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Sonics Blog

Follow the Sonics off and on the court with reporters Percy Allen and Jayda Evans.

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October 31, 2007

Post game notes and quotes

Posted by Percy Allen at 11:39 PM

QUOTES

P.J. Carlesimo: "A lot of turnovers and we ran out of game a little bit. It was a good effort for about three quarters, but you can't turn the ball over against these guys. I think at one point, we turned it over four or five straight times and that's when the game got away from us. We are never really defensively, but at least in the zone we were talking and did a pretty good job and we just came unglued. Turnovers and fatigue, I think, were probably the two biggest reasons. It was a good effort for about 34 minutes, but not good enough to beat a team like Denver."

Denver coach George Karl: "I feel Seattle is a good team even thought they are young and they are going to hang in there with a lot of teams this season."

Listen to Kevin Durant here.

And here's an audio clip of Damien Wilkins.

NOTES --- The Sonics lost their fourth straight season opener.

C Nick Collison finished with a team-high 11 rebounds.

C Johan Petro grabbed 10 boards off the bench. He managed just three games of 10+ boards last season.

Denver game thread

Posted by Percy Allen at 8:12 PM

SPOTTY SHOOTING --- Durant is not shy when it comes to shooting. He's lofted 14 field goal attempts and connected on three. He's 1-for-4 on three-pointers.

SECOND QUARTER --- West is +13 in the plus/minus category while Watson is -11. The Nuggets either don't know or didn't care that Damien Wilkins can knock down an open 3. He's 4-for-5 behind the arc.

DURANT WEBSITE --- Be sure to check out the Times new site on Kevin Durant.

FIRST QUARTER --- The Sonics appeared to be on the verge of being blown out before Delonte West came into the game. He's got seven points, but more importantly he's settled the squad and has been able to slow down Allen Iverson. Earl Watson was 0-for-3 was ineffective early. Kevin Durant is defending Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets forward is assigned to the Sonics rookie defensively. Anthony has 14 points.

Durant starts; Swift and Thomas out

Posted by Percy Allen at 12:54 PM

Rookies Kevin Durant and Jeff Green didn't suffer a setback at this morning's shootaround and both figure prominently in tonight's rotation. Durant will start and Green will backup small forward Damien Wilkins, however, coach P.J. Carlesimo said Green and Wally Szczerbiak could see some time at power forward because the Supes are short on big men.

Centers Kurt Thomas (strained right hamstring) and Robert Swift (sore right knee) are inactive because of injuries. It's unlikely Swift plays Thursday against Phoenix, but Thomas is listed as questionable for the game against his former team.

Also Carlesimo hinted that reserve center Mouhamed Sene could see time tonight because of the lack of centers, but that seems unlikely.

Otherwise shootaround was uneventful, but you wouldn't have guessed with the large number of media in attendance.

Luke Ridnour said the mask that protects his broken nose hasn't restricted his play, however, Carlesimo attributed his decision to remove Ridnour from the starting lineup on the mask. Ridnour's nose should be completely healed in 10 days and at that time he won't have to wear the mask anymore.

It remains to be seen whether he'll return starting lineup.

Listen to Ridnour talk about his nose and how he's handling the demotion.

Durant was unavailable this morning because he had a commitment with ESPN, which is televising tonight's game along with FSN.

Here's our preview story and preview box.

And here's Steve Kelley's column in today's paper and Q & A on the arena situation that covers everything in regards to the team and KeyArena.

By the way, the NBA declined to confirm or deny whether it had received relocation papers from Bennett. Clay Bennett agreed to a Oct. 31 deadline with the previous owners and said he'd take action to move the team today. Recently, he's backed away from the day and is scheduled to address the arena issues on Friday.

Bennett will also attend tonight's game in Denver as well as the home-opener tomorrow in Seattle.

--- The Rocky Mountain News has a story today in which the Nuggets talk about winning 60 games. I was told that coach George Karl has set 55 wins as the team's goal, but the players think they can get 60. That's incredibly cocky. This team has never won more than 54 and last year, they won 45.

--- The Denver Post writes about the rash of injuries which has depleted the Nuggets' backcourt.

Also, referees Danny Crawford, Rodney Mott and Eli Roe have been assigned to tonight's games. One of the procedural changes after the Tim Donaghy gambling scandal is the NBA is now posting referee assignments for the games played that day.

October 30, 2007

Waiting for the bling

Posted by Jayda Evans at 3:51 PM

The San Antonio Spurs are moments from being awarded their championship rings by NBA commissioner David Stern tonight. Noticablly absent will be part of the staff that helped get them to their fourth title in the past nine years.

New Sonics general manager Sam Presti, a former Spurs' assistant general manager credited with getting the organization to draft 2007 Finals MVP Tony Parker; Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo, a heralded San Antonio assistant; and Brian Keefe, a former Spurs video coordinator turned Sonics player development assistant, will all have to wait until April for their rings.

The Supes don't play in San Antonio until April 11, the 80th game of the season. Presti mentioned a pre-game ceremony happening then where all will receive their rings. And hopefully the Supes are competitive by then, too, or at least a strong showing of Presti's work building a new foundation as GM coupled with Carlesimo's game-plan.

Presti said today that he's not putting a timetable on the team as far as progress by a certain date. "We've seen a great effort from our guys collectively," he said. "We're still learning about our group. We're just going to look from one game to the next and try to get better."

Starters set

Posted by Jayda Evans at 1:14 PM

Sonics guard Earl Watson said he's not into one-night stands, preferring to relate his nod to start at point guard to one of those brief Hollywood hook-ups he'd hear about as a star at UCLA.

Because projected starter Luke Ridnour fidgets with his facemask after every possession in practice and games since breaking his nose on Oct. 9 -- even after getting fitted for a new, smaller one on Monday -- coach P.J. Carlesimo is more comfortable with Watson running the team.

"It's not a marriage, it's not long term, it's just the way we're starting out until we get to that point where roles are settled and it's just basketball," Watson said. "There's a lot of things in the mix. For me, it's just basketball. I have to continue to play [and] help the team win more than anything."

Kevin Durant hasn't felt any lingering affects from practicing on his sprained left ankle, so he's slated to start at shooting guard with Delonte West as his backup. Sonics returnee Damien Wilkins will start at small forward while the formidable tandem of Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison start inside.

Rookie forward Jeff Green also looks strong in practice after suffering a sprained left ankle on Friday. He will rotate with veteran Wally Szczerbiak at small forward. Szczerbiak even said Green is strong enough to step into the power-forward role, too, when the team goes small.

Center Robert Swift didn't practice today because of his right knee and he's doubtful for the opening two games. Carlesimo said Phoenix's uptempo style isn't exactly the type game you "ease" a guy back into. Swift also has only had a half of practice in the past week.

Veteran Kurt Thomas suffered a right hamstring strain at practice and is a game-time decision for the opener in Denver. Carlesimo was thinking about starting Thomas to get him more minutes, but now it looks like he'll play off the bench.

The team finished their final session before the season opener by huddling up and shouting "DEFENSE!" An expected constant cry as the youthful Sonics head into regular-season play.

"That's the only way we're going to have a good year is if we become a really good defensive team," Collison said.

October 29, 2007

Go West

Posted by Jayda Evans at 4:49 PM

Initially Delonte West was slightly soured at being included in the trade from Boston. Those feelings could have piqued again as national magazines displayed cover stories on the Celtics' trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and former Sonics guard Ray Allen this month.

The Celtics will have a second-year player at point guard while West could have brought experience having ran their system for the past three seasons. The Washington, D.C. native is still living in a hotel across from the Sonics' training facility, having dealt with injuries and a death in his family during training camp.

But West said he's feeling comfortable here. He can get bickered at by Carlesimo as he freelances too much with the offense, but West's scoring will catch your eye and you can see a promising future for him in the rotation.

"I like to get out and create," West said. "I might have to slow my game down a little bit to be suitable to the team and that's not a problem at all. I'm happy to be here and thankful, very grateful to be given an opportunity to be part of the Sonics. I'm going to keep working so I get to stay here."

Back in action

Posted by Jayda Evans at 3:37 PM

Rookies Kevin Durant and Jeff Green were back in action today, participating in a full practice, including a scrimmage that was visible to the media. There was a throng of media at the session, but requests for both were denied as they went immediately into treatment.

Practicing brings the duo a step closer to playing on Wednesday, but coach P.J. Carlesimo is still wavering about the starters. To me, it's a glorified position anyway, I'd rather be on the court to finish -- especially if it's a tight game. But because everyone wonders about the starters, I can tell you that Carlesimo is leaning toward starting Earl Watson at PG because Luke Ridnour's mask isn't sturdy enough to the coach. Carlesimo mentioned holding Ridnour out of playing, but keeping him on the active list, until he has adequate equipment for the nose or is completely past the injury, which is supposed to be in two weeks max. Then Carlesimo can sneak some more time in evaluating, particularly in live game situations.

West and Watson make supreme PG, especially given their speed and defense. West's sure shot is also a plus. The Sonics will have versatility, that's for sure.

On the other front, center Robert Swift did not participate in a full practice. If he's out, then Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison would start inside. Otherwise Kurt Thomas was mentioned as a starter at center, which could put either Collison or Wilcox on the bench. The wing could be Damien Wilkins.

"Robert didn't look good," said Carlesimo after practice. "We'll see what [trainer] Mike Shimensky says."

Essentially the Sonics are waiting to see how all feel Tuesday when they wake up. If there's no swelling or problems, then they'll practice again and continue to move forward. But just in case there are nagging issues, backup plans for starting lineups and rotations are in place.

Durant did have the ankle evaluated by doctors today and it was fine, just a little stiff.

October 28, 2007

Youngin's still out

Posted by Jayda Evans at 2:49 PM

National television picked up the Sonics' opening two games for the regular season this week, but the Seattle highlights that drew the extensive coverage still haven't rejoined the team for practice.

No. 2 overall draft pick Kevin Durant only participated in shooting drills, spraining his left ankle in the fourth quarter against Golden State on Tuesday. No. 5 overall pick Jeff Green did not practice at all after spraining his left ankle in the third quarter of the Sonics' exhibition finale in Vancouver on Friday. And center Robert Swift, who coach P.J. Carlesimo was toying with starting, remains out with bruising in his surgically repaired right knee. He's been out since Thursday.

Carlesimo only asked trainers whether the players could practice today, not concerning himself with the season opener. So ESPN's plan to have a solid audience for Durants' debut Wednesday in Denver against stars Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony could still go off without a hitch. TNT picked up the Supes' home opener against the Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns.

The coach remains mum about a starting lineup. Injuries are a factor, given Durant will be a full-time starter. Even though the Supes' three point-guard prospects are all veterans who have shown what they can do, Carlesimo isn't set on Luke Ridnour, Earl Watson, or Delonte West to start. West missed some games, stalling his evaluation, but the staff likes what he brings at shooting and point guard. Ridnour and Watson will remain primarily used at PG.

