Friday, March 30
Sam Presti: The Spurs' young hotshot assistant GM is already being rumored as a candidate to run the Sonics, should new owner Clay Bennett decide to clean house in Seattle.
Here's his bio from the Spurs' web site. I'm not sure if I read it correctly; was he 29 years old when they hired him in 2000 (making him 35 now), or is he 29 now, meaning he was 23 when they hired six years ago?
Either way, he's young, he's been trained by the Spurs, and he's not Rick Sund. Win, win, win.
Player A and Player B
Player A: 15.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 12.4 FGA, 4.9 FTA, 50% FG, 65% FT
Player B: 12.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 9.1 FGA, 4.0 FTA, 54% FG, 68% FT
Here’s the rub: It’s the same guy.
Player A is Chris Wilcox when Ray Allen is out, Player B is Chris Wilcox when Ray Allen suits up.
It’s a significant difference. On one hand, you’ve got a guy who’s underpaid at $6.5 million a year, pulling down close to 16 points and 9 boards. On the other, you have Vlade Radmanovic without the 3’s or funky accent.
The crazy part is the rebounds. It makes sense Wilcox gets more touches when Allen’s out (see Lewis, Rashard). What doesn’t make sense is why Wilcox turns into Mailman-lite when Sugar Ray is in streetclothes. Even if you throw out his crazy 22-rebound game a week ago, he’s still averaging close to 8 boards a game, which is light years ahead of his pace when Allen’s in the lineup.
Some of it can be traced to Nick Collison. The more minutes Collison plays, the fewer boards Wilcox gets, and recently, Collison has been occasionally seeing fewer minutes. This isn’t always true, but in the four most recent games where Nick played fewer than 30 minutes, Wilcox nabbed 22, 12, 9, and 9 boards.
Some of it is minutes. Wilcox is averaging an extra 3 minutes a game when Allen’s out, which helps.
But that doesn’t explain all of it. In spite of all the numbers, I think it boils down to the same reason why the Sonics have run off three wins in four games despite not having their best player in the lineup:
The Sonics are a different team when Ray Allen is out of the lineup. First and foremost, Allen is a jump-shooter, and because he is so good at what he does, the rest of the team has a tendency to stand and wait for Ray to bail them out. It’s not a criticism; it’s a logical way to approach things.
We all do the same thing in our daily lives. My wife’s family is huge; it seems that they have weddings on a monthly basis each summer. With a big family, that means tons of preparation for each wedding. I’ve noticed, though, that it’s the same four or five people who always wind up doing the work, while the rest of the family stands around asking, “How can I help?”
I think the same disease has infected the Sonics. Rather than being assertive, the rest of the roster has become passive, asking Ray, “How can we help?”
Well, with Allen no longer around, they’re forced to do it themselves and, so far, it looks like they’re doing just fine without him. Perhaps I’m treading in sacrilegious territory here, but maybe the Sonics ought to consider parting ways with their superstar shooting guard. Considering he’s on the downside of his career and needs to win immediately, is it possible the needs of Ray Allen (go for broke in the next two years) are opposite to the needs of the Seattle Supersonics (build around a nucleus of Swift/Petro and Lewis)? Isn’t it just a tiny bit curious that everyone on the team seems to play better when he’s not around?
It’s a bit sad, because Allen has been nothing but a pro in his time in Seattle, someone who has given his all on the court, and who has given his time in the community. But I hope whoever inherits Rick Sund’s chair this summer gives serious consideration to moving Jesus Shuttlesworth somewhere else this offseason.
The Seattle Supersonics on Public Radio?
As hard as it is to believe, I will be on KUOW this weekend taking about the Seattle Supersonics &mdash and it won't be about the stadium!
The always funny John Moe from "Weekend America" is doing a story on fans who root for their teams to lose, and we talk about the conflicted emotions of watching the Sonics come back from 25 down to win a meaningless game.
The piece will air during "Weekend America", this Saturday at noon locally on KUOW, or you can download the podcast. And, no, I don't know what a podcast is.
Thursday, March 29
Sonics Win Back-to-Back on Road; Hill Wants More
Hill and his staff have drastically improved five players — Chris Wilcox, Nick Collison, Earl Watson, Johan Petro and Damien Wilkins, and Allen was averaging a career-best 26.4 points on two bum ankles.
