Team quiet as deadline passes
Funny how a little thing like a 37-15 record can hush the phones at Sonics headquarters and silence the make-a-move chatter.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Funny how a little thing like a 37-15 record can hush the phones at Sonics headquarters and silence the make-a-move chatter that dominated local media at this time last season.
Funny how everything that seemed so wrong a year ago seemed so right yesterday when the Sonics didn't make a trade as the NBA's deadline to do so came and went.
While Chris Webber and Baron Davis and even ex-Sonic Gary Payton were traded before the noon deadline passed, the Sonics that take the court against Minnesota at 7:30 tonight at KeyArena will look the same as the Sonics that exited New Orleans victorious on Wednesday night.
Whether they play the same the rest of the season is another issue altogether. But by keeping this team — and its chemistry — intact, the Sonics signified that they are content with their current roster.
"We don't look back and say we made good decisions, bad decisions, whatever," general manager Rick Sund said. "We look at it and say, 'At least from a record standpoint, we're ahead of where we thought we'd be at this point.' We were considered crazy for thinking we could make the playoffs this year. We have some chemistry that's really good right now."
Good enough not to tinker with right now, and that was the prevailing theme at Sonics headquarters yesterday. Sund was asked if deadline day was a busy one.
Minnesota at Seattle, 7:30 p.m., FSN
Sund noted the pressure put on the team to make a trade in the past year and a half, to piece together all the parts that never quite seemed to fit. Resolve came from comments he heard around the league, from Miami executive Pat Riley and from Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy, among others.
"You have a good team," they told Sund, "if you can stick with it."
He did, and the Sonics are sitting atop the Northwest Division with an 11-1/2-game lead.
Somewhere along the way, staying put emerged as the smartest route. Which isn't to say that Sund didn't field phone calls from other teams or questions regarding guard Ray Allen, the most-rumored Sonic in trade discussions.
It's just that teams with a record ranked among the best in the NBA don't generally field all that many phone calls. That's usually left to underachieving teams with unhappy talent on the roster.
Sund did say that some deals talked about at trading deadlines don't come to fruition until that next summer. Some of those possibilities were explored.
"(Coach) Nate (McMillan) and I have been pretty bullish since the beginning," Sund said. "We want to see this team through a little bit and then make changes in the summer if things aren't what we like.
"We've made a lot of personnel decisions and changes the last three years. Nate's made a big point about how our chemistry and atmosphere and everything is going good. We didn't want to jeopardize it."
So there was No. 34 running through a light practice with the rest of his Sonics teammates yesterday. Sund and Allen both declined to comment on ongoing contract negotiations, but Allen termed the passing of the trade deadline "a great relief."
"Guys get traded that you never expect to get traded," Allen said. "I'm just thankful that this team stayed intact."
• F Danny Fortson missed practice to be with his sick grandmother in Pennsylvania. "Danny was with us last night," McMillan said. "After the game, he got a phone call that his grandmother had went back to the hospital. He needed to go back. Rick (Sund) will be in contact with him."
Greg Bishop: 206-464-3191 or email@example.com
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