In case anyone was wondering if Seattle was starting over completely, the last nail has finally entered that coffin. According to reports, free agent Rashard Lewis will join the Orlando Magic in a five-year, $75 million deal.
After making the playoffs in 2005 and winning in the first round, things have gone badly for the Sonics. After going 52-30 in that season, they followed it up with a lackluster 35-47 season and won only 31 games last year. With their best player Ray Allen not getting any younger, and their up-and-coming star Rashard Lewis likely working himself into quite a bit more than than the Sonics want to pay him, they were at a bit of a crossroads as an organization. Actually, they were and still are at a huge crossroads. With their new ownership considering a move from Seattle, there could be huge changes coming their way. Regardless, before the lottery winners had been announced, the Sonics were likely wondering what direction to go concerning their roster. And then, the lottery answered all their questions for them.
That's when they made a conscious decision to start from scratch. Let the two the links to the past go. Even if they are stand-up guys like Lewis and Allen, allow your youth to develop in a trial by fire. Allow your future core to learn together, improve together and mature together.
So, the Sonics saw a good deal on the table for Ray Allen and took it. In turn, they received the number five overall selection, Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. They selected Georgetown forward Jeff Green with the pick, and now new golden boy Kevin Durant has a sidekick to start fresh with. The Sonics didn't want Durant being a sidekick to anyone to start with, and that's fair from a marketing standpoint and from a basketball standpoint.
Now the Sonics will likely roll with a lineup that looks like this:
The Sonics finally realized what most teams never do. Sometimes it just makes sense to strip it down the foundation and build a new house. Don't just remodel it or buy some new cabinets or paint the living room a new coler. Bulldoze it.
Why keep some older holdovers on the roster when you can start something completely new? Screw the two years or so that would won't be competitive, the dividends when the players mature will pay off more than you can imagine. Strangely enough though, hardly anyone considers this an option. At least in the NBA, no one ever seems happy with completely blowing up the team and starting over. Call it a fear of alienating the fan base, fear of lost revenue during the rebuild or whatever you like, but the alternative to these decision will be so much better. The New York Knicks are proof positive of this. This is a team that reloads itself with different overpaid, overrated players every year. The have put themselves in such a hole under the salary cap, there appears to be no way out. And the reason? Who the hell knows. I assume it's because the money keeps pouring in from television contracts. That is their prerogative, but Knicks fans know the difference. And eventually, Knicks management might have a revolt on their hands.
So, while the Sonics rebuild for the brightest of futures, other teams should consider the same. That is, if it's still possible.