Kevin Pelton, SUPERSONICS.COM
| August 3, 2005
In honor of All-Star guard Ray Allen re-signing with the Seattle SuperSonics, SUPERSONICS.COM looks back at some of the biggest signings in Sonics franchise history - five players who, like Allen, decided to stay in Seattle when their contracts ended and five more who joined the Sonics from other teams as free agents.
The shooting guard affectionately known in Seattle (and elsewhere) as "the Hawk" was one of several key Sonics to become free agents after the 1996 NBA Finals, one of whom you'll see a little later. Coming off averaging 15.6 points per game in his first season in Seattle, Hawkins signed a five-year deal. He spent three of those years with the Sonics before being dealt to his native Chicago for Brent Barry.
Allen's fellow All-Star has the distinction of being the only player who could make this part of the list twice. Lewis first became a free agent after his breakout sophomore season, re-signing with the Sonics for two years with a player option for the third. Well on his way to becoming an All-Star, Lewis again became a free agent in the summer of 2002 and put pen to paper on a long-term deal that kept him in Seattle as part of the Sonics new foundation. Lewis is still plenty young enough to join this list a third time.
The player the Sonics dealt to acquire Allen joined Hawkins and Sam Perkins as free agents in the summer of 1996. Before heading off to Atlanta to play for the U.S. Olympic Team, Payton signed a seven-year deal to stay with the Sonics. It was one of the most lucrative in franchise history at the time, but ultimately proved a bargain as Payton made the All-Star team six times over the life of the contract - a number that would have been seven were it not for the NBA's 1998-99 lockout.
When the Sonics acquired Schrempf in a trade with the Indiana Pacers on the eve of the 1993-94 season, they took a risk that Schrempf, a free agent at year's end, might bolt and leave them with nothing. But given the Sonics success (their 63-19 record was the best in club history at the time) and the fact that Schrempf played his high school and college ball in Washington, that was never a big worry. Schrempf never seriously considered leaving and spent five more seasons in Seattle.
While most of the re-signings with the Sonics were relatively harmonious, the same could not be said about when Williams became a free agent in the summer of 1980. Unhappy with the money owner Sam Schulman and President/GM Zollie Volchok were offering, Williams sat out the 1980-81 season. A 34-48 season convinced the Sonics to up their offer, and Williams came back and would play three more years in the Green and Gold.
Daniels' averages in 2002-03 with the Portland Trail Blazers - 3.7 points per game and 1.3 assists - were modest to say the least. But the Sonics saw promise there that other teams did not notice, and were rewarded with two outstanding seasons of reserve play from Daniels at a bargain-level price. Yesterday, Daniels left the Sonics to sign a deal with the Washington Wizards.
James joined the Sonics with even less fanfare than Daniels - he wasn't even in the NBA in 2000-01 as he worked his way back from a torn ACL. At 7-1, however, James was still a big signing. After a slow start to the 2001-02 season, he emerged as a starter down the stretch before re-signing for three seasons. After two inconsistent years, James came through in his contract season, starting all 80 games he played and coming up big in the playoffs.
Few players ever change teams after winning an MVP, but Haywood not only changed teams but leagues when he jumped from the ABA to the NBA to sign with the Sonics in November 1970. When the deal and Haywood's right to enter the NBA before his college class had graduated were upheld, the Sonics landed one of the league's best players, and Haywood was picked All-NBA four straight seasons.
At age 35, Lucas averaged only 4.2 points and 3.5 assists in one season in Seattle, but he was still one of the bigger names the Sonics have ever signed as a free agent. The former #1 pick overall and All-Rookie Team member finished his career in the NBA's all-time top 20 in assists and was only two seasons removed from averaging 17.5 points per game in Milwaukee when he signed with the Sonics.
Before he could re-sign, Williams had to first come to the Sonics as a free agent. The 1975 second-round pick was coming off averaging 9.3 points per game for the Golden State Warriors, but at age 24 was primed to break out in Seattle. He did exactly that, averaging at least 18 points per game all six seasons he spent with the Sonics and leading the team in scoring in all five games of the 1979 NBA Finals.