Seattle headed back to lottery hoping to continue growth Print
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Thursday, 17 April 2008 14:03
NBA Headline News

 SEATTLE (AP) -Jeff Green was already preparing to return to Washington D.C. and getting peppered by questions from family he hasn't seen since last summer.
Typically, those questions would all revolve around his rookie season with the Seattle SuperSonics, dealing with the worst record in franchise history and the growing pains of his first year as a professional.
But record-setting losing streaks and embarrassing losses are only an epilogue to the Sonics' 2007-08 campaign, completely overshadowed by the off-court drama about where the team will be next year.
``We just have to sit and wait out this situation,'' Green said. ``We'll find out in a couple of months.''
While the NBA Board of Governors began their two-day meeting in New York on Thursday that is scheduled to include a vote on the application for relocating the Sonics to Oklahoma City, the players themselves were clearing out lockers and receiving summertime assignments.
And, they were getting peppered with questions about just how closely they'll follow the upcoming developments in the team's offcourt saga that will likely include a June trial about the team's lease agreement with the city of Seattle.
``I've just got to continue to let the right people handle that, and when it comes up, start learning more about it,'' Sonics star Kevin Durant said. ``But right now I'm just trying to focus on enjoying my time off with my family when I get home.''
Durant's play was one of the few highlights in a deconstructed season where the Sonics managed a franchise-worst 20 wins, had losing streaks of 14 and 11 games and tore down a roster in the hopes of rebuilding the franchise around the Durant-Green combo.
Despite rebuilding, the 20 wins were not an acceptable total for coach P.J. Carlesimo and general manager Sam Presti, who only gave a vague answer Thursday when asked if there would be any coaching staff changes, Carlesimo included.
``I think for us the system we have in place and the process we have in place is one I believe in, is that we need to get away come back and look at our team, our staff and every little thing and build on where we are now,'' Presti said.
Durant was under heavy expectations. He was asked to carry the offense on a team without proven scorers, and responded with the best rookie season in Seattle's 41-year history.
Durant averaged 20.3 points, getting more efficient with his play as the season progressed, becoming more patient in finding his shots instead of forcing himself into the offense. In the season finale Wednesday night against Golden State, Durant scored a career-best 42 points, taking just 25 shots and only two 3-point attempts.
He was named Western Conference rookie of the month five times and is the overwhelming favorite for rookie of the year.
``I don't think it's remotely close, in terms of what he has done,'' Carlesimo said of Durant being the favorite.
Aside from Durant and Green, the Sonics roster might look plenty different in year two of Presti's remodel, trying to build a team that can follow the blueprint he saw develop in San Antonio and sustain winning for many years.
The Sonics will again have a high lottery pick, holding the second-most pingpong balls when the draft lottery takes place next month. Since taking over as GM last June, Presti has freely wheeled-and-dealed, stockpiling over the next three years 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.
That flexibility, plus some players that might be of interest to other teams, could lead to even more roster turnover for 2008-09.
``There could still be some shake up, we all realize that. I think there is still rebuilding they're going through,'' said forward Nick Collison, who along with forward Chris Wilcox and guard Earl Watson should be back next season.
``Sam has stressed he wants to get a certain type of player here in terms of their character and they want to be consistent in the kinds of players they bring in,'' he added.
Despite any changes in the roster this offseason, Carlesimo said the most important aspect for the future is having a core group in place that doesn't have to deal with changes in the coaching staff and the system. For players like Collison and guard Luke Ridnour, Carlesimo was their fourth coach since the 2004-05 season.
Carlesimo said only if the Sonics grow from this season can a 20-win campaign be considered at all successful - whether the team's future is in Seattle or Oklahoma.
``I don't think you can call a year when you win 20 games a success. ... If we took some steps that are going to help us win more in the future, then the year will be a success,'' Carlesimo said. ``If we build on that next year, two years from now, three years from now, what they went through will help us, then you can say it was a success.''
 

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