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Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook could be on the move to Adidas if an Instagram photo uploaded by Adidas Philippines is any indication.
Westbrook, whose most recent shoe deal was with Nike, became a "sneaker free agent" over the summer, according to Kix And The City.
If this is in fact a definitive confirmation of Westbrook joining the Three Stripes family, he joins a stellar group of Summer signings for adidas which already included Ricky Rubio, Austin Rivers, Harrison Barnes, Quincy Acy, Dre Drummond, PJ3, Dame Lillard, Ty Taylor, and Josh Selby. More to come so stay tuned.
Ever since Air Jordans made their debut, Nike has been at the top of the basketball world. They have since expanded their brand, in a big way, to the NFL, MLB and college athletics, among others. However, Adidas is trying their best to run neck-and-neck with the Swoosh. Via Daily Thunder:
...Adidas is looking to really make a stamp on the NBA world with Derrick Rose and Dwight Howard, so Westbrook was a natural fit as he’s an exploding superstar. There’s a good chance too that Westbrook will be one of their featured players, getting his own line and own spots and such.
Several other Thunder players wear Adidas kicks, but Westbrook's superstar teammate, Kevin Durant, is a Nike guy.
In a long conversation with the Los Angeles media after a charity golf tournament, Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks talked about how his team matches up with the new-look LA Lakers as well as the balance of power in the NBA.
While Brooks paid respect to Dwight Howard, he pointed out that the presence of Kendrick Perkins could somewhat blunt Howard's impact in a possible Western Conference Finals:
"He gives us an edge," Brooks said. "He hates his opponent. He's not happy unless he's unhappy. His teammates love him. He's always in a bad mood. I love guys who go out on the court and compete. He's not shaking hands and trying to be buddy buddy. He respects them, but he's going to try to beat them and then move on."
Perkins, a brick wall of a center at 6'10 270, is one of the only big men in the NBA with the raw strength to prevent Howard from sealing his him in the paint and dunking on him.
However, his lack of foot-speed killed the Thunder in the NBA Finals, as the Miami Heat attacked him off the dribble and ignored him on defense.
So while his toughness is nice, Brooks will have to remember that match-ups are still the name of the game in the playoffs.
Liggins, a second-round pick of the Orlando Magic in the 2011 NBA Draft, averaged 1.9 points, 0.3 assists, 0.9 rebounds and 0.4 steals in 17 games last season. Most of his minutes (6.8 per game) came in garbage time, so those numbers are too small of a sample size to fully project what Liggins might be capable of with the Thunder next season.
The second-year guard was regarded as a tenacious defender, solid ball handler, and decent catch-and-shoot threat coming out of Kentucky. As a junior during the 2010-11 season, he averaged 8.6 points, 1.2 steals and shot 39.1 percent from behind the arc.
Derek Fisher backed up Russell Westbrook for the Western Conference champion Thunder last season, but the chances of him returning to Oklahoma City are being called "remote" by Sports Illustrated. Oklahoma City currently has a full roster, and they've got both Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson set to back up Russell Westbrook throughout the NBA regular season.
Fisher has already turned down the opportunity to join the Chicago Bulls, and the Bulls then moved on to Nate Robinson. Fisher has also had talks with the Miami Heat, but Miami doesn't appear overly motivated to make that move at this time.
There are plenty of teams out there that would likely be a good fit for Fisher, but Amick speculates that Fisher may decide to sit out the early portion of the season and join a contender when a need for his services arises.
The Oklahoma City Thunder signed DeAndre Liggins and Andy Rautins on Thursday to fill out the training camp roster, with both players expected to battle with Hollis Thompson and Daniel Orton for the 15th spot on the team.
Rautins was a second-round pick by the New York Knicks in the 2010 NBA Draft after playing four years at Syracuse. The shooting guard has moved around the NBA since then and has never caught on, bouncing from the Knicks to the Mavericks before signing with CB Lucentum Alicante in Spain last season.
