Tuesday, July 31


The Oklahoma State BirdIs there anything more pathetic than a sportswriter from Oklahoma making fun of Seattle?

Hey, Barry Tramel, your state's claim to fame begins with having the country's first parking meters and ends with Brian Bosworth. You've got an arena that isn't up to NBA standards, and even your patron saint, Clay Bennett, says it needs to be replaced within a couple of years, meaning your city is going to be staring down the barrel of his Relocation Shotgun just like we are now.

Ordinarily, the offended citizens of a city rise up in defense of their fair city when an outsider criticizes it, but when the critic lives in Oklahoma, well, you just kind of laugh it off.

Tell you what, Mr. Tramel, when you've got NCAA football and basketball teams, an NFL team, a MLB team, and an NBA team, and have supported them for 30+ years, then we'll talk.

Until then, shut up.

Northwest Upheaval

Kevin Garnett has left the building, and the Northwest Division
Has one division ever gone through so thorough a transformation in the span of two months as the Northwest Division has?

Think about the players who have arrived or departed since June:

Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Al Jefferson, Zach Randolph

And those are just the big-name guys. The list doesn’t include Chucky Atkins, Ryan Gomes, Kurt Thomas, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West, Jeff Green, Channing Frye, Stevie Francis, Taurean Green, Steve Blake, James Jones, Theo Ratliff’s contract, Corey Brewer, Derek Fisher, Morris Almond, Jason Hart, Juwan Howard, or Mike James.

And that’s just since June! Here’s a quick rundown on what has transpired since the NW Division flamed out with the Jazz’ loss to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals what seems like 7 years ago.

The Nuggets took a breath after picking up Allen Iverson mid-season, looked around, and decided, “What the hell, we’ve got Melo, AI, and Camby. The rest of our division hasn’t done squat since the mid-90s, why should we do anything?” Denver added Chucky Atkins, watched JR Smith get involved in a horrific (and fatal) car crash, let Steve Blake walk away, and now hopes that the Atkins/Iverson combo will be able to defend guards taller than 6’2”. Good luck with that.

Was last season a fluke? Hey, I’m not one to bet against Jerry Sloan, but when the highest-paid guy on your team (AK47), is publicly sparring with your head coach, that can’t be good for your future. The Jazz added Morris Almond and Kyrylo Feseneko in the draft, picked up Jason Hart to replace Derek Fisher, signed Ronnie Price, and may send Dee Brown away. In other words, they’re sticking with Carlos Boozer & Co., thank you very much.

Whew. Let’s see, they add Channing Frye, Greg Oden, Taurean Green, Josh McRoberts, Steve Blake, Rudy Fernandez, and Petteri Koponen, and deal away Zach Randolph, Dan Dickau, and Freddie Jones. Got all that? Paul Allen’s hiring of Kevin Pritchard looks pretty good from here, and I’m guessing Nate McMillan will have quite a bit of fun beating up on the Sonics this year. Call me crazy, but a healthy Greg Oden puts the Blazers right there with Denver and Utah for the best in the Northwest.

Let’s assume the Garnett deal is consummated this week. The Wolves will have added Al Jefferson and the rest of the crapola, picked up Corey Brewer, traded Mike James for the always-reliable Juwan Howard (?) ... and extended Randy Wittman for the wonderful job he did of guiding the Wolves to a 12-30 record down the stretch last year. A lot of people will criticize Kevin McHale, but I love the guy. After all, if it wasn’t for McHale, the Sonics would probably be guaranteed to finish in the basement this year.

Like Portland, the Sonics keep nba.com busy updating their roster page. Gone are Allen and Lewis, incoming are Durant, Green, and Thomas, not to mention Wally World and Delonte West. This season is probably a write-off, and there are likely a couple of trades still to come as Sam Presti attempts to remake the roster. 35 wins is the best the Sonics can hope for this year. That, and the team to stick around past next spring.

Monday, July 30

The Rookie

Former Seattle Supersonics star Spencer Haywood
I think there’s a pretty broad consensus out there that young Kevin Durant will lead Seattle in scoring this season. It got me to wondering: When was the last time a rookie led the Sonics in points per game?

Well, it’s been a long time. Xavier McDaniel was close, leading the team in overall points in 1985-86, but falling short of Tommy Chambers in ppg (And as an aside: How does a team with Chambers, the X-Man, and Jack Sikma win all of 31 games and miss the playoffs?).

No, you have to go back to 1970-71, when Spencer Haywood, a 21-year-old import from the ABA, played 33 games and averaged 20.6 ppg, besting Lenny Wilkens for tops on the team. Even then, it’s a bit of a stretch, considering Haywood played in fewer than half of the team’s games, not to mention that he played the year before for Denver with the red, white and blue ball. If you go by league rules for determining a scoring champ, then Haywood doesn’t qualify either.

So there you go. Through seven presidential administrations, the creation of the Mariners and Seahawks, the building and demolition of the Kingdome, seven James Bonds, and the emergence, disappearance, and re-birth of bell-bottoms, the Sonics have existed for 41 years without having a rookie lead them in scoring. Until now.

We’re in uncharted waters here, folks.

Friday, July 27

Presto! Orlando conjures up new arena

Orlando's new arena?
As mentioned at Third Quarter Collapse, the Orlando Magic have gone and got themselves a new toy as the Orange County Commission (“Now with more pulp!”) approved funds to construct a new facility.

Along with wondering what dorky names they can call this new palace (Orlando Orena? Amway Pyramid Scheme? Suburban Blight Palace?), the locals are already giddy with the thought of luring ... an East Coast Hockey League team! Because you know the only thing less popular than a National Hockey League team is an East Coast Hockey League team!

Best of all was this quote from Alex Martins, the COO of the Magic, swiped from Tim Povtak of the Orlando Sentinel:

"We want to have the newest, greatest, best facility in the country,” Martins said.

Gee, I wonder where I heard that before? Just a metaphysical question here: If the Sonics’ new arena is the best facility in the country and the Magic new arena is the best facility in the country, can they exist in the same universe? Would there be an Arenamania, where the buildings battle to the death to determine who gets the right to call himself The Best?

Just curious.

Tenacious D

If you’re going to use any word as the headline for the Sonics this summer, I think it would be change. With a revamped roster and front office, to say nothing of the potential departure of the franchise, that’s a natural.

But what would be the second word? I think anyone who has followed this team’s fortunes for the last few months would agree that defense would qualify. Defense, or perhaps culture, but let’s not revisit that oft-used word which, like a slow driver dawdling in the passing lane, drives your earnest narrator to such agitation.

Where was I? Oh, right, defense. In his brief tenure, Sam Presti has consistently looked for players that play defense (‘What about Wally World?’ Quiet, you.). At the same time, he has shed the team of players who are, well, let’s be nice and say not exactly candidates for defensive player of the year.

With that in mind, and with Jon Nichols’ fine article at 82games about defensive ratings fresh in my mind, here’s a chart listing the departed players and arriving players, with their defensive ratings to accompany them (and before you read the article, brace yourself for seeing Paul Millsap’s name listed in the top ten; yes, the same Millsap the Sonics passed on in order to select Mo Sene. How ya doin’, Rick Sund?):

ARRIVING, DCS, Def +/-, Drtg
Wally Szczerbiak, 1, +5.4, 110
Delonte West, 48, +3.0, 108
Kurt Thomas, 75, -4.9, 103

Ray Allen, 31, +1.3, 112
Rashard Lewis, 59, -1.1, 110

Some explanations. DCS is Nichols’ compilation stat that rates players based upon box score statistics, +/- numbers, and Dean Oliver’s defensive rating. Rather than relying on a single defensive stat, it compiles three of them to give a better illustration of a player’s defensive abilities.

And, from the statistics Nichols uses, it’s obvious the Sonics have made an improvement on defense just with the small sample shown above (with the notable exception of Szczerbiak, who checked in as the 3rd worst (!) defender in the entire NBA last season). Thomas’ numbers are extremely good, and West is easily better than either Ray Allen or Luke Ridnour, the folks from whom he will likely take minutes. From another angle, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis played 4,500 minutes for the Sonics last season and contributed 6.3 defensive win shares. Thomas and West, in only 3,400 minutes, contributed 9.6 defensive win shares. In an equal number of minutes, they would have produced more than twice as many DWS as Allen/Lewis.

In fact, when you add in Jeff Green’s abilities as a small forward, this team is immensely better on the defensive end, especially when you think of a lineup of West, Durant, Green, Collison and Thomas. Call me crazy, but that has got to be one of the better defensive lineups in the league – better, that is, if Kevin Durant is ready to guard the talented two guards that populate the league. A big if, certainly.

Still, if Sam Presti’s goal this summer was the remake this team into a better defensive one, I think we can safely say: Mission accomplished.

Young Blood

The Seattle Supersonics hate old people.
As it stands today, the Sonics have 14 players on their roster. Just to make all you 30-something guys out there feel even older, ponder this for a moment:

Out of those 14, guess how many were born before 1980?

Give up?


