Kevin Durant will have to pick up the load for a Sonics team that lost two All-Stars this summer.
What Went Right:
They lost the No. 1 draft pick.
That meant the Sonics "had" to take Texas freshman Kevin Durant with the No. 2 pick, hardly a hardship. Durant already is being talked of as a better candidate for Rookie of the Year than No. 1 man Greg Oden, because of his more advanced offensive game and freedom at a wing position. In time, Durant might outshine Oden in star power for the same reasons (though Oden's personality has him in the lead at the moment).
They snagged a bookend for Durant.
Jeff Green's stock rose in the 48 hours prior to the draft, and there are those in Boston who still feel that the Celtics should have sat tight and taken the Georgetown product. Green should deflect a teensy bit of the spotlight scrutiny away from Durant. The fact that this move signaled Seattle's determination to rebuild takes some pressure off all of them.
They "stole" Kurt Thomas.
Getting a real grown-up, physically tough Thomas from Phoenix in a Suns' salary dump was smart with valued youngsters on the roster. Getting a pair of first-round picks in the deal was even smarter.
P.J. Carlesimo gets another chance.
No matter how he does over the next 82 games, there was something sweet about the popular and hoops-savvy Carlesimo getting another head coaching job in the same summer that Latrell Sprewell's yacht got repossessed. Karma takes it time sometimes, but still can pack a punch.
What Went Wrong:
They'll miss Ray Allen's scoring.
The Sonics really weren't headed anywhere with Allen as their best player, but it would have been nice to have him around to draw defenders away from Durant, while helping, in his classy way, to indoctrinate the young man to the league. Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak will do what they can to pick up the slack, no doubt.
Losing Rashard Lewis hurts, no matter what.
Sure, the trade exception that Seattle got from Orlando made the Kurt Thomas deal possible. Still, Lewis was a kid in whom the Sonics had a huge investment. He required all sorts of mentoring, physically and emotionally. He came out of high school and was paid well beyond his productivity for several seasons. He never developed the inside game he's capable of, but he was supposed to be a building block. Hard to blame the Sonics, but the Lewis story wasn't supposed to end this way.
Losing a whole team might hurt worse.
Seattle has gorgeous football and baseball facilities but soon might have a vacant basketball arena if no solution is found to keep Clay Bennet's ownership group from moving the club. Aubrey McClendon's out-of-school comments -- David Stern came late with a $250,000 fine when he should have pre-emptively gagged McClendon & Co. -- really has folks worried about the end of the NBA's 40-year history in that city.
Maybe there should be a plus or minus attached to that grade, but I'm distracted right now. Like a lot of Seattle fans, I can't help thinking that Oklahoma City already is the corporate home of Sonic drive-ins. That means the nickname and the uniforms wouldn't even need to be changed.
What Went Right:
Two backups might be better than one. Maybe.
Ronnie Price and Jason Hart give the Jazz two guys to do what Derek Fisher did by himself as a backup to point guard Deron Williams. With those three, rookie Morris Almond, Ronnie Brewer and Gordon Giricek in the backcourt, coach Jerry Sloan has more alternatives than he has minutes to offer.
They got a defensive pest.
Price's Utah Valley State roots and the career-best 16 he scored for the Kings against Utah might have skewed the Jazz's view of Price. But if he can pester opposing perimeter scorers, management will be satisfied. He made Dee Brown expendable.
Addition by deportation.
Center Rafael Araujo left Utah to sign a one-year deal to play in the Russian Superleague, which is good news for Spartak St. Petersburg and . . . good news for the Jazz. Araujo's three-year NBA career ends, at least temporarily, with a whimper; only 10 of his 28 appearances last season kept the No. 8 pick from 2004 on the floor for 10 minutes or longer.
They added to their foreign flavor.
Rookie center Kyrylo Fesenko played in the summer league and stuck around Salt Lake City until he got a contract. The 7-footer should be able to pick up any slack left by Araujo's departure (who'd have guessed we ever would have typed such a sentence?).
What Went Wrong:
The Fish that got away.
Letting Derek Fisher out of his contract was the right thing to do, at a human level (so Fisher can better attend to his daughter's eye cancer in Los Angeles). It even was a good business decision, given the money that was owed to the 33-year-old guard. But Fisher's veteran influence had a lot to do with Utah's quick return to contender status and he will be missed.
Miles from nowhere, guess I'll take my time.
C.J. Miles was a restricted free agent, for cryin' out loud. His options were limited from the get-go, in other words, so he had no business skipping the Rocky Mountain Revue out of fear of injury or any other reason. After two years but only 575 minutes, the slender guard needed all the experience he could get. This was not the summer to dawdle on a deal, and that's why he has slipped below the Jazz's radar.
Utah's chances of matching or building on their division-title performance from last season hinges on none of the summer's coming or goings. It's the core -- Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirkilenko, in need of a resurgence -- that matters.
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