Ridnour said his broken nose is feeling better. He was limited against the Suns on Friday because a pin popped out of his mask and trainers couldn't replace it. He'll have a backup by Monday and said he's "just counting the days until I don't have to wear it anymore."

That's about another two weeks. Sorry Luke.

October 26, 2007

Another rookie lost

Posted by Jayda Evans at 9:00 PM

Sonics rookie Jeff Green suffered a sprained left ankle against Phoenix on Friday. He first felt the pain in the third quarter, left to be retaped, and played again, finishing the quarter. But by the fourth the Sonics said he would not return.

Green joins No. 2 overall draft pick Kevin Durant as rookies to suffer injuries during the exhibition season. And Green was most likely in line to start in place of Durant, if the latter was unable to play. Although veteran Wally Szczerbiak seems to be better used for scoring off the bench, if Green is seriously injured, this probably gives Szczerbiak a chance to start.

I'll have more details when I'm able to speak with coach P.J. Carlesimo after the game.

Green finished with 13 points and three rebounds.

Nash show

Posted by Jayda Evans at 8:22 PM

Every time Phoenix star Steve Nash entered the game and wherever he went on the court, flashbulbs flickered. It looks like the Super Bowl, seriously.

The reaction is no surprise since it has been six years since the city has experienced NBA basketball and Nash is their favorite son. Folks were worried that Nash's charlie horse from the Denver game Thursday would keep him from playing and he even said before the game that if it weren't his home country he might rest. But once he made a sweet pass to Amare Stoudemire for a dunk with 5:03 remaining the second quarter, he looked perfectly healthy.

The Sonics, however, need a shooting coach. They shot 44.9 percent in the opening half and trailed 55-53, but missed some easy attempts. The team was also 2 for 7 from three-point range.

The lineup of rookie Jeff Green, Kurt Thomas, Chris Wilcox, Delonte West, and Earl Watson was smooth late in the opening quarter. In fact, Thomas looks like a flashback to his Texas Christian days. He's 4 for 6 from the field for nine points and four boards against his former Phoenix team. The lineup helped the Sonics build a 25-20 lead, but substitutions killed the vibe.

More on Petro and Sene

Posted by Jayda Evans at 7:05 PM

Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo liked general manager Sam Presti's decision to pick up the option on Johan Petro and Mouhamed Sene's rookie contracts, but he just doesn't like Petro continuing to make the same mistakes in games.

When Petro entered the Phoenix matchup with 9:56 remaining in the second quarter, he immediately was called for a foul against Amare Stoudemire. Carlesimo shouted, "The second he's in the game!" in obvious frustration.

Before the game Petro, Carlesimo, and Presti all spoke of how younger players can get antsy at wanting to display their skills but not being fully developed. Petro has obviously benefited from playing time, but with the Sonics needing more solid post play, his slowed progress can be frustrating. The player mentioned his fouling and said he's trying to focus more, but it's not coming across in games.

"He's in an organization where he's going to have to compete for minutes now," Presti said. "And I think that Johan as a competitor will appreciate that as well because it obviously means improveiment for the team and the organization and better competition for him in practice. He's a great lateral athlete. For a big guy that size, it's a unique skill."

Carlesimo said he was bothered he was unable to give Sene more time during the exhibition season. Sene averaged 10.8 minutes in four of the eight games. Sene could end up back in the D-League, but Presti hasn't made that decision.

"We're going to evaluate each guy," Presti said.

Swift out

Posted by Jayda Evans at 11:43 AM

Sonics center Robert Swift will not play tonight because of a right knee contusion and tendinitis after falling during a drill. It's the same knee he had ACL surgery on last year. Coach P.J. Carlesimo was disheartened by the injury because he wanted to evaluate Swift against Phoenix's big men.

But Carlesimo said Swift should have enough time to recover for the season opener Wednesday at Denver, although Swift cannot play in back-to-back games, possibly eliminating him from the home debut Nov. 1 against the Suns. The Sonics will not practice on Saturday, giving Swift two days rest.

Carlesimo also checked in on rookie Kevin Durant (sprained ankle), who told the coach he felt good. Durant remained in Seattle to rehabilitate the ankle. Carlesimo said he expects to hear Sunday if the phenom can rejoin practice and start the season, but Carlesimo said he's not concerned if Durant misses the early games.

"Later on, once you get to some critical games, you get in a playoff situation, then you say, 'Hey, this game is more important than any other game we've played yet," Carlesimo said. "It's nothing like that. When they [trainers] feel he's 100 percent or ready to go, he'll go. If it means he misses Denver or Phoenix or both, it's not a big deal.

"I haven't thought about it, to be honest. I said we're going to take a day off after this [exhibition finale]. Depending on what he's like when we get back to Seattle, we'll have to either have two sets of plans or by Sunday [trainer] Mike Shimensky will say he can go or not go. It'll take care of itself. "

Carlesimo is going to experiment with Wally Szczerbiak and Jeff Green at the power forward position tonight and play around with substitutions while tightening the rotation to 10 players.

Petro and Sene signed

Posted by Jayda Evans at 10:18 AM

The Sonics announced today that they have exercised the fourth-year team option on center Johan Petro and the third-year team option on center Mouhamed Sene for the 2008-09 season.

NYC jokes

Posted by Jayda Evans at 9:42 AM

Many in Seattle are fuming at NBA commissioner David Stern's comments about the Sonics' arena situation he made during his teleconference call on Thursday. But Seattle products Nate Robinson and Jamal Crawford are busy goofing around in New York. Thought this was a funny insight to locker-room behavior.

Lotion is important around the Sonics camp, too. In fact, it's rookie Jeff Green's responsibility to make sure fifth-year veteran Chris Wilcox is stocked with his Jergens brand. Earlier in training camp Wilcox made Green grab him a few bottles.

On a different note, it's Nick Collison's birthday today. He's 27.

October 25, 2007

Who's house?

Posted by Jayda Evans at 7:54 PM

Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo was entertaining with the Vancouver media after practice. He shared tales about his love of the city, taking a vacation here last year, and enjoying a few of the local eateries. When it came to Steve Nash, he had a little sugarcoated jab.

"I'm not happy we're playing Steve [Nash]," Carlesimo said of the Sonics' exhibition closer against the Phoenix Suns. "We have three guys that speak French, by the way, so we're better off than Phoenix. We should be the home team here."

Mickael Gelabale, Johan Petro, and Mouhamed Sene all speak French. But the draw for the game is clearly Nash, who hails from Victoria, B.C., and always has a suite full of friends and family when he plays in Seattle.

Friday's game is sold out.

Upbeat Sonics

Posted by Jayda Evans at 7:33 PM

Practice ended with a longer-than-usual team meeting, and then the Sonics hung out momentarily at GM Place joking and getting quick workouts in the weight room.

Guard Earl Watson said that the upbeat nature was because the team is young, but it was the retirees and veterans that were playing around the most. Assistant coach Ralph Lewis and assistant general manager Scott Perry were trying to outduel each other by making shots from the courtside seats. Lewis at least reached the rim while Perry ... let's just say it would have been better if he called his attempts a ground ball to first base. Center Kurt Thomas kept encouraging him, however, giving Perry five tries to make the shot. By the fifth, Perry did reach the rim.

On the other sideline was assistant coach Paul Westhead with ice wrapped around his right knee. He brushed it off as something that just happens, before joking, "I took a charge."

Forward Mickael Gelabale practiced after getting banged up against Portland and center Robert Swift was the only player to suffer an injury during the session. He's questionable for tomorrow.

Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo said he's 90 percent sure he's going to start Luke Ridnour, Damien Wilkins, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison, but stated again that it's most likely not the opening-day look.

"We're closer but Kevin [Durant] is not here, so that changes things," Carlesimo said of his lineup. "Robert banged his knee a little bit, so we'll see what he's like. We'll tightened it up a little bit, but I don't think we're closer to these five starting. We're getting closer to nine or 10 guys playing."

Carlesimo continues to be encouraged, especially since the Sonics have yet to play their expected minutes and have hung close to two solid teams in Golden State and Portland until the fourth quarter. But we all know that's when the NBA picks up its intensity, so the Sonics are still a ways from being a serious contender.

"We've got a young team, a lot of energy," Watson said. "We've got to find a good way to use our talent and what comes natural or gives us an edge. Energy is going to be key, we just have to figure out a way to win close games. And at the same time, we've got to figure out why we're winning so that it can be consistent, which can be hard to do as a young team."

Border tales

Posted by Jayda Evans at 7:26 PM

The Sonics made it swiftly through customs and into Vancouver, B.C. - an easier task than when traveling to Toronto, according to some in the traveling party. Apparently when traveling through that NBA city the team has to de-plane and go through customs with - gasp - regular people. This time the Canadians simply checked passports on board.

A Sonics spokesman did have to take a few extra steps to have his family join him in Vancouver, however. Since his wife traveled up with their toddler later, a letter from the Sonics had to be notarized stating he did indeed work for the team, they are playing a game across the border, he knows she's traveling with the child, and the wife isn't running off with the child.

Guess that's a sad sign of the times.

October 24, 2007

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen at 11:14 PM

Portland 109, Sonics 107

Somebody jumped on me because they think I'm making too much of Seattle's 1-5 record, which sank to 1-6 after Wednesday's loss. They brought up the San Antonio Spurs, which routinely have lousy preseason records yet always contend for the championship.

Believe me, nobody knows better than I do how meaningless these games are. But there's a big difference between the Spurs and the Sonics. The Spurs play nine months out of the year when you consider the preseason and a long playoff run. The Sonics play 6½ months. And the Spurs usually have a lot of guys who play international ball during the summer so not only do they have poor preseason records, they traditionally start slow and build momentum for the postseason.

The Sonics are light years from the Spurs. And a few wins wouldn't hurt morale, if only to let the players know that they're on the right track.

Still, no one can fault coach P.J. Carlesimo in tonight's game. He wasn't necessarily playing for a win, but rather he wanted to evaluate how the finishing five (Luke Ridnour, Delonte West, Johan Petro, Nick Collison and Jeff Green performed. During the final two minutes, P.J. frequently substituted Wally Szczerbiak for Green for offensive and defensive possessions. Oddly, Wally came in for defensive purposes.

If this had been a real game, P.J. wouldn't have let Brandon Roy take over like he did in the final minute. He could have gone to Damien Wilkins, Earl Watson or Kevin Durant. Instead, he let Delonte West try to defend Roy and West got burned over and over again.

"It's not one chance," Carlesimo said of West. "It aint like we're never going to put Delonte on a good 2 again or a strong 2 late in the game."

Also, P.J. wanted to put Johan Petro in a pressure situation and Petro he came up short in the final minute. He failed to box out LaMarcus Aldridge on the free throw line and allowed the Portland forward to grab an offensive rebound with 1:19 left. He was also slow rotating to help out on Roy and worse off, Petro missed a point-blank layup with 51.9 seconds left that would have given Seattle a 4-point lead.

Rather than go hard to the rim and flush a dunk, Petro tried a dipsy-do, up-and-under move in traffic and the ball rolled out.

