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News » Seattle Supersonics Getting Inside 2008-04-29

Seattle Supersonics Getting Inside 2008-04-29

Seattle Supersonics Getting Inside 2008-04-29
With two first-round draft picks and some salary cap space to work with, the Sonics are in position to make some moves during the off-season and will look to continue their rebuilding process after setting a franchise-record for losses this season.

At present, the Sonics will save about $8 million in cap space over the next two years. And Seattle also still holds trade exceptions worth about $3 million and $1.8 million to sweeten any future trades.

Seattle has solid building blocks in place with Kevin Durant -- the likely NBA Rookie of the Year this season -- and fellow rookie Jeff Green, who played better the second half of the season.

The Sonics have 11 players under contract at season's end. Probably joining Durant and Green to form the nucleus of Seattle's future roster are forwards Nick Collison and Chris Wilcox, point guard Earl Watson, reserve swingman Damien Wilkins and center Johan Petro.

Players that could be on their way out include guard Luke Ridnour, swingman Mickael Gelabale and Robert Swift.

"You've got to get what you can get," Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo said about the draft in terms of needs for his team. "We need a lot of things. I don't think there's a lot of things we don't need or can't get better at. We certainly need to shoot it better from outside. We'd love a low-post presence. We need to be better defensively. We need to take care of the ball better.

"When you win 19 games, there's a lot of things you're not doing well, particularly in the West."

Ridnour was injured early in the season and lost playing time as Watson emerged as the starting point guard. And with both making around $6 million next season, Ridnour could be on the trading block this summer. Gelabale suffered a torn ACL in his right knee with about a month left in the season and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Gelabale will return to France to rehabilitate his knee, and may remain in Europe to continue his basketball career.

Swift suffered through an injury-plagued season in which he struggled to return from major knee reconstructive surgery at the start of the season, sitting out for two months to let the injury heal. On his return in February, Swift suffered a torn meniscus in the same knee and will have to rehabilitate the injury during the summer. Swift is a restricted free agent at the end of this season, and the Sonics will have to decide if they want to continue to invest money and time into the 7-footer to see if he will develop.

Fellow 7-footer Mouhamed Sene also suffered a torn meniscus while playing for the team's Development League affiliate, the Idaho Stampede, and also needs to get healthy this summer -- he underwent knee surgery in mid-April. Although he only appeared in 14 games this season, The Sonics' brass was impressed with how he performed in the development league, where Sene earned co-Defensive Player of the Year honors, averaging 12.4 points, nine rebounds and two blocks a game. However, Sene still remains a project and has a lot to learn.

Donyell Marshall ($5.95 million) and Adrian Griffin ($1.7 million) both have a year remaining on their contract and could be brought back for next season, while Francisco Elson's contract expires at the end of the season, and he likely will not be back next year.

Late season pickup Ronald Dupree showed flashes of energy and athleticism in the little minutes he played during the last few weeks of the season, and could be brought back to participate in the Orlando summer league for the Sonics.

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: Playing in perhaps the last home game at Seattle's KeyArena in Sonics history last Sunday, the Sonics put on a performance to remember in a 99-95 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Seattle rookie Kevin Durant hit the game winner, a 15-foot jumper from the elbow with under a minute left. Afterwards, Sonics fans stood chanting "Save Our Sonics" for two minutes. Durant said he almost cried after the game.

TURNING POINT: Seattle started the beginning of the season on an eight-game losing streak -- a foreshadowing of the miserable season to come as the Sonics lost a franchise-record 62 games.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 29, 2008


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