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Originally published Monday, March 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Sonics

Fortson sits, and it might be permanent

The Sonics suspended Danny Fortson for last night's game against Washington, but the pertinent question is whether the power forward will...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Sonics suspended Danny Fortson for last night's game against Washington, but the pertinent question is whether the power forward will play another game this season.

Fortson will not accompany the team when it flies to Memphis this morning and will remain in Seattle during the Sonics' two-game trip that concludes Wednesday in San Antonio.

General Manager Rick Sund said he spoke with Fortson on Saturday and decided that the time away would give an injury to the 6-foot-8 reserve forward's left ankle a chance to heal.

Sund said Fortson was suspended after coach Nate McMillan asked him to play in Friday's game against the New York Knicks and the forward declined. Fortson wasn't wearing a complete uniform beneath his warm-ups, according to Sund.

"He asked him to go into the game in the second half, and he felt he wasn't ready," Sund said. "You have to be ready, you have to go in the game when the coach asks you to."

Fortson was apparently angered Friday after McMillan benched him in the first half because he arrived late to a game-day workout.

By the numbers


Danny Fortson has missed 13 of the Sonics' 25 games since Feb. 5 for a variety of reasons:

4

Games not played, injury

4

Games not played, coach's decision

2

Games not played, NBA suspension

2

Games not with team, personal reasons

1

Games not played, team suspension

Sund emphasized that the missed road games were not a suspension. He said he asked Fortson if he wanted a couple of games off because of the ankle, and the forward agreed.

"Let's get his ankle ready," Sund said. "Let's get his mind ready."

The suspension for last night's game will cost Fortson $64,644, or one game paycheck. Sund said Fortson had no plans to appeal.

Fortson also was suspended for two games by the NBA for throwing a chair after being ejected from a game Feb. 11.

McMillan is unsure if he'll use Fortson when the team returns. Reserve forward Nick Collison and center Vitaly Potapenko could replace him in the rotation.

Fortson, who arrived from Dallas last summer in a trade for Calvin Booth, endeared himself to Sonics fans with his desire to do the dirty work early in the season. But after averaging 9.7 points through Jan. 18, Fortson's contributions have steadily declined. His season average has dipped to 7.8 points in the past 27 games, and only once over that span has he played longer than 18 minutes.

"I don't know what Danny's issues are," co-captain Ray Allen said. "He seems as if he's been angry the last couple of days, and I don't know why because there's no reason to be angry when we're having the kind of season that we're having."

Said Sonics guard Luke Ridnour, one of Fortson's closest friends on the team, "He's had some tough things going on with his family and everything. We just have to stay encouraging and let him know that we're praying for him and here for him. That's the biggest thing. We can't cut him loose now."

Several teammates insisted Fortson hasn't been disruptive, but were aware of his history.

This is Fortson's fifth team in seven NBA seasons. At Golden State, he bristled while sitting for long stretches on the bench, and the Warriors essentially told him to stay away from the team during the latter half of the 2002-03 season.

On Friday, he appeared in good spirits on the sideline. Afterward, he muttered expletives while walking out of KeyArena.

"Everything was working so well and now it's not," he said. "It's not me. Everything I'm doing now, I've always done. It's not me."

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