That's right, 11 of the 14 players on the Seattle SuperSonics were born post-Jimmy Carter. Wally Szczerbiak (1977), Kurt Thomas (1972), and Earl Watson (1979) are the only holdovers from the Donna Summer Decade.

Where have you gone, Clemon Johnson? A Sonic Nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Thursday, July 26

Predicting Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant of the Seattle Supersonics.With the pre-season still far off in the future, and with not much else on the go, I thought I’d start taking a look at what we can expect from the Sonics this year. Naturally, the first guy on the docket is Kevin Durant. Heck, who else did you expect me to write about, Zabian Dowdell? (Okay, I admit it, I considered Little Z first, but that would have been going too far).

Durant is a tough guy to predict – he’s as tall as most power forwards, but he’s got the ability to play shooting guard. He can dunk, shoot 3’s, rebound (allegedly), and run the break with equal aplomb. He’s also 19 and as is so thin he looks like he could squeeze through the bars of a jail cell without too much difficulty. Can he withstand the banging and pounding that is (less so now, but still) so commonplace in the NBA?

The other problem with predicting Durant is that he has no obvious comparisons. Carmelo Anthony is similar, but not really. Dirk Nowitzki is one possibility, but Dirk was a European who no experience in North America his rookie season, and a teenager to boot. LeBron is another option, but he spent no time in college, and their bodies are completely different.

With that in mind, here are the 3 most-recent superstars to emerge from the draft, and how they did their rookie seasons as compared to their freshman years in college (with the obvious exception of LBJ:

Carmelo Anthony:
Freshman Year: 45%, 33%, 22 ppg, 10 rpg, 36 mpg
Rookie Year: 43%, 32%, 21 ppg, 6 rpg, 36 mpg

Dwyane Wade:
Freshman Year: 49%, 35%, 17.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 32 mpg
Rookie Year: 47%, 30%, 16.2 ppg, 4 rpg, 35 mpg

LeBron James:
Rookie Year: 42%, 29%, 21 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 40 mpg

Kevin Durant:
Freshman Year: 47%, 40%, 26 ppg, 11 rpg, 36 mpg

(The percentages are FG and 3FG, respectively)

Once again, Durant defies comparison. His numbers are better across the board compared to those guys. You might be surprised – as I was – to see how similar Wade and Anthony were in their rookie years to their freshman seasons. Naturally, I don’t expect Durant to put up a 26-11 this season (especially since he won’t have a 20’ 3-pointer as an option this year), but considering that both Wade and Anthony played at about 90% of their levels their rookie seasons, is it that unreasonable to expect Durant to put up about 22-7 this year? I don’t think so.

Plus, if Durant stays at the 2-guard this year, as many expect, he’s going to come close to matching his block totals from Texas (2 per game) just from the simple reason of guarding much smaller players.

I think it’s safe to say that the Sonics will be looking not only at someone who will be the odds-on favorite to be Rookie of the Year, but someone who could very well contend for a spot on the All-Star Team this year. That last claim might be overly optimistic, but I’d certainly say there’s a 50% chance he does it. First, he has no competition on his team when it comes to shot attempts, and, second, his college numbers were so good you have to expect him to register something pretty impressive this year.

Now, about that 185-pound bench press ...

Save our Sonics Press Conference Today

Seattle Supersonics fans like to drive.
Our pals at Save Our Sonics are holding a big press conference at Mainstage Comedy Club (a great joint right across from Key Arena) to talk about their new "A Deal is a Deal" initiative. From the press release:
On June 27, 2007 Steven Pyeatt and Brian Robinson, founding members of Save Our Sonics and Storm, formally registered A Deal is a Deal Committee (DIAD) with the State of Washington with the intention of filing a citywide initiative relating to the lease status of the Seattle SuperSonics and Storm.

“A Deal is a Deal” will mandate that the city not be a partner to any agreement in which a professional sports team relocates prior to the expiration of their existing lease, effectively making binding the pre-existing Sonics lease through the 2009-2010 season.

Initial support for this action has been extremely broad-based. The initiative has been reviewed and endorsed by anti-arena activist Chris Van Dyk, co-chair of Citizens for More Important Things. Van Dyk, along with members of the Queen Anne Business Community, will join DIAD, PAC members to announce the formal submittal of the initiative later this week. At that time the text of the initiative, as well as volunteer and contributor information will be released. Media members will be given a statement regarding this action, as well as engage in question and answer sessions with legal council, supporters, and affected Seattle Area business owners.
That's right--Chris "I hate sports" Van Dyk is on board! What is this topsy-turvy world coming to?

Here are all the details:
Press Conference: Thursday, July 26, 2007, 3:00 pm

The Mainstage Comedy Club

315 First Avenue, Seattle

Contact: Brian Robinson, Director

Phone: 206.349.6447

E-mail: brian@adealisadeal.org

Wednesday, July 25

Odds and Ends

Before last season, I wrote that I expected the Sonics to do better than the odds-makers predicted. I felt that Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis would be enough to propel the Sonics to a high 30s mark (Hey, at least I wasn't as optimistic as some guys at sonicscentral.com I'm not going to name names, but I seem to recall someone saying the Sonics had the capability of winning 45-50 games).

Well, I can't brag too much, because the Vegas folks were pretty close to the final result. Most books had the Sonics at about 32 wins, and they finished with 31. Injuries, chemistry, whatever ... the Sonics pulled in right on target, and none of us were too thrilled by that.

What about this year, though? The roster is revamped, the coaching staff is gone, and the front office is re-made in the "Seattle Spurs" model so coveted by our beloved owner. How will that play out?

I haven't found any specific numbers yet, but one book apparently thinks the Sonics have improved. At +6000, the Sonics pull in ahead of the bottom-dwellers, the +10000 club that includes Memphis, Boston, Atlanta, etc. This one feels about the same. Vegas Insider.com is less optimistic, putting the Sonics ahead of only Philly and the Grizzlies in the entire league. Of course, that was before the Sonics acquired Kurt Thomas, and he's worth a couple dozens wins by himself, right? Um, yeah, nevermind.

Vegasinsider.com aside, most of the other betting sites peg the Sonics as what you could deduce as a 35-40 win team. Not the dreck of the league, but not a playoff team, either. Kind of like the Mariners would be if JJ Putz wasn't doing his best Goose Gossage impersonation this season.

Personally, I'm a little less optimistic. I reserve the right to amend my prediction as the summer progresses, but I'm puttting the Sonics' total wins at 34. Two things could sway that, though:

1. If Sam Presti makes some more moves and adds pieces that will help the team this year
2. If Minnesota trades Kevin Garnett. The Wolves will be pretty bad, regardless, but trading Garnett makes them a 15-20 win team, which means 2-4 extra wins for the Sonics.

So, I've put my big mouth out there. How about the rest of you? Does 34 sound about right, or are you all aboard the Good Ship Durant, ready to set sail for the Land of Playoffs and 45 wins?

Dave Ross to talk about new Sonics Initiative

I just found out that Dave Ross is going to be talking about the new Sonics initiative being put together by our pals at SaveOurSonics on his show this morning on 710 KIRO.

I love Dave Ross, but he's been dead set against doing anything to help the Sonics. If you disagree, call in to the show or e-mail your comments.

Tuesday, July 24


Acquiring Kurt Thomas put another shovel of cement into the foundation for next season’s Sonic roster. It’s been a tough summer in trying to figure out possible roster configuration and moves, simply because so much of the roster is or has been in flux.

So many questions: Is Luke Ridnour on the block? Will either Damien Wilkins or Mickael Gelabale be forced into reduced minutes, or traded? How does Chris Wilcox fit into the new, defense-oriented mindset, and how many minutes does he get now that Kevin Durant and Jeff Green are in Sonic jerseys?

If you look at the roster as it stands today, this is what you get:

Swift, Thomas, Petro, Sene, Wilcox, Collison, Durant, Green, Wilkins, Gelabale, Szczerbiak, West, Watson, Ridnour

That’s 14 people, not including Brandon Heath, Will Blalock, Quinton Hosley, Zabian Dowdell, Kenny Adeleke, or any of the other people currently on the Sonics’ summer league roster. It also doesn’t include a 3rd-string point guard, although West could fit that duty.

It seems rather plain then that more moves are coming. Here are some that I would expect:

1. Mo Sene is headed for the NBDL. This seems obvious to me. He’s taking up a roster spot on a team that needs them, and he plays a position that is already well stocked. Plus, he needs the playing time.

2. Either Watson or Ridnour will be traded this summer. This also seems obvious. Going beyond the painful chemistry between the two, it’s a simple minute-distribution situation. There are only 240 minutes to distribute to 13 or 14 players, and neither of those two guys will be happy playing 10-15 minutes. I’m leaning towards Frodo being dealt.

