2001 NBA Draft
GM: Curtis Hill, NBA Disaster Consultant
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Weren't the Sonics good recently? Wasn't that when the much-maligned George Karl was not coaching the team to their full potential? It's a shame we haven't heard much about Coach Karl since the Sonics fired him. It goes to show that sometimes it's the coach, sometimes it's the organization, and sometimes it's the players. Sometimes it's all three.
Basically, things aren't looking good for the Sonics:
- their best player, Gary Payton, isn't the happiest camper now;
- the player they want to move, both for salary cap and on-court reasons, Vin Baker, will be very difficult to move;
- one of their better young players, Ruben Patterson, figuratively shot himself in the foot over an incident with his nanny, and
- I'm the Sonics' GM - when a fan doesn't step up for the USENET draft, a team is headed toward (or firmly planted on) the bottom; and,
Current Team/Roster Status
First, let's look at the current roster, salary information, and statistics.
|Sonics 2000 Roster|
|7||Rashard Lewis||F||6-10||215||8/8/79||Alief Elsik HS||2|
|15||Emanual Davis||G||6-5||195||8/27/68||Delaware State'91||3|
|20||Gary Payton||G||6-4||180||7/23/68||Oregon State'90||10|
|24||Desmond Mason||F||6-7||224||10/11/77||Oklahoma State'00||R-1|
|31||Brent Barry||G||6-6||215||12/31/71||Oregon State'95||5|
|Head Coach:|| Nate McMillan (N.C. State'86)
||Bob Weiss (Penn State'65)
|Dwane Casey (Kentucky'79)
|Trainer:|| Mike Shimensky (Central Washington'68)
|Statistics for 2000|
|Payton, G||79||3244||725||1591||271||354||102||272||361||642||127|| 26||209|
|Ewing, P||79||2107||294||684||172||251||0|| 2||585||92||53||91||151|
|Williams, S||69||1238||161||368|| 84||96||61||133||132||190||31||4||82|
|Statistics for 2000|
|Patterson, R||76||27.1||13.0||20.1||.494||.681||.056||5.0|| 2.1||1.4||0.6||2.0|
|Wingate, D||1||9.0||6.0|| 8.0||1.000||-||-||0.0||2.0||0.0||0.0||0.0|
|Seattle Sonics||Date||# of||total|
|Patrick Ewing||7/2/97||4||$68 million||'01|
|Jelani McCoy||8/16/00||1||$1.125 million||'01|
|Rashard Lewis||8/1/00||3||$13.5 million||p-opt||'02|
|Ruben Patterson||8/10/99||3||$4.4 million||'02|
|Gary Payton||7/16/96||7||$85 million||'03|
|Brent Barry||1/25/99||6||$27 million||'04|
|Desmond Mason||8/3/00||4||$5,364,152||rc||t-opt '04|
|Vin Baker||8/18/99||7||$86.7 million||'06|
Well, I'd call this a mess. Fortunately, Patrick Ewing can move on and get the Sonics payroll down. However, there's really no FA worth spending too much extra money on. McCoy is intriguing, but I wouldn't pony up too much money for a contract for him at this point. Shammond Williams has played well put will likely get a more attractive offer (playing time) somewhere else.
Two of the more interesting cases for the Sonics involve their foreign players - Olumide Oyedeji and Ruben Wolkowyski. The Sonics have to sign O2 by July 1 or he'll be a FA. They have to sign Wolkowyski by August 1 or he'll be a FA. Published reports indicate that the Sonics will not hesitate to sign 02 but may wait to see how Wolkowyski plays over the summer before signing him.
Rashard Lewis has good potential, but with the Sonics be able to keep him next year?
It's a good thing the Sonics have three picks this draft - or should I say it's a good thing for the picks. All three should stick and Seattle will be a haven for undrafted players at their FA camp.
The roster may also change drastically if the Sonics can sucker, er I mean convince, someone to trade for Vin Baker. It's going to be tough going, but I'd keep Don Nelson's and Mark Cuban's numbers handy on the cell phone if I were new Sonics GM Rick Sund.