Welcome To Loud City breaks down the addition of Rautins to the roster, noting that the guard appears to be a one-dimensional player:
He can shoot. Yep, all of this video is just Andy shooting open threes. Over. And Over. And Over. And Over. He hasn't seen time with the Knicks since 10-11, but back then, he did what you'd expect him to. He shot threes. Nothing else he really did was notable, but he was decently quick, I suppose. The release on his shot was quick and something to behold, but I don't know if that alone could carry him in the NBA.
All in all, I see Rautins in the same vein as Robert Vaden, a late second rounder out of UAB that the Thunder drafted a couple of years back. He was a fantastic scorer in college, and even worked his way to a Thunder roster spot at one point after dominating the D-League. But there's just not much else to warrant putting this guy on the floor.
Rautins has appeared in just five games in his NBA career so far, averaging 1.6 points per game.
Kendrick Perkins might not be the best source to consult regarding James Harden's contract negotiations with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The report that Harden is close to reaching a deal on an extension doesn't seem so solid as of Thursday afternoon, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard:
Despite what KPerk says OKC & JHarden not close to deal. Sides are talking. JH wants to stay but wants max. Let's see if OKC blinks b4 10/31— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) September 13, 2012
The Oct. 31 deadline is the last day for teams to sign their restricted free agents. If the Thunder and Harden do not come to an agreement by that date, other teams will make offers to the 2012 Sixth Man of the Year following the 2012-13 season. Oklahoma City will have the opportunity to match those contract offers.
The Oklahoma City Thunder announced the additions of DeAndre Liggins and Andy Rautins to the training camp roster on Wednesday, according to a report by Royce Young of DailyThunder.com.
Liggins, a product of the University of Kentucky, was a second-round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. In 17 games for the Magic last season, the 6'6 forward averaged 1.9 points and 0.9 rebounds per game in 6.8 minutes on the floor.
Coming out of Syracuse, Rautins is a 6'4, sharp-shooting three-point threat who spent last season playing overseas in Spain for Lucentum Alicante. He was drafted in 2010 in the second round by the New York Knicks, only appearing in five games during the 2010-11 season before being traded to and subsequently waived by the Dallas Mavericks in December of 2011.
With these signings, Oklahoma City's training camp roster now sits at 18. For the final roster, that number must be trimmed to 15 for the regular season. Competition for a final spot will likely be between Rautins, Liggins, Hollis Thompson and Daniel Orton, according to Young.
With a looming deadline to get a deal done before the services of James Harden hit the restricted free agent waters, the Oklahoma City Thunder are nearing an extension with the 2012 Sixth Man of the Year, according to Harden's teammate Kendrick Perkins.
Perkins, reports Darnell Mayberry of NewsOK's Thunder Rumblings' blog, spoke recently at an event about the organization's offseason progress in general and ongoing dealings with Harden:
We're getting close with James, and we're getting close to keeping our unit together. And we're still hungry.
If Harden doesn't sign an extension with the team by Oct. 31, he will enter the restricted free agency pool next summer, allowing other teams to offer deals and Oklahoma City the opportunity to match.
But with mega-stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook already locked-in with maximum contracts and anchors Serge Ibaka and Perkins also signing pricey extensions, the Thunder are facing a difficult decision with Harden, as the NBA's harsher penalties for teams over the salary cap will start to get handed out before the 2013-14 season.
General manager Sam Presti remained steadfast regarding the team's interest in keeping Harden in Oklahoma City for the long haul, but, unlike Perkins, did not indicate how close a deal was to completion.
Presti, from Mayberry's report:
I know we'd love to have him here. I think James would like to be here as well. But at the end of the day, those situations, you have to find a way to make it work for everybody.
Undrafted free agent Hollis Thompson, signed out of Georgetown this summer, discussed his excitement with starting his NBA career with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday.
Thompson, expected to be a long-range weapon off the bench this summer, has added further depth to a team that is being touted as the strongest in the NBA this coming season. Thompson discussed his strengths, which center around his pure ability for scoring.
My strength is I can score. I love to score. I love to play for my team. I can do a lot of things. And I've got weaknesses in all areas. I can get better in all areas. So I'm looking forward to playing basketball and getting better.
The 6-foot-8 21-year old is recovering from sports hernia surgery in July, stating that he doesn't know his exact return date.