3. Wilkins or Gelabale will be traded this summer. Again, there just aren’t enough minutes for these guys. Damien averaged 25 minutes a game last season and Gelly averaged close to 18. That can’t happen on this team because the math just doesn’t work. Look at it from this perspective, bearing in mind that player minute averages don’t truly indicate the minutes used in a game, because of injuries:

Allen(40)+Lewis(39)+Gelly(17)+Wilkins(25)=121 minutes
Durant(30)+Green(30)+West(30)+Szczerbiak(20)=110 minutes

That leaves 10 minutes for Damien and Gelly. As they say in Texas, that dog won’t hunt. Obviously, Wally could wind up at 10-15 minutes a night, and you figure he’s going to miss at least 25-30 games due to muscle pulls, ankle sprains, hair gel emergencies, etc., so there’s room for Damien or Gelly, but not both. Their only chance for reprieve would be, as Brian pointed out at SonicsCentral, if Szczerbiak gets traded in August, which is possible.

4. Johan Petro will be dealt this summer. This is the most likely of the possibilities, simply because I’m sick of watching the guy. C’mon Sam, you’ve done everything else right this summer, can’t you swing a deal for a late first-round, early second-round pick for the Frenchman?

5. Chris Wilcox might be traded this summer. This is the least likely, but still possible. Wilcox doesn’t play much D, takes minutes away from Collison and/or Green at PF, and he has value. In the light of the Thomas acquisition, The Seattle Times ran the possibility of Collison being traded up the flagpole, but I don’t think it will happen, simply because Collison fits so nicely into Sam Presti’s type of player, while Wilcox does not. Plus, Wilcox will be a valuable piece of trade material next summer, as his contract expires the following summer.

It’s a complicated situation, but when you attempt a wholesale slash and burn of a roster, as the Sonics have this summer, it’s inevitable that the pieces don’t fit back together easily. Somewhere along the way, Presti will have to find a 3-for-1 deal out there, even if it means adding a veteran he’d rather not have, or else the chemistry problems the Sonics endured last season will look like child’s play.

Team USA: Durant Better Than Advertised

Sorry, not that Team USA.I can't believe I missed this:
LAS VEGAS, July 22, 2007 -- His name already belongs in the same conversation as LeBron James, Frank Robinson and Wayne Gretzky as being considered one of the most dominant teenage athletes of all time, but when it's all said in done, we might be mentioning Kevin Durant with the likes of Bobby Fischer, Mozart, Will Hunting and Doogie Howser as perhaps one of greatest prodigies to ever live.

Through the first two days of Team USA's mini-camp, Durant has without a doubt been one of the top six or seven performers despite being just 18-years old and playing with 16 other guys who all have been through multiple NBA seasons.

- - - -

Not surprisingly then, on Friday it was Durant's offense that got everybody's attention as "KD," as he's called by the team, stroked shot after shot during the intrasquad scrimmages, hitting somewhere in the neighborhood of eight of his 10 shot attempts by this writer's memory.

"He’s just shooting the [expletive] out of the ball,” Team USA tri-captain Carmelo Anthony said about his fellow Baltimore-area native and Oak Hill Academy product, Durant.

- - - -

On Saturday, Durant showed his all-around game, quickly picking up the zone defense that assistant coach Jim Boeheim implemented and making several plays on defense. Those included closing out from the baseline to the wing in a nano-second to swat a LeBron James pull-up jumper on one possession, and rotating into the lane to dig out a steal from the hands of Dwight Howard on another.

Read the rest at NBA.com

See video of Durant and Team USA here.
And they call me a fanboy!

Poor Phoenix

Just in case any Phoenix Suns fans have come here looking for commiseration because a corrupt referee prevented them from possibly winning an NBA title that they may have deserved, let me say this:

Stuff it.

Monday, July 23

Summer Leagues Finis

The Seattle SuperSonics were led in scoring by reserve guard Olu Famutimi, who scored 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting.Well, the summer leagues are over for another year, and all we have to look forward to is training camp, which is a month or so in the future. Fortunately, the Sonics managed to right their winless ways towards the end of the Rocky Mountain Revue, posting a 2-1 record overall after finishing 0-for-Vegas.

Shockingly, Johan Petro was great on offense throughout the Utah series, scoring 20, 7, and 12 points in the three games, this after a horrific group of games in Las Vegas. The young Frenchman added 25 boards to go with the scoring, putting him at the top echelon of rebounders in the Revue. Mo Sene had one stellar outing, and two not-so-stellar ones. To be fair, I’m only going by boxscores, since the games haven’t been put up on the internet yet, but that’s coming soon.

Quinton Hosley, who we profiled a week ago, had a great outing against the Bulls, but was limited to 6 minutes in the final game with the Mavericks, scoring a remarkable 9 points in that limited time span. Can’t tell you why Q only got that much run. (Got to love when a guy gets 6 FTA in 6 minutes; that's 48 FTA in a full game, for those that are mathematically inclined; for those that are not, that’s one big boatload of FTA).

But you’re wondering, what about Zabian Dowdell? Well, our erstwhile young point guard found himself trapped on the bench for the first two games, before scrambling to the floor in a 9-point, 1-assist effort as the Sonics emptied the bench in the final game.

Dowdell was stuck behind Will Blalock, the former Husky who managed to steer the Sonics in a much more efficient manner than the point guards who preceded him in Vegas. Blalock finished with 16 assists in three games.

In other Sonic news, Andre Brown has signed with the Grizzlies, the Kings are looking at Mike Wilks, Kevin Durant scored 22 points in an intrasquad game of Olympians (which, combined with his efforts during practice, caused Dave McMenamin to label him one of the six or seven best players there), David Locke examines the Kurt Thomas trade, and Nick Collison will be invited to the Olympic mini-camp in August, in Jerry Colangelo’s continuing efforts to find at least one decent white guy to play on the Olympic team.

Friday, July 20

Sonics Coming to Vancouver?

Here’s another blogger’s reaction to the Thomas trade:

I'm going to try not to get too infuriated by this until we know whether or not there's more to it. Who knows, maybe we're going to get another announcement that they found another (maybe even upgraded) big man to replace KT, and then I'd feel silly for posting a tirade. So for now, I'm going to take a wait and see approach. But if this is all there is to it, I have to say I'm not a happy fan right now.
Bright Side of the Sun

And the complete AP story on the deal (the writer termed Presti’s wheeling and dealing with Rashard Lewis and the subsequent return as “an unexpected windfall.” I think it’s safe to say that’s the nicest thing written about a Sonic GM since Zollie Volchok dealt for Gus Williams and Howard Cosell called it "a humdinger of a deal.").

And, now the meat of this post. The Sonics’ pre-season schedule is out ... and the Sonics are going to play the Suns in Vancouver, BC! Woot!

For a Sonic fan in absentia, this is manna from heaven. I get to watch the Sonics without driving for 2 ½ hours. Bonus Woot! I get to heckle Steve Nash and get dirty looks from Canadians who are constitutionally forbidden from actually accosting anyone! It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Here’s the complete schedule. Any and all are cordially invited to my place on October 26 for the game. Are you 19, a Sonic fan, and desperate for legal alcohol? Come to Vancouver! Do you fancy marijuana cafes and heroin addicts? Come to Vancouver! Ever wonder why Canadians are so obsessed with naming their first-born sons Gord? So am I!

Win, Trade, Petition

New Sonic Kurt Thomas looks to show Collison and crew the ropes.

For a summer following a 31-win season, it’s been pretty active in Sonicland.

As Paul mentioned earlier, Johan Petro and Mo Sene decided to put in their annual “Tempt Us With Your Potential” display yesterday in SLC.

But that effort takes a backseat to two important bits of news.

1. The Sonics have apparently traded their trade exception from the Rashard Lewis deal and a second round pick to Phoenix for Kurt Thomas and two future first-rounders (and, no, neither is the Atlanta pick; you’re not that lucky, Sonic fans).

2. Brian Robinson at sonicscentral has launched a PAC called “A Deal is a Deal” which will begin the process to launch a petition calling for the city of Seattle to hold Clay Bennett and his dust bowl friends to the lease they became a party to when they bought the team.

Phew. That’s a lot to digest. First, the Thomas trade is manna from heaven. The burly center is in the last year of a contract that will pay him $8 million this season, which means the Sonics aren’t on the hook for some Calvin Booth-esque deal. He immediately alleviates the pressure on Robert Swift, helps the team’s interior defense, and makes Petro that much more expendable. Plus, Seattle picks up two future late first-round picks, which they can leverage for something, or hang onto to solidify depth. Beautiful all around for Sam Presti and the team. Kudos to the front office.

As for Brian’s initiative – if you’re a Sonic fan, I don’t see how you don’t get on board with this. The most important paragraph in his story is this:

“If we can recieve [sic] sufficient financial contributions we believe that we can have the required signatures in as little as 3-4 weeks. Checks can be made out to “A Deal is A Deal, PAC” and mailed to 2622 NW Market St., Suite A, Seattle WA 98107”

Honestly, if you’ve ever spent a dime on the Sonics, if you want to see this team stick around for your kids, if you just want to just stick it to Clay Bennett, whatever the case may be, I suggest you drop a check in the mail. This is a huge, David vs Goliath effort and Brian and the Save Our Sonics group can use all the help they can get. Get on board.

Thursday, July 19

Sonics Win! Petro scores 20! Pigs fly!

