Thursday, June 28, 2007
"Kevin Durant is a player that makes the job of everybody on the team easier," said Presti, citing Durant's work ethic, his self-made nature as a player and his desire.
This is one of the biggest nights in franchise history because of Durant, no doubt, but also because of the second top-five pick the Sonics added by trading Ray Allen to the Boston Celtics with the No. 35 pick in exchange for the rights to Jeff Green, guard Delonte West and swingman Wally Szczerbiak.
"We are thrilled to be able to bring in two players and people like Kevin Durant and Jeff Green," said Presti, who also discussed the role West played in the deal, saying, "It's hard to do a deal like this without Delonte West in the deal."
Ultimately, while the Sonics lost a key player in Ray Allen, there's a bigger picture in Presti's mind, one he has hinted at in discussing the importance of sustainable success.
"We don't want our championship to be making the playoffs," Presti said.
There's a big vision in the minds of the Sonics braintrust, and while it will not take shape in one day or with one player, it took a big step towards becoming reality with today's moves.
As part of the deal with the Celtics, the Sonics will get the more favorable of Boston's and Portland second-round picks in 2008.
The Sonics previously acquired additional second-round picks in both 2008 (Denver, in the Earl Watson deal) and 2009 (New Jersey, in the Mikki Moore deal).
"When you look at Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, I think they fit together," said Rivers.
Rivers cited the trouble Boston has had scoring when Pierce has been off the floor.
"I don't think that will be a problem anymore," understated Rivers.
Milovan Rakovic is "Mr. Irrelevant" and the Draft is done (but we are not).
Thorpe told TrueHoop he loves what the Sonics have done tonight:
"Then Jeff Green is an off the charts good person, and probably the best player in this draft -- except for maybe Julian Wright -- to play alongside Kevin Durant. He can help the team without needing the ball, while being your third go-to guy."
Go read Thorpe's entire comment. You won't regret it.
Oh by the way, Adam Silver just made the Sonics-Celtics deal official official (as if it wasn't when Sam Presti told us about it).
- Interesting deal between Golden State and Charlotte. Jason Richardson is the go-to scorer the Bobcats have been looking for since their inception. Brandan Wright makes the Warriors a little bigger, but no less athletic. That deal means the Bobcats are unlikely to pursue Rashard Lewis in free agency.
- The city of Seattle continues to represent with Roosevelt's Marcus Williams going to San Antonio early in the second round.
- If Portland, as has been rumored, acquires the Phoenix pick used on Spanish guard Rudy Fernandez, the Blazers will pull off an interesting double. Fernandez, when he comes to the NBA, will be part of the second NBA-WNBA brother-sister duo (his sister Marta, is a rookie starting point guard for the Los Angeles Sparks who scored 26 points last night). The other duo is Mfon Udoka and free-agent Blazers forward Ime Udoka.
Presti should have some comments on Landry and more on the Draft before too long.
With the Philadelphia 76ers taking Petteri Koponen, the first round is in the books and the Sonics are on the clock with the 31st pick.
That was followed by a commercial for Sonics tickets featuring Durant highlights. If that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what does. Ticket packages are on sale now. Be part of it.
West is a guy I've liked for a long time and someone whose name has been linked to the Sonics in the past. A combo guard with size who can shoot the ball, West averaged 12.2 points and 4.4 assists per game last season. He was even better in his sophomore season for Boston, when he shot 48.7% from the field and 38.5% from three-point range.
By the way: Did you know West was another Maryland/D.C. guy? He went to Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Mary.
Szczerbiak, an All-Star in 2002 while playing for Minnesota, has averaged 15.6 points per game over the course of his career, including 19.0 ppg as recently as 2005-06. Last year was something of a lost year for Szczerbiak, who saw his season ended by ankle surgery after 32 games.
Durant and Green are both Maryland natives and Durant is very excited to have Green joining him in Seattle.
"To play with him is like a dream come true," said Durant.
Don't worry about the two 6-9/6-10 forwards coexisting either. "We're both versatile players," Durant said. "We complement each other very well."
Durant doesn't necessarily feel any pressure to be "the guy" in Seattle with Allen's departure, explaining that he's known from a young age that basketball is not a one-man sport.
Durant was also asked about the time he spent training in Seattle in the weeks leading up to the Draft and his thoughts on the city.
"I got used to the city a little bit," said Durant. "I can't wait to get out there. It's a great town with great fans."
BENNETT OPENING STATEMENT: I just want to complement Sam Presti, Scott Perry and Rich Cho. An absolutely very professional and there's more to come. Very thorough, very thoughtful and very well done in my opinion and the opinion of our ownership group. We complement that team. Also, I want to personally compliment Ray Allen. Ray Allen the professional, Ray Allen the outstanding NBA player.
