Danny Fortson confirmed Tuesday that he asked for a buyout last month after the Sonics were unable to trade him. He said team officials...
NEW YORK — Danny Fortson confirmed Tuesday that he asked for a buyout last month after the Sonics were unable to trade him. He said team officials denied his request, however, and told him he’d have to finish the final year of his deal.
“I brought it up in a conversation with Bob Hill and Rick [Sund],” Fortson said. “They basically said they could use me and we all agreed that I can go out and help them get to the playoffs. So I’m here.”
Still, Fortson’s heart and mind may be elsewhere.
Hill said he planned to use Fortson in Seattle’s 100-99 victory against New York on Tuesday before Fortson missed the morning’s shoot-around workout.
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“If he would have come to the walk-through everything would have been cool,” Hill said. “If he comes late to the walk-through and he’s a starter, then he doesn’t start. If he’s on the bench, then his minutes are cut. If you don’t come, you don’t play.”
When asked if the Sonics would be better served if they bought out the remainder of Fortson’s $7 million contract, Hill said: “That’s not for me to say. That’s for ownership to [decide].”
Sund, the Sonics’ general manager, declined comment.
Tuesday’s game at a glance
Player of the game: Rashard Lewis and Earl Watson are deserving, but Ray Allen scored 17 of his team-high 29 points in the fourth quarter. He also had eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals, which offset three turnovers.
Play of the game: Trailing 98-97, Allen led a 3-on-2 fast break against Stephon Marbury, who played the Sonics guard for the layup. Instead, Allen stopped and threw across the court to Lewis, who drained an uncontested three-pointer with 4.8 seconds left.
Turning point: The game wasn’t decided until the final shot, when Marbury’s potential tying free throw rimmed out with 0.9 seconds remaining.
Key statistic: Eddy Curry attempted 10 free throws, which matched Seattle’s total. New York went to the charity line 38 times and converted 24. The Sonics sank 9 of 10.
Quotable: “He was over there screaming, yelling and talking [crap]. Nothing different from what I saw when Michael Jordan played here. It was the same thing. And that’s what made it even more special, to hit the three on his side of the court to see him go quiet.” — Lewis on canning the winning three-pointer a few feet away from Spike Lee.
Hill said Fortson, who has played just 13 games because of injuries, has not been a distraction.
“Not really,” the coach said. “The funny thing about it is I really like him. … He does have injuries. Those are real. His knee, his toe and now his back. His weight has gone up so when he practices he has back problems.
“It’s just one of those situations we have to manage, and I think the players have basically handled it.”
Fortson, who sat the end of the bench, is expected to be on the active roster tonight.
Hill doesn’t want to hear about the list of free agents, which could potentially include Charlotte’s Gerald Wallace, who might replace Rashard Lewis if he opts out of the final two years of his contract.
“If the Sonics can’t re-sign Rashard, they should probably start all over,” he said. “Is that fair to Ray [Allen] at his age? It’s really not for me to say. It’s their [management's] decision. But that’s my opinion because I don’t see getting the same value for him.”
When told of his coach’s comment, Lewis said: “That’s one helluva endorsement.”
Lewis has not said what he plans to do, but reiterated a desire for the type of long-term security that a six-year deal can provide.
• Luke Ridnour will continue treatment for a herniated cervical disk in Seattle today and will miss tonight’s game against Philadelphia. He might join the team during this four-game trip, perhaps for Friday’s game in Boston or Sunday’s game against Toronto. Hill said Ridnour was experiencing tingling in his left arm, but the sensation has subsided.
• Chris Wilcox needed four stitches to close a cut on his forehead. He went down with 2:38 remaining in the third quarter after teammate Johan Petro inadvertently hit him across the head. Wilcox finished with 12 points and five rebounds. He’s expected to play tonight.
• Forbes.com listed Sund as the 10th-best general manager in the NBA. In its first ever ranking of league GMs in the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, the Web site determined that Sund is 35th in a field of 98 candidates. Only GMs with three years of experience were eligible.
General managers were graded on regular-season winning percentage and postseason wins vs. the performance of their predecessor, and payroll relative to the league median. Forbes.com double-weighted winning percentage to penalize a GM who cut costs but also hurt his team’s winning percentage.
Minnesota’s Kevin McHale topped the overall rankings.