Wednesday, October 31

Opening Night Cartoon: Ooh, SCARY!

Print and clip your choice of Vanilla or Lime Flavor!

I know, it's too easy. Halloween, Clay Bennett, arena deal deadline, general creepiness... The story and pictures practically make themselves. Although, after looking at/working on this into the wee hours, it started to look like frickin' Greg Nickels to me.

Anyway, we hope you enjoy this, whether you think it looks like Clay, Greg, KOMO anchor Dan Lewis, or whoever. Happy Halloween and GO SONICS!

Tuesday, October 30

Artest Determines Sonics' PG

Whaa? Yes, you read that right. According to PJ Carlesimo (gleaned from Kevin Pelton's blog at, Earl Watson is in the lead to be the starting point guard for the Sonics on opening night, and one of the main reasons is the mask Luke Ridnour is wearing after Ron Artest boffed him in the nose in the first pre-season game of the season (wow, that sentence was waaaaay too long).

Anyhow, as was evident in the Suns game, Frodo is having trouble getting used to the mask, and it's inhibiting his play. Pelton also muses that Damien Wilkins will likely start as well, meaning the first lineup of the year could look something like

C - Nick Collison
PF - Chris Wilcox
SF - Kevin Durant
SG - Damien Wilkins
PG - Earl Watson

Of course, Durant's slightly injured left ankle could play a role, and it's possible Bob Swift will have recovered enough to merit a start, but that's the five I would expect to see, with West, Wally, and Thomas the first three off the bench.

We've got a load road to hoe (ho? heaux?), but it appears that's how it looks like it will start.

Thursday, October 25

Sonics Lose (Again)

Stop me if you've heard it all before ...

As in the previous loss to Golden State, the Sonics led or were close the entire game, then came up short at the end. This time Brandon Roy played the assassin, but it all added up to the sixth loss in seven games.

Of note, Earl Watson sat out (no injury reported, and Eric Williams at TNT figured it was due to getting more time at the point for Ridnour and West), Petro got some run, and, as always, showed some talent and more frustration, Mo Sene collected dust on the bench, Ridnour put up good numbers (8 assists, 0 turnovers), and Mickael Gelabale had one of his best games this pre-season with 15 points on 5 of 6 shooting.

On the Kevin Durant front, he will definitely miss the Friday night affair with Phoenix, and his status for opening night against Denver is up in the air. Some reports say he'll play, others say he'll sit. For the sake of all the folks who bought tickets, I hope he can be there. In what promises to be an uncomfortable season for Sonic fans off the court, it would be nice if a few things fell our way on the court.

Wednesday, October 24


Thought you might be curious to see what expects from the Sonics this season. According to their fantasy player projections for the 07/08 season, here’s our roster:

C – Bob Swift, 5.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.5 blocks
PF – Chris Wilcox, 11.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg
SF – Kevin Durant, 19.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.5 assists, 2.7 turnovers, 1.1 steals, 1.2 blocks (“His field-goal percentage will be poor as he will be asked to take so many shots and defenses will key on him.”)
SG – Damien Wilkins, 7.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.6 assists
PG – Delonte West, 10.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.8 assists, 1.0 steals (“West's defense and ability to play under control will earn him minutes on a young Seattle team.”)

Luke Ridnour, 9.9 ppg, 5.2 assists, 1.9 turnovers, 1.2 steals (“While he is the best passer (or at least the flashiest) of the Sonics' three point guards, he is by far the worst defender. P.J. Carlesimo replaces Bob Hill, who had a poor relationship with Ridnour, but he will not go easy on Luke's open-door policy on defense.”)
Earl Watson, 8.4 ppg, 4.7 assists, 2 turnovers, 1.1 steals (“As you all know, King Ghidorah was the three-headed arch-nemesis of Godzilla. He was nasty, destroyed cities and benefited no one. Except for the destroying cities part -- though Seattle fans may disagree if the team bolts -- the Sonics point guard situation is very similar.”)
Wally Szczerbiak, 14.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.3 3fgpg (“If, as promised, it keeps the recurring sprains at bay, we could have a great value pick here.”)
Jeff Green, 12 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.2 turnovers
Nick Collison, 8.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg
Kurt Thomas, 5.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg

And some other former-Sonic-related projections:

Ray Allen, 22 ppg, 7th best shooting guard
Rashard Lewis, 21.5 ppg, 6th best shooting guard (behind Gerald Wallace; ouch)
Flip Murray, 6.8 ppg

Some observations: This is definitely fantasy-land, because I can’t see Ridnour, Watson, and West averaging a combined 40 points per game this season. Just seems unlikely to me. Also, I think the Green projections are a bit too optimistic, and Wilkins’ numbers should be higher, considering he may wind up being the starting small forward and that Szczerbiak will wind up getting hurt at some point this year.

Interesting to see how they projected Swift; can’t say I can disagree too much. The Wilcox numbers are much too low; I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t average closer to 13 ppg and 7.5 boards.

Durant Injured, Sonics Lose

Ouch. The only thing worse than (another) Sonic loss at this point is a Sonic loss combined with an injury to Kevin Durant.

Fortunately, it appears Durant's sprained ankle isn't serious (he tells Gary Washburn that he'll be ready for Opening Night). He suffered the injury with a couple minutes to go in the fourth quarter of last night's OT loss to the Warriors, a loss which dropped the Sonics' pre-season record to 1-5. However, Percy Allen notes on his Times blog that Durant will miss the final two pre-season games, including the game in Vancouver that I get to go to. Thanks alot, Marco Belinelli. I hope you wake up with a horse head on your pillow.

