Sonics Update

  • Friday, November 24, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Herald Staff

  • Opponent: Sacramento Kings

  • When: 7:30 p.m.

  • Where: Arco Arena, Sacramento, Calif.

  • TV: KONG (Ch. 6/16)

  • Radio: KJR (950 AM)

  • Probable starters: For Seattle – forwards Vin Baker (6 feet, 11 inches) and Ruben Patterson (6-6), center Patrick Ewing (7-0), guards Brent Barry (6-6) and Gary Payton (6-4). For Sacramento – forwards Chris Webber (6-10) and Peja Stojakovic (6-9), center Vlade Divac (7-1), guards Doug Christie (6-6) and Jason Williams (6-1).

  • Payton followup: For the first time since Gary Payton was suspended, then reinstated last Wednesday, all the principal parties were back in Seattle for Friday’s game against the Clippers. The incident – which had Payton openly insubordinate to head coach Paul Westphal – might be gone, but it is hardly forgotten.

    The events occurred during the team’s recent road trip through Texas, beginning Tuesday night in Dallas and resuming Wednesday in San Antonio. Payton was suspended Wednesday morning, then reinstated in the afternoon in time to play against the Spurs.

    Team president Wally Walker was in Hawaii at the time, scouting the Maui Invitational basketball tournament, and was involved in deliberations via telephone.

    There is, Walker said Friday, “no recipe here” for handling a volatile player like Payton. And he denied that Payton has been put on a short leash regarding future infractions.

    “I don’t think that’s how I’d characterize it,” Walker said. “The way I explained it to him, ‘Gary, you can’t do what you did.’ … Every situation is different. You have to look at it case by case. Yet at the same time, it’s not the first time that it’s come up and you can’t look at it in a vacuum either.”

    Clearly, Walker was unhappy with the entire incident, just as he is displeased with Seattle’s 5-8 record.

    “We have to get better as a team,” Walker said, his tone suggesting an air of urgency. “We have to show progress. We have to get better every game.”

  • Lewis sits: Seattle’s Rashard Lewis didn’t play against the Clippers after suffering a bruised left calf muscle on the team’s recent road trip. Lewis, who was injured initially against the LA Clippers on last Saturday and aggravated the problem versus San Antonio on Wednesday, did not suit up for Friday’s game. He is not expected to travel to Sacramento for tonight’s game against the Kings.

    With Lewis missing, Westphal shuffled his lineup, moving Ruben Patterson from shooting guard to Lewis’ small forward position and putting Brent Barry in the starting lineup at shooting guard. This is very close to the lineup Seattle used for most of last season, with the exception of Patrick Ewing starting at center in place of Horace Grant.

  • Ewing update: Patrick Ewing’s ailing knees are a constant source of concern for the Sonics. Ewing started Friday’s game against the Clippers, but had fluid drained earlier in the day.

  • Familiar face: Their NBA paths crossed two decades ago, and again Friday at KeyArena. Westphal, Seattle’s head coach, and Clippers assistant Dennis Johnson were once NBA rivals and principals in a June 3, 1980 trade between the Sonics and Phoenix Suns.

    Johnson, fondly known as DJ when he was a Seattle backcourt star, helped the Sonics to their only NBA championship in 1979. A year later, though, he had become “a cancer on the team,” in the immortal words of then-coach Lenny Wilkens, and was swapped for Westphal in a one-for-one trade.

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