SuperSonics continue to rebuild for the future Print
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Friday, 22 February 2008 13:52
NBA Headline News

 SEATTLE (AP) -SuperSonics general manager Sam Presti sounded more exhausted than someone in his early 30s probably should.
Dismantling a team is apparently draining work.
In a whirlwind 24 hours this week, the youngest GM in the league continued on the course he set on draft day in June, giving up talented players with big contracts for draft picks and salary cap room. He hopes that taking a wrecking-ball approach now will return the franchise to prominence in the future.
``Consistently it is a process. You'd like to be able to put things in place with a snap,'' Presti said after the Sonics pulled off two deals before Thursday's NBA trade deadline. ``What we are trying to do is build a team capable of sustainable success. It takes some tough decisions and a lot of work, especially in (the Western Conference) with the way it's structured right now.''
The 31-year-old Presti's latest moves came in trades with San Antonio on Wednesday and as part of a three-team trade with Chicago and Cleveland just before the deadline on Thursday.
The result: Seattle rid itself of the hefty contracts of Wally Sczczerbiak and Kurt Thomas, adding to what should be a large cushion under the salary cap for future free-agent signings, and continued to stockpile draft picks.
Seattle sent Szczerbiak, its second leading scorer, and Delonte West to Cleveland for Ira Newble, Donyell Marshall and Adrian Griffin from Chicago. Thomas was dealt to San Antonio for Francisco Elson, Brent Barry - who was released by Seattle Thursday - and a 2009 first-round pick.
In the June draft, the Sonics selected Kevin Durant with the No. 2 overall pick then promptly traded All-Star Ray Allen to Boston, indicating Seattle was in full rebuilding mode. That was followed up by a sign-and-trade deal sending Rashard Lewis to Orlando in early July.
Accumulating resources for the future only continued this week.
``You have to be creative and figure out how to use pieces that you have to achieve the objectives that you want,'' Presti said.
In the next three years, Seattle has six first-round picks - two each draft - and another seven in the second round. With contracts set to expire over the next two seasons, the Sonics should be significantly under the salary cap, expanding their options for acquiring free agents and making trades.
Thursday's trades likely saved Seattle about $7 million next season.
Of course, the moves come with a price. Seattle was already lottery bound for the fifth time in the last six drafts, but a downtrodden season is likely to get worse.
With only 14 wins entering Friday night's home game against Portland, they likely will challenge the expansion Sonics of 1967-68 (23-59) as the worst team in franchise history, even with the celebrated arrival of Durant.
Presti and coach P.J. Carlesimo have said that an effort to win will be made in the final two months, but the onus will be on evaluating Seattle's current roster.
How that idea sits with veterans like Newble, Marshall and Elson remains to be seen.
``Obviously we have a younger group but we have a balance of veterans. We want our teams to play consistently and with the same identity regardless who is on the floor,'' Presti said. ``The contribution of those guys and the stability they bring will be important to our team.''
For Presti, this week was his first trade deadline calling the shots. He previously worked for San Antonio's R.C. Buford.
Presti's indoctrination was tiring and exhilarating at the same time.
``I think being prepared is important, but there is no script,'' he said. ``You have to be able to let your decisions be driven by what you wanted going into the deadline.''

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