Sunday, July 29, 2007

Picture Day for Rookies

You remember Picture Day from your school days, right? I have vague memories of bad sweaters and worse haircuts; maybe your recollections are somewhat better.

It's a little different when the NBA's rookie class gets together for its annual Picture Day, which was held Friday at the Knicks/Liberty Training Facility in Tarrytown, N.Y. Sonics top-five picks Kevin Durant and Jeff Green were two of the 44 players on hand.

Here's Durant and Green (who need to decide whether they're smiling or not):

And here's Durant and Greg Oden together in their new jerseys for the first time (both pictures by Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty):

John Schumann from was there and blogged the goings-on, finding Durant a slight favorite over Oden for Rookie of the Year honors.

The rookies also took pictures for their Topps and Upper Deck rookie cards, and the New York Times had a good story about the new stars once collecting basketball cards themselves.

"When a kid out there gets my card, I want him to be excited about it,” Durant is quoted as saying. "When I was a little younger, I got Allen Iverson’s rookie card and I was ecstatic. But then I’d get other cards, and I’d be like, Oh, man, why did I get this guy? I remember getting a Howard Eisley card and not being too thrilled about it."

Guess I won't be trading Durant that 1994-95 Fleer Howard Eisley rookie card from his brief stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

My cousin, who is 10 and a budding Sonics fan, showed off his new basketball card collection this morning at breakfast and it was a trip down memory lane for my brother and I, both big collectors in the early 1990s.

Durant and Green both did interviews with ESPNews while they were at Friday's shoot. Check out Durant's via this link and then use the NBA tab on's video player to see the Green interview.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thomas Meets Media

New Sonics center Kurt Thomas arrived in Seattle yesterday for a quick tour and spent part of his afternoon chatting with the local media.

"I know this is a young team, but I'm looking forward to the challenge," Thomas said. "I'm excited about it. I think this is a great city and a great franchise and we've just got to take every step forward."

For those thinking of his acquisition more in terms of the intangible contributions he provides in terms of leadership and mentoring, Thomas provided a quick self-scouting report on his game.

"I'm a guy who plays with a lot of intensity, a guy who is focused on the defensive end of the floor and a guy who can also put the ball in the floor at the offensive end," he said. "I'm a guy who can shoot the ball - 15-, 17-foot jumpshots, I can play inside and I've got pretty nice touch around the basket."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Swift Cleared for Contact

During summer league, I wrote a feature on Robert Swift as he neared full clearance for 5-on-5 basketball with contact. As expected, that clearance came Monday, when Swift met with Dr. Steven Lombardo in L.A.

Swift's follow-up visit came eight months and a day after Dr. Lombardo performed surgery last November, and two days shy of nine months after he initially tore the ACL in his left knee in the Oct. 25 Sonics preseason game against Sacramento.

While the timeline did not quite work out for Swift to be able to join the Sonics on the floor for summer action, he joined the team to continue his rehabilitation. Swift should be able to participate in voluntary off-season workouts at The Furtado Center starting in September, amongst other activities that will help him get back in basketball shape before the start of training camp.

As I wrote about in that story, the new Sonics brass, including GM Sam Presti and Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo, is eager to get an up-close look at Swift and how the strength he has added in his upper body will help his game.

- Newly-acquired Kurt Thomas will meet the local media on Thursday as part of his visit to Seattle after last Friday's trade.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Durant Shines in State Farm Challenge

The U.S. Senior Men's National Team concluded its weekend training camp on Sunday with the State Farm USA Basketball Challenge, which split the 17 players in Las Vegas into two squads that faced off in an All-Star Game of sorts.

While this was merely an exhibition, pride and potentially spots on the U.S. roster for the FIBA Americas Championships were on the line. That showed in a game that was intense and hard-fought to the final buzzer, with Kobe Bryant winning it for Team Blue 105-104 with a jumper with six seconds remaining.

Sonics rookie Kevin Durant came off the bench for the victorious Blue squad and put together another strong performance, capping a week where he opened some eyes and improved his chances of making the squad next month. Wearing No. 8 (FIBA rules don't allow numbers larger than 15), Durant scored 22 points in 24 minutes, shooting 9-for-14 from the field and hitting a pair of three-pointers. He added five rebounds and four steals.

"It feels great," Durant said afterwards. "Being able to play with all these players I have looked up to was special. And getting the win was the best part. I had fun.

"We came back after being down a lot. We missed some shots we should have made, but we played some good defense and got the win."

By all accounts - including a glowing review by's Dave McMenamin prior to the intra-squad scrimmage - Durant played beyond his years in Las Vegas, showing the ability to potentially play a role for the U.S. team in the FIBA Americas Championships. His ability to spread the floor with his three-point shooting from the frontcourt could be a perfect fit for the international game.

When the U.S. team reconvenes on Aug. 13 in Las Vegas for final preparation for the FIBA Americas Championships, Durant will have a Sonics teammate alongside him. As first reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Nick Collison has been asked to participate as well. The Lawrence Journal-World reported that Collison, a veteran of several tours of duty for USA Basketball (including the 2003 Americas Championships), would have taken part in this weekend's practices and scrimmage if they did not conflict with his marriage to the former Robbie Harriford.

Elsewhere, free agent Mike Wilks has apparently drawn the attention of the Sacramento Kings. The Kings are in need of a point guard after rescinding their qualifying offer to free agent Ronnie Price last week. Mike Bibby is the only true point on Sacramento's roster, but definitive Kings blog Sactown Royalty explains that the Kings have several other players capable of playing the position. (HT: Eric Williams' blog)

In case, like Supersonicsoul, you were wondering why Quinton Hosley played only six minutes in Friday's Rocky Mountain Revue finale despite playing well for the Sonics in the Revue, wonder no more. Hosley lost a tooth early in the game and did not return. On Thursday, Hosley scored 22 points as the Sonics defeated Chicago.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Durant on TV Tonight

Looking for another chance to see Kevin Durant in action? He'll be playing with the U.S. Men's Senior National Team tonight in a televised intra-squad scrimmage as part of the National Team's mini-camp in Las Vegas. 17 players are competing for 12 spots on the U.S. roster for the World Championships, also in Vegas, and Durant seems to be impressing in the early going.'s Dave McMenamin is in Las Vegas covering all the action and reported Durant was very impressive in the first day of U.S. practice.

During a shooting drill before the scrimmages started Billups found Durant in the corner for an NBA three, excitedly yelling, “Stick it young fella!” as Durant calmly swished it.

Coach K saw the exchange and came over with a huge smile on his face, almost a look of admiration, when he said to Chauncey, “He can really shoot it, can’t he?”

Durant went on to hit most of his looks during the scrimmages, including back-to-back threes late in the final one with Blue down big to make the score end up being somewhat respectable.

Also check out McMenamin's brief Q&A with Durant. And here's a quick note on new Sonics Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo in Vegas to watch Durant (apparently GM Sam Presti has been spotted at the practices as well).

The scrimmage is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. Pacific, but it appears it will be televised only on tape delay around here, at 7:00 p.m. on FSN.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Carlesimo and Portland

I haven't heard much commentary on another piece to the budding I-5 rivalry between the Sonics and Portland: New Sonics Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo broke into the NBA with the Blazers, spending three seasons in Portland and advancing to the playoffs each time (the Blazers lost all three years in the first round).

Kerry Eggers, who covered Carlesimo in Portland, has a lengthy feature on that experience and how Carlesimo got to Seattle in the Portland Tribune.

Life is much different for Carlesimo now than it was during his time in Portland, when he was a seemingly confirmed bachelor, a denizen of late-night eateries (Jake’s Famous Crawfish, Opus Too, Ringside Steakhouse, Brasserie Montmartre, Genoa, Bugatti’s Ristorante and Il Fornaio, to name a few) and the only NBA head coach with a full beard.

Carlesimo, 58, still wears the beard, though more neatly trimmed and now speckled more with gray than red.

And his family life is much different. Married for seven years to Carolyn, a sports psychologist, they have two young sons – Kyle, 5, and Casey, 2.
Elsewhere, the Grizzlies announced that they have signed forward Andre Brown, who spent most of last season with the Sonics.

