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February 29, 2008 6:41 PM

Miami game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

HEAT WIN: The Sonics gave a solid effort for three quarters, but let down in the fourth when Miami attempted 27 shots. Marion had six points in the fourth and Ricky Davis had a team-leading 10 to kill the Sonics 103-93. Next up? A seven-game road trip.

MARION HEATING UP: The All-Star lineup of Wade and Shawn Marion is finally starting to flourish against the Sonics. They've accounted for the last six points to give Miami a comfortable 92-84 lead with 4:24 remaining in the game.

SUPER SHAKE: Ridnour just got shook by Marcus Banks, who flew in for a layin and drew a foul on Chris Wilcox. Making the ensuing free throw, the Heat were able to take a 77-76 lead headed into the final quarter.

BEING BLOUNT: There's a comical group of Sonics hecklers adjacent to the Heat bench that has been ridding Alexander Johnson all night. They started chanting "JOHN-SON! JOHN-SON!" and teammate Mark Blount started cracking up. Problem is he was seated right next to Johnson, who has tried all evening to ignore the loud mouths. Noticing Johnson sinking further into his seat, one heckler blurted "Don't be embarrassed Johnson." That's the clean stuff. The rest was brutal.

SEEING DOUBLE: The Supes' unsung hero Nick Collison has another double-double, collecting his 10th rebound and scoring 10 points in 21 minutes off the bench so far. His effort has helped the Sonics build a 64-56 lead and make up for Petro not scoring any points.

SLACKING OFF: Miami weaseled its way back in the game when Seattle relaxed. The score is 47-44 Sonics heading into halftime.

BIG RUN: The Supes opened the second quarter on a 11-3 run to take a 37-28 lead after a Nick Collison turnaround with 6:05 remaining before halftime. Seattle is outscoring Miami 28-10 inside and Wilcox is having another impressive game against the Heat, leading with 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field.

BETTER SHOOTING: The Sonics just closed the opening quarter with four made free throws to take a 26-25 lead. They're shooting 50 percent from the field, another improvement from the 42-point pounding on Wednesday where the Sonics could only muster 36.3 percent.

RIDNOUR PLAYING: Rid just checked in for Watson. The Supes PG rotation is at a quasi-healthy three.

LE BLOCK: The Sonics are playing more D than they did against Denver on Wednesday, not that it's hard to improve on none. Anyway, Petro just had a mean block against Johnson and KD blocked a Wade shot earlier. The Supes are up 12-9.

SWIFT STAYING?: For all of you hoping the Sonics put a plug in the C Robert Swift project, don't hold your breath. Although Carlesimo isn't the final decision maker, that's GM Sam Presti's role, the coach hasn't heard anything that says Swift won't be back next season or part of the team's future. Swift's qualifying offer is $3.6 million for next season. For the record, he's played in 71 games since being drafted 12th overall in 2004. That's nearly a full season. To be fair, though, knee injuries are tough to recover from and every player is different. Swift can be a force when healthy.

STOPLIGHT: Carlesimo was trying to be direct when answering a reporter's question regarding rookie Jeff Green's light to shooting three-pointers like he did on Wednesday, "NO!" Carlesimo said. Green was 1-for-6 from three-point range against Denver. Carlesimo noted that Green needs to improve on his three-point shooting to be a supreme small forward in the NBA, just not now.

PRE-GAME: This should be interesting. PG Earl Watson is going to start, but he said the first time he tests his running ability after suffering an upper respiratory infection will be when he plays. Yikes. PG Mike Wilks has familiarity with the team and Coach P.J. Carlesimo, having played a stint in San Antonio, so at least the Supes have protection.

Part of Watson's will to play is the Heat matchup with Jason Williams. The two are close friends and have been tangled in trade rumors the past two seasons. Watson said it can sometimes get so competitive that the two won't talk for a few days afterward.

Carlesimo shared a cute story about Wilks. Apparently the guard is one of the coach's son's favorite players, only the now 5-year-old didn't know how to say Wilks' No. 11 while playing with the Spurs. The solution? "Two Ones." But Kyle did know Wilks' No. 29 with the Supes last season.

Anyway, here are tonight's starters:
Sonics
F Jeff Green
F Chris Wilcox
C Johan Petro
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Heat
F Alexander Johnson
F Shawn Marion
C Mark Blount
G Dwayne Wade
G Jason Williams

The officials are Dick Bavetta, Jason Phillps, and Gary Zielinski.

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February 29, 2008 5:44 PM

Watson returning?

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Sonics already gained some insurance at PG, signing former Sonic Mike Wilks to a 10-day contract today, but mainstay Earl Watson is currently on the floor warming up.

Watson missed the past two games due to the flu and Coach P.J. Carlesimo already expressed concern in playing Watson heavy minutes after being out. Watson is tough, though, and if he's able to play after warm-ups, don't expect him to tug on his shirt for a breather once the game begins.

Wilks is also on the court, saying hello to familiar faces and shooting with his old teammates Watson and Damien Wilkins. It's a good sight given the Supes had to run KD and Mickael Gelabale at PG on Wednesday.

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February 29, 2008 1:05 PM

Newble waived, Swift to have surgery

Posted by Jayda Evans

The Sonics waived F Ira Newble. Newble was acquired in a trade with Cleveland on Feb. 21. He logged 17 minutes in two games for Seattle and was released to clear roster space so that the Sonics could sign Mike Wilks to a 10-day contract. Both PG Luke Ridnour (right hamstring) and Earl Watson (flu) are probable for tonight due to injuries leaving the Supes with no true PG.

Wilks played for the Sonics the past two seasons, averaging 3.8 points and 1.6 assists in 57 total games.

Meanwhile, Sonics C Robert Swift met with Dr. Steve Lombardo in Los Angeles yesterday after suffering a torn lateral meniscus in the Feb. 21 game at Portland. Swift will undergo surgery on Tuesday. He is not expected to return to action this season following the procedure.

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February 28, 2008 7:47 PM

Sims to Sonics fans: "They're gone."

Posted by Percy Allen

During a 12-minute interview with KJR-AM (950), King County Executive Ron Sims made it clear that he believes the Sonics are leaving Seattle and chairman Clay Bennett will move the team to Oklahoma City this year or in 2010.

He also said there's three local investors interested in owning a team in the Seattle area, but no one believes that team will be the Sonics. Sims said two of the three investors would back a privately financed arena and the third wants to refurbish KeyArena.

Here's a few excerpts from the interview with Dave Mahler.

Sims: "I don't see much movement right now to make the commitment to keep them here. ... I think they're gone.

"There are three different groups that are organized to keep them here.

"It's not an issue about whether I want to keep them here or not. I supported legislation last year, the year before and this year in an effort to keep them in Seattle, but if I'm looking at the cards I just think it will go to trial. Even if they have to keep them here two more years, I suspect Clay would hold on to that team and take then down to Oklahoma City when he has a chance.

"I don't see the NBA blocking his move if he chooses to do that. The issue is where else can you get a team.

"All three ownership groups are looking at other NBA franchises or a new one. They are not talking about the Sonics. I think the writing is on the wall.

"We think there are other teams that are actually looking for places, the same thing that Clay is doing, and the issue is how can we make that attractive here.

"Clay doesn't want to be here and the NBA isn't going to keep him from leaving here. That's just factually correct. Owners run the organization. Even the people right now who are trying to land a NBA franchise here do not believe the Sonics will be that franchise. ... All of them believe whoever they buy next will be another franchise or a new one."

Some on the court news ...

The Sonics are considering signing a point guard to a 10-day contract because Earl Watson (upper respiratory infecton) and Luke Ridnour (right hamstring soreness) are not 100 percent healthy. Watson missed the past two games and Ridnour sat out the second half on Wednesday. Both returned to practice Thursday and are listed as probable for Friday's game against Miami.

If the Sonics waive anybody, it will probably be newcomer Ira Newble or C Francisco Elson. They don't have guaranteed contracts next season. F Adrian Griffin, is another possibilty. His contract next season is partially guaranteed.

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February 28, 2008 5:58 PM

Sonics fans voice their angst

Posted by Jayda Evans

Here's an interesting little ditty ESPN posted. Enjoy!

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February 27, 2008 6:22 PM

Denver game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

NUGGETS WIN: Denver's 138 points were the most allowed by the Sonics this season. The previous mark was 125 at Memphis in November. The 42-point deficit is the Sonics' worst of the season and fourth-worst in franchise history. It was a pathetic showing by the Supes. True, they have new pieces, but last time I checked, anyone can play defense. That's why, never mind. Only the Sonics should be dissed tonight.

NEW KIDS PLAYING: Normally you throw in your rookies when you're calling a game, but the Supes are throwing in the new players to make their KeyArena debut. The veteran players may help the Supes avoid a bad record. In 1986 Phoenix shot 67.1 percent against Seattle and Denver is currently shooting 67.5. Think the Sonics can play a little D?

STATOLICIOUS: Just in case you're counting, the Nuggets have rotated seven players and six are in double figures with Carter dishing out 10 assists. The AI fans are popping up around the Key as he is going off with a bevy of gorgeous floaters through the paint and three-pointers for 31 points so far.

WELCOME BACK CARTER: Carter is starting the fourth quarter.

CARTER HURT?: Nuggets G Anthony Carter is wincing on the end of the bench as trainers wrap his left shoulder. No word on whether he'll return. Denver is up 96-73 with 55.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

RIDNOUR OUT: Well, perhaps there's a reason why Ridnour is struggling. PR just sent word that the guard will not return due to right hamstring tightness. It was a left quad strain that kept Rid out for 15 games earlier this season.

LEGLESS IN SEATTLE: Outside of the boundless energy of Gelly, the Supes are gassed. A lot of shots are left short and they're late on defensive assignments. The Sonics are shooting 38.7 percent from the field and Ridnour is particularly struggling, going 1-for-5 from the field. He's currently on the bench and Gelly is running the offense.

NO CONTROL: The Sonics coninue to turn the ball over, which is leading to some pretty floaters for AI and power dunks for anyone else willing to run. Sonics F Jeff Green tried to hustle back on one play to catch AI, but couldn't get back after scoring in time, heaving once he reached the other end.

NOT SO MELLO: Carmelo Anthony harped at official Ken Maver about a foul as he stomped to the bench and was T'd up by the ref. He's still steaming on the bench. The Nuggets are entering the break with a 64-46 advantage.

POINT GELLY: Gelly played a little PG, again. Carlesimo is trying to get the lanky swingman to grow comfortable with the position to relieve Ridnour for stints. But when I talked to Gelly before the game about it he said he's still uncomfortable facing the faster guards and running the team. "There's a lot to remember" he said. Carlesimo hinted at Gelly working on his ball-handling this summer, but wouldn't commit to ever telling Gelly that it's key for him to know the point in order to stay with the team. Carlesimo would just like for all of the perimeter players to work on handling the ball.

BAKE SALE: Turnovers are popping up as a problem again for the Supes. They had seven in the opening quarter, which the Nuggets converted into 11 points.

IN YOUR EYE: K-Mart was looking eye-to-eye with Nick Collison as he dunked the ball in the Sonics forward's face with 2:20 remaining in the opening quarter. Wilkins responded later with two bank shots, but Supes are still down 29-19.

WILKINS RETURNS: Damien Wilkins has entered the game wearing heavy bandaging over his sprained right wrist. He'd guarding AI and missed his one shot attempt, but appears unfazed. The Nuggets are up 23-13.

NEW SITE: The Sonics are unveiling a new Web design for their site on Thursday. It's the first all-Flash site in the NBA that will allow fans behind-the-scenes video, audio, and photo content; the ability to share video content; and pre-post game content and commentary produced by Fox Sports Northwest. You can reach the site here.

WILCOX AND WILKINS FINE, WATSON NOT: PF Chris Wilcox and Damien Wilkins warmed up and are slated to play against Denver. Wilkins will wear a brace to protect his right wrist sprain. While coach P.J. Carlesimo wasn't sure how much he'd use Wilkins, the player wants to play rather than sit -- typical. Wilkins said there's still soreness, but the injury is about as good as it's going to get for now.
PG Earl Watson stayed at home with an upper respiratory infection. He's questionable for Friday's game, too. Tonight is his second missed start.

Here are tonight's starters
Sonics
F Jeff Green
F Chris Wilcox
C Johan Petro
G Kevin Durant
G Luke Ridnour

Nuggets
F Carmelo Anthony
F Kenyon Martin
C Marcus Camby
G Allen Iverson
G Anthony Carter

Tonight's officials are Ken Maver, Michael Smith, and Sean Wright.

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February 27, 2008 10:17 AM

Oden gets political

Posted by Jayda Evans

I've heard of NBA legends getting into the political fire, stating their picks for the upcoming election. Now the younger players are getting involved. Here's the latest on Greg Oden and his conversation with Sen. Barack Obama.

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February 25, 2008 11:21 PM

Save Our Sonics' letter to NBA

Posted by Percy Allen

Before NBA All Star Weekend, Save Our Sonics sent the following letter to the seven NBA team owners who comprise the Board of Governors (BOG), which will vote in April on whether to allow the OKC relocation. Owners from the Miami Heat, L.A. Lakers, Golden St. Warriors, New Jersey Nets, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs received copies of the letter (attached and pasted in full below this release).

Save Our Sonics released the following statement on Monday, February 25:

"We hope the Board of Governors, media and members of the national sports community read the attached information and carefully consider the ramifications of a potential SuperSonics move to Oklahoma City. The upcoming court case set for June is too important to hold a vote on this matter presently because the current ownership group will likely be forced to honor the last two years of its lease agreement with Key Arena. The BOG should vote "No" on the Sonics relocation or postpone a vote until the pending court case is resolved.

"In light of recent disheartening comments by Commissioner David Stern, the BOG is faced with an extremely important decision that not only affects millions of Seattle area residents, but stands to significantly change both the NBA and the entire professional sports landscape. Members of the Sonics ownership group must work with Seattle's city leadership to come forth with a reasonable plan for the future sustainability of Seattle Center, Key Arena and the Sonics."

Please direct any media inquiries to the contacts at the end of the letter, Adam Brown, Steven Pyeatt and Brian Robinson of Save Our Sonics.

To NBA team owners and vested interests:

Outlined herein are the five most compelling reasons why voting "Yes" on the Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City is the wrong decision for an NBA team owner. Please consider the following information and endorse a "No" vote on relocation this April.

The Sonics have represented the city of Seattle through the best of times − including a 1979 World Championship and success throughout the 1990s culminating in a 1996 Finals appearance − and also through the worst of times, which came under the last two ownership groups led by Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz and Oklahoma City mogul Clayton Bennett, respectively. As you are surely aware, Schultz sold the Sonics to Bennett's Oklahoma-based ownership group in July 2006. After only one year of attempting to secure a brand new, $500 million, state- of-the-art arena in the region, Bennett officially filed for relocation to Oklahoma City on November 1, 2007.

As an NBA team owner, you have a responsibility to make decisions that will ultimately lead to a thriving league for years to come. Unlike other leagues, the NBA's owners are closely connected through revenue streams that allow profitable markets to share the wealth. As primary decision makers in the league, your votes in this matter will have critical impact on the future economic growth of the NBA.

Fans have supported this organization for 41 years. It will be a devastating blow to both the city of Seattle and the entire NBA if we lose this prominent market for the following reasons:


1. Fan Support Determines a Sports League's Profits

Seattle has been one of the NBA's most celebrated markets since its inaugural year in 1967. By allowing this move, David Stern is disrespecting one of his most loyal fan bases and disregarding 41 years of local support for the league, opting instead to mortgage the future financial sustainability of the NBA in order to please his friend, Clay Bennett.

NBA fans in Seattle will obviously be crushed by the move, but the impact will ripple into other markets across the nation. Fans will wonder: If this can happen in an historic NBA market like Seattle, couldn't it happen to my favorite team as well?

Hoops fans across the nation will sense a widening disconnect from team ownership and become apathetic about supporting a league that could show such contempt for fans. This move would signify the beginning of the end for a fan's league. The NBA may not recover from such a massive public relations disaster, as the league has recently struggled to reconnect to fans the way it did in the late 1980s and early 1990s.


