Friday, June 29

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!

Sunday is the big day for free agents in the NBA.

Orlando, Miami, Charlotte, New Jersey, New York, Portland ... it's the proverbial list as long as your arm of teams which are interested in retaining the services of Rashard Lewis.

According to a Miami paper, the Heat have ramped up their interest of teaming Lewis with the Wade-O'Neal combo that propelled Miami to the title last year (is it me or does that seem about 4 years ago now?). With Udonis Haslem as the bait, I'm guessing the Sonics are less than interested in biting.

Orlando and Charlotte are, of course, the most likely destinations for Rashard, but even those clubs are starting to look more unlikely. After acquiring Jason Richardson's $10 million salary, are the Cats all that thrilled about adding Lewis to the mix? Considering Gerald Wallace is as or more likely than Rashard, probably not.

Which leaves Orlando. Personally, if I had to wager on whether Lewis will be wearing blue or green next year, I'd have to bet on blue. If you're Orlando, and your options are 1) renounce rights to Milicic and sign Lewis or 2) sign Milicic and give up on Lewis, you've got to go with door number 2, right? Interesting to see how the front office will spin trading away a first round draft choice to get a center who played about 100 games in a Magic uniform before leaving, but that's their problem, I suppose.

Put it this way: If I'm Rashard Lewis' personal shopper, I wouldn't be buying any green bananas.

10 Reasons to Like Delonte West

The new PG for the Seattle Supersonics, Delonte West
All based off of last year’s numbers ...

1. Gets to the line more often than Ridnour or Watson, and not by an insignificant margin.
2. Better rebounder than either player, by a smaller margin over Watson, and a larger margin over Ridnour.
3. Blocks twice as many shots as either player
4. Shot better from the floor than either player.
5. Better foul shooter than Watson, as good as Ridnour.
6. Player Winning % almost twice as good as either player
7. More Win Shares than either player
8. West’s numbers were greatly enhanced when he played off guard, as opposed to playing the point. In his minutes on-court at the 2, the Celtics – a terrible team last year – outscored opponents 42% of the time. For some reason, he seemed to shoot better and simultaneously hold opponents in check more effectively as a 2. Those Celtic fans and West followers who argue that he was miscast in Boston as a point guard are right, at least judging by the statistics.
9. His shooting percentage, while low last year (43%), was much better in 05-06, when he hit 49% from the floor. If he can find something in between those numbers, I’ll be happy with that.
10. West played much better as a starter getting solid minutes than as a reserve getting spot duty. This is true of most players, but it’s a good sign if the Sonics intend to use him as their starting shooting guard.

There, I did it. I found 10 nice things to say about Delonte West. If I keep this up, maybe by next week I’ll be starting a Wally Szcerbiak Fan Club.

Honestly, it’s a logical move for the Sonics to find a secondary player to fill the shooting guard role. If Durant is the focus of the offense, it doesn’t make sense to have a ball-hog type guard that needs 23 shots a night. In Presti’s world of defensive players who can man multiple positions, West is a thoughtful option.

Also, for any Celtic fans who are dropping by, feel free to add your thoughts as to what we can look forward to with West on board. We’d like to fill in the gaps that the statistics leave empty with a better picture of the newest Sonic.

Reactions From Around the Country

This guy thinks Alvin Davis is still with the Mariners.

Before we go into our own draft day grading, here's a smattering of reactions from writers and experts on last night's machinations.

Foxsports: Gives Danny Ainge a failing grade for the Allen trade, calling Green a solid NBA player.

Andy Katz, ESPN: A-; to quote “The price was high for Green. While moving Ray Allen and his contract was smart, I'm not sure the same can be said for taking on Wally Szczerbiak's contract.”

Bill Simmons, ESPN: Predictably, throws up in his mouth at the thought of a hobbling Ray Allen playing shooting guard at age 34.

Foxsports, Pete Schrager: Hopes Jeff Green likes “coffee, Alvin Davis, Microsoft, and Sonic Youth.” Somebody get this Schrager guy an internet connection will ya? Or at least a newspaper printed in the last 15 years?

Foxsports, Charley Rosen: Thinks the Celtics got a true steal of a deal, that Wally World is a broken-down shell of himself, and that Jeff Green better be good., Chris Mannix: Gives Boston the day’s top honors for getting Ray Allen, calls Wally World a “lockerroom lawyer” (!)., Jack McCallum: “Absolutely love this deal from the Celtics standpoint.” He goes full flip-flop, though, in the next paragraph, by saying he thinks the Sonics had to make the deal. Way to go out on a limb, Jack.

PI, Art Thiel: “That can’t be all” is Thiel’s opening paragraph. He thinks reserving judgement till the rest of the moves are made is the wise choice., David Thorpe: Say Sam Presti has given the Sonics a fresh start and raves about all the moves.

Buzzer Beater, Mike Seely: Unlike the rest of us unwashed masses, Seely was on board from the start, specifically because of Allen’s age.

TNT, John McGrath: The Sonics have dealt away their only source of identity (Allen) in this area for a hope and a prayer.


Seattle Supersonics forward Kevin Durant
Whew. Allright, I'm back from down off the ledge after last night, although it was pretty close around 8:30 or so ...

There's a passage in Genesis 18 that I think is a good read for the morning after the Sonics dealt away Ray Allen and Glen Davis for Delonte West, Wally Szcerbiak, and Jeff Green. In the passage, Abraham is speaking to God about His plan for destroying Sodom.

Abraham wonders, would God destroy the righeous with the wicked? What if there were 50 innocent people in the city, would God destroy them as well? No, replies God, I would not.

Abraham persists. What if there are 40? What about 30, or 20, or 10? God replies, no, if there were only 10 innocent people amongst thousands of wicked, I would not destroy the city.

Finally, Abraham is satisfied, and God returns to watching "Highway to Heaven." The upshot of the story is that sometimes you have to have faith. Sometimes, even though you don't understand the reasoning behind a situation, you have to believe that the person orchestating a chain of events knows full well what he or she is doing, and if that person is reputed to be a wise person (as Sam Presti is), then maybe the best thing to do is shut your mouth and wait to see how it turns out.

Well, that's what I'm going to do. I don't understand why the Sonics mortgaged their present for Jeff Green and took on Wally Szcerbiak's contract when Theo Ratliff's was there for the taking, but Sam Presti does. I don't understand why the Sonics have 3 point guards, a half-dozen small forwards, three centers, three power forwards, and no shooting guards, but - hopefully - Sam Presti does. Perhaps the wisest course of action is to wait and see what the subsequent moves are (trading Luke Ridnour, trading Rashard Lewis, trading Chris Wilcox), and reserve judgement until the middle of July.

For those who thought we (or, rather, I) was too quick to rush to judgement on last night's events: You're right.

But you have to understand, we just spent the past decade with horrible general managers. The first, Wally Walker, is perhaps the most hated man in Seattle. The second, Rick Sund, chased after teenagers like R Kelly on a double shot of valium and Spanish Fly. We're not used to having astute people run this organization, so we're naturally gunshy about any actions they take.

So, to Sam Presti and Jeff Green: My apologies. I shouldn't be so down so quickly on the new regime.

After all, we've still got Kevin Durant, and that's not a bad consolation prize.

Thursday, June 28

Wally Szczerbiak?

Well, this is what it has come to. Unbelievably, impossibly, increduously, the Sonics have somehow managed to turn what should have been one of the greatest days in team history into one of the worst.

Look, I know some people will spin this situation as a positive, and it is entirely possible that I reflect on this 5 years from now, and say, hey, that Presti sure knew what he was doing, right?

But I fail to see how Wally Szczerbiak and Jeff Green is greater than Ray Allen. When you add in the trade of this year's 2nd second round pick for one next year from Boston ... it looks even worse.

A few numbers, if you will:

1. Szczerbiak, of the 4 positions he played on the Celtics last year, was worst at the shooting guard, his presumed position with the Sonics. He has not played substantial minutes at the 2-guard in more than 2 years. In his career, the man the Sonics expect to guard opposing 2-guards has managed to not get hurt in only 4 of 8 seasons. He ended last year with ankle surgery, after missing 24 other games during the season with ankle problems. If this is the answer at two guard, what the hell is the question?

2. Delonte West performed the unique combo last season of making the Celtics offense worse and his opponents' offense better while he was on the court. Again, not someone you're too thrilled about.

3. Jeff Green, according to John Hollinger at, not only didn't deserve to be the #5 pick, "he doesn't deserve to be a lottery pick." This is who the Sonics traded their best player for? A 6'9" SF who didn't block all that many shots last year? Hey, Hollinger's analysis is fraught with peril, and he overlooks his own mistakes (Curtis Borchardt is your good idea of a pick, sir, really?), but the fact that Green is a risky proposition makes you question the wisdom of this trade.

