| The Curmudgeon's Corner

By David Kronfield

November 10, 2003

Well I hope those of you who were making plans for the playoffs took note of the Atlanta game. It ain't gonna be that easy guys. I'm with the 90% of you in RKH's poll who feel that the Sonics will win 46 games or less this year, and probably fail to slip into the Big Party as an afterthought eighth seed. I think by this time next week you'll see a .500 club whose weaknesses will have been exposed for all to see. This is a tough road trip especially coming this early in the campaign, and I'd be amazed to see us win more than one game. Even Chicago, which will be the fourth game we'll have played in 5 days, is preceded the night before by a very tough game at Indy. Mercifully, the game in the Windy City will be televised, so perhaps everyone can watch and try to feel good about our chances again.

One has to wonder if the broadcast schedule was by design. I mean from a basketball standpoint, wouldn't you rather have seen the Bucks or the Pacers? I see it as a cost cutting measure that these are just two of 26 Sonic games which won't be televised this year. Is it my imagination, or are things getting worse in that regard? If we don't make the playoffs, expect 30 or more games to go unseen by the common folk next year. I guess the strategy is to hide the team like a neurotic boyfriend/girlfriend until they look acceptable enough to take home to mom & dad.

But back to more immediate concerns. The Sonics' Krispy Kreme offense, in full gear the first three games of the year, is still a fraud. When our outside shooting is off as it was last night, there are only so many adjustments this team can make. If we played in the Eastern Conference, it would be one thing. But with so many teams in the West having frontcourts we can't match up with, we’re in for a long, LONG season. Remember Atlanta was playing on little rest after having played Portland the night before. They were winless on their west coast road trip, & arrived at 1-5.So no folks, this was no powerhouse. We’ll face a dozen or more BETTER teams over the course of the year.

And what they all should have learned from watching tape of last night's game is that we have no alternative plan to beating opponents. With our hole in the middle, we have NO half-court power game to go to when our shots aren't falling from the outside. We can try to take you out of your game by trapping & pressuring as we did with Portland, but if you're smart enough, as well as big & strong enough to play through that, we’re pretty much stuck as to what we can try as an alternative.

Ironically on a night when many were applauding Calvin Booth for his 6 points & 7 rebounds (5 of which were from missed shots on the offensive end); the newly sober Vin Baker was pulling down 13 boards (all but 2 of which were on the defensive end), & scoring 18 points on 47% shooting. Who would have ever thought that Vin's inside power game was something the current team would ever be envious of?

Oh I know all about the man's shortcomings, & that it remains to be seen if this born again enthusiasm will last. Don’t forget that Joe & I were amongst his earliest & biggest detractors. But in shipping Vin off for a couple of contracts which expired sooner, Wally seems to have forgotten that we now have even less of a post game. Did he really think that Pot would be an acceptable alternative? Did he really think we already had the answer with James & Booth? With his dismal record on big men going back to Jimmy Mac, Ewing, & the plethora of big man boobs he's brought in up to & including the current crop, it’s hard to say what if ANYTHING he was thinking.

At least with Gary we had, albeit unorthodox, post up possibilities. Now we're resigned to still growing players like Rashard & Radman who would prefer to launch howitzers from the outside than to risk life & limb amongst the trees inside. We need more thugs on the inside like Reggie or the departed Patterson-especially if we could find someone possessive of an offensive game as well. You can't really expect a solution to emerge from foul-a-minute James ("we're jammin' "...), the frail, jumpshooting Booth, or the Brickowski-like Pot, who seems to have lost favor with Nate. Who does that leave us with? The injured Collison.

It seems strange to put so much hope & faith in an untested & now injured rookie. Where was management last summer when we needed them to go out & trade some of our redundant parts for an experienced, quality big man? Even if Collison HAD been able to play this year, anyone astute enough to be guiding an NBA team should have known that he couldn't have turned this motley crew of big men around all by himself. That’s not the job of a rookie. They should be allowed to come in & learn from the team's veteran big men, & contribute more & more over time. When the rookie is expected to show the way for the other incompetent big guys, that seems ass backwards to me. How ironic that the very shoulders Collison was expected to carry his big men brothers on are the shoulders that were found to be in need of surgical repair.

And so owing to this unfortunate turn of events, we again are left searching for a solution to our "hole in the middle" offense. People feel good that we've found another deadeye marksman in Flip Murray. We ooh & awe at Rashard's 50 points, & Barry's kamikaze flights to the hoop. We hope that Radman will somehow evolve into a more complete player. And we pray that Ray will return as good as ever to lead this gifted bunch of shooters to the promised land.

But anybody who knows basketball would tell you that even Moses himself would have a hard time shoring up the middle for this team. It's not the Red Sea, baby!

The legendary and infamous David Kronfield has been a columnist since day one. David can be reached at

Got an opinion on this column? Discuss it in the SonicsCentral message boards.

The Curmudgeon's Corner Archive

All opinions expressed in this column are solely the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other columnists or the staff.