PRESTI OPENING STATEMENT: Coming into tonight, we knew we were going to add a great player with the second pick and we are thrilled to have Kevin. But, at the same time, making the decision to move a player and a person like Ray Allen was tremendously difficult. What I can tell you is that Boston really pursued this. What started as a smaller conversation began to build and their pursuit was impeccable. Absolutely understand that I think Ray is going to be a great fit for them. I want to stress to everybody that what Ray Allen has done for this organization and the NBA can't be underestimated. He is a total pro, and his going to Boston, nearer to where he went to school at UConn, I think will be ... I'm just glad Paul Pierce and him are in the Eastern Conference.
With that said, we are thrilled to be adding a player like Jeff Green as well as some hard-nosed competitors in Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West that fit the direction that we are heading in.
Question: Can you talk about what you like about Jeff Green?
PRESTI: Our staff felt like Jeff would be a tremendous complement to Kevin. He's a player that doesn't need the ball to be effective. He's a tremendous facilitator and passer. He's got a great acumen for the game and playing in the system that he has, I think, has probably contained him a little bit. Those that have seen him play in venues other than the Georgetown system have a better understanding of what it is this guy brings to the table. His IQ and facilitation on the floor, as well as this is an impeccable young man, and everybody here will learn that over time. That is another big thing.
Question: Did you think you would be this active today and are you finished?
PRESTI: Did I think I would be this active? You're always listening coming into a situation like this. You don't wake up one day and say that you're going to look to move a player like a Ray Allen. Someone has to get them, and Boston did that here. From an activity standpoint, no, but you're always poised and prepared - that's what this job is about. That's where we would be on that.
I can't say we're finished. We still have the 31st pick. 35 went to Boston in that deal for a future second-round pick. That wasn't reported, so I want to make sure I give you guys that. With 31, I feel like we can get a quality player there, and we're also going to explore other opportunities as well.
Question: What do you say to fans about moving Ray Allen?
PRESTI: I look at it as this basketball team right now, we need to lay a foundation. We need to - again, I've consistently hit this - we need to define an identity, we need to define a way of operating, building a younger core, getting a younger core in place. This also helps us flexibility-wise in our intention to retain a player like Rashard Lewis, it gives us flexibility to bring other pieces in.
Question: It seems like both of the guys you've added, along with Rashard Lewis, play the same position. How do they fit together?
PRESTI: What we see in these players is tremendous versatility. We see guys that are skilled with the ball and have a great size-to-skill ratio. We see players that can play real length defense and, when you put them in a system defensively, are going to be able to cover a tremendous amount of ground. With the direction of the league and the way teams are playing in terms of playing smaller and different matchups, this is a tremendous versatile lineup that defensively can be capable of a number of different schemes and actions.
Both Bennett and Presti praised Allen for his four-plus seasons in Seattle, and Presti called the decision a very difficult one, indicating Boston "came hard" to get Allen. Presti was thrilled to get Jeff Green, and when you pay attention to some of the Presti's hallmarks of a new Sonics culture - defense and versatility - Green is a perfect fit.
Beyond the top two picks, Green was the best all-around player available in this Draft. In his final junior season at Georgetown, he led the team in scoring (14.3 ppg) and was second in both rebounding (6.4 rpg) and assists (3.2 apg). At 6-10, he has the ability to potentially defend up to three positions in the NBA.
What we didn't know is where the Memphis Grizzlies and new GM Chris Wallace would go with the fourth pick. Turns out it's Mike Conley, Jr., the Ohio State point guard and teammate of Greg Oden in both high school and college. Conley established himself as the top available point guard during a brilliant NCAA Tournament run.
University of Texas Forward was the Unanimous College Player of the Year in 2006-07
SEATTLE, Thursday, June 28, 2007 – The Seattle Sonics selected University of Texas forward Kevin Durant with the second overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
“Kevin is a key component to the Sonics becoming a better basketball team,” said Sonics General Manager Sam Presti. “He is a young man of tremendous character who possesses terrific basketball skills. We look forward to welcoming him to Seattle and preparing him for his rookie season.”
Durant earned National Player of the Year honors from The Associated Press, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), CBS/Chevrolet and The Sporting News. In addition, he was the winner of the Adolph Rupp Trophy, the Naismith Award and the Wooden Award, becoming the first-ever freshman in NCAA history to win any of those awards.
“This is a transformative day for the Seattle Supersonics,” said Sonics Chairman Clay Bennett. “Kevin represents the best basketball has to offer, on and off the court. We are thrilled to welcome him to the team.”