The press release Memphis issued is much more interesting than most of the boilerplate releases you see. Quoting Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace:

Andre has what the late, great, first GM of the Portland Trail Blazers, Stu Inman, used to refer to as "stickability." He has persevered and improved after leaving DePaul and playing abroad, in the NBDL and last season in the NBA with Seattle.
Based on Memphis making a relatively big deal of this signing, looks like Brown should stick and see some time. Good for him.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sonics Get Thomas, Picks

If you were wondering why it was such a big deal last Wednesday that the Sonics were able to send Rashard Lewis to Orlando in a sign-and-trade deal instead of having Lewis simply sign with the Magic as a free agent, you got your answer today.

Using the trade exception that sign-and-trade provided, the Sonics acquired Kurt Thomas and unprotected first-round picks in 2008 and 2010 from the Phoenix Suns, who coveted the exception to help them out because of their situation relative to the NBA's luxury tax.

For the last couple of years, there has been plenty of talk about the Sonics adding a veteran post player to their core of young centers. That would not only give them a mentor but also help relieve some of the pressure on them to contribute every night.

Thomas fits that role perfectly as a guy with 12 years of NBA experience who has spent the last two years playing with the championship-contending Suns. Thomas can still play, as he demonstrated battling Tim Duncan in the postseason when Phoenix took on San Antonio, and is an excellent post defender.

This is another deal that brings in a player who will help the Sonics build their culture of defense, toughness and professionalism.

Down the road, the two first-round picks should come in very handy for the Sonics. Along with their own three first-round picks the next three years, they now have five first-round selections in that span with which to add to their young core of players.

I just got off the phone on Sam Presti and will be working on an article that goes into a little more detail on this later this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

RMR Newcomers

Five players have joined the Sonics for the Rocky Mountain Revue summer league who were not on the roster in Las Vegas. Here are a few quick notes on the newcomers.

PG Will Blalock
Blalock, who started and played 31 minutes last night against Utah, was "Mr. Irrelevant" in the 2006 NBA Draft - the 60th and final pick. An early entrant out of Iowa State, Blalock saw action in 14 games for the Pistons, averaging 1.8 points and 1.2 assists per game. Detroit declined a team option on Blalock after the season. Blalock played for the Nuggets in Las Vegas, averaging 10.2 points (second on the team) and 3.4 assists (first).

PF Elton Brown
Brown spent last year in the NBA Development League with the Colorado 14ers, who lost to Dakota in the D-League Finals. The first overall pick in the D-League Expansion Draft, Brown averaged 18.4 points and a league-leading 9.6 rebounds per game last season. A little air ought to be taken out of those numbers because of the fast 14ers pace (the Suns of the D-League, they scored 112.5 ppg and allowed 108.9), but Brown was still a First Team All-D-League performer. My favorite Elton Brown fact is that he has a cousin who plays guard for the Arizona Cardinals. That cousin, who went to Virginia with Brown, is named ... Elton Brown.

PF Ryvon Covile
As a senior at Detroit-Mercy, Covile averaged a double-double (13.7 points, 10.6 rebounds). He went unselected last month and played for Cleveland in Vegas before joining the Sonics. Covile impressed with his play in the Orlando Pre-Draft Camp and is a very good rebounder.

SF Quinton Hosley
Hosley was considered a possible second-round pick after wrapping up at Fresno State. A Harlem native, Hosley was a JC All-American before making his way to Fresno, where he averaged 13.9 points and 8.9 rebounds as a senior. Supersonicsoul has more on Hosley's story, including his semi-famous basketball-playing parents.

G David Jackson
You might remember Jackson from his days at Oregon, but they were a ways back. He teamed with Sonics point guard Luke Ridnour as a senior when Ridnour was a freshman, averaging 4.7 ppg off the bench that season. Jackson spent the spring playing for the Portland Chinooks of the IBL, averaging 23.1 ppg. The Chinooks will play the Elkhart Express in Indiana Saturday for the IBL Championship.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sonics-Blazers Live Blog

Tip-off: A very good crowd is here for the finale of the NBA Summer League, at least here in Cox Pavilion (the game at Thomas & Mack tips off a half-hour after us, making it the very final game here). The Sonics and Blazers are both on the court and getting ready to square off.

Jermaine Jackson is in street clothes, so it looks like the Sonics point guard will not be able to go tonight because of his strained hamstring.

Portland 13-8, 5:10 first: The Sonics opened this game with Brandon Heath and Kevin Durant in the backcourt, Jeff Green and Kenny Adeleke at forward and Johan Petro in the middle. Petro has picked up three early fouls as the Sonics have not had crisp defensive rotations.

Jeff Green has the early play of the game, exploding through traffic for a dunk that caught the Blazers defense off guard.

There are a number of Portland fans in the house, and they are generally applauding each basket with more intensity than is probably appropriate for a summer-league game. Back in the crowd tonight: Gary Payton, who walked in with a group led by the Goodwin brothers, his agents who also represent Kevin Durant.

Portland 20-11, 2:43 first: Martell Webster and Joel Freeland have six points apiece to lead all scorers in the early going. Kevin Durant started out on Webster, which is another good challenge for him. If Durant is to log time at the two during the regular season - and it's starting to look that way - the biggest challenge for him will be chasing through off-ball screens on defense, something he presumably wasn't asked to do at Texas.

Jeff Green had another nifty dunk in traffic. He plays with a smoothness about him, if that makes sense.

Portland 26-17, end first: Durant leads all scorers with seven points after one quarter. He's 2-for-4 from the field and has made three of his four tries from the free-throw line. Durant drew a shooting foul on a call that the Blazers faithful in attendance vehemently disagreed with. They were probably right.

Sergio Rodriguez has been very good thus far for the Blazers, creating open shots with his dribble penetration. Rodriguez has four assists and four points.

Chris Ellis has checked in for the Blazers. You may know the Wake Forest product better as the son of Sonics 40th Anniversary Team member Dale Ellis.

Portland 30-27, 5:27 second: Little bit of a run here for the Sonics to get back within three on a Kevin Durant dunk. Durant now has 11 points on 3-for-5 shooting. He's defending 6-0 Blazers guard Taurean Green, which has to be one of the biggest size mismatches I have ever seen. Durant and Jeff Green have combined for 19 of Seattle's 27 points.

Portland 38-28, 2:44 second: The Blazers have successfully quelled the uprising after getting their starters back in the game.

If you're outside the Seattle area and unable to get the FSN feed, you can check out the webcast via Also see some other live blogs from The News Tribune's Eric Williams,'s Casey Holdahl and Dave from the Blazer's Edge blog. Phew. That's a lot of links.

Portland 42-34, halftime: A familiar story for the Sonics. Kevin Durant and Jeff Green have been strong in the scoring column, combining for 24 points (12 apiece), but haven't gotten much help from their teammates. Zabian Dowdell is the only other player on the roster with more than one field goal.

The Sonics have been very good on the glass, outrebounding Portland 29-17. Green is leading the charge with eight boards. Johan Petro has five in 11 minuts and Kenny Adeleke had four in his early stint. On the Blazers side, nice first halves for Joel Freeland and Petteri Koponen, a pair of late first-round picks from Europe who probably won't be with Portland next season but figure into the team's future plans.

Portland 54-41, 5:26 third: After the Sonics made a push, the Blazers have answered to lead now by 13 points. Kevin Durant has flashed the breadth of his skills in this quarter, including a three-pointer and a slithering drive to the basket for a southpaw finish.

During halftime, Franklin High product Aaron Brooks was presented with an award for winning T-Mobile Rookie of the Month honors, as we blogged about earlier.

Portland 56-47, 2:47 third: It continues to be the Kevin Durant and Jeff Green show. Together, they have 37 points on 11-of-24 shooting (with 14 free throws), but the rest of the team is shooting 5-for-21 (23.8%). That's not going to get it done.