I'll end with how I started. This was supposed to be a great day for Seattle basketball, a day when the flowers started to blow thanks the fertilizer laid by the previous administration. Instead, I feel like we just traded our b.s. for somebody else's pile of crap.

It's NBA Draft time!

The NBA Draft is about to start, and the Durant Era is almost upon us. Discuss the draft here.

Also, Pete and I will be representing the Sonics on Check it out!

UPDATE: Good news: It looks like the ESPN page is finally up. Bad news: they forgot to credit Nussbaum for his quote (the "reaction" quote is his).


Another rumor to report about Luke Ridnour.

In addition to the Ridnour to Atlanta deal for the #11 pick, now there is talk of the Bucks offering to take the former Duck off the Sonics' hands. This rumor is courtesy of SI's Ian Thomsen.

Thomsen also sheds some light on the Ray Allen to Boston deal. Rather than the #5 and Theo Ratliff for Allen, it would be Wally Szerbiak (no!) and Delonte West and the #5 for Allen. The Sonics were holding out to replace West with Rajon Rondo, which makes the deal slightly more palatable, but Danny Ainge was insisting on Robert Swift, which the Sonics didn't want to do.

Again, this is all rumor, and like any good game of telephone, this is probably nothing. But it's worth knowing, just to see what the market will bear for an all-star shooting guard making $17 million a season.

Back to the Future

It’s been a long time, folks, since the Sonics have mattered to this city. Back in the spring of 1998, the Sonics were fresh off a disappointing loss to the Lakers in the second round of the playoffs. George Karl was given the boot for his repeated playoff failures (replaced by Paul Westphal, who was replaced by Nate McMillan, who was replaced by Bob Weiss ... ) and the Sonics selected a teenager from Texas; a 6’9” skinny freak who could shoot 3’s, dunk, and rebound.

Nine years later, and the Sonics have been on a mediocrity treadmill ever since. The hype surrounding this team has rivaled that of a FOX replacement sitcom airing in the summer.

That skinny freak turned out to be Rashard Lewis, who may well be spending his last few hours as a Sonic as we speak. In less than three hours, the Sonics will add the most highly anticipated player to their roster in franchise history. Oden? Durant? Most likely it’s Durant, and that’s just fine with us. Here’s what it means:

- The playoffs are no longer a remote possibility.
- The Sonics will be on national television. If Cleveland can be on with LBJ and a cast of anonymous role players, then Seattle with Kevin and the Durantians will surely qualify.
- Someone other than Chris Wilcox will throw down an exciting dunk.
- It doesn’t matter anymore if Robert Swift shows improvement.
- Sonics-Blazers games just shifted from Oregon State v Washington State to Washington v Oregon.

I haven’t gotten too enthusiastic about Durant before today, since it truly seemed that Portland might go sideways and take Oden. That still might happen, but it sure seems now that the likelihood is more along 80-20 than the 50-50 it seemed a few weeks ago.

Even more amazing is the feeling that the Durant pick will only be a slice of cheese in a massive Sandwich of Change to come. Lewis, the Sonics’ most-tenured player, an all-star who has averaged 20 ppg for 3 consecutive seasons, is likely out the door as well. Ray Allen, the best Seattle shooting guard since Gus Williams, may be gone. Luke Ridnour, the darling of Howard Schultz, is reported to be heading for Atlanta for a draft pick.

It’s an awful lot for a Sonic fan to digest at once, and when you throw in the whole Muckleshoot Casino-built stadium, Clay Bennett’s Cheney-esque tactics with the city, the lack of a head coach, a thirtysomething general manager ... whew, that’s an awful lot for anyone to digest.

I think I’m ready for Friday. Let’s get it on!

Draft Day Daze

Whew. A lot of info to digest today, so let's get at some of the latest news and rumors.

1. The Luke Ridnour to Atlanta for the #11 deal is apparently still alive, although not as hot as it was earlier yesterday. Makes you wonder if the Hawks are still holding out hope for the Stoudamire deal to get a shot of adrenalin before they commit one way or the other.

2. Draftexpress reports that "inside info" says that the Sonics will take Reinaldis Seibutis with the 35th pick. Seibutis is a 6'6" off guard, 21 years old, from Lithuania. He's reported to be a good shooter, but skinny. Guess the Sonics figure he'll be a good backup for Ray Allen, unless...

3. Ray Allen gets traded to Boston for Theo Ratliff and the #5 pick. I can understand the Sonics wanting to get out of Ray's contract, and I can understand going after Mike Conley with the pick, and I can understand getting Ratliff's expiring deal, but as much as I've given Allen a hard time on this site, the man is a bona fide stud. Granted, his skills are in the decline phase, but he's a hard worker and plays well in the playoffs. Let's say the Sonics make it to the post-season this year, wouldn't you feel a lot better knowing that a stone-cold assassin was playing in the backcourt, rather than relying on a rookie (Durant) and Rashard Lewis (assuming Lewis isn't dealt as well)?

More to come.

Wednesday, June 27

Gotta Have Your KD

ESPN's Ric Bucher reported Wednesday night that the Blazers have confirmed to Greg Oden that he will be the #1 pick in Thursday's draft.

It's strange. A few weeks ago, this would have bummed me out since it was obvious that Oden was the perfect fit for the Sonics' situation.

But the more I've thought about it in the past few weeks, the more I have realized that the current Sonics' situation is crapola, and why should we care about how the rookie-to-be fits with us, and why we should care about how we fit with the rookie-to-be.

If that's the case, then Portland can have Oden. The Sonics will figure out a way to accommodate the most talented player in the draft. If that's the worst thing that happens to the Clay Bennett regime, then, well, this is gonna be a fun ride.

Acie Law

Anyone else out there surprised by how Acie Law's stock is falling as the draft approaches?

Before the tournament, Law seemed a lock as the top PG in the draft. After Mike Conley did a Tiny Archibald impression in the tournament, Law fell a bit, to where he would be 15th or so taken.

Yesterday, John Hollinger released a new draft analysis that pegged Law as one of the more likely busts in the draft. Then today, draftexpress revealed their win shares outlook at the draftees, and they likewise lumped Law in with Corey Brewer and Spencer Hawes as people to avoid in the draft.

The big knock on Law seems to surround his steals (or lack thereof) and a concurrent lack of athletic ability. It now seems like Law could fall even more ... or this could all just be hype from draft experts and Law could wind up going to Atlanta with the 11th pick. Combined with Presti's comments at his press conference about his appreciation for defense and the ability to play multiple positions, and it sure seems that even if the Sonics are able to parlay their two second-rounders into a first-rounder, they won't be looking at picking up Law.

Sweet Dreams

We’re getting closer, and baby, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Seattle.

You just know that Portland will pick Oden, and that leaves us to sop up the greatest consolation prize in the history of consolation prizes: Kevin Durant. Getting Durant with the second pick in the draft is like hitting the bars with a friend, watching him get the girl you’ve both been ogling, then – while they’re grinding on the dance floor – you bump into a drunk Salma Hayek.

Something like that, anyways. I’m just so giddy with anticipation about the Sonics landing Durant that my boatful of metaphors is beginning to list sideways.

Anyways, I thought I’d roll out five dreams for what happens on Thursday. (Salma is dream number six, but that’s for another story).

The Sonics deal Luke Ridnour to Atlanta for the #11 pick and Anthony Johnson. There are rumors out there that the Hawks are in talks to acquire Amare Stoudamire from the Suns in a 3-way deal that would send the #3 and #11 picks to Minnesota. I also heard the Hawks were interested in sending Johnson to Memphis for Damon Stoudamire, so that they could corner the market on Stoudamires. I place only a little bit of truth to these rumors. [UPDATE – ESPN is reporting that the deal is dead. Sigh.]

The Sonics take Rodney Stuckey with the #11 pick in the draft.

Rashard Lewis, Earl Watson, and the second pick of the 2nd round go to the Clippers for Sam Cassell and Corey Maggette.

With the first pick in the second round, the Sonics select PG Petteri Koponen of Finland, Zabian Dowdell of Va Tech, or whoever is left in the PG ranks.

The Timberwolves send Kevin Garnett to Phoenix, Phoenix sends Shawn Marion to Boston, and Boston sends a bucket of clam chowder, two draft picks, and Theo Ratliff’s decomposing body to Minnesota. All of a sudden, the Sonics get an extra couple of wins next year just by having Minny in their division.

We’ll try to keep the site updated with rumors as the day goes along.

With the #2 pick, Durant picks . . . himself!