On a brighter note, the insertion of Nick Collison into the starting lineup seemed to help the team's tougness. Granted, the Warriors are not the Rockets when it comes to size (heck, they might even qualify to play in a Filipino league with some of their lineups), but when Collison and Chris Wilcox combine for 21 boards, I'll take it.

Oh, and you can't miss this quote from Don Nelson, brought to you from Percy Allen's blog:

"Seattle is not a good team and they almost beat us tonight so I don't know where that puts us. They're kind of a fun team. They're so young, they're going to suffer early until these young guys learn how to play. ... PJ has a tough job in front of him."

Normally, you'd be angered by reading something like that about your team, but I totally agree with Nelson. As these pre-season games drag on, I am more and more getting the feeling that we could be in for a really l---o---n---g season. I'm talking less than 30 wins kind of bad.

In fact, before I had read Nellie's quote, I had thought about how much money you could make this year by betting the over on Denver and/or Utah's total wins. Portland, Minnesota, and the Sonics are all going to suck royally this season, and the Jazz and Nuggets will be able to reap the benefits over and over again.

Finally, in a sign of how far off the radar Mo Sene, Johan Petro, and Mickael Gelabale have fallen with this coaching staff, the three imports combined for 0 minutes.

In a pre-season game.

With at least two teammates injured.

In overtime.

Au revoir, mes amis.

Tuesday, October 23

Sonics waive Jermaine Jackson, world mourns

The Sonics waived Jermaine Jackson yesterday, prompting basketball fans everywhere to say "Jermaine Jackson plays basketball?".

In tribute to the fallen Sonic, here he is singing that one song from the 80's. You know, the one they used to show on Friday Night Videos? Anyone? Sigh . . .

Friday, October 19

Where Are They Now?

I’ve realized that if I want to continue writing a weekly “Where Are They Now?” piece, I’m going to have to limit the number of folks I look at each week. Otherwise, I’m going to have to run out of people in a couple of months, and by April I’ll be running stories on whatever Sonic is on the disabled list. So, with some prompting from the comments, here is Friday’s Where Are They Now?

HERSEY HAWKINS – If you think of Hersey Hawkins, you either remember him for winning the NBA Citizenship Award, for being traded for Brent Barry, or for being the quiet guy in the background on the great teams of the mid-90s.

The Hawk has been quiet in his retirement, not surprising considering the understated way he played in the NBA. After spending a couple of seasons post-retirement as a color commentator for the Grizzlies (where he served as the predecessor to Michael Cage), the former shooting guard spent 2006-07 as the Varsity Assistant Coach at Estrella Foothills High School in Goodyear, Arizona. A role he will continue this season as well.

Hawkins has two sons on the team, Brandon and Corey (note that this Brandon Hawkins is not that Brandon Hawkins). Interestingly, Corey was not only first-team all state in Arizona as a freshman, but he also found time to be number 2 on the golf team. Brandon is expected to play at the NCAA level, and is rumored to be choosing among USC, Bradley, Tennessee, and a couple of other schools.

Lakers Top Sonics

With less than two weeks before the first game of the season, the Sonics look to be fulfilling the expectations of prognosticators around the country:

That is, they won't be very good this year.

A 20-point loss to the Lakers in Bakersfield last night highlighted: 1) the Sonics lack of an inside presence to stop bigger, stronger big man, especially with Bob Swift still recovering from his injury last year; 2) inconsistent play from young players; 3) some absolutely awful 3-point shooting.

It's ironic that a team known the past few seasons as a chuck-em-up group has totally transformed. Think about it: With whom on this team would you feel comfortable on a last-second 3? Durant? Wilkins? Quite a difference from year's past, when Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, or even Vlad Radmanovic were capable of sinking 5, 6, or 7 threes on a given night.

It's not all gloom and doom, though. Starting this weekend, if Percy Allen's intuition is correct, we'll be seeing more of the regular rotation and less of the free-for-all typical of pre-season games. I'm guessing that means more Nick Collison and Kurt Thomas and less of the French Connection. Seriously, whatever French fans of the Sonics remain, they might consider rooting for another team come November, because it does not appear Mickael Gelabale and Johan Petro are long for this roster.

Thursday, October 18

Viewing Pleasure

Just a reminder that tonight's Sonics-Lakers game will be broadcast on TNT at 7 pm. If you'd rather watch Bob Swift make his triumphant return to Bakersfield than see the Red Sox lose to the Indians, set your viewing plans accordingly. In all honesty, as much as I love baseball, the idea of sitting through 3 hours of Tim McCarver's horrific puns and Joe Buck's daily "Watch How Indignant I Can Get!" spiel is too much. I'm leaning heavily towards an hour of Sonics-Lakers, followed by "The Office" when I start remembering why networks almost never broadcast pre-season games.

Paranoid Bennett hounded by "disturbing fringe elements"

Just when you thought things couldn't get any weirder in Sonicsville . . .

Yesterday, the American Arbitration Association ruled that any arbitration hearings would be held in Seattle instead of Denver, as the Sonics had requested. Hooray for us!

Here's where the weird comes in.

While arguing their case with the AAA, the Sonics filed papers citing "disturbing fringe elements" surrounding the case, and even claimed the team's lawyers had "received threats and other highly charged communications" after taking the case. Wow! Were there threatening calls in the middle of the night? A flaming effigy of Slick Watts?

How about "two anonymous e-mails from the same address".

