Monday, October 29, 2007

Carlesimo Leaning Toward Watson

Two days before the Sonics open the 2007-08 season Wednesday in Denver (7:30 p.m., FSN/ESPN, KTTH 770 AM), Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo is nearing a decision on the team's starter at point guard. It appears Earl Watson will get that call, in part because Luke Ridnour has been uncomfortable playing with the mask needed to protect his broken nose.

"I think it's been uncomfortable at best from the beginning, so my leaning right now would be to start Earl at point guard," said Carlesimo.

"I'd like to see Luke either get the mask situated or just get the mask behind him - use that as a reason to look at this particular rotation first. It (the competition at point guard) hasn't been a knockout for anybody. We probably didn't expect it to be. We've said all along we're probably going to have to look at some different rotations."

For the time being, it appears Delonte West will back up Watson at the point. In the extremely short term, West might have to be called upon to play heavy minutes at shooting guard Wednesday, which would make Ridnour the backup at point.

The rest of the starting lineup against the Nuggets will depend upon the status of several players. Rookies Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, who both have sprained left ankles, went through practice Monday and felt okay.

"Now," said Carlesimo, "it will be a question of how they come out of it, how they wake up tomorrow morning. If it doesn't swell or if it's not sore tomorrow, that would be a great sign."

Center Robert Swift's availability is also in question. That will defend how the Sonics line up in the frontcourt.

"I'm not sure what we're going to do," Carlesimo said. "That will depend on Robert. If Robert can't go, then we have to discuss whether we're going to start Nick (Collison) or Kurt (Thomas) at five. If Robert can go, then we're back to the Weezy (Chris Wilcox)-Nick thing."

Damien Wilkins figures to have secured a starting spot after starting six of the team's eight preseason games.