The Sonics today completed a light practice prior to traveling to Los Angeles for their match up against the L.A. Clippers. The team was not made aware of todayâ€™s trade involving Desmond Mason until after practice concluded. Rashard Lewis was unavailable for comment about his former teammate but Sonics power forward Reggie Evans felt a great deal of sympathy for Mason.
"Itâ€™s hard, you know. I know that (Desmond) gave a lot to the city while he was here. I know that he gave a lot to Milwaukee and I think he just had a little baby girl so its got to be a tough time for him to move around." Said Evans.
The day's scrimmage was definitely less intense than Monday's. Ray Allen sat out the game with a groin pull that was described by the team as nothing serious. The coaches placed emphasis on set plays out of timeouts with the green team bringing the ball in from timeout about 10 times to end practice. They failed to score until forward Rashard Lewis calmly nailed a jumper on his first attempt.
In somewhat major news Coach Bob Weiss stated clearly that Vitaly Potapenko would be the teams starting center if injuries were not a factor.
"He's got experience, is a good defender, can make the open shot, so I like him as a starting center." Said Weiss who did leave open the possibility that injuries could effect that decision.
Weiss is likely to use his regular rotation for first half minutes and use the second half to evaluate different combinations of players looking to make the team.
Luke Ridnour is a tremendously hard worker. After the light practice he alone ran lines and wind sprints while most other players got ready for their flight. Its becoming obvious to me that Ridnour presents a problem for reporters who are discouraged from interrupting him while he works. Luke is always working and today got in every minute he could until the Sonics PR Staff insisted that he provide some type of comments.
Other post-practice workouts included Rick Brunson and Noel Felix shooting around, Nick Collison working with Coach Ralph Lewis on the pick and roll, and Reggie Evans shooting free throws. Check back Friday for my interview with Evans about his work habits.
It was interesting to see Mikki Moore play extensively at practice today. Moore played exclusively at the PF position teaming first with Robert Swift, and later with Johan Petro who was switched from the green team to the white assumedly to see how he faired with Moore. Moore is an entertaining guy who plays hard and complained about nearly every call during his time on the floor. Hard to tell it was just practice by listening to him going at it.
Vladi Radmanovic, Mateen Cleaves, and Damien Wilkens were guys who stood out to me as impressive. I came away from the practice wondering how (or if) there could ever have been any question about matching Wilkens' contract. He will have a large role this season.
Radmanovic provided the highlights of the limited scrimmage first with a steal that lead to a breakaway lay-up that really highlighted his athleticism and speed, then with a nothing but cord three pointer late in the game. Vladi also showed real camaraderie with Rashard Lewis, doing a little dance, followed by a handshake and chest bump between the two laughing friends. I think there is a general assumption that Vladi is a malcontent but he doesn't seem to have any resentment at all towards the teamâ€™s starter at SF.
Mateen Cleaves has some game. He also agreed to answer questions for my "Ask Coach Cleaves" feature and explained the flex offense for his first answer. At this point I am advocating Cleaves and Alex Scales for the final two roster spots at the expense of Rick Brunson. While Brunson's contract is guaranteed the Sonics have a payroll which is well under control. I would hope that salary is just not a factor in further roster decisions but I know that is not always the case.
The next Practice Update will be Saturday afternoon.