Portland 63-56, end third: A night that was supposed to be about Kevin Durant and Greg Oden has been taken over by Jeff Green. The No. 5 overall pick has 23 points and 12 rebounds, both game highs, and did it all during the third quarter. Not to be outdone, Durant has 21 points on 7-of-21 shooting through three quarters.

Still, that hasn't been enough to make much of a dent in the Blazers lead, which still stands at seven entering the final quarter.

Portland 66-65, 6:10 fourth: Here come the Sonics. They've outscored Portland 9-3 here in the period to get within one point on a Jeff Green dunk in transition. Green now is up to 30 points on the evening, two shy of Durant's total on Friday. Is it too late to re-cast the votes for the NBA Summer League All-Star Team?

Portland 75-73, 1:39 fourth: We've got us a game. Olu Famutimi is headed to the free-throw line with a chance to tie the game. He's joined by Brandon Heath in the backcourt. Durant and Green are the forwards with Johan Petro in the middle.

The Blazers fans in attendance - and there are plenty of them - are cheering like this was at least a regular-season game.

Portland 84-76, final: The Blazers take this one, thrilling their fans in attendance. Zendon Hamilton and Stefano Mancinelli made big plays down the stretch, while the Sonics had a couple of costly turnovers. As I've been saying since day one, summer league is not about wins and losses. What it is about is a glimpse of the future, and what we're seeing with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green is very impressive indeed. Green finished with 32 points and 13 boards, both game highs, while Durant had 28 points. They scored 60 of Seattle's 78 points.

This last week has been a blast. Someday I'll be telling people about witnessing the first dominant performances (of many) by Durant and Green. The Sonics continue on to Utah for the Rocky Mountain Revue, but I'm headed home tomorrow. I want to thank everyone at the Sonics who helped get me down here (most notably my boss, Ron Matthews) as well as everyone who's been reading over the last week.

NBA Summer League All-Stars

Hot off the presses, I've just been handed the 2007 NBA Summer League presented by adidas All-Stars. 15 players were chosen for the first team, including Sonics rookie Kevin Durant.

Beyond the Sonics, Seattle-area talent dominated the league. Nate Robinson (Rainier Beach, UW) was chosen the Most Outstanding Player of the NBA Summer League, while Aaron Brooks (Franklin) was chosen as the T-Mobile Rookie of the Month. In addition, Spencer Hawes (Seattle Prep, UW) and Rodney Stuckey (Kentwood, Eastern Washington) were also named to the All-Star team. That's more than one-quarter of the group from the greater Seattle area.

Robinson's Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks were the only two teams to go 5-0 in Vegas. He averaged 18.8 points and 6.0 assists per game. Brooks has averaged 22.2 ppg for the 3-1 Rockets, who are in action right now on the other court.

Durant entered today fourth in the NBA Summer League in scoring at 22.7 ppg.

Closing the NBA Summer League

LAS VEGAS - Hope you've made plans to watch tonight's NBA Summer League finale for the Sonics. They'll take on the Portland Trail Blazers at 7:00 p.m. at Cox Pavilion. FSN will be providing live coverage, with Kevin Calabro down here to call all the action.

Naturally, this matchup lost a little of its luster when Greg Oden's summer league was ended by tonsil surgery. Even though Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge will not play tonight, however, there are plenty of Blazers I'm looking forward to seeing. Portland still has three 2007 picks seeing action - Petteri Koponen, Josh McRobers and Taurean Green. Then there's Joel Freeland, whom the Blazers took in the first round a year ago, allowing him to develop in Europe.

I've seen more of Sergio Rodriguz, but "Spanish Chocolate" is always an entertaining guy to watch.

The Sonics would like to get a win before heading to Utah for three games in the Rocky Mountain Revue summer league. They won't have Mickael Gelabale tonight, while Jermaine Jackson is a question mark after an MRI showed he's strained his hamstring. Jackson wants to play through the injury, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to do so.

Naturally, we'll have live coverage on SUPERSONICS.COM (though the wireless in Cox Pavilion, where the Sonics return tonight, is a little dicey). Pull up your laptop, flip on FSN and check out the live blog. What could be more fun?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Damien Wilkins Basketball Camp

Sonics radio pre- and post-game host Francis Williams checks in with this guest blog about his experience at the Damien Wilkins Basketball Camp.

Greetings from Washington, North Carolina, the home of the Washington High School Paw Pack. Washington is also the hometown of Sonics swingman Damien Wilkins. The first Damien Wilkins Basketball Camp was held here this week. The four day camp was free and was attended by nearly 100 kids. Damien allowed me to serve as his camp director.

The co-ed camp was held in two sessions with grades 6-8 attending the morning session and grades 9-12 in the afternoon. Each day kids were given instruction in the fundamentals of the game. Five teaching stations were the order of the day with shooting, ball handling and passing, rebounding, individual offense and individual defense being the points of emphasis. Damien was present each day to oversee things and was very hands on with giving instruction, words of advice, and encouragement. The second half of the camp session was devoted to playing games. Team play and defense were stressed and improvement was made by all the teams in those areas by week's end.

The camp concluded on Friday with all-star games being held for the girls as a combined morning and afternoon group. After the morning session of boys had an all-star game, then came the highlight of the week. The afternoon session boys played against Damien’s all-star team, which was comprised of former high school players from the Washington area. It was a very spirited and hard-fought game with Damien’s all-stars surviving two three-point attempts in the final seconds to hold on for a 61-58 win.

The festivities did not end with the basketball camp. On Saturday, the third annual Damien Wilkins Fun Day was held at the playfield of the old PS Jones Middle School. The playfield is directly across the street from the Boys and Girls Club, where many of the kids who participated in the camp are members. Danian Carr and the staff of the Boys and Girls Club played a huge part in getting kids pre-registered for camp. Food, music, games, and lots of good ole Southern fun in the sun make it a highlight of the summer in Washington. It is a sincere and genuine gesture on Damien’s part to come and give back to the community in which he spent most of his formative years. All the cost is covered by Damien and the entire community is invited.

Washington is a town of about 9,800 people in the inland coastal region of North Carolina, about 125 miles east of Raleigh in Beaufort County. The Wilkins family has a strong presence in the community as both Dominique (uncle) and Gerald (dad), former NBA stars, played at Washington High School. A large number of Damien’s relatives including his mother and younger brother were on hand to lend support, some coming from as far away as Maryland and Georgia. Damien moved away in the seventh grade but still considers Washington to be home. His grandmother, who is 92, still resides in Washington.

Chris Wilcox also held a camp and a community day this week in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Sonics 40th Anniversary Team member Sam Perkins will hold his camp starting Thursday in Chapel Hill. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Tar Heel state and look forward to doing it again next year.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sonics-Warriors Live Blog

Tipoff: Another night, another starting five for the Sonics. Brandon Heath and Kevin Durant are in the backcourt with Jeff Green and Kenny Adeleke at power forward. Johan Petro, the lone player with NBA regular-season experience in the starting five, is at center.

As expected, Jermaine Jackson will sit out due to a hamstring injury. Mickael Gelabale also remains sidelined with a sprained ankle.

Looks like Durant will defend high-scoring Warriors rookie Marco Belinelli (and vice versa), at least to start.

11-9 Golden State, 4:57 first: Another slow shooting start for Durant, who has missed his first four shot attempts. He got to the free-throw line on the first Sonics possession, fouled in the act by Bellinelli. Kenny Adeleke is doing yeoman's work underneath but having a hard time finishing second chances. Johan Petro is very active in the early going and Jeff Green hit an impossible turnaround.

A huge roar goes up in the crowd as LeBron James has rolled in with a large group of youngsters. One phenom here to see another?

15-14 Golden State, 2:57 first: Durant headed back to the line after a nice play. As the only man back on defense, he read the ballhandler and stayed back, deflecting and stealing a crosscourt pass. Durant took the ball the other direction and was fouled as he went up for a layup. Julius Hodge is getting backup minutes at point guard right now with Jackson injured.

22-19 Sonics, end first: Mouhamed Sene had his best play of the summer late in the first quarter. The Warriors ran a gorgeous pick-and-roll that seemed sure to end in a layup, but Sene flew in from the weakside to send the shot attempt away harmlessly.

