Follow the Sonics off and on the court with reporters Percy Allen and Jayda Evans.
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June 26, 2008 6:37 PM
Posted by Percy Allen
The newest Sonic Russell Westbrook conducted an eight-minute teleconference from New York with media members from Seattle and Oklahoma City. Here's the complete Q&A.
(Opening statement) "I'm very excited to be a Sonic. I'm looking forward to next season. I'm very, very excited. I've been working so hard to put myself in the best position possible. I'm very excited."
(Are you surprised you went this early?) "Not really. I worked so hard over the summer. … And it's paid off. I'm very excited."
(Did you have a sense where you would be drafted?) "I felt that I might go four. But you never know because of trades and things like that. I'm just sitting there waiting for my name to be called. And to go pretty early, I'm very happy to hear it."
(Talk about playing with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green) "Them are two good guys. I talked to Kevin Durant before the draft. He was really happy for me and congratulated me and things like that. Kevin was the Rookie of the Year last year. I'm looking forward to getting him shots. Getting him open and making him a better player as well."
(Do you consider yourself a point guard or are you a hybrid and more of a two guard?) "I consider myself playing the point guard at the next level. I've been working this summer. I've been playing point guard all my life pretty much. Now it’s my time and I can show it to the whole world playing at the next level."
(What area do you need improve?) "I see myself sometimes going too fast. Moving too fast. I see the game so fast. That's one thing I would like to improve by seeing the game slowing (and) slowing down sometimes."
(This time last year, you were trying to make the lineup and now you’re a lottery pick. Talk about the past 12 months.) "It's been real crazy. Every day I thank God and I'm blessed. I wake up every day and I thank God. Just work my tail off every day to try to become the best player I can possibly become. Now it's finally here. It feels like I'm starting all over again so I got to do the same thing again."
(How well do you know Earl Watson?) "I just saw Earl before I left LA. He was congratulating me and things like that. Earl is a real good guy. … I know Earl will teach me some things. He was teaching me some things before the year."
(How do you feel like coming to the Sonics given the offcourt troubles?) "I feel great. The Sonics are a great organization regardless of where it is. The team is great as well."
(Where you aware the team might be playing in Oklahoma City next season and are you ok with either there or Seattle?) "Yeah I'm aware that the Sonics might play in a different city. But I don’t think that’s a big issue. I feel if the team has good chemistry and it's a good organization (then) I won’t have no problem."
(What's it like going back-to-back with teammate Kevin Love? Do you have bragging rights now?) "Not really. Kevin was my roommate all last year. He's a great friend. A great teammate. I'm very happy for him and his family. This is what we dreamed of going to UCLA and it happened for us both. Going four and five. I'm very happy for Kevin."
(Explain your emotions when you found out you were going to be the fourth pick.) "I was real excited. Just like wow I’m finally here. I got a chance to walk up to shake David Stern's hands. I been thinking about that all of my childhood watching the NBA draft growing up and now it’s finally here."
(Describe the atmosphere there.) "My mom, my dad and my little brother. Up until this day it's been great hanging with my family. I love my family to death. It's just been a great experience overall. Every other player’s family is here. It's just been great. I’m very excited."
(When did the Sonics tell you they were looking at you for the fourth pick?) "When I went to work out there. When I went to work out there, they thought I did a good job. My agent let me know that they were considering for the pick. They've seen my a couple of times in LA and I just tried my best to workout every day I was in the gym because you never know who is watching."
(When did you decide you were a NBA prospect and when did you decide to enter the draft?) "At one point throughout the it never came to my mind. Every night I just prayed and thanked God every day I got an opportunity to play the game. I went out and gave it my all every game. And it gave me the opportunity to become an NBA player."
(Was there a point in the season when you started considering the draft?) "Not really. I wasn't trying to focus on the NBA or the next level. And then close to the end, I kind of thought about it. And then at the end of the year, I felt I was ready to make the next step."
(Talk about the freshman being drafted.) "Them are some good guys. I respect all of them. O.J., Derrick (inaudible). All them guys, I respect them. Some of them are the same age as me (19). They are good guys and I'm very happy for them and they’re families."
(Are you surprised there were so many freshman?) "Not at all. They are good players. They are good caliber players. They’re one of the top players in the country as freshmen so I'm not surprised at all."
(Any unusual hobbies?) "Just me. I’m a little laid back off the court. Hanging out with my little brother when I go back home. Listening to music when I’m not working out. Just being myself. Hanging out and enjoying life every day and thanking God."