OK, this is from the Utah game. Sue me.Has the world gone cuckoo? First, we hear that Clay Bennett is meeting with Mayor Nickels about returning to the Key, and now this:
Centers Johan Petro and Mouhamed Sene, first-round selections by the Sonics in 2005 and 2006, respectively, started together and had their best games of the summer to lead the Sonics to victory. The combination, which played 57 minutes together all of 2006-07, totaled 35 points, 20 rebounds and five blocks. The Sonics also got 22 points apiece from No. 5 overall pick Jeff Green and rookie free agent Quinton Hosley in their best offensive effort of the summer.

It was Hosley, undrafted out of Fresno State before joining the Sonics for the Revue, who got the team off to a fast start. He scored 14 points in the first quarter as the Sonics built an early nine-point lead and took a four-point advantage after one quarter. They never trailed, but the Bulls rallied to make things interesting before the Sonics made the key plays down the stretch to earn the victory.

Read the rest at Supersonics.com
Petro and Sene lead the team to victory? It's almost enough to make a Sonics fan take a step back from the ledge!

And in case you were wondering, Count Durantula missed the game tonight because he practicing with Team USA in Vegas.

Agent All-Stars

Leon I stumbled across this link at hoopshype.com, listing all the agents in the NBA and the clients which they represent, and naturally I thought:

‘Man, that’s a lot of money.’

Of course, then I thought, ‘Which agent would have the best team? Not just the five best players, but the best team?’ To even things out, I only allowed one bench player, because otherwise the depth of the top agents would wipe everybody out.

Well, here’s how it played out (agent payroll in brackets):


Starters: Eddy Curry, Andrea Bargnani, LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Rip Hamilton
6th Man: Eddie Jones
Yeah, you might say this club would win a few. How do you double-team Curry down low when Iverson, LBJ, and Rip are standing around the wings? Bargnani could just stand there and eat pasta all night and he’d still get 7 assists.

Starters: Tim Duncan, Shane Battier, Luke Walton, Ray Allen, Andre Miller
6th Man: Grant Hill
A little long in the tooth (how many games missed due to injury in this lineup, 40? 60? 300?), but any team with Miller, Allen, and Duncan is going to be tough.

Starters: Tyson Chandler, Emeka Okafor, Al Jefferson, Jason Kidd, Paul Pierce
6th Man: Lamar Odom
Now that’s a lineup. Solid at all five spots. My odds-on favorite to win it.

Starters: Pau Gasol, Jermaine O’Neal, Tracy McGrady, TJ Ford, Joe Johnson
Sixth Man: Antawn Jamison
A solid squad, and if you slid T-Mac to the point and Jamison to forward, it might even be better. Definitely a 50-60 win team.

Starters: Chris Kaman, Carlos Boozer, Gerald Wallace, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher
6th Man: Andre Iguodala
Strong all the way through, with the exception of the mercurial Kaman. 3 all-star small forwards, plus Boozer, means a tough night for opponents.

Starters: Kevin Garnett, Antonio McDyess, Rasual Butler, Chauncey Billups, Cuttino Mobley
6th Man: Chucky Atkins
Oddly, similar to his situation in Minnesota, Garnett is surrounded by lesser stars, although Billups helps make it better.

Starters: Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Michael Finley, Devin Harris, Dwyane Wade
6th Man: Anthony Parker
Getting it done on the (relatively) cheap, Thomas spends his money wisely with superstars Bosh and Wade.


Starters: Nene, Shawn Marion, Jason Richardson, Jason Terry, Stephen Jackson
6th Man: Troy Murphy
Solid players, but no MVP candidates on this bunch.

Starters: Dwight Howard, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Kevin Durant, Rodney Stuckey, Nate Robinson
6th Man: Chris Webber
No guards, but Howard and Durant make up for it.

Starters: Brad Miller, David Lee, Bobby Simmons, DeShawn Stevenson, Luther Head
6th Man: Devean George
Bartlestein is the Wal-Mart of agents, long on quantity (40 players under contract), short on quality. Stevenson/Head ain’t exactly a backcourt you dream up for your fantasy team.

Starters: Radoslav Nesterovic, Hakim Warrick, Tayshaun Prince, Steve Nash, Mike James
6th Man: Al Thornton
I’d love to see this happen, just so we could find out how much of an MVP Nash would
be when he has to dish to Nesterovic and Warrick all night instead Marion and Stoudamire.


Starters: Memet Okur, Zaza Pachulia, Andrei Kirilenko, Gordan Giricek, Tony Parker
6th man: Viktor Khryapa
A great big pile of Khryapa.

Starters: Dikembe Mutombo, Elton Brand, Juwan Howard, Jeff Green, Mike Bibby
6th Man: John Lucas
The nice thing is, this team might not make the playoffs, but they get a group senior discount at Denny’s.

Starters: Alonzo Mourning, Mike Sweetney, Darius Miles, Larry Hughes, Quentin Richardson
6th Man: Bobby Sura
This team’s waiting for a lottery selection.

Starters: Fab Oberto, Jorge Garbajosa, Bostjan Nachbar, Emanuel Ginobili, Carlos Arroyo
6th Man: Linas Kleiza
Not a great squad, but wouldn’t you like to hang around a team with Oberto, Arroyo, and Ginobili?

Starters: Greg Oden, Daequan Cook, Mike Conley Jr., Me, Paul Merrill
Hey, even if they double-team Oden and Conley, then leave one guy on Cook, me and Paul have a decent shot to hit an open 15-footer, right?

Revue Nues

Sonic Summer League assistant coach Mike Brown gets a profile in the Deseret News. In addition to his coaching life, Brown is interested in helping African child soldiers get out from their war-torn lives. Turns out he's hoping to head to Senegal with some American kids next year. Wonder if he'll be asking Mo Sene for any tips ...

Turns out some guy was so amped to see Kevin Durant in SLC that he punched a security guard and was hauled away in handcuffs. As I always say, you got to watch your back around those Mormon gangsters ...

Taking a cue from the Artest family, Paul Millsap's brother, John, is joining him in the summer league. And, if that wasn't enough, the two older brothers have two younger brothers; one was Freshman of the Year at college, and the other stars for a Utah high school ...

Kevin Pelton has a nice summary of each of the newcomers to the Sonics' roster at supersonics.com. ...

Also at supersonics.com, Clay Bennett issues a "call to action" to get the arena deal moving again. Plenty will/have mocked Bennett (yours truly included) on this issue, and the cynical way to look at his latest statement is to see it as pure CYA in case the team leaves next year. Or, you could be glass half-full and say that he could have just done nothing until October and said, "Hey, I tried, but see y'all later."

And, finally, also on the arena front, it turns out that Nets fans in Brooklyn (or whatever they would be called if they moves), would be looking at some pretty hefty ticket price increases with a new stadium, as reported in Atlantic Yards Report. If you read the entire article, you'll see that while there will be plenty of $15ish tickets for the regular folk, personal seat licenses and other faves of ownership will be implemented. Ironically, it will be the season ticket holders and mini-season ticket holders who will bear the brunt of the price increases, not the bleacher crowd.

Why is that ironic? Because it's the bandwagon fans who are against the stadium that would benefit the most. Meanwhile, the season ticket-holders, who take the unpopular view politically in support of the arena, that will pay the most for it. Somewhere in there is a karmaic message, I suppose.

Wednesday, July 18

Sonics Take On Chicago

Watch out, Thabo Sefolosha, we're coming for you! D'or Fisher, you think we're afraid of an apostrophe? Hah! JamesOn Curry, your bizarrely spelled first name makes me laugh! Boo Davis? How about Poo Davis?

In all seriousness, the Bulls are fielding the most oddly-named team in the Rocky Mountain Revue this year, and that's not even counting the absent Joakim Noah. But, in an event that sounds as though it would be hosted by the Osmonds, perhaps it is apropos that they do.

The Bulls have featured a number of double-digit scorers, a technique the Sonics have yet to perfect this summer (anybody know a way to make up a clever rhyme along the lines of "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain", but suited for Durant and Green?).

One member of the roster who has performed decently is Aaron Gray (sadly, not this one). Mocked before the draft in the, well, mock drafts for his white skin and plodding ways, Gray has grabbed 13 rebounds in his two games, or more than Kevin Durant grabbed in four games, and blocked four shots. Hey, I know, stats don't matter in the Revue, but kudos to Gray for not pulling an Uwe Blab this summer.

Andre Barrett, who, like Sonics' coach PJ Carlesimo, spent time at Seton Hall, will be there as well. This in spite of the fact the Rocky Mountain Revue typists list his alma mater as "Sexton Hall." Something Freudian is lurking there, methinks ...

Game time is 4:30. No tv, but you can always imagine the game, and sometimes that's even more fun than the real thing.

Green & Durant, Yada, Yada, Yada

Man, this is getting lame. Once again, Jeff Green and Kevin Durant did all the scoring, shot poorly from the field, nailed a boatload of free throws ... and the Sonics lost in their debut showing in the Rocky Mountain Revue.

To liven things up a bit, the Sonics inserted some new background singers to the duet, but the record came out the same. Will Blalock, Elton Brown, Ryvon Coville, and Quinton Hosley all made their summer league debuts in Salt Lake City, but they weren't able to make any difference as the Supes fell to the host Jazz 102-88.

