Sonics Update

  • Monday, October 30, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Herald Staff

  • Opponent: Vancouver Grizzlies

  • When: 7:30 p.m.

  • Where: General Motors Place, Vancouver, British Columbia

  • TV: KONG (cable)

  • Radio: KJR (950 AM)

  • Probable starters: For Seattle – forwards Vin Baker (6 feet, 11 inches) and Rashard Lewis (6-10), center Patrick Ewing (7-0), guards Desmond Mason (6-5) and Gary Payton (6-4). For Vancouver – forwards Shareef Abdur-Rahim (6-9) and Othella Harrington (6-9), center Bryant Reeves (7-0), guards Michael Dickerson (6-5) and Mike Bibby (6-1).

  • Next game: Denver at Seattle, 7 p.m. Wednesday.

  • Set roster: The Sonics finalized their active roster for tonight’s opener by placing center/forward Olumide Oyedeji and guard David Wingate on the injured list. The moves were necessary since Seattle has 14 players under contract, but can carry just 12 on the active roster.

    Oyedeji, the team’s second-round draft pick from Nigeria, has a mild right ankle sprain. Wingate has a sore left knee.

    Also, forward Rashard Lewis (sprained knee) and guard Desmond Mason (sprained ankle), both starters, are sufficiently recovered from recent injuries to be in the lineup tonight. Though neither is 100 percent, they are both “close enough,” according to coach Paul Westphal.

  • Add, roster: Of the 14 players on the team, six were not with the team a year ago. Patrick Ewing was acquired in a trade, Mason and Oyedeji were draft picks, and Wingate, Pervis Ellison and Ruben Wolkowyski were free agents.

    For those keeping score, here’s what happened to the seven players traded by the Sonics in the Ewing deal. Horace Grant and Greg Foster are still with the Lakers. Chuck Person was waived by the Lakers. So was Davis, who was then re-signed by Seattle late last week. Vernon Maxwell, Lazaro Borrell and Vladimir Stepania, all traded to New York, were waived by the Knicks. Maxwell signed recently with Philadelphia and Stepania was signed by Toronto, but then released Monday.

  • Scouting report: The Grizzlies are expected to start the same lineup tonight they used virtually all of last season. That fivesome includes one of the league’s top young players, forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim.

    The 23-year-old Abdur-Rahim is coming off a season in which he averaged 20.3 points and 10.1 rebounds, an offseason in which he won an Olympic gold medal, and a preseason in which he averaged 18.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in limited time.

    The Sonics got a good look at Abdur-Rahim’s talents a year ago. In the opener between the teams, Abdur-Rahim tossed in 31 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, almost single-handedly leading the Grizzlies to a rare win over Seattle.

    One reason Abdur-Rahim gave the Sonics so much trouble is that he is 6 feet, 9 inches. He had too much size for Seattle’s 6-5 Ruben Patterson, but was too quick out from the basket for 6-11 Vin Baker. The Sonics hope to counter this season by assigning the 6-10 Lewis to defend Abdur-Rahim, though Westphal is realistic about the pairing.

    “(Abdur-Rahim) gives everybody trouble,” Westphal said. “He’s a handful. He’s a real versatile offensive player who you’re never going to totally shut down. … He can go inside, he can go outside. They run a lot of stuff for him, so he’s going to put a lot of numbers up. The main thing is that we want to make him earn his points, and I think Rashard is probably the best physical match we have for him.”

  • High standards: Statistically, Gary Payton easily had the best season of his career a year ago, averaging 24.2 points, 8.9 assists and 6.5 rebounds. It was an outstanding season, and one that will be hard to top this year.

    In Westphal’s opinion, better stats should not necessarily be Payton’s aim this season.

    “I think Gary knows what kind of player he is perceived as, which is as one of the all-time great backcourt players in this game,” Westphal said. “Whatever numbers he might put up this year, good or bad, won’t change that perception of what he’s done in his career.

    “The thing that will help him move to the next level in the way people see him is how well he’ll help the team win this year. That’s the only thing he can really do to add to this resume. I think he really understands that and is focused really toward nothing else other than to help the team win.”

  • Short shots: The Grizzlies, who begin their sixth season tonight, are 2-17 all-time against Seattle, with both victories coming in Vancouver. … Grizzlies guard Michael Dickerson attended Federal Way High School, then went on to the University of Arizona. … Grizzlies guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (formerly Chris Jackson), who returns to the NBA with the Grizzlies this season after playing in Turkey in 1998-99 and sitting out last season, is the player taken directly after Gary Payton (third overall) in the 1990 NBA Draft.
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