Seattle SuperSonics

Collison sat out one year because of shoulder surgery after being selected 12th overall in 2003.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
No. 25, No. 48 (from Mem.), No. 55
Ray Allen (unrestricted)
Mateen Cleaves (unrestricted)
Antonio Daniels (player option)
Reggie Evans (restricted)
Danny Fortson (player has right to terminate contract)
Jerome James (unrestricted)
Ronald Murray (restricted)
Vitaly Potapenko (unrestricted)
Vladimir Radmanovic (restricted)
Damien Wilkins (restricted)
2004: 12. Robert Swift, Bakersfield HS, Calif.
35. Andre Emmett, Texas Tech
41. David Young, North Carolina Central
2003: 12. Nick Collison, Kansas
14. Luke Ridnour, Oregon
41. Willie Green, Detroit Mercy
2002: 49. Peter Fehse, Germany
2001: 12. Vladimir Radmanovic, Yugoslavia
40. Earl Watson, UCLA
42. Bobby Simmons, DePaul
2000: 17. Desmond Mason, Ok. State
42. Olumide Oyedeji, DJK Wurzburg
47. Josip Sesar, Croatia
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: Coming off of two sub .500 seasons, playing for a lame-duck coach in the final year of his contract and starting Jerome James and Reggie Evans down low in a stacked Western Conference, the Sonics didn’t project as a playoff team.

What happened? They lost Brent Barry to free agency, they employed a first-year starter at point guard, they got nothing from first-round pick Robert Swift and their biggest off-season acquisition was Danny Fortson, who had played his way into oblivion in Dallas the year before.

Somehow, they made the playoffs – won the division! – without an interior player averaging double figures. For good measure, they shook off a 2-8 finish and dispatched a playoff-tested Sacramento team in five games to advance past the first round for the first time since 1998. It took the Spurs to finally dispatch the pesky Sonics.

Seattle came out of the gates 20-5, and led their division wire-to-wire. Nate McMillan’s team was fundamentally sound and relied on age-old concepts like teamwork, defense and chemistry to outlast opponents. The Sonics outrebounded their opponents (plus-3.0 per game), held onto the ball (12.7 turnovers) and hit their free throws (79 percent; third in the NBA).

Ray Allen, one of several Sonics playing for his next contract, responded with the best scoring year of his career (23.9 ppg) and provided leadership. Rashard Lewis joined Allen on the All-Star team, averaging 20.5 points per game. Sixth man Vladimir Radmanovic provided offensive firepower off the bench (11.8 ppg). Luke Ridnour and Antonio Daniels adeptly ran the offense, combining for 21.2 points and 10 assists a night, while both maintaining an assist to turnover ratio of better than 3 to 1.

What now? Howard Schultz and company have a ‘latte’ issues to address this offseason.

These Sonics were one of the top three-point shooting teams even though they lacked an inside threat to draw double teams. Fortson, Jerome James, Reggie Evans and Nick Collison combined averaged only 22.9 points in 74 minutes per game.

James and Evans are among the team’s eight free agents, but they fall well after Allen and Radmanovic on the priority list. With the 25th pick in the draft, perhaps the Sonics can add some beef, or rely on 7-footer Swift to contribute next season.

The team’s draft strategy most likely is dependent upon which free agents it expects to have back. It might also depend on who’s coaching. Nate McMillan, known as “Mr. Sonic” for a career in Seattle that dates back to 1986, isn’t under contract.