2. Seattle is the Gateway to the Surging Asian Market

One of the highest rated NBA games this season was between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Houston Rockets - or the matchup of Chinese superstars Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian. Commissioner Stern opened the revenue floodgates by pouring NBA marketing dollars into China, and the country responded with record interest in the league. In December 2007, more than 200 million Chinese tuned in to watch the battle of its homeland stars, as 16 of 19 Chinese television stations carried the live broadcast in mainland China. [1]

Seattle is a leading center of Asian culture in the United States, with more than 507,000 Asian citizens (14.4% of the population)[2] contributing to the area's booming business, engineering and technology industries. Why would the league choose to uproot one of its primary gateways to the blossoming Asian market?

Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners established the international sports business model by marketing its Japanese star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to national and international success, but the potential revenue ceiling in China is significantly higher if the NBA takes advantage of its cornerstone Asian market in Seattle.

The league certainly won't gain any international revenue from having a team in Oklahoma City.


3. Seattle is a Superior Market to Oklahoma City

The following statistics demonstrate the advanced revenue potential of the Seattle market compared with the Oklahoma City market:

Population:[3]
o Greater Seattle: 3,524,000
o Greater OKC: 1,240,967

Median Family Income:[4]
o Seattle: $70,133
o OKC: $48,162

Seattle is consistently named as one of the best cities in America, and Forbes recently ranked it fourth among the Fastest Growing Cities in America,[5] with a 22.7% projected GMP growth by 2012. To abandon this market would be akin to moving the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks or Los Angeles Lakers to smaller cities. The league simply wouldn't be the same, and David Stern has already stated that Seattle will not get another team if the Sonics move under Bennett.[6]

Journalists across the nation published their disapproval of losing the Seattle market, repeatedly coming to the conclusion that "there is no conceivable way the NBA would benefit from having the Sonics move from the nation's 14th-largest market to the 45th. [7]"


4. Fans in Seattle Deserve a Chance to Keep Their Team

Clay Bennett and his Oklahoma City-based ownership group purchased the Sonics with the full intention of moving the team to Oklahoma City, as stated publicly by minority owner Aubrey McLendon.[8] This contradicts numerous public statements made by Bennett stating his desire to find a solution to keep the team in Seattle.

""[Clay Bennett and I] didn't buy the team to keep it in Seattle, we hoped to come here [to Oklahoma City]," McLendon told the Oklahoma City Journal Record in August 2007. "We know it's a little more difficult financially here in Oklahoma City, but we think it's great for the community and if we could break even we'd be thrilled."

The NBA and its team owners should not settle for "just breaking even." Commissioner Stern fined McLendon $250,000 for these comments, but even more telling are the other dealings of this ownership group since purchasing the Sonics.

While asking for $400 million from taxpayers to build an exclusive, world-class arena in Renton − a Seattle area suburb located 12 miles south of the city and its season ticketholder base − the Bennett ownership group repeatedly touted the economic and community benefits of having an NBA team in the region.

Bennett's group even conducted its own economic feasibility study to convince legislators to vote for its last-minute arena proposal.[9]

Unfortunately, the proposal did not receive a vote after Bennett refused to provide key financial details deemed necessary by the legislature. Unlike Blazers and Seahawks owner Paul Allen, Bennett's plan did not include any stated investment from the team itself, leaving a huge gap in the feasibility of the proposal. Bennett then filed for relocation with the NBA, attempting to void the final two years of the team's lease at Seattle Center's Key Arena, which runs through 2010.

The city of Seattle filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Bennett in order to hold him to the Key Arena lease, and Bennett's group contradicted itself yet again in court, stating: "There will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle."[10] Which is it, Clay?

The NBA should not look kindly upon one of its owners stating that its teams have no benefit to local communities.

While the Sonics current home, Key Arena, is the league's smallest venue, the city has expressed interest in re-working the terms of the lease and expanding the building to become a world-class venue. The city built Key Arena for $104 million in 1994 with 80% taxpayer-appropriated funds, following guidelines specifically approved by the NBA and team officials in the Ackerley ownership group, which said "[Key Arena] is going to be as good as any building in the NBA." And it was - for a few years, while the team perennially finished at the top of the Western Conference in front of sold out home crowds. [11]

It is simply unfortunate timing that other cities began building huge, more advanced arenas such as Chicago's United Center and Denver's Pepsi Center shortly thereafter, putting Key Arena behind the curve almost immediately after its construction. These and other new world-class arenas, however, were built using private funds or as a partnership between ownership and the city - something Bennett has declined to approach.

Despite the city's numerous attempts to reach out to Sonics ownership and broker a deal that works to keep the Sonics in Seattle, Bennett refused to even meet with Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels regarding any plan besides his own.

Adding insult to injury, Bennett & Co. decimated the Sonics chances to be successful on the court by trading its two All-Star players, fan favorites Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. These moves effectively ensured the team would be terrible, driving local fans out of the arena, intentionally minimizing revenues to facilitate relocation and making a mockery of the team. In 2007, Bennett's group fired Sonics legends Lenny Wilkins, Jack Sikma and Detlef Schrempf from their positions with the team, further distancing the current organization from anything that could be considered part of the Sonics celebrated past.

"They didn't give it a chance," former Sonic and current Celtic Ray Allen told the Chicago Tribune. "You need good veterans around to be successful. But it was a decision they made." [12]

On the same day the Sonics miraculously drew the second pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and the rights to prodigal forward Kevin Durant, Bennett was in Kansas City exploring arena options to move the team. He has no respect for the city of Seattle and its thousands of loyal Sonics fans.

It is now abundantly clear that Bennett only wanted to rob Sonics fans from the start, with no regard for the team's history and 41 years of support. A great NBA owner builds ties with the community; he doesn't sever them and then pour salt on the wounds.

When Mark Cuban purchased the struggling Dallas Mavericks in 2000, he invested heavily in the team and the city, building the franchise into a dominant force and a pillar of the community. Other NBA owners have also made sizable investments in their host communities, strategically developing political and business relationships to help secure public funding for arenas. Prior to filing for relocation, Bennett spent only a few months actively attempting to secure a local arena. During this period, he failed to evaluate the political landscape or engage the fan base, refusing to hold a single meeting with the Seattle mayor's office to discuss options within the Seattle city limits. Bennett never employed a local advertising agency, and he never took reasonable steps to convey a hopeful message to the general public and fans. The Sonics have not made even a pretense of looking for local options since May of 2007.

As business partners, it is appropriate for NBA owners to expect a somewhat equitable effort on the part of all parties. Owners in markets such as New Jersey, Sacramento and Orlando worked hard in recent attempts to secure venues, but Sonics ownership is attempting to shortcut the process and put its own interests above that of the league as a whole by engaging in a high publicized legal battle to void the final years of its lease. As part of this process, the Bennett ownership group has risked the goodwill of the fans and publicly stated that NBA teams bring no value to this community.

A legitimate local ownership group would be willing to work with the city and find a constructive solution to keep the Sonics in Seattle.


5. The New Orleans Hornets are Struggling to Survive

In the wake of the tragedy Hurricane Katrina inflicted upon the city of New Orleans, the Hornets were transplanted to Oklahoma City, where fans embraced the team for two seasons. As New Orleans rebuilds, the Hornets moved back to play at New Orleans Arena at the start of the 2007-08 season.

(Save Our Sonics would never want to deny New Orleans fans their team or encourage a Hornets move to save our own team. We do, however, see the need to present the following facts so NBA interests can make the most informed decision possible on this matter.)

At the time this letter was pressed, the Hornets held a record of 33-15, good for second best in the tough Western Conference. Yet the team is second to last in the league in attendance, drawing a meager 12,453 fans per game on average,[13] a number that is further inflated by free tickets given away within a business model that relies heavily on subsidies. This is a young, exciting team with an MVP candidate in Chris Paul, but the city cannot seem to rally behind them as it has for the NFL's Saints before and after Katrina.

The Hornets recently signed a lease that allows them to relocate after the 2009-2010 season if they fail to reach an average attendance benchmark of 14,735 through that portion of the contract.[14] At this rate, there is no doubt that attendance will be lower than this figure, and the Hornets will be looking for a new home in 2010, conveniently also when the Sonics lease at Key Arena officially expires.

The Sonics, by contrast, are the third worst team in the NBA at 13-36, yet they are only fifth-worst in attendance figures, averaging 13,476 fans despite widespread doubt that the team will even play in Seattle past 2008. This Sonics team, without its two recognizable All-Stars − and with out-of-town ownership insulting the community while publicly facilitating the OKC move ¬− still outdraws the Memphis Grizzlies, Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Hornets on a nightly basis. More importantly, Key Arena is filled to 79.3% capacity each night versus 65.8% in New Orleans − this figure also puts the Sonics ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats (74.7%), Minnesota Timberwolves (77.8%), and New Jersey Nets (76.1%) in attendance.

Make no mistake about it: Seattle is a basketball city and Washington is a basketball state, with such NBA stars as Brandon Roy, Jason Terry, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Marvin Williams, Martell Webster, Luke Ridnour, Spencer Hawes, John Stockton, Detlef Schrempf, Michael Dickerson, Aaron Brooks and Doug Christie having grown up in the area. By voting to allow Seattle's longest running professional team to move, owners are denying themselves a city full of talent and potential billions in financial support. This is the city that set NBA attendance records by drawing more than 39,000 fans to a 1979 game in the Kingdome.[15] This is the city that rocked for the Sonics throughout the 1990s, as teams led by Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp dominated for much of the decade.

Recent NBA team moves and expansions to smaller markets have unequivocally failed financially (Vancouver to Memphis, Charlotte to New Orleans). If Oklahoma City has truly earned an NBA franchise, however, it makes sense to either grant it an expansion team (SOS's preferred solution) or move the Hornets, only since the latter is likely to move and already won the adoration of OKC fans.

The battle for the Sonics is still in U.S. District Court, which set a date of June 16, 2008 to hear the case - right in the middle of the NBA Finals. In light of recent scandals (Tim Donaghy and Malice at the Palace), the NBA cannot afford this bitter fight causing another public relations disaster, which would only soil its credibility and evoke outrage from disrespected fans around the nation. The NBA is a business, but this business can only be run with the full trust and support of its paying customers - the fans.

Please carefully consider the above arguments when casting your vote on the Seattle SuperSonics relocation issue. The facts are clear: Seattle has earned its team through decades of loyal support, and fans deserve more than Bennett has given them. If the involved parties swallow their pride and sit down at the negotiation table, a reasonable agreement to keep the team in Seattle can surely be reached. Key Arena is a beautiful venue for fans to watch basketball, and an efficient remodel can implement the proper revenue streams for ownership to profit financially in this top quality market.

Feel free to contact our organization with any questions on this matter. Vote "No" on a Sonics to Oklahoma City move this April. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincere regards,

Adam Brown -  Brian Robinson - Steven Pyeatt
Media Advisor Co-Founder Co-Founder

"(Clay Bennett) doesn't care if the Supersonics are Seattle's most successful and storied franchise. Or that the team has 40 years of history and heritage and Hall-of-Famers. Or that the league will suffer greatly if a franchise moves from one of its most cultured and cosmopolitan markets to - - - Oklahoma City! Good lord, this is like the Rockettes leaving Radio City Music Hall for their new permanent home at the Mystery Dinner Theatre on I-Drive!"

- columnist Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, November 2007.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[1] Source: "Yao vs. Yi Matchup to Set Record TV Ratings." Dec. 9, 2007. www.crienglish.com
[2] Source: "The Greater Seattle Datasheet." 2006. www.cityofseattle.net
[3] Source: "U.S. Census." 2006.
[4] Source: "Best Places to Live." Money Magazine. 2006. www.cnnmoney.com.
[5] Source: "In Pictures: America's Fastest Growing Large and Small Metros." www.forbes.com. Jan. 30, 2008.
[6] Source: "Stern: NBA Won't Return to Seattle if Sonics Leave." Associated Press/Seattle Times. Nov. 8, 2007.
[7] Source: "Oklahoma City Sonics? NBA should just say no." The Daily Herald. Feb. 3, 2008.
[8] Source: "Sonics co-owner McClendon fined $250K." Seattle Times. Aug. 23, 2007.
[9] Source: "Economic Benefits of the King County Events Center." April 2007. www.eventscenterfacts.com.
[10] Source: "Sonics: City Wouldn't Miss Us." The Seattle Times. Jan. 18, 2008.
[11] Source: "Nothin' But Profit: Winning no longer key to new NBA." The Seattle P-I. May 15, 2006.
[12] Source: "Sonics Choose Low Road." The Chicago Tribune. December 10, 2007.
[13] Source: "NBA Attendance Report." January 24, 2007. www.ESPN.com.
[14] Source: "Hornets Sign Lease Extension." The Oklahoman. January 10, 2008. www.newsok.com.
[15] Source: "Relocations Hurt the NBA." The Daily of the UW. January 11, 2008.

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February 25, 2008 1:38 PM

Watson staying home; Wilkins to have MRI

Posted by Percy Allen

Guard Earl Watson will not travel with the Sonics today to the Bay Area for tomorrow's game against Golden State becasue he's battling an upper respiratory infection.

Forward Donyell Marshall, who has flu-like symptoms and a fever above 100 degrees, will also skip the trip.

Forward Damien Wilkins is having an MRI exam on his strained right wrist and it's uncertain if he'll make the team plane. At the very least, he's listed as doubtful for tomorrow.

Forward Chris Wilcox, who missed Sunday's games because of a bronchial infection, is expected to make trip, but he too is doubtful.

That leaves the Sonics with just nine healthy players. They will not sign anyone to a 10-day contract because they have 15 players on the roster and they do not want to waive anybody.

Point guard Luke Ridnour will his third start this season in place of Watson and Mickael Gelabale is the backup. Coach P.J. Carlesimo joked that in an emergency he'll turn to Kevin Durant and Nick Collison for point-guard duty.

The Sonics will have their hands full against Baron Davis and Monta Ellis. They are the highest scoring backcourt duo in the NBA averaging, 40.9 points per game.

During a 15 minute discussion after practice, Carlesimo said the emphasis on the remaining 27 games is to develop rookies Kevin Durant and Jeff Green and give significant playing time center Johan Petro and Gelabale.

"The remainder of the season is very telling for Gelly and Joe," Carlesimo said.

It's curious that he did not mention Ridnour, which fuels speculation that the team is resigned to move him during the offseason. At the beginning of the season, Carlesimo talked frequently about wanting to start Ridnour and discover what he can do in Carlesimo's system.

The coach hasn't talked about anything like that recently.

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February 25, 2008 6:00 AM

NBA Power Rankings

Posted by Percy Allen

Each week we take a look at the NBA and rank the teams in order every Monday morning. Last week's ranking in parenthesis.

Rank

Team (Previous rank)

Comment

1.

Detroit (1):

Allowing a NBA-low 90.2 ppg. Held Phoenix 23 pts. below its average in big Sunday win.

2.

LA Lakers (3):

9-1 with Gasol. Their 8-game win streak is longest since '04 when they won the title.

3.

San Antonio (6):

Competing with 5 teams for Barry who becomes FA on Tuesday. Parker returns.

4.

Houston (8):

12-game win streak is 3 shy of a team record last set in 1993-94 when they won the title.

5.

Utah (4):

Best home record in the NBA (24-3), but 12-17 on the road. Visit New Orleans on Friday.

6.

Phoenix (5):

Stoudemire scored 37, 28 and 31 points with Shaq. The Suns, however, are 1-2.

7.

Boston (2):

Snapped 3-game losing streak with a win at Portland. Still flaws exposed during WC trip.

8.

Cleveland (11):

3-0 since break. Newcomers dazzle in debut vs. Memphis. Big game Wed. at Boston.

9

New Orleans (9):

The trade that delivered James and Wells added toughness and two headaches.

10.

Dallas (7):

In just his second game with Mavs, Kidd is three rebounds shy from a triple double.

11.

Toronto (14):

Have NBA-best .423% on 3pters. Only 7 teams have shot .400 or better for a season.

12.

Orlando (12):

Howard could be fifth player ever to avg. 20 points, 10 rebounds and shoot 60 percent.

13.

Golden State (10):

Davis and Ellis are the top NBA backcourt scoring duo averaging 40.9 points.

14:

Denver (13):

Anthony and Iverson wanted to trade for Artest, however, coach Karl vetoed the deal.

