Friday, February 29

Late Friday News

Some last bits of news before the weekend:

1. Ira Newble has been waived to clear space for 10-day signee Mike Wilks. This proves, once again, that anyone I spend more than 20 minutes studying on the internet will be waived within two weeks. (Lightbulb! Start studying more about Clay Bennett!)

2. Robert Swift will undergo arthroscopic surgery this coming Tuesday. He's out for the year, as you would expect. The surgery will be performed by Los Angeles doctor Stephen Lombardo who, surprisingly, is not this guy.

3. Hoopshype has a enjoyable story up at the moment about all-time Sonic great Jack Sikma.

4. The Sonics have a chance at one of their seven wins before the end of the season tonight when they play the Heat. Here's a mother-in-law-driving-off-the-cliff-in-your-new-Ferrari question for you:

-Every game the Sonics lose will help the Sonics get a Derrick Rose-type PG in the draft, which is good for Sonics fans if the team stays in Seattle, but it also simultaneously helps Clay Bennett by improving the overall value of his team. So ... should we hope for a win? Hope for a loss? Hope for Clay Bennett and David Stern to be involved in some horrible, non-life-threatening accident which nevertheless compels them to forgo involvement in their day-to-day business activities?

These are the tough questions, friends.

Sonics News

Forget trying to fight it, according to King County Executive Ron Sims, because the Sonics are already gone.

Sims appeared on 950 KJR-AM yesterday and stated he was completely convinved that the team would be leaving, regardless of the decision in the upcoming court case.

"Even if they have to keep them here two more years," Sims said, "I suspect Clay would hold on to that team and take then down to Oklahoma City when he has a chance."

Sims argues that even if the case is decided in the city's favor, and Bennett is forced to remain in Seattle until after the 2009-10 season, that such a decision will not automatically force the new ownership group to sell. In a sense, their deep pockets are apparently deep engough - Sims believes - to weather the two-year storm.

While I'm on the topic, please indulge me for skewering one of Sims' arguments, that, well, let me make his point:

"Do you think the NBA hasn't noticed the revenues coming to MLB from Mariners telecasts in Japan?" Sims said. "Safeco and Seattle are very attractive places for the telecasts. ... That's part of why Bennett wanted such an elaborate arena in Seattle."

Honestly, my eyes could not roll further back into their sockets. Really, Bennett wanted a great, big palace because of the Asian market? Hmm, what market was Orlando vying for when it approved its' palace, the Dominican Republic? Or perhaps Guyana? Please, Bennett wanted a palace because everyone else has one.

But back to the meat of the comments. Sims mentioned at the same time that two or three other local ownership groups are ready to go to purchase the team, but even those groups anticipate that they will not be buying the Sonics, but another team.

If Sims is correct - and that is a great, big IF - moving the Sonics to Oklahoma and allowing the city of Seattle to buy, say, the Hornets (no offense to New Orleans intended; believe me, we know what it's like to have other people speculate on your team's future), is sure idiocy, when the simplest solution would be to allow Bennett to take over the Hornets and force him to give the Sonics to the local owners.

But, then, the NBA is anything but idiocy-free, right?

Letterpalooza Lifts Off!

That's not the mailbox you're looking for. Move along. Move along.

Just 24 hours after beginning Operation: Letterpalooza, it appears we have our first victory. According to Bill Simmons, the response from Sonics fans from all over the country has been overwhelming:
In six years of writing for, this is the longest piece I've ever sent to my editors -- nearly 15,000 words of anguished e-mails from Sonics fans around the country. I spent the past 24 hours sifting through them and whittling them down the best I could. Don't print this baby out. Read it, skim through it, do whatever you need to do. But definitely check it out.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to write an email--stay tuned for our next mission!

Thursday, February 28

25 Up

Man, what a miserable outing last night.

Last night's loss leaves the Sonics with 25 games left. By my figuring, Seattle has about seven winnable games left on the schedule, depending on how the playoff seedings shake out and how important the last couple of weeks of the season are to certain opponents. What does that add up to?



The franchise of Payton, Kemp, Gus, DJ, Lenny, Haywood, Rule, Mac-10, Karl, Sam ... reduced to a 22-win season, and this coming off consecutive 30-odd win seasons?

How does that sound, folks? 22 flippin' wins, another lottery selection ... and how many wins next year? 25? 30?

I don't think it would be unrealistic to expect the Sonics to enter the lottery again next spring, considering the odds of them picking up any true help this summer is somewhere between slim and none. Short of dealing away the entire non-Durant portion of the roster for more expiring contracts, this team just doesn't look capable of winning 30 games next year, either.

Thanks alot, NBA. I didn't know it was possible to destroy a 40-year-old business in the span of two years, but, well, when you've got Clay Bennett doing David Stern's dirty work, I guess anything is possible.

Operation: Letterpalooza

Yes, that's Stan 'The Man" Lee dressed as a mailman. Yes, I am a nerd.

Like most Seattle basketball fans, I've spent the last few years trying to think of a way to help keep the Sonics in town without licking the manure-soaked boots of Clay Bennett. 

The best way, of course, would be a giant public outcry. A "Rock out the Vote" political movement that would make Barrack Obama jealous. This, sadly, just doesn't happen in Seattle. WTO riots aside, Seattleites just really aren't in to public displays, or even going out in public at all, for that matter (one of the things I adore about this city).

So how in Sam Hill are we going to gather an angry mob to chase the Sonic-Stealers out of town? One word: outsourcing

It's time to get the national media involved. It's clear looking at websites like ESPN that no one outside of Oklahoma and David Stern's office wants the Sonics to move from one of the top media spots in the country to a dustbowl. And, unlike Stern and Bennett, they don't want to urinate on 40 years of Sonics history. 

So let's bring this fight to the nation, peoples! First stop: Bill Simmons.

The ESPN writer is going to highlight letters from beleaguered Sonics fans next week. So bust out your Angry Font and send him an Email! Now! GO!

Wednesday, February 27

Tale of a Sub

Alongside the two Kurt Thomas items which have been marked down to $5 in the Sonic on-line “Team Shop,” is another t-shirt.

It begs the question, does Robert Swift still fit into Seattle’s long-term plans, or has he, like his shirt, been relegated to the clearance rack?

Dealing With Durant

We’ve all read about the rookie wall, when first-year NBA players, unaccustomed to the rigors of an 82-game schedule, start seeing their numbers drop.

(On a side note, is “rigors” used anywhere but in sportswriting? Does anyone ever say, “Boy, the rigors of the traffic on the bridge today were terrible!”)

