COACH: P.J. Carlesimo | 2006-07: 31-51
Seattle SuperSonics

Durant is the cornerstone of the new Sonics.
Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images
The Seattle rain hasn't been the only thing falling lately for Sonics fans. These days, it's more like the sky. First, the team weathered a dismal season at 31-51 last year, and then has been through an incredibly stormy offseason fueled by demands for a new arena, lawsuits, arbitration, and more. For the Sonics, the dry season can't come soon enough.

New chairman Clay Bennet's ownership group bought the Sonics and Seattle Storm last year and has insisted that the teams need a new $500 million arena, which the city has vehemently opposed. Blanket coverage of the demands and speculation that the team could be moving to Oklahoma City or Las Vegas next season has garnered so much attention that it has overshadowed what has also been a very eventful summer in the Sonics' front office and locker room.

New GM and basketball wunderkind Sam Presti, who at a mere 30 years old is one of the NBA's most respected and fastest rising executives, made bold moves this summer in an effort to improve the team. A Rhodes scholar nominee from Emerson College in Boston and a former assistant GM in San Antonio, Presti led the design and implementation of the Spurs scouting database, a system that is now being used by numerous teams throughout the NBA.

After netting the 2nd overall pick and basketball's player of the year in University of Texas star Kevin Durant, Presti hired another "Texan" in former Spurs assistant coach P.J. Carlesimo as the Sonics' new head coach. But the new Seattle GM wasn't done there. He continued making waves in a blockbuster deal that traded the face of the franchise in Ray Allen to Boston for Delonte West, Wally Sczerbiak, and the No. 5 pick in the draft, Georgetown forward Jeff Green. In addition, forward Rashard Lewis slipped away to Orlando via free agency, though the Sonics did salvage a trade exception for him.

The Allen-Lewis tandem combined for 48.8 PPG and 11.1 RPG last season, leaving a sizable hole for the Sonics to fill. But with Presti and Carlesimo emulating a Spurs-like defensive philosophy, the SuperSonics hope that their mix of young talent will at least partially fill the void.

With all the new faces among the players and coaching staff, Carlesimo told sonics.com "it's almost like an expansion situation… There's going to be a lot to the learning process -- us learning about the players, the players learning about us and our system. It's just something we're going to have to get through. It's clearly going to be a little more tedious this year than you'd like it to be."
-- Jeff Brody

Backcourt
Luke Ridnour has the capacity to become a solid NBA player if he can show some consistency. Averaging 11.0 PPG and 5.2 APG last season, Ridnour could blossom under the tutelage of Carlesimo, who also benefited Tony Parker's career. Wally Szcerbiak is a tough competitor who can score in bursts with great three-point range. If he can stay healthy, his offense could help take some of the load off of Kevin Durant.

The loss of Ray Allen is significant on the offensive end, and puts additional pressure on a young team. As one of the Sonics' more experienced players, Earl Watson will have to provide some quality leadership off the bench. Still, this group is likely to struggle.

Frontcourt
The Sonics lost Rashard Lewis and Danny Fortson, but gained Kevin Durant and free agent Kurt Thomas from Phoenix. There will be incredible pressure on Durant to live up to the hype surrounding his NBA career. For his part, Durant is doing his best to manage expectations. "I don't think I'm a savior at all," he told the News-Tribune. "I'm not the only one on the floor playing, you know."

Chris Wilcox has shown signs of brilliance and should see more touches in the post this season. Nick Collison and rookie Jeff Green, the 5th overall pick in this year's draft, have impressed many with their summer league play. Seven-footer Robert Swift has been cleared for contact after a torn ACL kept him out last season. But just like the backcourt, expect the big guys to go through a huge learning curve.
-- Jeff Brody

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Durant
Kevin Durant, who else? The Sonics' new face of the franchise has gone from college superstar to a potential knight in shining armor. Seattle fans are pinning their hopes on the silky smooth 6-9 forward, who should be the front-runner for Rookie of the Year.

With the Sonics instituting a new defensive-oriented system and adding several new faces, Durant has focused on developing a rapport with his teammates and coaching staff. Still only 19 years old, Durant doesn't want to carry the team. "I don't think it's all on me. I don't know why people are saying, ‘Save the organization.' I want to be a team player. That's what my game is all about," Durant told the News-Tribune. And with all the less-than-positive news surrounding the Sonics lately, team is exactly what the Sonics want to focus on as they enter training camp.
-- Jeff Brody

THE STAT
25.8 Kevin Durant averaged 25.8 points per game for the University of Texas last season. He finished in double-digit scoring in every collegiate game he played.

