I believe the word is transformation. The upheaval of the roster and the movement to the new era of Sonics basketball is nothing short of spectacular.
The hard part is to evaluate the moves. Nothing with this franchise is happening inside of a basketball bubble other than maybe the moves of Sam Presti. Therefore, for all of us who are desperate for basketball to stay in Seattle (Count me in) it adds a different tint to the glasses by which we view the moves.
One issue can't be forgotten. The team won 31 games last year and its best player was a shooting guard who if history follows its usual course should be on his downward trend.
When the previous basketball front office built the team the hope was that as Ray began to fade, Rashard would be at his apex and be able to pick up the burden of being the man. It could be argued that was close to taking place. Unfortunately, the cast around those two didn't develop into the championship supporting cast in enough time.
My feeling last season was that throughout the year, somewhat due to injuries, somewhat due to the roster make-up, players were out of their rightful spot in the basketball universe. Players will only succeed if they are in a position where they are being asked to do things they are capable of and too often they were being asked to do more. In any sport, when asked to do more a player usually slips behind what they are capable of. That is the essence of sport. That is the essence of roster building.
Would Kevin Durant put everyone back into their basketball universe? That had to be the debate and clearly the belief of this ownership and Sam Presti is no.
Therefore, we start the new era. The team has been turned over, by choice (trading Ray) and by circumstance (Rashard free agency) and is being built entirely around Kevin Durant.
Has this ever worked? Has anyone in NBA history drafted a player and immediately replaced the core of the team. Did it work? Yes, I am in the midst of researching this. Suggestions are welcome.
Wins will be hard to come by in the opening years of the Durant era if the roster stays the same. That is the reality of the NBA. In LeBron's first year the Cavs won just 35 games and the team had Ilgauskas and Boozer. Patrick Ewing won just 23 his first year. Jordan won 38 and Iverson won just 22.
At the same time a culture and a method of how to play and how to build the team will be installed rather than trying to create a quick fix that is fools gold and that is a step in the correct direction.
Specifically to the Ray Allen deal. Ray is one of my most favorite players to watch so I am totally biased. I understand the decision. It is not the move of idiocy in any manner, rather the opposite is true, it makes sense. In addition, Ray is a dominant locker-room personality and if you don't believe he matches the culture then you have to move him. On the flip side, I am not sure he will age the same way other guards have in the past. He is meticulous in his training and professionalism and it will pay off.
Losing Rashard hits me in the gut more because he was Seattle's than because of basketball. We watched him grow and develop. He told me last year, "I feel like Seattle is my mother and I am her son." Again, the turnover of the roster makes sense considering the season last year. If Rashard is going to get max money you have to believe unequivocally that he is capable of being the #1 guy on a team that goes to the Conference Semi-Finals. I love his development, I like the person a ton and I am not sure how I answer that question.
With all that said, the issue is how long will it take? Has it worked before and can it work this time? Most importantly, what does it mean for basketball in Seattle long term?
And that is the issue that blurs all thinking.
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