Link to jump to start of content The Seattle Times Company Jobs Autos Homes Rentals NWsource Classifieds

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Steve Kelley

Wilcox signing a mixed blessing for fans

Seattle Times staff columnist

So how are you supposed to feel about the Sonics' signing Chris Wilcox, their free-agent power forward?

If you've been a Sonics fan through the Dale Ellis and Tom Chambers years, through the run to the Finals during the Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton years?

If you've cheered for them despite the way they've staggered through most of this decade? If you're scared stiff that this is the 40th-and-last season of Sonics basketball in Seattle, how are you supposed to respond to this news?

Should you care?

Should you be excited that, after all these years, maybe the Sonics finally have found an athletic low-post presence to complement Rashard Lewis?

Should it matter that this deal was negotiated with little input from the new Oklahoma City-based ownership?

Should you be worried that Wilcox earned his three-year, $24 million contract pretty much on his performance in a total of 29 games and 23 starts in a going-nowhere season with the Sonics?

Should you think his performance was just a salary drive? His contract gives him almost a million dollars for each start he made for the Sonics. Should you be concerned about his effort and his focus now that he has $24 million in his pocket?

Or should you just shrug and concede that, this time next year, he could be Oklahoma City's prize? Or Oklahoma City's problem?

Is this the ambiguous life in NBA limbo?

"It really doesn't matter where I play," Wilcox said Tuesday of the uncertainty of the team's future. "I like Seattle. But if the team is to move to another city, then that's what we have to do. I'll leave that to management."

Everything that happens to the Sonics — between now and the time, somewhere in January, when we'll surely know if they're staying or going — will be weighed against the uncertainty of the franchise's future.

And, as a fan of the team and the league and the game, all you can do is hope some heroic figure (and there are many in the Northwest) will find a palatable answer that will keep the franchise where it belongs.

"When you talk to NBA people, I mean, I don't think Oklahoma City's going to be an option [for the Sonics], to be honest with you," Sonics coach Bob Hill said after the formal news conference. "The Hornets want to stay there. New Orleans is not in any kind of shape, at this point, to take on a team.

"So I'm just going to approach this thing like we're going to be in Seattle till 2010, at the end of the lease, and go from there. I want to stay in Seattle. And I'm going to do my part, as best I can, to help us stay here. Most of our players enjoy Seattle and I think would want to stay here."

Soon after Clay Bennett and his group bought the Sonics and the talk of relocation began, Hill flew into Seattle and, sitting in a window seat, had the same thought most of us have when we see Mount Rainier, or look out across Puget Sound on our approaches into Sea-Tac.

"I was looking out the window and I was thinking, 'Oh, my God. How could they... ?' " Hill said, stopping before he finished his rhetorical question. "And I know commissioner [David] Stern doesn't want this team moved. I mean I talked to him for 40 minutes at the [draft] lottery, and he's a pretty powerful guy."

Hill is preparing the 6-foot-10 Wilcox to be the power forward of the Seattle Sonics.

Getting Wilcox, who turns 24 next month, ready to play a full season with the same productive energy he showed in the final third of last season, after he was traded from the Clippers, will be Hill's most difficult coaching challenge.

This is a show-me signing. It is a contract earned over very few games in non-pressure situations. It was a contract based on Wilcox's potential and based on the belief that he can play as hard for 82 games as he did during his salary drive of 29 games when he averaged 14.1 points and 8.2 rebounds a game for Seattle.

"As good as he was at times last year, I think he can be better," Hill said. "We'll see. He's got the potential to be an All-Star. He runs and jumps so well and for a guy his size. He's unique in that way. I need to get him to do more this year."

As they were walking down the stairs at the Sonics offices before the news conference, Hill told Wilcox he expected an average of 15 points and 12 rebounds.

"You never know when you give a guy a contract," Hill said. "The Sonics hit a grand slam with Ray Allen, and I would think this guy is going to respond similarly. I will be on his backside about consistency. That is what separates players and teams. This will be his fifth season, and I think he'll feel a sense of giving back for the belief that we've had in him."

A sense of giving back, in return for a belief that already has been shown.

Isn't that what all Sonics fans are asking from the new ownership?

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company



TV/Radio listings

Monday, May 6

Pro baseballTVRadio
4:07 p.m.Seattle at TorontoROOT710
7 p.m.PCL, Reno at Tacoma850
7:30 p.m.*Seattle at TorontoROOT
NBA basketball playoffs
4 p.m.New York at BostonESPN
4 p.m.Indiana at AtlantaESPN2
6:30 p.m.Oklahoma City at HoustonESPN
6:30 p.m.L.A. Clippers at MemphisESPN2
NHL hockey playoffs
4 p.m.Ottawa at MontrealCBUT
4 p.m.N.Y. Islanders at PittsburghNBCSN
4 p.m.Ottawa at MontrealCNBC
6:30 p.m.Minnesota at ChicagoNBCSN
6:30 p.m.Minnesota at ChicagoCBUT
7 p.m.San Jose at VancouverCNBC950, 102.9
Pro golf
6 a.m.*European Tour, China OpenGOLF
9:30 a.m.LPGA Tour, Kingsmill ChampionshipGOLF
NoonPGA Tour, Wells Fargo ChampionshipGOLF
4:30 p.m.*Champions Tour, Insperity Champ.GOLF
Auto racing
9 a.m.NASCAR Nationwide 312 qualifyingESPN2
11 a.m.NASCAR Sprint Cup 499 practiceSPEED
12:30 p.m.NASCAR Sprint Cup 499 practiceSPEED
2 p.m.ARCA Talladega 250SPEED
Horse racing
2 p.m.Kentucky OaksNBCSN
WHL hockey playoffs final
10:30 p.m.*Edmonton at PortlandROOT
College lacrosse
2:30 a.m.* (Sat.)ECAC Semis, Loyola,Md.vs.Ohio St.ROOT
College softball
4 p.m.Oregon St. at OregonPAC-12
6 p.m.Arizona St. at ArizonaPAC-12
IIHF hockey
2 a.m. (Sat.)United States vs. AustriaNBCSN
* Delayed broadcast

Complete TV/Radio listings

Times writers on the radio

950 KJR

  • Mariners reporter Geoff Baker appears at 9 a.m. Tuesdays with Mitch Levy.
  • Columnist Jerry Brewer appears daily with Elise Woodward 10 a.m. to noon as well as on the Seahawks Roundtable at 8:20 a.m. Thursdays during the NFL season.
  • UW reporter Bob Condotta appears on the Husky Roundtable at 8:20 a.m. Mondays during the college football season.
  • Baseball reporter Larry Stone appears at 8 a.m. Fridays with Mitch Levy.
  • UW reporter Percy Allen appears at noon every Saturday with Jeff Aaron.

Complete TV/Radio listingsMore

AL West W L Pct. GB Div. Streak
y-LA Angels 100 62 .617 --- 36-21 Won 1
Texas 79 83 .488 21 30-27 Lost 1
Oakland 75 86 .466 24.5 26-31 Lost 5
Seattle 61 101 .377 39 22-35 Won 3

y - clinched division, x - clinched playoff berth

Wild card standings | AL standings | NL standings

Sign up for daily sports e-mails

Have top Seattle Times headlines delivered to your inbox each morning for sports, Mariners, Sonics, Storm, Seahawks, Huskies, Cougars and high school.

Recreation calendar
Detailed listings of community sports activities.

Sports cartoon

Updated every Sunday.

How to contact sports


Phone: (206) 464-2276

Fax: (206) 464-3255


E-mail: Cathy Henkel, Sports Editor,

Snail mail: Sports Editor, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111

More info.


Local sales & deals Play games Find a job
Search for a job
Job type