- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 30, 2007

SEATTLE — Kevin Durant was welcomed yesterday as the public face and cornerstone of the Seattle SuperSonics.

Durant was accompanied by Jeff Green, whose availability was the catalyst behind a stunning draft night trade that shipped seven-time All-Star Ray Allen from Seattle to Boston, and landed the Sonics two of the top five picks.

Seattle general manager Sam Presti, the youngest in the league at age 30, sees Durant and Green as the Sonics’ future.

“These guys represent so much of what we want to establish as Sonics’ basketball — great human beings, great work ethic, love for the game, play for the team,” Presti said. “To me, that’s what it’s about.”

Presti’s next decision: will Rashard Lewis be a part of that foundation?

With Durant and Green now in the fold, Seattle has a glut of forwards on its roster and a pricey decision to make regarding Lewis when the NBA free agency period begins tomorrow.

Lewis is expected to command a salary in the range of $15 million per season, and be heavily sought after by many teams. The 6-foot-10 forward is coming off his best season, where he averaged career-highs in points (22.4), rebounds (6.6) and assists (2.4).

Publicly, Seattle is expressing its interest in bringing back Lewis. Presti says he can’t wait to see the matchup problems a lineup including Lewis, Durant and Green would pose for opponents — even if all three play essentially the same position. The trade of Allen also frees up some money to help in the courting of Lewis.

But Lewis‘ agent, Tony Dutt, is still waiting to hear exactly what the Sonics’ plans are.

“Once we sit down with them we’ll know their vision. We expect them to be pretty aggressive and move pretty fast,” Dutt said. “We want to hear it from their perspective the direction they’re headed and then analyze how he fits at that point.

Lewis and Dutt watched Thursday’s draft together, when it was announced that Allen had been traded to Boston for the rights to Green, Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. Dutt was expecting to meet with Sonics’ officials this weekend, and was planning plenty of phone calls early tomorrow when free agency begins.

“We hope to get through it fairly quickly,” Dutt said.

Meanwhile, Durant was fighting fatigue, but finally succumb to yawning in the middle of another interview.

“Long week,” said the Associated Press college player of the year, dressed in a light blue suit and, just like a teenager, white sneakers.

Alongside Durant was Green, the forward who left Georgetown following his junior year and helping the Hoyas reach the Final Four. Green, the Big East player of the year last season, was a surprising and welcome addition for Durant.

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