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Originally published February 21, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 21, 2007 at 12:26 AM

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Notebook | Hill says these Sonics are more harmonious bunch

In another day, the trading deadline will have passed and the Sonics will no longer have to answer questions about who's staying and who's...

Seattle Times staff reporter

In another day, the trading deadline will have passed and the Sonics will no longer have to answer questions about who's staying and who's going this season.

Until then, Seattle coach Bob Hill will continue to address the many rumors that surround his team. He refuses to talk to the players about the speculation because "there's nothing you can say to them," and admits that everyone within the organization will be happy once Friday has arrived.

"Except guys who would like to get traded," Hill said, laughing. "We had a number of those guys [last year]. So that was no fun. ... Guys that were unhappy were on one side and there was six of them. So that's a significant number of players who didn't want to be here."

Hill claims the Sonics are no longer a disharmonious bunch, which doesn't take into account disgruntled forward Danny Fortson, who admittedly would like to be moved before the deadline, but knows the chances are unlikely.

The Sonics have shopped Fortson, who is in the final year of his deal, but no one is interested in the 30-year-old forward.

Before Tuesday's victory over Memphis, Hill said he would welcome Fortson's return. But Hill wants Fortson to practice for a few days before returning to the bench. Last Wednesday, Fortson put on his uniform before the Phoenix game, but Hill declined to put him on the active roster.

"He's going to have to practice two or three practices to get familiar with how we're playing," Hill said. "I'm not going to jeopardize the other 11 guys just to play him because he says he's ready. He's going to have to practice and do the same things that the other guys are doing."

Tuesday's game at a glance

Player of the game: Rashard Lewis finished with 34 points on 13-of-25 shooting. He also had seven rebounds.

Play of the game: Late in the fourth quarter, Pau Gasol attempted a layin, which Nick Collison swatted to the sideline.

Turning point: The Sonics stretched a 64-58 halftime lead to a 16-point advantage (81-65) midway through the third quarter and Memphis never seriously threatened thereafter.

Key statistic: Seattle coach Bob Hill notched his 300th win and became the 48th coach to reach the milestone.

Up next: New Orleans, 5 p.m. Friday at New Orleans Arena.

Fortson remained at home Tuesday night because of what Hill said was an upper respiratory infection. It's unclear if Fortson will join the team for a two-game trip to New Orleans and San Antonio.

There's also speculation that Seattle will release him after the deadline if it is unable to make a trade. But Hill reiterated his stance that he would welcome back Fortson if he's healthy.

Rumors about a trade with New York involving Rashard Lewis for the Knicks' Channing Frye and Nate Robinson have no merit, several Sonics said.

Sene to rejoin team

Rookie Mouhamed Sene will join the team on Friday in New Orleans. He has missed the past six games with the Sonics after they assigned him to their NBDL affiliate in Boise on Feb. 3.

Because Sene has had two stints in the D-League, the Sonics can send him down one more time for the remainder of the NBA season.

"We'll see if we're going to send them back," Hill said. "We'll see where he his. We'll look at our schedule and look at their schedule and then we'll go from there. ... We need another body."

Without Robert Swift (knee surgery) and Fortson, Seattle has just 11 healthy players.

Notes

• The Sonics will arrive in New Orleans on Thursday afternoon, two days after the six-week long Mardi Gras celebration has ended. Said Hill: "That's a good thing."

Ray Allen and the Storm's Ashley Robinson will visit children at the Garfield Community Center for a reading event. They will narrate a piece based on the book "I Dream A World" at 1:30 p.m. Youth performers from Seattle's Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center will also be in attendance.

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