Monday, July 9, 2007

Q&A: P.J. Carlesimo

I had a chance to chat briefly with new Sonics Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo after this morning's shootaround about the NBA Summer League and his busy life since being named the 15th head coach in franchise history just four days ago.

What are you looking for and hoping to see while you're down here?
I'm really not looking to see much, per se. What I'm really looking to do more than anything is get to know the guys. I just want to spend some time with them, get to know them, watch their games a little bit. Summer league - it's a little bit of an indicator, but the truth is, there's not a lot of NBA guys here, so it's hard to make any decisions or watch somebody and say, 'He's going to do this well in the regular season,' because it's apples and oranges. To me, it's much more important for me to get to know Mo (Sene) and Johan (Petro) and Mickaƫl (Gelabale) and Jeff (Green) and Kevin (Durant) and spend some time with them.

Yeah, I am watching the games. You do see how guys compete, you see how they handle different situations, but it's much more just let's get acquainted - even from a basketball standpoint. You just watch, make some observations. If you do see something, yeah, take note, but it's not like I'm hoping to see something or if all of a sudden somebody starts scoring a lot of points and getting a lot of rebounds, that doesn't always translate to the regular season. It's less what they're doing on the court and more getting to know them.

Is summer league important in the process of building a culture?
Yes and no. Yes in that Ralph (Lewis) is stressing defense, yes in that we don't them to do things here we're not going to want them to do during the regular season. Having said that, we don't even have a coaching staff. We don't have three-quarters of our team or two-thirds of our team, whatever the percentage is that's not here. After you are months down the line in terms of trying to build a culture, as we will be at the end of this year, then maybe next summer we can build a little bit of a bridge back to what we have already established because the guys that will be playing summer league next year who were on the team during the regular season will know what is expected of them and they'll be able to set a tone for the other guys. None of that knowledge is here right now. I'm not saying we don't care what happens here - don't misunderstand - but it's impossible for them to know what we want because they haven't been through it yet.

When you were interviewed during the webcast of Friday's game, you said you had yet to get back to people who were interested in being part of your staff as assistants. Have you since then?
No, I still haven't. I'm hopeful maybe tomorrow. I'm not even close, to be honest with you. We just have so many other things on the plate. Not that coaching staff is not important - in a lot of ways it's the most important thing for me because those are the guys that are going to teach and those are the guys who are going to develop that culture - but there's been too many other things that are more time-pressing and I haven't had a chance to get to that. Once I get to that, you're going to go crazy, unfortunately. We will be the last staff hired, so there's a lot of guys out there that are really anxious. One of these days I'm going to start returning some calls and start making some decisions and sitting down with people face to face.

Have you had a chance to breathe since last Thursday?
I really haven't, to be honest with you, but that's expected. That happens any time you change jobs. It especially happens the later you are in the situation. For us, it happened at the same time as not one but two summer leagues. There's so many other things on the table that Sam's got and he and I are discussing. We're just trying to play catch-up. Unfortunately, there's two, three, four things going on at the same time. That's just how it is. If the transition had happened months ago, it would be a little more orderly and you'd have time to focus on different things at different times. We're trying to focus on everything at the same time, which is not always easy.

Vegas, Baby. Vegas.

LAS VEGAS - Welcome to sunny scorching hot Las Vegas, where your Seattle SuperSonics are one of 21 NBA teams competing in the NBA Summer League. For the first time, SUPERSONICS.COM has sent a reporter to summer league, and after missing Friday's opener I'll be here through the duration of the league, blogging and posting stories.

As a Seattle native who's rarely ventured too far outside the Emerald City, this is the hottest weather I've ever experienced. Players have been asked not to go outside on game days lest the sun sap their energy.

This is the closest thing the NBA has to a league-wide "convention," with 2/3 of the league's teams participating. There are, I think, seven teams including the Sonics here at The Palms (naturally, the Sacramento Kings, owned like Palms by the Maloofs, are here as well), and it's impossible to walk around for more than a couple of minutes without seeing either a player or an employee of an NBA team, like Ron Artest taking his kids back from the pool.

Waiting for the Sonics to complete their shootaround this morning at a local basketball complex founded by former UNLV Coach Jerry Tarkanian, I saw a couple more NBA guys working out, Sebastian Telfair and Michael Ruffin. So this is all a little surreal.

After taking the weekend off, the summer Sonics are back in action tonight against the New York Knicks (featuring former UW standouts Nate Robinson and Tre Simmons) at 7:00 p.m. We'll be on the scene and live blogging, if perhaps not quite as fervently as for a regular-season Live From the Press Box. Mickael Gelabale is expected to play after missing Friday's game with a sprained ankle.

For more coverage of the NBA Summer League, head to, which has put together an excellent homepage for the league.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Foul Debut for Oden

You know all about the performance of No. 2 pick Kevin Durant today (actually yesterday, if I check my clock). How about No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden? Well, the 10 fouls the NBA Summer League weren't enough for Oden, who fouled out with six points and two blocks.