15.

Philadelphia (16):

Not sure why Cheeks got an extension for leading 76ers to 9th place in the East.

16.

Sacramento (17):

In the middle of a 5-game East Coast road trip. They visit Bibby in Atlanta on Wed.

17.

New Jersey (19):

Rebuilding around Jefferson is a mistake. He's a solid No. 3 option, not a superstar.

18.

Portland (15):

Since 17-1 streak, they're 7-15 and lost 7 of last 8. Roy could miss next two games.

19.

Chicago (21):

Trade for Hughes makes Gordon, who declined a $50M deal last summer, expendable.

20.

Washington (18):

Arenas says he won't return on March 2 and may miss the rest of the season.

21.

LA Clippers (23):

Cassell expected to agree to a buyout this week so he can join a contender.

22.

Sonics (26):

Tough break for Swift. Latest knee injury probably spells the end to his Sonics career.

23.

Milwaukee (24):

Yi started 49 of first 53 games, but he's hit the rookie wall is now on the bench.

24.

Atlanta (20):

Woodson rumored as possible coaching candidate to replace Sampson at Indiana.

25.

Indiana (22):

Play 14 of last 26 games at home. Only 9 opponents currently have a winning record.

26.

New York (29):

In a season of few highlights, Crawford dropped 43 points on Toronto in a rare win.

27.

Minnesota (28):

Walker was hoping for a trade to a contender. Will sit out while working on a buyout.

28.

Charlotte (25):

Dwight Howard's rise to super stardom makes me wonder what happened to Okafor?

29.

Memphis (27):

Most Improved candidate Gay averaging NBA-best 9.2 points more than last season.

30.

Miami (30):

Like Q-Rich and JJ, Marion may be the next ex-Sun who leaves Phoenix and disappears.

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February 24, 2008 9:54 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

A reader (Crow) asked if there's any plans to use Kevin Durant as a small forward in the final 27 games. Well, the short answer is no. The rookie is a shooting guard this season, but coach P.J. Carlesimo believes the positions are interchangeable. Durant does many of the things his critics want. He's often a set shooter in the corner or at the top of the key where he launches that rainbow three-pointer. He also frequently drives to the paint for layups or to draw a foul.

The only thing Durant doesn't do offensively is post up. At 215 pounds, he's physically not strong enough to consistently score beneath the rim. That's not his game right now. As Durant grows, he'll probably mature into a small forward, which makes me wonder what's going to happen with Jeff Green. Will he move to the bench, move to power forward or move to another team?

A few words about tonight's game. As good as the Sonics have been playing lately - they won 6 of 10 before tonight - they are not in the same class as the Los Angeles Lakers.

A Western Conference scout said the way to beat the Lakers is to attack their reserves. He said the Lakers starting five can simply overwhelm opponents with the amount of points they generate. The second unit, however, is smaller with Jordan Farmer, Ronny Turiaf and Sasha Vujacic and vulnerable.

Tonight's game proved what the scout believes is correct.

The Sonics were blown away in the first quarter and trailed 34-18. Seattle made a run in the second quarter and was outscored 28-25 in the period.

The third quarter scoring (a 31-27 Lakers advantage) is a little skewed because Kobe Bryant was ejected with 4 minutes left. And the Sonics managed to outscore LA 21-18 in the fourth when the game was decided and Bryant was in the lockerroom.

Coach P.J. Carlesimo said he was "disappointed" in the game because the Sonics had played well lately. The Lakers, however, are much better than Seattle's past two opponents (Portland and Memphis).

The only Sonics worth noting were Green and reserve swingman Mickael Gelabale.

Green was best when he drove to the rim and elevated for strong layups. He finished with an efficient 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting and eight rebounds. If not for four turnovers, it would have been a really good night for him.

Seattle's brightest star was Gelabale, who finished with a career-best 21 points on 10-for-16 shooting. He also had eight rebounds and no turnovers. The soon-to-be free agent is going to need many more nights like this if he's to get the Sonics brass to seriously consider re-signing him to a long-term deal.

He's difficult to figure out. The rangy small forward is not a three-point threat and doesn't look as if he's trying very hard. But he rarely makes mistakes and never appears rushed or hurried on the court. He plays under control and is an adequate defender.

Gelabale said he intends to play in the NBA next season.

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February 24, 2008 5:22 PM

Lakers game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

IT'S OVER --- After chants from the crowd, coach Phil Jackson inserted former Sonics ballboy Coby Karl. Newcomer Adrian Griffin also entered the game.

THIRD QUARTER --- After Bryant was ejected, the Sonics' cut their 31-point deficit to 23. They trail 93-70. Not sure if there's enough time to make a comeback. Especially with Wilcox and Wilkins missing. Gasol has 20 points on 9-for-16 shooting and Odom has 17 points and 10 assists. Durant has missed eight of 10 shots. He has 11 points. Watson has 12 points and eight assists.

CAREER-HIGH FOR GELABALE --- Mickeal Gelabale has 19 points, which is a new career scoring high for him. His previous best was 17. Gelabale has sank 9 of 13 shots. He also has seven rebounds.

BRYANT TOSSED --- With 4:00 minutes remaining in the third quarter, official Brian Forte ejected Bryant for excessive talking. Bryant complained about a non-call on a drive and continued squawking as he slowly walked up the court. Forte apparent heard too much or heard the magic word when he rang Bryant up again and sent the Lakers star to the lockerroom. Bryant finished with 21 points on 8 for 13 shooting. He also ahs 10 assists.

HALFTIME --- The Lakers Big Three continue to dominate and the Sonics can't shoot straight. Bryant has 16 points, Gasol 12 and Odom 10. Gelabale leads Seattle with 14. The Sonics are shooting 38 percent, Los Angeles 51 percent.

NEWBLE MAKES DEBUT --- Ira Newble checked in with nine minutes left in the second quarter. Before the game, he said he had some knowledge of Seattle's system because it's similar to what the Cleveland Cavalers run. Carlesimo and Cavs coach Mike Brown are former San Antonio Spurs assistants.

FIRST QUARTER --- The Sonics have been playing good defense in their past few games, however, the Lakers shot 58.3 percent in the period and lead 34-18 after 12 minutes. Bryant has 11 points, Odom 10 and Gasol eight. Seattle has missed 16 of 25 field goals (36 percent). Mickael Gelabale leads the Sonics wiht six points.

BENCH MOB --- Lakers reserves Ronny Turiaf, Jordan Farmer and Sasha Vujacic are a rowdy group who cheer enthusiastically for their team. After big baskets, they bound from their seats and jump up and down on the court. It's clear to see they're the energy guys who pump life into the squad.

SHELL-SHOCKED --- The Sonics have that deer-in-the-headlights look as the Lakers are doing almost anything that they want. LA leads 20-12. Watson just collected a technical for arguing with official Brian Forte. It appears as if Watson is trying to get his team fired up. Right now, the Sonics are just in a funk.

BEST IN THE NBA? --- Coach P.J. Carlesimo declined to proclaim the Lakers the best in the league because he wants to see a few more teams one more time. There's five teams in the West who can win the title, Carlesimo said. The coach also believes Gasol gives the Lakers a versatile player they haven't had in past years.

SOLDOUT --- Tonight's game is the Sonics' third sellout this season. There's a very large contingency of LA Lakers fans. A Sonic executive estimated that 20 percent of the 17,072 in the building are Lakers fans. The team also sold about 2,000 tickets to Seattle-area high school cheerleaders who held a clinic at KeyArena.

STARTING LINEUPS

LAKERS
F -- Luke Walton
F -- Lamar Odom
C -- Pau Gasol
G -- Kobe Bryant
G -- Derek Fisher

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Nick Collison
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson
Inactive: Marshall, Sene and Swift.

Officials: Mike Callahan, Brian Forte and Pat Fraher.

PRE-GAME NOTES --- Newcomer Donyell Marshall is suffering from flu-like symptoms and he will not play tonight. F Chris Wilcox is also ill and will not dress and F Damien Wilkins has a strained right wrist and will sit out.

Wilkins' absence gives more playing time to newcomer Ira Newble.

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February 22, 2008 11:20 PM

Swift update

Posted by Percy Allen

There's a chance center Robert Swift will play again this season despite tearing the meniscus in his right knee on Thursday. An MRI exam on Friday revealed the tear.

"I wouldn't rule out him coming back," coach P.J. Carlesimo said.

Swift will fly to Los Angeles to be examined by Dr. Steve Lombardo and it's unknown if surgery will be required. Since undergoing right knee surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament on Oct. 25, 2006, Swift has played in just eight games. He is a restricted free agent this summer and this latest setback may end his career with the Sonics.

"It's horrible news for him and it's not good for us," Carlesimo said.

FINAL THOUGHTS

When asked if the Sonics are better now than they were at the start of the season, Carlesimo chuckled.

"We're not better," he said. "Better would imply that we were good at that point."

He went on to say they were "terrible" back then and are "decent" right now.

Carlesimo points to the Jan. 21 Houston game as the tipping point. The Sonics lost 96-89, but he believes that's when players finally began playing his type of defense, which calls for quick rotations and not fouling. The Sonics still get in trouble defensively because they average 16 turnovers, but they are seventh in the NBA in opponent's field goal percentage.

The Sonics are 5-1 when they old opponents under 90 points and they are 9-5 when they hold opponents to fewer than 40 percent shooting. Those statistics are telling.

Tonight Carlesimo used a solid 10-man rotation in which nine players played at least 17:51 minutes. Newcomer Francisco Elson managed just three points in 11 minutes, but he played solid defense.

It will be interesting to see how Carlesimo distributes minutes when Donyell Marshall, Ira Newble and Adrian Griffin arrive.

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February 22, 2008 1:50 PM

Portland game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

SCARY SCENE --- Damien Wilkins landed hard on his left hip after Aldridge fouled him on a dunk attempt. Wilkins rolled around for a few seconds in agony, but stood up and walked slowly to the bench.

SWIFT UPDATE --- Swift suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee and will be re-evaluated by Dr. Steve Lombardo in Los Angeles. It's unknown if he'll miss the rest of the season, but he won't play in the next few weeks.

THIRD QUARTER --- The Sonics led by as many as 19 points (61-42) and as few as 11 (71-60) in the period. That's the score now. Still anyone's game. The same themes are holding up. Portland can't shoot straight and the Supes are receiving balanced scoring. The Blazers will try to pound the middle and get to the free throw line. Nate McMillan is urging Portland to stop settling for long jumpers.

FANS UNREST --- At least one fan tonight doesn't like the Sonics deal-making the past two days. There's a green sign below the suite in section 108 that reads: Trade Presti.

HALFTIME --- Seattle's defense continues to get better. Portland converted 33.3 percent of its shots, which is just 14 of 42. Aldridge has a game-high 15 points, but Petro and Wilcox are not giving them anything easy inside. Durant leads Seattle with 10.

BIG RUN --- The Sonics are up 44-27 and they have absolute control of the game on both ends of the court. Portland has converted just 11 of 32 field goals (34.4 percent) while Seattle is shooting at a 45.7 percent clip.

FIRST QUARTER --- Good start for the Supes. They scored eight unanswered points to to start the game and lead 29-19 after one quarter. Four players have scored at least four points, including Watson who has seven. Aldridge is keeping Portland in the game with 10. Seattle's defense is amazing. Portland is unable to get an easy basket and it's shooting just 37.5 percent.

ELSON CHECKS IN --- The newest Sonic made his debut with 3:14 left in the first quarter. He's going to get plenty of playing time because Swift will be out for awhile.

IS THIS PORTLAND? --- There's just as many - if not more - Trail Blazer fans in the building as Sonics fans. I'm guessing it's a 50/50 split. Roy, Martell Webster and Nate McMillan, former Seattle players and icons, are obviously the reason for the high number of Portland fans.

THE NEWCOMERS --- Donyell Marshall is expected to fly to Seattle tonight, but he was stuck in traffic in Cleveland and may not have caught his flight. Ira Newble and Adrian Griffin are expected to arrive tomorrow. Carlesimo said it's possible the trio will be available for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

SWIFT UPDATE --- Center Robert Swift told coach P.J. Carlesimo that he heard a pop in his right knee, which doesn't bode well for him. The team will learn in the next hour or so the severity of the injury that occured in the second quarter of Thursday's game in Portland. Carlesimo said he expects Swift to miss at least the next several games.

STARTING LINEUPS

PORTLAND
F -- Brandon Roy
F -- LaMarcus Aldridge
C -- Joel Przybilla
G -- Jarrett Jack
G -- Steve Blake

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Johan Petro
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

Officials: Joe DeRosa, Tommy Nunez, Jr. and Rodney Mott.

PRE-GAME NOTES --- Newly acquired center Francisco Elson is on the court and practicing under the guidance of assistant Mark Bryant. It looks as if he'll make his Sonics debut tonight.

GM Sam Presti held a short press conference explaining the rationale behind the trades over the past two days.

KUODOS TO KJR --- Several ex-Sonics players, coaches and general managers were guests on KJR-AM during a daylong salute to the NBA franchise. Some of the highlights included former Senator Slade Gorton explaining the city's strategy behind the lawsuit against the Sonics.

Gary Patyon has not abandoned hopes of resuming his NBA career and said he's been talking to several teams. Shawn Kemp seems to have given up on his NBA comeback attempt and said he's focused on a development company that has projects in Bellevue and Houston. Former general manager Bob Whitsitt said he's willing to help the city can keep the team in Seattle despite threats from Commissioner David Stern and chairman Clay Bennett's attempt to move the team to Oklahoma City.

Other guest included Dale Ellis and Xavier McDaniel.

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February 22, 2008 1:18 PM

Rocket Bones?

Posted by Jayda Evans

Seems the Houston Rockets are looking to sign Brent "Bones" Barry, who was released by the Sonics on Thursday. You can read more here.

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February 21, 2008 11:12 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Jayda Evans

My apologies about not having a game thread tonight. There were some trades, you may have heard. Anyway, the short-handed Sonics didn't look bad. You could tell they missed Kurt Thomas and Wally Szczerbiak at certain spots in the game when both normally make their contributions. There was also a lack of on-court spirit that Szczerbiak provides, but as KD said after the game, the players still pick each other up and do a good job showing that they want each other to do well.

Forward Chris Wilcox appeared dazed prior to the game because of the trades and looked it while playing. He got into early foul trouble and was off offensively, going 0-for-5 from the field for two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes. The Sonics needed his rebounding and presence inside, although Nick Collison was solid off the bench with 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Although the Sonics have played well, this was a game I predicted Portland would win simply because they're at home and had lost five of their previous games. While they are becoming more of the Blazer team most predicted prior to the season beginning, they're not a team that should be losing five straight and especially not six straight.

Funniest sight was Greg Oden's new 'do - a Mohawk. He sports it well, but it was unexpected.

Saddest sight was Swifty leaving the game again due to the right knee. It may be time to shut him down completely and start over next season. The in-and-out has to be frustrating for him and teammates. I know it's frustrating to cover and I've read the fan comments. He'll be evaluated tomorrow in Seattle.

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February 21, 2008 8:35 PM

Swift Out

Posted by Jayda Evans

Sonics center Robert Swift left the Portland matchup with a right knee sprain and will not return. He will be re-evaluated on Friday prior to the Supes hosting the Blazers at KeyArena. Swift played four minutes and had two rebounds, but didn't score any points.

Teammate Johan Petro got the start at center in place of Kurt Thomas, who was traded on Wednesday. With Swift out, Petro and Collison will receive more minutes inside.

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February 21, 2008 7:17 PM

No Bones in Seattle

Posted by Jayda Evans

Former Sonic Brent "Bones" Barry won't be returning to Seattle. He was waived by the team this morning to clear space for the 11-player trade this afternoon. Barry, who was acquired when post Kurt Thomas was shipped to San Antonio on Wednesday, is a free agent and is eligible to sign with any team.

Francisco Elson, the Sonics' other pickup, is in Seattle and has passed majority of his physical, clearing him to possibly be in uniform when the Supes host Portland on Friday at KeyArena. Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo was doubtful he'd play, however.

