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Rotation Frustration...

Only 101 minutes into the season and Bob Weiss' rotation already leaves a lot to be desired:

Two seasons ago I was relentless in my criticism of Head Coach Nate McMillan for his seemingly unending tinkering with the team’s lineups and rotations. For virtually an entire season players minutes and rolls yanked up and down like a yo-yo as McMillan changed the starting lineup and reserve rolls trying to find some type of solution to the teams woes.

Last season it seemed as if the problem was solved. Other than injury related changes the team featured basically the same lineup and rotation from start to finish. The players responded with a stellar season which many of them contributed largely to having clearly defined roles.

I am not going to be so naïve as to think that the set rotation was the only reason for the Sonics success. I do however strongly believe that it was a major factor. With little knowledge of the new coaching staff I made it a priority to ask Coach Weiss about his rotational philosophy on media day.

“I definitely like to have a set rotation.” Said Weiss, “As I look at it the rotations are not that set. The players will determine what that rotation will be with training camp and the exhibition season.”

If I understand his comment the goal of the coaching staff was to have evaluated the players prior to the season starting and define roles going into the regular season. Going into game one Weiss detailed his game plan indicating that Flip Murray would get an opportunity as the third guard and would vie with forward Vladi Radmanovic for the third scoring position.

A mere game and half into the season all this appeared to have changed. In the second half of Friday’s game against Minnesota Murray was replaced by Mateen Cleaves. Now in the span of 101 minutes it appears that Flip Murray has dropped completely out of the rotation, replaced by Mateen Cleaves and Damien Wilkens, also Radmanovic will see a greatly decreased role due to poor production. The Seattle Times’ Percy Allen pointed out this morning how Weiss is still trying to determine the rotation going forward.

"I want to get down to a set rotation, but somebody has got to step up and say these are my minutes and I'm going to take control," Weiss said. "I thought the other night that Mateen and Wilkins did that to enough of an extent that I'm going to give them another shot in the first half this time."

I find it interesting that Weiss talks about giving guys “a shot” as this is basically the same thing he promised Murray and Radmonvich when camp was winding down.

“He’s the kind of guy who needs minutes to be effective, as most guys are. He’s going to get that opportunity.” Weiss answered when asked to describe backup guard Flip Murray and his chances for securing the teams third guard position.

I am very torn on this issue. On one hand it is easy to judge players based on their performance and say that guys need to earn their spot or be moved aside.

On the other hand I find significant fault with Weiss for promising a “shot” or “opportunity” and then changing direction after a mere 20 minutes of play from either player. While I don’t have any real problem with the moves made I do question why they have happened so early. A real opportunity involves at least a realistic chance of working through initial problems. Having such quick trigger on lineup changes does not give these players that chance.

Weiss has by my reckoning achieved his first true failure of the season with an inability to either define his rotation during the preseason, or to stick with his decisions once the season began. Either way the failure is there. At best these reactionary moves are a soon to be resolved problem by a coach who is new on the job and feeling his way out. At worst it is in indication that Weiss lacks the follow through to effectively lead his troops. Clearly the minutes will be a touchy subject this season as forward Vladi Radmanovic has already expressed his displeasure with a reduced role in a recent article by the Tacoma News Tribune’s Frank Hughes. By not taking a stand now Weiss is creates the potential for major problems with Radmanovic, Murray, and other players.