It's going well. I'm still rehabbing. I'm getting better every day, so I'm excited to get back on the court. I don't know exactly the date (of my return), but I feel like I'm getting better every day and I'm feeling a lot better.
Hosting a group of 80 2nd-graders, Cook and Thabeet helped them to choose a book, handed out Thunder wristbands and gave out free bookmarks.
I had a great time," Cook told Nick Gallo of NBA.com. "I had the opportunity to hang out with a lot of kids that love to read. I even picked up a few books myself... It's something I like to do in my off-time when I'm just sitting at home."
Houchin principal Kyle Harrison raved about the attitudes of the NBA players and their charitable efforts.
"It's very important and it's an awesome thing for our kids," Harrison said. "I think it's very cool that the Oklahoma City Thunder does a program such as this to promote community involvement, not only amongst themselves but with other business to show how important it is. It's a very exciting event and it's really amazing that they choose to do things like this."
It's been a busy offseason for a lot of members from the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Kevin Durant has perhaps been the busiest. He's shot a part for a movie, provided a huge boost to the USA Men's Basketball Team in the Olympics and has, of course, been training with the Thunder following a disappointing drop out of the NBA Finals at the end of the season.
Going into the 2012 season with no lockout looming and a still fully charged Thunder squad, Durant has said he thinks the Thunder have a definite shot at taking home the trophy:
"We all are going to have to compete. I don’t think no team is going to lay down for anybody," Durant said. "Everybody has got to play and I like our chances."
Having some silverware from the Olympic games under his belt now can't hurt his chances of pushing the Thunder to their first ever NBA title.
The Oklahoma City Thunder recently re-signed forward Serge Ibaka to add to a core signed long term that includes Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Durant. James Harden's contract is up at the end of this season, and the rumors that accompany that uncertainty are swirling. But Durant told ESPN's Marc Stein he is steadfast in wanting to keep Harden around.
"I want James to be here with us, of course. He's one of my closest friends. Hopefully it works out, that's all I can say. I haven't asked (Thunder GM) Sam (Presti) about anything and I haven't asked James about anything. I'm just going to let that take care of itself, be the best teammate I can be and hopefully by the time camp starts we have him locked up."
Durant was naturally happy to learn that OKC was keeping Ibaka around.
"It's a really big deal. I'm happy for him, first of all, him and his family. He worked so hard to get that (extension) and I'm just excited that he's signed on for four more years and really believes in us. He easily could have said no, waited for next summer, played well this year and got more (money). But he sacrificed for us and we appreciate him for that. He's the ultimate team player."
In the interview, Durant also talks about his upcoming movie, "Thunderstruck," and helping lead Team USA to a gold medal in London.
The Oklahoma City Thunder's off-season hasn't been quite as splashy as the LA Lakers', but it's still enough to keep the Thunder atop the Western Conference, according to the latest projections by ESPN.com.
The site has Oklahoma City and LA in a dead-heat for first place in what should be an incredibly competitive conference. Both teams are slated for a 59-23 record, which would give them a winning percentage of 71% in 2012-2013.
The Thunder finished second in the 2011-2012 regular season with an identical 71% winning percentage, but ESPN has the first-place San Antonio Spurs slipping from 76% to 66%.
Most of Oklahoma City's statistical strength comes from an incredibly young core of four All-Star caliber players -- Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden -- whose games are still growing.
The tweaks they did make, bringing Eric Maynor back from injury and adding Perry Jones III through the draft, were fairly under the radar, but they could be the difference in the playoffs, where the Lakers are likely to be much improved from the team that lost to the Thunder in five games in 2012.
There was talk that the Oklahoma City Thunder would use their amnesty clause on center Kendrick Perkins, who more than disappointed in the team's NBA Finals loss to the Miami Heat. The Los Angeles Lakers' trade for Dwight Howard probably changes those plans.
While Perkins is limited offensively and doesn't seem to fit in with the Thunder's up-tempo style, every contending team in the Western Conference suddenly finds itself in need of a defensive presence in the post, and few fit the bill better than Perkins.
