As the countdown towards opening night grows shorter it seems as if Bob Weissâ€™ game plan is becoming a bit clearer. Today after Practice Coach Weiss shed some light on the rotations we can expect come opening night.
â€œRight now itâ€™s going to be Petro (at center). said Weiss. â€œVitaly only has one practice inâ€
Weiss is going against his own instincts by starting rookie Johan Petro alongside returning power forward Reggie Evans. In the past Weiss has indicated a desire to spread the floor by having 3 shooters together at any given time. As such it was assumed that should Petro start he would be paired with Vladimir Radmanovic who brings more scoring punch than Evans. Now it seems as if Vladi may have fallen behind both Evans and Nick Collison, in the frontcourt rotation
â€œThe first substitution will probably be Nick coming in at the 4 or 5, then Vladi, then Danny.â€ Said Weiss
The Sonics crowded frontcourt may force Radmanovic to play extensive minutes at the small forward spot backing up Rashard Lewis. Weiss believes Radmanovic is most effective as a power forward due to the mismatches he creates at that position but may be forced to move him down in the lineup because of a preference to pair Collison with Danny Fortson for extended minutes.
â€œI really like Danny and Nick together and if you go with that rotation it almost forces Vladi to play at the three (Small Forward) Spot.â€ Weiss speculated.
Surprisingly Weiss also speculated that Petro could be far enough along to play the final minutes of close games.. He indicated that the closing lineups for games would vary based on game situations but would likely consist of either a Collison/Radmanovic tandem for offense or Collison/Petro when he was looking for defense. This is quite a vote of confidence for a 19 year old center who was expected to spend significant time in the developmental league this season.
While the frontcourt appears crowded many observers consider the guard positions to still be a bit thin after starters Luke Ridnour and Ray Allen leave the floor. None of the guards expected to fill in for the departed Antonio Daniels have appeared to dominate the roll during the preseason and questions abound as to whether Flip Murray can fill the backup point guard roll. While fans may speculate Weiss has few doubts about Murrayâ€™s abilities. During todayâ€™s press conference he repeatedly expressed support for Murray whom he believes will be fine in a three guard rotation. Supporting Murray will be second year scorer Damien Wilkens and veteran point Rick Brunson but clearly the roll is Murrayâ€™s to lose.
Weiss also appeared to back off his earlier assertions that the team would employ a faster pace offense this season. In comments today he stated that the team would essentially run the same offense as last season/
â€œWeâ€™re a pick and roll team, or an Iso(lation) team coming off picks.â€ Said Weiss who implied that the early experiment in running the ball had not seemed to pay dividends. He reaffirmed his commitment to last yearâ€™s â€œGet it early or get it lateâ€ philosophy and described the desire to run as simply a desire to have â€œA secondary offense out of the break.â€