But back to what I was saying about that wall. Kevin Durant has received some negative publicity lately about his game, and I got to wondering how he has done this season at fighting off the rookie wall. Here are some numbers to consider:

November – 20.6 - 41.4
December – 18.8- 40.8
January – 19.4 - 40.0
February – 17.3 - 36.9

Obviously, we can see a trend towards lower field goal percentages, but that’s just a rough estimate of what’s going on. Another way to look at it is to compare how Durant played against a team the first time he saw them versus how he did the second or third or fourth times. With the recent comments in the PI from Gary Washburn about how teams are learning to play Durant differently, I thought that might make an interesting chart. Here goes, with averages on a per 40 minute basis:

23.9 points, 41 FG%, 4 turnovers

22.5 points, 39 FG%, 2.64 turnovers

As expected, his points and shooting percentages suffered when defenses had a chance to get to know him. Surprisingly, the effect Washburn noted, that people were saying Durant held the ball too low and was causing too many turnovers, is not borne out in the stats, as Durant actually committed fewer turnovers the more often he faced an opponent.

Obviously, the sample sizes are quite small, and other factors come into play. After all, Durant’s games the second or third time around are, by necessity, coming at a point in the season at which experts would expect his play to suffer due to fatigue. Is it fatigue? Is it familiarity? That’s for smarter people than me to deduce.

But since we’re here, let’s take a closer look at some other numbers. For example, free throws. Durant’s games with 10 or more FTA have gone 4, 1, 1, 0 on a per month basis. Likewise, his 3-point shot attempts have declined each month, from a high of 4.4 in November to a season-low 1.1 in February.

In fact, in more than half of the games he played in February, Durant failed to sink a single 3-pointer, and he’s only attempted 11 all month. Considering that he attempted 13 in his first two games and 28 in his first four, this is a startling change of offensive tactics.

Just as interesting, his turnovers have also declined each month on a per-minute basis, to the point where he now averages close to 1.5 fewer miscues per game, a massive change. (Of course, as soon as I started writing this piece, Durant managed to cough the ball up nine times in two games; shows what I know).

So, in some ways you could say Kevin Durant has changed as a player and become a player of contradictions. He’s taking fewer shots, but hitting them at a lower percentage. He’s facing teams multiple times, but committing fewer turnovers when he does.

But worse than all the numbers is his style of play. I do not like to comment on players’ attitudes, since giving meaningful insights into the emotions of a 19-year-old is a dicey proposition at best. That said, I think it is painfully obvious that this season is beginning to wear on Durant. The turmoil surrounding the franchise’s future, the chaotic nature of the roster, the starting roster which seems to vary every two days, and, more than anything, the continual, unending losing – it all must be simultaneously frustrating and tiring for him.

Watching the young man walk back to huddles with slumped shoulders, his body tired, you get the feeling that there are times when he must be wondering what he has gotten himself into. Who mentors a 19-year-old wunderkind on a team composed of mishmashed, mediocre “veterans”? Think of the Sonic roster, of the assistant coaches, whom among them has any idea what Durant is going through? None of them know what it is like to be so talented at such a young age.

It all makes you think – are the Sonics providing Kevin Durant the best environment in which he can truly develop his talents? Would hanging onto Ray Allen for one more season before dealing him have hurt his trade value that much? And wouldn’t it have been better for Durant’s career progress to have spent his rookie season with someone like Allen to guide him, to take the heat for the losses, to show him how to be a true professional?

These are questions only the future will tell. I hope, for our sake and for Durant’s, Sam Presti has thought about them as well.

Same Ol' Song and Dance

Sonic To-Do List

-Commit twice as many turnovers as opponent (check)
-Take lead and blow it (check)
-Allow anonymous bench player to score in double figures (check)
-Mutter vague musings about "putting it all together" after the game (check)

Yep, it was another Sonic loss last night. You'd think that with so many of these this year, it would get easier, but, sadly, it does not.

On a bright note, Mickael Gelabale finished in double figures yet again (12 points), and Luke Ridnour contributed 15 assists.

Tuesday, February 26

Slim Pickings for PJ

PJ Carlesimo is going to have to be creative when he looks at the bench tonight in Golden State.

Donyell Marshall: Out with the flu
Chris Wilcox: Making the trip, but doubtful to play
Earl Watson: Out with the flu
Damien Wilkins: Getting MRI on wrist

Which means the Sonics have gone from having three point guards to one, with Mickael Gelabale slated to back up Luke Ridnour. The third-string point guard is expected to be ... I don't know, Derrick McKey? Percy Allen at the Times has the full recap of the sketchy, 9-man lineup available to PJ tonight.

Speaking of Gelly, both Allen and Gary Washburn at the PI, as well as Eric Williams at the TNT, have pieces proclaiming his goodness. Here's what I noticed about Mickael in Sunday's game against the Lakers:

-Still not strong enough to guard guys in the post; Kobe Bryant backed him down like he was being guarded by, well, me.

-Always under control, which is great considering his lack of NBA experience.

-Jumps through the roof.

If Gelabale can continue to improve his defense, he's a wonderful bench player in the league, the exact type of player all championship teams have - the Bruce Bowen, Antonio Daniels, Michael Cooper-type who can guard three positions, hit the shot when necessary, play the point if you want. Any team would love to have a guy like that, and Gelabale is capable of doing it.

Washburn also brings up an interesting story regarding the ongoing case between the city and the team. As per Washburn, Judge Marsha Peachman, who will be presiding over the June trial, has ruled "the Sonics owners must give Seattle's lawyers copies of e-mails sent from or to its eight board members that could potentially be relevant to the case. " The team has 14 days to turn over the emails.

Monday, February 25

Ford Center Making Alternative Plans

This is not much of a story, and too many will read too much into it, but it is, well, interesting.

As reported by the Daily Oklahoman, the Ford Center in Oklahoma City has gone ahead and started scheduling dates for the fall with the assumption that the Sonics will not be residing there.

Now, as the people who run the building are quick to point out, this is being done solely because the Center does not want to be left with nothing at their facility should the city of Seattle win its lawsuit against the team. However, this quote from the owner of the local hockey team was surprising for its candor:

"I don't know how the NBA process works,” said Brad Lund of Express Sports, which owns the Blazers, "but I was surprised that we weren't given two different sets of dates. I thought they'd at least hold some in case (the Sonics come).”

Again, it's very easy to read something into this, but the fact that the city to which Clay Bennett has pledged his heart and his team (ouch, that's hard to write) holds some doubt as to whether Clay & The Gang will be able to prevail in their soon-approaching court case is comforting, no doubt, to most Sonic fans.

Getting To Know Francisco Elson

1. Attended both Kilgore JC in Texas and the University of California-Berkeley. Other notable grads of Kilgore include Francisco Elson.

2. Parents are from Suriname, hometown is Rotterdam.

3. Fluent in Dutch, English, Spanish, German, South American Suriname. Is hoping to learn Carlesimo this off-season.

4. Played four years in Spain.

5. According to Wikipedia, he was the second-fastest player on the Spurs behind only Tony Parker. In a full-court race against Brent Barry, Elson reportedly reached the endline before Barry was able to get out of his crouch (this is an unconfirmed story which I only just made up).

6. Elson mixed it up with Kevin Garnett in the 2004 playoffs with some physical play, and at one point he termed Garnett “gay” for the shot to the groin Elson received from the Big Ticket. Elson later had to apologize to the gay and lesbian community for his comments on Garnett’s dirty play, which he later commented was “effeminate and soft, like a morning breeze on a dewy meadow.”

7. Did You Know? Elson is not the only player from the Netherlands in the NBA. Can you name the other?


A few notes on the first Sonic game I've attended this year:

1. I was puzzled by Gary Washburn's comment that the Sonics "competed for 48 minutes" last night. Perhaps Mr. Washburn was watching highlights from the late 80s on his laptop, but the Sonics team on the court last night did not come close to matching the intensity of the Lakers. Even PJ Carlesimo said after the game that the Sonics' effort was lacking.

2. If the announced crowd was 17,092, then my announced bank account must be $1,430,840. I don't understand why the Sonics would fabricate attendance when they're trying to make it look like nobody in this town cares about the team, so the only reason can be that more than 6,000 people decided they'd rather throw their tickets in the garbage and watch the Academy Awards last night instead. Perhaps they had the right idea.

3. Mickael Gelabale looked great - easily the most energetic player wearing green and gold. He made plenty of mistakes, but his up and under move in the second quarter was sweet, as were his 21 points.

4. Francisco Elson is, surprisingly, a gunner.

5. Kobe Bryant got tossed in a game where his team was leading by 31. I don't know where his reservation was, but it must have been at a nice spot if they wouldn't hold it for him until 8:30.

6. When Earl Watson hit a three at the beginning of the third quarter, I got a bad feeling in my stomach, because I knew we were going to see at least three more attempts from that "sharpshooter" before the night was out. EW finished 5 of 17.

7. Eric Williams at the TNT is right - at least half the crowd was cheering for the Lakers. Man I hate Laker fans, especially Laker fans who were born in Washington. That's just lame, people.

Friday, February 22

Know Your Roster

David Brewster at has a great profile of the local players involved in the current Sonics v City saga. It's worth the read.

8 Things About Ira Newble

1. Ira Newble and Wally Szczerbiak, who were traded for one another yesterday, are the only active Miami University attendees in the NBA. I believe, but am not 100% certain, that they were teammates at U of M in 1995. It's funny how all the stories I read about Wally heading to Cleveland highlighted his Ohio history, but neglected to mention Newble's.

2. His favorite books are 1984 and the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Personally, I think Animal Farm is better than 1984, but those are both solid choices. Especially Malcolm X, if you haven't read that book you really should make a point of it. Extremely well written and fascinating from the first page to the last. Somebody ought to make a movie out of it.

3. Father’s name is also Ira. By the way, how sweet would it have been to see Ira hook up with some Jewish girl, who tells her dad she's bringing home a guy she met named Ira, and then Ira Newble rings the doorbell? That's comedy gold!

4. "Ira plays everything but the point guard, but he even brought the ball up sometime. Ira doesn't have a position. He plays where ever coach puts him.” LeBron James.

5. Leads a campaign to help bring awareness to China's involvement in the Darfur crisis. He is collecting signatures around the league for a letter that then will be presented to the Chinese government and the President of the Olympic Committee for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

6. His Roland Rating of -9.9 was the worst on the Cavs for players playing 25% of more of the team’s minutes this season.

7. He has spent the majority of his minutes at small forward this season, with occasional duty at SG and PF.

8. His adjusted +/- for the season is -8.09.

Leftovers Fall to Blazers

A million things to talk about, so let's try some quick hits this morning:

1. The Sonics waived Brent Barry before he even got to town. Francisco Elson, the other part of the SA trade, has passed his physical and will likely start getting playing time this weekend.

2. Robert Swift is, sadly, hurt again. His right knee was, again, sprained, this time in Thursday's game against the Blazers. Who knows what the future holds for this young man. It is difficult to generate much empathy for a multi-millionaire who only recently entered his twenties, but Swift's injury-prone NBA career, combined with the way he worked so hard to get back on the court, is sad. It makes you wonder if he would have been better off just sitting out this year altogether and just waiting until next year. It's possible that that is his only option now. So much for dealing away Kurt Thomas to get Swift more minutes, huh?

3. Mo Sene's cell phone is probably ringing in Idaho right now to get on the next flight to Seattle. I'd be glad to see him here, in that he has proven he's capable of dominating the D-League. Let's see what the young man can do in the big time.

4. How bummed are Donyell Marshall and Ira Newble this morning?

5. "We've still got the core group that I think is going to be here going forward," PJ Carlesimo said last night. I suppose I agree, if by core he means "Kevin Durant and Jeff Green." I'm not guessing by a long shot that anyone else is part of that "core," though.

6. Finally, the Sonics lost to the mighty Blazers last night in Portland. Considering how messed up this roster is right now, it's amazing the Sonics were able to make a game of it. Earl Watson nearly picked up his second triple-double in the past few weeks, Luke Ridnour hit 3 of 4 from long range, Nick Collison registered a double-double ... and Chris Wilcox went 0-for-5 with 2 points. In the end, it wasn't enough as the Blazers wound up with a 92-88 win.

Thursday, February 21

Your Seattle SuperSonics

So, two deals in two days have certainly altered the Sonics' roster. Here's your current group:

Johan Petro
Robert Swift
Francsico Elson
Mo Sene

Nick Collison
Chris Wilcox
Donyell Marshall

Jeff Green
Damien Wilkins
Mickael Gelabale
Ira Newble

Kevin Durant
Adrian Griffin

Earl Watson
Luke Ridnour
Brent Barry

And, effective this summer, your roster:

Petro (1.9)
Sene (2.2)

Collison (6.3)
Wilcox (6.7)
Marshall (5.9)

Green (3.3)
Wilkins (3.1)

Kevin Durant (4.4)

Luke Ridnour (6.5)
Earl Watson (6.2)

By my math, the Sonics have $46.5 million committed to next year's budget, plus the money they would spend on draft picks. Assuming the Sonics package their lower first-round pick with their own pick, they'll be able to get someone at or near the top of the draft (oh, I don't know, Derrick Rose?).

Let the free agent speculation begin.

Not so fast, McGhee!

Maybe the Sonics aren't done dealing:
The Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls and Seattle SuperSonics worked a deal prior to Thursday's trade deadline that would send Ben Wallace to Cleveland and Larry Hughes to Chicago as the key pieces in a trade involving at least 10 players, according to multiple reports.

In addition to moving the eight-figure deals of Wallace and Hughes, Wally Szczerbiak would move from the Sonics to the Cavaliers. Cleveland would also add Joe Smith from the Bulls and Delonte West from the Sonics.

In return, the Bulls would receive Hughes along with forward Drew Gooden and Cedric Simmons. The Sonics would add Bulls guard Chris Duhon and forwards Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall from the Cavs.

from the Sporting News

Trading Day Done?

Well, noon has come and gone, and the Sonics were apparently unable to find a husband for any of their prospective brides (a clumsy metaphor, yes, but I'm sticking with it).

What happens next? Barring any trades being revealed post-deadline, you'd expect to see Brent Barry given his walking papers soon, and then he'll either report to 1) the Suns or 2) the Spurs or 3) his continuing competition with Andrei Kirilenko for the Skinniest White Man in America. It's in his hands.

As for now, if you're feeling left out that the Sonics weren't able to make a huge, Gelabale-for-2nd-round-pick type move today, console yourself with the fact that the Sonics have traded:

Ray Allen
Kurt Thomas
Rashard Lewis
Glen Davis
Carl Landry

And received

Jeff Green
Brent Barry
Wally Szczerbiak
Delonte West
Francisco Elson
The draft rights to Olden Polynice (again!)
48 first round picks
327 second round picks
$13 million worth of trade exceptions
A $35 off coupon from Bekins on their next move, holidays and weekends not included

So you've got that going for you.


Did you know that Trading Day for the NHL is almost as big as the Super Bowl in Canada?

I'm not kidding - the all-sports networks up here have been hyping their "All Day Trading Day" coverage for more than a month - and deadline day is still weeks away. I'd tell you what the big rumors are, but I follow a strict policy of ignoring any and all hockey-related matters so as to keep my brain fresh for basketball-related information. Hey, I it owe to you, our paying customers.

Anyhoo, the Thomas-for-picks-and-scrubs deal is done, but rumors abound about possible other moves today. Before we get into those, how 'bout that Sam Presti, huh? The Sonics now have six (!) first-round picks in the next three years, and our GM managed to parlay Rashard Lewis - whom the Sonics wished to jettison anyway - into three first-round picks, including two from Phoenix, where half of the roster will be living in Sun City within two years.

Back to the rumors, though. Here are a few:

1. Mickael Gelabale to Phoenix: "Sources with the team said players like Denver's Yakhouba Diawara and Seattle's Mickael Gelabale were now secondary on the list, leaving [Quentin] Ross as the main target with the deadline approaching."

It's also possible that if/when the Sonics buy out Brent Barry's contract, the Pale One will ink a deal with the Suns. The return piece in a Gelabale deal would be a 2nd-round pick.

2. Sam Cassell to the Sonics: "Cassell's name has popped up in discussions among a slew of teams, including the Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Seattle SuperSonics, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets."

3. Delonte West to Cleveland: "Wednesday night's game against the Pacers was a priority but rumors of a trade between the Cavs and Memphis - for Mike Miller - and even a deal for Seattle guard Delonte West circulated the locker room. "

4. Chris Wilcox to Orlando: "Also available are veteran power forwards Kurt Thomas [scratch that one] or Chris Wilcox of Seattle, a team that wants to rebuild with younger players."

I'm sure many more will trickle out as the day progresses.

What do you guys think, though? Is Presti done for today? If the internet is good for anything, it's random trade speculation, so let's have it!

Bill busts Clay and Stern

Supersonicsouliacs Drew and Eric both sent me this link, so I guess I ought to share it. ESPN's Bill Simmons, discussing possible trade scenerios, takes time to verbally kick Clay Bennett and David Stern in the hoo-hahs:
"The Sonics need to keep saving Clay Bennett money so he can devote more resources to needlessly destroying basketball in the city of Seattle and ripping the heart out of a loyal fan base that's only supported the NBA for 41 years and counting. Yeah, let's pull their team from them because they don't want to help a billionaire build a new arena that doesn't need to be built. That's an awesome idea. I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me how David Stern could care so little about saving basketball in Seattle. It's completely inexplicable and goes against everything he's ever been about. I don't get it. I don't get it."

Read the entire article at
(Awesome art by Chunkstyle, as usual)

Wednesday, February 20

Bones is Back!

According to "league sources", the Seattle Supersonics just traded Kurt Thomas to the Spurs for Brent Barry, center Francisco Elson and a 2009 first-round draft pick. Let the fire sale begin!

Top 3

Top 3 Sonics, Various Categories:

Roland Rating
1. Szczerbiak
2. Wilcox
3. Ridnour

Minutes Played
1. Durant
2. Watson
3. Collison

1. Collison
2. Thomas
3. Petro

True Shooting %
1. Szczerbiak
2. Wilcox
3. Collison

1. Wilcox
2. Thomas
3. Szczerbiak

French SAT Score, Math
1. Petro
2. Gelabale
3. Sene

Block %
1. Petro
2. Thomas
3. Durant

1. Thomas
2. Szczerbiak
3. Wilcox

Tattoos:Skin Ratio
1. Swift
2. West
3. Watson

Defensive Win Shares
1. Thomas
2. Collison
3. Wilcox

1. Durant
2. Wilcox
3. Szczerbiak

PT Complaints/Week
1. Wilkins
2. West
3. Szczerbiak

1. West
2. Wilkins
3. Thomas

1. Ridnour
2. Durant
3. Szczerbiak

Trade Likelihood
1. Wilkins
2. Szczerbiak
3. Thomas

Best Adjusted +/-
1. Thomas
2. Wilcox
3. Szczerbiak

Worst Adjusted +/-
1. West
2. Durant
3. Green

Number of Players in Top 3 of Adjust +/- Who are In Top 3 Minutes Played: 0

Wally & Watson Show

"I think tonight was one of those games where I got an opportunity to show what I can do down the stretch," Wally Szczerbiak said. (from the Times)

Everyone's talking about it - how Szczerbiak and Earl Watson (who added 26 points in the win over the grisly Grizzlies last night in Seattle) are moments away from being dealt, and good ol' Wally put the proper spin on his efforts.

Alot of subplots involving the game, including:

- No Kevin Durant, because of flu-like symptoms
- A seemingly easy win against an opponent that is on the ropes
- A lousy first half that saw the Sonics outscored 62-48
- A great third quarter, where the Sonics made up the entire deficit

Jeff Green had a nice effort as well, and Chris Wilcox proved - once again - that anyone who thinks he is ready to become an above-average power forward is sorely mistaken. Big Weezy showed he was still in all-star break mode by contributing 6 (!) points and 4 (!) rebounds in 30+ minutes, while his counterpart, Hakim Warrick, finished with 22 points on 18 shots.

In the end, it's a 108-101 Sonic win. Nice start to the second half of the season, fellas.