Professional Basketball Club, LLC Chairman Clayton Bennett is here, sitting with NBA legend (and one-time Sonics head coach) Bill Russell.

26-25 Golden State, 6:45 second: Kevin Durant has his first field goal of the evening on a three-point play. He was bumped on his cut and shot after receiving the ball, drawing the foul and hitting the shot. He hit the free throw to complete the play and give him six points.

29-25 Golden State, 5:56 second: The Warriors are led by the eight points of Toby Bailey. If you're an NCAA fan, surely you remember Bailey's name. It's been more than a decade - 12 years, in fact - since Bailey played a key role in UCLA winning the National Championship at the now-long-departed Kingdome. A teammate of Sonics guard Earl Watson when he was a senior and Watson a freshman, Bailey is giving the NBA another chance, having last played in the league in 1999-00 with Phoenix. So far, so good - Bailey has had a very nice NBA Summer League.

33-28 Golden State, 3:59 second: Let me make sure I get a link in here to the scoreboard, where you can watch the webcast of this game.

37-30 Golden State, 2:49 second: Tonight it's Jeff Green that is creating a lot of contact. He's had some close calls go in his favor and, a moment ago, was called for an offensive foul on what looked like a Carlos Powell flop from this vantage point. Green is 3-of-6 at the free-throw line and has hit both of his attempts from the field, giving him seven points to go with his four rebounds.

41-36 Golden State, halftime: Sonics done five at the break. They shot just 29% from the field, but attempted a whopping 28 free throws to stay in it. Golden State, by contrast, had only seven free-throw attempts. The Sonics also have an incredible 31-16 advantage on the glass, led by six from Kenny Adeleke.

Let me tell you, you have to watch Marco Belinelli at all times because you never know when he is going to pull the trigger. Has there ever been a player who has been such a perfect fit for his team's style of play? (Um, yes. Steve Nash and Phoenix. But I digress.) Belinelli has gotten Durant off balance at times and made him look a little silly, but Durant has done an excellent job guarding a perimeter shooter. His size and length give him the opportunity to recover even when he gets beat initially. Durant also used his long arms in the passing lanes, picking up three steals. He turned one of them into a dunk that could get him going.

Johan Petro's activity also deserves a mention. Officially, he's got four boards and a block in 11 minutes, but I think I saw him swat a second shot as well. Mouhamed Sene has a pair of blocks off the bench and Jeff Green has added one of his own.

An amazingly entertaining matchup of young kids during halftime has drawn cheers from the crowd.

54-47 Golden State, 5:18 third: Gary Payton has joined Clay Bennett and Bill Russell, only adding to the star power watching the Sonics tonight. And what they're watching is Kevin Durant's best performance in Green and Gold. He's hit two of his three shots since halftime and has nine points, giving him 21 for the game. Marco Belinelli (11 points on 5-of-15 shooting) has been left in the rear-view mirror, though the Warriors continue to lead.

Just a cameo for Payton, who appears to be headed out. I swear, by the way, that Bill Simmons of is sitting behind Payton.

56-54 Golden State, 2:44 third: Gorgeous tip dunk by Jeff Green, who has been quiet in this half. Not as nice as his dunk over Nate Robinson on Monday that Henry Abbott of TrueHoop called his highlight of the NBA Summer League, but nice nonetheless.

Great exchange involving Golden State summer Head Coach Keith Smart. A call went against the Warriors and a fan yelled to Smart to tell the referee he blew the call. Smart responded that the fan had to tell the ref because Smart already was called for a technical in the first half.

61-58 Golden State, end third: Dominant third quarter for Kevin Durant, his first extended superstar period of the NBA Summer League. Durant made four of his six shots and was 7-of-9 at the free-throw line for 16 points in the quarter and 28 in the game. I really liked a running banker off glass from the right side of the lane that showed deft touch.

71-64 Golden State, 5:59 fourth: The Warriors went on a 6-0 run to start the period before Ralph Lewis got Durant and Green back in, and that may doom the Sonics. They trail by seven with a little less than six minutes left.

As impressive as anything Durant has done on offense has been his anticipating and timing on D. He picked Belinelli clean for a fast break that ended in a Ronnie Burrell dunk (showing some unselfishness from Durant, who easily could have finished the break himself). Don't overlook Jeff Green either. He has 15 points and eight rebounds and has made some very difficult shots.

76-70 Golden State, 2:32 fourth: The Sonics are going to need a rally to get their first win of the NBA Summer League. A Brandon Heath layup got them within six, but Josh Powell was cherry-picking at the other end. A good foul by Kenny Adeleke sends him to the line for two.

I keep neglecting to mention it, but check out Eric Williams' live blog at as well.

80-72 Golden State, 1:21 fourth: Time may be running out on the Sonics. They'll have possession after a timeout.

85-74 Golden State, final: The Sonics can't rally, but that's ultimately of little importance. What is important is that we saw the future of the Sonics tonight in the performance of Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, and it looks very bright indeed.

Friday Afternoon at the NBA Summer League

Back for another marathon day of NBA Summer League action.

In the opener, Phoenix (with former Sonics big man Russ Schoene on the summer coaching staff) got its first win, beating New Orleans. Ron Hale scored a game-high 25 points off the bench for the Suns. Hilton Armstrong led the Hornets with 24, but offset those with eight fouls and six turnovers. (Hey, it's summer league.)

The L.A. Clippers held off Memphis for a 90-84 win in Game #2. I was impressed by the midrange game of Al Thornton, who scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. (Then again, he had nine fouls and six turnovers. Hey, it's summer league.) Mike Conley was not as effective today. He had nine points and eight assists, but turned the ball over six times and could not find the touch, shooting 2-for-10 from the field.

Will Conroy backed up the point for the Clippers, handing out five assists and committing only one turnover in 15 minutes of action.

Friday Update

Jermaine Jackson will not play tonight for the Sonics. The veteran point guard has been bothered by his hamstring and had an MRI taken today, hoping to find nothing more serious than fatigue.

"Before I came here, I had just came back from over in Europe [where he played in Ukraine]," said Jackson. "I haven't had a chance to rest at all. I just hope it's a little fatigue - take a couple of days off and get right back out there."

Jeff Green went through shootaround and I'm guessing he will play tonight.

Kevin Durant was back at shootaround. Actually, he returned from the ESPYs, which he said he enjoyed, yesterday. However, the Sonics had yesterday completely off, so today was the first time he was back in terms of basketball.

I asked Durant whether he was disappointed to hear that Greg Oden's summer league was over.

"Yeah, I was," Durant said. "I was looking forward to seeing him play and seeing him progress during summer league. I just hope the surgery goes well. All I can do is wish for the best."

Honestly, the fact that the Sonics and Blazers are scheduled to play on Sunday - now without not only Oden but also LaMarcus Aldridge, who preceded Durant at Texas - wasn't a big factor for Durant.

"It would have been fun, but I wasn't just pinpointing that game out because it's me and Greg Oden. There's some guys on each other's teams that are better than me and Greg Oden. I was just looking forward to playing the game, trying to get better and better as we go on in summer league."

I Gotta Have More Dowdell

I hope you've read yesterday's feature story on Zabian Dowdell, the standout undrafted rookie playing point guard for the Sonics summer-league team.

My assumption is that many of you are familiar with Dowdell for the same reason I was prior to the NBA Draft, his participation in the TrueHoop blog's "Just pick me" series, which followed Dowdell as he worked out for teams and ultimately went undrafted. If for some reason you've missed this must-read series from the definitive NBA blog, here are the links:

Part 1: The workout process
Part 2: Traveling
Part 3: Headed to Seattle
Part 4: Undrafted, but ready to play for the Sonics

Part 3 checks in with Dowdell as he's preparing to work out for the Sonics two days before the Draft. As I mentioned in the feature, that workout did not take place because bad weather cancelled Dowdell's flight from Dallas.

