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Wednesday, February 1, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sonics

Sonics have no eagerness to add players

Seattle Times staff reporter

Almost daily Sonics coach Bob Hill grumbles about the dearth of players at point guard and more than a week has passed since forward Reggie Evans' agent asked for a trade. Still, there's no indication that the Sonics are going to make a deal before the Feb. 23 trading deadline.

Hill has stopped short of publicly asking management to acquire a backup point guard, even though on several occasions he has said that Ronald Murray isn't suited for the position and admitted that he has been forced to play Luke Ridnour extended minutes.

In the past two games, no Sonic has played more than Ridnour, who logged 43 minutes, 23 seconds in Monday's defeat to Portland and spent 40 minutes, 38 seconds on the court against New Jersey last Saturday.

The strain is beginning to take its toll on Ridnour, who was forced to miss Thursday's game against Dallas because of a strained left knee. He is wearing a brace, but said his condition is improving.

His coach doesn't see a lot of other options.

"When the minutes behind him aren't what they need to be, I don't have much choice," Hill said.

Because he has lost faith in Murray as a point guard and Rick Brunson flew back to Philadelphia to have his left foot plantar fasciitis re-evaluated, Hill plans to insert Mateen Cleaves into the rotation tonight against Golden State at KeyArena.

Cleaves was released by the Sonics on Jan. 4 and re-signed to a 10-day contract Saturday.

Hill went so far as to suggest that he'll use swingman Damien Wilkins at point guard and suggested that Murray will move solely to backup shooting guard.

Needing a proven point guard, it would seem prudent that the Sonics would dangle Evans in the trade winds.

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However, a Western Conference front office executive said this week that he hasn't heard Evans being mentioned in any substantial trade rumors.

It's believed that the Sonics have had consistent talks with several teams, but so far nothing relevant has materialized.

"I've told the players every season that any dialogue that a player has with me is private," general manager Rick Sund said. "And any dialogue as far as trades is private because it's just too much of a distraction during the season."

Sund revealed that he has scouted the CBA and attended the league's All-Star game in Idaho. He dispatched former coach Bob Weiss to the NBA Developmental League two weeks ago, sent head scout Steve Rosenberry to several of the league's games and has kept tabs on guard Alex Scales, who was cut by the Sonics in training camp.

"But that wasn't necessarily for anything for this season and more for what we're going to do in the future," Sund said. "With Flip on a one-year [contract], and Rick, too, we'll need to address that position going into next season."

Hill, however, hasn't given up on this season. Since replacing Weiss, he had managers place a white board inside the Sonics' locker room at KeyArena and the Furtado Center with daily updates of the Western Conference standings.

"I want them to see where we're at and how much progress we're making," he said before Monday's game. "I think we're 2 games out. So this isn't over by no means."

The Sonics (18-26) are six games behind Northwest Division leader Denver and 3 games behind New Orleans/Oklahoma City, which holds the eighth and final playoff berth.

"Every game we play is important," Hill said.

Meanwhile, Evans has been forced to sit and wait.

Hill played the 6-foot-8 forward 11 minutes on Monday, but Evans is not part of the rotation and said he will not do anything to be a distraction yet.

"I'm just doing what Reggie Evans has always done, which is be a good teammate, cheer on my guys, work hard and play hard when I get a chance," he said. "I still wear that Sonics uniform and I still wear it with pride.

"Last night when he called my name, I was so happy. It felt like I was in heaven and I don't know how heaven feels. I was just so happy to go out there and smell that floor and rub my shoes on the floor."

Before Monday, Evans, who had been a starter under Weiss, played a total of 37 seconds in the previous four games.

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

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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