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Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sonics

Sund working phones daily for Sonics

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sonics general manager Rick Sund declined to respond to coach Bob Hill's plea that management acquire a backup point guard before the Feb. 23 trade deadline. But Sund revealed he's having daily dialogue with NBA executives with the intent of "adding to the core of our team."

"Are we talking on the phone and having meetings, yes, but I like our core," Sund said. "Whatever Bob said, I'm sure he meant it. ... But just because something was reported in the papers doesn't mean we're going to change the way we do things.

"As always, we're looking and listening. The mantra since I've been here is that for the right deal, anybody could be traded. Obviously there's some players that will be harder to trade than others."

Though Sund declined to identify the core, All-Star Ray Allen and former All-Star Rashard Lewis, 2003 first-round draft picks Luke Ridnour and Nick Collison, young centers Robert Swift and Johan Petro and Damien Wilkins are not on the trading block, according to team sources.

Seattle's discussions have involved Reggie Evans, Ronald Murray and Danny Fortson, with possible trading partners including New York and Denver.

Citing team policy, Sund did not talk specifically about trade rumors ranging from inane assertions such as a report out of Chicago that has the Sonics dealing Allen for Ben Gordon, to plausible speculation, including a deal with Denver for Earl Watson.

Several New York newspapers claim Sund is talking with Knicks president Isiah Thomas about a deal involving Malik Rose and Anfernee Hardaway.

Sund scoffed at those reports, but admitted "between now and next season, we need to address our backcourt situation. Adding another point guard would be prudent."

Another team source, who asked not to be identified, said the Sonics also are in the market for a power forward, an indication Evans and Fortson don't have a long-term future in Seattle.

The Sonics, however, will likely seek to re-sign forward/center Mikki Moore this summer.

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Few teams have inquired about reserve center Vitaly Potapenko, who asked for a trade last month, and the Sonics are prepared to let power forward Vladimir Radmanovic walk away after the season without receiving compensation.

Radmanovic, Evans and Murray each signed one-year deals, and it's no coincidence their roles have diminished recently. Radmanovic and Evans used to be starters, and Murray's minutes have been reduced.

"It happens in sports all the time where guys in free agency play out their contract and leave," Sund said. "You replace them with free agents, and for us, we've been pretty good in the past at finding guys like Damien and guys like Reggie.

"I can't worry about how it looks on my résumé if this guy or that guy walks away and we get nothing for him. I don't care about things like that. You try to put your team in position to be a playoff team. Period."

Before tonight's game against Milwaukee (26-24) at Bradley Center, the Sonics (20-31) are much closer to the draft lottery, where they've been four times in the past six years, than reaching the playoffs.

Seattle is seven games behind Northwest Division-leading Denver and six games behind the Los Angeles Lakers, who have the eighth playoff spot.

Still, the climate surrounding the Sonics is unlike 2003, when Sund dismantled the team and dealt Gary Payton and Desmond Mason to Milwaukee in a trade that netted Allen, Murray and a draft pick that was used to select Ridnour.

"We work all the time around the clock and are always looking to improve the roster," Sund said. "The Ray Allen trade, we had dialogue a year in advance on that.

"I don't think I'm any busier today than last year at this time. The trade deadline always generates a lot of conversations and presents some opportunities for the future or something that could happen in the next couple of days."

If the Sonics do nothing, Hill promised to fully embrace the youth movement, which would effectively abandon hopes for the playoffs.

Reserve guard Mateen Cleaves' days appear to be numbered. He signed consecutive 10-day contracts, and his current deal expires Thursday.

"Looking at other, younger 10-day contract guys would be a possibility," Hill said.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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