What was also telling was Seattle's lack of a go-to player in the final minutes. While Roy had no problems taking over, the Sonics struggled to find consistent offense. At times Nick Collison was their best player and he exploited a few cracks in the defense for a dunk and long jumper and West was good in spurts, but he didn't score from the field in the final three minutes.

Carlesimo said Mickael Gelabale (15 points on 5-of-6 shooting) was up and down. He shot the ball well, but he failed to find his defensive assignment in transition several times.

Third quarter

Posted by Percy Allen at 8:56 PM

Sonics 81, Portland 75

Strange quarter for Seattle, which played in spurts.

The Sonics started slowly before going on a 10-1 run and leading 76-63. Just when it seemed as if they had the game under control, Portland scores 10 unanswered points.

Seattle got sloppy with the ball. Mickael Gelabale, Robert Swift and Delonte West each had turnovers, which resulted in points.

Luke Ridnour had a big quarter scoring six points.

And Johan Petro made his first appearance in seven quarters. He played 1 minute and had 1 points and 1 rebound.

Second quarter

Posted by Percy Allen at 8:13 PM

Sonics 60, Portland 56

It appears as if Johan Petro and Mouhamed Sene have fallen to the bottom of the rotation. If the 7-footers can't get on the court against a big team like Portland in the preseason, then there appears little chance that they'll get playing time once the season begins. Sene has played a total of six minutes in the past 10 quarters and Petro has played 14 minutes in the past 14 quarters.

F Mickael Gelabale who also appeared to have fallen out of favor with the coaching staff came into the game during the first quarter largely because Kevin Durant isn't playing tonight. Still, Gelabale is taking advantage of the opportunity. He has eight points on 3-for-4 shooting.

At times, Chris Wilcox is unquestionably the best player on the floor. He's just so explosive. When he rebounds, he's dominant.

Former Garfield High grad Brandon Roy, last year's ROY, has been quiet so far. Martell Webster, however, is still hot. He's got 9 points on 4-for-8 shooting.

First quarter vs Portland

Posted by Percy Allen at 7:40 PM

Portland 31, Sonics 24

Tonight's Sonics starters are:

PF Chris Wilcox
SF Jeff Green
C Robert Swift
SG Damien Wilkins
PG Luke Ridnour

Inactive: Earl Watson

The starters have contributed just six points and once again, the bigs are being dominated in the middle. This time second-year pro LaMarcus Aldridge is hurting the Sonics. He's got 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting.

Also, Seattle Prep graduate Martell Webster looks good and appears to have won a starting job. He celebrates his 21st birthday Dec. 4 and seems to have bulked up in the upper body. I spoke with Coach Nate McMillan about Webster and he said the third-year pro "seems to finally be getting it."

Durant update

Posted by Percy Allen at 6:59 PM

An MRI on Kevin Durant's sprained left ankle did not reveal a fracture. He'll be re-evaluated next week and is questionable for Wednesday's regular-season opener at Denver.

Coach P.J. Carlesimo said he'd like Durant to practice at least once before he plays a game.

"Whatever swelling there is, or the ankle itself, will only be part of the problem," Carlesimo said. "If his ankle feels good next Wednesday but he missed the practices on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday ... it's hard to say. He needs to get healthy first and he needs to get back and play some basketball. If he's able to practice on Sunday or Monday that would be great."

Durant to miss the final two preseason games

Posted by Percy Allen at 12:19 AM

Rookie guard Kevin Durant will miss Wednesday's game in Portland and Friday's game against Phoenix in Vancouver, according to the Sonics PR staff.

X-rays results did not reveal any serious damage.

He remained in Seattle while the team traveled to Portland after Tuesday's 126-122 overtime defeat against Golden State. He also will not attend Friday's game and continue to receive treatment in Seattle.

Durant is expected to play in the Oct. 31 regular-season opener at Denver.


October 23, 2007

Durant questionable for Wednesday's game

Posted by Percy Allen at 11:16 PM

The buzz inside KeyArena Tuesday night was all about Kevin Durant and the status of his sprained left ankle. The Sonics rookie left the game with 2:10 remaining in regulation and didn't return. Apparently, few people actually saw how Durant got hurt.

Coach P.J. Carlesimo said he had "no idea" about Durant's health, didn't know how the injury occurred and had "no clue" if Durant would be available for Wednesday's game in Portland.

I asked Chris Wilcox about Durant and he said: "He'll be alright. He's tough. He said it wasn't that serious. Hopefully it wasn't that serious and we'll get him back before the regular season."

A few other Sonics gave a similar testimony. Most believe Durant won't play Wednesday since it's just an exhibition and Wally Szczerbiak said he wouldn't be surprised if Durant missed the preseason finale on Friday against Phoenix at Vancouver just as a precaution.

The Sonics PR staff said Durant underwent X-rays during the game, but didn't know if he'd travel with the team after the game to Portland.

I spoke with a few of Durant's family members and friends after the game and they too had not been told about the seriousness of his injury

What is clear is Durant has been effective in every game so far. Before Tuesday's games, he was eighth in the league in points with an 18.4 scoring average and second among NBA rookies.

Durant had 21 points on 7-for-17 shooting against Golden State. He shot 2-for-6 on three-pointers and connected on 5 of 7 free throws. He also had six rebounds, three steals, three turnovers and two blocks in 33 minutes.

Nellie blasts the Sonics

Posted by Percy Allen at 9:50 PM

Got to love Golden State coach Don Nelson and his brutal honesty.

When asked about the Warriors 126-122 victory, he said: "Seattle is not a good team and they almost beat us tonight so I don't know where that puts us. They're kind of a fun team. They're so young, they're going to suffer early until these young guys learn how to play. ... PJ has a tough job in front of him."

Yikes.

In all my years covering the NBA, I've never heard a coach call out another team like that and flat out say they're not a good team. I wish I had the audio because I would post it so folks would know that he wasn't taken out of context. But I'm almost certain this is an accurate quote because it was circulated on the official postgame quote sheet.

So how about that for bulletin board material. Nelson and the Warriors first game against the Supes this season is Dec. 2 at KeyArena.

Third quarter

Posted by Percy Allen at 8:58 PM

Sonics 87, Golden State 79

Seattle forced seven turnovers to begin the period and held Golden State scoreless for nearly the first five minutes. Andris Biedrins dropped a short jumper which got the Ws on the scoreboard with 7:18 remaining in the period.

Once Biedrins scored, the track meet resumed as both teams raced up and down the court with little resistance.

Damien Wilkins (22 points) continues to be red hot.

Sonics 68, Golden State 61

Posted by Percy Allen at 8:23 PM

I think this is the first time Seattle has led after a quarter since the Indiana game. I know the Sonics didn't hold a lead after a period in the Houston or Lakers game.

Wally Szczerbiak is on fire and he connected on 4 of 8 field goals for 14 points. Many of his shots were uncontested on the perimeter because the Sonics worked the ball around and found the open man.

The Ws are tailor made for Seattle because they play little to no defense. Wilkins has 17 points and Kevin Durant 13. Earl Watson has six assists and no turnovers. Luke Ridnour also has five assists and no turnovers.

Here's the play of the game: Late in the second quarter, Watson snuck up behind Austin Croshere and stripped him of the ball to start a fastbreak. With Watson charging along the right sideline, he used a behind-the-back dribble to throw off the defender and flicked the ball to Durant who flushed a dunk that gave Seattle a 64-58 lead.

On the next possession, the Sonics forced another turnover and Watson led another fastbreak. This time he dribbled between his legs before dishing to Durant who was fouled before he reached the rim.

First quarter vs. Golden State

Posted by Percy Allen at 7:44 PM

The lineup change appears to be working. The Sonics are holding their own in the rebounding department. They lead 15-14.

Still the defense is reason for concern. Golden State is shooting 52.2 percent from the field. Monta Ellis (8 points) and Mickael Pietrus (7) lead GS.

Damien Wilkins and Chris Wilcox have 6 points for Seattle.

Collison starts at center

Posted by Percy Allen at 1:22 PM

Perhaps in a preview of what's to come, coach P.J. Carlesimo tweaked the starting lineup and will begin tonight's game with Nick Collison at center. It's an interesting move because Carlesimo had talked about playing Collison extensively at power forward this season.

However, the Sonics were "manhandled" inside the past two games against Houston and the LA Lakers, and the young bigs weren't particularly effective.

The move also gives Carlesimo a chance to evaluate the Collison-Chris Wilcox tandem.

Here's the rest of the starting lineup:

PF Chris Wilcox
SF Damien Wilkins
C Nick Collison
SG Kevin Durant
PG Earl Watson

Reserves: Luke Ridnour, Mickael Gelabale, Wally Szczerbiak, Jeff Green and Kurt Thomas.

Inactives: Robert Swift and Delonte West

Two ways to read this move. Either it's an admission that the young bigs are struggling and the Sonics aren't good enough to impose their will on opponents with their big lineup or the Supes are a versatile bunch similar to George Karl's squads in the '90s, which were able to play fast or slow depending upon the matchup.

Also don't overlook the absence of West, who missed Monday's practice because of a bruised right thigh. This is the fourth game he has missed because of injuries, which is likely eroding the confidence the coaching staff has in his ability to stay healthy.

More on Jackson

Posted by Percy Allen at 11:50 AM

Coach P.J. Carlesimo explained why the Sonics waived point guard Jermaine Jackson last night.

"No rationale," he said. "We've got to get down to our roster. He did a great job, but he was in a tough situation. We've got 14 contract guys. I thought JJ did a good job playing and he did a good job mentoring some of our younger guys, too. We've just got to get down to our roster."

The Sonics have 14 players on the roster and one spot open. There doesn't appear to be any need to bring in another player because of the tight competition at every position.

October 22, 2007

Jackson waived

Posted by Percy Allen at 7:50 PM

The Sonics released point guard Jermaine Jackson, who was the only player on the team without a guaranteed contract.

The move isn't entirely unexpected as coach P.J. Carlesimo plans to reduce the rotation this week and through four games, Jackson was averaging 1.3 points and 1.5 assists.

Also, the Supes can turn to Delonte West for ball-handling duties, which gives them three point guards.

Still Jackson had grown close to Kevin Durant and Jeff Green and might have earned a spot on the roster because of his relationship with the young rookies.

The roster now stands at 14 players.


West injured again

Posted by Percy Allen at 4:53 PM

A little more than a week remains before the Sonics regular-season opener at Denver and coach P.J. Carlesimo said he's still unsure about which starting five he'll put on the court. A part of me thinks the coach is being coy because I'm quite sure Kevin Durant will start at SG. But competition at the other four spots is tight.

Through five games, no one has really separated themselves from the pack and Carlesimo nearly said that he could toss a coin and decide some positions.

And just when it appeared as if guard Delonte West had played himself into the rotation and possibly a starting job with a strong game (22 points and 7 assists in 30 minutes) last Saturday, he missed Monday's practice with a bruised right thigh and is listed as a game-time decision for tomorrow's home game against Golden State.