The Lakers have emerged as the darling favorites in the West, but Oklahoma City doesn't plan to go away anytime soon. While it would have made sense to ship out Perkins before, the prospect of facing Howard and the Lakers in the playoffs suddenly makes the prospect of keeping Perkins around much more attractive.
For the latest on the Oklahoma City Thunder, be sure to check out Welcome to Loud City.
It doesn't appear that Kevin Durant is too worried about the Los Angeles Lakers and their recent acquisition of Dwight Howard. In usual KD style, the Oklahoma City Thunder star told the Los Angeles Times that the Lakers management did as they always do.
And Durant is still confident that his team will be right there with the new-look Lakers.
"You never know (what can happen), but we feel confident about ourselves," Durant told the paper. "The Lakers, we always respect them. We always have battles with them. I'm sure it's going to be even more fun this upcoming season when we play against those guys."
OKC teammate James Harden was also vocal about the Thunder still being in the conversation. As the hype builds around Los Angeles after the Lakers pulled just the right strings to swap for Steve Nash and Howard, Harden said Oklahoma City is still the team to beat in the Western Conference.
The Lakers front office, however, didn't escape compliment from the two Thunder players.
Both credited the management and the big market for giving Los Angeles the ability to make such stunning acquisitions. Still Durant and Harden weren't shy about adding that it takes nothing away from his team, last year's Western Conference Champions.
Hit up Welcome to Loud City for more on Kevin Durant and the Thunder.
By now you've undoubtedly heard the big news: the Los Angeles Lakers have added Dwight Howard to the team at the cost of Andrew Bynum. You also know they already added Steve Nash for spare parts. That means Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace, along with Antawn Jamison, will roll out a new level of talent in the Forum when the 2012-13 NBA season rolls around.
The consensus so far is that the Lakers have the Western Conference wrapped up for at least the next season. So many of the Lakers are well into their 30s (nearing 40 in Nash's case), but the window is open nonetheless with this level of talent. Howard is the centerpiece to bring it all together, making the Lakers seemingly impossible to defend for any team -- even the Oklahoma City Thunder. And those are valid points.
"The big, bad Lakers are back, just like always," writes Berry Tramel. "Back enough to unseat the Thunder as the Western Conference champ? Not necessarily. But a lineup of Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Metta World Chaos is a roving Hall of Fame exhibit. Four guys past their wondrous prime, plus Howard, who has gone from Superman to Superpain. There might be enough fuel in the tank for the Lakers to mount another championship run. Heck, the Celtics dang near made the NBA Finals with an Over-the-Hill Gang; no reason the Dwightmares couldn't do the same."
"There's no reason" is perhaps the best way to say it. The Miami Heat just did the same thing -- throwing so much talent at the wall that something just had to stick. Now there's an Eastern conference version of it, so the Lakers vs. Heat for uber-ratings is bound to happen. Right?
What is forgotten within this is that there's no team concept here, no thought for how the pieces fit together. When you're dealing with talent on this level you don't have to, except the defending Western Conference champs disposed of anyone and everyone alongside them until they met the Heat. Granted, they lost and so the argument holds merit that the Lakers will unseat them. But let's not act so fast.
The reality is that this year's final was the first taste of what could be several consecutive appearances for a core as tightly knit and as talented as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. It doesn't account for the tremendous experience the team is putting together in international play in this year's Summer Olympics in London. It doesn't include the return of Eric Maynor and the development of Reggie Jackson or the drafting of Perry Jones III.
A Dwight Howard deal of some sort has been in the works for quite some time with so many different teams that at this point, most NBA fans are simply ready to see something done. It was believed that day finally came last night with the Los Angeles Lakers landing the Orlando Magic star in a four-team trade that nets several picks and players for the Magic and also gives Andrew Bynum to the Philadelphia 76ers among other moves. However even this deal might not be fully completed.
Dwight deal not done, league sources say.— Brian K. Schmitz (@MagicInsider) August 10, 2012
Magic still working on details of deal, expect GM Rob Hennigan to be available later this afternoon. He's wearing a bullet-proof cardigan.— Brian K. Schmitz (@MagicInsider) August 10, 2012
The response is likely bring a groan from basketball fans, but a notion like this typically means that there could be one smaller moving part involved. It's unlikely the entire deal falls apart. However, we are talking about Dwight Howard so perhaps the entire affair goes away. Or maybe David Stern is secretly meddling with this deal as well. The Oklahoma City Thunder certainly have to hope so since the Lakers became the odds on favorites to win the West the moment they acquired him.
