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Friday, October 08, 2004 - Page updated at 12:41 P.M.
By Percy Allen
Whatever prevented Leon Smith from practicing on Wednesday might have been a harbinger of bad things to come for the training-camp invitee. After failing to report to workouts yesterday, Smith was summarily waived by the Sonics.
Perhaps the 6-foot-10 center wasn't feeling physically ill, but emotionally distressed, knowing that his chances of securing a permanent roster spot were slim despite playing a game for the team last season.
"Really it was his call," coach Nate McMillan said. "I think after the first two practices he just felt like he wasn't ready for this level and decided that he wanted to take off."
Smith, who turns 24 next month, has been a frequent traveler since skipping college. He was selected 29th overall by San Antonio in the 1999 NBA draft, then was immediately traded to Dallas.
After a suicide attempt, the Mavericks released him early in his rookie season. Smith returned in 2002 and played 14 games in Atlanta. He spent time in the Continental Basketball Association before joining the Sonics last April and playing with their summer-league team.
The acquisition of rookie center Robert Swift and free-agent forward Danny Fortson decreased Smith's odds of landing with the Sonics.
"It was a surprise, but I can understand that," McMillan said. "Maybe he can get with another team. Another club to have a better shot."
Turkish shooting guard Ibrahim Kutluay, nicknamed "Ibo," arrived in Seattle yesterday afternoon and watched last night's practice, according to a team spokesperson. His training-camp debut was delayed because of issues concerning his visa.
Swift was struck hard in the nose during the morning workout and sat on the sideline for at least the final 30 minutes. He returned to practice for the evening session.
A likely lineup
The combination of Ray Allen, Luke Ridnour, Rashard Lewis, Fortson and Jerome James played well against two other sets of Sonics reserves near the end of the morning practice.
"Anytime you play with Ray and Rashard, the game is so much easier," Fortson said. "My job gets real simple when I'm out there with them."
The quintet wasn't dominating, but Ridnour efficiently ran the offense while Allen and Lewis took the bulk of the shots and Fortson and James did much of the dirty work beneath the rim.
Quote of the day
"He's (saying), 'We got to get you guys open. Run off our screens and I'm going to hit your man to make sure you take those shots.' Offensively, it's good to hear, to know that his primary focus is to get me open and to get the rebound. That could be contagious for the other guys."
Ray Allen on new teammate Fortson.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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