Friday, August 31

Pundit Predicts Sonics in Playoffs

David Berri, who contributes to the great "Wages of Wins" column in the New York Times, takes an in-depth look at the Sonics and how they might return to the playoffs sooner than you'd think.

Read it here.

(Thanks to Andy Liu for the tip!)

Sonics Delonte West rocks NBA Live

Yesterday, EA SPORTS hosted the NBA LIVE Summer Camp taking place at the EA Canada studio in Vancouver, BC. NBA stars Paul Pierce (Boston Celtics), Shawn Marion (Phoenix Suns), Channing Frye (Portland Trailblazers) Randy Foye (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Delonte West (Seattle Supersonics) were all in attendance to have their go-to moves authentically represented in NBA LIVE through motion capture.

(read the rest here.)
No word yet whether they motion-captured Delonte's clothes hanger dunk.

Thursday, August 30

Save Our Sonics Pre-Season Party Today

One of my favorite clubs, Mainstage, is hosting a "Save Our Sonics" petition signing party today from 4-7pm. They'll have live music and, most importantly, kick-ass Happy Hour deals. Mainstage is right across from the Sonics team store at Key Arena.

I'll also be hosting a benefit comedy show for S.O.S. there on Tuesday September 18th. Stay tuned for more details!

Wednesday, August 29

Vladi-Vladi, he likes to Par-tay

Former Seattle Supersonics forward Vladimir RadmanovicApparently, it was "turn back the clock" night in Belltown last night.

According to the Seattle Weekly's "Buzzer Beater", former Seattle Supersonic Vladimir Radmanovic was recently seen kickin' it Eurostyle at a local club.

Sadly, fellow eastern-block stiff Peja "Manjaks" Drobnjak was nowhere to be seen.

Tuesday, August 28

Big Mouth Strikes Again

"Only two things give me pleasure in life: Stealing NBA teams and my collection of Adolf Hitler's golf clubs."

Another day, another cover-up from the Bennett camp.

The News Tribune reported yesterday that a Sonics employee has leaked details about yet another secret meeting:
Seattle SuperSonics chairman Clay Bennett told his employees that Oklahoma City is ready to foot the bill for the team to relocate there next season, a source within the organization said.

That information was passed along to Sonics employees during a meeting with Bennett on Wednesday, an employee who attended the meeting told The News Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
And exactly how far would OKC be willing to go?
During the 40-minute meeting Wednesday, the team employee said Bennett provided the group with details of what Oklahoma City is willing to pay for to woo the Sonics:

• Any legal fees involving the team’s fight to break the KeyArena lease.

• Whatever the settlement is to the Seattle Center to buy out the lease.

• All relocation fees the NBA would force the team to pay other owners.

• Costs of physically moving the team’s staff and offices.

• Costs of upgrading the city’s current arena, the Ford Center, to make it NBA-ready.

• Costs of building a new arena, and when it’s finished, keeping the old facility running.

Read the rest here.
Of course, Bennett immediately went into red-alert denial mode:
Bennett told The News Tribune that his comments were a hypothetical response.

“The context of my response was after being asked the question how could Oklahoma City possibly be a competitive market to Seattle,” Bennett said. “And my answer is because Oklahoma City is a medium marketplace that highly values the opportunity to obtain an NBA franchise, not unlike any community or any state would value the pursuit of any other highly additive economic development opportunity, such as the value of a manufacturing plant or corporate headquarters."

Meanwhile, our pal, Henry Abbott at True Hoop has a good take on the story:
I don't know where the Sonics belong. Maybe Seattle ultimately sees this team as worth it and maybe it doesn't. But I feel Sonic fans are at least owed an honest attempt to keep the team -- not a process that has long smelled it like it might have been on rails out of town. Getting a good arena deal is a complicated process that takes multiple willing partners.

It's like building a house. If the guy who pours the foundation doesn't show up, and all your framers, roofers, electricians, plumbers, and sheetrockers etc. are all standing around doing nothing, do you really have proof that you can't get it done? Or do you have proof that you need the foundation guy to try harder or get replaced?

Read the rest here.

Friday, August 24

Goodbye, Glove?

Pat Riley confirmed what most of us expected on Friday, that Gary Payton will not be back in Miami next season for the Heat.

GP's coming off the 17th season of his career, a career that has made him 1) the greatest player in Sonic history and 2) a World Champion. Not bad for a kid from Oakland with a penchant for talking smack.

I'll save the post-mortem for Payton's career for when it happens, so allow me to ask this question of the Sonics' management: Is there any way you can make this happen? To Sam Presti, et al, does the good feeling generated by signing Payton to a one-year contract trigger anything within you?

Let's be honest, Payton isn't bringing much to the table these days, and he won't have a big impact on the team's won-loss record. But in a season where the team's interest in winning is secondary to player development, is it such a sacrifice to bring in one of the most beloved players in team history? Considering the horrific public relations job undertaken by the current ownership group, wouldn't it help to mend a few fences?

Perhaps I'm being overly sentimental and not seeing the NBA for the business which it surely is, but this is a game, after all, and the greatest reason teams make money is through making fans. I can't think of any signing this off-season that would make as many fans as signing Gary Payton would.

Thursday, August 23

Sonics' Staff Grows

As reported previously by Gary Washburn at the PI, the Sonics added Mark Bryant and Scott Brooks as assistants on Thursday, and retained Ralph Lewis from last year's staff. In addition, Brian Keefe of the San Antonio Spurs was named Player Development Assistant. You can read the release from the Sonics here. Keefe was previously the video coordinator for the Spurs, which I believe is a role that Sam Presti used to hold, if I'm not mistaken.