The NBA's Western Conference just shifted the balance of power yesterday, and if you decided to not check your basketball news then you might have missed the trade that rocked the league. Dwight Howard was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four team trade that replaces Andrew Bynum with the now-former Orlando Magic star in a move that gives the Lakers another impact weapon in the post -- and another chance at an NBA title.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were the odds-on favorites to win the Western Conference in 2012-13, but that has now changed with the arrival of Howard. While the Thunder are still in the best long-term position to win on a continued level with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and company, the Lakers now have made two major moves in the additions of Howard and point guard Steve Nash while being able to keep Pau Gasol next to Kobe Bryant. That has made Vegas respect the Lakers a bit more.
Here's the latest odds from Pregame.com
The Oklahoma City Thunder were already the envy of every NBA team with their tremendous core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka before the 2012 London Olympics even began. Now with the display of each player on the international stage, the experience and composure of the core of players is only stronger. However, the Los Angeles Lakers are determined to do anything they can to undermine the Thunder's dominance of the Western Conference with today's announced trade for Dwight Howard.
The Lakers might lose a promising big man like Andrew Bynum, but the signing of Steve Nash to go with Howard's acquisition places the Lakers squarely in the mix of contending this next year. A small window is still a window nonetheless and the Lakers are going for it. The moves might just be enough to help the Lakers best the Thunder for a year or two. ESPN's Brian Kamentezsky writes:
If the Lakers were on the cusp of contention in the Western Conference after the Nash deal -- very competitive but still a tick below Miami and Oklahoma City -- they're now at worst in the center (no pun intended) of the conversation, and at best could lead it. Assuming he recovers well from the back surgery from which he's currently rehabbing -- and I don't think the Lakers would have pulled the trigger without doing their due diligence -- the Lakers have added a top-five player and the most dominant defensive force in the NBA to a lineup already including Nash, Gasol, and, of course, Kobe Bryant.
It will be interesting to see if the Lakers suddenly look their age or even whether or not these pieces are a good fit. But in the end, it comes down to ability and the Lakers have plenty of talent -- perhaps as much as any other team in the NBA. The experiment might or might not work, but there's no doubting the team's intentions to win now at all costs.
James Harden has been the subject of a multitude of trade rumors ever since the 2012 NBA Finals ended. The Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard and overwhelming fan favorite is currently in London playing for the U.S. men's basketball team in the 2012 Olympics, but he is still fielding questions about where he'll land next year. At the moment, he seems fairly confident that he will return to Oklahoma.
Sam Amick from SI.com had this quote from Harden on Tuesday:
"I'm pretty, a hundred percent, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be in Oklahoma City," Harden said with a slight stutter. "I'll let my agent and Mr. Presti and [Thunder owner Clay] Bennett discuss all that, so I'll let them handle that and stay out of it for right now and worry about the USA Olympics."
The Oklahoma City Thunder are going to rely on a lot of their young core players to step up in the 2012-13 season by the looks of the roster moves the team has made so far this offseason. Gone are steady veterans like Derek Fisher and Nazr Mohamed. Instead, those names have been replaced by cheaper, younger options who have some intriguing potential but lack the experience of the aforementioned veterans. That's one reason that point guard Reggie Jackson is going to have to take a major step forward.
In recent comments to the Boston Globe, the 2011 first round draft choice spoke about his rookie season as a "roller coaster" with the NBA lockout and the adjustment to the pro level, among other things. But after a solid performance on the summer league roster for the Thunder and another offseason to adjust even more, Jackson says he's ready to make that leap for the team.
When asked about the greatest challenge from his rookie season, Jackson said it was the mental aspect of the game. That was only compounded when back-up point guard Eric Maynor was lost for the season and placed Jackson squarely in the spotlight to earn some important minutes behind Russell Westbrook.