(Apologies to Supersonicsoul for shamelessly ripping off their Dowdell/Cowbell pun.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Kings-Knicks Live Blog

1:48 first: A little live-blogging for this one, on account of the UW products. I've been half paying attention to this first quarter. I just looked up at the scoreboard and bam! It's 26-7 New York. Nate Robinson has five points and three assists, while Tre Simmons connected on a three-point play. Spencer Hawes had a goregous assist, but otherwise it's been tough going for him. Hawes has missed three of his four shots and got badly beaten on another New York three-point play.

6:32 second: Nate Robinson has been called for a technical. He thought he was fouled on a three-point attempt that missed everything. Robinson follows by stealing a crosscourt pass and leading the break (though Demetris Nichols blew a layup). The sequence continues with Renaldo Balkman blocking Hawes' shot (he and Kevin Durant now have something in common) and Nate sneaking an alley-oop feed over the rim.

Hawes with a nice offensive board and hook. He's up to 2-for-7 from the field.

Halftime: Huskies lead both teams in scoring. After missing five of his first six shots, Hawes has hit five of his last six. They haven't always been pretty in terms of footwork, but Hawes is showing off the touch that made him such a coveted prospect.

Robinson took his technical personally and had a huge second quarter, scoring 11 of his 16 points. Robinson shot 6-for-9 from the field and also handed out seven assists. Tre Simmons has not played as well, missing four of his five shot attempts.

The Knicks lead it comfortably, 57-39.

5:04 third: Not related to the Huskies, but exciting nonetheless: The highly-anticipated 2007 NBA Summer League debut of Daniel Artest for the Kings.

In Moneyball, Michael Lewis describes an A's scout as what you might get if you hammed Shaquille O'Neal until he stood 6-0. I feel that way about Daniel and his more famous brother Ron. Daniel has been guesstimated as going about 6-2, 300. For a complete profile, check out the DC Sports Bog.

Hawes just met a flying Renaldo Balkman at the summit but was called for a foul to the dismay of the Kings fans in attendance. "That's the worst call of summer league," yelled one.

2:35 third: Artest's stint is over. He grabbed a rebound in two minutes and did not attempt a shot. He's playing power forward and clearly does move abnormally well for a guy of his girth, although not well enough to avoid getting dunked on by Wilson Chandler on a fast break.

End third: Quiet third quarter for the UW guys. Nate Robinson played only half the period. He's got 18 points and eight assists, both game highs. Spencer Hawes has 16 points, tied with Pooh Jeter atop the Kings. Hawes has shot 8-for-18 from the field but has just four rebounds in 27 minutes.

Being here ruins your perspective about height. I just spent hte last hour or two sitting next to 2006 Warriors second-round pick Kosta Perovic, who is listed at 7-2, and he frankly didn't seem that tall.

4:16 fourth: Don't call it a comeback. The Kings are playing hard and have gotten within six, 82-76. Nate Robinson checks in to try to right the Knicks.

Final: The Knicks make enough plays down the stretch to hang on for a 96-84 victory.

Nate hits a late three-pointer to finish with 21 points. He also handed out two late assists to give himself 10 for the game and a double-double on strong 7-for-13 shooting.

Hawes finishes with 22 points on 11-for-25 shooting. I think he might not have gotten enough credit for his left hand, which he used extensively and successfully today. Hoever, Hawes simply needs to create more easy shots for himself. Too many of his shots are challenging fadeaways. While he hits them at a relatively good percentage, those are low-percentage shots in general.

I'm going to go catch the end of the Clippers and Timberwolves on the other court, but I'm calling it a day for the blog.

Brooks Can't Rally Rockets

Aaron Brooks scored 28 points, hitting four three-pointers, but he was unable to hit the big shot the Rockets needed in the final minutes as Dallas held on for a 98-94 win in the most competitive game of the day so far.

Even at the pro level, Brooks' quickness stands out, and he shot the ball well. However, we didn't get much idea of how much Brooks' size (or lack thereof) will hurt him in the NBA; he was going against the even more diminutive Jose Juan Barea.

Steve Novak also shot the ball well for the Rockets, and they got a double-double from D-League swingman Mike Harris.

On the Dallas side, it looked like second-round pick Nick Fazekas finally got going with a good run in the fourth quarter.

Our evening will finish with the Sacramento Kings facing the New York Knicks, a game which features three UW products - Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons for New York and Spencer Hawes for Sacramento. Because there aren't locker rooms at the Cox Pavilion, players generally sit in the stands while waiting for their games. Nate was just too my left and yelled "That's a bucket" when Brooks isolated at the top of the key late in the game. Alas, I've forgotten whether Brooks scored on that play or not.

Cleveland-Memphis Final

All Grizzlies in this one, as they led by 20 virtually the entire second half and finished Cleveland off 100-76. Rudy Gay led the way with 20 points.

Mike Conley was good but not great. He scored 13 points, handed out seven assists and had just one turnover in 23 minutes, but it would have been nice to see him make a jumper.

I was keeping a close eye on Ryvon Covile, a rookie power forward from Detroit-Mercy who will be playing for the Sonics in the Rocky Mountain Revue after completing his service to the Cavaliers. He had some nice minutes, scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds in 10 minutes.

Rare is the game in this NBA Summer League that does not involve at least one player from the Seattle area. Up next, Franklin (and University of Oregon) product Aaron Brooks and the Rockets take on Dallas.

Faces in the crowd: Jeff Green is spending a little of his day off watching hoops. Adam Silver, the NBA's #2 behind David Stern, is sitting courtside with Kiki Vandeweghe. Naturally, the Sonics braintrust has been here scouting. Lastly, did you know that former Sonics Coach Paul Westphal is now an assistant for Dallas? He's sitting high up in the stands for this one with Mavericks Head Coach Avery Johnson.

Other Summer League Action

With the Sonics taking today completely off, I've taken the opportunity to make my way over to Cox Pavilion to watch some other NBA Summer League action. In today's opener, Denver beat Detroit.

Kentwood product Rodney Stuckey was impressive again for the Pistons, scoring 18 points and handing out three assists. His game should translate very well to the NBA.

One-time Sonics big man Jelani McCoy played for the Nuggets, and McCoy's game has always been well suited to this style. He scored 12 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked six shots - most of the volleyball swat out of bounds variety.

Memphis is now taking on Cleveland and I enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with former Sonics Assistant Coach Gordon Chiesa, now on Marc Iavaroni's staff in Memphis. Chiesa enjoyed his time in Seattle and he will be missed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sonics vs. Milwaukee Live Blog

Pregame: Just about ready to tip off. We're at Thomas & Mack Center, the home of UNLV men's basketball (and the 2007 NBA All-Star Game), across from Cox Pavilion. The crowd seems small in this big building, but from my perspective this is better. The media seating has a good view of the court (and that's what really counts, isn't it), plus now there may be replays.

Another game, another lineup for the Sonics. Mouhamed Sene gets the nod in the middle, with Jeff Green (the only player to start all three games) and Kenny Adeleke in the backcourt and Jermaine Jackson and Olu Famutimi (yet to see action for the Sonics) at guards.

Sonics 4, Milwaukee 4: As I'm sure you know, Kevin Durant is not playing tonight for the Sonics because of his earlier commitment to attend the ESPY Awards in L.A. Mickael Gelabale is also sitting out tonight because of the sprained ankle suffered in practice last week.

In the early going, the Sonics are featuring Green and Sene.

Milwaukee 10, Sonics 8: Experience is hugely important in summer action. You can tell a major difference between players who have played in the NBA and those who have not. The Bucks have a lot of vets - their point guards are Lynn Greer and two-time Sonics callup Randy Livingston, who have both been around. Awvee Storey and Noel Felix (another former Sonics players) don't have as much NBA time, but have been pros for a while, as has Billy Thomas. That makes this game a good test for the Sonics.

Milwaukee 12, Sonics 9: Credit Sonics PR guy Kurt Fedders with a nice catch at the scorers' table on a ball tipped out of bounds that Ralph Lewis was unable to corral. Way to go Kurt!

