6.28.2007

Sonics demonstrate uncanny ability to wiz on fans' excitement

This night was supposed to be the night the franchise turned around -- the night we celebrated the next great Seattle superstar's arrival in our town.

It was supposed to be a night of unbridled joy.

Instead, I'm left thinking that if Clay Bennett could send the Mariners on a 10-game losing streak or take a lead pipe to Matt Hasselbeck's kneecap, he would. He's that good at ruining pretty much anything that makes us smile.

On a night that was supposed to be all about Kevin Durant -- the night we dreamed that maybe, with just a little bit of roster tweaking, the Sonics were on their way to being relevant again by building around a new young superstar who would learn from the aging superstar -- we ended up talking all about Ray Allen becoming a Boston Celtic.

It really is amazing that anything could ruin this night, but Bennett and his guys figured out a way to do it.

I had hope that this team might become an instant contender. But it now is abundantly obvious that Bennett is intent on blowing the thing up and starting over, building around Durant. As I wrote earlier, the cynicist in me believes Bennett might just be trying to tank the team for just long enough to get it out of town. Even the most optimistic person would have to agree that losing 50 games again next year is not the way to get an arena deal done, and history tells us this isn't the best way to build to a championship.

Now, it's clear GM Sam Presti isn't done with this roster. He's got a sign-and-trade deal for Rashard Lewis to complete. They're still saying publicly they want Rashard back -- presumably to try and retain some leverage -- but let's get real. There are now three small forwards under contract in Durant, Jeff Green and Wally Szczerbiak, and as Allen said, Rashard is not likely to want to join a youth movement. He's got no scoring punch from the two-guard spot -- unless they're counting on Szczerbiak (who played in 32 games last year) -- and still has huge issues at point guard.

He's obviously got some substantial dealing left to do, so I'll reserve total judgment until I see how this all shakes out. But tonight could hardly have gone worse, from a fan perspective.

I'm not saying I don't totally understand parting with Allen; after all, he plays a position where the drop off in play is generally precipitous at his age. But I don't understand the pick of Jeff Green, a guy I think is really overrated. He's a nice player, but not the kind of guy who's going to pair with Durant to dominate the West for years to come. (And I don't just say that because he traveled against Vandy and ruined my bracket.) And to only get Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West thrown into the deal, while -- oh, by the way -- giving up your No. 35 pick in this draft (which turned out to be Big Baby Davis)? It just doesn't make sense.

And I really don't understand the pick of Carl Landry, rated the 63rd-best prospect by Chad Ford at ESPN.com yet picked by the Sonics at 31. Even if he is your guy, in such a deep draft, the Sonics could have easily traded down and picked up a pick next year or something and still gotten him.

I would much rather have seen the Sonics pick Corey Brewer -- a lockdown perimeter defender and solid shooter -- to play the point at No. 5, then seen them pick up Arizona's Marcus Williams -- a pure scorer at the two-guard -- at No. 31. Both are long and versatile, and fit the mold that apparently Presti is looking for. That would have gotten me excited, as I would have seen how the pieces were fitting together.

Instead, we got a 3/4 tweener without any discernable strengths other than athleticism and yet another undersized power forward, with only the promise that there is more work to be done.

Yippee.

Thanks, Clay, for sucking the life out of Seattle once again.

4 comments:

Mike said...

haha! It cracks me up that the national majority think the Sonics robbed Boston, yet the Seattle fans are the only ones that don't like the deal.

Sure you hate to see a guy like Ray go, but we also hated to see a guy like Gary Payton go... facts are facts- if Ray had another injury ridden year like last year, then you get no value and are eating 17 million for the next three years. Try to get a city excited about that.

When the question is asked, "Who had the best draft?"- the majority of commentators said Seattle! We talk about getting this city excited for Sonics basketball, yet we are getting praised by the rest of the country and we are the ones trying to halt the buzz! Don't try to blame Clay Bennett and Sam Presti for that, because the rest of the nation IS buzzing about the Sonics. Once our fragile egos are mended then maybe we can see the positives of this deal.

Sure it takes some imagination right now, but Presti is not making decisions on what is best for "Seattle", he is making a decision on what is best for "The Sonics". I'm surprised we are not talking about how we should have drafted some unknown Indian player- because he might give us better odds of getting an arena deal with the Muckleshoots.

