Well, that was quite a shakeup Mr. Bennett issued yesterday, though it was as unexpected as a failed movie starring an SNL alum.
With Sund and Hill both out of the picture, I'm hoping that Bennett/Wilkens (hereinafter Benikens) first move will be to acquire a GM. Unfortunately, all the good GM candidates are kind of busy right now. There's this thing called the "playoffs" taking place, and anybody that's good at their job is likely involved in it.
That obviously puts Benikens in a crappy spot. Do they wait until late June to make a move, and pray that a coach/GM combination is available? Do they go for a guy like Adelman or Larry Brown now, then hope that whichever GM they get later on is cool with it?
Personally, I think the best move is to go GM first, coach second. With that in mind, here's a wishlist of GMs:
1. Kiki Vandeweghe; people forget how bad the Nuggets were before he took over in 2001. He transformed them to a playoff team by acquiring Marcus Camby, Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and George Karl. He also drafted Nikoloz Tskitishvili with the 5th overall pick in 2002. Ouch.
2. Jerry West; late of the Grizzlies, West obviously knows how to create a playoff team, but color me less than enthusiastic about him leading the Sonics. He radiates weariness of the NBA, and while he got the Grizzlies into the playoffs after a inheriting a woeful franchise, I don't know that he's the right fit for the Sonics.
3. RC Buford, Spurs; the safest pick, Buford leads the most-envied franchise in the NBA. He's found international guys like Ginobili and Parker and continues to mix and match veterans and youngsters. But I've got to wonder, why in the hell would he want to leave S.A. for Seattle?
4. Sam Presti, Spurs; Buford's assistant is only 30 years old, but is often mentioned as a potential candidate. I'd be wary of hiring him, only because he'd have the spectre of Lenny Wilkens hovering over him. I look at it this way: let's say the Sonics are poised to make a trade, with Presti arguing for Answer A, and Wilkens for Answer B. They go to Bennett to settle the argument. Who do you think Bennett's going to side with: the 30-year-old neophyte, or the 70-year-old wizard?
5. Lenny Wilkens, Methuselah; sorry, but I am really beginning to think this will be the answer. The Sonics are in such disarray right now that it's going to be really difficult for any GM to come in and do much of anything.
Think about how next year is going to go. Assume that the deadline for building a stadium comes and goes. In November, the Sonics will be playing in a half-empty arena with crowds that are booing their home team. The whole season feels like something out of "Bad News Bears." What GM in their right mind would want any part of that? I have the distinct impression that next year will be in wait-and-see mode, until the team packs up for parts unknown and begins its new life with a new GM and a new coach.