Durant was a big draw in SLC, filling the 5,000-seat arena to beyond capacity. The rookie finished with 29 points, while Green 25 points on 18 FTA. The Sonics had 59 free throw attempts to Utah's 34, but made 19 fewer shots from the field. The Sonics were also out-rebounded by a margin of 39 to 26. Oh, and only two Sonics managed an assist.

Altogether now: "It's only summer league. It's only summer league. It's only ..."

Tuesday, July 17

From Harlem to Colorado to Salt Lake

Future Supersub for the Seattle Supersonics, Quinton Hosley?
Quinton Hosley.

Ring any bells? Probably not. The 6’6” small forward is just another name on another roster in another summer league. Just filler.

But he’s not. He’s a young man whose story is as interesting as anyone in the summer league this year.

After all, how many other guys playing this summer are the son of Ron “The Terminator” Mathias, or the daughter of Hazel Hosley, both renowned basketball players from NYC. Mathias, whom Newsday’s Jim Baumbach wrote in a fine piece a few weeks back “is one of the greatest cases of wasted talent,” bounced around the CBA and overseas, never capitalizing on the ability that made him one of the legendary players in street ball history.

Hosley is hoping to not follow in his father’s angry footsteps. After being recruited by St. John’s, Oklahoma and a number of other schools, he committed to St. John’s, then saw that plan go up in smoke with a coaching change; then he decided on Providence, only to see nebulous academic reasons get in the way; enrolled at Lamar Community College in Colorado; transferred to Fresno State; sat out a year; then finally was able to parlay his potential into reality, leading the Bulldogs to the NIT.

As a Bulldog, Hosley made a name for himself as a stellar defensive player, a terrific dunker in transition, a fantastic rebounder (more than 9 boards a game at 6’5” is saying something), and earned second-team all-WAC honors in both seasons at FSU. When you read his bio in the draft guides, words like “coachable,” “hustle,” and “team player” leap out at you, as if it was drawn from Spurs’ central casting.

It’s a long road for a young man who grew up in Harlem before moving to Colorado in the seventh grade. Expected to go in the second round this year, like Zabian Dowdell Hosley was bypassed, and now he’s trying to make it in the league any way he can. He was on Minnesota’s roster in Las Vegas, getting into three games and failing to make much of an impression.

Off the court, Hosley volunteered in a project involving the local Children’s Hospital while attending Fresno State, and it is clear he’s eager to avoid the mistakes his father made. Like Dowdell, he seems to be a hungry guy with a classy streak.

It almost makes you wonder, is it just a coincidence that Sam Presti has added such people as Dowdell, Hosley, and Jeff Green to the Sonics’ roster? Probably not. Perhaps – in addition to the defense-oriented culture Presti and Carlesimo are bringing from San Antonio – they’re looking to bring in good people.

It’ll be a difficult path for Hosley to make the Sonics’ roster, as Damien Wilkins, Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Mickael Gelabale all stand in his way as a small forward, and his lack of ball-handling skills mean he won’t make it as a 2-guard. But that’s probably not his goal, anyway. At this stage in his life, Quinton Hosley just wants to show he belongs, just like every other guy in the summer league.

He might be just another guy, on another roster, in another summer league, but it’s safe to say we’re rooting for him.


One of my favorite books is the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. It’s not really a book, it’s more of an encyclopedia for baseball fans, but it makes for great reading sitting on the sofa when you don’t feel like committing an hour to a novel.

Within the book, James breaks down baseball history into decades, drawing out the unique highlights from history that statistics gloss over. Heaviest player, fastest player, worst fielders, best fielders, best young players, etc. Great stuff.

Anyway, one of the best parts is his recounting of the best nicknames from each decade, and how nicknames change throughout time. From Arlie “The Freshest Man on Earth” Latham to “Sudden” Sam McDowell to Larvell "Sugar Bear" Blanks, it’s an interesting insight into how the players were viewed in their times.

As I was reading about some 19th century nicknames, I got to thinking: What would Kevin Durant’s nickname be if he played in the 1920’s, or the 1950’s? Since the young man from Texas is still without a real nickname, I thought it would be a good warmup for those thinking of what he should be called.

1890s: Deerfoot
1900s: The Maryland Marauder
1910s: The Dark Destroyer
1920s: The Dalmation
1930s: The Flying Freshman
1940s: Kool Kat
1950s: The Texas Tornado
1960s: Apollo Kevin
1970s: Dunkalicious
1980s: Heavy D
1990s: Durantula
2000s: TBA

Monday, July 16

Scouting Report: Zabian Dowdell

Oh, please, like you didn’t know this was coming.

Everyone’s a Zabian Dowdell fan these days. Supersonicsoul, True Hoop, Kevin Pelton at supersonics.com ... for a guy who went undrafted, he’s getting a tremendous amount of ink.

So, it was with anticipation that I sat down to watch the Sonics-Blazers Summer League finale Sunday night. I was hopeful that 1) Dowdell would get some serious minutes and 2) that he would play well.

Well, at least I got one of the two.

Dowdell played about half the game Sunday night, subbing in for Brandon Heath in the second and fourth quarters, receiving more minutes than he had in any previous game. He finished with 5 points, 4 fouls, 4 boards, and an assist in 18 minutes.

So, what were my impressions of Dowdell? A lefty, he’s sort of a cross between Kenny Anderson and Khalid Reeves, at least physically. I know all lefties look alike when they shoot, but Dowdell did remind me of Anderson on his outside shot, although he’s a bit heavier than the lanky Anderson.

Dowdell lived up to his reputation as a shoot-first point guard, as most of his better plays came when he took the shot, and not when he was setting up his teammates.

The Virginia Tech grad entered the game at the 3:54 mark of the first quarter with the Sonics trailing Portland 15-9. On his first touch, he found Ronnie Burrell in the paint for an easy basket, a promising omen. The next time downcourt, Dowdell’s pass to Jeff Green resulted in another basket.

On defense, Dowdell was responsible for guarding the slippery Sergio Rodriguez, yet another daunting task for the Sonics’ challenged point guards this summer. Dowdell proved up to the task, generally staying in front of the quicker Rodriguez, although he did let Sergio slip by a time or two.

On his first shot attempt – still in the first quarter – Dowdell came up lame when he landed, but he re-entered the game after the next commercial break. It was on this re-entry that Rodriguez drove the lane and beat him, but we’ll chalk it up to the lingering affects of the sprained ankle (hey, we want Zabian to succeed; deal with it).

Dowdell found Kevin Durant in a semi-transition fashion the next trip down, resulting in a Durant 20-footer for two. As all point guards will learn for the Sonics this year, the smartest play is to throw it to the youngster and hope for the best.

Finally, halfway through his first tenure on-court, Dowdell showed some of the ability on offense that got him such reknown at Virginia Tech when he drove the basket, offered up a double-pump and came close to sinking a layup. No points, but a solid move that opposing point guards will have to respect. He followed it up on defense with a poor bit of communication on a screen and roll, leaving Rodriguez alone and resulting in an open Blazer jumper in the corner.

Not to be held down, Zabian parlayed a canny inbounds pass from Green (who is looking better and better as the summer progresses; can it be possible that he’ll be this generation’s Nate McMillan?) into an easy layup.

As the period progressed, Dowdell – as is the way for rookie point guards – alternated between smart and dumb plays, although he more than held his ground against Finnish youngster Petteri Koponen during their time matched up together. When he finally left the court, the score was 30-27 Portland, which meant the Sonics outscored the Blazers 18-15 during his time on the floor.

After resting up for halftime and most of the third quarter, Dowdell re-entered the game with about 4 minutes to go in the period, and he again found Jeff Green for a free throw opportunity. He later drove the basket and dished to an open teammate for a jumper, a promising sign.

I had Dowdell down for one 3PA, which he missed, but the boxscore said he had none, so who knows. I also figured him for 3 or 4 assists instead of the 1 he wound up with, but maybe the Blazers brought a road crew to run the stats department on Sunday.

Perhaps the most telling sign of the night came not on the court but in the broadcast booth, from the mouth of Kevin Calabro. In talking about the Sonics on the roster, Calabro offered this:

“Realistically, with the exception of [Brandon] Heath, who has an outside shot to make it, there aren’t any point guards on this roster who will be with the club this year.”

I don’t know if Calabro’s opinion was his alone, or if he’s getting that from talking to the Sonics’ braintrust, but that’s a harsh sign for Dowdell. Of course, KC was assuming that Watson and Ridnour will be on the opening day roster, an assumption even he mentioned was tenuous at best judging the Sonics’ level of activity this summer.

Bottom line: Zabian Dowdell is not ready to be a starting point guard in the NBA, and he’s barely ready to be a #3 point guard. Still, his defense was adequate and his offensive abilities are there when it comes to scoring. His passing and playmaking abilities aren’t there, though, at least not yet. Suffice it say he’s a work in progress; a work we’re rooting for.

Durant in Nikes

Cue the Mars Blackmon clips, Kevin Durant's shoe saga has apparently ended, and he'll be wearing Nikes this year.