Our pals at Dime have a funny story about future Sonic and current March Madness coverboy Kevin Durrant playing his new game:
Not only did we get an early glance at Durant in a Sonics uniform via the video game (looks good on him), but when KD created a team to play with, he put himself on Seattle along with Corey Brewer and Brandan Wright. Then he put Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Julian Wright on the Blazers and had them go at it, dropping buckets as himself against his future rivals …

Read the rest here.
In related news, in honor of the 2007 Draft, Dime is offering a super limited subscription promotion —7 bucks for a year! Tell 'em Supersonicsoul sent ya, and you'll receive a fabulous no-prize.

Tuesday, June 26

NFL vs NBA Draft

With the draft coming in about 48 hours, I got to thinking about what makes the NBA draft so much fun and the NFL draft so horribly boring and awful. Is it the suits? Is it the atmosphere in New York? Is it the suits? It’s probably the suits, right?

Well, here’s a list of why this fan will always enjoy the NBA draft and avoids the NFL draft at all possible opportunities:

This is no contest. Hubie Brown is hilarious, has league-wide credibility, and doesn’t have ridiculous hair. Well, at least not anymore. Okay, he still looks sort of strange, but not Mel Kiper-strange.

In the NFL, it’s all about 40-yard dashes and bench press reps. In the NBA, it’s all about wingspan and how tall you are with your shoes off. Kevin Durant got some flak for not benching more than 185, but he’ll still be one of the first two guys picked. In the NFL, he’d be lucky to make it in the fifth round. It’s like the difference between Drago and Rocky, and who the hell roots for Drago?

There are no Europeans, no South Americans, no Mexicans, no anything but Americans in the NFL draft. The NBA gives you Tiago Splitter, Mr. Longoria, Saer Sene, and plenty of other names you can’t spell or remember. The best the NFL can do is a handful of Canadians and Christian Okoye, and that’s just plain pathetic.

The NFL makes trades like they were exchanging prisoners of war. The NBA makes trades like Eddie Murphy and Dan Akyroyd at the end of “Trading Places.” No comparison, especially when you factor in the way NBA GM’s always seem to think next year’s second-round picks will never happen.

David Stern – as dorky as he is at times – has more charm and charisma in his left eyeglass lens than Roger “Wooden” Goodell or Paul “Tags” Tagliabue possess combined. There’s something about the way Stern smirks when he reads the next draftee that always makes you think he’s going to announce, “With the 3rd pick in the NBA draft, the Atlanta Hawks select ... Jon Koncak, again!”

Simply put, Notre Dame doesn’t matter in basketball, so you never have to worry about guys like Brady Quinn making an appearance. Shut up, Regis, we don’t flippin’ care about your stupid tradition, alright?

Ever notice how NCAA football conferences seem to influence the players? As in, “He’s a typical Big-10 linebacker”? You never hear that in the NBA. Nobody cares that Oden went to Ohio State or Durant went to Texas; we just care that they’re both going to be superstars.

There are no offensive linemen in the NBA draft, which means you don’t have to pretend to understand why the 6’1”, 354 pound guy from Wisconsin is better than the 6’2”, 348 pound guy from Pitt. And you also don’t have to listen to Mel Kiper explain why the guy from Pitt deserves to be taken before the guy from Wisconsin. Hey, it’s basketball – we know why Durant should be #1 or #2 – because he’s 6’9” and he can do absolutely everything.

The NFL has too many rounds. The NBA figured it out (with the help of the NBAPA) that fans only care about the studs; the league lets the GMs figure out how to cull through the rest of the guys to help round out rosters.

NFL players look like they bought their suits at a group discount, while NBA players seem to always take the sartorial level to new heights. Besides, somebody has to keep the creamsicle-orange suit guy in business, right?

What’s funnier, seeing David Stern stand next to someone 2 feet taller, or watching Roger Goodell stand next to someone his height? No contest, especially when it yields pictures like this.

Do you think the NFL would like a guy who looks like this to be drafted? Or this? I think not.

Add it all up, and it’s really no contest. The NBA is so much better in so many ways that it almost renders the NFL draft moot, a Republican-feeling monstrosity that only a masochist could love. The NFL draft is Metallica. The NBA draft is De La Soul.

Plus, we’re getting Kevin Durant.

Rumors Heating Up

Gotta love this time of year. I think there are 17 rumors for every trade that actually gets consummated, but the level of talk is absolutely insane. Here are a few bits and pieces:

1. The Magic are still pursuing Rashard Lewis, and it looks as though they want to have their cake (Lewis) and eat it, too (Milicic). How the Magic plan to accomplish that is a mind-bender, since Lewis' deal will eat up a huge chunk of money, as will Darko's, and don't they have some other guy named Howard? Dwight something or other? His deal expires after next year, and I'm guessing he's going to want to get about double what he's making now ($6 mil.). Be interesting to see what kind of team the Magic manage to surround those 3 with, considering they would take up more than half of the salary cap space.

2. Kevin Durant will be on the cover of NCAA March Madness 08. Durant follows in the footsteps of former Sonic Quintin Dailey, who graced the cover of Tron.

3. Luke Ridnour is rumored to be headed for Atlanta if the Hawks aren't able to get Mike Conley with the 11th pick in the draft. The pick would be coming to Seattle for Ridnour. Not sure what else we'd have to take back, but here's the most likely guy.

4. The Sonics have interviewed Utah assistant Tyrone Corbin for the head coach position.

Monday, June 25

Second Rounders, Part III

11. Zabian Dowdell, 6’3”, Va. Tech, PG/SG
Another nice fit for the Sonics. Dowdell is a long-armed guy who can definitely handle the defensive responsibilities that have been left vacant ever since Antonio Daniels got a huge contract from Washington. He’d be a perfect fit behind Ridnour, and his lack of offensive abilities would be masked by the great offensive talent around him. He’s 6’3”, but he’s also 200+ pounds, which means the Sonics wouldn’t have to wait for a couple of years for him to grow into his body, which happens so frequently in the draft. You want more? How about that Dowdell – not a rich man by any stretch – pledged $5,000 of his own money to help people affected by the tragedy earlier this year at his school. Class act.

12. Aaron Gray, 7’, Pitt, C
Admit it – your first instinct when you see Aaron Gray is to think – oh, God, not another white center who can’t move. And you know what, there’s some credence to that thought. I’ve see more than a couple of instances of Gray’s name being linked to the Sonics first pick of the 2nd round, and the more I read about this young man, the less I like the idea. Slow, not capable of defending quicker big men, and not much range on his shot. You have to wonder – if the Sonics are playing the Suns and Nash and Amare run the pick and roll, is it possible for Gray to become the first guy in NBA history to break both of his ankles on one play?

13. Ramon Sessions, 6’4” Nevada, PG
Sessions was rumored to have received a promise from the Sonics to be picked at the #35 slot, so there is some smoke around his name right now in Seattle. Draftexpress compared him to Tony Parker (!) but his slim frame will mean some weight room time in the near future. Sessions made huge strides in his foul shooting and 3-point shooting at Nevada this year, which bodes well for the future. Like Dowdell, he would make a good backup for Ridnour at the point, but I don’t think he would contribute as much immediately.

14. Marc Gasol, 7’1”, Spain, C
Gasol is obviously the younger brother of Pau, so he’s got that going for him. He’s not as mobile as his brother, but he has the same basketball IQ that’s unusual for a guy his size. He is supposedly not the best-conditioned athlete. I think we can all agree that Marc Gasol is Spanish for Benoit Benjamin.

15. Kyle Visser, 6’11”, Wake Forest, C
Yet another white center ... you know, when you read “needs to work on his conditioning and muscle mass,” you think to yourself, why in the world would any time want anything to do with a guy like that? He gets to the line alot, but he doesn’t convert the free throws and never made more than 66% in his 4-year career. He hustles, but he can’t block shots. Ugh.

David Locke

We got this message from David Locke, the Sonics' now former play by play man earlier today. Here's what he had to say:

I wanted to take a moment and thank all of you for your support and fandom over the past years with the Sonics. Obviously, I am very disappointed that I will no longer be able to bring you the action of the Seattle Supersonics. It has been great to be involved with the Sonics organization over the past 9 seasons. Most of all it has been a real pleasure interacting with you via the radio, the blog or whatever.

It is irrelevant whether we agreed or disagreed, whether you like my work or not we were all fans of the same team with the same passion. In regards to the Sonics I want to make sure you all know this is a group worth rooting for. The players that put on the Green and Gold are good men that are worth cheering for. The upper management of the Sonics are high quality people. They are talented and working very hard to make sure you get the best product. Certainly, I wish they felt differently about my role, but that doesn't take away that the people I worked for, John Croley, Brian Byrnes, Karen Bryant and Danny Barth, are all solid people. Most importantly, the organization's core is a bunch of young people who work feverishly each day to make sure the Sonics are a great product. It was impressive to watch them day in and day out.

