Sonics president goes to Florida with plenty on his plate
Seeking a GM and coach plus three draft picks, Lenny Wilkens will be a busy man this week.
Seattle Times staff reporter
ORLANDO, Fla. — With three picks, the No. 2 selection, in next month's NBA draft and vacancies at general manager and head coach, Sonics president Lenny Wilkens traveled to the league's pre-draft camp in Central Florida this week with jobs to offer.
A league source at the pre-draft camp interpreted the Sonics' slow-moving coaching search to mean that Wilkens intends to nominate himself for the job and return to the sideline after a three-year hiatus. Wilkens, however, has steadfastly maintained that his Hall of Fame coaching career is over.
Marc Iavaroni, who is believed to be high on the Sonics' wish list, will be one of the hottest coaching candidates at the pre-draft camp. Weeks ago, he spoke to the Memphis Grizzlies about their vacant coaching job and according to The Arizona Republic, the Orlando Magic has asked and received permission to speak with him. It's likely that he'll interview with the Magic while in Orlando.
"There's always some talk like that going on and I'm sure we'll be a part of it," Wilkens said last Tuesday after finishing second in the lottery behind Portland. "We will be talking with people [about the GM position] and we are talking with people. We just want to be thorough."
There's speculation that Seattle is interested in former Orlando GM John Gabriel, but San Antonio assistant GM Sam Presti is still believed to be the leading candidate. Citing team policy, Presti declined to comment on the Sonics job while the Spurs are still in the playoffs.
In addition to the No. 2 pick, the Sonics have the 31st and 35th picks in the second round. Teams are allowed only two workouts or meetings with prospects and Wilkens declined to reveal if he plans to meet with Ohio State center Greg Oden and Texas forward Kevin Durant while in Orlando.
Oden will likely be taken by Portland at No. 1 and Durant is expected to fall to the Sonics.
Neither player will work out this week, but they will undergo testing and physicals Saturday.
• Washington's Spencer Hawes, the former Seattle Prep High All-American who will likely be a lottery pick, and Eastern Washington's Rodney Stuckey, the former Kentwood High star who is projected to be a late-lottery to mid-first-round choice, will not compete at the camp in Orlando, but will undergo testing and physicals. Oregon guard Aaron Brooks, the former Franklin High standout, Arizona guard Marcus Williams, the former Roosevelt High star, and Nevada guard Marcellus Kemp of Garfield High are expected to compete this week.
• Rick Sund and Jack Sikma are still under contract with the Sonics, however, both men will attend the pre-draft camp possibly looking to secure employment with other teams. Sund spent six years as the Sonics GM before owner Clay Bennett relieved him of his duties April 24. He has a year remaining on his contract.
Sikma, the former Sonics great and assistant, signed a two-year contract with a team option in 2005. He said the Sonics have until Friday to renew his contract, which expires June 30th.
Wilkens said he intends to allow the new coach to pick his staff and was vague on if he'd renew Sikma's contract.
• Former Sonics coach Bob Hill, who was fired after compiling a 53-81 record in 1 ½ seasons in Seattle, is interested in the Magic job, according to The Orlando Sentinel. Hill, who worked as an assistant in Orlando during the 1993-94 season, has said he wants to continue coaching in the NBA.
• According to a league source at the pre-draft camp, Charlotte part-owner Michael Jordan has targeted Golden State general manager Rod Higgins to replace Bernie Bickerstaff, who had been the GM and is now an executive vice president.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org