Now, I don't mean to make light of threatening emails, but C'MON! Nussbaum received more than that after making fun of Steve Nash! These scumbags are trying to steal our freaking team, and they only get TWO NASTY EMAILS?!

I am an avowed pacifist (and registered coward) who would never condone violence or illegal acts of any kind, but frankly, I'm surprised this is all this city could muster up. Couldn't someone at least mail them some sort of legal annoyance, like a lifetime supply of Kenny G albums or something? Where's your passion, Seattle?

Just ask yourself: What would Danny Fortson do? Disturbing fringe elements indeed!

Former Sonic Update

A quick recap of how some former Sonics are faring in the pre-season:

The pre-season hasn't gone as expected for the Magic's big free-agent signing this summer. A bad ankle, cramps in his leg ... it all adds up to two games played and an average of 5 points in those two contests. Ouch.

Like Lewis, Allen has spent much of the pre-season overseas. While Lewis has been in China, Allen's been in Europe, where he's averaged 17.3 ppg in three games. So far at least, the ankle trouble he experienced last season has been a distant memory.

Brown has hooked on with the Grizzlies, where he's contributed 6 ppg and 3.5 rpg in two games. It appears he has a fan in coach Marc Iavaroni, who says he sees a bit of himself when he looks at Brown, who, like Iavaroni, had to get his career started overseas before returning home.

It seems like ages ago the Sonics were frustrated by the 3-point-shooting big man, but it hasn't been that long since his bizarre hairstyles were coasting up and down the court. Radman has had a banner pre-season for the Lakers, leading the club with 16 ppg to go along with 5 boards a night. Will he be pumped to put on a show in Bakersfield in front of his old club? As always, the answer is "Who the hell knows with Radman."

Murray is still in Detroit, and appears to have found a home there. His 8.5 ppg and 4 assists are respectable for the minutes he gets, and perhaps he has begun to accept his future as a 6th or 7th man on a good team.

Wednesday, October 17

Lineups, More

Contrary to previous reports, it turns out Mo Sene will not be starting tomorrow night against the Lakers. Both Kevin Pelton at and Percy Allen at the Times report that the lineup for Thursday night's game in Bakersfield is:

PF Nick Collison
SF Damien Wilkins
C Robert Swift
SG Kevin Durant
PG Earl Watson

Personally, I like the look of that lineup, and it certainly ties in with the defense-first mentality we keep hearing about for this year's club. Interesting that Carlesimo would make a point of mentioning how he was trying to get everyone a chance to start in the pre-season, then shelve the idea of Sene starting. Maybe Mo's chance will come later in the exhibitions.

On the injury front, Gary Washburn reports that Kevin Durant's minor injury (he got smacked in the head above his right eye) is nothing to be concerned about, and that he attended practice Wednesday none the worse for wear; likewise, Johan Petro was back in action after the heart palpatations had him resting for awhile. Delonte West, however, will not be making the trip because of a bad back. West will be checked out by the team doctor. GW's blog also mentions that Carlesimo sees Wally Szczerbiak as more of a forward than a guard.


All the news from Los Angeles is about Kobe Bryant these days (at least, the news that isn't related to SC dropping a game at home to the Stanford Cardinal), and with the Sonics playing the Lakers tomorrow night in Bakersfield, could this be the last time Kobe suits up in a Laker jersey against the Sonics? (This is, of course, assuming he makes the trip).

Why do I care? Well, because Kobe is one of a select group of players who are almost universally hated in the NBA. With the exception of those twits who live in the 206 and own a Kobe-8 jersey, most folks around these parts would sooner wax their unmentionables before donning a Laker jersey, let alone a Kobe one.

And, being that this is the 41st season in team history (and, to be accurate, the true 40th anniversary of the team), I thought we could reminisce about the top ten most hated players in team history. I've only been a fan of the team since the early 80s, so please add your suggestions for the 60s and 70s in the comments. In reverse order:

10. Rick Barry (I'm just assuming this to be the case, being that everyone hated the Rickster)
9. Charles Barkley
8. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
7. Clyde Drexler
6. Vlade Divac ("The NBA, it's Floptastic!")
5. Kevin Johnson
4. John Stockton
3. Jim McIlvaine (zing!)
2. Kobe Bryant
1. Karl Malone

I'll take arguments on the other 9, but no opposing player in the history of the Seattle professional basketball ever received as many boos as Karl Malone. Sorry, but that one is in concrete.


It’s somewhat surprising considering he’s coaching a young team coming off two straight losing seasons, but one of PJ Carlesimo’s biggest problems this season may be how to divide up the minutes amongst his charges.

After all, a team which struggles to win has one or two decent players and a host of scrubs, so distributing minutes isn’t so difficult. But look at the competition at each of the positions:

C – Kurt Thomas, Bob Swift, Johan Petro, Mo Sene. Obviously, Swift and Thomas are the upper-class in this group, but Petro is at least as talented as most of the backup centers in the league, and Sene has potential. In a perfect world, the Sonics would have two or three guys competing for minutes, and either a rookie or a older player who would have to be content with sitting. But sitting Petro or Sene all season isn’t a great idea. Unfortunately, it may have to be the option PJ takes, unless GM Sam Presti manages to nab a draft pick for either Sene (possible) or Petro (more likely).

PF – Chris Wilcox, Nick Collison. Carlesimo admitted to the beat reporters (from Eric Williams at TNT: “Carlesimo said it’s a tough situation for both players because he believes that each player deserves more than 24 minutes each.”) this isn’t an easy situion. The key to the whole thing may be this quote from Carlesimo, also from Williams’ story: “There’s not enough minutes there for the two of them unless we give one of them time at (center), and I don’t want to do that initially.” The key word being, initially. To my way of thinking, Swift is going to miss at least a quarter of the season with injury-related problems, and that leaves a big hole for Collison to fill. Don’t forget, also, that Jeff Green would normally get more than a few minutes here.