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February 21, 2008 11:55 AM

Szczerbiak and West on the move

Posted by Percy Allen

With less than 10 minutes remaining before the trade deadline, several NBA sources believe Sonics guard Delonte West and Damien Wilkins will be shipped to Denver for Edjuardo Najera and Wally Szczerbiak is being included in a three-team package to Cleveland.

The Sonics are expected to make a formal announcement in a couple of hours.

We'll post more as soon as the deals are completed.

UPDATE -- 12:21 P.M.

Reporters in Denver spoke with Nuggets coach George Karl a few minutes ago and he had no knowledge of the trade so it seems unlikely that West and Wilkins are going there.

Just confirmed a three-way deal has been revised. The Sonics sent West and Szczerbiak to Cleveland and it's believed that they will receive Donyell Marshall and Ira Newble. Cleveland is also expected to net Ben Wallace and Joe Smith and Chicago will get Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden.

Wilkins remains with the Sonics.


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February 20, 2008 3:21 PM

Thomas traded to San Antonio

Posted by Percy Allen

The Sonics traded Kurt Thomas to the San Antonio Spurs, according to ESPN and Yahoo Sports reports.

A Sonics PR spokesman couldn't confirm the report, but team officials are expected to make an announcement today.

Citing league sources, Yahoo Sports said the Sonics acquired center Francisco Elson, injured guard Brent Barry and a 2009 first-round draft pick. Elson and Barry, a former Sonic, have contracts that expire after the season.

In 42 games with the Sonics this season, Thomas averaged 7.5 points and 8.8 rebounds.

In his final game, a 108-101 victory against Memphis Tuesday at KeyArena, Thomas scored converted four of four field goals and finished with eight points and five rebounds. He played just 14:50 minutes, which was his fewest since Nov. 14.

UPDATE -- 3:49 P.M.

"For everything he's done in the NBA and what he brings to a team and what he brought to this team, I learned a lot being around him," Sonics guard Earl Watson said. "Especially on the court and off the court. Rarely do you get a big man who knows the game like a guard. I expect to see his numbers improve because of the type of guys around him.

"Out of respect to the game and his career, you respect the veterans and you do things like this for them. The way our season was going it, would be nice to see him end up on a playoff roster and nice to compete to a championship. So I'm excited for him and I'm excited to see him in the postseason."

Thomas' departure clears room on the roster to allow coach P.J. Carlesimo to play prospects Robert Swift and Johan Petro.

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February 19, 2008 11:03 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

Coach P.J. Carlesimo used an 11-man rotation and got away with it. For most of the contest, it looked like an exhibition game and it seemed as if during every timeout and dead ball, the Sonics were substituting.

With so many players running in and out of the game, it appeared as if they were disorganized, however, they can get away with that against a team as woeful as the Memphis Grizzlies, which squandered a 19-point second-half lead. Seattle plays playoff-bound teams in its next five games and they won't allow the Sonics to start slowly like this and still pull out a victory.

Earl Watson and Wally Szczerbiak were fantastic and clearly the heroes for the night. Nick Collison also was surprisingly effective. He can roll out of bed and finish with 12 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes.

Jeff Green offset nine rebounds and 11 points with 3-for-11 shooting (including a blown layup on an uncontested fastbreak) and five turnovers when his agent David Faulk was in the stands.

Delonte West, who started in place of Kevin Durant, had a nice first half (nine points and five assists), but faded after the break. He finished with nine points, seven assists, five rebounds and three turnovers.

Kurt Thomas played just 14:50 minutes, which is his fewest since Nov. 14. That might be a harbringer of what's to come. Either the old vet who players affectionately call "Dirty" will be moved in a trade or he'll relocate to the end of the bench in favor of prospects Johan Petro and Robert Swift.

Swift put in 7:35 minutes of work and looked like a guy playing in just his seventh game. He failed to grab a rebound and had a point-blank layup rejected by Darko Milicic in a display that showed that he might have lost some spring in that surgically-repaired knee.

The Sonics are 1-1 without Durant. They shot a season-best 63.6 percent (7 for 11) behind the arc without the rookie, whose taken more threes (170) than anyone else on the team despite converting just 28.2 percent.

They also found a way to close the game without their closer. Szczerbiak scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a game-winning short running jumper with 31 seconds left.

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February 19, 2008 6:46 PM

Memphis game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

GOOD CROWD --- A friend of mine would describe games like this as two Chihuahuas fighiting over a Cheeto, which may be an accurate description. Still, the crowd has come to life in the third quarter. There's plenty of empty seats and unrest from this weekends comments from Commissioner David Stern about the team moving to Oklahoma City, but you can't tell from the noise.

COMEBACK COMPLETE --- Wally Szczerbiak gave Seattle its first lead in the second half (77-76) with a three-pointer. Watson finished the third quarter with another three to put the Sonics ahead 80-78 going into the fourth. Watson has game-high 22 points.

NICE COMEBACK --- The Sonics have used a 16-3 run to chip away at their deficit. They trail 71-66.

ROTATIONAL DISHARMONY --- In their previous game, Carlesimo did a nice job of juggling minutes for 10 players. Tonight, however, he's using an 11-man rotation and there's very little cohesion being shown on the court. Gelebale is the only Sonic who hasn't played and everyone who has entered has played at least six minutes. It's quite chaotic.

HALFTIME --- Durant's absence is starting to show itself. Without their leading scorer, the Sonics appear unsure where to go for consistent points. Watson has a team-high 13 points and West has chipped in nine.

STILL RUSTY --- Swift has played just seven games and it shows. Late in the second quarter, he had a point-blank layup, but Milicic swatted the attempt with ease. In seven minutes, Swift has yet to grab a rebound. He has two points.

FIRST QUARTER --- The Sonics converted 65 percent of their field goals, however, they trail 31-27 because the Grizzlies have outscored them 18-8 in second-chance points. West has stepped in nicely for Durant and he leads the Sonics with nine points on 4 for 5 shooting. Gay has 13 and Warrick 8 for Memphis.

SWIFT SIGHTING --- Seldom-used center Robert Swift entered the game late in the first quarter. He's paired againist Darko Milicic, which is a good matchup for him.

STARTING LINEUPS

MEMPHIS
F -- Rudy Gay
F -- Hakim Warrick
C -- Darko Milicic
G -- Mike Miller
G -- Mike Conley

SEATTLE
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Kurt Thomas
G -- Delonte West
G -- Earl Watson

Officials: Bob Delaney, Leon Wood and Mark Ayotte.

PRE-GAME NOTES -- Kevin Durant arrived at the arena early, felt sick and went home, which is probably the first time a player wasn't in the building for thier bobblehead night. Durant, the Sonics' leading scorer, will miss his second game this season.

Delonte West will start in place of Durant.

During coach P.J. Carlesimo's pre-game address with the media, he said he still plans to make changes after tonight's game and those changes will effect the front line. He wants to give playing time to Robert Swift. Carlesimo hinted that whatever moves the team does or does not make before Thursday's trading deadline will effect what he does with the lineup.

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February 19, 2008 6:29 PM

Durant out

Posted by Percy Allen

Rookie Kevin Durant is suffering from flu-like symptoms and will miss tonight's game against the Memphis Grizzlies at KeyArena.

Durant, the Sonics leading scorer who averages 19.4 points, has missed just one game this season. He's started 50 games and played more minutes (1,656) than any other Sonic.

Guard Delonte West will start at guard in place of Durant.

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February 18, 2008 8:47 PM

No lineup changes Tuesday

Posted by Percy Allen

Before the All-Star break, coach P.J. Carlesimo promised to shake things up in the starting lineup and the rotation, however, he said after today's practice that he'll keep things the same for Tuesday's game against Memphis.

That means guards Earl Watson and Kevin Durant, forwards Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox and center Kurt Thomas will start with Wally Szczerbiak, Luke Ridnour, Nick Collison and Johan Petro receiving the bulk of the minutes as reserves.

Carlesimo said when he does make changes, it will heavily impact the front line. He did not get specific on the changes, but he did say C Robert Swift, who is recovering from a knee injury, isn't ready to start or handle major minutes.

I'm told everyone practiced during the nearly two-hour workout, however, when the media was allowed inside for the final 30 minutes, C Johan Petro was not on the floor. He sprained his right ankle and is questionable for Tuesday.

Spoke with G Delonte West about his mini-meltdown following Wednesday's 112-93 defeat to Utah. After the game, he sat in full uniform on a stool in front of his locker with his elbows on his knees and a towel draped over his head for at least 30 minutes. West left the building in his warm-ups, drove to the practice facility and shot basketballs until the wee hours of the morning.

Said West: "I just had to get to my sanctuary."

When asked about the display, he said: "I've got to do a better job of keeping my emotions to myself."

He said he was upset about losing and the Sonics' 13-38 record and his locker room display had nothing to do with his not playing for the second straight game.

West had not heard about todday's report in the Philadelphia Inquirer that said the Denver Nuggets are interested in him and plans to "remain professional" this week before Thursday's trade deadline.

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February 18, 2008 6:00 AM

NBA Power Rankings

Posted by Percy Allen

Back by unpopular demand is the Times NBA Power rankings. Each week we'll take a look at the NBA and rank the teams every Monday morning.

1. Detroit: The Pistons, winners of their last 10, start at the top because they have best 8-man rotation.
2. Boston: Garnett slated to return Tues. as C's begin second half with tough 5-game West Coast trip.
3. LA Lakers: Kobe is making a big mistake and should have surgery on his dislocated pinkie finger.
4. Utah: Adding Korver gets overlooked in the wake of the mega-trades, but they're 18-3 with him.
5. Phoenix: Fire up the TiVo. Shaq makes Suns debut Wednesday against Kobe and the Lakers.
6. San Antonio: Bone spurs keeps Parker on sidelines, but Spurs are 6-2 w/o the Finals MVP.
7. Dallas: What are the chances free agent Devean George re-signs with the Mavs this summer?
8. Houston: Adelman had rep as a bad defensive coach, but Rockets allow 92.7 ppg., which is 4th best.
9. New Orleans: They own NBA all-time best 13-game OT win streak dating back to 2005-06 season.
10. Golden State: Ellis averaging 26.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4 apg and shooting 64%FG in last 10 games.
11. Cleveland: LeBron desperately wants GM Ferry to make a trade before Thursday's deadline.
12: Orlando: Kudos to dunk champion Howard. But seriously, Superman? Shaq wants to speak to you.
13. Denver: Last year's blockbuster trade for AI seems like a decade ago? Too good to be irrelevant.
14. Toronto: Three quality wins (at Spurs, Hornets and Boston), but still too young to contend.
15. Portland: Nixed 3-way trade w/Mavs,Nets that would have netted Harris because they like Outlaw.
16. Philadelphia: Houston and Denver could use Miller, 31, who doesn't fit into 76ers' rebuilding plans.
17. Sacramento: Bibby is last member from '02 Western Conference Finals team. Artest is next to go.
18. Washington: They can w/o Arenas, but when Butler goes down, then they're lottery bound.
19. New Jersey: Kidd says "I'm still a Net." But not for long. Soon he'll be a Maverick again.
20. Atlanta: Charles Barkley believes Al Horford should win Rookie of the Year rather than Durant.
21. Chicago: GM Paxson denies Philly Inquirer report that he contacted Larry Brown.
22. Indianapolis: O'Neal wants out, but he's still injured and will make $44M over the next two years.
23. LA Clippers: Expect Rookie Challenge snub Thornton to play big during the final 31 games.
24. Milwaukee: Coach K: "It's really easy right now to start separating. And it's happening."
25. Charlotte: Before beating Atlanta, lost seven straight games by average margin of 17.4 points.
26. Sonics: With Stern on his side, Bennett is likely to win approval from the NBA's relocaton committee.
27. Memphis: Gay leads sophs with 19.9 ppg. One of 2 players to rank top 50 in dunks and 3 FGM.
28. Minnesota: T-Wolves could make a deal. They've got too many young wings and Green wants out.
29. New York: Must find a trading partner this summer for Marbury and Jerome James.
30. Miami: All-Star Wade had the lowest winning percentage (.176) in the history of the NBA.

--- Percy Allen

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February 16, 2008 4:48 PM

Stern drops a bombshell

Posted by Percy Allen

During his annual state of the NBA address at the All-Star Game, Commissioner David Stern said the city of Seattle rejected a $30 million settlement from the Sonics ownership group that would have paid off the remaining two years of their KeyArena lease and the remaining debt on the renovations that concluded in 1995.

Stern said he expects the Sonics will leave Seattle and questioned why the city would try to keep the team here next season.

The NBA Board of Governors will meet April 17-18 to decide Sonics chairman Clay Bennett's request to move the team to Oklahoma City next season.

UPDATE --- 5:58 P.M.
Here's the transcipts regarding the Sonics from today's press conference.

QUESTION. Are you more or less equally pessimistic about the situation in Seattle than you were this time last year? And is the Union comfortable with discussing relocation next month given the state of the lawsuit in June?

COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN: You know, it's interesting to me, it's apparent to all who are watching that the Sonics are heading out of Seattle. There's not going to be a new arena. There's not going to be a public contribution, and that's everyone's right. I mean that sincerely. So the only question now becomes, is the court going to rule that you can fulfill the terms of the lease by paying money for the remaining two years after this? Or, despite everything, there is some reason to keep them there as the clock winds down.

To try to compromise the issue I have urged and supported the Sonics to make an offer to Seattle that would both pay the remaining two years of the lease after this, and an offer to pay the remaining bond outstanding indebtedness, that will remain even after the team leaves were it to still stay there for two more years after this, which approaches $30 million. All I can tell you is that in response to that request by me, the offer was made, and it was rejected. I think it's bad public policy.

I feel actually badly that the team, when it leaves either now or in two years, is going to leave behind an unpaid debt which the city has. The team's not going to leave it behind, but the city's still going to have a debt on the building. And the Sonics have offered to pay it off. The city says no, and so we'll see. But I don't feel uncomfortable. We know how to observe court orders and we do a pretty good job of that. So if the court says they're not free to just pay and leave, then they won't just pay and leave. But if they are, then they'll be gone and there will be two years of payment, and the city will not have the benefit of the $30 million or so and other things that would be worked on if there were an amicable solution to that.

Q. You seem convinced that they're going to leave?

COMMISSIONER STERN: I see nothing. I don't know why anyone would expect in the absence of what they've been saying all along, which is funding for a new building of some kind and a plan for it that they would be staying. I accept that inevitability at this point. There is no miracle here.

Q. I wanted to get back to Seattle really quick. Do you think or suspect that the reluctance for public financing of any kind up there is directly related to the current ownership, much like in Charlotte there seemed to be resistance with that?

COMMISSIONER STERN: No, absolutely not. They're equal opportunities deniers of aid. Howard Schultz, who was a resident of Seattle, who owned the team previously, who invested time and energy leading lobbying efforts at the city council, at the county level and at the state level, was unsuccessful. Clay Bennett actually spent more money, developed more plans, made more visits, and the answer was no, no, a thousand times no.

Indeed, even recently as I read the newspaper occasionally, the Speaker of the House was heard to say that if the university wanted a new stadium, that was certainly a good reason to consider extending the tax that helped build the baseball and football stadiums, but certainly not for the Sonics. And into that sort of wind, it doesn't make a lot of sense to sail. Thank you very much, everybody.

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February 15, 2008 9:43 AM

Dennis Johnson selected to Hall of Fame

Posted by Percy Allen

Former legend Sonics Dennis Johnson has been posthumounsly selected in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He's one of 15 inductees announced this morning at a New Orleans press conference.

Drafted by the Sonics in the second round in 1976 out of Pepperdine, Johnson played four seasons in Seattle. He became a two-time All-Star and a defensive standout with the Sonics and led the team to a 1979 NBA Title.

Johnson was named Finals MVP after averaging 22.6 points per game against Washington. He was traded to Phoenix in 1980 and Boston in '83 where he won two more NBA titles and cemented a reputation as tough defender and clutch shooter.

Johnson died last year in Austin, Texas. Times columnist Steve Kelley and I wrote columns on his passing.

Here's a copy of the Hall of Fame press relase.

