Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Carlesimo on the Competition at Center

One of the topics P.J. Carlesimo commented on following today's practice was the battle for playing time at center, where the Sonics have veteran Kurt Thomas as well as younger Johan Petro, Mouhamed Sene and Robert Swift.

Thomas is a known commodity; the other three players are not.

"We still have to sort out who can do what," said Carlesimo. "They've all played such limited minutes, relatively. We're not going to know when we start. Eight games ain't going to be enough to figure it out either. It's going to take a while. Obviously, somebody's got to start in Denver; somebody's got to start when we come back here against Phoenix. We'll go with the best. I really believe that it will be a question of trying different guys at different times, giving them enough time and seeing how they do.

"If we're still saying the same thing by the end of the year, that's not a good sign. It means either we're stupid, which is possible, or we've got a lot of guys of equal ability, which you really don't want either. We'll figure it out eventually, but it's way, way too early."

Talking about the multiple camp battles yesterday, Carlesimo suggested the coaching staff might have to go with one player for a stretch of a couple of weeks to give them a fair shot at the job and avoid a rotation constantly in flux. Ultimately, the coaches will probably look at a number of different combinations over the course of the season.

At center, long-term thinking is a factor. Carlesimo has emphasized the need to make decisions about the young players the Sonics have by giving them an opportunity to play. That's part of why, so far, Nick Collison has basically exclusively worked at power forward.

For tomorrow night in particular, Carlesimo is thinking about a three-man rotation at center.

"Maybe Kurt, Mo and Robert might all get in the neighborhood of 16-18 (minutes)," he said, "as opposed to two guys splitting it down the middle."

- Delonte West's back injury will push back his opportunity to see extended time at point guard.

"Hopefully, if we get Delonte back, Saturday could be one of his games where he gets to play half the game at point," said Carlesimo.

- Kevin Durant had a highlight of practice when he got the ball and bounced nearly a no-look pass through traffic to Chris Wilcox for a score. Words can't really do that justice.

"I've got eyes in the back of my head," Durant joked afterwards.

Durant got three stitches over his right eye yesterday. He "ran into" (his words) Collison's elbow during practice and was bleeding on his jersey, though the cut was not particularly deep.

- FSN color analysts Steve "Snapper" Jones and Marques Johnson were in attendance.