Tuesday, February 19

Supersonicsoultoon: Vertical Stripes are Thinning

I'm sure Clay is just giving his buddy Dave a hearty pat on the back.

Will Oklahoma be OK with more taxes?

It sounds like the people of Oklahoma may be tired of giving tax breaks to millionaires too:
Sonics owner Clay Bennett wants to move the team to Oklahoma City soon and is pleading with the Oklahoma City mayor and taxpayers to pass a penny sales tax to pay for renovation of the Ford Center.

According to Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, the Ford Center needs a $150 million renovation to put in more restaurants and seats.

“Well, we will not get a team if we don’t pass this election. I think that’s pretty clear,” Cornett said.
The new tax would take one penny from every dollar Oklahoma residents spend.

A recent survey of Oklahoma City voters reveals that voters are split down the middle on the new tax option.
The survey conducted by SurveyUSA found that 47 percent of voters are leaning toward funding the Ford Center, and 48 percent are leaning against it and 5 percent are undecided.

“I think a lot of people look at the Hornets experience and they say, ‘Well, if the Ford Center was good enough for the Hornets, why is it suddenly not good enough?’” Cornett said.

Wando Jo Peltier, with, is against the penny sales tax and recommends the Sonics owners pay for the renovations.

“I am not willing to pay an additional $6 every time I buy $600 worth of groceries to pad the pockets of the rich who are financially able to pay every dime of the upgrades on the Ford Center,” Peltier said.

I highly recommend everyone check out the "Maps for Millionaires" site--I wonder if they've met the folks at "Save our Sonics"?

Monday, February 18


His Royal Smugness David Stern and His Loyal Pugness Clay Bennett
With this medal, I thee wed. You may now kiss my ass.

What can you say about this man?

'His Royal Smugness,' Steve Kelley at the Times calls him, and it's not an inappropriate moniker. David Stern, the man who seemingly revels in every ounce of good publicity for his league, has once again stomped his foot and tried to belittle the efforts of those who are working to keep the Sonics in Seattle.

"There's not going to be a new arena," Stern says. "There's not going to be a public contribution, and that's everyone's right. I mean that sincerely."

Stern went on to comment that he had read "in the newspaper" that Speaker of the House Frank Chopp had offered his support to the University of Washington's plans for a new athletic facility, but that Chopp had denied such support to the Sonics, further illustrating Seattle's ambivalence about losing their NBA team.

Which would make for a great soundbite, if it contained any kernel of truth, which, like most things out of Stern's mouth, it does not.

Reading Stern's comments, it is easy to become riled up and toss out invectives like a drunken fan, but, honestly, he's not worth the effort.

Remember, Stern is the man who publicly admonished Tim Hardaway for his disrespectful comments about homosexuality last year, because, don't you know, the NBA is all about cultural inclusiveness. David Stern, it seemed, would not stand for homophobes, not in his NBA, dammit.

Well, as we all know, that level of understanding doesn't have to extend to the owners. And that should tell you everything need to know about the Commish, a man who never met an idea he couldn't spin, a city he couldn't blackmail, or an emotion he couldn't twist.

You can keep talking, David, but we're done listening.

Saturday, February 16

Supersonicsoul on the Radio today

My son and I will be talking about the Supersonics with our pal John Moe today on "Weekend America", locally on KUOW 94.9 FM, from noon to 2pm. If you miss the show, you can catch us on the archives here.

Friday, February 15

They're All Stars to Me

I’ve been pondering writing this for a couple of weeks now, not because it’s a gut wrenching topic or anything, but because I’m not sure whether it’s even worth discussing.

For the past little while, I’ve heard more and more about how the best way to fix the NBA All-Star Game is to switch from an East v West concept to a US v The World concept.

In principle, it’s not a bad idea, but it blows me away that I have yet to read anywhere that the NHL tried the exact same idea and abandoned it.

It blows me away that no one brings this up. Here we have an exact same scenario – a league with a mid-season all-star game no one cares about – and the same solution – using international players versus domestic players – and it failed.

Doesn’t that tell anyone anything? Am I the only one who thinks that after two or three years of seeing Steve Nash team up with Dirk Nowitzki, we’re going to be just as bored as we are now?

So, with that in mind, here is one man’s list of ways to improve this weekend.

To me, this is almost paramount. I can’t speak to the history of New Orleans basketball, so let’s make this hypothetical and say the game was being played in Seattle.

First, abandon the idea of having the coaches with the best records lead their respective conferences, and give that honor to local coaches or players. For example, at the mythical Seattle game, the East could be coached by Lenny Wilkens and the West by Paul Silas.

Second, the host team must have at least one player on the roster. This could be accomplished in one of two ways. One, the leading vote getter for the host team would make the roster regardless of if he’s a starter, or, two, have a separate vote on the team’s web site where local fans would vote for their favorite player.

Third, abandon the Rookies vs Sophomores game, which no one cares about anyway, and replace it with a legends game, with one Legends team made up of people like Dr. J, Scottie Pippen, and Karl Malone, and the one team made up of local stars, in this case people such as Gus Williams, Fred Brown, and Detlef Schrempf. Would the ratings be through the roof? Of course not, but I can’t imagine they’d be any worse than they are now for the Rookies game.

The dunk contest and three point contest stay. The Skills Challenge goes, replaced by HORSE, and include a couple of local celebrities in the HORSE game just to give it some more fun. No, Kenny G is not a local celebrity, so shut up. Sir Mix-A-Lot is more than welcome, though.

Baseball’s idea of awarding home court to the conference which wins the all-star game has merit. At the very least, it wouldn’t hurt the “competitiveness” of the all-star game, right?

In the end, the all-star game is never going to completely satisfy everyone. If you look at all four major sports, they’re all in the same bind – nobody cares about these games anymore. This is not a unique problem for the NBA, and it’s a result of years of endless hyping of every event, and one other problem – television.

You see, when we were kids, it wasn’t easy to see Dr. J on television – perhaps in the playoffs, and once or twice a year when he played the Sonics. There were no national sports channels back then, and the NBA certainly wasn’t on every night like it is now. So the All-Star game was a solitary opportunity to see all these great players we read about in the newspaper.

Now? It’s not so unique, and it’s no wonder people don’t care about the game any more.

