As we continue through the pre-draft phase of the off-season, let’s take a look at the roster under contract for the upcoming season.
Wilkins (assuming he will take his option)
That’s a total of 13, not including who the Sonics stumble across in the second round (and with four picks, there will be plenty of people to stumble across). Now, let’s eliminate a couple of players, just purely on speculation.
Luke Ridnour: I feel that it is very likely that Ridnour will be dealt this summer. It’s clear he doesn’t fit into the team’s long-range plans and he still has value in the league, although his contract is not exactly commensurate with that talent.
Earl Watson: Watson seems to be on the good side of the Sonic management, and his production this year was definitely improved over previous seasons. EW posted career-best marks in field goals made, FG%, FT%, and 2nd-best numbers in 3-point percentage, true shooting %, turnover %, assists/36, and points/36. Looking closer at the numbers, though, and it becomes readily apparent that Earl sacrificed defensive effectiveness for offensive productivity. He put up the 2nd-best offensive rating of his career this season, but balanced that with his worst-ever defensive rating. Still, only nine players (Nash, Paul, D Williams, Kidd, Calderon, Ford, and Jamaal Tinsley) posted better assists/36 minutes in the entire league last year, and that came on a team with absolutely no outside shooting. If I’m the Sonics I’m hoping Derrick Rose falls into my lap so Watson can come off the bench.
Chris Wilcox: Many suspect Wilcox will be traded this summer, but I think the wise move would be to wait until next February. While Big Weezy has been more inconsistent than not, he knows a big paycheck could be waiting for him he puts forth the effort over the next twelve months. Combine his soon-to-be-expiring contract with his ability to post numbers like 18 points/8 boards/2 flashy dunks, Wilcox could fetch something much nicer in return next winter than he will this summer.
Johan Petro: Another likely to be dealt, if only for his continuing ability to be 7’ tall. He showed some signs of life after the Kurt Thomas trade, but I can’t imagine Sam Presti envisages the Sonics utilizing JoPet too much in the next few years.
Mo Sene: Sadly, it’s possible the entire ’08-’09 season will be a write-off for Sene due to injury.
So, for argument’s sake, let’s say the Sonics are able to deal away Petro and Ridnour, perhaps in combination with one or two second-round picks, returning them an awful contract, or a surplus big man on another roster (or both!). That leaves us with 13 players minus 3 (including Sene here) plus 1 (the returning player), for a total of 11 roster members. If you add in two players from the second round, that makes 13 roster members.
Let’s say the Sonics take Rose at #2 and an off guard at #24, now your depth chart looks something like this:
PG: Rose, Watson
SG: Pick #24, Wilkins
SF: Durant, Green, Griffin
PF: Wilcox, Marshall
C: Collison, Mystery Contract
You have some flexibility with the 2/3/4 positions, but there is clearly a void at center (sound familiar, Sonic fans?). So much of a void that it might make sense for the Sonics to explore a big man with their multiple second-rounders, if not their 2nd pick in the first round.
In articles to come, we’ll start looking at possible veteran free agents the Sonics might pursue this off-season, but this at least gives us a road map for the year to come. Feel free to chime in with where/how I went wrong in the comments.