27th August 03:39
Seattle PI - Sense of relief after draft
Quoted in its entirety - it's all interesting.
Luke Ridnour's court vision was the first thing Sonics coach Nate McMillan
praised about his new point guard.
It was Ridnour's eyes, however, that showed how happy the University of
Oregon junior was to be one of two players chosen by the Sonics yesterday in
the first round of the NBA draft.
"I looked at him and I could see tears," said Rob Ridnour, Luke's father,
from the Ridnour family home in Blaine.
Luke Ridnour was selected No. 14 overall, two spots after the Sonics took
Kansas senior Nick Collison, a 6-foot-9 power forward.
Ridnour may have been Seattle's second pick, but the Sonics were his first
"It's a feeling I've never had before in my life," Ridnour said. "It's just
relief, a lot of relief and a lot of excitement, and I'm very thankful."
He was the state's player of the year in 2000 after his senior year at
Blaine High School. That made the selection a homecoming of sorts, since he
will be playing professional basketball about 100 miles south of the border
town where he grew up.
In Collison and Ridnour, the Sonics chose a pair of players who were college
tested to fill the two most significant voids on the roster:
a.. A power forward who could score close to the basket;
a.. A point guard.
Taken as a twosome, Ridnour and Collison give new legs to an up-tempo
offense, twin clamps on a set of jumper cables.
In Seattle, the crowd of a few hundred fans watching the draft at the team's
training facility in lower Queen Anne cheered both selections.
"We went offense over defense," Seattle general manager Rick Sund said.
"Coach McMillan really wanted help with our running next year."
So if McMillan talked of Ridnour as if he were a quarterback after the
draft, that's because it is the role he foresees in the Sonics'
"He can deliver the ball," McMillan said.
And Ridnour's selection was like a good no-look pass.
He didn't know it was coming. Not until he saw NBA commissioner David Stern
read his name on television. No phone call before the pick. No tip-off as to
what was about to happen.
After the pick, the celebration was ad-libbed, as spontaneous as Ridnour on
a fast break.
Twenty friends and family members gathered around the television in the
living room of his family's two-story farmhouse in Blaine.
"Everyone was yelling," Luke said. "It was incredible."
It also was the end of a suspenseful month. Because while the Sonics were
agonizing over whether Collison would be available with the 12th pick, it
was Ridnour who was sweating out the 14th pick.
His month of workouts for NBA teams was hampered by a strained abdominal
muscle, which he suffered in May and reaggravated earlier this month.
Working out for the Sonics on June 17 was his last for any NBA team.
Yesterday was like the entire month leading up to the draft for Ridnour,
long and full of uncertainty. His father got up at 5 a.m. to water the lawn
and saw that Luke was already up. Had been for 30 minutes, in fact.
"He was pacing," Rob Ridnour said.
By the time the draft started, people had gathered at the house. The
principal of Blaine High School was there. So were friends, Ridnour's
parents and sister.
No one was invited. It's a small town and people knew to come.
"People just start showing up," Rob said. "That's how it always is."
The house got quiet at about the No. 11 pick held by Golden State, which
used the choice on 6-6 swingman Mickael Pietrus from France.
That left Collison for the Sonics, and a little more of a wait for Ridnour,
who kept his upper lip stiff even as the living room stayed silent.
"I thought I might have a chance to go at No. 14," Ridnour said.
"I know Nick is a great player, he's going to fit in real well there also."
The Memphis Grizzlies chose Nevada-Las Vegaas point guard Marcus Banks with
the 13th pick -- a pick later traded to Boston -- but even if Banks had been
available, McMillan said the team wanted Ridnour.
"He was our guy," McMillan said.
After the draft, there was no doubt the Sonics were Ridnour's team.
It wasn't just relief Ridnour felt. It was happiness.
His dad could see it in his son's eyes.
SECOND-ROUND SWAP: The Sonics made a trade of second-round picks last night,
acquiring cash and the rights to French guard Paccelis Morlende from
Philadelphia for the rights to Detroit Mercy senior guard Willie Green.
Seattle chose Green with the No. 41 pick with an agreement that he would be
traded to Philadelphia, which believed another team would take Green before
they could select him at No. 50.
Morlende is 22, and will be asked to play on the Sonics' summer-league team
next month in Long Beach, Calif.
The Sonics' have been successful with their second-round picks. Earl Watson
was a second-round choice in 2001 and was a strong contributor as a rookie
before leaving as a free agent. Eric Snow was a second-round choice in 1995
who developed into a starting point guard after he was traded.