I don't know that any of those guys - other than Collison and possibly Petro have "drastically improved." Watson's play has been erratic, Wilkins seems to have flatlined, and Wilcox has put up inferior numbers to the ones he had during his spring fling with the Sonics last year. And, if you think about it, shouldn't Petro be improving regardless? Wouldn't he get better just standing in a gym by himself taking free throws, considering his relatively sparse experience in competitive basketball?
I also enjoyed this bit from Hill, culled from Frank Hughes' piece at the TNT:
I am not the kind of person who runs in his office and starts pointing fingers at other people.
Oh, please, Bob. Hey, I wanted you to get the job and I thought you got unfairly tossed in San Antonio, but if you're going to stand there and say that you haven't thrown players under the bus this year, well, you're flat out lying.
Enough of that. The more pressing news is the Sonics' second consecutive win on the road, a 3-point triumph over the Answer, Melo, Nene, and the Ball-grabber. Once again, the story was Rashard Lewis, who dominated the end of the fourth quarter and carried the Sonics to the win. Once again, Luke Ridnour proved he and Bob Hill are not even in the same book, let alone on the same page.
It's puzzling, you know, how Hill is able to get these guys to play so hard when they have so little for which to play. In fact, it's given me an idea: Maybe the Sonics ought to try an innovative strategy next year: Hire Rick Adelman to coach the team from November until March, fire Adelman, and let Hill guide them the rest of the way. This way, the Sonics get Adelman's regular season brilliance, none of his craptacular playoff failures, and they get Hill's obvious ability to win in spring-time with none of the fall weather doldrums.
Wednesday, March 28
Sonics to fire Bob Hill, hire Lenny Wilkens?
Seattle SuperSonics coach Bob Hill continues to throw players under the bus, which would seem to eliminate him from future NBA coaching consideration. In recent losses, he blamed Earl Watson and Chris Wilcox for costing games by blowing plays and said the Sonics should give up if they lose Rashard Lewis in free agency. The word around the NBA is Lenny Wilkens will return to coach in a transition season as the team considers a move next season.
Read the rest here.
Tuesday, March 27
Sonics Dominate in 4th Quarter; Pope Announces Conversion to Judaism
Earl Watson and Rashard Lewis were the keys to victory, especially EW's 24 points off the bench. And who would have guessed that Mike Wilks would get nearly as many minutes (17) as Luke Ridnour (24)?
Add it all up, and the Sonics seem bound and determined to get the 7th pick in the draft this year. For one night, though, it all seems oddly worthwhile.
Do Your Part
Now, I'm not going to tell you how to vote, that would be, well, Republican. Instead, I'm going to tell you that if someone were to vote for Squatch, I would be severely disappointed in them.
So, do your part, honor the past, and go to supersonics.com and vote for Bob Blackburn. Remember, a vote for Bob is a vote for greatness. A vote for Squatch is a vote for a Halloween costume.
Bill the Beerman, RIP
Bill Scott, better known to his many fans as "Bill the Beerman," died Sunday night from complications of colon cancer originally diagnosed in 2001. He was 58.Listen to Bill the Beerman in action (from my old "Sonic Boom LP").
For more than 20 years, Scott led cheers in the Kingdome, starting in 1976 as a beer vendor who spontaneously encouraged fans to shout at Seahawks and Mariners games.
If you lived here then and went to the Kingdome, you knew him, the big barrel-chested guy with the beard and booming voice who sold you beer and gave you permission to cheer.
Read the rest here.
With that in mind, here's how some of the draft "experts" see the Sonics going:
Draft Express: Spencer Hawes (um, no thanks)
NBA Draft.net: Jeff Green, Georgetown (author makes mental note to pay extra attention during Final Four)
Hoops Hype: Julian Wright, Kansas (again, no thanks)
MyNBA Draft.com: Joakim Noah, Florida (I cannot think of a player I would less like to have on the Sonics, and I'm including junior college guys with one leg)
Fantapedia.net: Yi Jianlian, China ("his face up game would fit in with the Sonics' up-tempo offense"; right, because what the Sonics desperately need is a center who doesn't like to play down low).
Should be an interesting game tonight. I was shocked by how the Sonics handled Garnett in the last meeting since you would assume he'd be able to get whatever he wants in the paint. I'd have to expect the Wolves to get something tonight, though.
Sunday, March 25
Goodbye Ray, Hello Oden?
Seattle, WA (Sports Network) - Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen will miss the rest of the season with bone spurs in his left ankle.