Sonics minority owner and resident anti-christ, Aubrey McClendon
So, Aubrey McClendon got his knuckles rapped by the league for his ill-chosen words about the Sonics and Oklahoma City.

How badly rapped? Try $250,000 on for size, ya big Okie.

What do you think bugs McClendon more:

A) That he got embarrassed on a national scale, or

B) That he just gave $250,000 to an ultra-liberal organization (the NBA) that repeatedly endorses gay folks, Democrats (seriously, look at who David Stern donates to and think about the kind of folks he probably hires at the NBA offices), and all the other things that McClendon is against?

Wednesday, August 22

8 Reasons

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.

Good News

Actually, good news is understating it a bit. Much to the delight of Sonic-lovers, the Seattle City Council appears ready to adopt the initiative that Brian Robinson and A Deal Is a Deal have championed - that is, to force the Sonic ownership to adhere to the remaining three years of their lease on Key Arena by not permitting the city of Seattle to accept a buyout.

Kudos to the Times for getting this story, as I don't see it anywhere else in the local media. Even more kudos to Brian for providing the kindling that lit this fire under the normally slow to ignite city bureaucracy. What comes next? The easy answer is to say everything is done, and that there is nothing left for we fans to do but to sit back and enjoy Clay Bennett's misery.

But that's not enough, honestly. I encourage every fan who comes to this site to write to the mayor's office, or their local councilman/woman, or both, and insist that they take up this cause. It's really a no-lose proposition for the politicians in that they get to bathe in the glow of standing up to the "outsiders," and I can't understand why any councillor would oppose it.

On the team's front, it is reported (also in the Times) that the Sonics are looking at adding Mark Bryant and Scott Brooks to the coaching staff. As you might recall, Bryant played for Carlesimo at Seton Hall (as well as in Portland), and has been rumored to be a candidate for the job since early July. Apparently, Alaa Abdelnaby, Terry Dehere, and Anthony Avent had prior obligations and were unable to join the staff.

Tuesday, August 21

Delonte West: Player

Seattle Sonics guard Delonte West
Any Sonic fan will enjoy viewing this youtube clip of Delonte West, in which you will learn about:

1. Delonte is just a player, man

2. Socks

See for yourself, but I think Delonte West may be the funniest Sonic since Predrag Drobnjak.

Predicting Chris Wilcox

Back in the 1980s, when the Seahawks were the kings of Seattle, I remember a reporter asking Chuck Knox, why there were so few good tight ends in the NFL. The coach’s response was classic Knox – terse, and to the point: “They’re all power forwards in the NBA.”

The taciturn one made a good point, in that power forwards and tight ends are very similar physically – tall, strong, fast, powerful. Heck, if you fit all those qualifications, would you rather average 20 points a game in a “non-contact” sport, or catch 3 balls a week while being besieged by maniacal linebackers? Not exactly a tough call, there.

Anyways, to my point, in a way Sonic power forward Chris Wilcox has some similarities to former Seahawk tight end Jerramy Stevens. I don’t mean off the field, that would be an insult to Wilcox, but rather on the field. Both are immensely gifted physically, both were picked in the first round because of their potential, both attended successful big-time college programs ... and both have been disappointments in their pro careers.

Last season, though, Wilcox demonstrated that his stellar stint the previous spring was not a mirage as he averaged career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. Of course, it helps when you average a career-high in minutes, but even his per 40 minute numbers were pretty much at or above his career numbers.

So what’s going to happen to the former Terrapin this season? (Speaking of which, Wilcox makes it four Sonics with ties to Maryland, joining Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Delonte West. Odd.). Well, after five seasons in the league, I think it’s safe to say that we know what we’re getting with Chris Wilcox. Other than a fluky two-month span in Seattle in 2006, Wilcox has shot between 51.4% and 52.9% from the field, made 6.7 field goals per 40 minutes, averaged about 7 defensive boards per 40, 1.5 assists, a steal, .75 blocks, a couple of turnovers, and a few fantastic dunks.

There are a few mitigating factors for his production this year, however.

1) Minutes. With Durant and Green on board, and with Robert Swift taking some center minutes away from Nick Collison, Wilcox will likely see his minutes decline from 31.5 to around 28 or 29.

2) Shot attempts. It’s possible that Wilcox will get more attempts this year, as Allen and Lewis won’t be around to hog the ... err, lead the offense. There are about 35 shots a night missing from the lineup this season with Allen/Lewis gone, and even if Durant takes 20 a night, that still leaves plenty for everyone else to divvy up. Figure that Wilcox’ drop in minutes will be matched by an increase in looks. At the very least, he won’t have to stand around waiting for Allen to come off of screens 4 trips out of 5.

3) Free throws. Wilcox boosted his FTA/48 quite a bit last season, and hopefully that’s a trend that continues into the coming season.

That’s about it for analysis. Wilcox – for as frustrating as he’s been as a pro – has actually been pretty consistent, so it’s not difficult to guess what he’s going to do this season, assuming Sam Presti doesn’t deal him away mid-season. Where does it all leave us? Here’s how I figure it, on a per-game basis.

29 minutes, 13 points, 6.5 rebounds

And that’s Chris Wilcox, a 25-year-old power forward who will throw up the odd 25/15 to get you excited, then follow it up with a week’s worth of 11/4s to drench you in the cold water of reality. And considering his lack of interest in playing defense, and the Sonics’ revived interest in same, this season may be our last chance to see him in action.

