Seattle Kevin Durant is the cornerstone of the Seattle SuperSonics' future. P.J. Carlesimo gets the first opportunity to teach Durant the ways of the NBA.
The Sonics concluded a two-month search on Thursday when they hired Carlesimo as their coach, eight years after he was fired from his last head coaching job. After spending the last five years as an assistant with San Antonio, Carlesimo will take charge of a young team still in the throes of a roster overhaul.
It is Carlesimo's first head coaching job since the 1999 season, when he was fired by Golden State. Carlesimo replaces Bob Hill, who was fired on April 24 after Seattle went 31-51 in his only full season as coach.
"I wanted to be a head coach again, particularly the last couple of years I did start to feel it was going to happen," Carlesimo said. "But I didn't feel like it was owed me or I would be incomplete if it didn't happen again."
The remodeling of Seattle's roster is being orchestrated by 30-year-old general manager Sam Presti. In the past week, the Sonics traded seven-time All-Star Ray Allen to Boston on draft night, and free agent Rashard Lewis agreed to sign with the Orlando Magic, erasing Seattle's top two scorers from its lineup.
Carlesimo's directive will be overseeing the growth and development of Durant and Jeff Green, two of the first five picks from last week's draft, while also developing a current roster that has no player older than 30. Seattle selected Durant with the No. 2 pick, then got the rights to Green, the No. 5 selection, in the trade of Allen.
Carlesimo is also charged with instilling defensive principles in a team that has barely played any defense since Nate McMillan left for Portland after the 2004-05 season. Presti settled on Carlesimo as his top choice for the position, determining that Seattle needed a teacher who fell in line with the rest of the organization's principles.