In closing, my termination doesn't change my belief that the NBA is a fantastic game, the Sonics are a team worth rooting for and worth working to keep in Seattle. Thanks again for all the fun times over the last 9 years. I will be right there with you rooting for Kevin Durant or Greg Oden next year.


David Locke

Second Round, Part II

Future Seattle Supersonic Kyrylo Fesenko?
Are you ready for KYRYLOMANIA?! Neither are we.

More possibilities with the Sonics’ two second-round picks ...

6. Kyrylo Fesenko, 7’, Ukraine, C
Oh, please, they wouldn’t kill us 4 years in a row, would they? Would they?

7. Gabe Pruitt, 6’4” USC, PG
Pruitt is an intriguing possibility for the Sonics. By intriguing, I mean, of course, that he could very easily never play a game in the NBA, or he could develop into someone who teams regret passing (man, I’m glad I don’t have to make these decisions with my salary riding on it). He has the athletic ability to defend NBA PGs and he’s creative enough to get his own shot off, but his passing ability and consistency ... well, that’s a whole other issue. Shooting 41 percent from the field doesn’t help, either.

8. Marcus Williams, 6’7”, Arizona, SG
Gotta like a guy from Seattle, and it wouldn’t kill the Sonics to make Williams the first guy they’ve take from in-state in what seems like 15 years. Williams is tall, which is nice, and gets sub-par ratings on defense, which sucks. Still, he’d make a nice reserve for Ray Allen, and the fact he has a decent touch at his height is a plus. All in all, a very nice pickup for the second pick of the second round.

9. Alando Tucker, 6’5”, Wisconsin, SG
Tucker began his college career as more of an inside scorer, then gradually became more of a scorer from the outside, which bodes well for his role in the NBA. Unfortunately, his jumper isn’t quite as good as you would hope from an off guard, and he’s not going to come in and drain 3’s all night. That said, his post moves are much better than a typical 6’5” guy, and I like the idea of pairing him on offense with Rashard or Durant, who are taller guys that can shoot from the outside. Will he be around in the 2nd round? Hard to say, but he’d make a solid acquisition for Seattle.

10. Arron Afflalo, 6’5” UCLA, SG/SF
Afflalo is a true San Antonio Spurs kind of guy – mentally tough, a strong defender, a strong FT shooter, not outstanding athletically, not a great scorer. In other words, a wonderful fit for this team as a backup to Ray Allen. If the Sonics were to acquire Afflalo, I’d be ecstatic. The fact he played lousy against Florida in the tournament should help the Sonics’ odds at picking him up.

Saturday, June 23

Sonics: Goodbye Locke, Hello Marques?

Is MJ returning to the Seattle Sonics?"Scooter" Presti's extreme make-over of the Seattle Supersonics continued today as the team announced the firing of radio announcer David Locke:
The team removed his posts from its Web sites on Friday, terminated his two-year contract and notified employees of the decision in an e-mail.

The Sonics are expected to announce the decision today, although it is not clear if the team will replace Locke with another announcer or return to a simulcast with the television broadcast.

Locke, 36, took over last year when the Sonics became the last NBA team to separate its broadcasts and moved to KTTH-AM (770). He had worked at KJR (950 AM) for the previous eight years and was a play-by-play announcer for the Seattle Storm for seven seasons.

from the Seattle Times
Frankly, ever since the Sonics stupidly moved the radio broadcasts to the right-wing toilet bowl known as KTTH, I refused to listen to games on the radio. Plus, as much as I like David Locke, Kevin Calabro is the voice of the Sonics (sorry Bob!).

Things look brighter on the TV side, though, with the P.I. and Times reporting that Supersonicsoul's all-time favorite color commentator Marques Johnson may soon be returning to Seattle. KC and Marques together again? It's like Christmas in July.

Friday, June 22

Looking at the 2nd Round

Kevin Durant will be a Sonic, or, if Kevin Pritchard has a heart attack next week and he’s relieved by a demon from 1984, Greg Oden will be a Sonic. Either way, we can all agree we’re as pleased as punch.

But what about the second round? I’ve heard numerous times that the Sonics will be dealing one or both of the picks they have, but will they? And what if they don’t? Here are some options for Seattle, and how they might fit in:

1. Petteri Koponen, Finland, PG, 6’5”
You know the old saying about Finnish point guards? You do? Well, can you email it to me, because I don't have the faintest idea about what the heck is going on over there. If the Sonics draft Koponen, do they give out Finlandia Vodka every time he gets 10 assists? Will this induce Ballard to declare war on the Sonics in historic respect for the Norway-Finland rivalry? It's all so hard to say.

Say this, though: Koponen is no Euro, he’s the real deal, at least in what limited exposure to North America he’s had. At 19, he’s still quite young and it’s possible he wouldn’t come to the States for another year or two, which would be great for the Sonics. He’s tough, a good outside shooter, handles the ball well, looks to create shots for others before himself, runs the pick and roll very well, and plays beyond his years. I haven’t read much about his defense, which scares me a bit since that’s the area the Sonics need help the most from a potential PG, and his slim frame is a cause for concern as well. I would have no problem with the Sonics going for Koponen and letting him develop overseas for a year.

2. Taurean Green, Florida, PG, 6’1”
Everyone knows Taurean from his play for the Gators. Since he led two teams to national titles, he’s got plenty of confidence. Then again, Chris Wilcox won a national title at Maryland, and he ain't exactly bursting with NBA playoff success. But his lack of size and defense worries me: Is he just another Luke Ridnour? If the Sonics were to draft Green, I’d be very concerned that they’d two guys in Frodo and Green that aren’t capable of defending tougher NBA point guards, something that caused trouble at times last year. I can see Green being a strong backup in the NBA, but not for Seattle. The big question is: Is Taurean Green the H Waldman of 2007?

3. Jared Dudley, Boston College, 6’7”, SF
If the Sonics draft Jared Dudley, then the past two months have been a mirage and Rick Sund is still running the team because they need another SF like Paris Hilton needs more press exposure. That’s too bad, though, as Dudley is a tough player who can rebound, works hard, hits his free throws, and does all the other things you need for a winning team. Unfortunately, the Sonics already have Gelabale, Wilkins, Durant, and Lewis.

4. Glen Davis, LSU, 6’8” PF/C
I don’t know about Davis. Part of me wants to think he could be effective in the league, that he won’t gain 60 pounds and become Danny Fortson redux, that he’ll parlay his unique athletic ability to score in the paint often. But another part of me thinks: Wait, his two biggest causes for success are his ample backside and the fact he played against 7' centers about as often as he said "no, thanks, I'm full" in college? He’s taken off the weight ("dropping" to around 280 or so if I remember correctly), but he’s still only 6’8”. How he fits into the Sonics’ plans is another difficult question to answer, as Collison and Wilcox already gobble up the PF minutes. If he’s available at the 2nd pick, he wouldn’t be a terrible selection.

5. Morris Almond, Rice, 6’6”
Now this is what the doctor ordered ... almost. Almond can score, gets to the line like a young Adrian Dantley, and is built to be an NBA 2 guard. He’s 6’6” and strong, and would make an ideal fit for Ray Allen’s caddy for the next couple of years ... except that his defense is the weakest part of his game, and he’s not going to learn how to do it from Sugar Ray. They say you can teach defense, and that shooting is like a gift, but why hasn’t anyone ever taught Allen how to be a tougher defender? I think it’s a mindset, and if Almond doesn’t have it yet, he’s probably not going to get it in the NBA. That said, Almond would be a decent fit off the bench for the Sonics if he’s still available.

I'll have more during next week as we get closer to the big day.

Northwest Report

Time for this week’s Northwest Report, brought to you by the good folks at Nussbaum Nursery (see their special this week on Molly Ann rhododendrons).

Utah Jazz Blog is looking for draft candidates, and Arran Afflalo is at the top of the list (remember when we used to make selections at the end of the first round? Ah, those were the days ...) ... Harpring Sucks scoffs at’s comparison of Yi Jianlian to Pau Gasol. After all, “Yi could never grow a lumberjack beard like Pau's.” ... Rachel Hamblin at All Jazzed Up gives Andrei Kirilenko some rather poor marks on his employee evaluation.

The Timberwolves Den is so exasperated with Mark Blount, they’re willing to give him away for a bag of Funyons ... I Heart KG tries to keep up with the seemingly neverending Kevin Garnett rumors. Just curious: Would they have to change the name of the blog to I Heart TREC (Theo Ratliff’s Expiring Contract) if the deal is consummated? ... Before the Celtic rumors got out of hand, Twolves Blog pondered a possible Minny-Phoenix deal involving Mr. Garnett ...