Sportsbusinessradio.com is reporting the story, and, honestly, I couldn't care less. I've avoided this story for the past couple of weeks, because I just don't see why anybody cares about this stuff. I like the shoe ads like everyone else, but is it really all that interesting what type of shoes any athlete wears? I can see if you're in high school or junior high and you want to emulate your idol, but c'mon, should a 35-year-old man really give a crap what kind of shoes the forward on his favorite basketball team wears?

Maybe I'm just getting old ...

All Green & Durant in Sonic Loss

Seattle Supersonics rookies Jeff Green (pictured) and Kevin Durant led the Seattle Supersonics in everything last night, and still lost.I'm not one for moral wins (I overdosed on them during the 80s rooting for the Mariners), but last night's loss to the Blazers might qualify.

Jeff Green's wonderful 32 point, 13 rebound night was almost matched by Kevin Durant's 28 point effort in a 84-78 loss to Portland in Las Vegas that left the Sonics 0-for-Las Vegas in the Summer League.

All I'll say about former first rounders Johan Petro and Mo Sene is this:

11 fouls, 2 points, combined.


Now it's off to Salt Lake City, as the NBA continues in its quest to find the most morally opposite communities in which to hold its summer league festitivites. Rumor has it that next year's twin billing will be Riyadh and Sao Paolo.

Saturday, July 14

Durant Shines; Sonics Lose

Seattle Supersonics rookie Kevin Durant heats up the Summer LeagueMan, that's a headline I'm not looking forward to this season, but it's one that I think we can expect to see about as often as "Rain Expected This Weekend" for Seattle in November.

Kevin Durant poured in 32 points in his best effort of the Summer League, Jeff Green tossed in 15 of his own ... and the rest of the roster added 27 points. Ugh.

The Sonics were much-improved on the offensive glass with 49 boards to Golden State's 36, but it wasn't enough as the Warriors raced to a 85-74 win.

The Summer League concludes with the much-anticipated Durant v Oden matchup on Sunday night. Oh, except that Greg Oden won't be there because of tonsillitis. So, it will be the no-so-much-anticipated Kenny Adeleke v Stefano Mancinelli matchup instead.

Friday, July 13

Mo Needs to Get Better

The Seattle Supersonics Supercenter Sene?Last Tuesday’s game against the Bucks was a bit of a snoozer (And did anyone else catch the NBA broadcast? What’s up with the lack of commentary? Are you telling me there wasn’t a single guy looking to make a name for himself in that industry that would be willing to call the game for peanuts?). No Durant, no Jeff Green, no Gelabale ... suffice it to say no one will be adding that link to their favorites list anytime soon.

Since there wasn’t much to catch my interest, I decided to take a look at just one player from the game for a mini scouting report: Mo Sene.

Sene’s been a bone of contention in the Sonics’ organization ever since they drafted him a year ago in the first round. After a season where he really should have been playing in the NBDL, Sene saw his name linked to Rick Sund as the reason for Sund’s dismissal. Lenny Wilkens – since departed from the organization – held up Sene’s “wasted” selection as proof of Sund’s ineptitude in the draft.

So it was an interesting year for the young Senegalese center. This summer, Sene and the Sonics hope he will capitalize on his intriguing promise as a mobile big man with a tremendous wingspan. No one’s expecting him to become Hakeem Olajuwon by November, but improvement would be appreciated. It was with that in mind that I watched the Bucks-Sonics replay.

Suffice it say, Mo Sene was not impressive.

Sene continually stood around on offense, rarely venturing to the basket for offensive or defensive rebounds. Sene seemed disinterested, tired, ill, or just plain out of sorts on both ends of the court. His body language resembled that of a teenager avoiding yardwork,

Early in the first quarter, his man beat him on the baseline for an easy bucket, something that a supposedly agile big man with his lengthy arms should never let happen.

Finally, midway through the first quarter, Sene got a chance to score, when he was given the ball near the elbow in a post-up opportunity. Sene – facing a man 5 to 6 inches shorter – backed him down for three dribbles, then abandoned the opportunity and hoisted an ill-advised 15-foot fadeaway jumper, which not surprisingly drew iron.

After a few more possessions that saw him out of the scrum of action, Sene finally looked good later in the first when he spun by his man on the left block, reaching the basket for an easy finger-roll. It was a nice move, and one he should be able to employ often if he looks for it. Since he won’t be double-teamed very often, he ought to be able to use his quickness to get by slower big men.

On the next possession, Sene drew a foul with a jump hook on the right block. His free throw technique was decent enough for a big man (and, to be fair, it’s a lot prettier than Julius Hodge’s – what’s up with that hideousness?). Sene went to the jump hook again later in the first, begging the question – is he afraid of contact, or is he just too timid to go strong to the hoop?

Sene sat down soon after, relieved by Johan Petro for the remainder of the first half. Thankfully, someone must have talked to him about his lackadaisical effort, because he seemed to have much more of a spring in his step in the second half. He blocked one Buck’s shot (called off on a foul), and just went about his business with a little more effort than in the first half.

Still, his defensive energy was sorely lacking, and his inability to grab rebounds points to two things, from my viewpoint: a lack of effort and a lack of training.

Sene desperately needs more practice and game time to adjust to the NBA. I’m hopeful the Sonics don’t plan on keeping him on the league this season, and will let him grow in the NBDL, where he can get more minutes and learn the proper footwork and technique necessary to be a capable big man.

Can you tell from one game if Sene is a wasted pick? Absolutely not. He’s still incredibly young, lacks experience, and, hey, he’s still 7’ and strong. There’s hope for Mo Sene, but not this year, I’m afraid.

Thursday, July 12

In Defense of Rashard

Former Seattle Supersonics forward Rashard Lewis
On what should have been the happiest day of his life, Rashard Lewis instead heard his name dragged through the mud all over the internet yesterday, on the heels of signing a six-year deal with Orlando. From Bill Simmons to every blogger on the planet, Lewis couldn’t turn around without reading how ridiculous the Magic were for giving a punk like him so much money.

And while it’s fashionable to say that the Magic overpaid Lewis, that Lewis is a one-dimensional player who isn’t even that good at the one dimension, that Orlando is going to be handicapped in the future by the combination of Lewis and Howard’s contracts, allow me to say one thing:

Rashard Lewis is not a limp-wristed, shoot-only player whose contract is the worst in the history of professional sports. Rashard Lewis is a solid player who rarely if ever gets hurt, who doesn’t complain about minutes, shots, or anything else, and who is the perfect fit alongside Dwight Howard.

It’s true, Rashard is not a good defender. Heck, he’s barely an average defender. But the man is 6’10”, can handle the ball, can post up, can hit 3’s, and can score in transition. How many guys do you know who can do all of those things today in the NBA? 2? 3? 5?

Yes, Rashard is going to be wildly overpaid, especially at the end of his contract. But he’s only 27 years old and has at least 3 to 5 more years of peak productivity before his skills begin to decline. In other words, barring an unforeseen injury, he will give the Magic what they are expecting for the majority of his contract.

In my mind, that’s the crucial issue. After all, what’s worse – to pay Jerome James $5.4 million to score 1.9 points per game, or to pay Rashard Lewis $15 million to score 23? Is giving an all-star small forward max money worse than paying Adonal Foyle $9 mil a season to do whatever it is he does? Is Lewis’ deal worse than Raef LaFrentz’? Steve Francis’? Say what you will about Lewis, but the man is not a clubhouse cancer that will bitch to anyone who listens that he ought to be the star of the show.

Fine, the Magic overpaid Lewis, and his max salary will hurt the team’s flexibility in the future. His defense is weak, and he’s not the best rebounder in the history of basketball. But if I’m giving max contracts to people, I can do a lot worse than Rashard Lewis.

Durant Gone, Green Hurt; Sonics Lose

The Seattle Supersonics, without Kevin Durant or Jeff Green, lost another Summer League game yesterday.
The Sonics managed to make it three in a row, as Kevin Durant attended the ESPYs and Jeff Green tended to a sprained ankle in a loss to Milwaukee in the Vegas Summer League on Wednesday.

Noel Felix was the standout performer, as the former Sonic Summer Leaguer contributed 27 points, while Lynn Greer cemented the argument that the Sonics need some point guard help in this league, finishing with 19 points and 8 assists.

Meanwhile, Johan Petro was, once again, awful. Pepe Le Petro finished with 8 fouls, 2 turnovers, and 0 rebounds in 22 minutes. No rebounds! A 7-footer entering his third year in the league, and he couldn't manage a single board despite playing half the game. Johan, I take back the nice things I said the other day - step it up, man!

Kenny Adeleke was strong in a starting role, grabbing 10 points and 8 boards, and Julius Hodge turned in his second good performance in three games. All in all, it was probably the best performance yet from Seattle, which isn't saying much, I know. The Sonics are off today, and then take on Golden State on Friday. We'll see if they hold Belinelli to under 50.

Wednesday, July 11

Summer League Game 3: Bucks

The Sonics will try to finally put one in the W column tonight in a 5:30 game against Milwaukee in the Las Vegas Summer League.