In his only season at the University of Texas, the 6-9 Durant earned consensus First Team All-American honors, becoming just the third freshman in NCAA history to do so (Wayman Tisdale in 1983 and Chris Jackson in 1989). He averaged 25.8 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game, setting single-season school and Big 12 records for points in a season (903), a total that also ranks as the second-most by a freshman in NCAA history (LSU’s ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich scored 1,138 points in 1968-69). Durant’s 390 rebounds were also a Longhorn single-season record, a mark that ranks second in Big 12 history.
A native of Washington, D.C., Durant posted 30 or more points 11 times. He registered career highs with 37 points and 23 rebounds at Texas Tech. He also tallied 37 points, 10 rebounds, a career-high six assists and a career-high six blocks against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament on his way to Tournament MVP honors.
A teary-eyed Pratt spoke with ESPN's Lisa Salters. "I'm so proud of him," she said.
Jay Bilas of ESPN called it "possibly the easiest pick in the history of the NBA Draft." Hard to disagree.
With what is tied for their highest pick ever, the Sonics have added the first freshman ever to win the Wooden, Naismith and AP Player of the Year awards and a seemingly can't-miss prospect.
I loved Stephen A. Smith's assessment on ESPN's bottom line: "Needs Kevin Durant." Who doesn't?
Something tells me the decision did not take the full five minutes, but - for ESPN's benefit and to the dismay of my impatient colleagues - it was drawn out to that length. ESPN's feed from Portland's Draft Room showed cheering and high fives after the pick was sent to the league office.
The Sonics probably set a record for speed in phoning in their pick after the Blazers made it official.
ESPN Insider's Chad Ford:
31 - Arron Afflalo, SG, UCLA
35 - Renaldas Seibutis, SG, Lithuania
31 - Morris Almond, SG, Rice
35 - Kyle Visser, C, Wake Forest
31 - Taurean Green, PG, Florida
35 - Renaldas Seibutis, SG, Lithuania
Sam Presti and the rest of the Sonics braintrust is about 150 feet to my right in the team's Draft room, preparing to shape the team's future over the next five hours. We'll have all the latest throughout the evening, so be sure to stay with us.
Last night, ESPN reported that Oden was Portland's pick, that his agent (Mike Conley, Sr.) had been informed Oden was the guy.
Conley and Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard both dispute that report, according to a blog entry by Jason Quick on The Oregonian's Web site.
Smokescreen or no, the Blazers will have to make their intentions clear before too long.
Stay with us all day long for updates and as news breaks. Come about 4:00 or so, this will convert into a live blog as I cover the Draft from the media room at The Furtado Center. Ron Matthews will also contribute coverage from the Sonics Draft Party at Fisher Pavilion. Remember that anybody can - and should - come and hang out on the lawn in front of the Pavilion or on top of it.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
You know the Blazers are going to pick Greg Oden with the No. 1 selection. So does your spouse. So do your children. So does the family dog. But if you ask the Blazers, they'll tell you they just aren't sure, and that there isn't a consensus. Nevermind that none of us believes them.Hate to disagree, but at least here in Seattle it doesn't seem like everyone knows the Blazers are going to pick Oden. A bunch of times yesterday, somebody - a co-worker, a friend, my grandfather - said to me, "I just have a feeling that Portland is going to take Durant."
One NBA source explained Tuesday that Pritchard and Allen probably don't want to tip their hand because they love the national attention it's garnering them. A second source said the Blazers don't want to announce that they plan to select Oden because they're waiting to see if the Sonics love Durant so much they'd be willing to swap picks and sweeten Portland's fortune. A third source said it's just the Blazers being the Blazers.
Canzano goes on to link the city of Portland's excitement about the pick to Oden, not Durant, but I'm not sure I totally agree there either. The Oden or Durant poll on Blazers.com once swung almost entirely to Oden, but since Durant's workout last week, it's down to 69-31 in Oden's favor. That means there's been a lot of votes for Durant in the last week.
I made a point of asking Sonics GM Sam Presti during yesterday's availability whether the Sonics front office is trying to read the Blazers.
"It's crossed my mind a couple times," joked Presti, "but we can't spend all our time trying to figure out what they're going to do or what direction they're going to go in. We'll be prepared either way and we feel good about it."
Oden or Durant? I think we all feel pretty good about it.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
While Hollinger has plenty of interesting insights, naturally Sonics fans will be most interested in how he answers the Oden/Durant question:
Kevin Durant is the best talent to come out of the college ranks in the last half decade. As we've learned, this doesn't necessarily mean he'll become the best player. But his 870.7 score blows the previous best -- Carmelo Anthony's 781.3 in 2003 -- right out of the water. If there's one thing that makes me reconsider the Oden versus Durant question after I thought it had been settled, this is it. I mean, how can you pass on this guy when his numbers are this overwhelming?Naturally, Hollinger isn't the only one looking at the Draft through the prism of college stats. Also check out coverage from Hoopsanalyst.com and DraftExpress.com.
I’d argue that there’s a lot more you can learn from a 15-minute press
conference than you might think.
Just having Durant walk past you is instructive. His shoulder was about
at the level of the top of my head, but I swear the tips of his fingers were
closer to the floor than mine. He is the “longest” 6-foot-9 guy I’ve ever
Boling says he got some ribbing about asking Durant to spread out his arms to show off his wingspan, but he - and I - am glad he did. It produced a compelling visual and ended up as the lede for Frank Hughes' story on Monday.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Both interviews are interesting, but we'll quote from the latter as it's easier to work with.
Does anything in there change your opinion of which direction Portland is going with the pick?
Are you leaning one way?
I'm back and forth. Sometimes I like to play devil's advocate, just to make sure everybody is looking at the other side of the coin. Of course, there are some people, like earlier in the year, Kevin Pritchard was only talking about Durant, he didn't mention Oden at all. So, I kind of kid him about that. We would sit at Blazers games and I would ask him who he is watching, and he would say "Durant. I love Durant." So it's a real interesting decision. I think (Friday's) workout made it even a tougher decision than before.
[. . .]
I have a feeling you have a lot of trust with Kevin Pritchard.
Yeah, if you are the owner of a franchise, you look for somebody who has what I call the "golden gut" -- a sense for talent. I think (Seahawks president of football operations) Tim Ruskell in Seattle has that with football players. We've had past general managers who've had a good sense for talent, but Kevin looks for talent and character at the same time.
"He is kind of a cross between George Gervin and Bob McAdoo," says Lorenzo Romar, University of Washington basketball coach.
"Kevin Durant is a more athletic Danny Manning," ESPN analyst Jay Bilas says.
"He's more of a big man than McGrady, a better shooter than Lamar Odom, more perimeter than Garnett," ESPN.com columnist Pat Forde says. "Intriguing dude, obviously."
Sunday, June 24, 2007
COMPARISON TO NBA PLAYER
Worst-case scenario, Oden is the next Zo, averaging a 20/10, defending the rim, spearheading some 50-win seasons and, we can only hope, starting a brawl that leads to a Van Gundy brother hanging on his leg. Best case, he's a cross between Tim Duncan and Hakeem, an über-athletic big who can wreck foes in a variety of ways. Most plausible scenario, he's Ewing: a perennial All-Star who is not quite good enough to win a title by himself.
I see Durant's worst case as a lankier, more benign Glenn Robinson. But I can't picture his best case or most plausible scenario, because there has never been anyone like him before. A 6'9" shooting guard with a 7'5" wingspan? And he's still growing? I see pieces of different players -- KG's body, Bob McAdoo's scoring, MJ's competitiveness, T-Mac's ability to attack the rim with either hand, Hakeem's fallaway, C-Webb's passing. But add it up and you get an original. Durant is the first iPod, or the plane the Wright brothers built.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Since that moment, the talk around the country has been almost universal: Portland would select Ohio State center Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick at Thursday's NBA Draft; the Sonics would land Texas forward and national player of the year Kevin Durant with the second pick.
That could be changing.
Durant made his case to be the first man to shake NBA Commissioner David Stern's hand at the Draft during his workout with the Trail Blazers. Portland general manager Kevin Pritchard described Friday's session "as impressive as any workout that I've seen in here."
The Oregonian has more:
Although ESPN's True Hoop smells a smoke screen:
After two days of visiting the city, meeting with team officials and doctors, the 19-year-old center from Ohio State, generally considered to be the No. 1 pick in next Thursday's NBA Draft, did a one-hour workout for the Blazers that created more questions than answers, according to this report in The Oregonian:
You can watch some of the workout by clicking http://broadband.nba.com/cc/playa.php?content=video&url=http://boss.streamos.com/wmedia/nba/nbacom/allaccess/oden_blazers_workout_070620.asx&video=blank&nbasite=nba
NBA.com recently went one-on-one with Oden, who found himself riding to Game 3 of the NBA Finals with some interesting company -- Bill Russell and Bill Walton. Learn more at:
In an effort to help fans keep up with the excitement, SUPERSONICS.COM introduces Draft Buzz. At its best, Draft Buzz will be a one-stop collection of links highlighting the day's best stories. At minimum, it will serve as a place for fans to share their excitement as we count down the days to Thursday.