Durant, Collison Dropped from Team USA

USA Basketball will not include Sonic teammates Kevin Durant or Nick Collison, as the pair were cut from the roster after practice on Monday.

Coach K explained to the press that the decision-makers felt the team needed more perimeter offense, but that Collison's ability to come as close as he did to making the team was remarkable considering the limited amount of time he spent with the team.

As a Sonic fan, it's just mildly disappointing. In reality, nobody cares all that much about the upcoming games, and while it would be nice to have Durant and/or Collison on the roster, it's not as if it makes any difference for the upcoming season. As I said before, this was a no-lose proposition for the Sonics; if either player made the team, he would benefit from the exposure to the elite of the NBA and if they were cut, both would benefit from the time off before the grueling season begins.

Monday, August 20

Did Donaghy doom the Sonics boom?

"Psst! What's the over-under on the Bulls game?"

ESPN reported on Friday that disgraced former ref Tim Donaghy might name up to twenty other refs that fixed games.

With this startling new announcement, I was reminded of a great Art Thiel article from a couple of weeks ago, where he wrote about a close loss for the Sonics last year that Donaghy officiated.

Coupled with the Robert Swift Conspiracy Theory, it makes you wonder how close the Sonics were to not completely sucking last year.

It also brings up the Big Question. That is, what effect, if any, will this have on the Sonics leaving town? Will Stern step in to avoid another embarrassment, or will the Donaghy Disgrace-o-rama overshadow everything else so much that no one even notices the moving vans packing up Lenny Wilkens' wheelchair and the stuffed corpse of the Wheedle?

Sunday, August 19

Nick Collison: King Bad-ass for a Day

Who says Nick Collison is soft around the rim?

During practice with the Select Team on Saturday, "Crusher" Collison let loose a dunk straight from Lovetron, bringing down the rim, and some of his teammates.

"I was hoping coach would say, 'Hey, practice is cancelled.' That's the first thing that came to my mind," Lebron James said afterwards. "The second thing is 'I hope he didn't shoot a jumper and the basket fell.'"

Read all about here.

(Thanks to Joe Newell for the tip!)

Friday, August 17

Jeff Green Speaks

USA has a brief Q&A with Sonic rookie Jeff Green on their site. It's the typical, not-much-information piece you might expect, but there was one interesting quote:

"On Seattle’s summer league team it was just Kevin (Durant) and me. The other guys were rotating and trying to make a squad."

Paging Mr. Mickael Gelabale or Mr. Johan Petro, Mr. Mickael Gelabale or Mr. Johan Petro, please answer the white courtesy phone ...

Big, Red and Scary: The Return of Robert Swift

Robert Swift working his way back from the brink (insert cheesy 80's montage here).

This morning's P.I. reports on the coming resurrection of our seven-foot Sonics-savior, Robert Swift.

Apparently through hours of weight-lifting and high-level doses of AC-DC, Swift has transformed himself from a painfully awkward nerd, blessed only with the gift of freakish height, to a 280-pound, tattooed bad-ass that could make the Undertaker soil his tights.

So the re-birth of the Great White Hope should pretty much guarantee the Sonics a playoff spot next year, right?

After all, according to former Sonics coach Bob Hill and others, the absence of "Continental Drift" Swift from the line-up last year doomed the team from the start, and was the single biggest reason for the abyss of awfulness that was the 2006-2007 season.


While the glimpse of potential we saw at the end of '05-'06 was intriguing, last year's team needed a lot more than Rich King on steroids to save it. They had two mediocre point guards who spent most of the season bitching and sniping like rejects from America's Top Model. They had the Invisible Man looking like Spencer Haywood one night, then disappearing into the mist the next. The lone highlight was a one-dimensional superstar (but what a dimension it was!) who could pile up points but had the defensive strength of a girl scout cookie.

But Robert Swift would have put them in the playoffs!

And what if he did? What if the Big Red Wall could have been the difference on defense that the Sonics desperately needed last year? What if it helped raise the team from pathetic to passable, launching the Sonics into a respectable first round loss in the playoffs? What would the Sonics have gained? Or, more importantly, what would they have lost?

How about Kevin Durant?

As painful as last season was, it did help set the team up for perhaps their greatest draft pick ever. A lanky superstar who could shoot like Ray Allen, block shots like Shawn Kemp, and play with the passion of Gary Payton. The Über-Sonic.

And if Swift had played last year, Durant might be in Atlanta.

Swifty could very well help the Sonics make the playoffs this season, but for his non-play last year, he might be the ultimate MVP.

Thursday, August 16

Bosh Out; Collison In?

With Chris Bosh out of action with plantar fasciitis, Nick Collison has suddenly become a viable big-man option for Team USA.

In fact, with the roster now down to 15 guys (14, if you don't count JJ Redick), here are the PF/C options for Team USA:

Amare Stoudemire
Tyson Chandler
Dwight Howard
Carmelo Anthony

I suppose you could throw in Durant as a possibility at the 4, but I don't think he'll be playing there, if he even makes the team at all. 12 guys will make the team, and here are the nine automatics, in my mind:

Anthony, Billups, Kobe, Chandler, Howard, LBJ, Kidd, Stoudemire, Deron Williams

That leaves these five folks competing for three spots:

Collison, Durant, Mike Miller, Michael Redd, Tayshaun Prince

Team USA is already loaded at small forward, so Miller is a long-shot, although his outside shooting would come in handy; it's possible that Miller/Redd will get one spot, and Prince, Durant, and Collison will compete for the other two. Of those three, Prince is the most valuable for his defense on multiple positions, Durant would be a nice piece to aid in his development down the road for Team USA, and Collison gets the edge for being able to play 4 or 5.