As crazy as things get in the offseason, it’s worth noting that the passenger in JR Smith’s car that wound up dying in the car accident (Andre Bell), wasn’t just some guy, he was Smith’s best friend. And now, Smith will possibly spend a decade in jail contemplating how he 1) was responsible for killing his best friend and 2) destroyed his chance at becoming a multi-multi millionaire, all in one New Jersey evening ... Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post reports George Karl won’t say no to acquiring a first-round pick (Denver is sans picks this year), and Kareem Rush may wind up playing for a NW Division team after all, just not the Sonics.

Blazers Blog worries that Portland is starting to think an injury-free Kevin Durant trumps a bad-back Greg Oden, while Casey Holdahl relays a quote from Kevin Pritchard that that is definitely not the case ... Blazers Edge poses a hypothetical question: If you knew whether Durant or Oden was the better pick because you knew the future, would you want that power, in that it would destroy the surprise of watching the next 10 years’ worth of games? Is it me, or do these Portland people just get a little bit too much into their team? ... Blazers Evangelist acknowledges the obvious, “Let’s face it. Life as we know it in Portland is over.” (And he means that in a good way).

And just two quick bits of Sonic news:

1. According to a Sacramento newspaper, Scott Brooks interviewed for the Sonics’ head coach opening on June 15 with Sam Presti
2. According to, Ramon Sessions, a 6’4” point guard out of Nevada, has received assurances that he won’t last past the Sonics’ second pick of the second round (#35 overall). Interesting that the Supes would make that commitment (if the rumor is true), in that it indicates they aren’t trading the pick, either alone or in combination with their other second round pick.

Thursday, June 21

Goodbye, Earl

Is Seattle Sonics guard Earl Watson on the move?
I think one important part of the Sonics’ offseason that’s fallen off the radar is what the heck they’re going to do with their two point guards.

As time passes, it becomes obvious (at least to me), that Earl Watson is going to be dealt. Luke Ridnour is – only slightly – better than Watson, and I think the team’s brain trust is more comfortable with a full season of Frodo running the ship than they are of Watson.

With that the case, let’s explore some possible destinations for Earl Watson. These are clubs in the need of a PG, either backup or starter.

LIKELIHOOD: Not much. The Hawks are in the position to get either Acie Law or Mike Conley in the draft, they already have a backup type guard in Speedy Claxton (I didn’t say they had a good one), so I don’t see this happening.

LIKELIHOOD: Slim. Any deal with the Cavs would likely include either Damon Jones or Eric Snow coming back to Seattle. I’m not enamored of Jones (horrible defense) or Snow (horrible offense), and about the only other player who matches up salary-wise is Donyell Marshall, who the Sonics need about as much as they need a guy from Oklahoma City owning the team. Oh, wait.

LIKELIHOOD: Decent. Ah, irony, you fickle, fickle fiend. The Nuggets dealt away Watson because they had too many point guards, and now they’ve managed to deal away so many PGs that they need another one. With Iverson more suited as a combo guard and Steve Blake slated to enter free agency, Watson would be a good fit for Denver. What could the Sonics expect in return? If he wasn’t such a catastrophe off the court, JR Smith would be a wonderful pickup for Seattle, but that’s not going to happen. Eduardo Najera is an interesting option, but with Wilkins, Lewis (?), Durant, and Gelabale under contract, I can’t see where he would play. Perhaps a three-way deal involving the Nuggets is more likely.

LIKELIHOOD: Good. The Clips don’t want to play this year relying solely on Sam Cassell’s aging body, and since Shaun Livingston will be out for an entire year, they need another guard to help carry the load. A Watson-Cassell deal doesn’t work salary-wise, but if the Sonics were to include, say, Johan Petro in the deal, it would work. As Cassell’s deal expires at the end of the season, it’s not a huge risk for the Sonics, and the Clippers are in good shape for the future with Watson around to spell Livingston. Plus, Earl gets solid minutes (which he wants). The only difficulty is how Cassell will handle being a reserve. Maybe his pride will be assuaged by playing alongside Lewis, Allen and Durant.

LIKELIHOOD: Slim. Chucky Atkins is a free agent, so in theory the Grizzlies need to find a replacement, but I think they’re much more likely to find a PG in the draft than via trade. After all, even if they skip a guard in the first round, they can always pick one up with their second-round ...., what’s that? They traded their pick to the Sonics for Lawrence Roberts? Sorry, Memphis, that’s got to hurt. Still, if Mike Conley is sitting there at #4, I think the Grizzlies think long and hard about taking him. If not, the only possible trade pieces are Damon Stoudamire (no) or Stromile Swift (heck no).

LIKELIHOOD: None. As badly as the Heat need a point guard, they have no one available on their roster who would help the Sonics.

LIKELIHOOD: Fair. It’s early still, and the Rashard Lewis situation may come into play, especially if/when the Sonics make a sign-and-trade with their erstwhile free agent.

Of the above scenarios, I really think the Cassell option would prove to be a positive for the team, especially considering the tenuous nature of the Sonics. If this is to be the last chance for the Sonics in Seattle, I would rather see Cassell coming off the bench in the spring than Earl Watson.

Wednesday, June 20

Scooter Cleans House!

Frank Hughes reports that new Sonics GM Sam "Scooter" Presti has started making changes in the front office:
The Seattle SuperSonics restructured their front office Tuesday, firing director of player personnel David Pendergraft and head scout Steve Rosenberry, three NBA sources confirmed.

It is expected that new general manager Sam Presti will name Scott Perry, Detroit’s director of player personnel, to the same position with the Sonics, replacing Pendergraft, sources say.

- - - -

Under Pendergraft, the team focused more of its attention on overseas talent, drafting Mouhamed Sene, Yotam Halperin, Johan Petro, Mickael Gelabale, Peter Fehse, Vladimir Radmanovic, Olumide Oyedeji and Josip Sesar since 1999.

Read the rest in the News Tribune.
I guess we won't be drafting Kyrylo Fesenko then, eh?

Speaking of second-rounders we probably shouldn't pick (but probably will anyway), our pal Mike Seely at the Seattle Weekly takes a look at Glen "Big Baby" Davis, because God knows what the Sonics need is a 300-pound small forward with soft hands.

Tuesday, June 19

Rashard's Million-Dollar Goof

Seattle Sonics forward Rashard Lewis might have missed an important free-agent deadline.The New York Post reports that Rashard Lewis might have missed the deadline to opt-out of his contract and may be tied to the Sonics for two more years. Normally I wouldn't trust Peter Vecsey any further than I could throw Jerome James, but this story appears to have some legs.

Read the rest in the (shudder) New York Post. (Thanks to John McWalter for the tip!)

UPDATE: From True Hoop: " has looked into this and it appears that Lewis and his agent, Tony Dutt, did not "mishandle" the paperwork for his ETO (Early Termination Option) and he is indeed a free agent starting July 1."

Why in God's name did I believe Peter Vecsey?! (thanks for the head's up, Nussbaum)

Reality Premises

Shaq's new reality hits you in the TV set tonight!I’m sure that you are as excited as I am about the new Shaquille O’Neal reality television show, “Shaq’s Big Challenge,” which debuts tonight on ABC. O’Neal, never the slimmest man in the NBA, has decided to lend his vast knowledge of weight gain and loss to a group of children who are struggling with there own weight problems. And hilarity ensues.

But it got me to thinking, what other current or former NBA stars would be able to pull off a reality show? What would the subjects be? Let’s dig into the ABC archives to find a few shows that didn’t quite make the cut:

SHAWN PATROL – It’s ‘To Sir, With Love’ for a whole new generation when Shawn Kemp tutors a group of high school students on the dangers of premartial sex. But what will Shawn say when it’s revealed that the group of kids aren’t just any group of kids – they’re his own!

OAK TOWN – Charles Oakley throws his weight behind a project that aims to help kids in trouble with drugs learn the dangers of marijuana use. Expect many guest stars.

VLADE’S VALLEY – What do you do when someone pushes you? Former NBA star Vlade Divac says don’t push pack, flop! Divac’ shows a bunch of 8-year-olds tormented by bullies that the best revenge is to always make it look like the other kid started it. Special guest appearance from Karl Malone.

ROBERT’S BIG RIDE – Lots of people will tell you that working hard and buckling down is the surest way to climb the ladder of success, but NBA great Robert Horry teaches a group of struggling middle-management types that glomming onto already successful organizations is the sure-fire way to reach the top. “Don’t start at the bottom and work your way up,” instructs Horry. “Start at the top and just hang out!”