The following was announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of
Fame this morning in New Orleans:

NAISMITH MEMORIAL BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES FINALISTS FOR
ELECTION IN 2008

First-Time Nominees Ewing, Olajuwon and Riley Highlight Elite Group of
15 Finalists to be Placed on Official 2008 Ballot for Election


SPRINGFIELD, MA - February 15, 2008 - Hakeem Olajuwon, who led the
University of Houston to three straight Final Fours and the Houston
Rockets to back-to-back NBA titles; Patrick Ewing, a two time Olympic
Gold Medalist, 1984 NCAA Champion at Georgetown and 11-time NBA
All-Star; and Pat Riley, head coach of the Miami Heat who has captured a
total of five NBA championships as a coach with the Heat and Lakers,
were named as Finalists for election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball
Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility. In addition, NBA and
Notre Dame scoring legend Adrian Dantley, the late Dennis Johnson,
former St. John's and NBA standout Chris Mullin, current Golden State
Warriors coach Don Nelson and ESPN sportscaster Dick Vitale highlight a
list of 15 individuals named as Finalists for election into the
Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2008. The announcement was made today
in New Orleans, LA in conjunction with the 2008 NBA All-Star Weekend
festivities.

The complete list of 15 Finalists includes a total of 10 candidates from
the North American Screening Committee - players Ewing, Dantley,
Johnson, Olajuwon and Mullin; coaches Nelson and Riley; and contributors
Victor Bubas, Bill Davidson and Vitale. Two candidates each comprise
Finalists from the Veteran's Screening Committee - player Richie Guerin
and contributor Johnny 'Red' Kerr - and the International Screening
Committee - coach Togo Soares and player Maciel Ubiratan Pereira (both
of Brazil), with coach Cathy Rush representing the lone nominee from the
Women's Screening Committee.

Ewing, Olajuwon and Riley are Finalists in their first year of
consideration by their respective Screening Committees. Soares and
Pereira are first-time Finalists who have previously been reviewed by
Screening Committees. Bubas, Dantley, Davidson, Guerin, Johnson, Kerr,
Mullin, Nelson, Rush and Vitale have been named Finalists in prior
years.

The Class of 2008 will be announced on Monday, April 7 at a news
conference in San Antonio, TX prior to the NCAA's Men's Division I
Championship game. A Finalist needs 18 of 24 votes from the Honors
Committee for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of
Fame. The Class of 2008 will be enshrined during festivities in
Springfield, MA September 4-6, 2008. Tickets to the 2008 Enshrinement
Gala and all weekend activities are available by calling the Hall of
Fame at (413) 781-6500. Ticket information is also available on line at
www.hoophall.com.

NORTH AMERICAN COMMITTEE FINALISTS

VICTOR BUBAS - Contributor (Finalist in 2003), the 1996 recipient of the
prestigious John Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award, began a lifelong love
affair with basketball in his hometown of Gary, Indiana before attending
North Carolina State University where he played for, and coached
alongside, Hall of Famer Everett Case. As a player, Bubas helped NC
State reach the NCAA Final Four in 1950. Bubas then landed the head
coaching position at Duke University in 1959 where he led the Blue
Devils to three NCAA Final Fours (1963, 1964, 1966) and four ACC
championships (1960, 1963, 1964, 1966). His strong work ethic and
vision helped put Duke on the national map in basketball and made Bubas
the second winningest coach in the 1960s behind Hall of Famer John
Wooden. As the Commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference from 1976-1990,
Bubas played a key role in the NCAA's adoption of the both the
three-point line and the 45-second shot clock.

ADRIAN DANTLEY - Player (Finalist in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007)
, a native of Washington, D.C., was one of the most prolific scorers in
NBA history. He had a stellar 15-year NBA career with seven different
teams (Buffalo Braves, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz,
Detroit Pistons, Dallas Maverick and Milwaukee Bucks), the majority of
the time spent with the Jazz (1979-86). At all levels, Dantley enjoyed
success - as a scholastic All-America player at DeMatha Catholic High
School (Md.), as a collegian at Notre Dame (1973-76), as the leading
scorer (19.3 ppg) of the gold medal 1976 Olympic team and as a
professional where he was Rookie of the Year in 1977. His 23,177 career
points still ranks 23rd all-time in the NBA. He scored 2,223 points in
three seasons (25.8) at Notre Dame, ranks second in Irish career scoring
and was a unanimous First Team All-America list in 1975 and 1976. In all
but four seasons as a professional, Dantley averaged 20 points or
better, including topping the 30-point mark four straight years
(1981-84). The six-time NBA All-Star (1980-82, 1984-86) was named NBA
Comeback Player of the Year in 1984, the year he led the league in
scoring (30.6).

WILLIAM (Bill) DAVIDSON - Contributor (Finalist in 2007), 85, is a
lifelong Michigan resident born in Detroit, where he has created both
NBA and WNBA dynasties. An owner of the Pistons since 1974 and the WNBA
Shock since 1998, Davidson's Pistons have captured three NBA crowns to
go along with two WNBA titles for the Shock. Davidson has served as
Chairman of the NBA Board of Governors, and has been an innovative
business leader in the sports industry - building the revolutionary
Palace of Auburn Hills, playing an integral role in structuring modern
NBA salary cap and free agency standards, and even owning the NHL's
Tampa Bay Lightning and capturing a Stanley Cup. His Pistons have
featured several Hall of Famers, including Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars,
Chuck Daly and Larry Brown.


PATRICK EWING - Player, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner (1984,
1992) and a three-time consensus First Team All-America (1983, 1984,
1985), led Georgetown University to three appearances in the NCAA Final
Four and the 1984 national championship earning Most Outstanding Player
recognition for his efforts. The 1986 NBA Rookie of the Year landed a
spot on 11 NBA All Star rosters including ten in a row from 1998 to
1997. A member of the NBA 50th Anniversary Team, Ewing scored 24,815
points during his 17-year NBA career to go along with 11,607 rebounds.
Named Parade Magazine's National High School Player of the Year in 1981,
Ewing remains the New York Knicks, all-time leader in points, rebounds,
blocked shots, steals and field goals made.

DENNIS JOHNSON - Player (Finalist in 1999, 2003, 2005), was one of
basketball's toughest defenders earning nine consecutive NBA
All-Defensive team honors during his 14-year pro career, including six
spots on the All-Defensive First Team. A member of three NBA
championship teams, Johnson led the Seattle Supersonics to the 1979 NBA
title and was named Finals Most Valuable Player. He was an unheralded
player coming out of high school and college, but left his mark on the
NBA as a five-time All Star (1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985) and one of
the game's great clutch performers.

CHRIS MULLIN - Player (Finalist in 2007), a McDonald's High School
All-America from Brooklyn, NY, was a five-time NBA All-Star and
collegiate standout at St. John's, where he was named Big East Player of
the Year an unprecedented three times. A two-time Olympic gold medalist
(1984, 1992), Mullin played 16 NBA seasons for Golden State and Indiana,
amassing 17,911 points while averaging more than 20 ppg for six
consecutive seasons. He is one of only 17 players in NBA history to
compile 17,000 points, 3,000 rebounds and 3,000 assists, and was an NBA
First Team pick in 1992. He is the all time scoring leader at St.
John's (2,440), where he was named the Wooden Award winner and The
Sporting News First Team All-America in 1985.

DON NELSON - Coach (Finalist in 2006), is a three-time NBA Coach of the
Year (1983, 1985, 1992) and currently ranks second on the all-time wins
list in NBA history behind Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens. Nelson is one
of the modern game's great innovators with his small-ball offense, his
eye for international talent and his ability to reinvent preconceived
notions about positions on the basketball court. He led the Golden
State Warriors to a 4-2 game upset of the Dallas Mavericks in the first
round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, the first time a #8 seed defeated a #1
seed in a seven-game series. In 1996, Nelson was named to the NBA's Ten
Best Coaches of All-Time list and has served his country as the head
coach of the 1994 U.S. men's national team that won the gold medal at
the World Championships.

HAKEEM OLAJUWON - Player, a native of Lagos, Nigeria, spent the lion's
share of his basketball career in Houston, Texas where he led the
Houston Rockets to back-to-back NBA championships in 1994 and 1995 and
the University of Houston to three consecutive Final Four appearances
from 1982 to 1984. A two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Olajuwon
still holds the NBA record for blocked shots (3,830) and is the only
player to record more than 3,000 blocked shots and 2,000 steals in a
career. Olajuwon was also a five-time member of the NBA All-Defensive
First Team, a six-time All-NBA First Team performer, and the 1994 NBA
MVP. He recorded 26,946 points and 13,748 rebounds in 18 NBA seasons,
good for ninth and fourteenth respectively on the all-time NBA leader
board.

PAT RILEY - Coach, has experienced success at all levels and in all
realms of the game. A player on the 1966 University of Kentucky Final
Four team, Riley has left his biggest mark on the game in coaching.
Riley is a three-time NBA Coach of the Year and currently ranks third on
the all-time wins list in NBA history behind Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens
and fellow finalist Don Nelson. His greatest achievements have come in
the form of five NBA championships, including four as the head coach of
the Los Angeles Lakers (1982, 1985, 1987, 1988) and a fifth patrolling
the sidelines for the Miami Heat in 2005. He is a member of the NBA's
Ten Best Coaches of All-Time and is the only coach in history to win NBA
Coach of the Year honors with three different teams.

DICK VITALE - Contributor (Finalist in 2004, 2006), a native of Passaic,
NJ, has been synonymous with college basketball for more than 20 years
as the lead color announcer for ESPN. A successful coach at the high
school (East Rutherford), collegiate (University of Detroit) and
professional (Detroit Pistons) levels, Vitale began his broadcasting
career with ESPN in 1979 and has helped make the network an integral
part of college basketball's popularity. His enthusiastic, upbeat style
has resulted in a lexicon of now-familiar phrases as "Get a TO,"
"Awesome, Baby," and "PTP-er." An author of six books chronicling his
love affair with basketball, Vitale was recipient of the Basketball Hall
of Fame's Curt Gowdy electronic media award (1988) and won the NABC
Cliff Wells Appreciation Award in 2000.


WOMEN'S COMMITTEE FINALIST

CATHY RUSH - Coach (Finalist in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005), a pioneer
in women's basketball and an advocate for women's sports, led Immaculata
University to three consecutive AIAW national championships from 1972 to
1974. Rush propelled Immaculata, and women's basketball, into the
national spotlight when the Mighty Macs appeared on national television
in 1975, a first for women's basketball. Rush won 149 games in only
seven season and lost only 15, good for a .908 winning percentage. She
made six consecutive appearances in the AIAW Final Four (1972-1977) and
for her accomplishments was enshrined into the Women's Basketball Hall
of Fame in 2000.


INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE FINALISTS

TOGO SOARES - Coach, is widely considered the greatest coach in South
American basketball history. He coached the Brazilian national team
from 1951 to 1971 and led Brazil to five medals in the World
Championships including two gold (1959, 1963), two silver (1954, 1970)
and one bronze (1967). Soares also managed a bronze medal at the 1960
Olympic Games as well as silver and bronze medals at the 1963 and 1959
Pan-Am Games respectively. His club record included leading teams to
five South American championships (1958, 1960, 1961, 1963, 1971).

MACIEL UBIRATAN PEREIRA - Player, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is
widely considered one of the greatest players in South American
basketball history. A member of three Brazilian Olympic teams, Ubiratan
led his countrymen to the bronze medal at the 1964 Olympic Games. He
was a relentless competitor and all-around player who only cared about
winning and filling whatever need for any of his teams. Ubiratan also
earned five South American championships (1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1977)
and eleven titles in Paulista League of Brazil.


VETERAN'S COMMITTEE FINALIST


RICHARD GUERIN - Player (Finalist in 2007), was a six-time NBA All Star
(1958-1963) and scored 14,676 points, 4,278 rebounds and 4,211 assists
during a pro career with the Knicks (1956-63), St. Louis Hawks (1963-67)
and Atlanta Hawks (1968-70). Guerin was the first Knick to score 2,000
points in a single season, and averaged 20.1 ppg as a member of the
Knicks. Born in Bronx, NY, Guerin played at Iona College, where as a
senior he averaged 24.7 ppg and was named an All-America. Guerin was
also a player/coach for both the St. Louis and Atlanta Hawks, compiling
a 327-291 record while being named NBA Coach of the Year in 1968.

JOHNNY "RED" KERR - Contributor (Finalist in 2004, 2005, 2006), a native
of Chicago, IL, has dedicated more than 60 years of his life to the game
of basketball as a player, coach, executive, and broadcaster. A
three-time NBA All Star (1956, 1959, 1963) and a member of the 1955 NBA
champion Syracuse Nationals, Kerr was one of basketball's most durable
players appearing in a then-record 844 consecutive games. The 1967 NBA
Coach of the Year is the only coach in NBA history to lead an expansion
to the playoffs in the franchise's first season. He is the author of
Bull Session and served as the Business Manager for the Chicago Bulls
from 1973-1975. Kerr has served as color commentator for the Chicago
Bulls since 1975..


Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the birthplace of basketball, the
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the
game of basketball at every level - professional, collegiate, men and
women. For more information, please visit our website at
www.hoophall.com or call 1-877-4-HOOPLA.

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February 13, 2008 11:12 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

For months Delonte West has resisted the urge to publicly criticize coach P.J. Carlesimo or the Sonics opting instead to say all the right things or stay quiet when asked about his lack of playing time and his uncertain future.

After tonight's game, things got a little weird.

While most players hurriedly dressed - a few literally ran out of the lockerroom to catch red-eye flights - to begin their All-Star break, West sat on a stool in full uniform with his elbows on his knees and a towel draped over his head. Conceivably he was upset about a second straight DNP-CD.

The media entered the locker room at about 9:40 p.m. and I was the last reporter to leave at 10:05 p.m. and West hadn't moved an inch. The only other player in the room was Nick Collison who was fully dressed and walking out. Several players tapped West on the shoulders and assistant Scott Brooks offered a few comforting words, but nothing got him to move.

I asked Wally Szczerbiak, who played with West last season in Boston, if I should ask West a question and Wally said: "You might want to wait until next week."

That is assuming West is with the team for Monday's practice.

It's no secret he's never embraced the trade to Seattle. He still hasn't unpacked the boxes in his apartment and openly admits that he he has no clue what the team expects from him or what his role is, which is unbelievable after 51 games.

Carlesimo isn't the type to call out players in the press so he hasn't provided any insights into what's going on, but it's clear that West is in the coach's doghouse. Before the game, Carlesimo said some players are going to be upset about the lack of playing time and they are just going to have to live with it.

He was talking about fiinding minutes for guys like Robert Swift and Mickael Gelebale, who returned to the Sonics after a six-game stint in the NBDL. Carlesimo used a 10-man rotation tonight with nobody playing more than 35 minutes and nobody playing fewer than 13.

This will probably be the norm for the rest of the season with Gelebale taking Damien Wilkins' minutes and Swift stealing time away from Kurt Thomas. The 35-year old center may be open to sitting down next month. He's proven he can still play and he'll be a free agent this summer.

As for tonight's game, well, when the Sonics don't play defense, they rarely win. They're 4-26 when opponents shoot better than 50 percent and 3-28 when opponents score more than 100 points. Utah converted 66.7 percent of its field goals (8 of 12) in the fourth quarter and 63.6 percent (21 of 33) in the second half.

The Jazz scored 63 points after halftime, which tied a Sonics opponent high this season.

Carlesimo hinted at changes in the starting lineup and with the rotation after the break so this could be the last time we see the team like this. Any change isn't going to effect Kevin Durant or Chris Wilcox, however, everyone else is put on notice.

Finally, I spoke with a few scouts and one Western Conference coach who said the two blockbuster trades involving the Los Angles Lakers and Phoenix will likely put a damper on trade talks between all teams. A few teams have called the Sonics about their trio of point guards, Szczerbiak and Thomas, however, it's unlikely anyone will be dealt before the Feb. 21 deadline.

The rationale goes something like this, the only deals that will occur will involve major stars such as Jason Kidd to Dallas, Ron Artest to Denver or Sam Cassell to Boston. When you're the GM of a contending team, it's difficult to convince your owner, team and fans that you're making a legitimate title run when you acquire someone like Luke Ridnour after the Lakers trade for Pau Gasol and Phoenix deals for Shaquille O'Neal.

There's no pressing need to make the minor deals now unless you're a team that's looking to avoid paying the luxury tax and needing the Sonics trade exceptions to dump salary.

