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Originally published March 9, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 9, 2007 at 9:59 AM

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Fortson's no-show adventures continue

Disgruntled Sonic Danny Fortson missed practice again for reasons that has coach Bob Hill puzzled and teammates rolling their eyes.

Seattle Times staff reporter

BOSTON — Bob Hill refuses to admit it, but this Danny Fortson business is getting old. The coach is at his wit's end as to how he's going to handle the aging, banged-up, overweight malcontent who has indicated he no longer wants to be a Sonic.

Whenever Fortson's name is mentioned in media sessions, Hill usually remains silent for several long seconds, bobs his head, then smiles before explaining that he really likes the guy, but...

With six weeks remaining in the regular season, Hill's patience may be at an end. Fortson skipped Thursday's practice at Suffolk University because he didn't think he had to be there.

"I told [trainer] Mike Shimensky last night when we got off the bus that we would have practice and I would let them know in the morning who'd be coming to practice because I don't want to make a decision [upset]," Hill said following a heartbreaking 92-89 defeat to Philadelphia. "I never make those decisions at night. I always sleep on them. I got up this morning, I decided to leave the starters at home and everyone would come, which gave us seven guys, and I wrote out a practice.

"We called everybody. He [Fortson] was called at 10 or whatever, and about 3:40 he said he was told that he didn't have to come. And I told him, 'Yes, you do' and he said 'OK, I'll take a cab.' "

Fortson never arrived.

Two days earlier, he missed a morning shoot-around in New York apparently because his cab driver was unable to successfully navigate the 1-½-mile distance from the team's Central Park hotel to Madison Square Garden. His explanation had many team members rolling their eyes.

And his latest no-show has Hill scratching his head.

Per team rules, Fortson will be fined an undisclosed sum of money, but the Sonics coach was unsure if he'd suspend him, make him suit up and not play or use him in tonight's game against Boston at TD Banknorth Garden. While no one knows how Fortson might perform (he hasn't played since Jan. 15), the injury-depleted Sonics (25-36) could use another big body against the Celtics (17-43), who have a young and formidable front line in Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins.

Fortson's buyout request was denied last month in part because the team is better served financially with him on the roster and in part because they need a pair of fresh legs. The latter reason explains why Hill gave the starters the day off on Thursday.

With the exception of Fortson, the reserves took part in a 90-minute workout that concluded with a three-on-three scrimmage pitting Damien Wilkins, Johan Petro and Andre Brown against Mike Wilks, Mickael Gelabale and Mouhamed Sene.

Three observations were clearly apparent after a handful of spirited games.

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For starters, Wilkins and Petro are steadily progressing, Wilks, Gelabale and Brown have leveled off, and Sene, Seattle's opening-night starting center, has taken a few steps backward.

"He was better coming out of training camp than he is right now," Hill said. "I think he's [regressed] in his fundamentals, and that's just because when he goes to the D-League, they don't have enough guys to practice. I think practice for a guy like him is significant for his development."

Sene, the 10th draft pick last year, made two trips to Seattle's NBDL affiliate in Idaho and is likely to return once the season concludes. For now, the Sonics want to keep the 7-foot rookie center around the team so they can monitor his workouts.

"When he was with the D-League, he played a lot of minutes, and I think his team was something like 12-2 so he didn't hurt them," assistant coach Jack Sikma said. "Bob is critical of his lack of fundamentals in footwork and balance, and he's right. In those areas, Mo has a lot to learn. Today, he [fell down] four or five times, and that's because he was off-balance."

Even though Sonics are short-handed in the post — they use a three-man rotation at power forward and center — Hill has no plans of bringing Sene off the bench any time soon.

"I'm sure people are saying it was a bad pick, but I don't agree with that," Hill said.

Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com

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