Friday, June 15

Northwest Report

Thought I’d take a cue from the college ranks and try to capture the Northwest Division in a weekly column. After all, the Sonics will be playing these teams 20-odd times next year, so don’t you think you ought to know what they’re up to this off-season?

(Okay, it’s Friday and I’m tired of re-running the same boring Rashard Lewis rumors).

McSean makes a point I’ve been pondering for a while now – should the Jazz and Sonics hook up in a Rashard-for-AK47 deal? He makes the point that both teams would actually be better off for the move, with the Jazz adding some scoring from Ra and the Sonics getting much-much-much needed defense from AK ... brings up a great quote from Hot Rod Hundley in regard to Jerry Sloan’s teams, “Sloan’s teams don’t seem to play well in the playoffs, they play scared or something.” He also mentions how it seems as though Kirilenko’s defense seems to improve with more touches on offense. Not a good sign for the Sonics if they pick him up, as AK would be #3 in the offensive hierarchy behind Sugar Ray and Durant ...’s Sirkickyass makes this request if the Jazz part with AK: Pick up Ron Artest, if only to replicate AK’s surrealness. You’ll also want to scroll down to see how they compared this year’s roster to Star Wars characters. I especially enjoyed the Jerry Sloan-Emperor Palpatine comparison.

Drew Boatman at Timberwolves Den surveys the landscape at the #7 or #8 pick (this was written before the lottery), and conjectures that “the only thing that comes up good in the 7 or 8 spot is when you have 7 or 8 pancakes and a whole mess o' boysenberry.” That’s a quality line. He has no love for Corey Brewer, which I don’t understand, nor for Spencer Hawes, which I do. ... Lil Dice from I Heart KG relays a story from Las Vegas about how bettors’ reacted to the tanking at the end of the season. “It was very apparent ... that (Minny, Memphis, and Boston) were tanking games,” said handicapper Jim Kruger. Which led me to wonder: As a Wolves fan this year, how could you tell when your team was tanking and when it was playing its very best? Also, Lil Dice also mentions that Spencer Hawes has reportedly received a promise from the Wolves that he’ll get picked at #8 if he’s still available. Sorry, Minny. Somehow, I’m guessing Garnett would be less than thrilled with that idea.

Dan Lucero from says the NBA is killing itself with its straightjacketed approach to rules interpretations, and that David Stern is taking the emotion – and the enjoyment – right on out of the league ... It appears that the Nuggets off-court activities this summer will take place in court. DerMarr Johnson has been arrested for resisting arrest (he probably wouldn’t be back next year, anyway) and JR Smith has been cited in a horrific New Jersey car accident ... Brett Edwards reports on a LA Times bit which says the Nuggets and Lakers are/were in talks about sending Marcus Camby to LA for Kwame Brown. It’s a money-saving deal for the Nuggets.

Just to taunt their fellow NWers up I-5, Dave at asks his readers to pick who they want with the #1 pick. Quit mocking us, Blazer fans, and making us daydream about Greg Oden in a Sonics jersey. Everybody outside of Kevin Durant thinks Oden is going #1. Stop messing with our heads. ... Casey Holdahl notes that the Blazers received more love in one chat from David Thorpe at than they did in the past 4 years ... Blazersblog wonders if the Arenas free agency situation impacts upon the Zach Randolph +pick for Antawn Jamison +pick deal ... A nice piece by Jim Taylor at blazersevangelist about a new book on the ’77 Blazers (because, as even Sonic fans can attest, there’s nothing like celebrating the only championship in your town’s history). He also sheds light on a billboard in Portland that urges drivers to honk once for Oden and twice for Durant.

Scooter to pick pal P.J. for Sonics?

Just weeks after being seen at a hotel with Rick Carlisle, the P.I. reports that new Sonics whiz kid GM Sam "Scooter" Presti will soon be dating interviewing old Spurs chum P.J. Carlesimo for the long vacant head coaching job:
Out of head coaching since being fired by the Golden State Warriors in 1999, Carlesimo is emerging as a candidate for the Sonics' position and is on new general manager Sam Presti's short coaching list.

Presti said this week that the coaching search was "going well and we're making fast progress," but he declined to acknowledge any candidates. The San Antonio Express-News reported Thursday that Carlesimo could meet with Presti as soon as the Spurs' season ended, and Presti is expected to begin interviewing candidates next week.

The other apparent candidates are former Detroit and Indiana coach Rick Carlisle and ex-Minnesota coach and Sonics assistant Dwane Casey.

Read the rest in the Seattle P.I.
Considering how late in the game they started shopping around for a coach, the Sonics are lucky those three are still left in the bargain bin.

Wednesday, June 13

Postcard from Cleveland

Carlisle out in Indy, in with the Sonics?

"Yes I can coach up-tempo, and yes I know Kung-Fu."

Could new Sonics GM Sam "Scooter" Presti be luring recently sacked Pacers coach Rick Carlisle to Seattle? Inquiring minds want to know:
Carlisle declined to comment Tuesday on the Sonics' position but said he understood the uncanny timing of his decision to break ties with the Pacers and Seattle's coaching search.

"My announcement was purely procedural in nature," he said by phone Tuesday. "According to my contract, there was a day I had to decide to return in a front-office capacity. Out of respect to the Pacers, I felt it was better to let them know sooner instead of later. The timing of this announcement has absolutely no connection to the Sonics' coaching opening."

There is a link, however, between Carlisle and new Sonics general manager Sam Presti, who has not acknowledged any coaching candidates since taking over on Thursday. According to an NBA source, Carlisle and Presti were seen talking at a Salt Lake City hotel during the Western Conference finals before Presti took the Sonics job.

Read the rest in the Seattle P.I.
Seen together at a hotel last week? It was either a job interview, or a love that dare not speak it's name. Either way, I'm cool with it.

Tuesday, June 12

The Rookie

This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows how the world works today, but as of June 12, 2007, Kevin (total 0 games played) Durant’s article is as long as anyone on the Sonics, with the exception of Ray Allen, and he’s within a paragraph or so of eclipsing Ray. Or, you could look at it from this angle:

Total number of words for Kevin Durant: 736
Total number of words for Earl Watson, Mickael Gelabale, Johan Petro, Mo Sene, Robert Swift, and Damien Wilkins: 720

I think it’s safe to say that Kevin Durant will be the biggest profile rookie in Seattle sports history, with the only possible exceptions being Ken Griffey, Jr. and Brian Bosworth. Let us all hope he’s more like the former than the latter.

Gomes, Ratliff & Pick for Lewis?

That’s the rumor you’re hearing on the internet right now. At celticsblog, the posters are giddy with delight at picking up an all-star forward without having to surrender the #5 pick in this year’s draft.

And rightly so. From Seattle’s perspective, this really smacks of a desperation move. Ratliff is an aging shot-blocker who would have been a nice pickup 5 years ago, but he’s coming off a season when he missed 80 of 82 games. Gomes is a 6’7” forward who spent more time at PF than SF last year, and his defense is even worse than Rashard’s, at least looking at it statistically.

To be fair, Gomes is only 24 and is an above-average shooter from deep, something the Sonics will need this year if they deal away Rashard and are unable to find a veteran 2-guard to help Ray Allen. And, unlike Lewis, he seems capable of scoring from close range, despite the fact he’s 3 inches shorter than Rashard, which means he gets more free throw opportunities. And, unlike Lewis, he’s a decent rebounder, especially when you consider the difference in height.

In total, the Sonics would improve their rebounding, gain a bit of a presence inside ... and be even worse off offensively than they are now. The #1 pick for 2008 sounds great when you consider how bad the Celtics are, and if they played in the West I think I’d be all for the deal.

But the Celtics play in the Eastern Conference, which means they are – like Dan Quayle – a heartbeat away from screwing everything up.

If my options are this deal or the Shane Battier deal, Kirilenko, or Shawn Marion, I would definitely tell Danny Ainge thanks, but I’m going to have to take this other call.

Now, if Danny wants to include this year’s pick ...

Monday, June 11

Magic Merry-Go-Round

According to the ever-reliable Sam Smith, Orlando's new coach, Stan Van Gundy, is very interested in maintaining the Milic-Howard combination.

But, wait! Smith has quotes to back up his claims!

"You've got two great assets here [Milicic and Dwight Howard]. You've got two young big guys in a league where everybody else is searching for one," says Van Moustache.

Meaning, as Smith points out, the Magic are firmly out of the Rashard Lewis Sweepstakes, and we don't have to worry about Darko suiting up for the Sonics next year.