I ran this idea past a few folks with the Sonics, who declined to comment publicly, but they didn't disagree with the logic.

With West displaying his unhappiness, however, the team could look to move him.

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February 13, 2008 4:21 PM

Utah game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

WILLIAMS OUT --- SAfe to call this one now that Deron Williams has left the game. The Supes trail 109-91.

JAZZ TOP 100 --- Utah leads 101-89, which isn't a good for the Sonics because they're 3-27 when opponents score 100 or more.

THIRD QUARTER --- The Sonics looked as if they might take the lead for the first time, but managed to only tie the score at 67-67. Utah ended with an 8-3 run to take an 81-73 lead into the fourth. Durant scored 11 points in the period and he's got 19. Four Jazz have at least 11.

BIG HIT --- Durant bounced off the court after Boozer leveled him with a hard forearm across the chest. Durant remained on the court for a few seconds and looked dazed. He appeared to say "Oh (crap)" before smiling and getting up. He also tapped Boozer on the back of the head as if to say no hard feelings.

EVEN DISTRIBUTION --- Carlesimo is using a 10-man rotation, which is probably a precursor of what's to come. Nobody has played more than 14 minutes and nobody has played fewer than nine. Everybody has scored a basket. Durant still leads with eight points. Johan Petro continues his improved play and he's got six points and four rebounds.

NO BASKET --- Watson sank a 65-foot jumper a nano-second after the buzzer sounded to end the first half. Even the shot didn't count, it was still pretty impressive.

FIRST QUARTER --- Sonics trail 27-24 after one. Durant is off to a hot start with eight points. Every Utah starter with the exception of Kirilenko, who is scoreless, has at least six points.

13-5 REBOUNDING EDGE --- Utah is killing Seattle on the glass. Paul Milsap and Carlos Boozer are just outworking Nick Collison and Johan Petro.

RIDNOUR SUPPORTS UO FANS --- Luke Ridnour stopped short of condoning Duck fans who may jeer Washington Husky Ryan Appleby this weekend and the Sonics guard said "that's just how they are." Said Ridnour: "I'm sure it won't be like it was last year. I know it's a big game, especially for Oregon. They need a win. I'm going to go to the game on Saturday. I just think they're into the game. They get excited. I haven't heard a lot of stuff they said, but I know they support Oregon."

When asked if he's defending UO fans, Ridnour said: "Yeah. They're my people. I don't know exactly what they say. But really, they're just into the game. They enjoy the game of basketball and it's a great place to play."

Appleby has been the subject of Duck fans ever since his altercation involving Aaron Brooks. Even though the Husky guard got sucker punched, Oregon fans jeered him when Brooks made an attempt to shake hands at Mac Court last year."

MORE PRE-GAME NOTES --- Talked to Jerry Sloan and he didn't seem worried about the proposed trade involving Dallas and New Jersey. Most people believe the Lakers started the trade season when they stole Pau Gasol away from Memphis, but the Jazz actually made the first significant deal weeks ago when they dealt disgrunted wing Gordan Giricek for Kyle Korver.

STARTING LINEUP

UTAH
F -- Andrei Kirilenko
F -- Carlos Boozer
C -- Mehmet Okur
G -- Ronnie Brewer
G -- Deron Williams

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Kurt Thomas
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

OFFICIALS -- Jack Nies, Bennie Adams and Eli Roe.

strong>PRE-GAME NOTES --- Sonics second-year C Mouhamed Sene has re-joined the team for a few days. He was not officially recalled from the NBDL's Idaho Stampede. The Sonics wanted him to return to Seattle for a few days and spend some time with the team while the Stampede is off during the D-League's All-Star break. Sene will rejoin Idaho on Saturday. The Stampede play at Iowa on Sunday.

Luke Ridnour celebrates his 27th birthday today.

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February 12, 2008 3:22 PM

Lineup shake up coming

Posted by Jayda Evans

Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo is going to give F Mickael Gelabale and C Robert Swift minutes, but it most likely will not be tomorrow against Utah. Gelabale hasn't even practiced with the team again, appearing in his final D-League game on Monday night in Utah while Swift is just getting into the swing of practice.

Swift ran with the starting unit today, rotating the center position with vet Kurt Thomas.

"We're not going to change the rotation, yet," Carlesimo said. "If I can find him [Swift] some minutes, I will. It's going to be hard to find minutes for five guys. That's the only issue. And it's one game left [before the All-Star break]. When we come back, we can maybe start all over and say, 'all right, look, we've got to start making some changes.' Right now, it's one game left, they've been playing well, so let's finish up the way we are then we'll look when we come back about making some changes."

Many have used Carlesimo's want to get Gelly minutes as reasoning for Seattle making a trade soon. GM Sam Presti's office was dark at practice today and it's doubtful the team will make a swap prior to the All-Star break. The team most likely won't make a deal at all because it likes some of the young pieces it has in this rebuilding mode. Plus, Carlesimo said before that he'll just bench guys to give others minutes and they'll have to deal, it's not like everyone doesn't know the situation here.

Whether Gelly plays PG again is doubtful. Although he wasn't horrible at the position in extremely brief stints earlier this season, that may be a project Carlesimo asks Gelly to work on during the offseason. But Gelly already said he didn't want to play the position, yet, I'm thinking the comment was made because he wanted playing time and knew he wouldn't get it as the fourth guard in the Sonics' rotation.

At practice, the Sonics hardly seemed like a team dying to get to the All-Star break. Most have plans to return home to see family, but there appears to be a want to defeat Utah to end a rough "first half" of the season on a high note.

PG Earl Watson gave Utah much respect, however. The Jazz defeated the Sonics 96-75 in December and recently had a 10-game win streak snapped by Sacramento on Friday. Utah defeated Chicago 97-87 on Saturday.

"It's amazing how they're playing so good but no one is talking about them," Watson said. "They remind me of a San Antonio team - like a younger version of San Antonio because they have everything. [Kyle] Korver is the first time in a long time that I can remember that they ever had a knock-down, dead three-point shooter. That was all they were really lacking, that element. Now they have everything they need to have the whole ingredient to win a championship. I've always thought the most of [coach] Jerry Sloan and they're playing great right now."

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February 12, 2008 1:08 PM

Warrior Sonic expected

Posted by Jayda Evans

No, the Sonics haven't made a trade, yet. Instead, Sonics F Wally Szczerbiak is expecting his first son with wife Shannon. Her C-section is scheduled for March 1 and Szczerbiak is going to be in New York, possibly missing the beginning of the Sonics' seven-game road trip, to be with his family.

Szczerbiak, 30, has been carrying the name of his son, Maximus, around since 2000 when his favorite movie "Gladiator" was released. Since the child will have to deal with a lot of "Zs" and "Xs," Szczerbiak said the middle name will be something easier.

"Like Jack," he joked with media after practice today.

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February 11, 2008 1:50 PM

Gelly returns

Posted by Jayda Evans

Sonics F Mickael Gelabale is scheduled to be called up from the D-league following tonight's game in Utah. Gelabale was slated to play six games with the Idaho Stampede and after five, the second-year pro is averaging 16.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.

Sonics player development assistant Brian Keefe was the last to see Gelly and center Mo Sene play for the top-ranked Stampede, who lead the league at 23-6. Reports back were that Sene needs to continue playing in the league and that Gelabale is standing out as one of the top talents in the league, which he should.

Once Gelabale returns, Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said he's going to immediately work the player back into the rotation.

"We've absolutely got to get Gelly minutes before the year is out," Carlesimo said.

The Supes had a spirited practice after two days rest to contemplate the loss to Phoenix on Friday. G Delonte West did not participate due to a knee injury, but the final 18-minute scrimmage was good for C Robert Swift. He showed off a left-handed hook shot and ran the floor well. Carlesimo is also looking for minutes for Swift to finish out the season.

The Supes have one more practice before playing Utah at KeyArena on Wednesday then are off for the All-Star break.

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February 8, 2008 10:36 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

The Sonics will have two days off to sulk over this debacle. They return to practice Monday and play Wednesday at KeyArena against Utah, which is their last outing before the All-Star break.

The rest comes at an awful time because they need to get out on the court as quickly as they can to forget this defeat.

This is one of those games that can splinter a team.

Wally Szczerbiak will deservedly get much of the blame for the 103-99 loss and he took the heat afterwards. He said it was his fault. He said he should have known the Sonics didn't have any timeouts. But he also deflected some of the criticism.

"We win as a team, we lose as a team," Szczerbiak said.

He's right and he's wrong. This is one of those times that you take the bullet. And Wally World didn't stand in front of the firing line for very long. He's played more NBA games than anybody on the team except Kurt Thomas and he makes a rookie mistake, which is inexcusable.

After most games, Szczerbiak recites the stat line for everbody on both teams so it's surprising he didn't know that critical bit of information at the most important time of the game. Even if the coaches didn't tell, I'm surprised he didn't ask somebody or glance up at the scoreboard before inbounding the ball.

To their credit, no one in the locker room threw Wally beneath the bus. Most players gave hurried explanations of the final turnover and different versions of "He didn't know how many timeouts we had."

Critics of P.J. Carlesimo will no doubt point to this game as an example that the team is tuning out their bombastic coach. In this case, Szczebiak wasn't listening.

When asked afterwards if he reminded the playes they were out of timeouts, he wasn't affirmative in his answer and said: "I think we did." The Sonics called three timeouts in the fourth quarter and used their last one with 28.3 seconds left.

Szczerbiak and Johan Petro said the coaching staff didn't say anything about not having a timeout during the final huddle on the sideline, which contradicts Carlesimo's explanation.

Still Carlesimo declined to pin the loss on Wally Z. He talked about the two missed shots in the final 28 seconds (actually it was three missed shots) and he lamented Phoenix's perfect 32 of 32 free throw shooting. He said the Sonics should have gotten a critical rebound that fell to Boris Diaw seconds before Grant Hill nailed a game-winning jumper.

If not for the timeout blunder, the Sonics might have pulled off a dramatic comeback victory and Carlesimo would be called a genius for his defensive manuverings in the fourth quarter. In the final period, he switched Kevin Durant on Steve Nash and the rookie locked up the two-time MVP. Carlesimo also gambled on Johan Petro and played the reserve 10 minutes in the fourth quarter instead of Kurt Thomas who almost always finishes games.

Petro rewarded Carlesimo with impressive defense and three blocked shots and Durant looked as if he will win the Defensive MVP award in the very near future. The Sonics held Phoenix to 39.5 percent shooting and 3 for 15 on three pointers. Seattle had more rebounds (54-47) and each team scored 50 points in the second half.

It was a great game for the Sonics, but the only thing that will be remembered is Szczerbiak calling a timeout that didn't exist.

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February 8, 2008 5:54 PM

Phoenix game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

IT'S OVER --- Nash not only dribbled off five seconds, he hit two free throws and Seattle falls 103-99. I'll return with postgame notes.

WEBBER ALL OVER AGAIN --- Szczerbiak called for a timeout when the Sonics don't have any timeouts. Seattle was given a technical foul and Nash hit the free throw. Phoenix leads 101-99 with 15.1 seconds left. The Sonics will try to foul, but the game is likely over if Nash is at the line.

9-0 RUN --- Wilcox capped the run with a floating mid-range jumper that give the Sonics a 99-98 lead with 1:04 left. Durant also had two big plays at the start of the run, including a breakaway dunk.

SUPER JOE --- Johan Petro is terrorizing the Suns with his ballhawking defense. He's everywhere. Blocking shots, causing turnovers and just being an overall nusiance. He's got three blocks and he's altered at least four shots. He's also giving Stoudemire all that he can handle. The game is tied 87-87 with 6:13 left.

MORE ON THE SUNS --- NBA rules say teams must have 13 players on the roster. Phoenix, which sent two players to Miami in the O'Neal deal, has two weeks to sign somebody. GM Steve Kerr said he's looking for an athletic wing to replace Shawn Marion.

BIG WINNER --- Some fan swished a three-pointer from the top of the key to win $7,777. The Suns should sign him to a 10-day contract. They have just 12 players and they're shooting 2 for 11 on three-pointers tonight.

THIRD QUARTER --- This game is turning into a halfcourt affair and display of pick 'n rolls. Phoenix has 27 fastbreak points, but the Sonics are doing a better job of slowing them down because they're scoring points and limiting the Suns' opportunities to rebound and run. Still, Phoenix leads 78-74.

DEFENSIVE SWITCH --- Durant is defending Nash. The Sonics did this in their previous game against the Suns and it was effective then. With his 7-4 wingspan, Durant can give Nash fits.

WATSON IS BACK --- He's on the bench after receiving six stitches. I'm told Brian Skinner caught him with an elbow. Watson is expected to return. It's safe to say he won't record a second straight triple double night. He has four assists, three rebounds and no points.

WATSON DIDN'T RETURN --- The teams came out of the locker room, but Watson stayed behind. He's receiving stitches and the Sonics PR man said his return is questionable.

DURANT STRUGGLING --- The rookie has just two points on 1-for-7 shooting. Wilcox leads the Sonics with 14 points and seven rebounds. Wally Szczerbiak has eight points. Stoudemire has 14 points and Hill 10 for the Suns.

HALFTIME --- Sonics trail 53-49. Carlesimo wanted to limit Phoenix's free throws, however, the Suns have shot 8 of 14 from the line while Seattle is 4 of 7. The Supes also have not been able to slow down Phoenix's offense. The Suns have 16 fastbreak points. Seattle is doing a good job of limiting Phoenix's three-point percentage. The Suns are 1 of 8 behind the line.

WATSON BLEEDING --- Not sure how it happened, but he has a bad cut over his left eye that's gushing blood. As he walked off the court for intermission, the left side of his face had a thick stream of blood that stopped at his chin.

THAT'S HOW YOU DO IT --- Wilcox flushed a hammer dunk on fastbreak that cut Seattle's deficit to 44-43.

NOT ENOUGH JUICE --- reen certainly doesn't want to see his second-quarter gaffe on the hightlight shows. He streaked through the lane and looked as if he were going to slam a tomahawk jam only he came up short and the ball caught the front of the rim. The crowd jeered and Green seemed to take the ribbing in well.

WILCOX LEADS SCORING --- He's got nine points on 4-of-5 shooting. Stoudemire has 8 for Phoenix.

FAST PACE --- Seattle trails 26-23, but the score shouldn't worry Sonics fans as much as the shot attempts. Phoenix has taken 24 shots and they're on pace for 96. That's a lot. In Seattle's previous two losses to the Suns they attempted 81 and 84 shots.

SHORT HANDED --- Newly-signed Shaquille O'Neal flew back home to Miami and will return Sunday, which leaves Phoenix with just 11 players. Coach Mike D'Antoni only uses eight players in the rotation, but the Suns could be tired after playing a double overtime game on Wednesday.

STARTERS

SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Kurt Thomas
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

PHOENIX
F -- Grant Hill
F -- Boris Diaw
C -- Amare Stoudemire
G -- Raja Bell
G -- Steve Nash

Officials -- Dick Bavetta, Violet Palmer and Leroy Richardson

PRE-GAME NOTES --- Coach P.J. Carlesimo said the key to the game is Seattle must attempt more free throws than Phoenix and the Sonics must contain Phoenix's transition game and their three-point shooters.

Carlesimo also said he'd rather Steve Nash score 30 points rather than have him score 20 and dish out 12 assists. Nash killed the Sonics in their previous game, including a pivotal play when he ran a pick 'n roll with Amare Stoudemire that resulted in a game-clinching jumper for Stoudemire.

Spoke with Earl Watson and he says it's unlikely that he'll duplicate Wednesday's game when he had his first NBA triple double. A reader emailed me yesterday that Watson played his best game in college when he had 17 points, 16 assists, four steals and no turnovers during a win over Maryland in the 2000 NCAA Tournament. Watson agreed. He said he played just 24 minutes. He also said Steve Blake caught him with an elbow that opened a cut over his left eye. Watson needed 24 stitches to close the cut.

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February 8, 2008 7:28 AM

Opposition to OKC vote?

Posted by Jayda Evans

It appears there's some opposition to the March 4 vote to approve the $121 million renovation of the Ford Center, a plan Sonics owner Clay Bennett wants passed as part of his deal to relocate the team to his home state. Received the following press release this morning.