Allen, the NBA's eighth-leading scorer (26.4 ppg), will require surgery but a specific date has yet to be determined.
"It makes sense for Ray to go forward and have the surgery," Sonics general manager Rick Sund said. "He's been playing with pain for some time now, and all parties involved agree that this is what is best for Ray in the long run."
(from the Seattle P.I.)
Friday, March 23
No Ray Tonight
Allen's headed for LA to meet with the same surgeon who operated on his ankle a couple of years ago. The Sonics expect to know this weekend, or possibly Monday, if he'll go ahead with the surgery and bag the rest of the season.
Whoa, There, Weezy
Um, yeah, it's Wilcox alright, but it's Wilcox from last year, when he went off against Milwaukee and Sacto in back-to-back games on March 21 and 22. Of course, he followed that up by grabbing 33 boards in the next five games, then going for double-doubles in four straight, then single-singles in three straight.
In other words, if anybody thinks Chris Wilcox has suddenly turned the corner and is entering the realm of a consistent scorer/rebounder, I'd suggest downing a nice glass of warm milk and settling down. Call him Weezy, call him Wilco, call him whatever, but the man has proven one thing in his five years in the league: He is just as capable of scoring 6 points as he is 26.
Is it circumstances? Is it lack of PT? I have no flippin' idea, but the fact remains that Wilcox has gone for big nights in LA and now in Seattle, yet for some reason he has yet to elevate his game to the next level. His flukish 79% free throw percentage for the Sonics last season was a total aberration from his career marks, and Coach Hill admitted in Kevin Pelton's article today at supersonics.com that he's reluctant to throw the ball to Wilcox down the stretch due to Weezy's inability to hit shots from the stripe.
Detractors will point to Karl Malone's improved FT% as evidence that players can change from the stripe, but they should also point out that Malone's percentage went up each year at the start of his career, until he reached a point where teams could not longer count on fouling him. Wilcox' numbers, however, have been as inconsistent as his overall play: 50, 70, 61, 64, 78, 65.
I'm not saying Wilcox isn't a decent player, and it's possible he's worth the six and a half mil a season the Sonics are paying him. But to say that he's "figured it out" after five years of inconsistent play based on a week and a half of above-average performances ... well, I guess I'm just a little more skeptical.
Thursday, March 22
Schlep to the Finish
Here are the Contenders:
And a quick look at handicapping (and that is definitely the right word to use for this group) how the rest of their seasons play out.
Milwaukee (15 games left): It’s likely they’ll win a couple of games, as they’re home against Boston, NY, Indy, Atlanta, and Charlotte. FINAL RECORD: 29-53
Charlotte (13 games): The Bobcats have won 4 of 6 and are probably the team least likely to tank the rest of the year, with the exception of the Blazers. FINAL RECORD: 31-51.
Philly (14 games): The Sixers 7-game win streak at the beginning of the month torched their chances at getting the #1 or #2 spot. Philly’s got home games against Boston, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Toronto, plus roadies against NY and the Celtics. FINAL RECORD: 31-51
Seattle (15 games): Thank God for the Western Conference, where teams actually suit up 12 people who can walk and chew gum simultaneously. The Sonics have all of two relatively winnable games left (Memphis and Denver at home), plus the roadie against the Blazers. Minny on the road is possible, but other than that we’re looking at a big ol’ list of Ls. FINAL RECORD: 29-53.
Atlanta (13 games): The Heat snapped ATL’s 5-game home win streak on Wednesday, but the Hawks could still do some damage down the stretch. FINAL RECORD: 31-51
Portland (15 games): Portland’s probably got the hardest schedule to close up, with 9 road games, including the dreaded Texas 3-step. I can see 3 or 4 wins, but no more. FINAL RECORD: 30-52.
With all of that, here’s how the field plays out:
29-53: Seattle, Milwaukee
31-51: Charlotte, Philly, Atlanta
A Sonic loss to Portland on the road (entirely possible) would put them at 28-54, provided they don’t screw up and win a game they shouldn’t. How Ray Allen decides to finish the year will be huge; if he decides to sit, I think the Sonics are the odds-on favorite to finish with the 3rd-worst record.
We’ll check in tomorrow with how the team with the 3rd-worst record has fared in the draft the past few years.
AD and Earl
Monday, March 19
Hill of a Year
I think Bob Hill has done a decent job this year.
Now, I’m not nominating the guy for Coach of the Year, but considering the lousy circumstances in which he is forced to compete, Hill deserves some credit.
