak of multi-hit games. It just meant he went 4-for-5 today.
Why am I bringing up all of this on a website devoted to the Sonics? Because there seems to be some sort of idea that Ray Allen has broken out of his 3-point slump because of his stellar 4th-quarter performance on Saturday against the Jazz.
After 3 quarters of play on Saturday, Sugar Ray was all of 2-for-9 from the field – flat-out lousy. Of course, in the final quarter he caught fire, nailing 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.
Does that mean anything, though? Why does one good quarter outweigh 3 lousy ones – or about 30 lousy ones if you count the previous half-dozen games? Is it just our desire for the universe to become orderly, for the sun to rise in the west and Ray Allen to shoot lights-out?
I’m sorry, but the last time Ray went 4-for-9 from long-distance he followed it up by hitting 10 of his next 46, the very slump he’s supposed to have emerged from in Salt Lake City.
I’m not an idiot – I know Ray Allen’s a borderline superstar and quite possibly the best shooter in the game. But something’s wrong with his stroke this year, and whether it’s the new ball, poor health, or jock itch is anybody’s guess.
Just don’t expect me to believe all is better because of what happened in the course of 10 minutes in Utah.
Saturday, December 2
Sonics (Phew) Win!
Was I the only one who sensed a somewhat frenzied, close-to-playoff atmosphere in the 4th quarter last night? Living in Vancouver, I was lucky enough to catch the 4th on tv last night (on Fox Sports Indiana, "Your Home for Pacers basketball and not much else!"), and the back and forth, every possession is crucial style was very exciting.
Of course, I live in Canada, and anything non-hockey related kind of gets my motor started, so who knows.
Anyways, Luke's clutch 3 and even clutcher (?) runner in the lane sealed the deal. And, his 2 non-clutch missed FTs with seconds remaining almost sealed it in the other direction. Regardless, I came away with the following from the game:
1. Mickael Gelabale DEFINITELY needs more playing time. The hair is good enough, but when you add in his energy, it's a no-brainer. See ya, Damien.
2. Earl Watson is becoming as important to the Sonics as the price of whiskey in Salt Lake City. Even in the 4th, it seemed he had nothing to do with the offense.
3. Seattle ran the clock down to zero way too many times in the 4th, resulting in craptacular heaves to beat the buzzer.
4. Fantastic offensive rebounding performance down the stretch. I can't count how many times Seattle kept possessions alive with clutch boards.
5. Rashard Lewis needs to take it stronger to the hole. I noticed two instances (one Clark Kellogg noticed as well) where Lewis went for the fey, avoiding contact move, rather than going up against Jermaine O'Neal and drawing a foul/dunking.
Well, enough of that rambling. What were the thoughts out there on the game last night?
Friday, December 1
It looks as though the NBA's zero-tolerance policy on complaints to officials may be going out the window. NBA Union boss Billy Hunter filed two unfair labor practice charges Friday against the NBA re the new ball and the league's crackdown on player complaints.
Normally, you'd read something like this and say, "So what?" Except that in this instance, Hunter actually has a strong leg to stand on, in that the league never consulted with the union on the rule change, as it is obligated to under the current bargaining agreement.
I'd imagine the end result would be Stern & Co. backing off a bit on the no protest front, and allowing some more leeway to players. As for the new ball, I'm highly skeptical of anything changing, in that it would be a massive egg in the face of the league if they're forced to abandon something like this in mid-stream.
On a completely unrelated matter, Elton Brand is co-producer of Werner Herzog's new film, "Rescue Dawn," as well as 3 other films. According to Herzog, Brand was "the most reliable investor in the whole thing." (courtesy of Harper's Magazine, December issue).
I don't know how many film geeks read this site (with the exception of Paul, that is), but I'm sure they'd appreciate the utter surrealness of that last paragraph.
Jamaal Magloire: Yay or Nay?
You’ve no doubt read that Jamaal (“The Other Canadian”) Magloire is on the outs in Portland these days, and the Blazers may be inclined to deal him. As fans of a team with a dearth of talent at center, does it make sense for the Sonics to inquire about a 6’11” former all-star in the last year of his contract?
Yes and no. Here’s a brief rundown on the positives and negatives to getting Magloire.
1. Attitude. Magloire is working on his 3rd team in 3 years, and it would shift to 4 if he’s dealt. That’s never a good sign.
2. Poor foul shooter. This might be a fluke thing, but for the past 2 seasons Magloire has been abysmal. Like I said, it could be just a fluke, as he was solid at the start of his career and decent at Kentucky.
3. Not a great passer, when compared to Collison. Also has a higher turnover rate.
4. Makes $8.5 million this year
5. Not an especially agile defender.
1. Gets to the line often (6.3/game for career/40 minutes), especially in relation to Collison (3.2) or Petro (don’t ask).
2. Playoff experience. He’s not Sam Perkins, but he has played 36 playoff games. To some people, that matters.
3. Solid defensive rebounder; again, his numbers are vastly superior to Collison. 4. Decent shot-blocker. Not as good as he was at the start of his career, but capable of blocking at least a shot a game if given 30 minutes.
5. Not especially foul-prone. This is something of big importance; both Collison and Petro attract fouls like Britney Spears attracts bad publicity. Magloire’s ability to stay out of foul trouble enables him to stay on the court longer, and keeps opponents from getting to the bonus so quickly.
6. Contract expires at the end of the season.
I look at it from this perspective – the Sonics are one decent offensive player away from contending for a playoff spot. Allen, Ridnour, Lewis, and Wilcox aren’t going anywhere, and who knows if/when Wilcox will ever figure out a way to get 15 points a night. That leaves the center position as the best way to add points.
Petro is not going to take this team to the playoffs at this stage in his career; if anything, he’s going to be a hindrance. Collison is inconsistent, and while his peripheral game is nice, he has way too many bad games to be a starter in this league.
Magloire is not a long-term solution for the Sonics, but he doesn’t have to be. He needs to keep the center spot warm for one season until Petro develops, and Swift gets healthy.
In my mind, putting Magloire on this team adds instant offense and catapults Seattle to a chance for the playoffs, a chance which is non-existent at the moment.
Here's how it could work: Deal Danny Fortson and another piece (Wilks, the Greek guy, or Desmon Farmer) to the Blazers for Magloire. If Seattle has to throw in a 2nd-round pick, so be it. The Blazers save some money, get a guy (Fortson) who they can hold onto and wait for his contract to expire, or deal away. Plus, they shed somebody who will start squawking because he's not getting minutes.
If Bennett and the Sonics’ new ownership is serious about keeping this team in town, they need to do something to create excitement. A 38-win team with no chance at the playoffs is not exciting. A 45-win team that makes it as a 7th-seed and a decent chance for a 1st-round upset is.
What do we have to lose?
Tack this to your wall and wait a couple of months for it to ripen:
" I'm not going to look over anybody's shoulder. I don't think that's right. I think when you hire someone to do a job, let them do it. But they know that I'm there, I'm available. I can help them in any way."
Lenny Wilkens, on Rick Sund and Bob Hill