We'll have more as the situation develops, but this is the first effort I've seen against Bennett in Oklahoma City. Everyone who has visited the place and all that I've read from bloggers there is that folks are willing to do anything for a NBA team. It will be interesting if that's not true.

For Release 9am CST

February 8, 2008

Oklahoma Announces Opposition to Ford Center Remodel

Website Launched to Object the $121M Plan

OKLAHOMA CITY -- February 8, 2008 -- Citizens concerned over the $121M public funding plan to remodel the Ford Center Arena may now access www.march4vote.org to obtain information regarding the special election on March 4, 2008. Residents decided to launch the website in order to present an organized opposition to the plan.

- END -

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February 8, 2008 12:09 AM

Stop Clay - Sonics Must Stay!

Posted by Percy Allen

A group of Sonics fans that's not affiliated with the grassroots group Save Our Sonics have organized to stage a protest on Saturday during All-Star weekend in New Orleans.

Read the press release here.

The group will fly an airplane banner around the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center during All Star weekend on Saturday, February 16, between 12:30pm and 1:30pm.

The banner will read: "Stop Clay - Sonics Must Stay!"

According to the press release, the group wants to show the national media that there's passionate fans in Seattle who want to keep the team here. They also want to inform NBA fans of what's happenning here and persuade the league's relocation committee to reject owner Clay Bennett's attempt to move the Sonics to Oklahoma City.

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February 7, 2008 1:37 PM

Trash Talk III

Posted by Jayda Evans

Jayda Evans: Man, trade season is busting open all over the place. First Gasol, now Shaq is back in the West. What did you think of the Phoenix-Miami move?

Percy Allen: I love it. Absolutely love it. It's good for everybody. Good for Phoenix. Good for Shaq. Good for the NBA. And great for the fans. I'll share a quick story from today's press conference in Phoenix. Shaq is on stage sitting in between coach Mike D'Antoni and GM Steve Kerr. Shaq is cracking jokes from start to finish and playfully bantering with the media. The guy is hysterical and he had the place eating out of the palm of his hands. I turn to one of the old newshounds and ask: "Is this like when (Charles) Barkley) came to town?" He says: "It's better. Way better. Back then we had a Barkley beat. One guy assigned to cover Barkley and one guy who covered the team. We'll have to do it all over again."

Evans: I agree. Shaq just has that personality, like when he told one reporter he already knew he looked good in purple. Too cute. But on the court, this is really going to shake up the Western Conference. I may even have to go back on my earlier pick for the NBA Finals. I was thinking the Gasol trade could put the Lakers there, but now the Suns look good. Some say Shaq is too slow for that system, but remember Kurt Thomas was a huge success in it last year. And Steve Nash told me the team missed KT more than they expected. This move will invigorate Shaq and should finally get the Suns to the next level.

Allen: Whoa. Slow down. I love the trade, but let's not get crazy. Next level? When you say next level for the Suns that can only mean the NBA Finals, which is a place they haven't been since Barkley carried them there in '93. Shaq gives the Suns a player they've never had before. He's big. He's playoff tested and he can play defense when he wants to. Still, you just can't throw star players together in the middle of the season and expect them to gel immediately. Denver comes to mind. It's working well in Boston, but they had a training camp to get to know each other. And let's remember, Shaq isn't one who loves to practice. Steve Nash will be pivotal during this process, but even if the Suns improve at warp speed, I'd still pick a veteran group like San Antonio or even Dallas to beat Phoenix in a seven-game series.

Evans: I said EARLY pick. They haven't even practiced together. Clearly Kerr is making moves to advance to the Finals because it hasn't worked the past three seasons. Shaq knows he's on his last run and everyone knows when he can see another ring as a possibility, he goes all out. He'll blend in Phoenix just like he made it work in Miami and LA. So, there's an EARLY chance the Suns will be there. I don't think Dallas beats Phoenix in a seven-game series and there are still questions about Parker in San Antonio. Even if it isn't the Suns, I think Utah and LA have solid chances to get there. Picking San Antonio is just playing it safe.

Allen: What's early? It's Feb. 7. We're past the midpoint of the season. There is no early anymore more. Quit hedging. If you like Phoenix then say so. Like I said, I love the move, but I don't think it's going to deliver the Suns a title this season. In-season moves like this rarely work. Of course, there are exceptions. Detroit picked up Rasheed Wallace and won a title and Houston did the same thing with Clyde Drexler. I think you're being a prisoner of the moment and perhaps caught up in the excitement. I picked the Spurs at the beginning of the season and I'm not changing now. I wish I were wrong. Believe me. I'd love to see a LA-Boston Finals for you old heads or even a Phoenix-Boston Finals for you older heads. And I know ABC wants those matchups. But there's something about the Spurs. They're old, but they get younger as the playoffs approach, if you know what I mean.

Evans: Ahem, last I checked the All-Star game hasn't even been played, so it's still early. And you made my point by mentioning Detroit. A lot can happen before the postseason and I wouldn't put my money on any team that made a move like this without seeing them first play a game. There is something about the Spurs. It's called a case full of trophies. Easy pick. But all of these moves say these bridesmaids are trying to make a push now and I think one is going to work. Let's enjoy the developments. Until next time. Peace.

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February 7, 2008 11:02 AM

Suns will be Shaq-less against Sonics

Posted by Percy Allen

Breathe easy Sonics fans. Barring a small miracle, Shaquille O'Neal will not play tomorrow against Seattle.

At his first Phoenix Suns press conference this morning, O'Neal held up a No. 32 jersey and said he wanted to "slide in quietly" into the lineup, which brought a few laughs from the packed room full of reporters and Suns players and administrators.

O'Neal hasn't played since Jan. 21 because of a hip and quadriceps injury, however, he passed a physical on Wednesday. Still he wants to get in a few practices with the Suns and said he'd like to make his debut before the All-Star break.

The 35-year-old center vowed to show critics who say he's lost a step that he can still be one of the most dominant players in the NBA.

"I look forward to making people eat their words, I really do," O'Neal said.

The four-time NBA champion said he wants to win five or six rings before he retires. His current contract expires after next season.

O'Neal, who was dealt for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks, described his relationship with Pat Riley as a "professioinal relationship." He said the trade "answered my prayers," and "was a blessing."

The 7-foot-1, 312-pound center also intends to mentor Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire.

"I used to tell my friends, he's going to be 'The Next,'" O'Neal said. "So now to be able to be his big brother right here with him, and play with him, and watch him, tell him about certain things and help him get to that next level, it's going to be exciting. ... This is the Amare Stoudemire Project for me. I look forward to making him the top power forward in the league."

Phoenix probable starting lineup
F -- Grant Hill
F -- Boris Diaw
C -- Amare Stoudemire
G -- Raja Bell
G -- Steve Nash

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February 6, 2008 11:07 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

Got to pay homage to Earl Watson's big night. No Sonics player has had a triple double since Ray Allen did it in Jan. 28, 2004 against the Los Angeles Lakers. No Sonics point guard has accomplished the feat since Gary Payton in 2002.

Watson was special tonight and some of us should remember this game when we're trying to run the guy out of town.

Ironically, this is the kind of performance that will get Watson traded. It's the kind of statement game that other general managers will notice. I don't know if Watson is the missing piece to a championship puzzle, but Boston and Cleveland are looking for experienced point guards. This story obviously won't end until after the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

It must be noted that Watson's triple double came against the seventh-worst defense in the NBA that was without Brad Miller. Still, Mike Bibby is quality point guard and Quincy Douby and Francisco Garcia are serviceable backups. But all of them were torched by Watson who sank 9 of 12 shots for 23 points, including three three-pointers. He also had 10 assists and 10 rebounds to offset four turnovers in 32:28 minutes.

The Sonics converted 52.6 percnet of its shots held Sacramento to 36.7 percent shooting. Seattle has held four of the past five opponents under 100 points and it has scored 100 or more in three of the past four games.

Most of the starters were fantastic. Chris Wilcox (15 points and 10 rebounds) notched his 12th double double, Kevin Durant (17 points on 6-for-12 shooting) was efficient and Kurt Thomas (13 points and 8 rebounds) and Nick Collison (13 points and 6 rebounds) provided the muscle in the middle against and makeshift Sacramento lineup.

Watson, however, is the story of the night. Coach P.J. Carlesimo lavished the point guard with tremendous praise, but he left the door open for a possible change in the lineup in the future. He said he still wants to take a look at combinations in the final games and didn't say that Watson was going to be his starter for the remainder of the season.

Here's a list of the Sonics with triple doubles
Gary Payton 16
Lenny Wilken 10
Nate McMillan 4
Slick Watts 4
Jack Sikma 3
Ray Allen 2
Jim Fox 2
Leonard Gray 1
Shawn Kemp 1
Lonnie Shelton 1
Gus Williams 1
Lee Winfield 1

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February 6, 2008 6:40 PM

Sacramento game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

WATSON NEARS TRIPLE DOUBLE --- He needs two rebounds and two assists to record a triple double. He's got 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Durant and Wilcox each have 15 points. Watson is out now and will likely return for the final six minutes. Seattle leads 81-73 going into the fourth.

KINGS RUN --- Carlesimo wanted a timeout before Francisco Garcia buried a three-pointer in the corner to tirim Sacramento's deficit to 68-64. Obviously the timeout was never granted and the Kings now have momentum. Before this run, the Sonics were taking advantage of Sacramento's weak middle and built a 66-57 lead.

FIRST HALF --- The balanced scoring continues. Watson leads Seattle with 13, Wilcox has 10 and Durant 7. Seattle trails 49-48, but the Sonics are in a good spot. They're scoring at will and shooting 50 percent from the field. The Kings are really lousy on defense without Miller. They have no post presence, which underscores Carlesimo's point about attacking them in the middle. Artest has 17.

POST-UP PETRO! --- More screaming from Carlesimo. He wants Petro to punish Moore beneath the glass. He's pushing Petro to look for his shot and demand the ball. It's an exchange indicative of Carlesimo's coaching style. At one point, Petro threw his hands, shrugged his shoulders as if he had no clue what Carlesimo was saying. Carlesimo is prodding Petro and wants him to be more active. Petro has played five minutes and he hasn't attempted a shot and has two rebounds.

FIRST QUARTER --- Sonics trail 29-25. Good start for the Supes. All five starters have at least four points. Wilcox leads the Sonics with six points. But Artest is the early star with 13 points on 6-for-10 shooting.

P.J. ON THE PROWL --- Carlesimo is hounding officials because he believed they mistakedly ruled Watson's baseline jumper sailed out of bounds. Carlesimo thinks it was deflected out. He went after the officials for minutes and waited until the first dead ball to get a few more words in. The refs all said they didn't see a deflection.

STARTING LINEUPS
SONICS
F -- Jeff Green
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Kurt Thomas
G -- Kevin Durant
G -- Earl Watson

KINGS
F -- John Salmons
F -- Ron Artest
C -- Mikki Moore
G -- Kevin Martin
G -- Mike Bibby

Officials -- Jack Nies, Courtney Kirkland and Matt Boland.

PRE-GAME NOTES --- Coach P.J. Carlesimo says he'll have 12 healthy bodies for tonight's game.

Jeff Green will return to the starting lineup and Damien Wilkins will likely back him up.

Most of the talk inside ARCO Arena is about the Phoenix-Sacramento trade. Carlesimo, an assistant in San Antonio for five years, whistfully spoke as if he missed being involved in the upper echelon battles in the Western Conference. He understands that his team will need a few years before it's being talked about like the Spurs, Lakers, Suns and Mavs.

Also, Brad Miller is not playing tonight. The starting lineups will be released in a minute, but I think John Salmons and Mikki Moore will be among the starters.

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February 6, 2008 1:43 PM

Sacramento pre-game

Posted by Percy Allen

It appears as if the Sacramento Kings are just as short-handed as the Sonics for tonight's game. Here's a story in the Sacramento Bee today about the possibility of Brad Miller missing the game.

Jayda Evans provided our advance and three players (Jeff Green, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West) were listed as questionable.

A quick update, Green (left ankle sprain) is expected to return from a two-game absence. Szczerbiak (right ankle sprain) will see how he feels before the game, but that's becoming a routine for him.

The Bee also had a story today about former Sonics C/F Mikki Moore who is adjusting to a diminished role with the Kings.

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February 5, 2008 5:48 PM

Feeling for Bennett

Posted by Jayda Evans

Got a call today from a guest in Sonics chairman Clay Bennett's suite the night a fan was ejected for calling the Oklahoma-based owner "fat and ugly" and stating that "Clay Bennett sucks!" The woman wanted to offer an alternate view of Bennett, one of a loving father that actually gets hugs from his teenaged son and is very soft-spoken and kind.

I've heard this before. One of the cooler stories I've heard about Bennett was that he gave a bunch of KeyArena employees Omaha Steaks as a Christmas gift last year and he's remembered little tidbits about the people he's crossed paths with. So, there was a little tug at the heart strings when I read the latest article out of the owner's home state.

"The second question [I get asked a lot] is why did you (buy the team?)" Bennett said in the article. "I think a lot about that because this work has consumed my life with all the travel and the effort.
"I love the work, but with the travel (I) miss my family and there's a lot of other things I could be doing."

In a way, Bennett can't lose no matter what he says. His negative comments about Seattle could spark this community to act and find a way to give Bennett what he wants and I heard from another source today that Oklahomans are so business savvy, if they want to get something done, it'll be done faster than a dust storm can pass. They did payoff an approximate $90 million dollar debt for the Ford Center in four years.

So, this is probably a grueling time for Bennett and his ownership group. Or am I just getting sappy since Valentine's Day is near?

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February 4, 2008 11:34 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Jayda Evans

It was good to see C Robert Swift back on the court. He played in his first game since Nov. 11, sitting out due to complications with his surgically repaired right knee. Swift entered the game in the fourth quarter when teammate Kurt Thomas left with a scratched right eye.

Although Swift looked gassed, he was active in scoring four points and grabbing a rebound in five minutes of play. He was a lift, but the Sonics overall lacked energy and that led to the loss. Normally you'd see Nick Collison or Chris Wilcox leaping high for boards or igniting their team with dunks, but Wilcox didn't get a real flashy play until the waning minutes and Collison barely reached for loose balls.

Swift said he felt good, however.

"There were no problems," he said. "Coach told me at halftime to be ready that I might be going in. He called a timeout and called me over and that was about it. I've been doing a lot of conditioning and of course it's nothing like actually playing and getting conditioning while playing. But it felt good and there were no problems with the knee."

Thomas said Bulls forward Andres Nocioni inadvertently scratched his right cornea during a play in the third quarter. Thomas is taking antibiotics and putting drops in his eye to help the healing process.

"Hopefully it'll be fine in two days," he said.

Meanwhile Bulls guard Krik Hinrich remained in Seattle overnight to have more tests on his bruised ribs. The team traveled to Portland for its game against the Blazers on Wednesday.

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February 4, 2008 6:19 PM

Chicago game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

A LITTLE SHORT: The 118-108 loss is disappointing, but think if you're one of the 935 people that reportedly did not get a bobblehead. The Sonics' reported attendance was 10,935 and they only distributed 10,000 Collison dolls tonight. Bummer.

COLLISON OUT: Collison received a nice applause after fouling out on his bobblehead night. He finished with four points and nine boards in 27 minutes.

HINRICH OUT: Hinrich left the game due to bruised ribs and will not return. The Bulls win looks secure anyway. They're up 105-95 with 2:57 remaining.

THOMAS OUT:Kurt Thomas will not return due to a scratched right eye. He had two points and three rebounds in 17 minutes. This is probably why Swift is able to get extended minutes. But Swifty is also playing really hard, scoring four points in five minutes. Sonics are down 99-88.

SCORE ONE: Swift just drained a 14-foot jumper, but he's heaving on the court. Supes down 91-79 and it looks like the streak is going to end at three consecutive wins.

SWIFTY RETURNS: Swift just checked in with 11:38 remaining in the game. Carlesimo said he'd try to find minutes in between timeouts or something like that. It's interesting to play Swift now, though. The Supes are down 83-76 and trying to get a win. Swift already looks a little slow.

