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Originally published Friday, March 21, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Injuries to Wilcox, Gelabale clip Sonics lineup

As if the Sonics, who carry a nine-game losing streak into tonight's game against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, didn't have enough...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Today

Sonics @ Lakers, 7:30 p.m., FSN

As if the Sonics, who carry a nine-game losing streak into tonight's game against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, didn't have enough problems, injuries have suddenly reduced their roster to just nine healthy players.

Reserve swingman Mickael Gelabale tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in Tuesday's practice and will undergo season-ending knee surgery. Forward Chris Wilcox will miss tonight's game and is considering sitting out the rest of the season after re-injuring his right pinkie finger.

He missed four games in January when he initially suffered the injury and is expected to talk with his agent before receiving a second medical opinion.

"It's hard to stay away from the game you love," Wilcox said. "Our team is struggling right now. I'm a part of this. I want to help.

"I think right now, my game is starting to come around more these last couple of games, and I just want to keep improving. Take this motivation and stuff I got going right now into the summer team. Next year will be my contract year, so I need just go on out there and keep playing [because] it will give me more motivation to keep going in the summertime."

Reserve center Francisco Elson remained in Seattle to rest his right knee sprain, backup center Nick Collison was unable to practice Thursday because of a left thigh bruise and reserve guard Mike Wilks was released after his second 10-day contract expired.

Even though Wilks played sparingly in just three games, he made a favorable impression with the coaching staff. Still, he's not likely to be signed for the remainder of the season because of the dearth of front-line players.

"Right now we need the flexibility to possibly bring in a big [player] or possibly bring in a wing depending on what we have," coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "I love Mike, but the reason we can't keep him is I don't know if we have enough bigs to play [tonight]. We don't know if we have enough wings to play."

Gelabale, a second-year veteran who becomes a restricted free agent this summer, might have played his final game with the Sonics. Drafted in the second round (48th overall) in 2005, he averaged 4.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 39 games this season.

Carlesimo said it's "50-50" that the Sonics, who have 14 players on the roster, will sign someone before tonight's game.

As a short-term solution, 6-foot-9 rookie Jeff Green might move to power forward against the Lakers (46-21), which would likely push Damien Wilkins into the starting unit. Green, who scored a team-high 19 points Wednesday and has shot better in the past two weeks, might be able to hold his own against Los Angeles forward Lamar Odom. But Green would have difficulty containing Utah's Carlos Boozer in the post on Saturday.

Reserve center Mouhamed Sene, who was recalled from the National Basketball Development League last week, might see action during the trip.

Los Angeles has a five-game winning streak against Seattle, including three this season.

When the Sonics (16-52) return, they'll begin a seven-game homestand at KeyArena on Monday against Portland.

Note

• The Sonics will play in the Pepsi Pro Summer League in Orlando, Fla, which begins the NBA's summer league schedule in July. Last year, Seattle sent teams to the Las Vegas Summer League and the Rocky Mountain Revue.

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

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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