To what circumstances am I referring? Try these:
1. A front office that is mired in the quicksand of new ownership
2. A roster overloaded with inexperienced big men
3. A point guard duality that makes early the 20th-century Balkan states look like Club Med
4. A contract status that lets the players know he has no power
5. A power forward who is late more often than a hooker who forgets to take the pill
And, yet, in spite of all this, Hill has his team competing. Even though their playoff chances are somewhere around Adam Sandler’s Oscar chances, Hill has convinced them to play hard.
Some of that comes from Ray Allen, who has defied advice to have surgery and is instead enduring pain night after night just so the team doesn’t throw in the towel. Still, I think Hill deserves a bit of praise for the way the Sonics have continued to compete, despite everyone thinking they should board the good ship Lotteria.
After a horrific 6-game losing streak to start the new year, you could smell the blood in the water. The Sonics weren’t going to make any moves at the trading deadline, Lewis was hurt, Fortson’s follies were a continual distraction ... and the Sonics have somehow trucked along, posting a 13-15 record since that lousy spell, with only five games out of those 28 being blowouts.
Hill has his detractors, yours truly included, but if you look at this situation from his perspective, I think you have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Sure, playing Ray Allen 40 minutes a night when he’s got pain in his ankle isn’t smart, but what does Hill get out of saving Allen? He’s going to be fired regardless of how the Sonics finish, and his only chance of getting another job lies in the team getting as close to 40 wins as possible. You think his next employer is going to give a rat’s ass if he fell on his sword to help the Sonics compete better next year, when he’s long-gone? Of course not.
No, if you’re going to blame anyone for Allen or Lewis’ extended – and futile – minutes, take a look at Rick Sund, not Bob Hill. It is Sund, or his employers, that lack the gumption to just sack Hill and let an assistant run the show from here on out.
It all makes me think of the Spurs, for some reason. Can anyone imagine Popovich allowing the Fortson saga to drag on for what seems like 10 years? Can anyone imagine Phil Jackson permitting a point guard to tank the first half of the season because he didn’t like the minutes he was getting?
Of course not. But, then, the Sonics aren’t run by insightful, tough-minded people. They’re run by people that think it’s smart to draft teenaged centers three years in a row.
Tuesday, March 13
Danny Fortson: Cyborg Smasher Issue #2
--END OF TRANSMISSION--
Monday, March 12
Seattle........... 25..........38......... 1 1/2
The NBA has been around for more than 50 years now. At roughly 1,000 games a year, that's more than 50,000 basketball games, and I doubt that there have been more than 3 occurrences of a made 4-point play giving a team a 2-point lead with fewer than 30 seconds remaining.
And yet, that's what happened to the Sonics on Sunday. Ray Allen bailed Seattle out by hitting a clutch shot off his own miss with a couple of ticks on the clock - propelling the game to OT, where the Sonics, naturally, blew it - but to me, that Bargnani 3 plus the penalty was the difference.
In a way, the game was like an NCAA tournament game. Allen and Bosh trading shots, Allen hitting an off-balance 3 in the corner while on the move and seemingly falling out of bounds, Bosh going behind the back on one end and then hustling down to block Earl Watson's shot on the other ... the whole game was just nuts.
But it wasn't all bad news for this Sonic fan this weekend. Yes, it rained so much in Vancouver that Noah was seen readying an ark, and yes, the Sonics got swept by Boston and Toronto, but the Ducks took it to the Trojans in LA, won themselves a Pac-10 Tourney thanks to Bryce Taylor's unbelievable 11-for-11 performance.
Coupled with some losses in other tourneys, the Ducks were booted all the way up to a #3 seed in the Midwest, and will play their first two (let's not rush things, Pete, calm down), in Spokane, a mere 6 1/2 hours away from Vancouver. I'll miss the first game on Friday, but should the Fighting Waterfowl prevail, you can bet your Orlando Williams' commemorative jersey I'll be there on Sunday, where the Ducks' opponent could be the hated Notre Fighting Irish. Don't know about the rest of you, but in a fight I'll take a Duck over an Irishman any day of the week.
Saturday, March 10
Seattle............... 25..........37......... 1/2
Brutal loss to the C's in Boston. A 16-point first half lead goes up in smoke, and the Sonics wind up losing by 15 to a team that is so committed to the Oden sweepstakes it's a joke.