SF – Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak, Damien Wilkins, Mickael Gelabale, Kevin Durant. Phew, that’s a lot of names. How do you divvy up 48 minutes into four or five guys (four, if KD takes up residence full-time a SG)? The key will be the fact that SF and SG are interchangeable positions in this new NBA era. Just because Durant starts at SG doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be a SG for all 30-odd minutes he’s on the court. Same with Wilkins or Wally W. However, someone is going to suffer and that someone appears to be Gelabale. Luckily for Gelly, he’s backing up one of the most injury-prone guys around in Szczerbiak.

SG – Kevin Durant, Delonte West, Damien Wilkins. Wilkins has looked solid so far in the pre-season, but West and Durant are two of the best players on the team, if not the two best. D-West will likely spend 5-10 minutes a night playing point guard, and Wilkins could be ameliorated with splitting his time between SG and SF. It’s still a crowded spot, though.

PG – Earl Watson, Luke Ridnour, Delonte West. The mother of all distribution problems for this team. Watson and Ridnour had trouble sharing the starting spot last year, and while they’ve said the right things so far, if this team gets off to a crappy start (and that’s entirely possible when you look at the November schedule, which calls for a five-game road trip and home games against Phoenix, Utah, Detroit, New Jersey, and San Antonio), the good ship Point Guard may begin to spring a leak.

The bottom line is that this is a year of transition for the Sonics, and it seems more and more likely that the new management wants to spend the regular season as an extended exhibition for the future of this franchise. Watson or Ridnour? Wait and see how it plays out; heck, OJ Mayo might the actual answer rather than either of those two guys. Can Green hack it as a starting 3? Well, we’ve got five months to figure that out. Is Swift ready to contribute 8-10 points and the same amount of rebounds on a nightly basis? Again, check back at the end of the year.

Honestly, that’s the best way to approach it, and as a Sonic fan you have to have some reassurance knowing that Rick Sund or Wally Walker aren’t the ones driving the ship anymore. Presti – at least so far – has been all aces on his decision-making, and knowing he’s the one deciding which players are the ones to keep makes this Sonic fan feel much better.

Tuesday, October 16


After his surprising 15-rebound game against Indiana over the weekend, the Sonics' resident Senegalese center, Mo Sene, found himself featured in not one, not two, but all three of the Seattle dailies today. Usually that sort of coverage is reserved for, oh, I don't know, a guy who might have a chance at being a starter, but, well, it's pre-season and everyone's got stories to fill.

Unfortunately, one game does not a season make. If you watched Sene in the summer league, you know there are holes in his game as wide as Danny Fortson's now-departed backside. For every athletic block, there are four missed assignments. Those misses don't show up on his stat sheet, but they show up on the final score, and that second number is much more important.

But enough negativity; let's give credit to Sene for his ability to shake off the D-League expectations he's facing this fall and show that he can play with the big boys. Does it merit a start against the Lakers in Bakersfield? No, I don't think so, but apparently PJ Carlesimo does. Personally, I'd rather see more minutes for Bob Swift or Nick Collison.

Monday, October 15

Monday Report

We read plenty about Kevin Durant in the local dailies, so it's interesting to see what the papers from the towns the Sonics are visiting have to say about the phenom. Here's Brian Windhorst's opinion about KD, and, as you can imagine, it's focused on the LeBron-KD similarities.

Elsewhere, it appears the injury bug bit Damien Wilkins, but his ankle is not broken (it's a sprain) and he should be able to participate again soon. Bob Swift is still taking it easy after perhaps going at it too hard earlier in the pre-season, and Delonte West is suffering from a mild back strain.

On a side statistical note, Durant is averaging 20 points per 33 minutes (a random number I picked as a best guess at his per-game average this season) to go with 6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 2.4 turnovers. Oh, and he's shooting almost 50% from behind the 3-point line.

Yep, just another 6'9" shooting guard who hits 50% beyond the arc.

Friday, October 12

Where Are They Now

First a quick update on Sedale Threatt. If you read this blog and TrueHoop, you already know this story, but in case you missed it, here’s a quick recap.

Not only is Threatt teaching basketball in Australia (as we noted last week), he’s also the father of 14 children, as this New York Times story from Michael Weinreb explains (including this chilling quote from Sedale Threatt, Jr.: “The No. 1 lesson my father did teach me is how not to be a father.” I’m guessing Hallmark won’t be including that in their cards next June). It’s a great story, though, and makes you want to nominate Threatt Junior and his mother for political office, or at least a daily talk show, because they’re just good people.

That said, what are the odds that Shawn Kemp did not father the most kids in Sonic history? Would you have even thought that it was possible he’d rank behind somebody else, let alone Sedale Threatt of all people? Come to think of it, Threatt and Kemp were joined on the 90-91 Sonics with Quintin Dailey – how may kids do you think ol’ Q had? I’m almost at the point where I expect to read that Warren Jeffs was the assistant trainer for that team.

But enough of that, on with your Friday Where Are They Now:

OLDEN POLYNICE – The 7-footer from Haiti who lasted an astounding 17 years in the NBA is now, even more unbelievably, a head coach. Granted it’s with the Long Beach Breakers of the ABA, but if you could have made a teaser bet in 1987 that OP would 1) play 1,000 games in the NBA and 2) eventually become a head coach, I think you might have made a fair bit of change. (Bonus note: the Breakers’ web site doesn’t have a roster yet, but they do have a dance team. At least they’ve got their priorities in order).