Carlesimo didn't say it, but you can tell that he's frustrated with the rash of nagging injuries that keeps West from playing and practicing. By my count, this is Delonte's fourth injury (sprained right ankle, left big toe nail removed, sore back) in three weeks and the real games haven't even started yet. If he breaks down this much this early, what's he going to do during the season?

So maybe West won't figure into the rotation as I thought he might, which is too bad because when he has played, he's been a physical force on both ends of the court that the Supes don't have in Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson.

Carlesimo talked about tightening the rotation, but look for him to continue experimenting this week in the final three exhibitions. Expect rookie Jeff Green to get lots of minutes at PF against Golden State and Phoenix.

And from the saw-this-one-coming department, Carlesimo said the slow development of the three 7-footers has pushed Nick Collison back into the equation at center. In the words of Yogi Berra, it's deja vu all over again.

I remember former coach Bob Hill coming to this same rationalization last season. Hill was loyal to head scout Steve Rosenberry and GM Rick Sund for giving him a shot and he wanted to make them look smart by playing Robert Swift, Johan Petro and Mo Sene. However Hill quickly discovered that he couldn't win with those guys.

It appears as if Swift, who is recovering from right knee surgery, won't be able to play back-to-back games at least in November and Seattle has five of them. So Carlesimo said he's going to have to alter his rotation during the games Swift doesn't play.

Also, the NBA announced a few changes to the upcoming TV schedule.

Most notably, the Portland-New Orleans game on Nov. 7 has been replaced by Cleveland at Utah. Expect more changes involving the Trail Blazers who no longer have the services of No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden. And don't be surprised if the ESPN-televised game on Christmas Day against the Sonics is replaced.

October 20, 2007

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen at 9:38 PM

Houston 117, Sonics 94

Carlesimo made an interesting move in the fourth quarter and turned to a lineup that consisted of PG Luke Ridnour, SG Delonte West, SF Kevin Durant, PF Nick Collison and C Robert Swift. It's an intriguing move on several fronts.

First off, West moved from PG where he played early on to 2 guard and pushed Durant to 3. It allowed Ridnour to run the offense and gave the Supes a scoring threat in the backcourt with West. Durant didn't seem to mind playing on the wing and in fact, he used his quickness to take Steve Novak off the dribble.

The experiment appears to have been short lived as Carlesimo changed the lineup after Houston knocked down a couple of three-pointers against the zone and went up 113-77.

Kevin Durant finished with 25 points and Delonte West had 22. Houston's Tracy McGrady led all scorers with 30 and Shane Battier added 19.

Third quarter thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen at 9:09 PM

Houston 97, Sonics 61

Coach P.J. Carlesimo picked up his first technical foul of the season arguing on behalf of Kurt Thomas who got whistled for an offensive foul. Replays show that Thomas being in position before Steve Francis ran into him, but the refs saw something else.

The game is out of hand and this appears to be one of those times where Carlesimo is experimenting with different lineups and defensive schemes. Hence, the use of the zone for extended minutes and going with a small lineup.

West (21 points on 8-for-11 shooting) stayed hot and continued his accurate shooting, but no other Sonic can find the rim.

Johan Petro appears to have played himself out of the lineup. The French center played just eight minutes and has failed to score. He also has four fouls and three rebounds. The other French guys (Mickael Gelabale and Mouhamed Sene) have played a combined one minute. After the Lakers games on Thursday I thought they would struggle to get more minutes and it seems as if Carlesimo has identified whose going to be on the inactive list for most of the season.

Second quarter impressions

Posted by Percy Allen at 8:26 PM

Forgot to mention this earlier, but the new management made some minor changes at KeyArena. There's new carpet and a fresh paint on the walls inside the locker room. Kevin Durant has taken Rashard Lewis' old locker. Ray Allen's stall is empty.

Inside the arena, the team has removed all the posters of the team that were just below the suites. As a matter of fact, there's no player images overlooking the court. If not for the championship banners, the retired jerseys hanging in the rafters and the big "S" at midcourt, it would be difficult to tell which squad is the home team.

As for the game, the Sonics trail 59-42 at halftime. West still looks good. He's got 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting. He's also got three assists and two rebounds. West also made a nice block on a Yao Ming putback that brought the crowd to its feet. If he keeps this up, it will be difficult to keep him out of the starting lineup.

The rest of the squad is struggling. Three starters (Damien Wilkins, Nick Collison and Kurt Thomas) are scoreless. Kevin Durant has scored 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting, but he's having difficulty getting an open shot.

It's amazing how a team with three 7-footers can play so small. For the second straight game, they're being overrun in the middle. And it's not just Yao doing the damage. Coach P.J. Carlesimo said he wanted to play a zone defense and he tried it for an extended minutes in the second period. It may have temporarily slowed down Houston in the middle, but the Rockets got plenty of good looks on the perimeter. Particularly, Shane Battier (2 three-pointers) and Tracy McGrady (23 points) had open shots. Houston has taken 13 three-pointers and made four.

First quarter

Posted by Percy Allen at 7:45 PM

Houston 26, Sonics 17

Tonight's starters

PF Nick Collison
SF Damien Wilkins
C Kurt Thomas
SG Kevin Durant
PG Luke Ridnour

Coach P.J. Carlesimo said that he'd like to give Chris Wilcox and Earl Watson the night off. He also wanted to give Jeff Green the night off, but the rookie played nine minutes in the first.

Houston is dominating the middle with Yao Ming and Shane Battier.

There's maybe 8,000 people here. Not sure if this will be indicative of the season or not, but it's a paltry turnout even for a preseason game.

The only bright spot so far has been Delonte West whose playing with energy on both ends.

Sikma sounds off

Posted by Percy Allen at 7:22 PM

Spoke with Houston assistant Jack Sikma before the game and the former Sonics assistant isn't bitter about not returning to Seattle. He said all of the right things, but he also stressed that he wanted to return and is saddened that it couldn't happen.

"It was really tough after the season, but it was not a surprise," he said. "I had hoped to stay here, but with the timing of the decision they had to make with me and kind of recognizing that it sounded like the wanted to clean the slate a little bit. There was a number of decisions made that pointed in the direction that they wanted a little bit disconnect from the previous group here."

As for the possibility of relocation, Sikma, a center on the 1979 Sonics NBA championship team, believes the team will eventually leave.

"It continues to deteriorate as far as the percentages of whether they are going to stay or not," he said. "It's more than a possibility now of whether they are going to leave. There's the issue of when.

"There's got to be a number of positive to happen in a relatively short period of time. There's an ownership group that's got it's roots in Oklahoma City. 'There's a lot of things working against them.

Sikma still has roots in Seattle. His oldest son Jacob is a senior at Seattle University. He has another son Luke whose a freshman and plays basketball at Portland University and his youngest is a freshman at Bellevue High.

Even though he's working in Houston, Sikma said he still has ties to the Sonics.

"The most important thing is to find a solution for the franchise to stay in Seattle," he said. "Whether I'm a part of it or not doesn't matter matter. ... I don't know if my feelings played a part of me not being there anymore or not, but that doesn't matter."

October 18, 2007

French toast

Posted by Percy Allen at 11:19 PM

A buzz word with new GM Sam Presti is consistency. He uses it all the time. It's not enough to play well one week and not the next. It's not enough to show flashes of brilliance and then stink up the joint the next night. Presti is all about steady growth and baby steps.

So I've got to believe the French guys Johan Petro and Mickael Gelabale are driving the management and the coaching staff crazy because they are so up and down. Petro played just 3:06 minutes and failed to log a statistic other than two fouls. To be fair, he wasn't supposed to play and was thrown into duty when Nick Collison (left shin bruise) was a late scratch.

Still, when the Lakers big men are dominating the glass (44 rebounds) like they did, you would think that Petro could have made a difference. And Gelabale seems to be an afterthought at this point and quite frankly, he looks lost on the court. He made his first appearance with 3:53 remaining in the third quarter and finished with 0 points, 1 rebound and 1 assists.

Half way through the preseason, I believe the mass auditions are coming to an end. Expect coach P.J. Carlesimo to cut the rotation and start playing a normal 8-9 man rotation starting Saturday against Houston.

Also Carlesimo said he has to address the defense. Much like the preseason opener, the Supes couldn't get stops without fouling. They committed 30 fouls and sent L.A. to the line 35 times. Luke Ridnour was the biggest offender with five fouls, however, he also contributed 14 points and eight assists.

Still, if Robert Swift is going to be limited to 25 minutes, then Seattle is going to have to find a defensive presence in the middle or rely on a switching, trapping defense. The Supes did have 12 steals against the Lakers, but without Collison, they were dominated beneath the rim. Green had to play PF and he was no match against Bynum who finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Third quarter thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen at 9:02 PM

Kobe returned and he went on one of those crazy runs that he's known for. With LA leading 67-62, Bryant scored five straight buckets for the Lakers. Three were in the same area, long jumpers, including a three-pointer. The other came in transition, a trey over Kevin Durant. Then he punctuated the run with a dunk.

Bryant scored 16 of LA's 18 points during the spurt and his last free throw gave the Lakers an 85-66 lead.

Bryant left with 3:07 remaining in the third and I'm not sure he'll return. But then again, what does he have to prove. It goes without saying that LA is a different team without Bryant. The ball moves more freely, Luke Walton directs traffic and Chris Mihm has been the happy beneficiary of a couple of assists.

Durant was noticeably silent for much of the period before draining a three-pointer and flushing an emphatic dunk on a fast break. Luke Ridnour appeared to get bullied by Jordan Farmar on a few occasions, which contributed to at least one turnover. However, Ridnour had 10 points in the quarter, often finishing on nifty floaters in the paint. Chris Wilcox also had a big quarter, scoring 12.

Second quarter thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen at 8:18 PM

Lakers 64, Sonics 47

Big quarter for Durant, who scored all eight of his points in the period on a variety of shots. Most baskets were made with Luke Walton defending.

What jumped out at me was a possession midway in the quarter in which Durant had the ball on the left wing and Kurt Thomas posted on the left block with a smaller defender on his back. Rather than pass into the post, Durant waved Thomas away and tried to dribble around his defender before settling for a long-range jumper that rimmed out. Whether he made or missed the shot isn't as important as Durant feeling comfortable enough to direct veteran players and those players not pouting when he attempts to take over.

Also you can't discount how important it was for the kid to have the confidence to keep firing up shots after missing the first five.

For some reason, Kobe Bryant has not returned after playing nine minutes in the first quarter. We haven't gotten any word on press row that he's injured or anything and he appears to be fine on the bench.

Wally Szczerbiak lead the Sonics with 8 points.

Brian Cook has 15, Ronny Turiaf 13 and Andrew Bynum 10 for LA.

First quarter observations

Posted by Percy Allen at 7:12 PM

Lakers 28, Sonics 24

Not sure if this came across on the TNT telecast, but Robert Swift got a nice applause from the hometown crowd. Surprisingly, the place isn't close to being a sellout. There's many empty seats.

