Allen has it all wrong — Sonics made right deal
Maybe Ray Allen is right. Maybe if the Sonics hadn't traded him to Boston, if they had re-signed Rashard Lewis, while adding wunderkind...
Seattle Times staff columnist
Maybe Ray Allen is right.
Maybe if the Sonics hadn't traded him to Boston, if they had re-signed Rashard Lewis, while adding wunderkind Kevin Durant, maybe they would have made one of the greatest growth spurts in the history of the league.
Maybe they would have gone from 31 wins last season to 50 wins this season.
Maybe Durant could have played in Seattle the way he played last summer with the U.S. Olympic team, floating around the perimeter, spotting up out of the spotlight. Playing a complementary role and swishing those smooth, soft jumpers.
Maybe the Sonics, who are 8-21 after Thursday's 104-96 to Boston, could have been a somebody in a Western Conference full of somebodies.
But I think not.
As great as Allen is — and he might be the purest and most clutch shooter in the game — the Sonics won exactly one playoff series and made only one playoff appearance in his five seasons.
Fifty wins? The Sonics, with Allen and Lewis, had the fifth-worst record in the league last season. Adding Durant would not have meant 19 more wins.
For much too long now, the Sonics have been stuck in the worst position a franchise can find itself — mired in the NBA's midsection, slowly going nowhere.
Sure, if new general manager Sam Presti played it safe and didn't budge, these Sonics could have competed for the seventh or eighth playoff spot. But they would have lost, in a hurry, to San Antonio, or Dallas, or Phoenix, in the first round and their on-the-court future would be a murky as ever.
Trading Allen and letting Lewis leave for Orlando were the right things to do.
Presti got rookie Jeff Green in the Allen trade and the Sonics will have Durant and Green for the next four seasons at a bargain-basement price.
One last playoff run might have been fun for this city in grave danger of losing its team, but that run would have ended in a flash. It would have felt as empty as a Howard Schultz promise.
The goal for this franchise, no matter whether it stays in Seattle or, ugh, lands in Oklahoma City, is to sustain success, not to make one pan-seared run at a 50-win year.
And Allen and Durant would have been ships passing in the night. Shooting guards, like Allen, are like running backs in the NFL. They lose their touch quickly.
The drop is precipitous. Look at Allan Houston and Penny Hardaway, to name a couple. By the time Durant matured, Allen, 32, would be done.
The Sonics needed to get out from under Allen's and Lewis' suffocating contracts. They needed salary-cap space to add free agents to their stockpile of draft picks. They need to grow together. One season with Allen, Lewis and Durant would have been fool's gold.
The Sonics have two first- and four second-round picks in the 2008 draft. They have a first and two seconds in '09 and two firsts in 2010.
Look at the Portland Trail Blazers for a model. Slowly they got rid of all of their bad contracts, opening room under their salary cap. They drafted wisely and now the patient Blazers, the youngest team in basketball, are poised for a long, lush run up the Western Conference.
Durant, like Portland's Brandon Roy, is learning on the job. He is growing up fast, living in the crucible, the same way LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade did.
Already, at the tender age of 19, Durant has scored 18 points in the fourth quarter of a win over Milwaukee. In his first NBA appearance at Madison Square Garden, he scored 30 to beat the Knicks and he hit a buzzer-beater for a double-overtime win at Atlanta.
Ray Allen is right. This season, the Sonics would be better with him at shooting guard, Lewis playing power forward and Durant at small forward. But they wouldn't be any closer to a championship.
They wouldn't be any closer to the kind of sustained winning this city got used to in the 1990s before former president Wally Walker blundered this team into mediocrity.
There would be no influx of young talent surrounding Durant, just an aging Allen, an overpriced Lewis and a salary cap as cramped as a studio apartment.
Not that it even matters now, but I don't think the Sonics were going to win 50 games. Besides, Presti isn't working on the Allen Plan.
Patiently, he's building a future for the Sonics. Not the Seattle Sonics. Not the Oklahoma City Sonics. Not the Ray Allen Sonics. Just the Sonics.
He's building it correctly. Not quickly. Patiently, he's building toward a bright future, wherever that is.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or email@example.com.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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UPDATE - 9:02 PM
Steve Kelley: What happened to the once-scary Huskies?
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.