Wednesday , Nov , 02 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Bob Weiss era gets underway in Seattle

(Sports Network) – Bob Weiss makes his debut as the head coach of Seattle, as
the SuperSonics host the Los Angeles Clippers in both teams’ season opener at

A new era for the SuperSonics gets underway in the 2005-06 campaign. Weiss, an
original member of the Sonics in 1967, has replaced Nate McMillian, who bolted
the Emerald City unexpectedly in early July to accept the head coaching
vacancy in Portland, as the team’s new general.

Weiss, who began his coaching career as an assistant with the San Diego
Clippers in 1977, has been an assistant in Seattle since 1994. He is well
liked by his players and will get the most out of them. Weiss will continue to
allow the Sonics to launch countless threes, but will look for a more intense
effort defensively so the club’s transition game will become more of an asset.

Seattle was a pleasant surprise in 2004-05, as it captured the Northwest
Division and won its first division title since 1997-98, when it went 61-21
and won its third consecutive Pacific Division crown. The Sonics posted 50 or
more wins for just the 10th time in franchise history and first since the
1997-98 campaign.

In the postseason, the Sonics knocked off Sacramento in five games in the
first round, but they fell in six contests to the eventual world champion San
Antonio Spurs in the conference semis.

All-Stars Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis were unbelievable for the Sonics in the
regular season. Allen, who played in 78 contests, averaged a team-best 23.9
points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists, while Lewis contributed 20.5 points and
5.5 boards in 71 games.

The Sonics’ offense will continue to run through Allen and Lewis and their
success will continue to depend heavily on the performance of the two All-
Stars. However, Seattle also has point guard Luke Ridnour, who averaged 10
points and a team-high 5.9 assists in his second season in the league.

Forward Vladimir Radmanovic was having a solid 2004-05 campaign until he
suffered a stress fracture of his right fibula in March. He played in 63 games
and averaged 11.8 points and 4.6 boards before the injury sidelined him for
the remainder of the regular season. Radmanovic was not 100 percent healthy in
the postseason, as he played in just six games.

Allen, who netted 26.5 per game in the postseason, signed a five-year contract
extension worth a reported $85 million in the offseason. Allen will reportedly
be paid $80 million in salary, with a potential for $5 million in bonuses.

Seattle also re-signed Radmanovic to a one-year contract and inked center
Vitaly Potapenko to new deal as well. The team matched Minnesota’s offer to
restricted free agent guard Damien Wilkins, who showed a lot of promise during
the 2004-05 season.

The Sonics did lose some key players, as free agents Jerome James and Antonio
Daniels left to sign with different teams. James, who had a breakout series
against Sacramento in the postseason as he averaged 17.2 points and 9.4
boards, joined the New York Knicks, while Daniels found a new home with the
Washington Wizards.

The Clippers missed the playoffs once again in the 2004-05 season, as they
finished 37-45 and went on an early summer vacation for the eighth straight
year. Last season, Corey Maggette led the club in scoring (22.0 ppg), while
Elton Brand, who averaged 20.0 points in 81 contests, grabbed a team best 9.5
rebounds per game.

In the draft, the Clippers gambled on foreign prospect Yaroslav Korolev, who
is a forward from Russia. In the second round, they selected Duke point guard
Daniel Ewing.

The Clippers did make a significant free agent signing when they inked Cuttino
Mobley to a multi-year deal. Originally selected out of Rhode Island by
Houston in the second round (41st pick overall) of the 1998 NBA Draft, Mobley
spent six seasons with the Rockets before he was traded along with Steve
Francis and Kelvin Cato to Orlando for superstar Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard,
Tyronn Lue and Reece Gaines in June 2004. After playing just 23 games for the
Magic, Mobley was dealt to Sacramento on January 10, 2005 for Doug Christie.

In 66 games for Orlando and Sacramento last season, the 30-year-old Mobley
averaged 17.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He also registered 14.8
points per game during the Kings five-game loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in
the first round of the playoffs.

The Clippers did lose Bobby Simmons, who was the NBA’s Most Improved Player
last season, to free agency, as he signed a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks. The
team also decided to renounce the rights to guards Kerry Kittles and Rick
Brunson. However, the signing of Mobley offsets all three losses.

Veteran Sam Cassell was acquired from Minnesota along with a lottery-protected
2006 first-round draft pick for guards Marko Jaric and Lionel Chalmers.
Cassell averaged 13.5 points, 5.1 assists and 2.7 rebounds with the
Timberwolves last season.

Second-year pro Shaun Livingston will have a more active role this season for
the Clippers. The 20-year-old point guard averaged 7.4 points and 5.0 assists
in just 30 games last season. Livingston (back) starts the season on the
inactive list.

The offseason was productive for the Clippers. They added a pair of solid
veterans in Cassell and Mobley, who should work well with the young nucleus of
Brand, center Chris Kaman, Livingston, Maggette.

Last season, the Clippers won two of three from the Sonics, who have won seven
of the last nine meetings overall in this series. The Clippers have lost three
straight and seven of their last eight at Seattle.