Nick Collison isn't starting because the Sonics are being cautious with his left shin contusion. He should practice tomorrow and start Saturday against Houston. Coach P.J. Carlesimo wanted to give C/F Johan Petro the night off, but he'll play most of the game at PF.

Damien Wilkins is doing a decent job defensively on Kobe Bryant, however, nobody is defending Ronny Turiaf who has 13 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

Curiously, Kevin Durant got a quick hook. He played just 6 minutes and missed all five of his shots before being yanked.

Swift's homecoming

Posted by Percy Allen at 1:31 PM

Got to admit I chuckled when I got to Bakersfield, Calif., and picked up the local paper today. At the top of the front page there's a box in the right corner that reads: "Tonight: Swift and Kobe likely to face off."

I don't know if Big Red will ever get top billing over Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant anywhere else but Bakersfield where he grew up.

There's a nice story in the local paper about Swift's homecoming. He attended high school here before making the jump to the pros. Not sure if the folks here will recognize the kid now after he's gained a considerable amount of weight, grew his hair long and is practically covered in tattoos.

Two days ago, I asked Swift if he was swamped with ticket requests and surprisingly he said no. He needed about 56 tickets for friends and family for the exhibition opener in Sacramento, but said he'll need just 15 or so tonight.

As far as the game, if you're watching tonight on TNT keep an eye on Durant because Bryant is expected to play and I'm fairly sure the Lakers star will want to defend the much-hyped rookie. Defensively, Durant could move to small forward and be paired against either Vladimir Radmanovic or Luke Walton, which is a better matchup than Bryant.

Also former Gonzaga standout Ronny Turiaf is playing well in the preseason and may win a starting job. He's a remarkable story considering he underwent open-heart surgery two years ago.

October 17, 2007

MJ returns Nov. 6

Posted by Percy Allen at 2:45 PM

Sonics fans know that MJ around these parts is short for Marques Johnson, who made his first appearance at practice this season. For most of the workout, he chatted with Steve "Snapper" Jones, Kevin Calabro and new radio man Matt Pinto. The quartet comprises the Sonics broadcast team this season.

Johnson said his first game is Nov. 6 at Sacramento. He'll work just 10 games this season for FSN in part because his commitments with Fox Sports as their college basketball analyst allow him to do only a handful of games. Jones will handle the rest.

Johnson admitted that returning to his old gig and being paired again with Calabro is making him a little nervous. The last time they worked a game was Johnson's final year in Seattle in 1998.

"It's kind of like the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac getting together again for a reunion tour," he said. "You never know how it's going to be. A lot of people have asked me about that. Do I think the chemistry will be there again and quite frankly, I don't know. There's a special kind of magic to it and sometimes you can't recreate that and sometimes you slip back in and it's like nothing has changed."

Starters for Thursday

Posted by Percy Allen at 2:44 PM

Coach P.J. Carlesimo said his starting lineup for Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers is:

PF Nick Collison
SF Damien Wilkins
C Robert Swift
SG Kevin Durant
PG Earl Watson

Of course, this is tentative because of injuries. Collison (left shin contusion) missed this morning's two-hour practice, but he should be OK for Thursday. Wilkins (sprained right ankle) and Swift (right knee tendinitis) are recovering from nagging injuries and will be monitored closely.

Don't read too much into the starting assignments. Again, Carlesimo is being democratic about this process early in preseason and he's giving almost everyone a chance to start and play major minutes.

Delonte West was supposed to start at PG, but he'll remain in Seattle and undergo an MRI on his lower back on Thursday. West had a nice half in the preseason opener.

The Lakers may or may not have Kobe Bryant, which is too bad for Durant if the returning scoring champion sits out. It would have been a nice test for the Sonics rookie, however, P.J. hinted that Wilkins might draw the defensive assignment against Bryant if he plays.

The game is the only Sonics exhibition on TV and will be carried nationally by TNT. I asked Durant if the game carries any more significance because he knows his friends and family in Washington D.C., and Austin, Texas will be watching. "My teammates down in Texas said they would be watching the game, but that's about it," he said.

Durant's stitches were also barely noticeable. It's in the corner of his right eye. The 19-year-old said it's the first time he has ever had stitches. Apparently, Collison caught him with an inadvertent elbow in Tuesday's practice.

G/F Wally Szczerbiak (left sprained thumb) also returned after missing yesterday's drill. He wore a brace on his left (non-shooting) hand to protect his thumb.

October 16, 2007

Durant receives three stitches

Posted by Percy Allen at 1:44 PM

Rookie guard Kevin Durant suffered a cut above his right eye this morning during a scrimmage and missed the last portion of practice while receiving three stitches. He should be OK for Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nick Collison (left shin contusion) and Wally Szczerbiak (left sprained thumb) also missed portions of of practice because of injuries.

Delonte West is expected to fly to Seattle tonight after attending his grandmother's funeral. He will have his lower back evaluated Wednesday and if given clearance, coach P.J. Carlesimo said West could start at PG on Thursday.

Damien Wilkins (sprained right ankle) and Johan Petro (heart palpitations) returned to practice after missing Monday's drills.

October 15, 2007

Sneak peak of Durant's new commercial

Posted by Percy Allen at 8:51 PM

Kevin Durant spent about two hours after practice Monday shooting a promo for a new NBA online store Web site that launches in November. The crew filmed everything at KeyArena and essentially the spot showcases Kevin's journey to the NBA through a series of jerseys he wore from his childhood to college and to the pros.

"It was a good idea and it was a good way to show where I came from when I was six or seven years old until now," Durant said. "It's a good way to show where I came from, playing in the Boys & Girls Club to college. That's one of the biggest things I want to get out there. Getting from just being a nobody to going to college. There's not too many people in my area that really has done that."

Here's a few pics:

Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images
Terrence Vaccaro/NBAE/Getty Images

These are the jerseys Kevin wore:

No. 11: Boys & Girls Club in Capital Hills, Md.
No. 52: Drew Freeman Middle School
No. 3: Montrose Christian High School
No. 3: McDonald's All-American
No. 35: University of Texas
No. 35: Seattle SuperSonics

The ad agency Goodby Siverstein & Partners created the concept. Look for the commercial to begin airing in two weeks when the NBA season tips off.

Monday's practice

Posted by Percy Allen at 1:50 PM

Johan Petro (heart palpitations), Damien Wilkins (right ankle sprain) and Delonte West (excused absence) did not practice this afternoon during a two-hour workout. Petro visited a cardiologist and many of you will remember he's had this condition before, but it wasn't deemed serious. Wilkins watched practice from the sideline and West attended his grandmother's funeral.

Also Robert Swift (right knee tendinitis) returned to practice after missing the past two games. He's still walking with a limp and believes he'll have to periodically take time off for the next three months until his knee fully recovers.

Coach P.J. Carlesimo said he's leaning toward starting center Mo Sene and West on Thursday against the Los Angeles Lakers. Carlesimo wants to give everyone a chance in the starting rotation and he wants to see West at PG. When West returns Tuesday, he'll need to have his back examined. The injury prevented him from playing the past two games.

Carlesimo said he wants to give everyone at least "two good looks" at starting before he begins to finalize the starting lineup and the rotation.

As for Sene, he said he's more comfortable on the court this year because he's more comfortable being in America, being in the NBA and because his family is safe. Apparently, Mo's family in Senegal was being threatened to the point where his parents had to move and change their phone numbers.

Mo had a nice game (15 rebounds, 6 points, 4 blocked shots) on Saturday against Indiana. He said he doesn't want to return to the NBA's D-League this season and if one game is any indication, he'll give the other 7-footers competition to see who starts.

Luke Ridnour (broken nose) said he's still adjusting to the protective face mask he must wear for the next 4 to 5 weeks. While shooting free throws with Wally Szczerbiak after practice, a mask-less Ridnour said: "It feels so much better. I can finally breathe."

Carlesimo noted that Ridnour appeared to struggle on Saturday while getting adjusted to wearing the mask.

October 12, 2007

Sonics producer and Storm voice gone

Posted by Jayda Evans at 10:41 AM

Alan Horton, who called Storm games and produced the Sonics radio broadcast last season, has taken a position with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx. Read more about it here. Former Storm forward Adia Barnes, who was the Storm's color analyst, had planned to return, but a spokesperson said a decision hasn't been made on how the Storm would approach their radio broadcast this season. Last summer was Horton and Barnes' first stint as Storm radio broadcasters, replacing local personalities David Locke and Elise Woodward.

The Sonics also have to shift around their plan for this season as Horton was slated to be an in-studio host for the radio broadcast.

October 11, 2007

Starting lineups for Cleveland

Posted by Percy Allen at 12:35 PM

Thursday's practice just ended and the team is flying to Cleveland today at 1:30 p.m. Before taking off coach, P.J. Carlesimo filled out an incomplete starting lineup for Friday's game. Here it is:

PF - ???
SF - Wally Szczerbiak
C - Kurt Thomas
SG - Mickael Gelabale
PG - Earl Watson

The coach was a little hazy about the fifth starter. Because Nick Collison started the preseason opener, I'm guessing Chris Wilcox will get the nod Friday because P.J. said he wants to go with five new starters. He could also move Thomas to the power forward spot and start center Johan Petro, but that's unlikely because Robert Swift (right knee tendonitis) is not going to play against Cleveland.

The big guy didn't practice Thursday along and neither did Luke Ridnour, who skipped the workout because he was being fitted for mask to protect his broken nose. Technically it's a non-displaced fracture of the nasal bone, but that's med-speak for broken nose. He's making the trip and is expected to be cleared by the medical staff. Whether he plays is another thing.

Swift could play Saturday at Indiana, but that's still up in the air and P.J. said he'll have to watch Swift's minutes all season. Don't expect Swift to play in both games of back-to-back sets this season and, as I wrote earlier in the week, it's unlikely he can give the Supes more than 25 minutes a night.

Delonte West will back up Watson in Cleveland and it looks like P.J. is going to put rookies Kevin Durant and Jeff Green on the floor together with the second unit for extended minutes. That should be interesting.

Some players to watch: Obviously the three guys (Wally, Kurt and Gelly) who didn't play in the opener. Petro has a chance to make a serious bid for a starting job with a strong performance, as does Watson. Gelly is fighting for a spot in the rotation as is Mo Sene, who might play Friday.

P.J. is hoping to see his defense play better than it did Tuesday in Sacramento when it surrendered 104 points and 36 FT attempts. He's going to continue practicing in the morning before games, which might be good for the coaching staff, but isn't so great for the players. Especially the veteran guys.

And this just in, the Oct. 18 game against the Los Angeles Lakers is being picked up by TNT. That's the only Sonics exhibition game being televised in the Seattle area. There was a chance that FSN was going to pick up the exhibition finale, but that's not going to happen.

I won't be blogging during the games this weekend because I'm skipping the trip, but I'll file posts Friday and Saturday before and after the games on any roster changes, injuries and updates.

Hawes gets good news

Posted by Jayda Evans at 7:05 AM

There wasn't a Greg Oden scare for former Seattle Prep and University of Washington standout Spencer Hawes, who was drafted by the Sacramento Kings. Hawes had a successful scope on his left knee in Seattle on Wednesday and is expected to recover in four to five weeks.