I'm not sure if the game will be webcast or not. You can check out nba.com as it gets closer to game time, but I can't make out whether you'll be able to watch anything.

The Bucks' roster includes former Sonic summer-leaguer Noel Felix, ex-Temple guard Lynn Greer (Go Owls!), late-season Sonic point guard Randy Livingston, 2nd rounder Ramon Sessions ... and a bunch of other guys.

Second-year player David Noel was Milwaukee's leading scorer in their last game, a loss to the Lakers. It'll be interesting to see if the Sonics' point guards are able to contain either Greer or Livingston, or if it'll be another display of olé defense.

As you may or may not have heard, Kevin Durant will be in LA for the ESPYs (he's filling in for Danny Fortson, who couldn't get out of his liposuction appointment), so Jeff Green will get another chance to show me why I was an idiot for criticizing the Sonics on draft day.

Go Jeff!

Pardon the P.J.

From ESPN:

P.J. Carlesimo, new head coach of the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics, will be the "Five Good Minutes" guest this afternoon on Pardon the Interruption. Carlesimo will take time out from NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas to discuss the Sonics and other NBA topics with co-hosts Michael Wilbon and Dan LeBatard on today's program. Pardon the Interruption will be aired on ESPN at 5:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. PT (re-aired on ESPNEWS at 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT).

Nick Wants His MTV

If you ever wondered what Nick Collison watches on television, well, why?

But if you ever did wonder, Lang Whitaker at si.com compiled a list of Collison's favorite MTV shows.

Tune in tomorrow when we find out the pre-set stations on Luke Ridnour's car radio.

Lewis S&T Done

Florida Today's John Denton reports that the sign and trade involving Rashard Lewis has been accomplished, and the Orlando Magic will hold a press conference at about 10 am Pacific time to announce it.

Lewis will wind up making $126.4 million over six years in the deal, which sends a second-round pick Seattle's way (nice), and a trade exception worth about $17 million (fantastic).

There may be some casual fans who will react to this deal and say, "Huh? We gave up Rashard Lewis for a 2nd-round pick and some salary cap thingy? That sucks, man!"

Well, it doesn't suck. It's flipping terrific. Why Orlando went along with this is beyond me, unless they were pressured into it by Lewis and his agent. If I'm Orlando, I'd much rather pay out five years and $90 million than six years and $126.4 million. Plus, now they lose a second-round pick.

For casual fans who don't get it, the trade exception gives us the same bargaining power as a Theo Ratliff contract, without having to actually pay the bloated salary. It's really a valuable tool, and Sam Presti did the right thing in making it happen. Kudos to the Sonics' front office for pulling this off.

It hurts to lose Rashard, who was a great player for the Sonics and one of the best players in team history. He never missed extended periods of time with mystery injuries, you never heard him complain about minutes, and he worked on his game for all nine years in a Sonic jersey. Good luck in Orlando, Mr Lewis, and thanks for your efforts here in Seattle.

Tuesday, July 10

Green, Gelly, Petro

The Sonics are two games into their summer league schedule, and it’s obviously far too early to start analyzing trends or make any useful judgments. No one seriously thinks that Kevin Durant is going to shoot 20% from the field this season, and no matter how bad the point guard situation looks right now, it’ll get better when either Ridnour or Watson get their shot at running the floor.

So I thought it might be better just to take a look at three players in particular from Monday’s game. With all the attention paid to Durant, here’s a look at Mickael Gelabale, Johan Petro, and Jeff Green.

Johan catches more than his fair share of flak for his at-times abysmal performance as a big man. Lumped in with Robert Swift and Mo Sene as the Teen-aged Triumverate of Trepidation, Petro has been less than great for the Sonics in his brief career. But as a late first-round pick, that’s to be expected.

After a lousy performance against Dallas on Friday, I thought that Petro was much better against New York. He still gets outhustled by the other players, and his hesitancy on offense can make him wait too long to shoot, but overall I would say he performed decently. Does he take too many 15-footers for a big man? Yes. His ugly bank shot from about 10’ in the second quarter was a brick worthy of Olden Polynice, but his first jumper from the free throw line showed a nice touch. He obviously still needs to work on his aggressiveness in the paint, and to be more assertive at all points of the floor, but as a backup center playing 10 to 15 minutes a night, he’s not a disaster.

It’s a joy to watch this guy. His hops are fantastic, he can run like a point guard, he hustles at all times, and he’s exactly what every winning team needs coming off the bench. He picked up 3 steals in only 24 minutes, and he seemed to be involved in almost all of the Sonics’ transition opportunities (not that there were many, but still). At one point, he forced a 1-on-3 fast break when he really should have pulled the ball back, yet because of his strength he was able to draw two foul shots when it looked as though there was nothing there.

Only one final question: Is his hair longer than Renaldo Balkman’s?

From draft day huh? to present day yes! That’s Jeff Green. Easily the MVP of the Sonics on Monday, Green had two nice dunks, including the highlight-reel one over Nate Robinson in the first quarter. He showed nice range on his jump shot and was rewarded with a lot more opportunities on offense than on Friday. His up-fake off an offensive rebound in the second quarter drew a foul and a compliment from Walt Frazier, and deserved it. Green may be only a rookie, but he looks ready to play steady minutes in the NBA. As he gets stronger, he’ll be a nice piece for the Sonics to have on their front line. All you Hoya fans who said I was dead wrong on this guy on draft night – my apologies. You were right and I’ll be eating a crow sandwich all year long.

Sadly, those two bright spots were overshadowed by some lousy offense from the Sonics. It has become obvious that quicker point guards are killing the Sonics, as first Dallas and now New York have burned Seattle repeatedly by getting into the paint. On offense, the Sonics’ big men aren’t getting the ball where they should to be effective, and that falls on the shoulders of the point guards.

Still, that’s not a big problem in the long run. It doesn’t matter how many games the Sonics win in the summer league, it just matters that Durant, Green, and the rest get a better taste for the NBA.

More Dowdell

I'll be putting up a more in-depth piece later, but in reading about Zabian Dowdell (I know, get over it, Pete; bear with me, though), I came to find out that he has two older brothers who played college hoops, as well as a younger sister who plays for South Florida.

That's interesting, sure, but not all that interesting. Probably half the guys in the summer league (shoot, maybe 3/4) have brothers or sisters who played collegiately.

What was more interesting to me is that one of Zabian Dowdell's older brothers played at the University of Maine. His name?

Jermaine Jackson.

No, it's not the same Jermaine Jackson who's suiting up for the Sonics in the summer league, but don't you think it's kind of strange that Dowdell's lined up next to a guy with the same name as his brother, who also plays guard, and who also is about 6'5". Kind of weird, right?

Durant's Shot Still Not Falling; Sonics Lose Again

Okay, take a deep breath, everyone. We're two games into meaningless summer league action - a league where Jelani McCoy can lead the league in rebounds, Milt Palacio can lead in assists, and Marcus Banks can lead in points.

In other words, don't get too worried when a guy who was named all-everything as a 19-year-old freshman has only hit 9 of his first 37 shots from the field.

If you missed last night's affair, you can watch the nba.com archive here. I'll try to write up a more in-depth report later in the day, but for now a couple of quick hits based on watching the game ...

- Johan Petro showed a marked improvement over his first effort.
- Still love to watch Gelabale play. The guy was just born to be a sixth man.
- If you haven't seen Jeff Green's thunderous dunk over Nate Robinson, you missed out. Do yourself a favor and watch the highlight package at nba.com so you can see it. Green also played much better last night.
- Zabian Dowdell - while still looking like a rookie - looked much better after getting his feet wet on Friday night. As I always say, I need more Dowdell, baby.
- As Kevin Pelton noted at supersonics.com, Durant is effective thus far at drawing fouls because of his quickness. This is an underappreciated ability; and one that people like Karl Malone or Adrian Dantley, used to their advantage. While those two didn't use the quickness factor so much, the ability to get to the line 8-10 times a night consistently is the difference between averaging 14 points a game and averaging 18-22 points a game. It also means fewer 7 point nights for the rookie.
- Julius Hodge sure fell back to earth after that first game, didn't he?

Monday, July 9

Summer League, Game Two

Your Seattle (Summer) SuperSonics!
Another Summer League tilt tonight, and this time it’s the Knicks. Like every team in the Vegas League (motto: “Trying as hard as we can to train your young players while simultaneously seducing them with every evil known to man”), the Knicks have a multitude of Who’s That? guys, with a few Oh, I Know Him folks.

In the latter category, you’ll find Nate Robinson, of whom, as every New York newspaper will tell you, we Seattlites are in lust for even more than our flannel shirts, beards, cups of cappuccinos, and laptops. In fact, we’ll trade every player on our roster just to get the opportunity to bask in all 5’9” of Nate’s glory!

Please. The Sonics want Nate Robinson about as much as the Knicks do. I’ll let you read between the lines on that one.

Anyways, alongside the Mighty Mite are Renaldo Balkman and Randolph Morris, who would have been a first round pick last month if the Knicks hadn’t swiped him from college earlier this year.