"The biggest thing is mental, I believe," said Jackson. "I was probably as ready mentally as I could be to take on everything - stepping into Eric's shoes and taking criticism and just being able to bounce back. It helped, hopefully, and it will help me throughout next season."
As for next season, Jackson said he's taking care of himself physically and just gearing up for the season ahead now that he's more comfortable with his role.
"I've definitely just been taking care of my body and, since I'm getting older, my muscles are catching up with each other, and I'm stronger all over. I've gained weight, probably 10 pounds from my junior season at BC to my rookie season."
For a quick look inside Team USA and how athletes from one sport respond to the actions and results of others, here's a great look at Kevin Durant and James Harden cheering on Michael Phelps as the legendary swimmer adds another gold medal to his record-setting count:
Orton was selected with the 29th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft by the Orlando Magic after one season at the University of Kentucky. Orton had been nursing a knee injury ever sense high school and played just 16 games over two seasons with the Magic.
Orton will get the opportunity to impress the Thunder front office in training camp and could earn his way onto the roster. However, if he doesn't make the team out of camp he could stick around and play for the Thunder's NBA D-League affiliate in Tulsa.
The Oklahoma City Thunder did not need to make many moves this offseason. That much should be clear not only from the team's 2012 NBA Finals appearance, but also the fact that four of their five starters are major players in the 2012 London Olympics. That said, there were a few holes to fill deep on the roster.
A big man was part of the checklist for Sam Presti as the team decided to move on from Nazr Mohamed in the middle. While the team ultimately went with raw center Hasheem Thabeet, the former No. 2 choice in the draft, the team also took a look at former Pittsburgh center Gary McGhee.
McGhee was part of the team's summer league squad in Orlando, but by then, the team had already signed Thabeet. McGhee also tried to hook on with the Los Angeles Clippers, but that also didn't work after a stint in the Las Vegas summer league.
"I finished off strong (in Orlando) and played pretty solid in Vegas," McGhee told the Anderson Herald-Tribune. "I got some good reviews. The scouts and coaches told me that I did well in pick-and-roll offense and one-on-one defense and my help-side defense needs to improve. I shot my free throws well in Orlando. But when I got to Vegas, I didn't shoot them well at all."
Now McGhee will go to Europe for another season in the hopes of eventually making his NBA dreams a reality.
Fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder are hoping that the current Olympic core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden will continue to play together far beyond the current 2012 Summer Games in London and the upcoming NBA season. However, the prices of all three players will only continue to climb higher and Harden is the one not locked into a long-term deal. That means that the star shooting guard could play elsewhere. Perhaps one destination could be the Phoenix Suns, familiar turf for Harden.
"Yeah," he said. "Of course. I love it there. My mom lives there still. So that's definitely my second home as far as my comfort level and going to school there. But obviously, I'm with the Thunder right now and what we have is special."
Harden is the reigning sixth man in the NBA and many believe he could be a potential scoring champ if he was able to leave the shadow of Durant and company. However, Harden also admits he has a great thing with the Thunder right now.
"The kind of support we have in Oklahoma City, it's the best in the NBA," Harden said. "Phenomenal. Beards in the crowd, the whole nine (yards). The city is really something special."
Ultimately, Harden has to leave it up to the powers-that-be and just play through it all. The team also has a major deal to consider for Serge Ibaka, playing for Spain's national team, so it might be possible that one player is allowed to leave eventually.
"That's out of my hands," Harden said. "That's not my decision. That's the front office. I'll let them decide that."
The NBA Finals were only a month ago, but they are already fading into the distance.
The NBA is set to release its schedule for the 2012-2013 season on Thursday night, and the Oklahoma City Thunder are certain to be one of the main attractions. Their Christmas Day game against the Miami Heat has already been leaked to the media, as the Thunder are set to play on the biggest stage of the NBA's regular season.
But while they will only play Miami twice over the course of the 82-game regular season, they will face the new-look Los Angeles Lakers, who added Steve Nash in the off-season, in a rematch of the Western Conference Finals four times.
Their place in the NBA's hierarchy will likely be re-affirmed by them having the maximum number of national television appearances allowed under the new CBA.