October 10, 2007

Grinding away

Posted by Jayda Evans at 5:52 PM

Loud squeaking sneakers could be heard through the door of the Sonics' training facility in a consistent tone. By the time media was allowed to view the final 30 minutes of a 21/2-hour session, guys were bent over holding their shorts during brief breaks in drills, showing obvious signs of a tough practice.

It's still training camp and the Sonics are young, so it's no surprise the team is still working hard, but it was clear coach P.J. Carlesimo didn't like what he saw on Tuesday in Sacramento. Or at times during practice, screaming, "What the [expletive] are we doing? Let's go!"

Injured players Wally Szczerbiak (left knee), Kurt Thomas (left thigh bruise), and Mickael Gelabale (left hamstring) returned to practice and Carlesimo said Gelabale would start against Cleveland on Friday. The other two could also start -- everyone will by the end of training camp -- but Carlesimo didn't name any other players. He wants to continue to rotate lineup combinations around until at least the final week of exhibition games.

Carlesimo is toying with playing Szczerbiak at shooting guard, but would like to keep him at small forward. Returnee Damien Wilkins, Gelabale and rookie Kevin Durant are also getting looks at both wing positions.

A downer was seeing center Robert Swift on the sideline watching. He was able to participate in about 30 minutes, but Carlesimo blamed himself for practicing Swift and playing him 22 minutes on Tuesday given it hasn't even been a year since Swift tore his right anterior cruciate ligament.

Even if Swift is fully recovered for the back-to-back this weekend, Carlesimo said he will only play once and will not double dip with practice and games, since Carlesimo is still going to use shoot-around as a 90-minute practice. Mouhamed Sene will play, but will not start against the Cavs.

"I don't think he's too concerned about the offense," said Wilkins of Carlesimo. "We have guys that can score. We've got guys that can create off the sets he's already given us. He's really concerned about the defense, and should be because we've got to get stops."

The monotony of the offense was spiced up, however, with the coaching staff inserting a few more sets on Wednesday. During a shooting drill with guard Earl Watson, Szczerbiak commented to assistant coach Paul Westhead, the resident offensive specialist, that, "Finally we got some plays in. I love the fast break, don't get me wrong, but having one play ... "

Westhead retorted that Sacramento's transition defense was so bad, "we should have had 200 points."

Masked man

Posted by Jayda Evans at 3:24 PM

Sonics guard Luke Ridnour was fitted for a mask this afternoon after learning he has a non-displaced fracture of the nasal bone, according to a team spokesman. He'll have to wear the mask for four to five weeks and is listed as a game-time decision for the back-to-back road trip in Cleveland and Indiana this week.

But coach P.J. Carlesimo wasn't even sure Ridnour would travel, not knowing the full extent of the point guard's injury at the time of the comment.

Ridnour suffered the injury in the opening quarter of the loss to Sacramento on Tuesday, taking an inadvertent blow from Kings defensive specialist Ron Artest. Onlookers described the aftershock as Ridnour appearing as if he took a hit from Mike Tyson, wobbling around before a gush of blood rushed from both nostrils as the Sonics called a timeout to get him off the court.

Carlesimo said he plans to start an entirely different five at Cleveland than he did at Sacramento. He said the starters for the second half of the Cleveland game would be different from the opening half, too. Still, the Sonics need to see Ridnour play, and run different combinations with him in the lineup.

More on Luke Ridnour

Posted by Cathy Henkel at 1:17 PM

Luke Ridnour, who was struck in the face early in the first quarter of Tuesday's game, saw an opthamologist today, according to Sonics officials. He also had a CT scan. There is concern that he may have broken his nose; if so, he will be fitted for a mask. We should hear more later this afternoon.

Mmm, mmm, good

Posted by Jayda Evans at 10:09 AM

New Sonics assistant coach Paul Westhead will be featured on a commemorative Wheaties cereal box honoring his former team, the Phoenix Mercury. The WNBA team won its first league championship by defeating Detroit in the Finals 3-2. The Mercury are the first to clinch on the road.

This is the fourth time Wheaties has honored a WNBA team, since the Houston Comets won the inaugural title in 1997. The Seattle Storm, which won in 2004, was not featured. The 10.9-ounce box will be available beginning this month.

Some are disappointed Westhead didn't stick with the WNBA after winning, particuarly since it was his second season in the women's league. But Westhead spoke highly of his experience to the Times last month.

"All my career I worked with men, and I really didn't know the women's game at all," he said. "When the opportunity came up, it intrigued me. I didn't go into it with any preconceived notion of it being good or bad, but what I found out over the two years I was there is that they were very talented, very competitive.

"The women don't get enough credit for how good they are and how hard they play. Winning with them was an exciting, thrilling moment. For all of us, the people involved in it, this was World Series stuff. It was a great moment for me. A great gig."

October 9, 2007

Final thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen at 11:13 PM

Sacramento 104, Sonics 98

Not a bad debut for the Sonics and their rookies Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.

Somebody asked if there were any surprises and quite frankly, yes there were a few surprises.

I particularly liked Robert Swift. Maybe he was inspired playing in front of many of his family and friends, but his numbers (8 points and 7 rebounds) don't accurately portray the way he played. Swift was a force beneath the glass.

On one exchange, he fouled the heck out of Mike Bibby and it reminded me of the days when Danny Fortson use to hammer folks who strolled through the lane. I don't think the Supes will get more than 25 minutes out of him during the season because of his right knee, but honestly, who wouldn't take 10 and 8 every night from the big guy?

I got to believe that the Sonics will cut down on the turnovers. They had a whopping 28, but many were just silly things like Nick Collison failing to inbound the ball on two occasions or Delonte West dragging his pivot foot.

At first glance, Durant is going to average about 20 points this year and he'll be among the league leaders in FT attempts. He looked bad at times tonight against Ron Artest who pushed, poked and held the kid all night. But against the Kings reserves, 6-9 Durant had a tremendous height advantage and he simply backed into the lane or powered to the rim where he got fouled.

I'm not as optimistic early on about Green. He still looks as if he's figuring things out. The Kings gave him the three-pointer, but he took just one trey and often drove into the lane where he fired up contested mid-range jumpers.

I was mildly surprised by Damien Wilkins, but honestly, I've seen him play like this before when he subbed for Ray Allen in the past. So to see him shoot 7-for-10 and score 18 points in 27 minutes isn't shocking. The kid can play if given minutes. Still, I'm not sure if he'll get those minutes when Wally Szczerbiak returns.

Chris Wilcox (13 points and 6 rebounds) and West (14 points and 6 assists) were quietly effective. They played well in spurts, while Johan Petro (2 points and 6 rebounds) can't play defense without fouling. He fouled out with 34 seconds left and was likely the person P.J. was talking about when he said: "It seemed like almost every time we helped, it was a foul."

Here's a potential dilemma to ponder. Swift can only play 25 minutes and Petro may be a liability in the middle because he can't stay on the court. So what's P.J. going to do? My guess is he'll turn to Kurt Thomas.

The Supes used a zone at the end of the third quarter and again in the fourth with varying degrees of success.

Just saw the replay of Luke Ridnour's injury.

I didn't put this in my story, but Artest caught him with an elbow across the bridge of the nose as Luke tried to fight through a screen. It appeared inadvertent and Artest attempted to reach out and looked as if he tried to say something to Luke who staggered to the locker room as blood dripped from his nose.

Anyway, we'll see if his nose is broken or not Wednesday when Luke has a CT scan.

Third quarter thoughts

Posted by Percy Allen at 8:58 PM

Sacramento 86, Sonics 80

The second half starters were: Earl Watson, Delonte West, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and Johan Petro.

Delonte West saved a turnover when outfought two Kings for a loose ball before whipping a halfcourt pass to rookie Jeff Green who finished the plan with an emphatic dunk with 6:50 left, which is the play of the game so far.

I believe second-year vet Mo Sene wasn't going to play, but Johan Petro collected his fifth foul and Robert Swift has played 21 minutes and P.J. said before the game that he wanted to limit players to 24 minutes.

Earl Watson has got to do something about his turnovers. He's got at least four and most of them have come off of bad passes whereas Delonte West (four) is making small mistakes like stepping out of bounds and changing his pivot feet, which can be corrected.

Kevin Durant is erratic. At times, he's too passive and other times he's moving too quick and making turnovers.

And this is one of those times when I wish I had a camera at the game and could post pictures because Brad Miller's hairdo defies description. The best I can say is he's working some kind of dreadlock thing at the top and a mullet at the bottom. It's not pretty.

Second quarter observations

Posted by Percy Allen at 8:22 PM

Sacramento 59, Sonics 56

Delonte West is fearless. He leads the Sonics with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting. West is just relentless, often powering to the basket for easy buckets.

There were times when Robert Swift didn't make across halfcourt offensively, but the big guy is having an impact on the game. He's got six points and five rebounds, but looks to be favoring that surgically-repaired knee.

Earl Watson (two turnovers) is erratic in place of Luke Ridnour and Kings forward Ron Artest has held Kevin Durant (four points) in check.

The Sonics are having problems closing out on perimeter shooters. Kings guard Kevin Martin (18 points) and Artest (nine points) are torching them. Brad Miller has 11.

Still no word on Ridnour's injury.

First quarter in Sac-town

Posted by Percy Allen at 7:40 PM

Sacramento 33, Sonics 30

Luke Ridnour took a shot to the face and staggered off the court alongside trainer Mike Shimensky with 6:49 remaining in the first quarter. The Sonics PR staff did not immediately know what the injury is, but Ridnour's nose was bleeding. Ridnour will not return.

Kevin Durant started at PG and defended Sacramento's Kevin Martin, however, Kings forward picked him up defensively which was a tough matchup for the Sonics rookie, who had two points in the period. Durant sank his first basket, a long-range jumper over Martin, with about 8:20 remaining in the quarter.

Damien Wilkins led the Sonics with nine points.

Starting lineups for Sacramento

Posted by Percy Allen at 2:14 PM

This just in. Tonight's starters will be:

PF - Nick Collison
SF - Damien Wilkins
C - Robert Swift
SG - Kevin Durant
PG - Luke Ridnour

The inactive list will include: Kurt Thomas, Wally Sczcerbiak and Mickael Gelabale.

So how about that. You surprised? Must admit, I didn't see this coming. But keep in mind, coach P.J. Carlesimo is using the first few preseason games to evaluate the team and the players. He's looking at different groupings and how players mesh together.

He also plans to use a 10-man rotation and will have a 24-minute cap on players.

Still, I thought Swift wouldn't start the opener because of his surgically-repaired right knee. And Wilkins ahead of No.5 draft pick Jeff Green and Collison ahead of Chris Wilcox are curious choices.

Starting Ridnour and Durant makes sense. Durant is the star and Ridnour was very impressive last week in the scrimmages I saw.

