Sonics Update

  • Saturday, December 9, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Herald Staff

  • Opponent: Orlando Magic

  • When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

  • Where: KeyArena

  • TV: KONG (Ch. 6/16)

  • Radio: KJR (950 AM)

  • What if? Seeing Houston forward Maurice Taylor running up and down the court Saturday night, Seattle fans could only wonder what if.

    Taylor, a free agent after playing three seasons for the Los Angeles Clippers, came very close to signing with Seattle last summer. Taylor, a 6-foot-9 power forward who averaged 17.1 points and 6.5 rebounds last season, was set to sign with the Sonics if Seattle’s Vin Baker was traded to New York in August.

    That multi-team trade was ready to go through, but at the 11th hour the Detroit Pistons backed out of the deal. The swap was resurrected a few weeks later, but this time with Horace Grant being dealt, not Baker, for Ewing. With Baker still in Seattle, Taylor (who wanted a starting spot) opted to sign with Houston.

    Had the initial trade gone through, the Sonics would have had a starting front line of Ewing, Taylor and Rashard Lewis, with Grant, Jelani McCoy and Ruben Patterson playing from the bench. Given Baker’s up-and-down play, Seattle might well be better off.

    Seattle president Wally Walker, who engineered both trades, has probably done some “what if” wondering, though “I try not to look through the rear-view mirror very much,” he said.

    “Our best possible scenario still is Vin Baker being Vin Baker,” Walker said. “If he plays like he did (Friday) night against the Lakers (15 points, six rebounds), or the Lakers game before that (20 points, nine rebounds), that’s the best scenario. We’ve seen encouraging signs, and we just need to see consistency. If we do, it will all work out for the best.”

    Taylor has started 19 games for Houston this season, and is averaging 9.9 points and 3.8 rebounds. “He’s a very talented offensive player and a nice young man,” Walker said. “He’s got a bright future.”

  • Coaching staff: When head coach Paul Westphal was fired and assistant coach Nate McMillan was promoted, Seattle’s coaching staff shrunk to three from the usual NBA number of four. The Sonics had entertained the idea of adding a third assistant, but Walker, who discussed the idea with McMillan on Saturday, says the staff will probably stay unchanged.

    “We’ve got a couple of wins and I think (McMillan and associate head coach Dwane Casey) are comfortable that we can get all the work done with the existing staff,” Walker said. If you bring in somebody new, it’s somebody who hasn’t been with us from the outset and knows all the issues. I think Nate feels good about where we are.”

  • Somewhere in time: Saturday’s game was the first Seattle showdown for Sonics center Patrick Ewing and Houston center Hakeem Olajuwon since they squared off at the Kingdome in the 1984 NCAA championship game. Georgetown University, led by Ewing, defeated Olajuwon’s University of Houston team in the title game.

  • Old friends: Walker spent several minutes before Saturday’s game visiting with Houston broadcaster Calvin Murphy. The two were teammates with the Rockets in 1982-83.

    “He was one of the all-time best shooters,” Walker said. “Maybe top five all-time as a shooter. He was tough, tough, tough. He made every open shot.”

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