Starting with the 1969-70 season, Wilkens served as the SuperSonics' player-coach, and thanks in part to his own excellent play on the court, he coached the team to its first winning season (47 wins, 35 losses) in 1971-72. Strangely enough, he was traded in August 1972 to Cleveland for guard Butch Beard, who played one unspectacular season for Seattle.
Wilkens is one of only two people enshrined at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach (John Wooden is the other). Wilkens was an All-Star nine times, finishing his career with averages of 16.5 ppg (points per game), 6.7 apg (assists per game) and 4.7 rpg (rebounds per game). His 1,210 (and, in 2001, counting) career coaching victories are an NBA record.