Follow the Sonics off and on the court with reporters Percy Allen and Jayda Evans.
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February 13, 2008 11:12 PM
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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