Of course, all of this is assuming that a Sam Smith Rumor becomes fact, which is not exactly the best thing to bet on in this world. Let's hope that Van Gundy is telling the truth, and that the Sonics don't make the oft-rumored deal with the Magic that everyone's been expecting for it seems like 5 years now.

Mea Culpa

This past offseason, the Sonics had a decision to make with Chris Wilcox: sign him to a deal, or let him walk and pick up somebody else.

The most obvious choice was Cleveland’s Drew Gooden, who, like Wilcox, was a free agent. And to me, Gooden made more sense. I argued that Wilcox’ nice run in March and April of 2006 was a fluke, that he was more likely to be the guy he had been for the first 3 ½ years than he was to be the guy who threw up a 20-20 game against Houston and averaged close to a double-double while in the Sonic uni. Gooden, on the other hand, while not an all-star by any stretch, had proven capable of posting decent numbers on more than a two-month basis. Throw in Mike Dunleavy’s eagerness to shed Wilcox from the Clippers’ roster, and, well, it seemed to me that going for Gooden was the smartest move, and I said so here on this website.

Watching Gooden during the playoffs, though, and I’m beginning to see why the Sonics picked up Wilcox. Maybe it’s me, but it seems as though Gooden makes more bad plays per 40 minutes than anybody in the league, with the possible exception of Nene, who, in fairness, is from another solar system.

An example: In game 2, Gooden blocked a Tony Parker fast break runner in the lane, then stood and watched as Parker scrambled for the loose ball and put it back in. It seems like Gooden does this sort of thing all the time, not to mention getting left out of position on pick and rolls, failing to box out his man, well, I could on but you get the drift.

That’s the trouble with most statistics, they don’t tell you what you see from watching the games. You look at Gooden’s raw numbers, and you see a guy who averaged 11 points and 8.5 boards this year, right alongside his career numbers. You look at Wilcox and you see 13.5 points and 7.7 boards. Both seem to reflect more than adequate play for $6 million a year, right?

But then you look more closely, and you see that Gooden’s +/- numbers are atrocious. On a team that is competing for the NBA title right now, Gooden’s team was better off with him on the bench. And it’s not by a hair, either. When Drew sat this season, the Cavs allowed 6.5 fewer points per 48 minutes, and they scored more points (1.5) per 48 with him on the bench as well.

To put it another way, if the Cavs played 48 minutes with Drew Gooden, they won 106 to 105.6. If they played 48 minutes with him sitting at the barber shop getting his neck patch adjusted, they won 107.6 to 99. That’s huge, especially for a guy who is nominally their best power forward.

Wilcox, on the other hand, helped the Sonics on offense more than he hurt them on defense, netting them a positive result on-court (although his defense, as any Sonic fan will tell you, definitely needs a dose of improvement).

Where am I going with all of this? I guess I’m angling to admit that I was totally wrong about the Gooden v. Wilcox decision. Not Bowie v. Jordan wrong, but wrong nonetheless. Were the Sonics really ever in the position to take either of these two? I don’t know for sure, but if they were, it’s good they didn’t listen to me.

Friday, June 8

Stern Loves Seattle

Do Clay Bennett and David Stern ever talk to one another?

I wondered that when I read an AP story (found on quoting Stern, in regard to the Seattle arena situation, as saying:

"I think it's just going to work itself out and I hope it does."
Contrast that to Bennett's comments at the Sam Presti press conference (or as they call it in Canada, 'presser'):

"So we’re without a process that I’m aware of relative to public participation in a building."
Add this into the whole Las Vegas debacle, when Bennett was called out on national television by Stern, and it leads you to believe that the commish may be slowly coming to the side of Seattle, leaving Bennett even more alone than he was before.

Culture Club

I’m hearing a lot about culture lately. From David Locke, who obviously believes it’s the right way to build a successful team, to Sam Presti, who didn’t use the word specifically, but you get the impression he’d go along with it, it’s become the mantra of the Sonics this summer.

But what is culture? There is much discussion of the Spurs’ “culture” and how it has spread to Cleveland, or the Jazz’ “culture”, or the Mavericks’ “culture,” but just what the heck is it? As Frank Hughes pointed out at the News Tribune, it’s all well and good to say you’re going to have a winning culture, but is there any substance to it?

Well, when I watch the Spurs and Cavs, it’s not “culture” that I think, it’s Tim Duncan and LeBron James. Fine, Mike Brown brought a culture from San Antonio to Cleveland, but it helps just a bit to have the most physically intimidating non-center in NBA history lining up for you every night.

The press can drone on all day about Popovich’s “family,” but if the Spurs had drafted Keith Van Horn with the third pick rather than Duncan with the first, would anybody even be talking about this? (By the way, how sickening was that piece at halftime for Bob Hill? I’m guessing the Hills are shopping for a new set today after Bob put his shoe through the old one last night.)

Likewise with Cleveland. Let’s say the Cavs get Chris Bosh or Darko rather than LeBron, are we still falling over ourselves about how beautiful the San Antonio system is? After all, the Heat don’t have a former Spurs assistant running their team, and somehow they managed to win a title last year. Sure, the Jazz are flying high right now, but their “culture” hadn’t managed a win in the playoffs since Karl Malone left. What was wrong with their culture the last four years? Did they lose the recipe somewhere at Temple?

And what kind of “culture” did the Lakers have when they won three straight? Presti talked a lot about “selflessness” in his press conference, but can you recall a more selfish team than those Lakers? LA was a family alright, but it was more like the Manson Family than the Waltons.

To be honest, I’d wager that Presti and the rest of the NBA knows that culture can only take you so far. Chemistry, family, and culture are all byproducts of winners. No one ever talks about the A’s culture, because they don’t have one. Their culture is winning, and finding the best players they can afford. In the end, it takes a superstar player who is committed to playing basketball on both ends of the court. MJ, Bird, Magic, Duncan, Hakeem ... there’s a thread common to all of those guys – they all played hard all the time (well, at least in the playoffs), they were obsessed with winning, and they were good on both sides of the court (which makes you wonder whether Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis will be getting their mail forwarded any time soon, but that’s another story).

A very wise man once said that talent wins games in the NBA, not coaches. The organization, the coaching staff, the “culture” if you will, all sounds great at press conferences and in power point presentations, but I’ll take a 6’10” small forward who can dunk with one hand and shoot 3’s with another, thank you very much.

Whither Wilkens?

If you haven't read Frank Hughes' piece on Lenny Wilkens, well, you really ought to check it out.

I don't think it's a mystery to anyone who reads this sight that while we're in love with Classic Lenny, the New Lenny isn't quite as beloved. Whether it's his neverending whining on television, his lackadaisical approach to staffing issues, or just the way he went about stabbing Bob Hill and Rick Sund in the back, the guy just creeps me out (and I don't just mean his accent; although, since I mentioned it, have you ever heard anyone who sounds like Lenny Wilkens? Other than Chris Walken?).

Anyway, Hughes points out that Wilkens' foot-dragging on the GM hire - including failing to contact the Spurs about Sam Presti - led to his downfall and the removal of his title. Going into today, I was a bit concerned about the Wilkens/Presti/Bennett power struggle. Would Lenny clamor for more Silas-type folks? Would he co-exist with a 30-year-old guy?

Well, worry no more. Not only has Lenny been removed from the color commentator position (the Sonics seem to go through commentators the way the Egyptians went through plagues), but I'm putting the over/under on his time in the Sonics' offices at 6 months.

Unfortunately, it likely means Rick Carlisle will soon be checking into the Hotel Sonic. In the sense that Carlisle has performed admirably in helping two franchises (Indy and Detroit) turn the corner in the regular season, it's wonderful. In the sense that Carlisle's offenses are about as fast-paced as 405 traffic on Friday afternoon, it's less wonderful.

Hopefully, Carlisle will adapt to his roster, and not the other way around. With Ray Allen, Kevin Durant, and possibly Rashard Lewis, this is a roster built for scoring. Obviously, if the Sonics can find a way to win 55 games by winning a plethora of 85-82 slugfests like last night's Finals game, the fans will come around. But is that the kind of basketball you'd get excited about watching?

Thursday, June 7

Bennett at Press Conference

As you no doubt have read by now, the folks at sonicscentral have uncovered a clause in the contract between the Sonics and the City of Seattle regarding the KeyArena lease. To wit, the clause stipulates that "either party" to the lease may enforce it, thereby requiring the other party to honor the conditions in the lease.

Bottom line, if the city stands up to the Sonics, Clay Bennett would be forced to honor the terms and therefore stay in Seattle until 2010.

Well, that's just huge. Humongous congratulations to Brian Robinson and Co. for illuminating this clause, which - considering that Bennett may be looking to buy out the lease in the immediate future - might be the most important paragraph in Sonics' history.