Thursday, February 14

Sonics Halftime Report

Utah Jazz's Deron Williams, right, makes a fast break during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Seattle SuperSonics in Seattle, on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008. Utah won 112-93.  (AP Photo/Kevin P. Casey)I was at last night's game, and I think it summed up the first half of the season pretty well: brief moments of brilliance completely negated by the final score. Here are some random thoughts I had while sitting in a half-full (or half-empty?) Key Arena last night:

  • Kurt Thomas is the worst finisher in the NBA.
  • Luke Ridnour and Kevin Durant should really spend more time together.
  • Do you think a few of the Jazz have been using Karl Malone's "muscle cream"?
  • There have been some pretty ugly guys in the NBA. Andrei Kirilenko is the ugliest. For the sake of the human race, let's hope this AK-47 is shooting blanks.
  • I would rather see Delonte West on the court than Earl Watson. 
  • Were the "Dunking Ushers" really the best halftime show the Sonics could come up with? Especially since they already used them between quarters? And about 4000 TIMES THIS SEASON? Is this organization even trying to entertain us anymore? I hate you, Sonics Halftime Coordinator. 
  • The Sonics played great defense for almost the entire second quarter.
  • Was Nick Collison really the best choice to talk about Black History Month?
  • Anyone cheering for the Utah Jazz at a Sonics game in Seattle should be beaten to death. Even if they're children.
  • The Sonics would have a much better record if games were only three quarters.

Loss, Break, Change

Unable to convince Jerry Sloan prior to the game of the wisdom of resting his five starters, the Sonics wound up falling to the Jazz last night at the Key, before an announced crowd of about 10,000.

The loss, as you are well aware, leads us into the all-star break, and gives the Sonics a chance to pause alongside the calamity that is the 2007-08 season and take a breath. Percy Allen, at the Times, gives insight into the changes that may be headed our way:

Coach P.J. Carlesimo intends to use the second half of the season to evaluate players such as C Robert Swift, C Johan Petro, G Luke Ridnour, swingman Delonte West and Gelebale at the expense of others, including starters.

So there you go. If you have Earl Watson on your fantasy league, perhaps this might be a good time to sell high. If you're utilizing Kurt Thomas to boost your rebound totals, well, maybe you ought to think about doing the same.

The obvious conclusion to be drawn from the expected changes are this: If the Sonics are one of the worst teams in basketball when they give their best players the most minutes, to what unforeseen levels will they sink when they start playing the guys who aren't as good? Do we need to get James Cameron involved in documenting the second half of the season?

Monday, February 11

Mystery Team

C: Shaquille O’Neal
PF: Eddy Curry
SF: Luol Deng
SG: LeBron James
PG: Tony Parker
Bench: Brent Barry, Sasha Pavlovic, Anderson Varejao, Stephon Marbury, Ty Thomas, Brad Miller, Beno Udrih

Quite a list, huh? I’ll give you one minute to come up with the association between that mad-cap group of semi-stars and superstars.

Give up? If you’re a Sonic fan, it’s a cinch. It’s the list of opposing players who sat in street clothes (or waved to teammates from suites) in contests with Seattle in the past two weeks.

At this point, I could trot out the whole “See, the Sonics suck, despite their recent spate of wins” article, but, honestly, who am I arguing with, other than 7-year-olds who think Kevin Durant is the NBA MVP? We all know the Sonics are awful, and even four wins in five games isn’t going to change that.

Still, it’s shocking when you add up all the recent missing persons into one unit. Are the Sonics the Typhoid Mary of the NBA now? Perhaps not, but if I’m Jerry Sloan, I’m keeping a close eye on Deron Williams for the next few days.

Gelabale Returning

According to Jayda Evans at the Times, Mickael Gelabale is due to return to the NBA after finishing up with a game for Idaho tonight. Evans writes in her piece that Carlesimo is intent on getting Gelabale into the rotation for the second half of the season.

Friday, February 8

Barack to rock the Key today

Barack Obama OWNS Sports Illustrated's S.L. Price.

Barack Obama will be holding a rally in Seattle today at 11AM. So why am I writing about this on a Seattle Supersonics blog? For one, it's at Key Arena (where he might, sadly, draw more people than our beloved Supes). And two, the man is a BALLER!

ABC News: When Obama Was 'Barry O'Bomber'

One Place Where Obama Goes Elbow to Elbow - New York Times - Photo Gallery - Barack Obama's Basketball Respite

VIDEO FOOTAGE of Barack playing hoops in High School

All I can say is McCain had better work on his game!

Oklahoma just says no to Arena?

It sounds like Oklahoma taxpayers are starting to come around:
On March 4, 2008 Oklahoma City will decide if placing a Sales Tax on the entire population in order to fund arena upgrades for the benefit of the NBA is acceptable.

The upgrade Scope of Work calls for the arena to be remodeled to create more revenue streams so the team may increase profits.

The Sonics are owned by a group of local BILLIONAIRES who can easily afford their own upgrade without burdening the tax payers.

It's a bad deal for the hardworking people of OKC.
Read more about it here.

Thursday, February 7

Watson, Watson, Watson!

Who had Earl Watson with a triple-double in the pool?



Didn't think so. Mad props (do people still say that?) to Watson for a terrific night. (Double props to Gary Washburn for referencing Ice Cube in his opening sentence: "Earl Watson messed around and got a triple double."). The Sonics, thanks to Watson, picked up their first road win since December 14, pounding the Kings 105-92 in Sacto.

And, once again, the injury gods smiled upon Seattle. First, it was the Parker-free Spurs, then the LeBron-less Cavs, then the Non-Curry Knicks, and now the Miller-Lite (!) Kings. On the flip side of that coin, imagine if the Sonics had lost all four of those games. There, makes you feel better, right?

More good numbers:

-Sonics outrebounded Sacto 54-42
-Sonics outassisted Sacto 27-14
-Sonics outshot Sacto 53%-37%
-Weezy picked up a double-double
-Johan Petro picked up 9 points in only 13 minutes

That's four out of five, folks. How far back of the #8 seed are we now?

Wednesday, February 6

Door Number 2

One other bit on the Shaq trade:

Before the season started, the Suns clearly were in a penny-conscious mode, so penny-conscious they traded away Kurt Thomas and two first-round picks in exchange for the trade exception the Sonics had acquired from Orlando in the Rashard Lewis deal.

Why do I bring this up? Because the Suns just acquired Shaquille O'Neal, who is due $20 million a year for three years, when they already had Kurt Thomas, whose $8 million per season deal ends this June. Thomas is the same guy who is a better defensive rebounder than Shaq, who commits fewer turnovers, and who is just as effective on defense.

Really, the only advantages of Shaq over Thomas are 1) Shaq's superior scoring ability in the paint and 2) Shaq's ability to block shots.

But that's it. The Suns are going to be paying $52 million more than they had to just for a few extra blocks and a couple of dunks. Oh, and they had to give up one of the premier talents in the league (Shawn Marion) for the right to overpay Shaq for three seasons.

Obviously, hindsight is 20/20 and if Steve Kerr had known that Thomas would have held up physically, maybe he wouldn't have made the deal. Maybe. But I'm curious: Considering that Thomas' deal expires this summer, isn't it possible that the Suns could have gotten alot more for Thomas and Marion in a deal than Shaquille O'Neal. Like, oh, I don't know, Jermaine O'Neal? Or Kevin Garnett?