Sonics 22, Milwaukee 18, end 1st: Nice finish to the quarter for the Sonics, who lead by four. Olu Famutimi has six points and has knocked down a couple of outside shots. Zabian Dowdell came in late in the period and did a fine job of running the team. He assisted Famutimi on an inbounds play, then got to the basket and banked in a runner on the last full possession of the period. Look for my feature on Dowdell tomorrow on SUPERSONICS.COM.

Sonics 35, Milwaukee 24: The run continues with a lineup of Dowdell, Julius Hodge, Antywane Robinson, Ronnie Burrell and Johan Petro on the floor. Dowdell, Robinson and Famutimi have combined for 19 points.

Sonics 36, Milwaukee 29: Is it possible to be kicked out of an NBA Summer League game? Bucks Head Coach Tony Brown might be. The Milwaukee bench has been unhappy with a couple of iffy block calls that went against the Bucks, amongst other transgressions. Brown did get a T between the quarters.

Signs this is, after all, only summer league: Awvee Storey's name is misspelled "STORY" on the back of his jersey.

Sonics 41, Milwaukee 33: Question of the first half right now: Who's Olu Famutimi? Famutimi was supposed to play for the Knicks in Vegas and join the Sonics only in Utah, but for whatever reason those plans changed. With Mickael Gelabale's injury, some minutes opened up and Famutimi has taken full advantage. He averaged 11.5 ppg last year for Arkansas in the D-League. He's looked automatic from about 20 feet, but only hit four three-pointers all of 2006-07, so his range must be a little limited.

Sonics 44, Milwaukee 39 (halftime): Strong first half for the Sonics. They didn't shoot the ball tremendously well (36.6%), but committed just five turnovers, which is incredible for a summer-league game. They also beat Milwaukee on the glass and got to the free-throw line more often.

One of the challenges with non-roster guys in the summer league is making sure they are playing as the teams needs them to instead of worrying only about "getting theirs." This Sonics unit has done a great jof of that tonight, sharing the ball and moving it around. Kudos to all of these guys.

I wanted to make sure I throw in a link to the scoreboard so anybody who had missed it can watch the webcast. Just click on "Watch" under the score of this game.

Sonics 50, Milwaukee 46: On the Bucks side, a big game tonight for former Sonics forward Noel Felix. Felix has 18 points to lead all scorers on 7-for-10 shooting, four rebounds and a couple of blocks. He has looked incredibly athletic tonight and has been the best player on the court.

This is summer league, part two: Milwaukee just tried to take the ball when the Sonics were inbounding on their end of the court. Everybody was lined up as if the Sonics were inbounding, but a Bucks player (didn't see who) went over and got the ball from the ref before another ref noticed the mistake.

Milwaukee 58, Sonics 55: This game has begun to get away from the Sonics a little bit here in this third quarter. Turnovers and penetration have both caused problems. After committing just five turnovers in the first half, the Sonics have six thus far in the period. Meanwhile, the Bucks got good looks and scored 19 points in the first six and a half minutes of the period. Lynn Greer looks like a veteran running the Milwaukee offense.

Milwaukee 61, Sonics 59: Looks like we should get a close fourth quarter tonight. The Bucks will enter with a two-point lead. The Sonics will go to the final period with the lineup of Dowdell, Heath, Hodge, Burrell and Petro that was very effective in the first half.

Sonics 64, Milwaukee 63: Last game I talked about Kevin Durant's ability to draw fouls. That's to be expected for a player of Durant's ability, but some guys just have a knack for drawing them. Julius Hodge is one of them. He's taken nine free throws tonight in 16 minutes.

Sonics 69, Milwaukee 67: This being summer league, wins and losses aren't hugely important, but I still think the Sonics coaching staff would like to finish this game out with a win. With 5:53 left, the Green and Gold is clinging to a two-point lead. Milwaukee clearly cares as well: The Bucks have now been called for not one but two technical fouls.

By the way, if Jeff Green has been conspicuous by his absence from this blog, it's because he hasn't played since early in the game. Green tweaked an ankle and, with no good reason to push him, he hasn't played since.
Update: Green said after the game he sprained his ankle previously and it was a little tight when he tried to go tonight.

Sonics 75, Milwaukee 67: The Bucks take timeout in response to a 6-0 Sonics run since the last break. Julius Hodge has the last two buckets, both transition layups after steals. Hodge has a team-high 12 points.

Milwaukee 81, Sonics 79: With 1:53 left, the Bucks have taken a two-point lead on a three-pointer from Damir Markota. The Sonics finish with Jackson, Famutimi, Hodge, Burrell and Adeleke.

Milwaukee 87, Sonics 82: Looks like the Bucks will take this one. Milwaukee has made its free throws, while Olu Famutimi has missed a couple of three-point attempts that could have been big for the Sonics. With 41.9 seconds left, it's a five-point deficit.

Milwaukee 92, Sonics 85, final: That's a wrap from the Thomas & Mack Center. The Bucks finished this one with a 14-6 run to take it from the Sonics, who didn't have the go-to scorer they needed down the stretch. Still, they have to feel good about how well they played without their two leading scorers in the NBA Summer League, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green (eight minutes).

Julius Hodge led the Sonics with 15 points and has posted a bizarre line this summer: 14 field-goal attempts and 29 free-throw attempts. Olu Famutimi (12) and Kenny Adeleke (10) were the other two Sonics who scored double-figures.

The Sonics will be back in action Friday, taking on the Golden State Warriors right here at 7:30 p.m.

Carlesimo on PTI

Got an e-mail from ESPN Communications informing me new Sonics Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo will be on PTI this afternoon:

P.J. Carlesimo, new head coach of the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics, will be the "Five Good Minutes" guest this afternoon on Pardon the Interruption. Carlesimo will take time out from NBA Summer League action in Las Vegas to discuss the Sonics and other NBA topics with co-hosts Michael Wilbon and Dan LeBatard on today's program. Pardon the Interruption will be aired on ESPN at 5:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. PT (re-aired on ESPNEWS at 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Green's Dunk

Finally caught a good look at Jeff Green's highlight dunk from last night on the archive of MSG's broadcast of the game. I stick by my original response that it was nice, even though I didn't know at the time it was over Nate Robinson. Apparently it made SportsCenter's Top 10.

What I really enjoyed about watching the MSG film, however, was hearing Quentin Richardson react to the dunk. He was clearly taken aback. MSG's Gus Johnson asked Richardson, who was on the air for a couple of segments, if he was able to dunk like that now.

"I've never been dunking like that," answered Richardson.

Carlesimo on Durant

Sonics Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo was asked about Kevin Durant's first two games today after practice, and I thought what he had to say was very interesting.

"I'm not sure if you gave me a choice, do you want him to come in and score 30 a game or do you want him to maybe experience a little bit of adversity, I'm not sure which one would have been better," Carlesimo said. "It wasn't something I had any control over anyhow. He's good. I like reading the quotes when you guys are talking to him after the games, I like when I've talked to him.

"I like what I saw on the court. There's times where he could do this better or do that better, but the thing that I've been most happy with him is his interaction. Even in practice you see it. He's throwing the ball to Mo, Mo makes a shot, he goes over and pats him on the back. I really like that."

Carlesimo throws out the interesting thought that immediate huge success might not have been the best thing for Durant. If he makes some adjustments and comes back with his best games late in the summer - not tomorrow, as he'll miss the game because he previously committed to attend the ESPY Awards - that might be the best possibility of all.

Oden's Summer League Likely Over

Jason Quick of The Oregonian reported this morning that the Blazers have made the decision to have Greg Oden have his infected tonsils removed after attending the ESPYs on Wednesday.
A final decision hasn't been made on the surgery -- Oden said he wants to talk
it over with his mother first -- but it appears likely that he will fly to
Portland for a tonsillectomy late in the week, immediately after he takes part
in a taping of the ESPYs award show in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The team and
Oden's camp expect recovery to take about two weeks.

This news means Oden and Kevin Durant, the top two picks in the Draft, will not have their first head-to-head matchup in Sunday's NBA Summer League finale. It also probably will only increase the scrutiny on Durant. He and Oden have been *the* stories of the NBA Summer League.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Live Blog - Sonics vs. Knicks

Tip: The Sonics come out tonight with two different players from their starting lineup on Friday. A healthy Mickael Gelabale has replaced Julius Hodge at shooting guard, while Jermaine Jackson gets the start at the point. Jackson is a veteran who knows how to run an offense, so this move should help the Sonics get off to a quicker start on offense.

... You know, like Kevin Durant hitting a three-pointer on the team's first possession. Silky.

9-8 Knicks: A three from Nate Robinson from the left wing gives New York the lead.

17-15 Sonics: Not a lot of defense in the first quarter, which is surprisingly atypical for these games (actually, it's probably sloppy offense). Jeff Green and Kevin Durant have five points and a three-pointer apiece for the Sonics; Wilson Chandler's six points lead New York. Green and Durant have had their shots blocked a combined three times -- this could be an issue for Durant as a rookie, though I doubt it will be in the long run.

Durant is out now with two early fouls.

20-19 Knicks: Huskies in the house. As we've mentioned, Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons are on the floor for New York. There are three Huskies in the stands watching them - Will Conroy, playing for the Clippers; Brandon Roy, not playing for the Blazers after winning Rookie of the Year; and rookie Spencer Hawes, playing for the Kings. Bobby Jones may join them at some point and Stanford's Mitch Johnson, another Seattle product, is sitting with the Huskies in the stands.

I would never have believed there would be so many Huskies in the NBA when I started at UW a little less than seven years ago and the team's star player was Will Perkins. Crazy.

25-21 Knicks: The scoring has slowed since the second units got involved. I don't think we've had a score in the first minute and a half of the second quarter. Kevin Durant is currently 2-for-7 from the field. Right now, he's able to create good shots but hitting them consistently has not yet come. He's got a pretty good matchup with Renaldo Balkman, an excellent defender with length, working against him.

32-24 Knicks: Consider Jeff Green as having announced his presence with authority, to borrow from Marv Albert. He was fouled while going up in the middle of the lane and powered straight through for a hard slam dunk that drew oohs and ahs from the crowd. My favorite part: With his teammates talking to him as he was at the free-throw line to complete the three-point play, Green laughed a little bit, as if to admit, "That was nice."

45-28 Knicks: This second quarter has been all New York, with the Knicks outscoring the Sonics 20-7. Right now, we're seeing the young Sonics try to do a lot of things one-on-one as opposed to running through the offense. Kevin Durant is 2-for-10 from the field; in fact, it's the other No. 35, New York second-round pick Demetris Nichols, that leads all scorers with 11 points.

51-35 Knicks, halftime: Jeff Green is the leading Sonics scorer at the midway point with 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Kevin Durant finishes the first half with seven points on 2-for-11 shooting. Not a whole lot of scoring outside of that. For New York, Nate Robinson has eight points and three assists. Tre Simmons has four points but has yet to hit from the field, missing all three of his shot attempts.

57-43 Knicks, 5:02 3rd: We've seen a more active Sonics team come out for the second half, particularly at the defensive end of the floor. Johan Petro has at least one and maybe two blocks and the Sonics have stemmed the tide. Now to get some offensive rhythm, possibly by turning defense into offense.

59-45 Knicks, 3:17 3rd: Right now, it seems Kevin Durant's strength - at least in the summer setting - is drawing fouls. When the Sonics get him the ball on the wing with his back to the basket, he is able to turn quickly and get into the body of his defender, who often still has his hands on Durant - which becomes illegal. He's also very quick with his first step.

76-64 Knicks, 6:02 4th: Good run for Zabian Dowdell as the backup point guard. He had three points and an assist in seven minutes after a poor outing on Friday as the starter.

This game is perfectly tailor-made for Nate Robinson, who has put on a highlight clinic. He had a goregous up-and-under move against Johan Petro in the first half, along with a 360 move for a layup in transition in the third quarter. On defense, he got way up and blocked a shot in transition, though he was called for a foul. The crowd - thinning as the night goes on - appreciated it. One fan shouted out, "Go Huskies!" as Robinson was shooting a free throw.

87-74 Knicks, final: A tough night for the Sonics and for Kevin Durant as the Knicks win this one by double-digits.

Durant finishes the night with 18 points on 4-of-19 shooting. We saw some similar things to his first game. Other teams are going to be very physical in defending him and Durant will have to take a lot of contested shots. Right now, those aren't going in. It will be interesting to see how Durant adjusts during the course of the summer. He showed some positive signs in a fourth quarter that saw him play his best basketball. The positive is he hasn't appeared to get frustrated and he hasn't gotten down on defense - even taking a charge in the first half.

The star of the night for the Sonics was Jeff Green, who scored 17 points and shot 5-for-12 from the field. Green scored in several different ways tonight, hitting the jumper, getting out in transition and scoring off the dribble.

Mickael Gelabale had a solid night, scoring 10 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Johan Petro also had seven boards in 23 minutes, which is nice to see. And Mouhamed Sene put up six points and four rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

While the score might not reflect it, I think we saw some progress for the Sonics tonight. After a day of practice, they'll play Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Welcome to Cox Pavilion

After several futile attempts, I've managed to connect to the wireless. Now I'm ready for tip-off between the Sonics and Knicks in about 20 minutes.

Man, I have never seen so many NBA types in one place as are in this building (and the adjoining Thomas & Mack Center, where games are also being played) right now. Everywhere you turn is a GM or coach.

The Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers are winding down right now. The talk of the gym is Warriors guard Marco Belinelli, who had 37 points in his debut on Saturday. Belinelli has been quieter tonight, scoring 21 points - none in the fourth quarter- but still very impressive. He's got five three-pointers, and his offensive game seems to be more versatile than advertised. He's got some flashy moves in the open court. Think Brent Barry minus rebounding. (That's a high compliment as someone who watched Barry in his prime with the Sonics.)

Well, so much for Belinelli not scoring in the fourth - he just had an impressive take to the basket for a layup in traffic.

It's now final - Golden State 94, Philadelphia 87.

I love few things more than watching the random or fringe guys who play summer ball. The early standout in this category this season is Toby Bailey, who is playing for the Warriors squad 12 years after playing a key role in UCLA's run to the National Championship at the Kingdome. Bailey had 10 points in 20 minutes tonight. Apparently, he's been playing in the IBL.

Husky alum Bobby Jones played for Philadelphia and had six points and four rebounds.

Q&A: P.J. Carlesimo

I had a chance to chat briefly with new Sonics Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo after this morning's shootaround about the NBA Summer League and his busy life since being named the 15th head coach in franchise history just four days ago.

What are you looking for and hoping to see while you're down here?
I'm really not looking to see much, per se. What I'm really looking to do more than anything is get to know the guys. I just want to spend some time with them, get to know them, watch their games a little bit. Summer league - it's a little bit of an indicator, but the truth is, there's not a lot of NBA guys here, so it's hard to make any decisions or watch somebody and say, 'He's going to do this well in the regular season,' because it's apples and oranges. To me, it's much more important for me to get to know Mo (Sene) and Johan (Petro) and Mickaƫl (Gelabale) and Jeff (Green) and Kevin (Durant) and spend some time with them.

Yeah, I am watching the games. You do see how guys compete, you see how they handle different situations, but it's much more just let's get acquainted - even from a basketball standpoint. You just watch, make some observations. If you do see something, yeah, take note, but it's not like I'm hoping to see something or if all of a sudden somebody starts scoring a lot of points and getting a lot of rebounds, that doesn't always translate to the regular season. It's less what they're doing on the court and more getting to know them.

Is summer league important in the process of building a culture?
Yes and no. Yes in that Ralph (Lewis) is stressing defense, yes in that we don't them to do things here we're not going to want them to do during the regular season. Having said that, we don't even have a coaching staff. We don't have three-quarters of our team or two-thirds of our team, whatever the percentage is that's not here. After you are months down the line in terms of trying to build a culture, as we will be at the end of this year, then maybe next summer we can build a little bit of a bridge back to what we have already established because the guys that will be playing summer league next year who were on the team during the regular season will know what is expected of them and they'll be able to set a tone for the other guys. None of that knowledge is here right now. I'm not saying we don't care what happens here - don't misunderstand - but it's impossible for them to know what we want because they haven't been through it yet.