The Fortson saga captured some headlines, but I doubt anyone on the team is actually affected by it, considering the Big Buffoon hasn't played since January 5, and barely played before then.
The only thing to take away from this game is Rashard Lewis' frustration. Oh, and that the Celtics shot 59% from the field. Players not named Paul Pierce shot 64%, and that's just horrific.
Seattle crosses the border into Toronto for yet another dismal late-season game. It's unknown at press time if Sonic management will boycott the game in protest of Canada's love of same-sex marriages. Stay tuned.
Friday, March 9
(Seriously, are there any doubts the Sonics will go for anyone but Tiago Splitter with their first pick? He’s 7 feet tall, has loads of potential, and will probably take a couple of years to develop. Perfect.)
But what else do the Sonics have to play for? The playoffs? Um, yeah, that boat sailed in November, folks. If Vegas listed odds on the Sonics making the playoffs, I’d guess it would be somewhere between “Odds of Pussycat Dolls Disbanding in 18 Months” and “Odds of Bob Hill Coaching Seattle in ’08.”
To me, only one remotely interesting part of the season remains: Beating the Blazers.
Starting tonight, the standings as the rest of the NBA sees them cease to exist. Henceforth, the standings look like:
When you’ve fallen as far as the Sonics, this is what it comes to. We have no shot at the playoffs and no shot at getting anyone in the draft that will make a difference. A new GM and coach will be brought in this summer, who will likely be hamstrung by our current roster of mediocrity.
And that is why, for James Bailey, for Tom LaGarde, for Gus Williams, for Eddie Johnson, for Dana Barros, for all that is right with the world, and for all the greatness in Sonic history, the Sonics must prevail. To stand up to Jerome Kersey and Portland’s ridiculous “Hustle Board,” Clyde Drexler’s line-drive jump shots, Terry Porter’s absurd bullet head, the annoying Danny Ainge, Adelman’s Hitlerian mustache, Bill Walton’s horrible announcing, against all that is wrong in this world, we must triumph.
20 games. One winner. Go Sonics.
Thursday, March 8
No, I’m not developing an aversion to carbonated beverages or a predilection to getting a couple more wives. I’m just curious as to why the Jazz have succeeded while the Sonics have floundered.
In 2004-05, the Sonics were the kings of the Northwest Division while Utah sputtered to a 26-56 mark, their worst season since the days of Adrian Dantley. Darrell Griffith, and Rickey Green.
Since then, though, it’s a complete reversal of fortune. The Jazz went 41-41 last year and are on pace to finish 56-26 this year, an amazing turnaround from two years ago. The Sonics, meanwhile, have plummeted from first to worst, seeing their win totals go from 52 to 35 to maybe 33 or 34 this year.
So what gives? What the hell happened that made the Jazz so good and the Sonics so, well, not so good?
Well, maybe it’s a good idea to compare the moves made by Kevin O’Connor and Rick Sund in the last two years, just so we can see what went wrong in Seattle and right in SLC.
1. Trade #6 (Martell Webster) and #27 (Linas Kleiza) pick to the Blazers for the #3 pick (Deron Williams). Jazz draft CJ Miles and Robert Whaley in the 2nd round.
2. Trade Raul Lopez to Memphis, Curtis Borchardt to Boston, and Kirk Snyder to New Orleans for Greg Ostertag.
3. Re-signed Keith McLeod.
4. Re-signed Jerry Sloan
1. Hire Bob Weiss
2. Draft Johan Petro, Mickael Gelabale and Lawrence Roberts (later traded to Memphis for cash)
3. Re-sign Ray Allen to long-term deal.
4. Sign Rick Brunson, Vitaly Potapenko, Damien Wilkins, Mikki Moore, Vlad Radmanovic, Flip Murray, and Mateen Cleaves to one-year deals.
