When a team parts ways with its two marquis names in one offseason, you’d think they’re on their way down. Seattle has done just that in the past week, but if I were grading offseasons in the NBA thus far, I’d list Seattle as the biggest winner.
They somehow managed to get 2 of the top 5 picks in the draft, pick up probably two of the top 4 players in the draft, and now they’ve brought in who I consider to be the best guy around to coach them.
I’ll always have a soft spot for P.J. Carlesimo because of what he accomplished with the Seton Hall Pirates back in 1989. Carlesimo single-handedly put the small New Jersey school on the basketball map with an improbable run to the Final 4, and a heartbreaking (bullshit) loss to Michigan on a phantom foul.
Carlesimo saw modest success as an NBA coach in Portland and Golden State, but his run in Golden State was cut short when he was choked by Latrell Sprewell for telling the petulant star to “put some mustard on his passes.” How dare he? Anyway, P.J. has been an assistant for the Spurs for the past five years, and I think bringing him in to work with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green is an absolutely brilliant move. The only thing standing between Carlesimo and great success at the pro level has been his egotistical (and I mean this in a good way) coaching methods. P.J. is the top dog, and he needs his players to buy into his philosophy and treat his word like gospel. This team is going to be built around two young, coachable players in Durant and Green. P.J. will be able to teach them without having to worry about bruising egos or “disrespecting” them.
If the rumors are correct, and Carlesimo is named head coach in a press conference on Thursday, 30 year-old GM Sam Presti has transformed the Seattle Supersonics from a lottery laughing stock to a team on the rise in the Western Conference. Watch out for the Sonics two or three years down the road.