MR. SMITH: Each time the Supes drew close to the lead, Joe Smith was there to pour in some offense to keep Seattle down. The Sonics trailed 56-49 at the half and Smith led Chicago with 14 points. Szczerbiak had 14 from the bench and Durant is shooting better, going 5-for-9 from the field in the opening half for 11 points.

WALLY'S WORLD: Back-to-back three-pointers by Szczerbiak brought some life into the building. The Supes have yet to take control of the game as they seek their first four-game win streak since 2006, though. They trail 44-42 with 2:42 remaining before the half.

END OF FIRST QUARTER: C Johan Petro had a nice block on a Ben Gordon runner and Collison grabbed three big rebounds to give the Supes' defense a lift and close the deficit to 27-25 at the end of the first quarter. Still, the Bulls are shooting 52.2 percent and the Sonics have missed 15 of their 24 attempts.

SUPER HANGOVER: Don't know if folks are partied out from the Super Bowl or the NBA scheduling seven home games in 13 days for the Supes, ending the stand on a Monday night, is hurting attendance but of the 10,000 Collison bobblehead dolls, I'm guessing 3,000 are still available (OK, maybe not that many, but there are a lot of empty seats). Collison just checked in and the golden bobblehead was delivered. The fans are draped in Supes jerseys and sitting courtside adjacent to the Sonics bench. Seattle trails 17-14 to Chicago with 4:49 remaining in the opening quarter.

SWIFT TO PLAY?: C Robert Swift has been cleared to play, but Carlesimo wanted to wait until the player participated in a couple of practices before throwing him in a game. Only that might not happen. The Bulls a game out of the playoffs and a quality team despite their 18-28 record, yet if there's a situation where Carlesimo can play Swifty (read junk minutes), he's going to do it tonight. Carlesimo doesn't expect Swifty's timing to be down or his conditioning to be any good, but since Swifty is antsy to play, the coach might oblige. Carlesimo is hopeful the team has enough bodies to practice five-on-five Tuesday in order to truly return Swift to the rotation on the upcoming two-game road trip. That means someone else's minutes will decrease, however, and all of the bigs say they're cool with that. "What I say is, 'It's the NBA, if that man is hot and he's got it going, keep him in there. If I got it going, keep me in there,'" Wilcox said. "Robert is another plus for us. He takes up a lot of room down in the block and it will open up a lot of offense with the defensive rebounding."

GREEN OUT: Sonics F Jeff Green reports that his left ankle looks like the right one, which is good. But he's going to miss his second consecutive game due to suffering the left ankle sprain. He said sitting out on Saturday was hard, but "I tried to be a coach out there and help my teammates." Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said F Damien Wilkins will continue to start and that Wally Szczerbiak (right ankle) is back in the rotation.

Here are tonight's starters:

Sonics
F Damien Wilkins
F Chris Wilcox
C Kurt Thomas
G Kevin Durant
G Earl Watson

Bulls
F Joakim Noah
F Ben Wallace
C Andres Nocioni
G Thabo Sefolosha
G Kirk Hinrich

The officials are Greg Willard, Tony Brothers, and Tony Brown.

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February 3, 2008 10:38 PM

Collison or Humphries?

Posted by Jayda Evans

So, fans will receive a Collison bobblehead doll tomorrow, the first of three to be released this season. Kevin Durant (Feb. 19) and Chris Wilcox (March 14) also will be featured.

But Collison's has the least resemblance, according the players who've seen them all. Collison even joked that his clean-shaven doll looks more like Toronto forward Kris Humphries . I completely agree. Yet, it's not like the guys pose for these things.

It's good to see Collison and Wilcox get the recognition, anyway. You knew the team would settle into a flow this month and regardless of the rough start against seven possible playoff-bound opponents and pinkie injury to Wilcox, Collison and Wilcox have become seamless at PF.

"We've played a lot better defensively the last few games," said Collison, who joined with Wilcox to total 16 defensive boards against the Knicks on Saturday. "We've caught teams with injuries and New York was at the end of a road trip, but still, our play has been a lot better -- primarily defensively it's been good."

Being reliant on the production has also allowed all of the bigs to be more physical. The fact that Collison had five fouls and center Kurt Thomas had to be strategically used because of four fouls really didn't matter because Wilcox was also supplying points (20) and rebounds (10).

"There's five of us," began Thomas, who added in a possibly returning Robert Swift and emerging Johan Petro. "That's 30 fouls [to give]."

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February 3, 2008 1:14 PM

Trash talk

Posted by Percy Allen

Percy Allen: All right Jayda, round two. So what do you think about the coach's picks for the All-Star reserves? Think you could have done a better job?

Jayda Evans: That's putting me on the spot. But I'd have to say, yes. Leaving Ray Allen off the squad is a travesty. The sole reason Boston is now "Boston," again, is because of KG, Paul Pierce, AND Ray Allen. You can't have one on the team without the others. As we said in the last Trash Talk, the Celtics are one of the more exciting storylines this season and Allen is a major part of that. I'd give the Eastern Conference coaches a "D" for that snub.

Allen: So you're saying you'd take off Joe Johnson? The same Joe Johnson who is 21.2 points per game, which is about three points better than Ray.

Evans: And? Johnson is a superstar player and just as deserving, but why is Allen always in this argument? He's soft on defense, but he helps his team win, which I thought was the objective. Last I checked, Atlanta was 18-24 and ridding a three-game losing streak. Winners should be rewarded and not a simple attempt to spread the notoriety around. So, you obviously don't agree and must think Brandon Roy should have been left off for Baron Davis?

Allen: Maybe not Brandon. I love that kid and what he's doing. Like you said, a lot of guys are deserving. I'm just not sure about Ray this year. He got in last year, when Chris Paul should have made the team and the year before when Andre Miller was having a better statistical season. Davis is balling, but the guy on the West squad that I would have taken off is David West. Not sure what the coaches where thinking here. I like the idea of New Orleans getting two All-Stars for sentimentality, but he's not having the type of year of Davis or Denver's Marcus Camby. The real problem is the fans. Let's get to the heart of the matter. They screwed up. They shouldn't have voted two Denver Nuggets to the starting lineup.

Evans: Finally, some common sense. The fans, while I love them, should be taken out of the equation or made into an equation. Like their vote counts for 60 percent of the total or something like that. But it'll never happen. They buy the tickets and deserve the right to select the stars. But this whole New Orleans thing is screwy anyway. The only thing that should be happening in New Orleans is clean-up from Hurricane Katrina. I know the BCS championship game was there, but I've been there with the Sonics and it's in no condition to host a true party. The whole NBA showcase should be the players doing some real community service and getting that city back to the vibrant place it was. Don't you agree?

Allen: Let's be real here, nothing the NBA does will have a meaningful impact there. The All-Star game will bring in millions of dollars in commerce and Bob Lanier, who does a fantastic job, will help build a few houses pose with the locals, but the NBA can't help that city. New Orleans' problems are bigger than the league. As for the fans, the NBA might want to adopt a system similar to the NFL where fans, coaches and media each have equal control of the balloting. Or next time, they can just ask you who should be on the teams.

Evans: So, you've got jokes, funny. Yes, adopting the NFL's system is the way to go in selecting the teams, but I'm not feeling you on the NBA's impact. Look at what the Sonics did during their second trip to New Orleans. It can't be rebuilt in a day and the people deserve a good time, but I think something more than a one-day photo-op is in order here to really touch the people and make a difference. It's a tragedy that happened in an NBA city so the league has equal responsibility to help the cause. All healthy players should be required to attend to work in the community and the league's staffers should also be there working side-by-side. That's all I'm saying. It's one time. Folks can return to the crazy party atmosphere next year in Phoenix.

Allen: Well that sounds nice, but it's not going to happen. The league can't mandate what players do on their time off. Yes it's a worthy cause, but too many guys would rather go to Cancun or the Bahamas. Besides building a handful of homes for a community of thousands of homeless is akin to giving a band aid when major surgery is required. Anyway, let's agree to disagree once again. Ok?

Evans: Until next week, then. Peace.

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February 2, 2008 11:25 PM

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen

There's bad and then there's the Knicks. Anytime Sonics fans want to groan and bemoan how terrible their team is, they need to take a long look at the Knicks and thank the basketball gods that Isiah Thomas isn't coaching this team.

Ok that's a little harsh. Isiah the coach isn't so bad, but Isiah the GM is horrible. Case in point is New York's broken down lineup of mismatching parts.

Spoke with Rainier Beach boys Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson afterward. Crawford is ready for a new change of venue. He told me he's making the best of a tough situation, but wouldn't mind being traded. He talked about returning to Seattle and playing here, but then a lot of the Seattle guys say that. Crawford seemed serious, however, there's nothing in the works and it probably will never happen because he essentially plays Kevin Durant's position.

Still Crawford is too good to waste away in New York. As for Robinson, he's been given freedom to do his thing and it looks as if Thomas needs to pull him in a bit. It's hard to make judgements off of one game. Robinson had incredible outings 22-8-5 and 22-9-4 to start New York's 0-5 road trip so you got to cut the guy some slack.

I would like to report that the Sonics are showing signs of life, but that would be premature. Durant certainly wasn't efficient (7 of 21) but he was clutch (game-winning 3-ptr with 59 seconds left). Chris Wilcox (20 points and 10 rebounds) is proving what an idiot I was for suggesting he should come off the bench. Some guys are just better in the starting lineup and he is one of them. And some guys (Nick Collison) don't care about starting and they're still able to put up solid numbers. I think three of Collison's four baskets came off of putbacks, which says so much about him. He had a game-high 12 rebounds.

Coach P.J. Carlesimo said a few weeks ago that he wanted to see Luke Ridnour in the starting liineup, but at this point in the season it seems like it would be a senseless experiment. Earl Watson's scoring will always be erratic, but his assists are steady. Tonight he had eight and Thursday he had 12.

I believe these are the types of games that Carlesimo wants the Sonics to play. He's trying to make them mentally and physically tough. Seattle is 4-5 in games decided by three points or fewer. That's amazing for the third youngest team in the NBA.

And Durant is growing right before our eyes. Not only did he knock down the game-winning three-pointer, he prevented Crawford from countering on the final play. All of this from a 19-year-old.

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February 2, 2008 5:20 PM

New York game thread

Posted by Percy Allen

ROBINSON DOWN --- He ran into a hard pick from Thomas and collided knees before crumbling tothe court. He stayed down for about a mintue before the Knicks could call timeout. After trainers came out, he walked off the court and is on the sidelines wiht an ice pack on his knee.

PRESSURE --- Thomas chose to pressure Ridnour in the backcourt and it resulted in a turnover for a layup. New York did it again on the next possession and Ridnour called timeout before being charged with a backcourt violation.

THIRD QUARTER --- Too close to call. Sonics lead 63-61 and it's anyone's game. Crawford (21 points) is heating up and Randolph (17 points) is also scoring at will. Wilcox (16 points) has cooled off and Durant (13 points) is erratic.

ROUGH AND TUMBLE --- Collison drew a flagrant foul 1 when he tried to prevent Renaldo Balkman from scoring on a fastbreak layup. It was questionable, however, Collison whacked Balkman across the head.

HEATING UP --- The Sonics managed to score on six straight possesions midway in the third quarter. During one of the possessions, Durant hammered in a breakaway dunk that will likely be the play of the game. Seattle leads 61-56.

JEKYLL AND HYDE --- Hard to believe that this is the same team that scored 40 points in the first quarter on Thursday. Other than Wilcox (11 points) and Wilkins (6 points on 3-for-5 shooting) the Sonics have yet to shoot consistently. Durant is 3 for 10. Delonte West is 1 for 5. They're shooting 39 percent as a team. New York has a lower shooting percentage (36.8), but the Knicks lead 38-34. Crawford has 14 points.

WILCOX POSTING --- Randolph doesn't have the quickness to keep Wilcox from spinning into the lane. Three times he's backed down and used a spin move before flipping up an awkward layup. Wilcox has 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting.

SONICS LEAD 17-15 --- The first quarter is over and Seattle holds a slim lead. Wilkins looks a little uncomfortable out there. It's been awhile since he's been a starter and the rust is showing. Durant leads all scorers with six points.

ROMAR WALKS IN --- Husky coach Lorenzo Romar just took a baseline seat near the opponents' bench.

STRONG REACTION --- Big cheers for Jamal Crawford and even bigger cheers for Nate Robinson, who said he purchased about 50 tickets for family friends. There was also a loud chorus of boos when Knicks coach Isiah Thomas was introduced.

GREEN FEELING BLUE --- Rookie Jeff Green will miss his first game of the season because of a sprained left ankle.

STARTING LINEUPS

NEW YORK
F -- Jamal Crawford
F -- Zach Randolph
C -- David Lee
G -- Quintin Richardson
G -- Nate Robinson

Sonics
F -- Damien Wilkins
F -- Chris Wilcox
C -- Kurt Thomas
G -- Kevin Durant
G - Earl Watson

Officials - Joe Forte, Luis Grillo and Phil Robinson.

PRE-GAME --- Kevin Durant seems to always be the first Sonic on the court for games and he gets he's finished with his warm-up routine long before anyone else takes the court.

--- Wally Szczerbiak didn't look as if he was going to play at shoot around this morning, but told me that he's going to "try and give it a go."

--- When Kurt Thomas entered the building, he greeted several Knicks employees and assistants. Thomas spent seven years in New York where he was a favorite among fans. After a few minutes, Thomas said: "Let me go get ready to bust y'all ass."
Assistant Herb Williams countered: "You ain't going to go down low so what you got to get warmed up for."
Said Thomas: "I don't need to go down low."
Williams: "All you're going to do is shoot that (jumper) and go like this." (He said while immitating Thomas' shooting motion in which he spreads his arms apart on his follow through.)
Thomas: "You know it. Aint nothing changed."

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February 1, 2008 1:42 PM

Make it three for KD

Posted by Jayda Evans

The streak continues for Kevin Durant. He was just named Rookie of the Month for games played in January. Here's the release from the team:

SEATTLE, Friday, Feb. 1, 2008 -- Sonics guard Kevin Durant today was named the Western Conference T-Mobile Rookie of the Month for games played for the month of January.

Among rookie qualifiers, for the third straight month, Durant ranked first in the league in scoring with 19.4 points per game, and seventh in rebounding with 4.0. In addition, he is ranked first on the team in assists (2.4 avg.) and free throw percentage (88.6%), as well as third in field goals (40.0%). Durant was also selected to compete in the 2008 NBA All-Star T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam.

Here is a recap of the month for Durant:

Jan. 3 @ Phoenix: Tallied 28 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks in a 104-96 loss to the Suns.

Jan. 16 @ New Orleans: Recorded 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the 123-92 loss to the Hornets.

Jan. 29 vs. San Antonio: Registered 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists in an 88-85 win over the Spurs.

Jan. 31 vs. Cleveland: Posted 24 points, three rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals in a 101-95 win over the Cavaliers.

The Toronto Raptors' Jamario Moon was named the Eastern Conference T-Mobile Rookie of the Month for games played for the month of December. Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference T-Mobile Rookies of the Month were Atlanta's Al Horford, Houston's Luis Scola, Philadelphia's Thaddeus Young, Memphis' Juan Carlos Navarro and Mike Conley, and New Jersey's Sean Williams.

For every point scored by the players named the T-Mobile Rookie of the Month, T-Mobile will donate $20 to the New Orleans Recovery School District. This month T-Mobile will donate $2,260 on behalf of Moon and $5,820 on behalf of Durant. This philanthropic component is new to the T-Mobile Rookie Program and builds on T-Mobile's strong appeal to the nation's youth as the official wireless partner of the NBA. Other highlights of T-Mobile's partnership with the NBA include the T-Mobile Rookie of the Year, T-Mobile Rookie of the Month Awards, and the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam, an All-Star competition between NBA rookies and second-year players. During NBA All-Star 2008, T-Mobile Huddle Up and NBA Cares will host more than 5,000 local students in the lower bowl of the arena to watch this year's Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam.

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Recent entries

Feb 29, 08 - 06:41 PM
Miami game thread

Feb 29, 08 - 05:44 PM
Watson returning?

Feb 29, 08 - 01:05 PM
Newble waived, Swift to have surgery

Feb 28, 08 - 07:47 PM
Sims to Sonics fans: "They're gone."

Feb 28, 08 - 05:58 PM
Sonics fans voice their angst

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