(Are you surprised to be where you’re at?) "Kind of sort of. I was working every day. I never thought I'd be able to jump. Running in the sand. Doing plyometrics. It paid off at the right time and I’m very happy for it."
(How important was to stay on the West Coast?) "It means a lot, but my family is going to come to the game regardless of where I’m at. My family is always going to be with me and I'm always with my family."
June 26, 2008 5:04 PM
Posted by Percy Allen
In the end, GM Sam Presti went with defense which explains why he used the Sonics No. 4 pick to select UCLA guard Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook is a lockdown defender who can defend both guard positions and the small forward spot. He's got a 6-7 3/4 wingspan, stands 6-3 and has a 36-inch vertical leap.
The Sonics ranked 27th in points allowed and Westbrook should help change that.
The questions about Westbrook is his ability to play point guard in the NBA. Darren Collison was the Bruins point guard last season and Westbrook was the shooting guard. Still, he led UCLA in assists.
Conceibably, fellow Bruin Earl Watson will mentor Westbrook for a year until he learns the position.
June 26, 2008 4:11 PM
Posted by Percy Allen
Just hustled across town from the federal courthouse where the Sonics trial ended to the Furtado Center.
I wasn't the only one battling traffic. Sonics co-owner and chairman Clay Bennett beat me here by a couple of minutes. He's up in the War Room and I'm in the media room.
After a few hours, ESPN finally recanted the rumor about the Sonics swapping picks with the Los Angeles Clippers. We debunked the report hours ago thanks to a Sonics source.
Still it's believed GM Sam Presti is having numerous discussions about the pick because nobody in the draft is truly worthy of the No. 4 pick. It was believed that this was a two-man draft (Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley) but now it's a three-man draft with O.J. Mayo thrown in there.
After the top three, there's a big seperation.
The most Interesting question I've heard about the draft has nothing to do with Jerryd Bayless, Brook Lopez, Russell Westbrook or Kevin Love. A friend of mine asked: "What will David Stern say when he gets to the podium?"
Will he say: Seattle Sonics or Sonics? Last year, Stern said: "Seattle Sonics." Believe me. I checked. Got to admit, I'm a little curious.
FYI: Sonics forward Jeff Green is hosting a Draft Party at Fox Sports Grill.
June 26, 2008 12:39 PM
Posted by Percy Allen
A Sonics team source steadfastly denied an ESPN report that has Seattle sending its fourth pick to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for the No. 7 pick and a protected first-round pick in 2009.
ESPN writer Ric Bucher first broke the story earlier today and ESPN college basketball analyst Steve Lavin is also reporting the trade.
The team source, however, says the Sonics are not making a deal involving those picks. The source declined to verify or deny if Seattle is engaged in other trades, but repeatedly said: "What's being reported is not true. It's inaccurate."
So as it stands, the Sonics have the No. 4 and 24 picks in the first round. Seattle also has four picks (32, 34, 50 and 56) in the second round.
***UPDATE 2:20 P.M.*** ESPN's Chad Ford is now reporting that Seattle-LA trade is contingent on what Minnesota does with the third pick. Says Ford: "The Clippers and Sonics have agreed to swap picks as long as the Wolves take O.J. Mayo at No. 3. If Mayo isn't drafted at 3, the deal is off according to two sources close to the information."
A Sonics source said there is "nothing" to this report either.
June 26, 2008 12:08 PM
Posted by Percy Allen
ESPN writer Ric Bucher is reporting the Sonics have traded their fourth pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for their seventh pick and a protected first-round pick in 2009.
Before the deal, the Sonics had two first-round picks in 2009 and now it seems as if they will have three.
The Clippers covet Indiana guard Eric Gordon.
The Sonics seemingly want to move back to select UCLA guard Russell Westbrook or Bruins center Kevin Love.
June 25, 2008 11:30 AM
Posted by Percy Allen
The city filed its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law motion this morning. It's an 82-page document, which basically says the Sonics are a unique tenant who entered into a binding "special agreement" contract to play games at KeyArena for 15 years. Sonics chairman Clay Bennett knowingly took responsibility of the lease when he bought the team and there are no provisions or out-clauses.
The Sonics filed their 18-page Fact and Conclusions of Law motion Tuesday afternoon. They claim there's a monetary figure that can compensate the city for its loss.
So here's the challenge for you so-called lawyers and anyone who ever saw an episode of Law & Order. I've posted both motions and if you've got the the time, take a look and give everyone here your expert opinion.