SCOOTER MCCRAY – McCray only lasted in Seattle for two seasons, and in the NBA for three, but the former Louisville standout hasn’t let that stop him from being a success off the court. McCray currently runs a number of La-Z-Boy stores in the Louisville area. I can think of at least one former Sonic who’d be a natural endorser.

– I always think of Conlon as having played 30 years ago for the Sonics, but he just retired last year from pro ball, spending the past half-decade in Europe. In addition, Conlon captained the Irish National Team, and currently lives in Manhattan where he does some coaching for prospective players.


It’s been strange so far for Sonic fans waiting for Kevin Durant to blossom. Everything we hear about the guy is so flattering, you half expect him to take off from half court and dunk.

And yet, after summer league and one pre-season game, well, he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire, has he? His summer league numbers were excused because he was surrounded by less than NBA-quality talent, and the way he wowed everyone at the Team USA trial kind of amped up the excitement. His first pre-season game was less than thrilling, though, and it got me to wondering: Do pre-season stats really matter at all?

The received opinion has always been that pre-season numbers are as relevant as a politician’s promises on the campaign trail. Whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent, they don’t tell us what’s going to happen during the upcoming 82-game marathon. In fact, you can almost hear the cliches organization’s trot out when things don’t go as planned:

“He’s getting his feet wet. We’re confident that as he adjusts to the speed of NBA games he’ll feel right at home.” (We don’t know what the hell is the matter with this kid. Let’s just hope he figures it out before my contract is up.)

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised with what he’s given us.” (Thank God the Knicks picked the 6’11” Lithuanian I wanted, because this kid’s definitely better.)

“We’re sure his shot will start to fall as soon as he gets used to our playbook.” (Crap, we’re paying this bum for the next three years, and he can’t hit an open 15-footer?)

Well, I decided to take a look at last year’s crop of rookies and see how their pre-season stats compared to their regular season ones. I looked at 16 players who played regular minutes in both the pre- and regular seasons and tallied their numbers in four categories – field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage, points per 48 minutes, and tendex rating per 48 minutes (thanks to for the information, and to RJ for pointing out in the comments where I could find the info). Here’s some rough data, then interpretation:

Field Goal Percentage: Almost a 1:1 relationship; the players shot an almost meaningless 0.8% better during the regular season than during the pre-season.

3-Point Percentage: An exact 1:1 relationship.

Points per 48: Players scored 13% better in the pre-season than in the regular season.

Tendex per 48: Almost a perfect relationship, as players put up merely 3% better numbers in pre-season than in the regular season.

As you can see, with the exception of points per 48 minutes, there is a strong correlation between the pre-season numbers and the regular season ones. If you looked at the numbers as a whole, you might wonder why I’m not jumping off a bridge because of Durant’s middling play. Here’s why:

There’s a huge difference between top of the first round guys and bottom of the first and second round guys. For some reason, high draft picks – at least in the 2006 class – did much better in the regular season than in the pre-season, and the opposite was true for the lower class folks. There are a number of possibilities as to the cause – perhaps the lower-picked guys worked extra hard in the pre-season to wind jobs, maybe the higher guys knew they had roles already and they didn’t feel the need to over-exert, who knows. And, again, this is a small sample size. If I can find data on previous pre-seasons, I’ll run that as well just to see if this is an isolated occurrence or a regular one.

For the time being, though, I would suggest you resist the urge to worry about Kevin Durant. The fact he hasn’t exploded for any huge games is likely not a big deal, and the odds of him being a Olowokandi-esque bust are slim. (Right? Right?) Just as we can’t expect Javaris Crittenden to average 18 points a game this season, don’t expect KD to be wallowing in the lower teens.

Thursday, October 11

Rookie Report

A quick look at what’s happening to the draftees of 2007:

1. Greg Oden – Ouch
2. Kevin Durant – 12 ppg, 3 rpb, 0 apg
3. Al Horford – 8.5, 7, 1
4. Mike Conley- 4, 1, 3
5. Jeff Green – 6, 2, 2
6. Chairman Yi – 7.5, 2, 1
7. Corey Brewer – 2, 2.5, 1
8. Brandan Wright – 0, 0, 0
9. Joakim Noah – 6, 4, 4
10. Spencer Hawes – Ouch
11. Acie Law – 7.5, 2, 3
12. Thaddeus Young – 7, 1, 0
13. Julian Wright – 5.5, 9, 2.5
14. Al Thornton – 13.5, 8, 0.5
15. Rodney Stuckey – 15, 1, 0
16. Nick Young – 2, 1, 0
17. Sean Williams- 0
18. Marco Belinelli – 8, 0, 0
19. Javaris Crittenton – 18, 1, 1
20. Jason Smith – 7, 7, 0
21. Daequan Cook – 7, 2, 0
22. Jared Dudley - 0
23. Wilson Chandler – 9, 6, 1
24. Rudy Fernandez - 0
25. Morris Almond – 10, 5, 0
26. Aaron Brooks - 0
27. Arron Afflalo – 9, 3, 2
28. Tiago Splitter - 0
29. Alando Tucker -
30. Petteri Koponen – 0

That’s just a down-and-dirty look at only two games or less. I’ll try to keep it updated as training camp progresses, as well as throw in a few 2nd-rounders as their play merits.


