|Sonics select Durant, deal Allen to Boston|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 28 June 2007 23:52|
Sam Presti wanted to fully place his imprint on the future of the Seattle SuperSonics. So to send a statement about his vision of a defense-oriented and versatile team, the 30-year-old general manager did what seemed unthinkable: he traded Ray Allen.
Thursday's NBA draft will long be remembered in Seattle for a stunning set of moves in the early stages of the draft - the arrival of Durant with the No. 2 pick, and the departure of Allen, the face of the franchise and one of the most popular players in team history.
Allen and the rights to the 35th pick - LSU's Glen Davis - were sent to Boston for Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and the rights to the No. 5 overall pick - Georgetown forward Jeff Green.
``You're always listening when you come into a situation like this. You don't wake up one day and look to move a player like a Ray Allen,'' Presti said. ``Someone has to come get them and Boston did that here.''
Allen will take his offensive prowess, pure shot and seven All-Star appearances to Boston and join with Paul Pierce. The move should quiet Pierce's comments, voiced several times, about being dissatisfied with the youth movement that could keep Boston from contending during his career.
But for all his talent scoring the ball, Allen was a defensive liability. Since his arrival on June 7 as the youngest GM in the NBA, Presti has constantly reiterated his desire to build a foundation based on defense.
``To make the decision to move a player - and a person - like Ray Allen was tremendously difficult,'' Presti said. ``Boston really pursued this. What started as a smaller conversation became fulfilled. Their pursuit was impeccable.''
Seattle took another forward, Purdue's Carl Landry, with the first pick of the second round, but traded him to Houston for a future second-round pick and cash. The Sonics will also get a future second-round pick from Boston in the Allen trade.
In Allen's place comes Durant, the Texas star and The Associated Press college player of the year. As expected, Durant fell to the Sonics after Portland took Ohio State center Greg Oden first overall.
When the trade was announced on ESPN minutes before the Sonics chose Durant, almost everyone in the crowd of about 2,000 season-ticket holders and invitees at a draft party at Seattle Center booed, hissed and pointed their thumbs down. Many were wearing gold Allen jerseys with his No. 34.
Those same fans cheered moments later as Durant's selection was announced and green and gold streamers flew.
``I want to personally compliment Ray Allen; Ray Allen the person and Ray Allen the outstanding, professional player,'' said team chairman Clay Bennett. ``We appreciate the career of Ray Allen in this market. And we wish him the very best.''
Durant will take on Allen's role as the face of the franchise. He'll also need to take on some of Allen's scoring punch.
Allen averaged a career-high 26.4 points last season, despite being saddled by ankle problems that limited him to five games. He underwent surgery on both his ankles in early April and a few weeks ago said his recovery is on schedule.
Durant is ready for the challenge. The 18-year-old was celebrating in New York on Thursday night, happy to finally know which Northwest location he would play in.
``Now, I can start shopping for a home,'' he said.
Presti indicated that Allen's departure may increase the Sonics' pursuit of Rashard Lewis, who becomes a free agent on July 1. Should Lewis re-sign with Seattle, the Sonics could have five players that play essentially the same position.
Presti sees this glut as a benefit, not a hindrance. He wants players who can play a variety of positions and give a commitment to defense.
``What we see in these players is tremendous versatility,'' Presti said. ``We see guys that are skilled with the ball and have a great size-to-skill ratio.''
Green was an early entrant to the draft, after being the Big East player of the year as a junior at Georgetown. Green averaged 14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in helping the Hoyas reach the Final Four.
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound Green is likely to be a power forward in the NBA but did not work out for the Sonics before the draft.
Szczerbiak has had ankle problems in recent seasons, and was likely included in the deal to help offset the approximately $51 million remaining on Allen's salary. Szczerbiak is scheduled to make $25 million over the next two seasons.
Szczerbiak played just 32 games last season before undergoing ankle surgery, and averaged 15 points. West improved in his second season, averaging 12.2 points and starting 47 games for the Celtics.
Landry was a first-time all-Big Ten selection after averaging 18.9 points and 7.3 rebounds in his senior season at Purdue.
AP Sports Writers Gregg Bell in Seattle and Howard Ulman in Boston contributed to this report.