Sonics' shake-up coming this summer?

Originally Published: April 20, 2004
By Chad Ford | NBA Insider
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Patience.

That was the buzzword last fall at the Sonics' first training camp without Gary Payton in 13 years.

"We've been flirting with the rebuilding process for several years," Sonics GM Rick Sund told Insider in October. "But this is the first year that you can say that we're fully into rebuilding."

The Sonics faced an interesting dilemma last summer. They knew they had a ton of talent -- Ray Allen, Brent Barry, Rashard Lewis, Vladimir Radmanovic and first-round picks Nick Collison and Luke Ridnour. What Sund wasn't sure was how it was all going to fit together.

Privately, Sund was hoping both Lewis and Radmanovic would take the next step toward stardom. Lewis had put together two nice seasons in a row, but under the wilting glare of Payton, he had never shown much leadership. Radmanovic, who happened to play the same position as Lewis, was asked to take the lead at power forward after Collison went down with a season-ending shoulder injury early in training camp. Should both of them emerge, Sund thought, the Sonics would be a playoff team with a bright future. If they failed?

"We know we need three stars to have a real chance at competing in such a tough conference," Sund said in October. "Obviously Ray Allen is a superstar. Rashard Lewis has shown us that he's a very good player on the brink of becoming a star. We need one more guy to step up. This year we've got to see if that guy is here. If he is, great. If he isn't, we'll have to go get him next summer."

Now next summer is here -- for the Sonics, anyway -- and the jury is still out.

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider

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