It all depends on how many big men Coach K wants to have with him. But if you look at it from a fouls to give perspective, it makes alot of sense to have an extra big guy in case Amare gets into foul trouble.

Bottom line? I think Collison's chances of playing against Brazil just got a whole lot better.

El Capitan

Who will be the next captain of the Seattle Sonics?With Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis gone to new pastures this season, the obvious choices for Sonic captain have gone with them. It begs the question: Who will be the team captain this year?

The best player on the team - Kevin Durant - can't even order a drink at a bar (unless he comes to Vancouver, that is), so I'm guessing he's out, as is fellow rookie Jeff Green.

Johan Petro? No, merci. Mickael Gelabale? Great hair, but no. Wally Szczerbiak? Well, you'd like your captain to be able to, you know, play more 30 games before blowing an ankle, so Wally's out. Chris Wilcox? I doubt he'd be interested and you kind of get the feeling that Wilcox is always a bad game away from Benoit Benjamin territory. Damien Wilkins? He's got the captain-type attitude and is a stand-up guy, but he lacks the minutes or veteran presence. Delonte West is too fresh on the scene to merit the honor. I won't mention Mo Sene, and Robert Swift's got plenty of other things to worry about this year, so cross them both off the list.

That leaves four candidates - Kurt Thomas, Earl Watson, Luke Ridnour, and Nick Collison. Personally, I think that nominating either Watson or Ridnour is a decision fraught with peril because of the way it would anger the other one, so eliminate the both of them.

Which means Thomas and Collison are the only two legitimate options. Here are the reasons pro/con for both:

PRO: Tougher than a well-done steak at Denny's, knows all the referees in the league (and their middle names), respected throughout the league, extensive experience.
CON: New to the club, might be a one-year wonder in Seattle, limited playing time.

PRO: Team USA experience, young-and-improving player, great attitude, aggressive player, doesn't hide from challenges, been with the team for a few years and may be around for years to come.
CON: Not a great player, makes plenty of mistakes (i.e., fouls), has ups and downs, likely won't be a starter (although Thomas may not, either), doesn't have Thomas' league-wide respect.

Weighing all the options, I'm siding with Kurt Thomas, at least for this season, with perhaps Nick as an "assistant captain." Feel free to add your insults in the comments.

Wednesday, August 15

Dowdell en France? Oui!

I hope Zabian Dowdell worked in a few French classes while at Virginia Tech, because the Unofficial Favorite Undrafted Player of will be suiting up for Nancy of the Pro A League this year.

For those who don't know, Nancy (city motto: Non inultus premor, "No one touches me with impunity") is located about 4 hours east of Paris, or just 2 hours south of Luxembourg, in case Zabian is in need of visiting the world's only sovereign Grand Duchy. Hey, some people are into that sort of thing, okay?

As always, we wish Dowdell the best of luck in Nancy. Let's hope he's able to parlay any success in Europe into an NBA contract in the future.

In other summer league invitee news, Julius Hodge has signed with Cimberio Varese of the Italian League.

Wilkins Gives Back

What do Ludacris, Kevin Durant, and Ray Allen all have in common?

They're all going to be at a free hip hop concert in Atlanta, which will benefit the community and bring a positive focus. "The Ludacris & Friends, Strength in Numbers Concert" is also being done in association with The Damien Wilkins Foundation (ahh, the reader says, now it makes sense!).

Rashard Lewis will also make an appearance, and Danny Fortson is expected to be there as well, because, you know, they've always got free grub at these things. What Da Fort doesn't know is that he's going to have to pay to get in.

The event takes place on Sunday, September 2 in Atlanta. Other performers include Chingy, Ne-Yo, and Shareefa. Kenny G was invited but was unable to attend due to a bar mitzvah conflict.

Sonics Add A Voice

The Sonics announced a replacement for David Locke on Tuesday, naming former Clipper, Maverick, and Hornet man Matt Pinto to handle the radio play-by-play duties.

In addition to his NBA experience Pinto has also broadcast University of Hawaii men’s sports, Boston College basketball, Brown University football, Hawaii Islanders and Pawtucket Red Sox AAA baseball. Which is good, because if the Sonics break out into a football scrimmage during one of the games, we'll be covered. Or, if (God forbid), Dave Neihaus and Steve Raible decide they want to finally admit that they love each and shack up in Vancouver as "life partners," well, Seattle will still be covered for radio duties on its other pro sports teams.

It's unknown if the Sonics will continue with having Kevin Calabro call radio games when there is no tv coverage, which they did last year, or if KC will get the night off when the tv is dark. It's worth noting that while working for the Clips, Pinto would step aside for Ralph Lawler when LA's game was not televised.

Tuesday, August 14

Team USA Selects Collison For Select Team

Seattle Sonics forward Nick CollisonI've gone from being baffled to understanding this process to being utterly baffled (again) in the span of a week and half. It started out with me thinking Nick Collison was on the Select Team that will scrimmage Team USA in the run-up to the FIBA tournament in Las Vegas.

Then, I thought he was going to be a member of the Team USA because, well, it was reported at ESPN and everywhere else via an AP story.

