As soon as Donyell Marshall greeted his new Sonics teammates two weeks after being traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the questions came...
MILWAUKEE — As soon as Donyell Marshall greeted his new Sonics teammates two weeks after being traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the questions came from every corner of the locker room.
“So what’s P.J. really like?’
Marshall knows Sonics coach P.J. Carlesimo better than anyone on the team. Their relationship began 17 years ago in the Big East when Marshall played at Connecticut and Carlesimo coached at Seton Hall and continued to the NBA, when they were both at Golden State during the late 1990s.
“We can talk to each other in a way that I’m not sure anybody else on this team can do just yet,” Marshall said. “It may look like we’re mad at each other, but that’s how we are.”
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With 2:30 remaining in the second quarter of Wednesday’s 118-106 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Carlesimo and Marshall verbally clashed on the sideline during an exchange that included colorful language and ended with Marshall throwing a water bottle hard to the floor in anger.
The dispute arose over a defensive lapse in which Milwaukee guard Michael Redd connected with center Andrew Bogut on a pick-and-roll and was fouled by Nick Collison. Marshall, who has played four games with the Sonics, was supposed to have provided weakside help instead of Collison and Carlesimo reminded him of his defensive gaffe in a tongue-lashing that lasted several seconds.
Marshall took a permanent seat on the bench and never played again. He failed to score a point or grab a rebound in 4 minutes, 41 seconds.
“The little disagreement we had earlier was nothing,” Marshall said. “It was nothing big. It’s small. It’s minor. It’s something that was done as soon as it happened. We talked about it at halftime. As a player, I’m going to get upset. As a coach, he’s going to get upset. But we’ve been friends for a long time. It’s nothing. It’s over and done with and we’ll laugh and joke as soon as we get on the plane.
“I played for him at Golden State so I know how he is and he knows how I am. We’ve been in arguments in Golden State, so it don’t matter. It don’t mean anything.”
Marshall, who is playing in his 14th season and turns 35 in May, is the oldest player on the team and the only one with the cache to argue with Carlesimo.
“A lot of them looked at me after the situation and wanted to see how I was going to respond,” he said. “Like I told them, it’s nothing. We laughed and joked about it. I talked to them before. A lot of guys asked me about the situation back at Oakland. I talked to them and told them it was nothing. It was a situation that happened back in the day. A disagreement. And P.J. is a good guy.”
That “situation back at Oakland” involved Latrell Sprewell, who attacked Carlesimo and choked him during an altercation at practice on Dec. 1, 1997.
Marshall, a third-year player on that team, said no one was to blame. He calls Carlesimo his “friend” and said “we talk like that to each other all the time.”
Still the disagreement cost the Sonics a big body that might have slowed down Charlie Villanueva, who led Milwaukee (23-38) with a season-high 32 points and 11 rebounds. Chris Wilcox seemed to dare Villanueva to shoot outside the arc and the Bucks forward happily obliged. He sank 12 of 26 shots, including three three-pointers.
The Sonics also had no answer for the second-year Bogut, who finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and two steals. Redd added 15 points and seven assists before leaving late in the third quarter because of a cut on his nose that required six stitches.
Without Redd, guard Mo Williams (abdominal strain) and rookie Yi Jianlian (sprained left ankle) who sat out, Milwaukee was short-handed and Seattle cut a 23-point deficit to five (107-102) with 2:49 remaining.
On the next possession, Charlie Bell, who replaced Redd and scored 17 points, scored on a reverse layup. Two possessions later, he ripped an Earl Watson pass away from Kevin Durant and raced ahead for an uncontested dunk that put Milwaukee ahead 113-102.
Seattle, which suffered its second loss on its seven-game trip, fell to 16-45.
Durant led the Sonics with 23 points, Watson had 17 points and eight assists and Johan Petro finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
After the game, Marshall tried to make amends with Carlesimo as they walked to the team bus.
“We’ve had bigger disagreements than this,” Marshall said.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org