Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Carlesimo's Thoughts on Center

The first week or so of training camp will be very interesting as the media tries to get a feel for P.J. Carlesimo's thinking on a variety of topics, particularly with the kind of wide-open competition that there is all over the place with this roster right now.

Today, Carlesimo was asked if he would prefer a 7-foot presence at center.

"I would prefer to play big," he said. "If we can't, we won't, and it's a concern because Nick (Collison) and Chris (Wilcox) played so well last year and I'm very confident they're going to play well this year. I'd like to be able to have more size on the floor at the five. We'll have size on the floor. We've got some other guys who are pretty big, even at two and three. I would like Robert (Swift) and Johan (Petro) and Mo (Sene) to be able to give us some quality minutes in addition to Nick (Collison) and Kurt (Thomas) and Weezy (Chris Wilcox)."

While that's his preference, Carlesimo isn't averse to going with a smaller group with Collison and Thomas having played center extensively in recent years.

"If the other guys just play so well that we decide we're better small offensively, rebounding and even defense ... you have to play the better basketball players," he said.

Certainly Swift, Petro and Sene will get their chances. Because of their youth, Carlesimo cited the importance of patience as well as the need to play them to find out how good they can be for the Sonics in years to come.

"For a lot of reasons," he concluded, "we're going to give our young bigs an opportunity to play."

- Carlesimo reiterated that he sees Kevin Durant as a shooting guard, though I think Durant was working at small forward today. When discussing Damien Wilkins, he indicated he came into camp viewing Wilkins more as a small forward but has become more comfortable quickly with Wilkins at guard.

- Carlesimo's overall take on Day 2 of practice: "I thought the effort was good. You can start to see a little bit of carryover in the things we're doing."

He noted that as players learn the system of a new coaching staff, there's a lot of thinking going on right now on the court.

"You can see it's hard to think as much as we're thinking right now," Carlesimo said. "You get to a point where you understand what's going on and you can kind of go out and play. You still have to think, but you basically just play. You've done it before, so you get a comfort level. We don't have that comfort level right now. Guys, you can almost hear their heads grinding, trying to remember, 'Which foot's supposed to be up? What am I supposed to do?'"

Coaches stopped the scrimmage much more frequently than they will later on, teaching on small points like Assistant Coach Paul Westhead instructing the team on what to do if the point guard - who will line up on the free-throw line when the other team is at the charity stripe to get the ball more easily - is pressured on the inbounds pass. Centers, it appears, will be doing the inbounds passing for the Sonics.

- During at least the early part of the exhibition season, Carlesimo would like to sit down about a third of his roster every night to make playing time easier to distribute.

"I always hated preseason games from the standpoint of trying to figure out who to play," he explained. "It's so much easier if you say, 'Okay, we don't have 15 guys in Sacramento, we have 10 or 11,' tell the other guys that. We'll work them out in the morning hard and they'll have the night off. We'll have a different 10 or 11 in Cleveland and a different 10 or 11 for Indiana."