As the cap is 35.5 M this season, the Sonics are already well over the top. However, this will not prove a huge problem as Ewing and Williams leaving will get the Sonics under the cap. However, this will not leave the Sonics with much room to work with in regards to FA signings - basically Payton and Baker's contracts have the Sonics' hands tied.
|Patrick Ewing ..............||$14,000,000|
|Gary Payton ................||$12,200,000|
|Vin Baker ..................||$10,130,000|
|Brent Barry ................||$4,320,000|
|Rashard Lewis ..............||$3,920,000|
|Jelani McCoy ...............||$1,110,000|
|Desmond Mason ..............||$1,074,720|
|Pervis Ellison .............||$1,000,000||[cap amount: $548,500]|
|David Wingate ..............||$1,000,000||[cap amount: $548,500]|
|Ruben Patterson ............||$990,000|
|Emanual Davis ..............||$610,000|
|Shammond Williams ..........||$550,000|
|Olumide Oyedeji ............||$316,969|
|Ruben Wolkowyski ...........||$316,969|
Current Team/Player Breakdown
Brent Barry - a solid two guard who can play a little point. I've always liked Brent Barry, though his defense really isn't good enough to make him a star. However, as part of a three or four guard rotation, he can play solid minutes.
Emanual Davis - providing solid, yet cheap, backup guard minutes. I suspect the Sonics will watch him next year but may pick up another backup PG in the second round or via the post-draft cattle call as well.
Gary Payton - still a great player but he's definitely not getting any younger. A great defender and 3rd team all-NBA this year.
Shammond Williams - a quick, scoring guard who can play better defense than he usually does. A prototypical off-the-bench, instant offense kind of guy who is very appealing to some clubs around the league given his FA status.
David Wingate - one of the few non-disaster stories from the 86 draft. Unless the Sonics need a warm body, I think his long NBA career is over.
Desmond Mason - a player I really liked at Oklahoma State and he's done well in Seattle. I think Mason can continue to improve and is a guy the Sonics will want to keep down the road.
Rashard Lewis - one of the HS entries into The League finally coming into his own. He still has a lot of upside and he likely has the most trade value of anyone on the roster. The Sonics will need to decide if this is a guy they want to build around - I think the answer has to be yes.
Ruben Patterson - played some pretty good ball this year but that whole nanny incident is really going to make it hard for the Sonics to keep him around. It won't make it easy to trade him, either. He can help the Sonics if he stays, but I'll bet he's wearing a different uniform at the beginning of next season.
Ruben Wolkowyski - an Argentian player who's tall, but has that European game - that is, no inside game. I'm not sure what the Sonics should do with him as they need to re-sign him by August 1. Given what I think the Sonics roster will look like, they should probably keep him around.
Pervis Ellison - Pervis is still playing? Wow. The Sonics need help inside and Pervis is not the answer.
Patrick Ewing - Patrick is still playing? Wow. The Sonics need help inside and Patrick is not the answer. Patrick will definitely be moving on.
Olumide Oyedeji - a young, raw player with a lot of potential. A Nigerian player who hasn't played basketball that long. I think the Sonics will re-up this guy and see what happens as he could be very good - but probably not soon enough to really help next season.
The Sonics, in my opinion, are ready for a youth movement. If they are successful in moving Vin Baker, they are unlikely to get real quality in return. The remaining team may be decimated by players not returning. A key will be signing Rashard Lewis next season. A lot may depend on how the two foreign big men develop - if the Sonics wait to let them develop.
I think I would look at moving Gary Payton separately or in a package deal with Vin Baker/Ruben Patterson to get good young players or draft picks because I think the Sonics, regardless of what they do, are going to get worse before they get better.
What the Sonics need
A little of everything, but in the wild, wild West, they're going to need size. I think that the Sonics should spend two of their three picks a center, power forward, or a big small forward. Perhaps all three, but that would depend on what the Sonics believe will happen with their FAs, the FA market, and trade possibilities.
