Sonics trade Kurt Thomas to Spurs for first-rounder
First-year Sonics general manager Sam Presti is developing a reputation around the NBA as a brazen young executive who isn't afraid to make...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sonics @ Portland, 7:30 p.m., TNT
First-year Sonics general manager Sam Presti is developing a reputation around the NBA as a brazen young executive who isn't afraid to make a deal.
Just eight months on the job, he has completed three trades, including Wednesday's deal that sent Kurt Thomas to San Antonio, that give the rebuilding Sonics two first-round draft picks in each of the next three drafts.
"Draft picks in the NBA can be used in multiple ways, one of which is acquiring a young player to add to your core," Presti said. "They can also be used in future trades. In the last month, we've seen multiple draft picks were utilized in trades."
In addition to a 2009 first-round pick, the trade for Thomas netted seldom-used center Francisco Elson and injured guard Brent Barry, a former Sonic from 1999 to 2004. Both players have contracts that expire after the season, and it's likely that Barry, who has missed the past 3 ½ weeks with a left calf strain, will be offered a buyout on his $5.4 million contract.
Barry, 36, a 13-year veteran, has appeared in just 29 games and isn't expected to return soon. He also plays the same position occupied by rookie Kevin Durant and reserves Damien Wilkins, Delonte West and Mickeal Gelabale.
Elson, a 7-footer in his fifth season, gives the Sonics depth at center, but his playing time will likely be limited because coach P.J. Carlesimo wants to use Seattle's remaining 30 games to evaluate Robert Swift and Johan Petro.
Presti, who dealt Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis last summer, said he'll continue to field calls until today's noon trade deadline. The Sonics are reportedly shopping Wilkins, Petro and Gelabale, and league sources said a few teams have shown interest in Earl Watson.
Denver is believed to have inquired about West, who has had an erratic season since being traded to Seattle last summer. But the Sonics want a combination of a veteran player with an expiring contract, draft picks or young prospects, which makes a deal with the Nuggets problematic.
Over the next three years, Seattle has 13 draft picks, seven in the second round.
"We continue to listen and take the phone calls and if something else were to present itself, then we have to look into it," Presti said. "It's incumbent that we listen. We never feel like we need to do a deal, but if a deal was presented that would make us better, then we'll do it."
The Sonics acquired Thomas last July with the $9 million trade exception created in the Lewis deal to Orlando.
In 42 games, Thomas started 39 and averaged 7.5 points and 8.8 rebounds. Presti felt a need to trade the 35-year-old center, an unrestricted free agent this summer, rather than let him walk away for nothing.
The Sonics (14-38) were negotiating with Orlando before making the deal with the defending-champion Spurs, where Presti had been an assistant general manager.
"You respect the veterans and you do things like this for them," Watson said. "The way our season was going, it would be nice to see him end up on a playoff roster and nice to compete for a championship. So I'm excited for him, and I'm excited to see him in the postseason."
Thomas walked out of the Furtado practice facility Wednesday afternoon believing he was headed to Portland for tonight's game against the Trail Blazers.
His next stop, however, is San Antonio.
"If I played my last game in Seattle [Tuesday], then what a way to go out, huh?" he said about his eight points, 4-for-4 shooting and five rebounds in the 108-101 comeback victory against Memphis. "I'm really proud of my time here in Seattle. I tried to do what I've done for my entire career, which is show up, be professional and try to get better every game."
• Durant returned to practice Wednesday after missing Tuesday's game because of flu. He's listed as probable tonight.
• Portland All-Star guard Brandon Roy has a chest viral infection and is questionable.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 9:40 PM
Portland stops Orlando, which plays without suspended Dwight Howard
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