P. J. Carlesimo finally admitted what everyone else has been saying for months about Robert Swift. "He might be too big," the Sonics coach...
P.J. Carlesimo finally admitted what everyone else has been saying for months about Robert Swift.
“He might be too big,” the Sonics coach said after a brief practice Thursday morning. “He worked hard in the summer … but right now the additional weight is a little bit of a challenge and he’s working on shedding a few pounds and that will help him out with the rehab.”
Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of Swift’s arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. During his recovery, he added about 40 pounds of muscle, which was viewed as a positive because the 7-foot center weighed just 225 pounds when he was drafted in 2004 and desperately needed to bulk up.
Under the guidance of strength and conditioning coach Dwight Daub and trainer Mike Shimensky, Swift lifted weights five to six times per week and ate as many as eight meals a day, which transformed his body.
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Now, chronic knee soreness has limited the 21-year-old to just five games and will keep him out of the game tonight against New Jersey at KeyArena.
“He reached a point where we said the additional strength is good, but maybe [he's] carrying a few too many pounds right now,” Carlesimo said. “At this point, it’s more watching diet, particularly now when he’s back to not playing so much. If he can drop a few pounds and keep the same strength, that would be best for him.”
Guess who didn’t have a second plate of Thanksgiving dinner?
Swift reported to training camp in October weighing 282 and a couple of weeks ago said he was down to 275. Carlesimo doesn’t have an ideal weight for Swift, who also is suffering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
“He’s just had a horrible rehab,” the Sonics coach said. “He’s battling a lot of problems.”
The Sonics also will be without reserve center Johan Petro, who suffered a lower back strain Wednesday, and might not have power forward Chris Wilcox, who sprained his left ankle Thursday. Wilcox is probable for the game tonight along with Kurt Thomas, who should return after a missing the past three games with a strained right hamstring.
“I want to play,” Thomas said. “I like to play the game. We only have 70 left, and I want to get as many in as I can.”
It is far too simplistic to suggest the Sonics’ defensive problems begin and end with their instability at center. But in their past three defeats, all blowouts, opponents exploited a soft interior defense. Seattle ranks next to last in the NBA in allowing opponents 108.8 points per game.
“We have multiple defensive problems,” Carlesimo said. “Having a big, physical, shot-blocking presence would help any team defensively, but our problems are more deep-rooted than that. We’re not doing too many things well. We don’t guard the ball very well on the perimeter.
“Our transition defense, which in fairness has been a problem early on, is better, but not where it needs to be. … And we foul too much. We don’t move our feet. We’re not comfortable enough with the rotation, we just grab as opposed to trusting that help is going to be there. We foul way, way too much.”
• Seattle plays seven of its next eight games at home.
• After missing five games with a sprained right ankle, New Jersey guard Vince Carter returned Wednesday as Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson led the Nets to a 106-101 victory at Portland. The victory snapped New Jersey’s six-game losing streak. Jefferson scored a game-high 30 points and Kidd recorded his third triple-double (12 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists) this season.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org