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Tuesday, April 10, 2007 - Page updated at 02:21 PM

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Sonics making a strange trip

Seattle Times staff reporter

SAN ANTONIO -- Sonics vice chairman Lenny Wilkens said tonight's matchup between the Sonics and the New Orleans Hornets in Oklahoma City is just another game.

"If this were a playoff game or if it meant that we would be in the playoffs, then I think it would take on a huge significance," he said. "But it doesn't. So I think for the players, they got to go out and focus and play. That's just my attitude. You treat it like any other game." Wilkens is downplaying the significance of the first and perhaps only meeting in Oklahoma City between the team that Clay Bennett owns (the Sonics) and the team he helped lure to his hometown after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in August 2005.

Wilkens' stance also doesn't take into account the belief of many who feel if Bennett is unable to receive public funding for a new multi-purpose facility in Renton, he'll finally deliver on a lifelong promise and give Oklahoma City a team that it can call its own.

"I'm just not reading that much into this game," Wilkens said. "Maybe it's because I choose not to. Right now, we're the Seattle SuperSonics. We're in Seattle. And we're trying like all get-out to keep it in Seattle. That's where my focus is."

Bennett, the principal owner and chairman, and the ownership group will meet with Sonics players and coaching staff at their hotel in the morning. The meeting was Bennett's idea and it will be first time the minority owners will have a chance to see their $350 million investment up close.

Wilkens said he'll also meet with Bennett in the afternoon. Wilkens declined to describe the nature of the meeting, but he didn't anticipate any long-term decisions will be made today.

"After the season, we'll sit down and talk more about those types of things," Wilkens said.

Tonight

Sonics @ Hornets (at Oklahoma City), 5 p.m.

Inside

Spurs pummel Sonics again, 110-91. Article > D9

When asked if a decision on coach Bob Hill, who is in the final year of his contract, will be decided immediately after the season, Wilkens said: "From top to bottom everything will be decided. Immediately."

That includes Rashard Lewis, who can opt out of his deal in the offseason and is line for a maximum-level contract. He's likely to draw plenty of attention from the ownership group at the morning meeting.

A few players said they're eager to sit down with Bennett and other owners.

"I'm excited about it because we can pose some questions for them and find out what's really going on," forward Damien Wilkins said. "I don't know how much they'll be willing to share with us, but we can ask them some questions, talk to them and see where they're heads are at. See if they're going to stay in Seattle or if they're going to be moving."

The Sonics (30-44) are limping into Oklahoma City after two straight losses -- including Tuesday's 110-91 defeat at San Antonio. The Hornets (34-40) are fighting for a playoff berth.

Hill said he's looking forward to the game because of the Hornets' raucous fan base in Oklahoma City, but some players aren't sure what type of reception they'll receive.

"To go on the road and play a game in what could possibly be your future home, that's weird," Wilkins said. "And if the fans don't know who to cheer for, then that could be even a little more weird."

"Certainly it's a very unusual situation, but one that I would imagine he's looking forward to," Hornets owner George Shinn told The Associated Press. "Clay has done so much for Oklahoma City, and I believe that he takes great pride every time an NBA game is played here."

Tooth and consequences

Just when you thought Danny Fortson's injury-plagued season couldn't get any zanier ...

While explaining why a toothache prevented Fortson from joining the team on its two-day trip to San Antonio and Oklahoma City, Hill managed to keep a straight face for 18 seconds before bursting into laughter.

"I heard that they didn't want him to fly because if it were an abscess then it might have burst in the air because of the pressure," Hill said before doubling over laughing. "That's the truth. That's what I heard. ... Can we talk about something else?"

Hill said Fortson was scheduled to visit a dentist on Tuesday but missed the appointment.

Fortson has played just 14 games this season and isn't likely to play in the final eight. It's likely his nine-year career is finished. He said Sunday he'd like to play a few more years, but felt as if Sonics management was campaigning against him.

Notes

• Texas freshman Kevin Durant was at the game.

• Former Sonic Brent Barry did not play because of back spasms. San Antonio also did not have forwards Robert Horry (abdominal contusion) and Melvin Ely (sprained left ankle).

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

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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