Maybe we'll all look foolish when June rolls around and Shaq averages 20/10 in the playoffs, but it seems to me that Steve Kerr could be looking for employment in a year or two when Shaq plays fewer than 40 games, Steve Nash's injuries begin to mount, and the Suns become Amare & The Gang.

Sure makes those two picks the Sonics got look awful attractive, though, huh?

Can't Miss

Kudos to Damon Agnos for his hilarious story on Major League IV: It's Supersonic. The piece is in Seattle Weekly. You absolutely, positively must check it out.

Shaq's Debut Against ... Seattle?

In case you hadn't noticed, Shaquille O'Neal is apparently headed to Phoenix in exchange for Shawn Marion.

What you might not have realized however, is that Phoenix plays tonight (Wednesday) against New Orleans, a game in which O'Neal surely would not particpate.

However, the next game the Suns play is at home, Friday night, against your Seattle SuuuuperSonics. Meaning, of course, that Kurt Thomas will get a chance to audition for any number of playoff teams by showing how he can stand up to the Big Diesel.

As a side note, who the hell am I supposed to root for if/when the Suns plays the Lakers in the playoffs? As hard as it is to say, I've rooted for the Lakers the past couple of years because of my loathing for Steve Nash and the Suns.

But now? When it's Shaq v Kobe? Man, that's a hard call to make. I'll cop out on a decision for the time being by waiting for the trade to be made official, but one thing is certain if this trade goes down and if the Suns meet the Lakers in the playoffs:

David Stern will be very happy.

Crunching Numbers

We’re more than halfway through the season, which means we’re also well on our way to seeing the future for Kevin Durant. His numbers have been more than adequate – bearing in mind that he’s still very young and inconsistent – and as he’s the slam-dunk choice for rookie of the year, I think we can feel that the future is indeed bright.

Thanks to, we can see beyond the superficial numbers of 19.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.8 turnovers, and so on, to look at more interesting results from the first half of his first season.

For example, you could see how Durant worked with specific players on the Sonics roster. You might be interested to know that Durant’s statistics are much more impressive playing alongside Earl Watson (25.5 points, 41.5 FGP, 6.9 FTA) than with Luke Ridnour (19.6 points, 38 FGP, 4.1 FTA), but that the Sonics win their possessions 50% of the time with Ridnour/Durant, and averaged 105 points per game, compared to only 28% with Watson/Durant and an average point production of 95 points. (To be fair, Durant has only played 213 minutes with Ridnour as opposed to 970 with Watson, and those numbers do not figure in quality of opponents).

On the same vein, Durant’s win percentages with Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox are 28 and 31%, respectively, while Durant/Thomas check in at 41%. On the whole, Durant’s best +/- numbers came with Ridnour, Szczerbiak, Wilcox, Thomas, and Petro, while his worst numbers were with Green, Wilkins, West, and Watson. In fact, the Durant/Green tandem’s +/- of -264 is the worst pairing on the team, and a stark reminder of the mistakes young players make in their rookie seasons.

Looking further at Durant’s numbers this year, we see that the Sonics allow 112.7 points when he is on the court, as opposed to 101.3 when he’s sitting on the bench, further illustrated by the 51% opponents shoot with Durant on-court compared to 45% when he’s sitting.

On a more promising note, while most of the five-man groups Durant is paired with have lost their battles, the Watson-Durant-Szczerbiak trio seems to be effective, whether they are paired with any combination of Wilcox, Thomas, or Collison (so long as Jeff Green isn’t involved, anyways).

There are plenty more numbers to look at, but that gives a quick insight into what has transpired so far. Let’s just hope that Green continues to improve his play, and that the struggles the two rookies have experienced are nothing more than growing pains.

Tuesday, February 5

Allen vs Allen

A long time ago, August of 2004 to be exact, a hot topic surrounding the Sonics' franchise was the possibility of Ray Allen being traded and the Sonics acquiring Allen Iverson.

At the time, I wrote that it was exactly what this franchise needed to do, but that in the safe mode that Seattle always seems to operate it would never happen. Quite a few folks wrote in to say that I was an idiot, that Iverson's contract was untenable, that Allen's career would proceed much more smoothly, and that the Sonics would be foolish to do what I suggested.

Well, here we sit, almost four years later. I was thinking about that piece last night as the Blazers and Nuggets went to war in Portland. It was a great game, and I envied the Blazer fans for the playoff atmosphere in a February game. Iverson, Melo, Roy, Martin, heck, even Martell Webster in the third quarter - it was just a tremendous display of what makes the NBA great.

But back to AI. In the fourth quarter, and with his team trailing by two, Iverson drove left, received a pass from Melo out of the post, and promptly nailed a three to give Denver a one-point lead with 39 seconds remaining. It was just an unbelievably clutch shot, and Iverson's demeanor before and after it just made me smile. It was as if he had no doubt the shot would fall, despite the fact he was leaning left as he took it.

But he wasn't finished. With the game knotted at 103 in overtime, and the Nuggets with the ball coming out of a timeout, everyone in the arena knew AI was coming for the win. Heck, a three year old girl from Abu Dabi would have known what was coming. Sure enough, Iverson was up to the task, draining a 14-footer to give Denver the lead with .9 seconds remaining. Again, he had no doubt the shot would fall.

But what's your point, Pete, you ask, or are you just being an NBA voyeur who abandons his team's miserable Monday showing for more titillating sights south down I-5?

Here's the point: Four years ago virtually anyone in the NBA would have argued that it was smarter to sign Ray Allen to a long-term contract than to pick up Allen Iverson and his bloated deal. Iverson's attitude, his unpredictability, and, of course, the economics of it dictated the safe choice.

But how about now? Would anyone argue that it would be smarter to have Ray Allen's 2 1/2 years of contract or AI's 1 1/2? Considering that Iverson is still one of the best scorers in the game and Ray Allen is averaging less than 20 ppg, would anyone still take Sugar Ray's side?

I don't think so. Which leads to my point - nothing is for certain in this league, and sometimes you have to take chances. When the chances come, I'll take mine with a guy like Iverson.

Streak Is Struck

As I predicted, the Bulls played well in the first half last night. Unfortunately, my expectation that the Sonics would recover to win in the second half proved to be sorely wrong.

In the good news department, Robert Swift returned from injury, and managed to can two baskets in limited action. In the bad news, Jeff Green continues to sit out, nursing his sore left ankle.

In an interesting twist, Earl Watson was benched for the entire fourth quarter in favor of Luke Ridnour, and that turned out to be the only quarter the Sonics didn't lose. Their combined stats of 21 points and 12 assists certainly looked good in the boxscore, though.

