|Kevin Durant set to make his debut as SuperSonics open regular season at Denver|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 30 October 2007 13:37|
SEATTLE (AP) -Kevin Durant's much anticipated regular season debut won't be overshadowed by the SuperSonics' impending departure from Seattle.|
At least not on Wednesday night.
Owner Clay Bennett originally set the day of the Sonics' opener as the deadline to have a plan for a new arena in the Seattle area, or he would file relocation papers with the league to prepare for a move to Oklahoma City.
He later said he didn't want to distract from the start of the season, and would hold off from making any moves in regards to the Sonics' future.
Bennett spokesman Dan Mahoney reiterated on Tuesday that Bennett and the ownership group want the focus to be on basketball and on Friday, Bennett will ``have further comment on the organization's next steps.''
Despite a sprained left ankle, Durant is expected to start Wednesday night when the Sonics go to Denver to open their 41st and possibly last season with Seattle. The Sonics play their home opener on Thursday night against Phoenix.
Durant moved without limitations Tuesday in his second full practice since spraining his ankle on Oct. 23. Coach P.J. Carlesimo said afterward that unless Durant's ankle swells significantly on the flight to Denver, the rookie from Texas and No. 2 overall pick in the draft will make his highly anticipated first start.
``It's good to get things going, but you don't feel good about a matchup with Denver,'' Carlesimo said. ``They were one of the top teams in the league last year and they have two of the better players in the league.''
Durant's debut will also keep fans looking at the hardwood and not paperwork.
The Sonics lost a court ruling on Monday, and the city of Seattle can continue to seek a court order to hold the team to their lease at KeyArena, which runs through the 2009-10 season.
Bennett had issued a demand for arbitration, hoping to buy out the remainder of the lease.
As for the on-court product, there's almost as many questions as the team's off-court future.
The only returning starter from opening night last year is Chris Wilcox. Nick Collison is likely to start at center, with Damien Wilkins and Durant on the wings and Earl Watson at point guard.
How long that remains the Sonics starting lineup will be settled over the first few weeks. Carlesimo is holding back on extensively using guard Luke Ridnour, who has a broken nose and has struggled while wearing a protective mask.
Center Robert Swift's recovery from knee surgery has slowed, and the 7-footer continues to struggle completing an entire practice and played in just four preseason games.
``It's not a marriage, it's not long term,'' Watson said. ``It's just the way we're starting out until it gets to that point where roles are settled.''
More of a concern than the starting lineup is where Seattle's scoring is going to come from and who will be willing to take the crucial shot in key situations. In the past, it was easy, as the floor was yielded to either Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis, whenever Seattle needed points. Sometimes that plan worked, but often it led to a stagnant, stand-around offense.
Nevertheless, with both Allen and Lewis gone there is a significant drop-off. The Sonics are missing nearly half (48.8) of the 99.1 points they averaged a season ago.
``You try to look at the glass half full, and in those situations we might not be so stagnant and rely on one guy but you'd rather have that great scorer,'' Collison said. ``A lot of the best teams have that. It's definitely a concern, But I guess if we can play through situations and not make too much of a big deal of the end of the game and play as we've been playing, as long as we don't become hesitant, it can be OK.''
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