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Monday, July 02, 2007

Sonics: OK, what now?    

We landed Durant. We ditched Ray Allen's contract and got Delonte West and Jeff Green in return (plus some other guy). The franchise is stuck somewhere between rebuilding and contending, with a ton of small forwards. Sam Presti appears to be serious about re-signing Rashard Lewis, which will make for a pretty unbalanced roster, but potentially one with a shot at the playoffs... I think. It still looks like the ownership wants to move the team to Oklahoma City and that Seattleites just won't pony up for a new stadium.

So the future is part very bright (Durant) and part pretty dim (OKC). The Ray Allen trade was probably important just to clear his salary, but I have a feeling we'll be wondering if we could have done better if Jeff Green doesn't justify it on the court. I have no way of projecting his capacity to do that, though, so I'll just assume for now that it's going to pan out. Better basketball minds than mine sought him out to pair with Durant.

My question is, what now? It looks to me like Durant, Green, Lewis, and Wilcox cannot all exist on the same roster. I could see Collison coming off the bench or fitting into the center rotation, and Green might be a bench player this year at least, but I don't see how you can get both Lewis and Wilcox on the court at the same time as Durant. Presti has said that he doesn't see the redundancy as a problem, and that he wants to assemble a roster of talented guys who can play multiple positions, but there are limits (without even considering what you do about Szczerbiak). Considering that Wilcox has had trouble being a big factor without being a major centerpiece of the offense, I'm guessing he's on his way out. But is there a way to improve the roster by moving him? Pair him with a sign-and-trade involving Lewis, perhaps?

A team with a good PF but dissatisfied with their direction might take that package, but it's a little hard for me to imagine, ultimately. The two targets that jump out are Jermaine O'Neal and Pau Gasol, but I have trouble seeing either the Pacers or the Grizzlies deciding that's the direction they want to go in. Maybe with a future #1 thrown in, but I'm guessing not. Some people are talking about trying to ship Lewis home to Houston as part of a deal for Tracy McGrady, but that sounds like a pipe dream and maybe even not that good of an idea.

So I think for the most part, the talent we have on the roster now is really the ceiling of the talent we will enter the year with. It might not be the same guys (we won't enter the season with Ridnour and Watson, for example, and maybe neither), but I don't see a way to really improve the team between now and then. So, as much as I hate to say it, I think maybe you just let Rashard walk. The only thing he really provides is insurance against Green not panning out, but is that worth the risk of him clogging up our roster in another three years when Durant has started to dominate? I don't have the answer to that, but it makes me nervous. So, I guess the most likely opening day roster is:

PG West
SG Green
SF Durant
PF Wilcox
C Swift (or Collison)

It's a team that could really run the floor and would certainly be exciting to watch, but it's tough to see it really competing, which means we could end up with a nice draft pick next year as well to supplement this core. But if this team misses the playoffs next year, I think it's gone to Oklahoma, which means I would be willing to roll the dice and try to keep Rashard and relegate Wilcox to the bench.

What do you guys think? Am I missing a real chance to get some good value back from Ridnour or Wilcox? Do you think there are more moves in the works? Adding JO or Gasol would be interesting, but is there any chance?

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