But the key to the game was twofold, really. 1) the Bulls killed the Sonics on the boards and 2) the Sonics did not come ready to play defense. When you give up 118 points to this Chicago team, you're not working as hard as you can, and that was plainly evident last night.

Monday, February 4


Maybe it's the leftover giddiness from seeing Richard M. Belichick go down in flame of glory on Sunday, but I'm actually excited about a Sonic win tonight.

Again, excited about a Sonic win.

What are we, four months into the season, and I think that's the first time those words have been typed on this site. Sad, but true.

Anyhow, the Bulls are really a mess right now. Anybody who scores less than 170 points in back to back losses to Sacto and Minny ain't exactly firing on all cylinders. Which leads to a couple of points for tonight's game:

1. The Bulls played well in both of those games in the first half before faltering in the 2nd. If the Sonics can keep it close, I feel pretty good about tonight.

2. The Swiss Mister and Joachim Noah both racked up double-digit negatives in the +/- column in each of the two losses.

3. We could really use Wally tonight.

Go Supes!

Gelabale Getting PT in Idaho

Mickael Gelabale, the former Sonic who has been sent to the D-League to rejuvenate his career, has managed to find his offensive touch, albeit against competition a bit easier than what he encounters at the NBA level.

Through two games in Boise, Gelly has averaged 14 points, 4.5 boards, 3 assists, and one block - exactly the kind of numbers we had hoped to see in Seattle from the dreadlocked one.

Gelabale's former teammate in Seattle, Mo Sene, has shown considerable improvement when you look at his stats this year compared to last down in Boise. His field goal percentage is hovering around 60% this season, compared to 51% last year, his rebounding numbers - especially on the defensive end - are much more impressive, and in his last four games he's committed only three turnovers, a marked improvement over his numbers even just from earlier in the season, let alone last year.

And, in an ironic twist, the Sonics' D-League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede, have rattled off a 16-game win streak. For the season, the Stampede own the best record in the league at 21-5. Perhaps the Sonics could send PJ Carlesimo and his staff down to the Stampede, just so they could, you know, get a feeling for what it's like to win on a consistent basis again.

3! 3! 3!

Mired in a season-long Death March, the Sonics have brought some sunshine to the rainiest state in the union as they earned their 3rd consecutive win with a one-point win over the Knicks on Saturday.

With Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak and Robert Swift all sidelined, the Sonics rode Chris Wilcox and Kevin Durant to a one-point win. Green's sprained left ankle will take a while to heal, so that means more minutes for Damien Wilkins, who responded by posting the best +/- of the night for the Sonics (+16) in only 29 minutes. Durant's 3 with 59 seconds left was the difference, although his turnover on the next possession almost cost the Sonics the game.

Regardless, it's a win. This season has been a tough one to swallow, and the team's multiple long streaks have sort of endeared them to me. It's difficult to ridicule a group of players who are so badly outclassed on so many nights. Eventually, you have to start pulling for the underdog (how 'bout them Giants, huh?), and I think we've reached that stage for these Sonics.

Now, let's knock off the Baby Bulls and make four in a row!

Friday, February 1

Devil's Advocate

With the Sonics headed to court this June (not that court, or, sadly, that court, but this court), anyone who ever rooted for this team has a vested interest in seeing how the scenario unfolds.

One important aspect of the case will be the folks doing the talking – the lawyers. Everyone knows about Slade Gorton and the group of folks the city will employ, but what about Clay Bennett’s cadre of hired guns? Who dey?

Byrnes and Keller LLP, that’s who. Who is Byrnes and Keller? Well, here is one biography of the famed litigators:

... best known for its products liability work, particularly tobacco defense. The group is “the epitome of the hard-working hired gun of the litigation boutique, the kind of firm that you go to if you are in a lot of trouble and you need determined and passionate advocates.”
You read that right. Clay Bennett, not satisfied with being known as the most evil man in the Evergreen State, went and hired a group of lawyers best known for defending tobacco companies. Even on their own website BK minces no words, explaining how it not only vigorously defended tobacco companies, but pharmaceutical companies and (alleged) securities fraud artists.

Hey, I’m not so naive as to think that firms such as Byrnes and Keller are the devil. They obviously fill a need in our legal system in defending people the rest of us despise. And it makes sense for Bennett to hire the best defender he can to argue his case.

But before I get too friendly about the situation, let me shed some light on another case. Toure Butler, a former football player at the University of Washington. Butler, from Cascade HS in Everett, suffered from a learning disability, causing him to struggle in school. Eventually, his school came up with a way to teach him more effectively, enabling him to graduate.

Butler, an exceptional football player coveted by the University of Washington, was offered a full scholarship upon graduation. Great, right?

Wrong. The NCAA determined that because Butler did not take what they deemed “core” classes in school they would revoke his scholarship.

In other words, a fellow who passed all the aptitude tests, graduated from high school, and gained admittance to university was kicked out because his learning disability required him to learn differently than other students.

Obviously, the state of Washington and Mr. Butler thought this to be a gross miscarriage of justice, and they sued the NCAA, claiming that it had violated the American Disabilities Act. The suit was successful, eventually, in that it forced the NCAA to re-evaluate its arcane and depraved rules regarding situations such as Butler’s. Eventually, Butler attended school, played for the football team, and put the pigheadedness of the NCAA behind him.

Oh, right, the attorneys the NCAA called upon when they needed help defending their scum-infested position? You guessed it, Byrnes and Keller LLP.

Tobacco companies, the NCAA, the pharmaceutical industry, Clay Bennett. Sounds about right.

Two, Please

KeyArena is slowly becoming the Typhoid Mary of NBA arenas.

For the second consecutive game, an all-star caliber player sat in street clothes and watched the Sonics win. Last time it was Tony Parker and the Spurs; last night it was LeBron James and the Cavs.

Whatever the cause, Sonic fans will take the result, thank you very much. For the fourth time this season, the Sonics have a two-game win streak, courtesy of some well rounded offense - and the fact the lead they had at one point (81-58) was so big even the Sonics couldn't give it away.

The Cavs went on a 16-2 run in the fourth quarter to make it interesting, but Carlesimo let the starters back in, and they managed to right the ship in time. Kudos to Earl Watson, Kurt Thomas, Chris Wilcox, Jeff Green, and Kevin Durant for solid efforts. The Sonics finished with twice as many assists (34-18) as the Cavs, with the Earl picking up 12 on his own.

Most satisfying was seeing Jeff Green finally post positive numbers. After a disastrous game against the Spurs when he might has well have stayed in the locker room, Green came out shooting 8 for 8 with 17 points, including 1 for 1 from long-range.

On a side note, lest you think the Sonics' win over the Spurs was tainted because of Parker's absence, take note that those same Spurs went into Phoenix last night and stole a win from the Suns.