Looks like the idea of Luke Ridnour donning a mask will come to fruition. All 3 dailies report today that the young point guard has a "non displaced fracture of the nasal bone," which means for the next 4 to 5 weeks he'll be sporting a mask. Ridnour was hurt about halfway into the first quarter of the Kings game the other night when he got an up close and personal interview with Ron Artest's elbow, and it's unknown if he'll play in both, either, or neither of the back-to-back games coming up on the road this weekend. Considering the importance, or lack thereof, of training camp games, is it really necessary to risk any more problems?

More importantly, what will Frodo's mask look like? There's always this possibility, or this one, or even this one.

But, heck, Halloween is right around the corner, right? And the Sonics are hungry for money, right? So wouldn't it be a perfect tie-in if Ridnour were to emerge on the court at the next Sonic home game with, oh, I don't know, something that looks like this?

Wednesday, October 10

One in the Books

The big news out of last night's loss was Luke Ridnour's broken (?) nose, suffered at the elbow of Ron Artest in the first quarter. Ridnour will have a CT scan today to determine if indeed the nose is broken. It remains to be seen if he will sport a Rip Hamilton-style face mask. Perhaps he can borrow Nick Collison's from a year or so ago.

In other news from the game, it appears that Bob Swift played well before tiring down the stretch, Johan Petro was a foul machine, Delonte West played pretty well, the Sonics turned the ball over waaaaaay too much, Damien Wilkins made the most of his starting nod with 18 points in 27 minutes, Jeff Green was a non-factor, and Chris Wilcox did well.

Oh, and what's that rookie's name again? Right, Kevin Durant. Well, The Franchise wasn't exactly earth-shattering in his debut, only picking up 12 points, but he showed a nice touch on the jumpers I saw on the news, and he was poor at the line for some strange reason. As all the reporters said, chalk it up to a first-game learning experience.

Tuesday, October 9

The Omen

Looks like Damien Wilkins will get the call for the Sonics' first pre-season game, and not Jeff Green.

Percy Allen reports in his Sonics' blog that the starting five for tonight's game with Sacto are:

Ridnour, Durant, Wilkins, Collison, and Swift

Wow, I've got to agree with Allen that Bob Swift in the starting lineup is not something I expected to see, and likewise with Collison replacing Wilcox, although the recent minor injury troubles for Weezy might have played a role. And The Omen? Who saw that coming?

And, it's entirely possible that Carlesimo is just interested in seeing how certain fit together. As he and the rest of the coaching staff have said repeatedly, this is just another version of practice and we shouldn't read anything into who starts or gets the most minutes. At this point, it's a case of the coaches getting a better feel for their roster.

Nancy, With the Laughing Face

In case you've forgotten, at SuperSonicSoul we've got it bad for erstwhile Va Tech guard Zabian Dowdell. After his failure to latch on with an NBA team in either round of the June draft, Dowdell drifted to France, where he now takes up residence with the Nancy Cougars (and, no, I don't know if that's really their nickname, but it appears to be).

Thus far, Dowdell has registered an average of 13 ppg through two games. Interesting or no, you've got to be intrigued by the first piece of artwork you see when loading up the Nancy team page.

I honestly have no idea what it says, but kudos to the folks designing the team website for throwing something onto their page that includes: 1) a cross-dressing moose and 2) French General Joseph "Papa" Joffre from World War I.

Pre-Season Begins

So, the long haul kicks off tonight in Sacramento. You know Sacramento; it's the place David Stern pays attention to.

(Sorry, how about a moratorium on arena- and owner-bashing for the rest of the pre-season. At least until Clay Bennett's inevitable press conference the day after opening night).

Anyhow, PJ Carlesimo has yet to release a starting lineup for tonight's affair at Arco Arena, but from all reports it sounds as though the game will be even more pre-season than normal, and that the coaching staff is looking at it as merely another form of practice.

As Kevin Pelton points out at the blog, Gelabale, Szczerbiak, Swift, and Thomas will likely all sit out due to minor injuries.

One minor thing I'm trying to find information on: pre-season stats. I can't seem to find info anywhere on pre-season stats from previous seasons, and I would like to do a comparison of highly touted rookies in the past few years to see how their exhibition stats stacked up to their regular season ones. It might be illustrative for Durant and, to a lesser extent, Jeff Green. Any help would be appreciated.

Go Sonics!

Monday, October 8

Fantasy Season starts NOW!

With the draft less than an hour away, the first annual Supersonicsoul Fantasy League kicks off tonight. Who will get the first pick? Who will get Sene? The suspense . . . is . . . killing me!

(By the way, we were flooded with requests from readers to join the league, but sadly only the first 18 could get in. If anyone of you Supersonicsouliacs want to start a rival league, let me know and I'll post your stats along with ours when I update.)

Friday, October 5

Where Are They Now?

Friday Where Are They Now?
Late 80s Edition

So much of the fun of being a fan is remembering the players from when you were first a fan. It’s great to root for Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Wally Szcz..., well it’s great to root for Durant and Green, anyway, but isn’t at least as much fun to recall people like Michael Cage and Sedale Threatt?

Well, maybe it’s just me, but I miss those guys. Here’s a quick update on some greats from Seattle’s hoops history.

SEDALE THREATT – Threatt was part of a quartet of great Sonic point guards – Avery Johnson, Nate McMillan, and John Lucas were the other three (and they got Gary Payton within a year or two!), all on the roster at the same time. Best known for his tremendous speed and defense, Threatt wound up being dealt to the Lakers for three 2nd-round picks, then spent half a decade in LA before finishing his career in Houston. Anyway, the former Sonic is now living Down Under, working with And1 Elite Camps as well as coaching. You can find more here.