Better yet, Olu Famutimi is listed on both teams’ rosters. From what I understand, it’s part of his agent’s plan to get him listed on all 30 rosters at some point this summer with the hopes that someone will forget that he’s there, he sneaks into the opening day roster, and then it’s all gravy from there. It’s really the American Dream for the 21st Century if you think about it – fame by association. If you think about it, there’s a little Olu Famutimi in all of us, isn’t there?

But enough about the flippin’ Knicks. How about the Sonics tonight? Well, Mickael Gelabale is supposed to be around after spraining an ankle and he should be a big help in providing some stability to the offense, which looked as erratic as could be expected in Friday’s opener. Unfortunately, Gelabale doesn’t play the point, where the Sonics were sorely lacking help on Friday. Here’s to hoping supersonicsoul favorite Zabian Dowdell was able to watch some Mo Cheeks classic video over the weekend and puts forth a better effort on tonight. We’re pulling for you, Little Z!

Elsewhere, Gary Washburn lists some possibilities for the vacant assistant coach positions for P.J. Carlesimo and informs us that Robert Swift has added a machine gun to the ever-growing artwork collections on his right and left arms. Watching Swift on the bench on Friday, he’s definitely bigger (270? Wow), and his hair might even be longer than before. Hard to believe he used to look like this. Quite frankly, if Swift broke his left leg and rolled up and down the court in a wheelchair, he’d still be an improvement over Sene and Petro. Man, did those guys stink it up on Friday or what?

As always, the game will be “broadcast” on nba.com (here’s the link). Game time is 7 pm. Hey, it’s going to be hot as hell today in Seattle (and Vancouver, as well), so why not grab yourself a nice glass of something cold and avail yourself of the best the internet has to offer?

Sonics still working on Sign-and-Trade for Rashard?

According to "Florida Today" (!), the Sonics are still trying to work out a sign-and-trade with the Orlando Magic for Rashard Lewis, who announced his intentions to bolt town last week:
ORLANDO - Hoping to clear enough salary-cap space so they can retain center-power forward Darko Milicic, the Orlando Magic continued sign-and-trade negotiations Friday with the Seattle SuperSonics.

The Magic have already convinced small forward Rashard Lewis, 27, to sign with a five-year, $75 million deal with them on Wednesday. Now, Orlando is looking to maneuver so that it can hang on to the 7-foot Milicic to fortify the frontline.

Keeping Milicic is of importance because the Magic have only Dwight Howard, Tony Battie, Pat Garrity and James Augustine along the frontline.

The Magic are trying to peddle the expiring contracts of Carlos Arroyo ($4 million), Garrity ($3.8 million) and Keyon Dooling ($3.5 million) to the Sonics. They are willing to sweeten the deal by including one or more future first- and second-round draft picks.

Read the rest here.
I can see why the Magic would like to do this, but it would mean half the Sonics roster would basically be over-paid stiffs. Granted, it would pay off huge in 2008 when all the contracts (except Wally World's) expire, but it would effectively make this year's squad a poor man's Pittsburgh Pisces.

Friday, July 6

Durant gets 18; Sonics lose

Seattle Supersonics rookie Kevin Durant gets his first whiff of the NBA.

Start the Michael Jordan comparisons, because if by classic MJ you mean a guy who's going to put up 20 shots to score 20 points, that's what you saw in Las Vegas tonight. Kevin Durant looked fantastic at times in a 77-66 loss to Dallas in the Las Vegas Summer League.

He put together a beautiful up-and-under move, nailed a fallaway jumper from the baseline, and took it hard to the hoop without any payoff. Overall, he finished 5-of-17 for 18 points, including 7-of-9 from the line. Julius Hodge, alternating between point guard and off guard, was the only other Sonics in double figures, grabbing 14 points and 10 boards in a solid showing.

Sadly, much-beloved Zabian Dowdell was horribly outclassed by Jose Juan Barea, whose name was voted "Most Likely To Be Confused With a Chilean Poet" by his graduating class. Barea went around, between, and seemingly under the Sonics all game, totalling 14 points and 9 assists in about 25 minutes of action. Jeff Green, while he racked up 8 fouls with only 7 points, looked strong on defense at times, but nowhere near as talented as Durant on offense. But then again, how many rookies look as talented as the Promised One?

All in all, it was your typical summer league Turnover-O-Rama, filled with mistakes, fouls, turnovers, and the like. Thankfully, the #2 overall pick seemed to be worthy of the admiration he's been receiving in his nascent NBA career.

Goodbye, Lenny

I was putting together a notes thing for Monday, and I came across on Gary Washburn's blog. As expected, Lenny Wilkens has resigned his position with the Sonics.

Partial quote:

"My passion for this city and this franchise has never wavered, but I feel that my position within the organization did not develop the way that I thought it would."

It would be easy to make a snarky comment about Lenny and the way things went at the end of his 2nd tenure with the club, but let's take the high road and say thanks to Lenny for putting the effort he did, both this time around and (more importantly) the first time, when he led the Sonics to Seattle's only pro sports championship.

90 Minutes & Counting

Kevin Durant of the Seattle SupersonicsWell, about 90 minutes left until the Kevin Durant Era begins. If you're interested in watching the game, you can click here for the live webcast on NBA.com. Scroll down about 1/3 of the page to the line just below the Sonics' schedule, then click and away you go. (NOTE: You'll have to sign up with nba.com, which is a free service. From what I understand, the games are free on the internet. For now.)

Until the game starts, you can check out some more Durant info here, here, and here (is it me, or does the last one eerily seem like something you'd play at his funeral?). You can also watch some Jeff Green highlights here.

Not sure who will be in the starting lineup for today's game. I'm guessing:

C: Johan Petro
PF: Green
SF: Durant
SG: Julius Hodge or Mickael Gelabale
PG: Zabian Dowdell

How many dunks for Durant this afternoon? 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, or more? Correct answer wins a free subscription to supersonicsoul.com!

So You Say You Want a Revolution

In honor of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green kicking off their rookie seasons tonight (as well supersonicsoul.com favorite Zabian Dowdell), I thought it might be a good idea to toss out a team compiled of the best rookies in franchise history.

C: Jack Sikma, 1977-78. 11 points and 8 boards and named to the all-rookie team.
PF: Bob Rule, 1967-68. Perhaps the greatest rookie season in team history, Rule averaged 18 point, 9.5 boards, Rule made it to the all-star game the next year.
SF: Xavier McDaniel, 1985-86. The 2nd-greatest rookie season in team history, X was the true rookie of the year, not Pat Ewing, as every Sonic fan will tell you.
SG: Art Harris, 1968-69. A forgotten Sonic, Harris scored 12.4 points per game in the Sonics’ second year of existence.
PG: Dennis Johnson, 1976-77. DJ lost out on rookie team honors to John Lucas and Ron Lee (go Ducks!), but his 9.2 points, 4 boards, and 1.5 steals make him thismuch better than Gary Payton’s 1990-91 season.

Gary Payton, 1990-91; Dana Barros, 1989-90; Al Tucker, 1967-68; Pete Cross, 1970-71; Tom Burleson, 1974-75; Leonard Gray, 1974-75; Bruce Seals, 1975-76; Derrick McKey, 1987-88.

I made a couple of interesting mental notes when compiling this list. The first is that the Sonics have not had a rookie make a real impact since Gary Payton, more than 15 years ago. Guys like Desmond Mason, Rashard Lewis, or Luke Ridnour have all eventually become good players, but not in their rookie seasons. The Sonics have also traded away their fare share of rookie talent, including Bobby Jackson, Bobby Simmons, Corey Maggette, Doug Christie, and, of course, Scottie Pippen (ouch).

It’s also interesting to compare the Tom Burleson and Leonard Gray draft in 1974 to the situation the Sonics are in now. Burleson was a huge get for the Sonics: a 7’2” center from NC State fresh off beating UCLA and Marquette for the NCAA title. The 3rd pick in the draft, I think it’s safe to say that were he coming out in 2007 rather than 1974, Burleson would have received as much hype as Durant or Oden (in fact, that year’s draft class of Bill Walton, Marvin Barnes, and Burleson is a good comparison to this year’s).

Burleson’s rookie year was solid, if unspectacular, and he followed it up with 16 points and 9 boards his sophomore season. From there, his career spiraled downwards, culminating with a devastating knee injury that eventually forced him out of the league before he turned 30. Gray, like Jeff Green, was the second choice of the Sonics that year, and, like Green, he was a tall forward, a terrific human being, and the glue of a great college basketball team (sadly, Gray died in 2006 at only 52 years of age).

And yet, neither Burleson nor Gray had the careers that either expected. Both were out of the league far sooner than they would have hoped, and neither led their teams to anything of significance, although the two did help pull the Sonics to the second round of the playoffs in 74-75.

These days, thanks to the internet and television, everything is hyped beyond belief. Kevin Durant is the greatest player since MJ. Oden is a franchise-saving center. We forget that great players have emerged from college before, and will again. Tonight in Las Vegas, two great rookies will try to help pull this franchise from an abyss. Will they succeed where great players like Burleson and Gray failed?