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Sonics' future looks bright with long-term flexibility

By Darnell Mayberry Modified: January 22, 2008 at 5:43 am •  Published: January 22, 2008
Kevin Durant claims he doesn't think about it, that "R” word.

No, not relocation. Rebuilding.

"You just leave that up to the front office,” said Durant, the Seattle SuperSonics' soon-to-be Rookie of the Year.

"You just play the game and worry about what you have to do on the floor. I think that's what everybody's trying to do. So we're just trying to get better and let whatever happens happen. A year or two from now, if we get different players or what have you, we just let it happen and play with the guys we have now.”

Chances are, when Durant scans the Sonics locker room a year or two from now, he will indeed be surrounded by mostly new guys. Maybe a new city, too, if the Sonics eventually relocate to Oklahoma City.

Despite their 9-32 record, third worst in the NBA, the Sonics are in position to make their stay in the cellar short-lived. From stockpiled draft selections, to future salary cap room and quality upcoming free agents, the Sonics have everything needed to emerge from their current rebuilding phase with, at the very least, a high-seed caliber playoff team.

What they do with the pieces is up to Sonics general manager Sam Presti.

"Sam is the key to the whole thing,” Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo told the San Antonio Express News last July. "What Sam's doing is going to be harder than what I'm doing. He's got a very definite plan of how he wants to build. He wants to play defense. He wants to have good people. So much of it is stuff he's seen first-hand that he knows works over the long haul.”

Presti, remember, is the new GM who began the Sonics' rebuilding process in earnest last June when he shipped All-Star Ray Allen to Boston in a blockbuster draft-night trade. Two weeks later, he pulled off a sign-and-trade with the Orlando Magic for Rashard Lewis, giving the Sonics even more long-term flexibility in the form of salary cap relief.

Now, Presti is armed with enough artillery that the league's other 29 teams are all but forced to try and be an ally to the Sonics.

As it stands, the Sonics have five first-round draft picks over the next three years, including two in this year's draft, which is expected to field a deep and talented class.

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