My question, or request if you will, to the Sonics' beat reporters - are you going to press Bennett on this at today's press conference for Sam Presti? I know Presti's plans for hiring a coach are important, but are they as important as the future of this franchise? I don't want to put words in anybody's mouth, but here are two questions I would like an answer to:

1. "Mr. Bennett, have you spoken with the City of Seattle recently, or do you intend to in the near future, regarding the buyout of your lease?"

2. "Mr. Bennett, how would the City's enforcement of the lease, which would require you to remain in Seattle until the 2009-10 season, impact your future plans for this franchise?"

As I said, I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but I truly hope Bennett gets grilled on this subject today. And if he stands there and puts up the standard, "I'm not taking questions about the arena situation," well, I guess I would be somewhat less than surprised.

Wednesday, June 6

It's (almost) Official: Sonics name Presti new GM

The new GM of the Seattle Supersonics Sam PrestiIt looks like the Sonics will introduce their new GM at a press conference tomorrow morning. To the surprise of no one, it will be Sam Presti:
SEATTLE - Three newspapers report that the Seattle SuperSonics have decided to hire 30-year-old Sam Presti as the team's new general manager.

KING 5 News has confirmed Presti flew into Seattle Wednesday afternoon.

The Sonics have scheduled a news conference at their business offices tomorrow at noon to introduce their new GM.

The Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the News Tribune are reporting on their Web sites that Presti is the choice of the Sonics to replace Rick Sund, who was stripped of his GM's duties and made into a consultant five days after the 2006-2007 season ended.

Presti is the San Antonio Spurs' assistant general manager.

(from Associated Press and KING 5)
The only thing left to do is to come up with a suitable Supersonicsoul nickname for young Presti. Master P? Press Pass? Sam "Never Resty" Presti?" Dress to ImPress-ti? Whitsitt Junior? (wanders off mumbling to himself)

Sheppard Not a Candidate?

It appears the (extremely) long and winding road leading to a replacement for Rick Sund may be drawing to a close. According to the Washington Post, Tommy Sheppard is no longer in the running for the Sonics' GM position, meaning Sam Presti has the position all but locked up.

Why the Sonics continue to draw this situation out is a mystery to me. My only logical conclusion is that Presti wants to keep this under wraps until after the Finals are completed, so as not to distract from the proceedings. Honestly, what other reason could there be?

Unfortunately, the Sonics are the losers in all of this, as each day that passes means one less day Presti spends evaluating the roster and figuring out what steps the team needs to make this summer. Of course, it's always possible that all of this has been a formality and Presti has been spending the past month doing that evaluation, but to outsiders such as us, it sure is puzzling why this franchise continues to lumber along like Clemon Johnson in the second game of a back-to-back.

Also, feel free to check out the Miami Herald if you're in need of a laugh today. The Heat are interested in acquiring Rashard Lewis in a sign and trade, but even The Herald's Barry Jackson struggles to find a way to make it happen. Among the flotsam and jetsam named as possibly returning to Seattle are Jason Kapono, Jason Williams, Michael Doleac, ... oh, hell, there's no point in even listing the rest. The Sonics would be better off signing Lewis, paying him $15 mil. a year, and having him room with Vin Baker and Shawn Kemp than acquiring any of those "assets" from the Heat.

Tuesday, June 5

Presti and Sheppard

Since the two GM candidates seem to be Sam Presti and Tommy Sheppard, I thought we ought to take a look at their draft records. Now, it’s not entirely fair to either guy to do this, in that neither Presti nor Sheppard had the final say in who their franchise selected, but it is interesting to see who they’ve pulled out of the draft while they’ve been employed.

SHEPPARD: Jarvis Hayes, Steve Blake, Peter John Ramos, Andray Blatche, and Oleksiy Pecherov.

PRESTI: Tony Parker, Robertas Javtokas, Bryan Bracey, Johan Salmons, Luis Scola, Randy Holcomb, Leandro Barbosa, Sergei Karaulov, Romain Sato, Beno Udrih, Ian Mahinmi, Damir Markota.

Just from that brief glimpse, you have to give Presti a huge advantage. Sheppard’s big “find” has been Jarvis Hayes, and that’s not exactly something you post on your resume. (Note to those that will mention the Wizards’ drafting Devin Harris; the Mavericks actually drafted Harris, they just had the Wiz do it for them). Presti, meanwhile has produced Udrih, Parker, and Barbosa – all from the bad end of the rounds.

We’ll take a look tomorrow at the trades the two candidates have been involved in, just to shed some more light on the guy responsible for the future of the Sonics.

But before I quit for the day, I’d like to throw my two cents in that a GM’s drafting skills are what sets him apart. In today’s league, the best way to improve your team for the long-term is through the draft. Because of salary issues, it’s almost impossible to continue adding free agents to fill holes, you have to find guys in the draft. As much as we skewer Rick Sund and the Sonics, finding Collison and Ridnour in one draft is an exceptional example. There’s no way the Sonics could have gotten players like that through free agency at the salaries they were being paid.

On the flip side, piling up “projects” like Petro and Sene have the opposite effect, especially when you’re paying those projects close to $4 million a year to sit on the bench.

Sonics to name Presti GM today?

According to several sources, the Seattle Sonics will introduce Spurs wunderkind Sam Presti as the new General Manager today. About. Freaking. Time.
San Antonio Spurs assistant general manager Sam Presti should receive an offer in the next day or so, and president Lenny Wilkens is staying in touch with prospective coaching candidates and keeping them abreast of the situation.

According to several NBA sources, Wilkens had informal conversations at the league's pre-draft camp in Orlando last week and told a handful of candidates that the Sonics intend to hire a GM this week and begin formal coaching interviews next week.

One team source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Seattle's short list includes former Indiana coach Rick Carlisle, former Minnesota coach Dwane Casey and Spurs assistant P.J. Carlesimo.

(from today's Seattle Times)
If that's truly the list of coaches the Sonics are chosing from, it would at least be an improvement over the Two Bobs.

Monday, June 4

What Not To Buy

Is there a man in North America who would knowingly let his friends know he was reading this book? Can we put the over/under at sales to men at 3, including Doug Christie?

Good Lord, I am so glad the Sonics dealt this fool and his wife away before he had a chance to get in a game in the green and gold. The idea of the Christies being a fixture at Sonic events for the next 20 years would be enough to make me drive Clay Bennett's moving vans.

Can You Say Key Arena?

From the Charlotte Observer:

The Charlotte Coliseum came crumbling down Sunday into a pile of stone and concrete, the final remains of the once-popular sports and entertainment facility. Hundreds of spectators started lining up a couple hours before the 10:30 a.m. blast, where demolition crews used about 550 pounds of explosives to knock down the 19-year-old building.
Now, I want you to pay close attention to the final four words in that blurb. "19-year-old building."

What does that say about our country, our mentality as a people? That within 2 decades of its completion, after spending millions of dollars on an edifice that houses athletics performed by millionaires for the profit of billionaires, paid for by taxpayers in a nation where hundreds of millions go without adequate health care, where we cannot find the money to adequately house the destitute, what does that say about us?

I know the money for the Sonics' proposed arena doesn't come out of the mouths of the poor, at least directly. And I know that as a citizenry we don't have to be ashamed about spending money on entertainment. But when the majority of that citizenry says they don't want to spend money on another building, when our elected officials - who ostensibly represent us - say they don't want another building, how can we look in the mirror after spending $500 million on another sports facility, knowing full well that the "Best By" date on these complexes is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years?

What does it say about us?

Supersonics Bumpersticker of the Day

Courtesy of Beau Fredericks.

Friday, June 1

The Return of (the other) Nate?

With the imminent arrival of The Texas Tornado, trade rumors are swirling around the Sonics' Rashard Lewis. One of them involves the New York Knicks and two former Seattle prep stars:
According to NBA insiders, the Knicks could make the Sonics a sign-and-trade offer for Lewis that could include Seattle natives Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford.

Crawford is owed $35 million over the next four seasons, and the Knicks could add Robinson's contract or that of Channing Frye to come within 75 percent of a new Lewis deal, per rules of the collective bargaining agreement.

Wilkens said Tuesday that the Sonics plan to sign Lewis, who opted out of his contract Friday and will be an unrestricted free agent July 1. To execute a sign-and-trade, the Sonics would have to sign Lewis to a new contract and then trade him.

Read the rest in the Seattle P.I.
As much as I love Nate the Great, is he worth a Rashard? And for that matter, do the Sonics want to add two more small-fry guards to a group that already resembles the cast of Willow? This sounds like more wishful thinking on the part of the Knicks, who have a habit of leaking false trade "rumors".