When you were interviewed during the webcast of Friday's game, you said you had yet to get back to people who were interested in being part of your staff as assistants. Have you since then?
No, I still haven't. I'm hopeful maybe tomorrow. I'm not even close, to be honest with you. We just have so many other things on the plate. Not that coaching staff is not important - in a lot of ways it's the most important thing for me because those are the guys that are going to teach and those are the guys who are going to develop that culture - but there's been too many other things that are more time-pressing and I haven't had a chance to get to that. Once I get to that, you're going to go crazy, unfortunately. We will be the last staff hired, so there's a lot of guys out there that are really anxious. One of these days I'm going to start returning some calls and start making some decisions and sitting down with people face to face.

Have you had a chance to breathe since last Thursday?
I really haven't, to be honest with you, but that's expected. That happens any time you change jobs. It especially happens the later you are in the situation. For us, it happened at the same time as not one but two summer leagues. There's so many other things on the table that Sam's got and he and I are discussing. We're just trying to play catch-up. Unfortunately, there's two, three, four things going on at the same time. That's just how it is. If the transition had happened months ago, it would be a little more orderly and you'd have time to focus on different things at different times. We're trying to focus on everything at the same time, which is not always easy.

Vegas, Baby. Vegas.

LAS VEGAS - Welcome to sunny scorching hot Las Vegas, where your Seattle SuperSonics are one of 21 NBA teams competing in the NBA Summer League. For the first time, SUPERSONICS.COM has sent a reporter to summer league, and after missing Friday's opener I'll be here through the duration of the league, blogging and posting stories.

As a Seattle native who's rarely ventured too far outside the Emerald City, this is the hottest weather I've ever experienced. Players have been asked not to go outside on game days lest the sun sap their energy.

This is the closest thing the NBA has to a league-wide "convention," with 2/3 of the league's teams participating. There are, I think, seven teams including the Sonics here at The Palms (naturally, the Sacramento Kings, owned like Palms by the Maloofs, are here as well), and it's impossible to walk around for more than a couple of minutes without seeing either a player or an employee of an NBA team, like Ron Artest taking his kids back from the pool.

Waiting for the Sonics to complete their shootaround this morning at a local basketball complex founded by former UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian, I saw a couple more NBA guys working out, Sebastian Telfair and Michael Ruffin. So this is all a little surreal.

After taking the weekend off, the summer Sonics are back in action tonight against the New York Knicks (featuring former UW standouts Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons) at 7:00 p.m. We'll be on the scene and live blogging, if perhaps not quite as fervently as for a regular-season Live From the Press Box. Mickael Gelabale is expected to play after missing Friday's game with a sprained ankle.

For more coverage of the NBA Summer League, head to, which has put together an excellent homepage for the league.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Foul Debut for Oden

You know all about the performance of No. 2 pick Kevin Durant today (actually yesterday, if I check my clock). How about No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden? Well, the 10 fouls the NBA Summer League weren't enough for Oden, who fouled out with six points and two blocks.

Good news today: It turns out the Blazers were mistaken when they previously thought Oden would have to miss next Sunday's showdown with the Sonics and Durant to attend the ESPYs. The ESPYs air on July 15 but will be taped on Thursday.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Durant on His Debut

In his professional debut today, Kevin Durant scored 18 points on 5-for-17 shooting as the Sonics lost to the Dallas Mavericks in NBA Summer League action. I worked a couple of Durant quotes into my recap, but here's some more from his post-game availability with the media.

On his shot:
“It just wasn’t falling today. In this game, you can’t make every single shot, so you just have to be aggressive.”

On being nervous before the game:
“I was more nervous in the days leading up to the game, but my teammates did a good job of calming me down.

“I was nervous before every game in college, so it's no big deal.”

On feeling pressure heading into the season:
“I’m not feeling any at all. Its just basketball and I’m just here to play. I’m just trying to get better as a player and as a team.”

On differences between college and the pros:
“It was much more intense and much faster than the college game. I thought I played well but I could have shot a little better. Hopefully next game I’ll be able to do that a little better.”

“I have to learn how to adjust to a quicker game - playing faster and reacting faster. I’ll be alright.

On his biggest competition in league:
“Whoever we play that game. I don’t really have any rivals. I haven’t even played a game yet. I’m just looking forward to playing in the league and hopefully we can do some good things.”

On having his first shot blocked:
“Everybody gets their shot blocked. It’s the NBA, I can’t get down on myself because he (DeSagana Diop) blocked it. I thought I had the clear layup, but he came over and blocked it.

“I just have to stay aggressive and continue to help my teammates out.”

On new teammate Jeff Green:
“He does everything well on the floor. He can penetrate, pass, and get to the free-throw line. When you play with a guy like that, it’s easy.”

On new Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo:
“He’s a great coach who gets everything out of his players. I can’t wait to play for him.”

On Las Vegas and the NBA Summer League:
“It’s a fun town. Everyone comes out and shows us a lot of support and I’m glad to be here.”

Change of Pace

What debuted as the "Draft Buzz" blog in the week leading up to the Draft morphed into a live blog on Draft night. Now it's changing again into The Official Blog of the Sonics. I'll primarily be responsible for blogging, but look for some additions from some of my co-workers as well.

What will this blog be? That's a work in progress, but from my experience blogging about the Storm, I know that it will be a place for immediate updates after practice, a look at all kinds of Sonics news and some thoughts on the goings-on around the NBA.

A quick note on the comments. We do moderate all comments, so if yours does not post immediately, understand that is the reason. Please don't post your comment again. Naturally, profanity and personal attacks are automatic reasons to reject a common. Use your common sense as to what is appropriate.

It should be fun. We'll have the RSS feed up shortly, so sign up for that, bookmark the site and check back often as we follow the new era of Sonics basketball.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Welcome to Seattle

No. 2 pick Kevin Durant and No. 5 pick Jeff Green got their introduction to Seattle Friday and Saturday, flying West from New York the day after being selected in the NBA Draft. On Friday, Durant and Green were introduced to the Seattle media. On Saturday, Durant's arrival was celebrated at an event at Green Lake Community Center for Sonics fans and featuring several other notable names in the Seattle sports community (Shaun Alexander, Lorenzo Romar, J.J. Putz, Tia Jackson and Sonics legends Spencer Haywood and Slick Watts).

Some odds and ends from the two days:

- Durant was asked a couple of times about buying a house in the Seattle area, answering that he plans to wait until the end of summer league and his time with the U.S. National Team before looking around. On Saturday, he asked for suggestions.

Owning a home will be a big deal.

"I think that's also a big step within my family, because we never bought a house before, we never had a house," said Durant. "I think that's something that we always wanted to accomplish growing up. Now that we can do it, it's going to be a joyous day for me, my mom, my whole family."

- Durant was asked on Friday about what nickname he prefers.

"They can call me whatever they want to call me," he said, referring to Sonics fans. "I'm just happy to be here. They can call me K-Dawg, K-Smoove, it doesn't matter."

Personally, I'm partial to "The Durantula."

- After asking Durant about when he became aware of Green, I found out that Green won a Maryland State Championship at Northwestern High School as a senior. I asked Green about being known as a winner.

"I'm a guy who loves to win," he said. "That's one thing I like to do. It's really remarkable for me to look back at the season I had in high school, how that team wasn't doing good and then we won the state championship. Going to Georgetown, where the program wasn't succeeding and putting them back on the map by going to the Final Four after three years."

- One of Friday's highlights was Durant's much-discussed look. He wore white Air Force Ones with a suit that, well, we struggled to decide on a color. Periwinkle was suggested and a lot of people went with baby blue.

I personally thought pastel blue, but Durant explained the color has personal significance. It was the color worn by his AAU team, the P.G. (as in Prince George's County, where both Durant and Green grew up) Jaguars.