Good news today: It turns out the Blazers were mistaken when they previously thought Oden would have to miss next Sunday's showdown with the Sonics and Durant to attend the ESPYs. The ESPYs air on July 15 but will be taped on Thursday.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Durant on His Debut

In his professional debut today, Kevin Durant scored 18 points on 5-for-17 shooting as the Sonics lost to the Dallas Mavericks in NBA Summer League action. I worked a couple of Durant quotes into my recap, but here's some more from his post-game availability with the media.

On his shot:
“It just wasn’t falling today. In this game, you can’t make every single shot, so you just have to be aggressive.”

On being nervous before the game:
“I was more nervous in the days leading up to the game, but my teammates did a good job of calming me down.

“I was nervous before every game in college, so it's no big deal.”

On feeling pressure heading into the season:
“I’m not feeling any at all. Its just basketball and I’m just here to play. I’m just trying to get better as a player and as a team.”

On differences between college and the pros:
“It was much more intense and much faster than the college game. I thought I played well but I could have shot a little better. Hopefully next game I’ll be able to do that a little better.”

“I have to learn how to adjust to a quicker game - playing faster and reacting faster. I’ll be alright.

On his biggest competition in league:
“Whoever we play that game. I don’t really have any rivals. I haven’t even played a game yet. I’m just looking forward to playing in the league and hopefully we can do some good things.”

On having his first shot blocked:
“Everybody gets their shot blocked. It’s the NBA, I can’t get down on myself because he (DeSagana Diop) blocked it. I thought I had the clear layup, but he came over and blocked it.

“I just have to stay aggressive and continue to help my teammates out.”

On new teammate Jeff Green:
“He does everything well on the floor. He can penetrate, pass, and get to the free-throw line. When you play with a guy like that, it’s easy.”

On new Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo:
“He’s a great coach who gets everything out of his players. I can’t wait to play for him.”

On Las Vegas and the NBA Summer League:
“It’s a fun town. Everyone comes out and shows us a lot of support and I’m glad to be here.”

Change of Pace

What debuted as the "Draft Buzz" blog in the week leading up to the Draft morphed into a live blog on Draft night. Now it's changing again into The Official Blog of the Sonics. I'll primarily be responsible for blogging, but look for some additions from some of my co-workers as well.

What will this blog be? That's a work in progress, but from my experience blogging about the Storm, I know that it will be a place for immediate updates after practice, a look at all kinds of Sonics news and some thoughts on the goings-on around the NBA.

A quick note on the comments. We do moderate all comments, so if yours does not post immediately, understand that is the reason. Please don't post your comment again. Naturally, profanity and personal attacks are automatic reasons to reject a common. Use your common sense as to what is appropriate.

It should be fun. We'll have the RSS feed up shortly, so sign up for that, bookmark the site and check back often as we follow the new era of Sonics basketball.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Welcome to Seattle

No. 2 pick Kevin Durant and No. 5 pick Jeff Green got their introduction to Seattle Friday and Saturday, flying West from New York the day after being selected in the NBA Draft. On Friday, Durant and Green were introduced to the Seattle media. On Saturday, Durant's arrival was celebrated at an event at Green Lake Community Center for Sonics fans and featuring several other notable names in the Seattle sports community (Shaun Alexander, Lorenzo Romar, J.J. Putz, Tia Jackson and Sonics legends Spencer Haywood and Slick Watts).

Some odds and ends from the two days:

- Durant was asked a couple of times about buying a house in the Seattle area, answering that he plans to wait until the end of summer league and his time with the U.S. National Team before looking around. On Saturday, he asked for suggestions.

Owning a home will be a big deal.

"I think that's also a big step within my family, because we never bought a house before, we never had a house," said Durant. "I think that's something that we always wanted to accomplish growing up. Now that we can do it, it's going to be a joyous day for me, my mom, my whole family."

- Durant was asked on Friday about what nickname he prefers.

"They can call me whatever they want to call me," he said, referring to Sonics fans. "I'm just happy to be here. They can call me K-Dawg, K-Smoove, it doesn't matter."

Personally, I'm partial to "The Durantula."

- After asking Durant about when he became aware of Green, I found out that Green won a Maryland State Championship at Northwestern High School as a senior. I asked Green about being known as a winner.

"I'm a guy who loves to win," he said. "That's one thing I like to do. It's really remarkable for me to look back at the season I had in high school, how that team wasn't doing good and then we won the state championship. Going to Georgetown, where the program wasn't succeeding and putting them back on the map by going to the Final Four after three years."

- One of Friday's highlights was Durant's much-discussed look. He wore white Air Force Ones with a suit that, well, we struggled to decide on a color. Periwinkle was suggested and a lot of people went with baby blue.

I personally thought pastel blue, but Durant explained the color has personal significance. It was the color worn by his AAU team, the P.G. (as in Prince George's County, where both Durant and Green grew up) Jaguars.