Nevermind the week's worth of testimony or Thursday's closing arguments. Most of that stuff is posturing and will have no effect on the outcome of the trial. All of the pertinent information is here to make a decision and this is your chance to be Judge Marsha Pechman for a day.
Make it a good ruling.
June 24, 2008 7:24 PM
Posted by Percy Allen
ESPN senior writer Andy Katz reported Tuesday night the Miami Heat could pull off a shocker and select USC guard O.J. Mayo with the No. 2 pick.
That would be a stunner considering the Chicago Bulls, which has the top pick, are telling Kansas State forward Michael Beasley that he's still in the running with Memphis guard Derrick Rose for the No.1 spot.
If the Heat does the unexpected and take Mayo, then Minnesota, which picks third, will have to resort to Plan B. The Timberwolves hope to draft Mayo, but if he's off the board they'l have to take a long look at Stanford center Brook Lopez or one of the top combo guards such as Arizona's Jerryd Bayless and Indiana's Eric Gordon.
Beasley doesn't make sense for Minnesota. Even though he shrunk at the combine (he's listed at 6-10, but is actually 6-7 without shoes and 6-8 1/4 with shoes) he's still a NBA power forward and that position belongs to potential All-Star Al Jefferson in Minnesota.
The folks in the Sonics War Room at the Furtado Center - not to mention Kevin Durant - would be ecastic if events unfolded like this on draft day. Durant and Beasley are childhood friends. During an interview a few weeks ago, Durant told me he loves Beasley and thinks of him as a brother.
A part of me thinks the Heat are posturing, which is an annual draft gimmick. It's no secret Miami President Pat Riley has doubts about Beasley, however, it wouldn't be unlike Riley to plant a story in an attempt to lure T-Wolves GM Kevin McHale into a trade offer for the No. 2 pick.
Over the next two days, we'll hear lots of crazy rumors and some involving the Sonics. Rumors on Tuesday and Wednesday tend to have no merit. Rumors on Thursday, however, are more legitimate so stay tuned.
After meeting with the media Tuesday, Sonics GM Sam Presti didn't divulge any secrets. It's his second year as GM, but he's quickly developed a heckuva poker face. He smiles, answers questions and says nothing.
Much more interesting than Presti's opinion on the draft were his opinions on Robert Swift, Mouhamed Sene and Mickael Gelabale.
Quick reminder. Swift played just eight games while recovering from right knee surgery. He tore meniscus in the knee and underwent surgery on March 4. Sene had microfracture surgery on his right knee after tearing his lateral meniscus April 4. Gelabale tore his right ACL on March. 18.
According to Presti: "Robert was in today. He looks good and continues to work toward getting back on the floor. He's made steady progress. Mo is the same thing. He's worked hard on his rehab. He's been very diligent and has been in the weight room just about every day, which has been kind of interesting because we've been bringing all of these draft prospects in and he's in there working out. Nick (Collison) is in working out. ... But Mo's been a regular. He looks good and getting strong. And then Gelly is obviously overseas, but things have progressed for him as well and he's rehabbing over there."
Presti said he's "still evaluating" when asked about their futures. Swift and Gelabale have contracts that expire July 1. Sene has a roster spot next year and will make $2.2 million next season.
Since Gelabale, a second-round pick in 2005, has returned home and he won't be available for training camp, he's unlikely to return. In two seasons, he averaged 4.5 points and 2.1 rebounds.
Obviously if the Sonics draft a center, Swift's days are numbered. Even if they don't take a center, the team isn't likely to re-sign him and save $3.6 million.
If I were GM, I'd let Swift walk and try to sign with another team, which will be next to impossible because nobody wants an unproven center recovering from knee surgeries who hasn't played in two years. Then the Supes can re-sign Swift - if they have a roster spot - just before camp for the veteran's minimum and a one-year, incentive-laden contract.
It's cold and heartless, but it's the smart move.
June 24, 2008 12:24 PM
Posted by Percy Allen
In a motion filed earlier today, Sonics attorneys "seek an order to preclude the city from eliciting testimony from Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis that the city did not know that its attorneys, K&L Gates, were working with potential buyers to implement a the "Poison Well" strategy."
The team argues the city repeatedly told Ceis not to answer questions about his discussion with K&L Gates attorney and consultant Wally Walker asserting attorney-client privilege. The Sonic say the city should not be allowed to "ambush the PBC (Professional Basketball Club) on the last day of the trial."
The city planned to call Ceis as a rebuttal witness on Thursday to set the record straight on the relationship between city and K&L Gates attorney Slade Gorton who worked with a potential ownership group plotting to force chairman Clay Bennett to sell the team.
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