Talked to Durant this morning at shootaround and the kid is poised for somebody starting his first NBA game. Granted it's an exhibition game, but still, if he's nervous, he's not showing.

I asked him what his expectations were and he said: "I just want to get better. For everybody on the team to get some quality minutes and work on what we need to work on to get this win."

Interesting tidbit: Durant inadvertently pushed Reggie Theus toward the Sacramento Kings. As a Texas freshman last season, Durant led the Longhorns to a 79-67 victory against New Mexico State and former coach Theus. Durant dropped 27 points and snagged eight rebounds against the Aggies. Theus said this morning that he remembered the game and believes they "held" Durant in check.

By now you've seen the story on Spencer Hawes. The Kings are taking things in stride. They're hoping it's just a scope and not the dreaded M-word (microfracture surgery).

Still, I'm wondering why folks in Seattle don't know more about Hawes' history with knee problems.

After making some phone calls, I learned this morning that he's had 3-4 knee operations. And he told reporters in Sacramento that he's had microfracture surgery at 14. That's amazing. I didn't even know doctors were doing that procedure five years ago.

So for you conspiracy theorists, here's another reason why Hawes may have left the Huskies prematurely. He's guaranteed to make $4.1 million over the next two years. Who would risk that?

October 8, 2007

Showing support

Posted by Jayda Evans at 11:07 AM

New Orleans owner George Shinn is showing a little support for the new Oklahoma City-based Sonics ownership group, stating in this article that "They're just like I am, they're goal-oriented people."

Don't know if this is a positive statement or not. Shinn took the Hornets from Charlotte (and left the unwanted Sting, the now-defunct WNBA team) to relocate to New Orleans because the city wouldn't build him a new arena. Then he wouldn't return the team post-Hurricane Katrina until the ravaged city built a new facility. But things look good as the Hornets have a reported 6,000 season-ticket holders and 54 of their 57 luxury suites sold. They play their exhibition opener in Oklahoma City on Tuesday.

Shinn said he'd support a move by Clay Bennett, if anything was brought to the table. Bennett, who once tried to become a business partner with Shinn, would need a majority vote by the 30 NBA owners. Yet Shinn ultimately hopes a deal is reached in Seattle.

"All I can say is you feel like you're doing something right and you're dealing with the bureaucrats who feel like they're doing things right," Shinn told The Oklahoman. "And you find yourself between a rock and a hard place and it's difficult to maneuver. Hopefully sane minds will come together and make things work [in Seattle]. That's my opinion, and that's what should eventually happen.

October 5, 2007

Think you can play?

Posted by Jayda Evans at 2:06 PM

The Sonics are hosting a tryout for their NBA Developmental team affiliate, the Idaho Stampede. The cost is $150 and applicants can pre-register by 5 p.m. Oct. 19 for the two-day tryout beginning at 9 a.m. Oct. 27 at the Boys and Girls Club of Garden City in Boise, Idaho.

Players will showcase their talent before staff, including coach Bryan Gates. It's a long shot, but the Sonics like to highlight that Cleveland guard/forward Ira Newble, who appeared in 15 regular-season games and six postseason matchups with the Cavs last year, began his career at a free agent tryout after starring at Miami (Ohio).

More information is available at www.idahostampede.com.

Friday's practice

Posted by Jayda Evans at 1:18 PM

Talk about a stunted session. The Sonics keep losing players to nagging injuries, which continues to halt coach P.J. Carlesimo's ability to implement his schemes. The team ran through non-contact defense plays that the coach hopes they're able to execute in the contact practice this evening, but he didn't sound very optimistic.

Veteran Kurt Thomas (left quad), center Robert Swift (right knee tendonitis), forward Mickael Gelabale (left hamstring strain), and guard Delonte West (left big toenail removal) didn't practice at all while Chris Wilcox (left quad/hip flexor contusion) was on able to participate in the early part of the practice before pulling out.

"I'm not sure we're going to get a hell of a lot accomplished tonight either," said Carlesimo. "It's hard for the guys on the floor to learn when it's non-contact. It's really hard for the guys standing on the sideline not participating to try to learn. We got some things in, it's the first time they saw it. If we do it live tonight, they'll at least have a clue at what they're doing."

There's a chance Wilcox could return for practice this evening, but that's up to athletic trainer Mike Shimensky. His absence along with the other holes had rookie Jeff Green playing the power forward position today, which he will play a little this season, but he isn't a true big.

Carlesimo said new players like Green learning different positions and the ability to insert schemes is the only thing good about two-a-days where one session has to be non-contact.

"To have a non-contact practice is really crazy," he said.

Scooping up tickets

Posted by Jayda Evans at 1:11 PM

If you were planning to drive up to catch the Sonics play Phoenix in an exhibition game in Vancouver, B.C. on Oct. 26, better get your tickets now. Word is the game will be a sellout -- no surprise since Canadian Steve Nash will return to his native roots. So far about 15,800 tickets have been sold.

The Sonics also think the matchup with the Lakers in Bakersfield, Calif. could be a good draw. Who wouldn't want to see center Robert Swift, a native, matchup against Kobe Bryant when the latter goes driving through the paint? OK, that's a joke, but the Oct. 18 game at Rabobank Arena should be interesting.

Intrasquad scrimmage

Posted by Percy Allen at 9:24 AM

I meant to post this last night, but I think I'm still giving you guys plenty of advance notice.

The Supes are holding their ninth annual community practice at 6 p.m. Saturday at Seattle Pacific University's Royal Brougham Pavilion. The address is 3307 Third Ave. W.

There is no admission charge, and doors open at 5:15 p.m. Sonics mascot Squatch and the dance team will be in attedance raffling off prizes.

Stop by if you can. The team should hold an intrasquad scrimmage (if there's enough healthy bodies) and it will be your first chance to see Kevin Durant on the court. Then you can judge the kid for yourself and not have to rely soley on my reports.

The first three preseason games will not be shown on TV in the Seattle area. I'm told there's a chance the Oct. 18 game will be picked up by TNT, but that's still in the works. There's the two home exhibitions (Oct. 20 and 23) and there's a remote possibility that FSN will carry the preseason finale against Phoenix on Oct. 26.

Anyway, Saturday should be a lot of fun. It's a good time to get autographs. In the past, players mingled with the fans after the practice and the atmosphere was very kid friendly.

See you there.

October 4, 2007

Day 3 of training camp

Posted by Percy Allen at 1:52 PM

Uh-oh. The news isn't good folks, but then again, you probably saw this coming. Coach P.J. Carlesimo has been pushing the Sonics hard this week and sure enough, a few players succumbed to injuries.

Here's the roll call:
C Robert Swift -- right knee tendinitis
F Kurt Thomas -- left quadriceps bruise
G Delonte West -- left big toenail removed
F Mickael Gelabale -- left hip bruised

So needless to say the mood at practice this morning was a little somber. None of the injuries are serious with the exception of Swift. He was walking with a pronounced limp after the workout and it doesn't look as if he'll be able to go for a couple of days. Because there were so many injured players, P.J. had to cut practice short.

Instead of finishing with two 10-minute scrimmages, the Sonics had just one.

"Let's go full blast and see where we're at," P.J. told the players. "And we're asking the officials to call it tight."

The White team (Earl Watson, Damien Wilkins, Gelabale, Nick Collison, Mouhamed Sene and sub Jermaine Jackson) thoroughly dominated the Green team (Luke Ridnour, Kevin Durant, Wally Sczcerbiak, Chris Wilcox, Johan Petro and sub Jeff Green.) Again, don't read too much into the pairings, but it wouldn't be crazy to think the Green team will be the eventual starters and the White team are the reserves.

It will be interesting to see how Thomas and Swift figure into the mix, but that's how I see this ultimately shaking out.

Anyway, like I said earlier, the White team dominated from the start.

Even though he was hobbling, Gelabale stood out early on. I wrote Wednesday that he needs to be more aggressive. Today he began the scrimmage by receiving a lob from Watson for a nifty layup. Minutes later, Gelabale drove past Durant and finished a difficult layup in traffic. Damien also had little trouble getting into the lane.

When it was over, the White team won 27-11.

Durant drained a long jumper early, but for the most part he was passive at the start. Once the Green team was down by a considerable margin, he tried to assert himself and take over with dribble drives that usually ended with him being fouled and going to the line.

Green is picking his spots where he can be effective, but for the third day he didn't really stand out in a positive or negative way. With this lineup, Wilcox dominated the ball in the middle, attempting to back down Collison while everybody else stood on the perimeter and watched. It wasn't an effective tactic as Wally, Green and Durant stood on the outside waiting for the ball.

So draw your own conclusions, but to me the Green team looks to be the scoring team and the White team is the defenders. Maybe P.J. will splice them together or maybe he'll use a platoon system.

Check back later today.

Key year for Webster

Posted by Jayda Evans at 1:31 PM

Former Seattle Prep star Martell Webster added a little spice to the end of Portland's morning training camp session with a dunk show. Newly acquired forward/center Channing Frye called his teammate "stupid" when Webster bounced the basketball off the wall and apparently caught it for a 360-degree windmill jam.

When assistant coach Maurice Lucas walked by he commented, "Martell, you're going to mess around and get somebody hurt." Later, Lucas said he was glad the guys could jam like that because it meant they were in shape.

Portland coach Nate McMillan said this is a pivotal season for Webster, who seemed to be bitter last year -- his second in the league out of high school. The player averaged 7.0 points and 2.9 boards in 82 games, starting 27.

"It's year three for him and he needs to show more," McMillan said. "We're starting to see a little bit more consistency from him, but we need to know what type of player he is. Is he a shooter? Is he a two? Is he a three? Is he a guy who comes off the bench to spark your club? This is the year for him to establish who he will be in this league."

In contrast to last season, Webster was playful and upbeat at practice while executing McMillan's schemes. He even hit the weight room hard afterward the past two days, staying in great shape.

October 3, 2007

West update/catching up with Christie and GP

Posted by Percy Allen at 9:46 PM

Heard from the Sonics PR staff and Delonte West, who sprained his ankle in the Wednesday morning workout, did not practice tonight. There's no change in his condition and he's listed as day to day.

Obviously that's not good for West who is battling with Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson for minutes at PG. West is a better-than-adequate defender and he can play SG, but coach P.J. Carlesimo is installing his schemes and if West isn't on the court, then he falls further behind Luke and Earl.

You guys wanted to know about Doug Christie so I called him Tuesday and the former Rainer Beach standout said he's planning yet another comeback. He worked out with the Sonics last week and Portland last month. Sources with both teams say it was a courtesy workout, but Christie believes something substantial is in the works.

He also said he's talking with Miami "about some things."

You'll remember that Christie's career took a serious downward turn when Sacramento traded him to Orlando in 2004. The Magic released him August 11, 2005 and Dallas cut him Nov. 25, 2005. He took a year off to recover from ankle surgery, but his comeback with the Los Angeles Clippers flamed out last season.

Christie said it was a misunderstanding. He said he signed a 10-day contract against his better judgment because the Clippers told him they'd sign him for the remainder of the season. When the team extended him on another 10-day contract, he left LA and returned to Seattle.

Christie acknowledged that the way he handled things with the Clippers and his unusual marriage may scare off many teams.

"A lot of stuff that happened over the past year and a lot of stuff with my wife Jackie and I have tainted what I'm able to do," he said.

Christie, 37, said he's completely healed and believes he can play another 2-3 years. He also said that if he doesn't sign with a team this year, then he'll officially retire.

"If it doesn't happen this year, we're moving on," he said. "We're already writing books and doing other projects."

Christie isn't unlike a few other aging Seattle icons who can't let go of the game. Shawn Kemp still wants another chance and Gary Payton hasn't said his final goodbye.

I spoke with GP last week and he wasn't definitive about his future, but chances are he'll try commentating this season.

Camping in Portland

Posted by Jayda Evans at 3:03 PM

I'm in Portland, where news is breaking here about a Seattleite we all care about -- Brandon Roy, last season's NBA rookie of the year. He missed practice due to more complications with his left heel, although MRI results showed no damage. Now, everyone here is wondering why he didn't have surgery during the offseason, especially since he had a flare up this summer. Blazers' coach Nate McMillan is even thinking about keeping his premier player out of the entire exhibition season.

Roy isn't exactly up for that, however. He said he likes to warm up to the regular season and doesn't want his first real stint to be the opener against San Antonio. He's going to stay out of practice this week and closely monitor the heel. Roy wants to play in at least three exhibition games, which would include the matchup against the Sonics, and thinks he can persuade McMillan to agree despite saying the coach was "firm" about his decision on Tuesday.

"With Greg [Oden] out, we're just too thin," Roy said about having surgery now. "I need to be out there to help this team win."

A surprise guest at camp was Dwane Casey, former Sonics associate head coach under McMillan and recently fired as Minnesota coach. Casey has been peeping in on McMillan's camp the past two days and Casey said he's going to make stops in Cleveland and Orlando, among others this season.

Sources say Casey had a few offers to get back in the league (he was considered for the Supes position), but he said next season is probably when he'll get back in the NBA.

Casey traveled to China with Blazers guard/forward Martell Webster and former Gonzaga star Adam Morrison (Charlotte) for an Adidas camp and both Webster and Casey had some funny stories about Morrison. My favorite was that Morrison is still into the chew (tobacco), but would also take smoke breaks with the Chinese outside the facility. They formed a semi-circle around the 6-foot-9 NBA player puffing away. How Morrison does it and still plays, nobody knows -- including Casey and Webster.

Day 2 of training camp

Posted by Percy Allen at 2:17 PM

Thanks for the words of encouragement, guys. Much appreciated.

All right, let's get to it. The third training camp practice (remember they practiced Tuesday night) just ended and there was plenty of action on the court. Coach P.J. Carlesimo said it was the most scrimmaging the team had done. Basically, it was a 5-on-5 drill with referees officiating and the team separated into two squads. P.J. wanted to have three squads, but Delonte West got hurt (more on that later) and there weren't enough bodies for three teams.

The White team consisted of Kevin Durant, Luke Ridnour, Wally Szczerbiak, Chris Wilcox and Nick Collison, and the subs were Kurt Thomas and Mickael Gelabale. The Green team: Earl Watson, Damien Wilkins, Jermaine Jackson, Johan Petro and Robert Swift and reserves Jeff Green and Mouhamed Sene.

Again, don't read too much into the groupings just yet. For instance, P.J. said it's highly unlikely that Petro and Swift will be on the court at the same time during the season.

Still, it was interesting to see Durant paired with Ridnour in the backcourt. I know I wrote yesterday that Durant looked as if he were playing more SF than SG, but P.J. cleared that up after Tuesday's practice and said the rookie will play in the backcourt.

Luke looks really dynamic in this offense that's being installed by Paul Westhead. It's tailor-made for him. I tend to believe that P.J. is building a defensive-minded team, but the Supes will need to score some easy buckets and when Luke and Durant ran a fast break this morning that had everyone in the gym thinking maybe the team will be more wide open than imagined.

Anyway, P.J.'s revelation that Durant will play SG heats up the competition at SF between Wally, Green and Damien. At this time, it seems as if Mickael will be hard pressed to challenge for a starting spot unless he seriously asserts himself in the next couple of weeks.

And I know it's early, but I'm going to go on the record right now and say I like Wally. The guy will knock down open jump shots. Now the question is can he play defense.

I asked P.J. about the center spot. He'd like a 7-footer in the middle (read: Swift) but will play small if he has to and that means Nick or Kurt.

Wilcox told me that he worked on his mid-range jumper this summer, but I haven't seen it just yet. So far, he still powers to the basket where he either dunks or gets fouled.

The Supes practiced about 2 1/2 hours today and will come back tonight for an evening non-contact session. P.J. plans to run them hard Thursday morning, probably a three-hour practice, and give them the night off.

As for West, he sprained his right ankle and is listed as day to day. P.J. hadn't spoken with the medical staff before meeting with the media and couldn't go into details. Apparently, West got injured near the end of today's practice.

DEAN RUTZ/SEATTLE TIMES
Some other quick observations:

Durant debuted his new Nike sneakers at practice. Nice. Really. From what I'm told, this is a limited version of the Nike Elite that might go on sale, but it's not his signature shoe.

Sene still tends to fall down in the paint when he's bumped and Swift hit some nice open jumpers. Didn't see much from Green other than a few explosive moves in which he got fouled.

I'll post another entry later today.

October 2, 2007

First impressions of P.J.'s first practice

Posted by Percy Allen at 1:50 PM

Well the first half of Day 1 is done. The Sonics will have an evening practice tonight, but more on that later. Let's get to what you really want to know, which is how did Kevin Durant look?

Well to borrow P.J.'s words, he was just "all right." Keep in mind, the media is allowed to view only the last 30 minutes of practice and we basically saw a fast-break drill and a 5-on-5 transition drill. Durant was OK. He played small forward and didn't make a basket by my count, but he had a nice rebound and passed out of double teams.

This is what P.J. had to say: "It would be hard for anybody to jump out today. Kevin, he did all right, but I didn't notice him any more or less than anybody else."

The same can be said for Jeff Green.

As for Robert Swift, that's a different story. Wearing a right knee brace, he was clearly laboring. Keep in mind, he's recovering from ACL surgery and he has added 40 pounds, but the big guy was moving slow. He had a chance at a few short- and mid-range jumpers and missed all three during a transition drill. P.J. wasn't too concerned, but he said he plans to monitor Swift's time on the court.

Not that it matters at this point, but the teams were divided into three groups. The Red team consisted of Delonte West, Nick Collison, Jeff Green, Damien Wilkins and Mouhamed Sene. The Green team was Luke Ridnour, Jermaine Jackson, Chris Wilcox, Wally Sczcerbiak and Swift. And the White team was Earl Watson, Mickael Gelabale, Durant, Thomas and Johan Petro.

Sczcerbiak impressed me with his shooting. He's clutch. And he didn't seem bothered by the ankle, which forced him to miss most of last season.

Lastly, the Supes will hold two-a-day practices today, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday barring injuries. The evening drills are closed to the media. The team will have a public scrimmage 6 p.m. Saturday at Seattle Pacific University.

October 1, 2007

Training camp roster

Posted by Jayda Evans at 7:16 PM

The team is actually starting off pretty lean from past seasons. Instead of 20 names where most end up on the waiver wire, new general manager Sam Presti only has one player not under guaranteed contract (Jermaine Jackson) and new coach P.J. Carlesimo said he doesn't have a single position plugged in - making for plenty of camp battles. Here's the complete roster:

No. Player Position Ht. Wt. Birthdate From Years Pro

4 Nick Collison F/C 6-10 255 10/26/80 Kansas 3

35 Kevin Durant F 6-9 215 9/29/88 Texas R

15 Mickael Gelabale F 6-7 215 5/22/83 France 1

22 Jeff Green F 6-9 235 8/28/86 Georgetown R

27 Johan Petro C 7-0 247 1/27/86 France 2

8 Luke Ridnour G 6-2 175 2/13/81 Oregon 4

18 Mouhamed Sene C 7-0 230 5/12/86 Senegal 1

31 Robert Swift C 7-1 245 12/3/85 Bakersfield HS (Calif.) 2

3 Wally Szczerbiak F 6-7 245 3/5/77 Miami (Ohio) 8

44 Kurt Thomas F/C 6-9 235 10/4/72 Texas Christian 12

25 Earl Watson G 6-1 185 6/12/79 UCLA 6

2 Delonte West G 6-3 195 1/26/83 St. Joseph's (Pa.) 3

54 Chris Wilcox F 6-10 235 9/3/82 Maryland 5

21 Damien Wilkins G/F 6-6 225 1/11/80 Georgia 3

5 Jermaine Jackson G 6-5 205 6/7/76 Detroit Mercy 5

Welcome to my world

Posted by Percy Allen at 5:16 PM

My second life begins today. Most reporters who cover the NBA will tell you the same thing. We live two lives. There's the relatively normal 9-to-5 life during the offseason and then there's the hectic grind of a nine-month season, which begins today. Of course, when I say nine months, that's factoring in a deep playoff run, which is something the Sonics haven't done in more than a decade.

Anyway, if you hadn't picked up on it by now, this is an introductory blog entry. It's me saying hello to you and inviting you to check back for daily updates about the Supes. Because I'm a newbie at this blogging thing, I've teamed with Jayda Evans and we plan to use this space to fill in the blanks, illuminate, entertain and provoke conversation.

I don't need to tell you that it's going to be a crazy year, but don't worry, we'll sort through all of the issues together. Feedback is not only welcome and appreciated, it's expected. Consider us your hoops advocate. Tell us what you want to kow and hopefully we'll get some of the Times Forum folks to join in on the fun.

So that's all I have for now. Jayda is going to share some words and be sure to check back for my posts from the first training camp practice on Tuesday.

Like I said, it's going to be a crazy year, so strap in.

Greetings Sonics nation

Posted by Jayda Evans at 5:14 PM

Today's Sonics Media Day is exactly why I'm excited to extend my blogging life (I've blogged the Storm beat the past two summers, so congrats Sue Bird and coach Anne Donovan on winning gold in Chile and qualifying for the 2008 Olympics).

Some of the logistics and scene don't make it into the newspaper but I think you will get a kick out of the behind-the-scenes tidbits. Like, oh, a cluster of fans outside the facility on Monday who were giddy about the class-action lawsuit filed by season-ticket holders in their honor.

So media day has started with that cloud. Although I have to say the Knicks kicking off their media meet-and-greet with news that team president/coach Isiah Thomas will most likely be found guilty for sexual harassment tops what the Sonics players will face as training camp begins.

And guard Luke Ridnour had a table full of reporters cracking up when he claimed "Dumb & Dumber" his all-time favorite movie. Take that "Caddyshack."

Anyway, off-beat tales and newsy nuggets are what we plan to make this blog all about. And we'll have lots of fun. Enough with the intros, let's get to blogging.

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