As far as Jeff Green goes, if you look at the Hollinger ratings and what other analysts are saying- he probably will never be a go-to scorer... we don't need a scorer, especially if we resign Rashard. We need a guy who is committed to allowing Durant and Lewis to be the point scorers. You may see him as undervalued, but I see him as a team player with all-star athleticism. If you see video of how he can penetrate and then find the open man, that is not typical of a 6'9" player. The crazy thing is he seems willing to do it. Look at the backseat he took to Hibbert down the stretch, but it took them to the Final Four.

Now some creativity. Stealing something mentioned by Kevin Calabero (sp?) tonight at the draft party: can you imagine the sight of a Dwayne Casey coached defense with three guys setup in their defensive stance with wingspans of: 7'1, 7'4, 6'11" (guestimating Rashard's).

Jeff Green will be a guy who does the little things to make this team better. I am trusting that both Presti and Perry saw the intangibles that will make him a better system guy than Brewer (even though I personally thought Brewer would be the pick).

Lastly, can you in your creative mind imagine Ray Allen playing quality defense or even attempting to half decent defense? yeah, me neither. So 1) how is Durant going to step up and lead if he has a proven veteran already in that role and more importantly 2) how is Allen going to promote team defense when he himself refuses to try?

OK, I thought that was lastly, but this really is lastly- the 08 Free Agency class is deep. So if we don't get a guy like Chauncy Billups in FA this year (which with Fortson's expiring contract and the money saved on Ray could get us pretty close), then next year we use that extra cap space and find one or two studs to throw in the mix.

I don't think Lebron is doing too badly without a veteran mentor on his team. And I am sure he would have liked to come into the league with the #5 pick from his draft class!... yes I'm going to force you to look that one up if you don't know already...!

Nuss said...

Mike drank the Kool Aid!

Just kidding Mike. I understand where you're coming from, but let me address a few things.

if Ray had another injury ridden year like last year, then you get no value and are eating 17 million for the next three years.
1. Ray Allen had played 78 games the previous two years. That's a big if.
2. Taking on Wally Szczerbiak at $12 million for each of the next two years is better? Maybe a little ... but Boston is doing backflips they were able to unload that thing. Payback for Vin Baker!

the rest of the nation IS buzzing about the Sonics.
I think "buzzing" is a little strong. Most of what I've seen says people think it's a positive deal -- mostly for the contract reason -- but I don't see anyone particularly fired up about it. And the "nation" isn't worried about losing this team the way we are. The "nation" still thinks this is South Alaska.

We need a guy who is committed to allowing Durant and Lewis to be the point scorers.
Um, Durant and Lewis? How about just Durant. Durant, Green and Lewis -- all 6-9/6-10 and small forwards -- cannot play on the floor at the same time, no matter what Calabro says. Never mind the fact that Lewis' defense is worse than Allen's ever was. If we're going to use our "imagination," how about imagining getting a new point guard and a two-guard who can score in a sign-and-trade for Lewis?

I see him as a team player with all-star athleticism.
Do you really need to use the No. 5 pick to get a "team player"? Can't those "dirty work" guys be found somewhere else? The No. 5 pick is where you get all-star talent -- not all-star athleticism.

if we don't get a guy like Chauncy Billups in FA this year (which with Fortson's expiring contract and the money saved on Ray could get us pretty close)
How do you figure you saved money? You traded a $17 million contract but added roughly the same $17 million in contracts between Szczerbiak ($12 million), West ($2 million), Green ($3 million).

The Sonics will not be able to sign a free agent. Right now, they have $48 million worth of contracts, and that does not include Durant or Green. Figure in their roughly $7.5 million of contracts, now you're up to the $55 million salary cap. And that DOESN'T include resigning Rashard. There is no money to sign Chauncey Billups or anyone else. You're wrong there. Their only option is a sign-and-trade with Rashard because they can use their Bird exception to sign him.

I don't think Lebron is doing too badly without a veteran mentor on his team. And I am sure he would have liked to come into the league with the #5 pick from his draft class!... yes I'm going to force you to look that one up if you don't know already...!
LeBron is a freak. And if you're somehow comparing Jeff Green to Dwyane Wade ... well, you have been drinking too much Kool Aid!

DrPezz said...

You know, at first I was a bit negative about this trade but now I like it. What Seattle ad was not working, and Ray was having ankle problems. 35-40 win seasons won't cut it.

I think Ray could have a monster year alongside Pierce, but Seattle could start an upswing here. It might take a year, but it'll come.

I'm hoping, though, that Seattle's dealing isn't done.

Nuss said...

I'm coming around, too. But Frank Hughes this morning is the first guy I think who gets it. It's not just about basketball -- nothing's just about basketball with this team right now. I'm throwing up a post on that real quick.