MICHAEL CAGE – You can’t be a Sonic fan and not love Soul Glo, right? Cage, in addition to his duties working for FOX covering Memphis Grizzlies games, referees girls’ soccer games in San Diego, where he attended college. It’s refreshing to see that Cage, even though he’s now a part-time ref, has little or no sympathy with the NBA or its refs (and this article was written before the Tim Donaghy scandal broke).

DANA BARROS – While Barros is best remembered in Seattle for draining 3’s, I loved the way he battled Tim Hardaway in the playoffs more than a decade a go. But Barros’ recent life hasn’t been as smooth as his jump shot would lead you to believe. Folks in Massachusetts know this story better than us Westerners, but Barros has been embroiled in legal trouble over the Dana Barros Sports Complex, which failed and has placed him on the nasty side of some massive lawsuits. After the failure of his complex, Barros accepted a position as an assistant at Northeastern University for old friend Bill Coen in May 2006. Within a couple of months, he quit the Northeastern gig, opting to take a job as the Director of Recreation of City of Boston. After less than a year, Barros resigned from his job at the city, citing “personal reasons.” A great quote from the city, after Barros had been missing from his job for a couple of weeks: “We were wondering what happened to him.” Note to prospective employers of Dana Barros: Caveat emptor.

CLEMON JOHNSON – Finally, a little more enjoyable tale. Best known to Sonic fans for his odd platoon with Alton Lister (Clem would start the games, but Lister got the bulk of the minutes), Johnson is the head coach at the University of Alaska. Belying the stereotype surrounding most pro athletes, Johnson holds a Bachelor’s of Economics and a Masters in Sports Administration. Better yet, he hasn’t quit the position for something better, and with some recent recruits as evidence, seems to be helping in bringing the program to a new level.

Thursday, October 4


The Times' blog has info on the injury front at camp, where Delonte West, Bob Swift, Kurt Thomas, and Mickael Gelabale had pains of varying degrees of severity.

Swift's is the most worrying, as "Robert Swift" and "right knee tendinitis" are two phrases we'd hope would not be printed this season. It's early, obviously, but you've got to imagine there are going to be more than a few days like this for Swift this season.

Crunch Time

Question for a Thursday:

With training camp in full motion, there has been plenty of speculation on the Sonics’ starting lineup, but how about the finishing lineup?

We all remember the Supes’ wonderful run three years ago, when they came within a couple games of knocking off the Spurs. One huge key to that team was the effective way Nate McMillan used Antonio Daniels to spell Luke Ridnour at the end of games (a habit which drove Ridnour nuts). Many players, including Delonte West recently, have said that who starts the game doesn’t matter nearly as much as who finishes.

I agree. If the first 3 ½ quarters of an NBA game are the regular season, the final half of the fourth quarter is the playoffs. With that in mind, who should the Sonics be using to finish games this season?

To my thinking there are five key factors to making a crunch-time player:

1. Free throw shooting
2. Defense
3. Execution
4. Perimeter shooting
5. Rebounding

Obviously, it isn’t important for a shooting guard to rebound; I’m speaking more of the 5-man unit as a whole. With those five pieces in mind, if I was PJ Carlesimo, here’s who I would run out there in the final minutes of a close game:

PG: Earl Watson
SG: Kevin Durant
SF: Wally Szczerbiak
PF: Nick Collison
C: Kurt Thomas

Now, some explanations. With the exception of Watson, all five are great FT shooters, and Watson shot 74% last season, so he’s no slouch, either. While Earl’s outside shot isn’t as good as Ridnour’s, his defense is superior, and he outranks Delonte West in ball-handling and distribution.

(And, in case you felt like arguing about “crunch time stats,” bear in mind that Earl Watson’s eFG percentages in crunch time for the past five seasons were 42, 61, 43, 34, 48. If you can see a pattern there, you’re much smarter than me. Suffice it so say that I don’t anyone on the Sonics is any more “clutch” than anyone else; just than some players are better shooters than others).

Back to the lineup. You could argue that putting a rookie in a pressure situation isn’t the best idea, but this is a team trying to build for the future and Durant is that future. Add in his 81% FT mark at Texas, and it’s a no-brainer. Plus, this squad needs someone who can hit outside shots other than Wally, and Durant fits that bill.

Szczerbiak v Wilkins is a tough call, but I’m going with Wally just because he’s just such an outstanding shooter. Of course, with Szczerbiak’s proclivity to get injured Wilkins will still have plenty of opportunities (assuming, that is, that the Sonics have plenty of close games, which is a stretch).

Finally, Collison and Thomas are just so far ahead of their competition when it comes to defense and execution there really isn’t much of a contest. After all, who do you think is more likely to box out: Nick Collison or Chris Wilcox? Who is more likely to switch at the right time, Kurt Thomas or Bob Swift? It’s really not an argument.

Now, if the coaching staff wants to sabotage any chance at winning this season, Jeff Green or Swift could see more action, and I would even argue it would be smart to run those two out there at least occasionally so they can get a feel of the tenacity of late-game action. Still, I really believe the Sonics can’t afford to let Durant get a taste of losing every night, and he needs to be playing with guys who know what they’re doing at the end of games, if only to further his development.

Training Camp

Interesting quote in Eric Williams' profile on Damien Wilkins at the TNT. "If you don't defend, you don't play [in Carlesimo's system]", Williams quotes Wilkins as saying, and it makes you wonder how many minutes Damien will get this season, especially considering all the competition he'll be getting.