Now, Steve Carp of the Vegas Review-Journal says that Collison will be on the Select Team after all. Here's what he wrote:

"USA Basketball still is finalizing the roster of NBA players that will scrimmage the national team. Several players already have committed to what is being called the NBA Select team, including Nick Collison, Monta Ellis, David Lee, Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson and Jason Kapono."

It appears that LaMarcus Aldridge and Monta Ellis are off the Select Team because of injuries, which may be why Collison is headed for that club, rather than Team USA, which is the team that the Select Team plays, because they're not the Team USA, because ...

Oh, I give up.

Somebody explain to me how this means we're going to finally beat Puerto Rico?

Knight to Clips

It looks like the Seattle Supersonics won't be shipping any guards to the Clippers anytime soon.Cross Los Angeles off your potential destinations for Luke Ridnour/Earl Watson, as the Clips inked point guard Brevin Knight on Monday. While the possibility of Watson being sent back to LA (he attended UCLA) were always hypothetical at best, I had held out hope of the Sonics landing something, anything for one of their superfluous PGs in a trade with the Clippers.

For now, at least, the list of possible locations just got one name shorter, and the likelihood of Watson and Ridnour cohabitating for another season got that much more likely. Perhaps Sam Presti is hoping for a one-season tryout to determine if either of the two is ready to be a starting point guard, and if neither fills the bill, he'll have the option of waiting for next spring's draft, when he'll have the opportunity to pick OJ Mayo with the #1 pick.

Aubrey A Fan of Sonic Blogs?

Thanks for the extra traffic, Aubrey, but we'd rather have our team back.

Call me crazy, but maybe Aubrey McClendon's statements regarding the inevitability of the Sonics' relocation was a good thing. After all, what the hell has there been to talk about for the past couple of weeks? With training camp still eons away, A-Mac's statement/retraction has given us all something to whine about for a couple of weeks. Thanks, Aubrey.

As expected, a deluge of comments about Aubrey's comments today in the papers. You've got Steve Kelley (who thanks McClendon for "exposing chairman Clay Bennett as the duplicitous salesman he is" and goes on to call Bennett & Co. "fat-cat burglars"!), Eric Williams details the backpedaling from Bennett and McClendon (Williams also appeared on the Team 1040 in Vancouver last night; I know, because me and the other Sonic fan in B.C. both were listening), Art Thiel weighs in with a well-reasoned piece on the entire situation, Ted Miller counsels patience for Sonic fans, and also terms McClendon's comments "a calculated move," Margarita Prentice bemoans the fate of the team in Clay Bennett's official voice, and Gary Washburn has a quote from the NBA about the situation in his write-up.

See, I told you McClendon was working for us. Last week, I'm watching the paint dry at this site, and now we've got a dozen stories to examine and a million opinions to scream. Gotta love, controversy, right?

All of that aside, ponder this for a moment:

How would you feel if the Sonics had gotten the 6th pick in the draft, and rather than building around Kevin Durant, they were building around Yi "Chairmaster" Jianlian?

Suddenly, I just felt a whole lot better.

Monday, August 13

Collison Practicing With Team USA

Starting Wednesday, Team USA will be practicing in Las Vegas in preparation for the FIBA tournament that kicks off on August 22. Joining the roster of 16 players is Seattle's Nick Collison.

Collison joins a team that lost Kirk Hinrich, Shane Battier, and Greg Oden on Monday, meaning the roster has been trimmed to 16, with the possible additions of Mike Miller and/or Tayshaun Prince at some time in the future. ESPN's Chris Sheridan figures Kevin Durant will be cut, leaving Collison a two in four shot of making it (he would be battling with Prince, Miller, and Michael Redd for two spots).

Bennett Attempts To Clarify

In response to Aubrey McClendon's comments to an Oklahoma paper, Clay Bennett issued the following statement today:


"As the controlling owner, I admire my fellow owners and appreciate their support. While they are excited about the basketball operations and the future of the team on the court, they, like me, have been disheartened by the lack of progress we have made to secure a new arena for the Sonics and Storm. Aubrey expressed his personal thoughts and, in context of the story, was not speaking on behalf of the ownership group. It is my hope we will see a breakthrough in the next 60 days that will result in securing a new arena for the Soncis and Storm in the Greater Seattle area."


So, when McClendon said that "We didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle; we hoped to come [to Oklahoma City]," he's completely on his own? He never had any conversation with Clay Bennett about that? Really?

What Can We Do?

Undoubtedly, there are many out there who look at this whole Bennett-McClendon-Carpetbagger scenario and just throw up their hands in dismay. The folks who never really liked basketball to begin with, or pro sports at all, they could care less, and this situation just confirms their pre-existing beliefs.

But for the rest of us, the obvious question is this: What do we do now? There are a number of practical answers:

1. Support A Deal is a Deal. Brian Robinson's efforts to force the Sonics/Storm ownership to honor their lease with the city is something everyone can get behind (sorry, was that too homo-erotic for you, Mr. McClendon?). Hate the Sonics' owners? Then stick it to them by forcing them to play basketball in Seattle for 3 more years. Love the Sonics? Then help ensure the team remains here for at least 3 more years. It's win-win. If you don't have any money because you spent it all on that sweet X-Man replice jersey, then volunteer your time/services.

2. Don't buy tickets. This is a tough one. On the one hand, poor attendance hurts Bennett's pocketbook, which is nice. On the other, it makes Seattle look apathetic. Perhaps an alternative is to buy tickets, and then bring your own food to the games. I suggest tomatoes, just in case Bennett makes an appearance.

3. Write to the Mayor. Let Nickels know the pressure is still on he and his associates to force Bennett to honor the lease.

Any other ideas out there? And, no, we're not interested in your plots to injure Bennett & Co. After all, they're much likely better-armed than we are.

Take a Letter, Clay

Dear Clay Bennett,

I have never met you personally, so I am hesitant to write this letter because I am making assumptions about someone whose hand I have never shook and whose eyes I have never looked into. That said, I feel confident in saying I have a fairly good impression of you.

I know, for example, that you donate heavily to Republican campaigns, that you associate yourself with people who oppose gay marriage, that you heartily endorse the Bush administration. Knowing these facts, I can deduce that you are a Christian man, and I would imagine that you try to follow the tenets of the Bible in your daily life.

Mr. Bennett, I am also trying to be a Christian man. I know that doing so is a path filled with pitfalls, that there are many missteps we make along the way that leave us ripe for picking by those who do not believe. I understand how difficult it may be to be a 1) public figure and 2) a Christian.

But what I don’t understand is how you look at yourself in the mirror, knowing that you have conned an entire region with your lies. There are many misconceptions of Christianity – people will argue until the end of time about whether Jesus was a fan of gays – but no one argues that telling lies is The Christian Way.

So I ask you: Do you feel guilty about lying to us? Do you say prayers for forgiveness every night for your deceptions? Do you have an anchor of guilt the size of an oil derrick hanging upon your neck because of the way you got the City of Renton so riled up to help you? All that time you wasted in Olympia, all that taxpayer money you frittered away on endless meetings, all those volunteers who gave so much of their time and of their pocketbooks to help your business, all on the precept that you were “committed” to keeping the Sonics in Seattle – do you feel any guilt at all about that?

Mr. Bennett, there are two stories out there right now: The one you have told us for the past year, and the one Aubrey McClendon is telling us now.

Two stories, one truth. Which is yours?


A Sonic Fan

Sunday, August 12

Bombshell: Sonics minority owner admits they are lying bastards

The Seattle Supersonics have their own Axis of EvilSeattle's own Axis of Evil laughs it up at our expense.

When Clay Bennett and his team of investors said last year they were going to make every effort to keep the team in Seattle, I really wanted to believe them. Really.

But something just didn't smell right. Maybe it was Bennett's crooked, shark-like "smile", or the fact that he'd been trying to bring an NBA team to Oklahoma City for years, but he just didn't seem to be telling the truth.

For once, I was right.

In a stunning display of candor, minority owner Aubrey McClendon finally admitted that Bennett and his boys never had any intension of keeping the team in Seattle:
"But we didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle; we hoped to come here," he said. "We know it's a little more difficult financially here in Oklahoma City, but we think it's great for the community and if we could break even, we'd be thrilled."

Read the rest in today's Seattle P.I.
I guess I should be glad someone in that swarm of vultures finally came clean, but the fact that he did so in such a casual manner really shows the arrogance of this group.

They are so proud of their fleece-job, they don't even care if we're on to them anymore. It's a giant, foam middle-finger to the people of Seattle.

I'm not surprised, of course, that the head of an Enron-type energy company might lie, cheat and steal to get whatever he wanted, but it seems like the city of Seattle could have a real argument here:

Is it legal to lie about your intentions before buying a business?

If you bought the Space Needle, let's say, and told the previous owner you would do everything you could to preserve it's place in the city, but later admitted you planned on moving it to China all along, could you be sued by the previous owner?

I'm no lawyer, so I don't know the legality of all of this, but one thing is now crystal clear: these guys are real bastards.

Friday, August 10

Are you kidding me?

Will Reggie Miller join former Seattle Supersonics star Ray Allen in Boston?The Celtics are interested in Reggie Miller. Apparently Bob Cousy was unavailable.

The Celtics, who apparently believe you can never have too many old guards who can't play defense, are attempting to exhume Reggie Miller.

According to several imaginary sources, the Celtics believe the decrepit Miller would be a good mentor to youngsters Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Miller, who was old and immobile when he retired two years ago, will be wheeled out to the three-point line in late game situations.

Not to be outdone, Allan Houston now wants to get back in the game as well. Word has it, though, that the Pittsburgh Pisces have not returned his calls.

Thursday, August 9

Nickels on KIRO this morning--Call in!

Greg Nickels: Seattle Supersonics fan?I received this e-mail from the Mayor's Office yesterday:
Supersonic soul fellas,

My name is Viet Shelton and I’m an aide to Mayor Nickels. I just thought I’d give you guys a heads up that the Mayor is guest hosting the Dave Ross show on KIRO 710 tomorrow morning from 9am-noon.

The topic for the 10am hour will be the Sonics and Key Arena, whether or not it’s a decent venue for an NBA team, does it need an upgrade, etc. Oh, there will also be some discussion about the latest politics of it and it’d be good to hear from folks their perspective of the situation and what people think should be done to keep the sonics.

Anyway, I wanted to let you guys know, invite any of you or your readers to call in and discuss it with the Mayor.

KIRO’s call in number is: 877-710-KIRO (5476)

Viet Shelton
Senior Advisor on External Relations
Office of Mayor Greg Nickels
Well, you heard it, Supersonicsouliacs: hit those phones and tell the Mayor what you think!

Wednesday, August 8

Barry Good

There have been plenty of words written on Barry Bonds' 756th home run last night. So many words that to write another article about Bonds - in a Sonic blog, no less - would seem pointless.

But watching Bonds go deep last night in San Francisco, I felt the urge just to add my two cents before the moment disappears into history.

First off, I'm not a Bonds-hater as the rest of the known world seems to be. Sure, he may have cheated, but considering Gaylord Perry and Don Sutton are in the Hall already - and cheating was something they did in front of the full view of the press boxes - I'm not going to lose any sleep over what Barry did or does. And considering that Babe Ruth never faced anyone on the mound with a darker complexion than your average Italian, I don't think it's fair to call Bonds' record tainted, but not Ruth's.

But that said, I was happy for San Francisco last night. You could tell that the entire stadium was delighted beyond belief, as if they got to raise a gigantic middle finger to the entire nation. There are few joys as a sports fan to rival watching the best player on your favorite team succeed, with the exception of watching him succeed when the rest of the country wants him to fail. That extra juice you get from knowing that every other fan in the U.S. hates your guts, well, that's just plain fun.

And considering that baseball is game involving men in knickers hitting a ball, I think just plain fun is something nice to see.

My Summer Vacation

I'm still kind of curious about why Nick Collison was originally listed as a member of the practice squad for Team USA, then he (and Luke Ridnour) were not on the roster put out the other day, while Jeff Green was.

In looking for answers, I came across this with some pics of Collison's wedding this summer. Strangely, the photos of Danny Fortson didn't make the cut; something about the photographer not having the right type of wide-angle lens.

I did hear, however, that Da Fort was the highlight of the reception, putting away 3 steaks, 2 Diet Pepsis, half the roast beef, a 3/4-full container of salmon salad, the better part of the cheese tray, and 7 pieces of pecan pie. Danny told insiders that he's waiting for a return call from "several" NBA general managers about his employment next year, but that in the meantime, he's "just chillin'."

Tuesday, August 7

Green and Carlesimo Confirmed

As reported by Kevin Pelton at, Jeff Green and PJ Carlesimo have been confirmed as participants in the NBA Select team which will help Team USA prepare for the FIBA Championships in Vegas later this month. Carlesimo will serve as head coach for the team. The complete roster of the Select team is here.

Also, there's a brief Q&A with Sonic rookie Jeff Green on, wherein we learn that, well, we don't really learn anything at all. But if you're thirsty for Sonic news in any form, go ahead and take a look. Elsewhere at, Dave McMenamin estimates that Kevin Durant is on the bubble for making the roster for the FIBA tournament, and that he may be edged out by Tyson Chandler. Honestly, it's a no-lose proposition for the Sonics and Durant. If he makes the team, he gets to spend a few extra days playing with the best basketball players in the world. If he doesn't make the team, he gets to rest a bit before training camp. As a rookie, Durant (and Green, for that matter), may wind up hitting a wall this year come February, and playing in extra games during the summer won't help matters.

Friday, August 3

Nickels Bites Back

Is Da Mayor a fan of the Seattle Supersonics?Greg Nickels, with finger planted firmly in the air to sense the direction of public opinion, has responded to Clay Bennett's response to his .... oh, who can keep track of it all, anyway?

Don't get me wrong, I'm solidly with Nickels in his position, but I'm not naïve enough to think that Nickels wouldn't be taking this position if it weren't for the efforts of Brian and the A Deal is a Deal organization. As a politician, Nickels is canny enough to know that one of the best positions to take in an argument is against someone the public despises. Government officials love this tactic: Politicians will always beat the drum against tobacco companies or sex offenders, even if there is no immediate danger, simply because they know they'll score points in the court of public opinion.

It helps, of course, when you have someone like Clay Bennett, who - like Michael Heisley in Vancouver a few years back - has been playing his new-found home like a piano in the Tulsa production of "A Music Man."

Unlike Harold Hill, though, Clay Bennett isn't selling us a pile of musical instruments and uniforms, he's trying to take away something that's been a part of Seattle for more than 40 years. Let's hope, like Hill, he sees the error of his ways soon enough.

Thursday, August 2

Clay Bennett Is Not Amused

From Mike Seely of Seattle Weekly, in his Buzzer Beater blog, which any self-respecting Seattle sports fan reads with the avidity of George Hamilton scanning the UV index, comes a message from Clay Bennett.

The press release is apparently in response to Mayor Nickels' comments to the TNT and other local papers that the city is interested in sweetening the Key Arena pie in such a manner that the much-maligned building becomes suitable to Bennett & Co. To wit:

“In issuing our call to action last month, we were hopeful the Mayor would use his regional leadership platform to rally support for a solution. Instead he focused on old unworkable concepts that are not acceptable. It is clear that if all we have to discuss is the renovation of KeyArena, then a meeting with the Mayor will not be productive or necessary."

Consider the sabres rattled.

Tough Start

Spent a little time looking at the new schedule more closely, and I'm getting a rather uneasy feeling in my stomach when I think about how the Sonics start the season.

Now, it may come to pass that the decision regarding the future of this franchise gets settled far in advance of the October 31 deadline Clay Bennett has imposed. But it may not. Bennett's deadline has no legal backing, and is solely a motivation tool for the city/personal goal for him. And if it does not get settled - and it wouldn't be the first time an owner had to make a u-turn regarding a franchise - how the Sonics play to start the season will have at least a small impact on how receptive the region is to throwing more money at Bennett's team.

