There is no uncertainty surrounding the Sonics' performance this season. In years past, there has been an unknown element to what will be as summer wound its way into fall - a cloud of mystery that has clung to this franchise like an unwelcome guest on a three-day weekend.
But that cloud has lifted. This is not to say that the cloud has been replaced by sunshine - far from it. It is much more likely that the Sonics will win fewer than 30 games than greater than 40, and the odds of the Sonics reaching the playoffs in the spring of 2008 are practically nil.
All of which makes the upcoming season all the more intriguing. For the first time in my life, I've purchased tickets in advance, a partial package of games that ensures I can watch what will likely be the worst team in Seattle basketball history (non-Seattle U. division; sorry, Chunk). Kevin Durant was probably 75% of that decision, but there is more to it than that.
There is something about this franchise now, something that hasn't been there since Shawn Kemp was traded away, a sense of optimism. It's ironic that this optimism has blossomed from the waste laid by Clay Bennett and Aubrey McClendon, but it is true nonetheless - Sonic fans are excited about their team. If one can close one's eyes to the arena saga and imagine a world where the universe ends at the edge of a basketball court, then it is truly a great time to be a Seattle SuperSonics fan.
It's early, I know, but here are 8 reasons why I'm excited about the Sonics this year. Feel free to add yours.
1. Kevin Durant. A 6'10" shooting guard with the wingspan of a condor who can dunk, rain 3's, block shots, and a motor that runs at only one speed, high? I think I can get on board with that.
2. Delonte West. Call me crazy, but as each day passes I like Delonte West even more. I linked to a youtube clip yesterday, but there are a dozen other funny clips of the guy. And that's not even mentioning his aggressive defense. Guys like Delonte have character, and character is something this team has been in sore need of for a long, long time.
3. Robert Swift. I know, he's never done anything in the NBA, but he's transformed himself from a wafer-thin high schooler to a guy who can push back against the biggest centers in the league. Maybe he'll be a bust, maybe he won't, but look at it this way: Robert Swift is younger than Brandon Roy, JJ Redick, and LaMarcus Aldridge. I think he's still got a shot.
4. Sam Presti. I'll go to my grave insisting that Tim Duncan means more to the Spurs' success than any ethereal "culture," but even a crab like me has to admit that Presti has made more good moves in three months than the previous GMs in Seattle made in ten years. We're all drinking the kool-aid, Sam, so pass me another glass.
5. Jeff Green. I went out on a limb a couple of weeks ago and wondered if Jeff Green could be this generation's Nate McMillan. Heady praise for a guy who has yet to play a game in the league, but watching him in the summer league got me excited to root for a player who cares more about winning than posting stats.
6. Kurt Thomas. What's not to like about Kurt Thomas? He's big, he pushes people around, and he's got an expiring contract. Love, love, love.
7 and 8. OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose. If the Sonics really are as bad as they could be, the Ridnour/Watson debate will resolve itself quite nicely next June.