Notebook: Gelabale Impacts Sonics Draft
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Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM | June 28, 2006
The Seattle SuperSonics 2006 Draft was heavily influenced by a player they took a year ago. Taken 48th in the 2005 NBA Draft, Mickael Gelabale could join the Sonics this off-season after spending a second year playing for Real Madrid in Spain. The possibility of adding Gelabale to a wing rotation that already includes All-Stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis as well as Damien Wilkins made the Sonics think twice about adding a swingman with their lottery pick, 10th overall.

"We think Ronnie Brewer is an excellent player," said Sonics Director of Basketball Operations Dave Pendergraft. "Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, we think they're excellent players and they're going to have NBA careers. But we have a commitment and our negotiations with Mickael Gelabale are going very well.


"We felt like if we took one of these swing guys and we had Mickael, it was just too much duplication."
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty
"We were offered first-round picks for Mickael this year. We felt like if we took one of these swing guys and we had Mickael, it was just too much duplication. You can say the same about our two bigs, but if our two bigs continue to improve, we might have to have someone in case we can't afford both."

Considered a possible first-round pick in last year's deeper Draft, Gelabale slipped to the middle of the second round and the Sonics happily snatched him up. A talented athlete, Gelabale averaged 7.3 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in Euroleague play for Real Madrid and projects as a similar player to some of the swingmen available to the Sonics, including Brewer and Rodney Carney.

Sonics Go Backcourt in Second Round

The Sonics owned a pair of second-round selections, their own #40 pick and the 53rd overall pick acquired a year ago in a Draft-day deal with Memphis. At 40, the Sonics selected UConn guard Denham Brown, the leading scorer in the NBA's Orlando Pre-Draft Camp at 15.0 points per game. GM Rick Sund praised Brown's background at Connecticut, where he won a National Championship in 2004.

"He's played there for four years," said Sund. "He's been on a successful club, knows how to win. They play a team game. They're aggressive; they play D. Coach (Bob) Hill has liked him. He's brought up his name a couple of times because he worked him out in years past, played against him. Dave has liked him, so I think he's got a chance to make it. In the second round, you want to look and see if they have the NBA body or they've got the NBA ability. He's got the ability."

Possibly overshadowed at UConn - four Huskies ended up being taken in the first round of the Draft - Brown has shined in other settings. In addition to the Pre-Draft Camp, he averaged 16.8 points per game last summer for the Canadian National Team at the 2005 FIBA World Championship Qualifying Tournament.

Seattle's other second-round pick, guard Yotam Halperin, is already a history-maker. Halperin and countryman Lior Eliyahu became just the second and third players ever to be drafted from Israel. The 22-year-old Halperin is a polished player who averaged 13.9 points and 3.6 assists per game last year in Euroleague play for Union Olimpjia in Slovenia.

"The guy's 6-5," said Pendergraft. "He's a combo guard. Unbelievable basketball IQ. Unbelievable. He's somebody who will probably stay in Europe for a year, maybe too. We would not have taken him if we did not think he had a chance to be an NBA player."

Summer League Ahead

The Sonics attention now turns to their entry in the Rocky Mountain Revue Summer League, which will play in Utah from July 14-21. Only one Sonics holdover - forward Noel Felix - is expected to play for the Sonics in the Revue. Whether first-round pick Saer Sene can participate remains to be seen, depending on whether he plays for the Senegalese National Team in this summer's World Championship. Gelabale is out because he is on the French roster for the World Championship.

Another Frenchmen, however, is committed to playing for the Sonics. Guard Paccelis "Patch" Morlende was acquired during the second round of the 2003 Draft and played with the Sonics Summer League squad that year. He's since continued to play in Europe, splitting last season in Italy and Spain.

"The kid is really a good player," said Pendergraft. "I'm not saying he's an NBA player. We had him in the past, but he got injured. We liked what he was doing. I went to see him play in Europe; he's got a bad knee. One year I go, he's got a bad ankle. The last time I saw him play, he shut down Rudy Fernandez - just shut him down for a whole half - Rudy Fernandez will be a first-round pick whenever he comes into the pros, so I like that about him."