5. Extend Nick Collison and Luke Ridnour through 06-07.
1. Trade Kris Humphries and Robert Whaley for Rafael Araujo.
1. Fire Bob Weiss; hire Bob Hill
2. Waive Mateen Cleaves, re-sign Cleaves, waive Cleaves, etc.
3. Trade Radmanovic for Chris Wilcox
3. Trade Evans and Potapenko for Earl Watson, Bryon Russell, ’08 2nd-round pick, and cash.
4. Trade Flip Murray for Mike Wilks
5. Waive Brunson; sign Marcus Fizer, waive Fizer; sign Noel Felix, waive Felix.
6. Extend Bob Hill’s deal through 07-08.
1. Draft Ronnie Brewer, Paul Milsap, and Dee Brown.
2. Extend Keith McLeod’s deal.
3. Trade Andre Owens, McLeod, and Devin Brown for Derek Fisher
4. Re-sign Matt Harpring
5. Re-sign Jarron Collins
1. Re-sign Chris Wilcox
2. Draft Mohamed Sene, Denham Brown, and Yotam Halperin
3. Trade Mikki Moore for a 2nd-round pick in 09 (NJ)
4. Sign Ridnour and Collison to contract extensions
1. Swap 2nd-round picks with Philly in exchange for Alan Henderson’s contract and cash.
2. Waive Alan Henderson.
1. Sign Andre Brown
It’s a lot to digest, especially on the Sonics’ side of things. Does anyone know if Rick Sund’s being paid on a per-transaction basis?
I’ll be honest, wasn’t as down on Sund as most folks coming into the season. His draft record – while abysmal the last couple of years – has been solid taken as a whole. Still, O’Connor has eaten his lunch the past two years, and you can’t blame it all on the new ownership putting a hold on everything.
Just look at the acquisitions: O’Connor looked at his team, saw he needed a point guard and some veteran depth and acquired Deron Williams (17 ppg) and Derek Fisher (10 ppg). Sund looked at his team, saw he needed a veteran back up big man, a backup shooting guard, and a older player to spell Ridnour ... and he picked up a 19-year-old Senegalese center, a 20-year-old French center, and Earl Watson. In other words, he took a lousy situation and made it infinitely worse. When faced with a decision on what coach to hire, he bailed on the decision and asked his players. When he needed to fix his mistake, he hired yet another Sonic assistant (Hill) as a band-aid solution ... then punted on making a serious decision by just renewing Hill’s contract and forcing the team to play for this season, even though the smarter thing would have been to play for next year.
In reviewing both of the GM’s records the past couple of years, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that Sund seems to be constantly putting out fires without really getting to the bottom of why there’s a fire in the first place. Not sure of what to do with all your free agents? Just sign them all to one year deals! Not sure which coach to hire? Promote an assistant!
Can you believe the Sonics have not gone outside the organization for a head coach since Paul Westphal? First Nate, then Weiss, now Hill – all assistants who got promoted because they happened to be in the building.
It’s utterly frustrating, especially when you look at how desperately the Sonics needed someone like Dale Davis to help the young big men, but instead we get Andreas Glyniadakis. The team cries out for someone to come off the bench to spell Ray Allen, but instead we get two SG/SFs who either can’t shoot 3’s or won’t.
The essence of the difference between the two boils down to how the Jazz went after Deron Williams two years ago. O’Connor knew that the #6 and 27 picks weren’t going to make his team a contender, so he dumped them and got the best or second-best young point guard in the league. The Sonics, rather than looking at moving up and getting someone who can help now, have settled on projects in the draft; first Swift, then Petro, then Sene. That’s great if you’re the 1994 Bulls, but the Sonics are a team that needs help now, not 5 years from now.
Not surprisingly, Sund is polishing his resume now, and it’s inconceivable to me that Clay Bennett won’t can him this summer.
Quite frankly, he’d be crazy not to.
Wednesday, March 7
Okay, it's really not that big of deal, but still, in a season that has been one step out of the depths of hell, passing our hated rivals from the Beaver State is about all Sonics fans have to enjoy.
Crazy win last night; the Sonics made more 3's than free throws, Watson and Marbury combined to hit 14 of 19 from 3-point range, and Johan Petro Hendersoned Chris Wilcox (and we can all agree, Coach K was not to blame this time).
In fact, with a Sonic win tonight and a Golden State loss to the Nuggets (both unlikely, but, hey, it's possible), the Sonics would climb to within a couple of percentage points of the Warriors.
One problem in that scenario is the Sixers, who haven't played since Sunday and are riding a four-game win streak. And before you start making snide remarks about quality of opponents, note that included in those four wins are games against Phoenix, Sacto, and the Nets. Andre Iguodala has been huge for Philly, posting McGrady-like numbers in '07, and Lewis is going to have to work hard to shut him down. With Joe Smith and Kyle Korver coming off the bench, the Sonics won't be in for an easy evening tonight.
Even factoring in the high of Tuesday's win, I'd still expect the Sixers to win tonight. Call it 101-89, Philly.