Carlesimo
P.J. CARLESIMO
Seventh season, First with Sonics
Career Record: 183-222 (.452)
Playoffs: Three times, 3-9 (.250)
New Sonics head coach P.J. Carlesimo is no stranger to challenges. Still, the situation in Seattle figures to be different. He inherits a team with five new players and new faces in the front office. "Very seldom do you have a lot of changeover and a lot of players coming in and out, coaches coming in and out and all of a sudden things come together," he told sonics.com recently.

"When you look at the lack of continuity from a coaching standpoint here combined with the fact that we've got five new players, most of whom or all of whom figure into the mix; it's not that you have five new guys," Carlesimo said. "Here's five new guys that somehow figure into the plan. A couple of them are young, very young, you've got a brand new coaching staff, you've got the Western Conference, you've got a lot of things that probably are not real high on the list of the way I'd like to spend my fall. "It's going to be a challenge."
-- Jeff Brody
KNOW YOUR SONICS
Nick Collison's Iowa Falls team went 101-1 during his high school career, winning four state titles.
I love Kevin Durant. He would be my choice for Rookie of the Year going in. The biggest thing is he is almost 6-10 and he has a 7-5 reach and he has skills of a three-two. He can post up, he will rebound, block shots, he can run. He is a gym rat. Will he have a rocky year? He will definitely have a rocky year. He is only 19 years-old. He is going to be their man. He is going to have plenty of opportunity to shoot and score. I think he will end up having a good year.
I like Jeff Green, he is a nice player. But they could have a tough year. I would never say this to anyone but if I had to pick the worst team going in it would be them. I think Durant will have a good time there, especially because he is going to get all the shots he wants.
I like Luke Ridnour, but he has been in and out.
They have a new coach P.J. who will be a good coach there. But they are definitely in a rebuilding year.
Robert Swift who I like, is a young guy coming off a big injury. Sene is a great kid. He still has to prove to me that he is an NBA player.
It will be interesting to see how P.J. incorporates Szczerbiak, Jeff Green and Durant. It will be very interesting to see how he does that.
-- NBA Scout
PG - Luke Ridnour: He'll compete in camp with Earl Watson and Delonte West for the starting job.
SG - Wally Szczerbiak: He should see good minutes, but he's not part of the team's future.
SF - Kevin Durant: The Sonics offense will run through him, and he's only a rookie.
PF - Chris Wilcox: He'll have opportunities. He just needs to bring aconsistent low-post game.
C - Nick Collison: Expect his minutes to decline as the the Sonics suddenly have a crowded frontcourt.
Sonics Fantasy Preview | Fantasy Home
Record: 31-51, 14th in Western Conf.
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Scoring Leader: K. Durant, 22.2 PPG
Rebounding Leader: N. Collison, 9.2 RPG
Assist Leader: D. West, 6.0 APG
Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2006-07 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Luke Ridnour 11.0 2.3 5.2
SG Wally Szczerbiak 15.0 3.1 1.7
SF Kevin Durant -- -- --
PF Chris Wilcox 13.5 7.7 1.0
C Nick Collison 9.6 8.1 1.0

F Jeff Green -- -- --
C Johan Petro 6.2 4.1 0.6
C Robert Swift -- -- --
F Kurt Thomas 4.6 5.7 0.4
G Delonte West 12.2 3.0 4.4
F-G Damien Wilkins 8.8 2.8 1.9
F Mickael Gelabale France
C Johan Petro France
F Saer Sene Senegal
F Kevin Durant Draft
F Jeff Green Trade
F Kurt Thomas Trade
G Delonte West Trade
G Ray Allen Trade
F Andre Brown Free agent
C-F Danny Fortson Free agent
F Rashard Lewis Free agent
G Randy Livingston Free agent
G Mike Wilks Free agent
PPG Ray Allen 26.4
RPG Nick Collison 8.1
APG Earl Watson 5.7
SPG Ray Allen 1.49
BPG Nick Collison 0.80
Points Scored 99.1 (12th)
Points Allowed 98.4 (14th)
Field-Goal Percentage .450 (21st)
Opponents' FG% .471 (25th)
Rebounding Diff. -1.36 (21st)
NBA Seasons: 40
Playoff Appearances: 22
NBA Finals Appearances: 3
Championships: 1 | Last Title: 1978-79
Best Season: 1995-96, 64-18
Season Opener:
Oct 31. @ DEN (10:30 p.m. ET)
Home Opener:
Nov. 1 vs. PHX (10:30 p.m. ET)
Longest Road Trip:
7 games in 11 days: Mar. 2-12
@ MIN, @ DET, @ MIL, @ PHI, @ TOR, @ IND, @ BOS
Longest Home stand(s):
7 games in 13 days: Jan. 23 - Feb. 4
HOU, ATL, SAC, SAS, CLE, NYK, CHI
7 games in 14 days: Mar. 24 - April 6
POR, WAS, CHA, SAC, LAC, HOU, DEN
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Radio: KJR 950 AM
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Local Coverage: Seattle Post-Intelligencer | Seattle Times