With Wally Szczerbiak's recovery from surgery still a work in progress, perhaps it's possible that Kevin Durant gets 30-some minutes a night at the two, Delonte West (who sprained his ankle in practice and is now day-to-day) picks up 20+ minutes at both guard spots, and Wilkins, Jeff Green, and Szczerbiak split the 48 minutes at small forward. Of course, that doesn't leave anything for Mickael Gelabale, but someone has to suffer, I suppose. (Of note, Gary Washburn indicates that Gelly has a tattoo of his home of Guadalupe on his right shoulder.)

In other news, Brandon Roy will be sitting for the entire pre-season to rest his left ankle - at least that's what Nate McMillan is contemplating, anyway. This off-season for Portland has gone from the highest high to the lowest low pretty quickly. Almost makes a guy feel sorry for Blazer fans.


Wednesday, October 3

5 Questions for a Wednesday

With training camp underway, it's time to start thinking about what's going to happen to the Sonics roster in the next 30 days. With that in mind, here are

5 Questions To Be Answered at Sonic Training Camp

1. Who starts at point guard?
Ridnour, Watson, West. Three choices, no easy answer. According to Carlesimo, all three are viable options. Frodo wants to put last year behind him, Watson is the defensive player the new culture requires, and West is the X factor. I’m betting on Earl.

2. Where will Kevin Durant play?
Shooting guard seems the likely answer. Durant played there in summer league, played there for the US team, and played there the first day of training camp.

3. Who starts at center?
Kurt Thomas is the vet, Bob Swift has the tattoos, Johan Petro has nothing. Sorry, that’s mean; Johan is easily the best french-speaking center on the Sonics' roster. Swift’s long rehab process indicates to me that the logical choice is Thomas, with an outside chance that Nick Collison takes the reins.

4. Where does Wally Szczerbiak fit in?
Durant’s your SG, Green’s your SF, Wilkins needs his minutes, Gelly needs his minutes, West’s a backup SG ... how the heck does Wally get any time? It will be interesting to see where/how often Wally World plays in the next month.

5. Will Big Weezy step it up?
Chris Wilcox has more potential for success than a Redford-Newman movie circa 1974. Unfortunately, we’re in Year 6 of the Chris Wilcox Era, and he still hasn’t shed the label of underachiever. With Durant and Green on board, I’m not expecting him to take the next step this year, either.

Training Camp Underway

As you would imagine, the coverage in the local media has shifted away from the off-court news to the on-court news. And, you know, I don't care if you're Clay Bennett, Kevin Calabro, me, Les Habegger, or whoever, that's a great thing. First and foremost, we're basketball fans, and basketball fans like to talk about basketball, not arbitration, right?

The Times has a blog now (I'm a couple days late on this), with both Jayda Evans and Percy Allen contributing. Allen reports that Bob Swift is "laboring," and Gary Washburn at the PI makes a note that Nene Hilario - who had a similar fate to Swifty - is still feeling the aftereffects of the surgery, and he had his a year before Swift did. Not liking the sound of that. GW also reports that PJ Carlesimo's practices are more hard-core than Bob Hill's were, although it should be noted that my daughter's pre-school classes are also tougher than Hill's practices.

Eric Williams at the TNT has some great stuff [warning, Williams' story is adjacent to this picture, so click with care], including this wonderful quote from Earl Watson, who apparently has decided that he won't only beat out Luke Ridnour for the starting point guard spot on the court, he'll beat him out in the court of public opinion:

“When you think of the Sonics, it’s kind of like a cornerstone of the NBA,” Watson said. “For me growing up it was always the Lakers, the Sonics, the Bulls, Boston and the Knicks. That’s just the way it was. I think Seattle deserves a team. And I hope a situation works out to where they stay.”

Thanks, Earl.

Tuesday, October 2

Prescient Presti

First, the Sonics make a summertime swap of their $8 million trade exception for Phoenix' Kurt Thomas and the Suns' 2008 and 2010 first-round picks.

Then, Shawn Marion made noise about wanting out.

Then, today, we read that Amare Stoudamire had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, keeping him out of basketball action for two weeks (at least).

Let's say the Suns manage to deal Marion (unlikely, I know); they're not getting full value for the guy, right? And let's say Amare takes a little longer to heal, and isn't 100% when he comes back. Those two together have to cost the Phoenix, what, 10 wins this season?

And let's say Steve Nash gets hurt; he's about due for it isn't he? After all, he's not exactly A.C. Green when it comes to durability, and he's a 34-year-old point guard playing on one of the highest-paced offenses in the league. How many games off for Nash this year; 5, 10, 15?

At what point do Suns fans start to panic, and how valuable is that 2008 pick going to be, let alone the 2010 pick, when Nash has ridden off into the sunset, Marion is gone/bitter, and Amare's knees enter their Moses Malone Phase?

Nice work, Mr. Presti.

Monday Tuesday Sonics News

Here are some quick Supersonics hits to start your week (if your week starts on Tuesday):

The Seattle Supersonics are only inviting one non-roster player to training camp this year. His name? Jermaine Jackson!

Last week, the city of Seattle sued the Sonics. This week, season-ticket holders sued the Sonics. Today, the Sonics are taking the city to court. The Sonics may not have a lot of fans this season, but they are making great inroads in one demographic: Lawyers!

But enough about lawsuits, yesterday was Media Day! Where was Supersonicsoul, you ask? Reading about it in the P.I., just like you.

Did we mention Wally Szczerbiak is in the house? Did we mention we don't care?