As we enter September, just 4 short weeks from the start of training camp the Sonics roster appears to be largely set.
Luke Ridnour, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Chris Wilcox, and Robert Swift project as the likely starting lineup while Earl Watson, Nick Collison, and Johan Petro make up the obvious reserve corp. Open for speculation are the roles of Damien Wilkens, Mo Sene, and Mickael Gelabale. Danny Fortson and Noel Felix will round out the deep bench.
Rumors are beginning to spring up regarding potential players who could fill the available 15th roster slot. Mentioned in the media are names such as Aaron Miles and Yotam Halperin while internet rumors have linked the team to players such as former #5 overall selection Nikoloz Tskitishvili. The team has since rejected rumors that Halperin was offered a guaranteed contract and openly scoffed at the mention of Tskitishvili. Mile may have some interest but they will have to wait as he considers offers from other teams.
Assuming that no impact player is added at this late juncture the relative parity of this seasons roster opens up a number of questions for head coach Bob Hill to answer before the season begins.
Nick Collison VS Chris Wilcox:
At the press conference to introduce Chris Wilcox Hill gushed that the team had found its new Power Forward. The athleticism displayed by Wilcox in his short stint with the team, combined with his hefty $8 million per year contract and central role in the teams marketing make him a logical choice for the starting role. Defensively however Collison is by far the better player.
Nick Collison is very highly regarded by coaches and management. In many ways he may be preferable as a starter for due to the fact that he has proven to be a very solid complementary player. While Wilcox requires the ball in his hands to affect the game Collison can defer to players such as Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis while still spacing the floor and be an impact player on the defensive end. Coach Bob Hill however has concerns about Collisonâ€™s ability to avoid foul trouble early in a game. Collison has inexplicably struggled with foul troubles and poor calls from officials and Hill has taken notice. During an interview last season he expressed concern that early on officials like to call games more tightly to establish control of the players. His concern is that a quick foul or two in the opening minutes could limit Collison for the remainder of the game when his services are needed.
Despite my expectations that Collison will see significant improvement this season I believe Wilcox will be the starter.
Luke Ridnour VS Earl Watson: