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Frank Hughes: "I can't imagine the Sonics leaving"
Who's the most frustrated player on the Sonics team after all that has gone this year?
Frank Hughes: I would have to say Rashard Lewis, for a couple of reasons: First, Ray Allen is the eternal optimist, and second Ray was chosen for the All-Star game while Rashard was not, costing Rashard a $2.7 million incentive bonus. Both are having career years, and at the time I thought Rashard was actually having a better season than Ray. But so much of the All-Star Game is reputation. After the Sonics played in Miami on February 25, the usually reserved Lewis vented a great deal about his frustration with the team and management over the kind of year it has been. We reporters asked one simple question and it turned into a 10-minute diatribe, very uncharacteristic for Rashard.
FH: I think they definitely would have won at least another five so far because AD was that third scorer that the team has been seeking this entire season – and he could play in the fourth quarters of game, when oftentimes Luke has struggled. But so much of last season's success was because of good chemistry, and I am convinced that because Reggie Evans, Vladimir Radmanovic and Flip Murray did not get paid last summer, the chemistry still would have been much different.
Would have players resisted another year under a tough head coach like Nate McMillan? What do you think?
FH: I think that they would have had to, particularly if Nate had gotten a long-term deal and the team made it clear he was there to stay. No matter what players say, they, like little kids, seek structure and discipline. I think the players did not have a problem so much with Nate's tough approach but they felt like they never were rewarded or given a pat on the back when things went well. It would have been interesting to see if Nate would have changed if he got a deal from the Sonics and felt like he did not have to prove himself to management or the players anymore. We'll never know.
Do you think Robert Swift has star potential?
FH: Yes, I think he one day will be very good. That day, however, is still years away. He needs to work on his strength and his conditioning, as well as his ability to finish around the basket. But he has shown he can play in this league.
Imagine the Seattle SuperSonics moved out of the state. What do you do next?
FH: No offense intended, but I don't think I'd be following them to Oklahoma City, I know that much. I don't know what would happen, to be honest. I would probably want to be a features writer/investigative reporter if I stayed in Tacoma, or see what NBA jobs became available on the West Coast.
Do you feel there's a good chance the Sonics leave Seattle or is it just a lot of posturing?
FH: I honestly can't imagine them leaving because they have such a rich and successful history in the Puget Sound area; remember, they are Seattle's first professional team. A lot of it, I think, is posturing to try and get as much money out of the state as they can. And I think there is a lot of posturing by the City Council, as well, who has a lot to gain if the Sonics pay off the lease.
Which NBA journalists do you admire the most?
FH: I should probably wimp out and say everybody so I don't make any colleagues angry. However, I think one of the finest writers in the country is Tim Brown at the Los Angeles Times. He covered the Lakers during their runs to the championships and now covers baseball. If you get a chance to read his stuff, do. Phil Jasner, the
Who's the least media-friendly person in the Sonic organization?
FH: It was, without question, Flip Murray. But since he got traded to Cleveland, and since you included the entire organization, I would now say Howard Schultz. He has become very sensitive since this arena thing took on a life of its own. Overall, the players in the Sonics locker room all are very accessible and very nice.
Is there any logical reason for so many NBA players coming from the state of Washington now?
FH: A lot of rain, so everybody has to play an indoor sport?
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