These are the players I realistically expect to be available to the Sonics at the #12 position.
Michael Bradley (6'10", 245) - a NBA power forward with, I think, good potential. He'll probably do alright defending the post, though I wonder what will happen against quicker 4 men. Very nice offensive game, though.
Eric Chenowith (7'1", 270) - another NBA power forward/center prospect. I doubt Chenowith with ever develop into a true center in the NBA. He's fairly quick and has a nice offensive game when he uses it. I think he will struggle defending the floor and the post initially - and I'm not sure how much he'll improve that over time.
Samuel Delambert (6'11", 232) - a shot-blocking center with limited offensive skills now. Is his defense NBA-ready? He's certainly still prized for his potential, but you have to wonder when that potential is going to come out.
Brendan Haywood (7'0", 264) - a solid all-around center. A bit above average defensively and a bit below average offensively. Runs fairly well for a guy his size. He has solid fundamentals and the ability to improve his offense.
Stephen Hunter (7'0", 215??) - talk about coming out of nowhere - or is it a little tutoring can go a long way? After lackluster play (to be kind) at DePaul, Hunter spent a few months working with MJ's personal basketball trainer in Chicago, played some pickup with MJ and others, and then wowed the agents at the NBA camp there. I'm glad that Hunter will be a first-round pick now but I'm a little leery of guys who move up that far on three days of evaluation vs. what they did on the court in college.
Troy Murphy (6'11", 245) - a wonderful college player. Great offensive game inside and out. However, Troy is going to struggle defensively for a while. He's not super-quick, so playing the 3 will be an issue and he's not big or a good post defender, so playing 4 will be a problem. On the right team, Murphy can excel and I do expect him to have a solid NBA career - but is he a lottery pick or a good fit for a team that needs a lot of help inside?
Loren Woods (7'1", 244) - a great shot blocker with an above average offensive game. A good, but not great, post defender, in college, but one wonders how well he'll bang inside in the NBA. I project him to play a little 5 and more 4 in The League when things shake out. Woods has a better face-the-basket than back-to-the-basket game in my opinion.
The USENET Draft Pick
Brendan Haywood, C, North Carolina
This season's draft is essentially a lottery all the way through. Most of these players are too close together to really separate, so I'm sure there will be a lot of controversy with most picks.
I like Haywood here because he has the size and strength to compete with the big men in the West, has matured a lot while at North Carolina, and provides the Sonics with the chance of having a dependable, if not great, player in the post for the future. Bradley is a close second, but I think the Sonics will have an easier time acquiring an offensive-minded power forward through a trade or by what they are forced to keep on their existing roster (such as McCoy) than they will getting a center with the potential of Haywood.
He's also a good interview, and I think the sportswriters and fans will like him.
What the Sonics will do
The Sonics, even with Wally Walker running this draft with new GM Rick Sund observing, will take size. And they'll take safe size, I think, given their recent problems with Ruben Patterson, Vin Baker, and Shawn Kemp - that is players who look to be solid on and off the court.
In that regard, I think, given what happens ahead of them, that the Sonics will most likely draft the most solid inside player left on the board - I'm guessing that will be Brendan Haywood or Michael Bradley. I think Hunter is most likely after that. Another player, such as Gasol, Battier, or Diop, if they slide that far, might be an option, but that seems unlikely.
There's also a chance that, with the right deal, the Sonics will move this pick. However, even packaging this number 1 with Vin Baker and/or Ruben Patterson, is unlikely to give them good return on the transaction. I think they'll draft a big guy and try to make a deal after the July 1.
In the second round, I'd look for picking up Ousmane Cisse as his injury will be scaring teams off, but at second round money he'd be a good pickup. There will also be an opportunity to pick up a foreign player in the second round if the Sonics feel so inclined. Casey Calvary would be a nice local second round get if he's still available, too.
I'd like to thank Patricia Bender for all of the useful information provided at her Mavs/NBA site