And that's where the unsettled feeling in my stomach comes in. If you look at the first month of the season, and pick the games based on how Vegas would look at them, well, the Sonics might not exactly get off to a hot start. In fact, they could get off to a real lousy start:

at Denver (loss), Phoenix (loss), at Clippers (loss), at Sacramento (loss), Memphis (win), Utah (loss), Detroit (loss), at Orlando (loss), at Miami (loss).

That's 1-8 after 9 games. You can argue that the Sonics might steal a win in Sacramento, or in Orlando, or at home against the Jazz or the Pistons, but if you had $100 to wager on any of those events, you'd probably go with Seattle's opponent, right?

The schedule eases a bit after that, and the Sonics could finish up November by splitting the remaining 8 games, giving them a record of 5-12 entering December.

As I said before, the arena situation and the Sonics' future will probably be settled in advance of that first month of games, but it may not. Let's just hope that it is.

Annnnnd Nooooooow, Your Seattle Suuuuuuuper......

Let’s play Coach today. Assume the Sonics’ roster is set (I know, I know), and that this is your depth chart:

PG: Ridnour, Watson, West
SG: Durant, Szczerbiak, West
SF: Green, Wilkins, Gelabale
PF: Wilcox, Collison, Green, Petro
C: Thomas, Swift, Collison

So, which five names should Matt Pittman call out when the Sonics take the floor against the Suns on November 1?

Here are my nominations:

Watson, Durant, Green, Wilcox, Thomas

Off the bench (in order):

West, Collison, Wally, Ridnour, Swift, Wilkins, Gelly, Petro

As some of the smarter commenters have pointed out, it’s unlikely that Luke will be dealt until next summer because he’s a base-year compensation player, and that makes it difficult to work out a deal unless 3 teams are involved. Unless a deal with Earl can be worked out, it appears we will be re-staging the “Luke and Earl Soap Opera” that proved so unpopular last year.

But that’s just my uninformed opinion. Anybody think Durant should be at the 3 with Green off the bench? Are you hungry to see Swift get a chance to start? How about Nick Collison; does his January-February monster run entitle him to the starting spot?

There are plenty of options, so have fun putting the jigsaw puzzle together.

Sonics News in August

Shockingly, there's actually something to read about today, as both the PI and TNT have news.

Gary Washburn reports that the Sonics will open on the road against the Nuggets, although the official schedule won't come out until later today.

[UPDATE: Here's the schedule. Hold onto your hats, the Sonics are playing on Christmas Day, against the Blazers!]

But the meaty story is from Eric Williams in the TNT, where Mayor Greg Nickels is talking about the Sonics kicking in $100 million towards either renovating Key Arena or building a new facility altogether.

“Our door is open [to Bennett and the Sonics],” Nickels is quoted as saying in Williams' story. “It will be open today. It will be open tomorrow. It will be open Oct. 31.”

The key person in the story is state auditor Brian Sonntag, who is looking to act as mediator between the city and Bennett's ownership group. Sonntag - unlike most of the folks involved in this situation - doesn't seem to care how the arena kerfuffle gets settled, so as long as it gets settled with the Sonics still settled in Seattle.

My only quibble with the $100 million is whether that comes from arena naming rights, or from Bennett's pocket. If Bennett's $100 million comes from selling the rights to the name of the building, then I'm less than impressed.


Williams also reports that Jeff Green has been added to the practice squad for the Olympic team, joining Nick Collison and Kevin Durant, and that PJ Carlesimo will join the coaching staff.

Wednesday, August 1

Shaq's Big Score

Shaq Fu, we salute you!Two months ago, I wrote a snide comment about Shaquille O'Neal's new reality television show, a show which purported to show Shaq helping six young kids go from obese to fit.

After all, I reasoned, isn't it a bit hypocritical for Shaq - who's notorious for not getting into shape until the playoffs appear on the horizon - to teach youngsters how to work hard?

Well, color me corrected. I'll admit that I got hooked on the show, and watched most of the episodes, and from that small sample, I can honestly say that all the bloggers and columnists who teased Shaq about this idea owe him a great, big obese apology. Because if you watched the show, you saw that O'Neal cared about the kids, and, more importantly, cared about the epidemic of overweight kids that plagues the U.S.

There are plenty of writers who sit back, do nothing, and criticize someone who tries and fails. Well, Shaq saw a problem, thought he could do something about it, and succeeded. If it's just the six kids that improve their lives, that's success in and of itself. But if 600 or 6,000 kids get the message, that's even better. And if educators and administrators and parents across this country smell the frying bacon and wake up to the fact that they are doing a grave disservice to their children and students by providing them with fast food and a lack of physical activity, that's even better still.

Kudos, Shaq, on a job well done.

The Rick Sund Follies

A great article at Wages of Wins explores the correlation between rookie year performance and career performance. As a Sonic fan, it's not the performance of Jeff Green or Kevin Durant that intrigues me (those guys will be fine, I'm sure), it's the performance - or lack thereof - of Johan Petro, Robert Swift, and Mo Sene.

The crux of the article is that there is a 0.67 correlation between what a guy does his first year in the league and what he does the rest of his career. In other words, if Joe Player averages 8 ppg his rookie year, his career ppg is going to be somewhat close to that. Or, in the case of the Three Amigos mentioned before, if you average 2 ppg, well, you get the picture.

Now, as the author freely points out, he did not adjust for 18-year-old rookies vs. college senior rookies, or for players who are in their 1st year of organized basketball vs. players who have been dribbling since they were three. Still, it makes you pause a bit, doesn't it, to think that it's possible that only 1 of the 3 wundercenters drafted by Sund will ever pan out, and even that 1 is relatively unlikely.