Tuesday, March 6
Gay Marriage and the Sonics
I’ll put my opinion out there first. Personally, it doesn’t bother me that the Sonics would be owned by people opposed to gay marriage. Honestly, I don’t think the government should be involved in anybody’s marriage; it’s a matter between two individuals, and nobody else ought to be messing with it. I guess I look at it that it’s their money and they can do what they want.
But that’s me. Most folks in Seattle are much more left-leaning, I’d say, although it’s possible sports fans are slightly more conservative than the bran-eating Volvo drivers who are more likely to watch PBS than ESPN.
All that said, do you care if Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon gave $1 million of their own cash to pay for an initiative that would ban gay marriage? Is this truly worth talking about, or is it merely a ploy of anti-stadium activists looking to cause trouble? On the one hand, it’s their money. On the other, if the Sonics turn a profit (and you know they will, at least in the long run), your ticket money will – at least partially – be funding these types of initiatives.
Let us know your thoughts. And, please, try to keep the rhetoric to a minimum. If you think gay people are the devil, fine, but we’re not interested. Go phone Rush Limbaugh, or somebody who cares. We’re only interested in getting a feeling as to whether this story even is a story.
Monday, March 5
Allen Guts It Out
And while my initial reaction to this news was, "Why?," after reading about bone spurs, it becomes obvious that having the surgery this summer won't impinge on the Sonics' success in the upcoming season. Recovery time - and this is a general rule - is typically 6 to 8 weeks. Assuming the Sonics don't make it to the Finals (I'm going out on a limb here), Allen could be fully recovered by July, giving him plenty of time to get ready for the season.
And that's probably exactly what Allen and the Sonics were thinking. If the surgery doesn't affect next season, and if Allen can play with the pain, then why not let him play? Ray's comments that the team might - perhaps subconciously - tank the season if he decided to sit out is accurate.
Obviously, how the Sonics play the next couple of months doesn't mean squat for next year (or have you already forgotten the 15-11 run to finish last season, that portended great things?), but there's no harm in giving a message to the rest of the team that their best player doesn't pack it in when things get difficult.
Speaking of packing it in, the Sonics will be visiting a slew of contenders for Greg Oden in the next week or so. But before you start penciling in road victories, bear this in mind: the Knicks have won 2 straight and the Sixers and Celtics are both working on four-game win streaks. In other words, the trip won't be a cakewalk.
Saturday, March 3
Allen's Status Still Up in the Air
According to supersonics.com and Frank Hughes at the TNT, Allen will visit a foot specialist on Monday to determine what if anything should be done to alleviate the pain he's feeling from a bone spur. Also, he'll be a game-time decision for the Sunday game with Charlotte.
Obviously, the prudent thing to do is let Ray have surgery as soon as possible, freeing him up for recovery in time for next season. Still, you have to admire Allen's tenacity in the face of the pain. According to Ray, he's been in pain for most of the season, yet in spite of that he's managed to make the All-Star team, lead the team in points, and basically be the best shooting guard in team history (not to mention his unreal January when he put up 30 points on a regular basis).
Basically, what I'm trying to say is that I was totally wrong when I said the Sonics shouldn't sign Allen to a long-term deal. The guy is tougher than he would seem at first blush, and his defensive shortcomings aside, if the Sonics are going to pay somebody $15 mil a year to play shooting guard, I can't think of too many other players I'd rather give it to.
Friday, March 2
Once again, the bench failed to come through, although it was nice to see Gelabale finally get some minutes (his 13 minutes were more last night than just about any game in the past couple of weeks, and his +7 was the best on the team despite the limited minutes). In fact, you could argue that teaming Gelabale with Watson at the beginning of the 4th quarter was what won the game.
Bizarrely - in this ever-bizarre season - the next five games are all winnable, and I'm including the four-game eastern road swing. Charlotte, New York, Philly, Boston, and Toronto - none of those clubs is scaring anyone this year, with the possible exception of the Raptors, and if you look at it from the perspective that the Sonics' record against the East is better than the Raps' record against the West, well, you might let yourself get a little optimistic.
Thursday, March 1
Fourth quarter disappearing act? Check
Coasting through the first half? Check
Overreliance on Allen and Lewis? Check
No low post presence? Check
Bewildered quotes after the game? Check
Frustrated coach? Check
As Rashard Lewis put it after the game was done, "It was just one of those nights."
One of those nights, one of those seasons, man.