Lewis, Allen voice criticism
SEATTLE -- One of the NBA's major surprises this season, the Seattle SuperSonics tried to squelch signs of dissension Thursday, but didn't convey an overwhelming message of team harmony.
"It's a situation I think you talk out, you get it out and you move on," Seattle coach Nate McMillan said Thursday.
After Wednesday night's 102-95 loss at Detroit, Sonics forward Rashard Lewis told reporters that, "it seems like other guys are on different agendas. Some guys were trying to win, some guys weren't."
Lewis wasn't alone in his criticism. Fellow All-Star Ray Allen complained about his role in the offense and about playing a season-low 28 minutes.
"I'm not getting any looks," Allen said. When asked about his playing time, he said, "You'll have to talk to the coach. I'll tell you, it's a frustrating situation."
On Thursday, Allen said that he and Lewis are the main focus of Seattle's offense, should be taking the majority of the shots and that everyone else plays off of them. As for the playing time, Allen said he felt his minutes in the third quarter have decreased of late.
McMillan said he met with each player individually Thursday. Allen said he intended on talking with everyone as well. Lewis did not speak with reporters.
The rifts appear out of place in a team that found a working chemistry early in the season and has 43-20 record and a 10-game lead over Denver in the Northwest Division.
"I think Rashard put that out there just to keep everyone focused," Allen said after Thursday's practice. "We can't splinter when we lose a game."
Recently, the Sonics had their first three-game losing streak of the season, dropping home games to Phoenix, Houston and Chicago, but seemed to rebound by winning two of three on their road trip.
While Allen brought up concerns with the offense and his shot total, either he or Lewis has led Seattle in scoring in the last 20 games.
Seattle is still averaging 100.2 points per game -- seventh in the NBA -- but the Sonics have become more of a half-court team lately. Seattle has scored 100 points or more just four times in the last 14 games. The last was a 103-86 win at Cleveland on March 2.
"We're playing in spurts right now," McMillan said. "We're not getting two units playing well together and those were the things that we had all season long."
Then there is the pending free agency hanging over most of the Sonics' roster. Much of the team, including Allen, guard Antonio Daniels, forward Vladimir Radmanovic and frontcourt players Reggie Evans, Jerome James and Vitaly Potapenko can all become free agents in the offseason.
Allen and agent Lon Babby were attempting to get a deal done with Seattle before the NBA trade deadline. According to published reports in the Seattle area, Allen wants $90 million over five years and Seattle countered with a five-year deal for between $60 million and $70 million.
McMillan said he doesn't want the dissension to derail Seattle's focus.
"I really don't like to talk about it, but it's hard not to because it's on everyone's mind," the coach said. "But we're trying to keep the focus on what you have to do out on the court as a unit and what you did to get to this point."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press