For more coverage of the Thunder, check out SB Nation's excellent team blog Welcome To Loud City.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have made the bulk of what few roster moves they needed to make already, signing raw center Hasheem Thabeet and drafting Perry Jones III in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft. However the team is not yet finished and might yet add another guard after their rumored interest in Roger Mason, Jr. Now it seems they're checking in on another potential guard off of the bench.
The 6-3 Hudson played sparingly last season for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies. The Memphis product has been with his hometown franchise twice in the last few seasons, but he's clearly a fringe NBA talent who is trying to find a place to land.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a full roster for the 2012-13 season and the level of talent is on display at the 2012 Olympics like no other team can boast of. However, it doesn't mean that Sam Presti is finished piecing together the complete puzzle for next year when the team still has some exceptions it can use to attract a free agent -- perhaps one like Roger Mason, Jr.
The Thunder are among the teams listed as interested in the journeyman guard, but it would be interesting to note how he might fit. At 31-years-old, Mason has played for the Wizards, Knicks, Spurs and Wizards again in the last five seasons.
Michael Lee writes, "Bringing back Roger Mason Jr., Maurice Evans or James Singleton also remains high on the Wizards' priority list, but the team already has depth at nearly every position. Mason is also not interested in signing another one-year deal at the league minimum, as he has the past two seasons, according to a source close to Mason. Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Chicago and the Los Angeles Lakers have also expressed interest in Mason."
Mason averaged 5.5 points per game last year in 52 appearances with the Wizards.
Nazr Mohammed is expected to sign with the Chicago Bulls soon enough as the team looks to replace Omer Asik in the middle. The Bulls are having to make an adjustment after the Houston Rockets signed Asik to an offer sheet that the team will not likely want to match by the Tuesday deadline and a deal for Mohammed to join the Bulls is all but official. In fact, he already said his goodbye to Oklahoma City Thunder fans on Twitter last night.
But I have to say a huge thank u to all the OKC fans. The support was unbelievable and y'all will always have a piece of my heart #ThunderUp— Nazr Mohammed (@NazrMohammed) July 22, 2012
Mohammed averaged 2.7 points per game last season for the Thunder.
It's been almost seven months since the Thunder reserve guard tore his right ACL in January. He recently participated in Summer League workouts in Orlando and said his knee recovery has been going well. From Hoops World:
"The knee's doing real good," Maynor shared with HOOPSWORLD. "I'm getting better day by day. That's why I'm out here just working out, just trying to get healthy."
Maynor averaged 4.2 points and 1.4 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game last season and hopes to be ready for training camp.
Prada writes, "We didn't see him play much in Orlando because of an injury, but when he did play, Jones III was as much of an enigma as he was at Baylor. When given the chance to go one-on-one with the floor cleared, Jones III looked as impressive as any prospect in this draft. Otherwise, though, he floated, unable to impact the game when the conditions weren't perfectly in his favor. The Thunder know he's a project, though, so they're probably not too concerned."
Unrestricted free agent Nazr Mohammed is leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder, and last week he was expected to sign with the Brooklyn Nets as he met with the team the past few days, but a turn in the events has Momammed reportedly agreeing to a contract with the Chicago Bulls. With this move it means that the Bulls are more than likely not going to match the Houston Rocket offer sheet to Omar Asik.
Mohammed spent the last season and a half with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and this past year he averaged 2.7 points and 2.7 rebounds over 63 games while averaging 11 minutes per contest.
Mohammed is a 14-year veteran and has played for seven NBA teams during that time, and by making the Bulls his eighth team he will be heading back to his hometown of Chicago.
A banged up Kendrick Perkins is finally getting better.
Thunder announce Kendrick Perkins had successful surgery to repair a ligament tear in his left wrist. Perk got hurt during West finals— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 20, 2012
Perkins averaged 5.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in in the regular season, but struggled at times during the postseason while dealing with the injuries. He is expected to be ready to go with the 2012-13 season begins.
The Oklahoma City Thunder had perhaps the easiest offseason in front of them. When a team becomes an NBA powerhouse set for the next several seasons, the primary job for the front office is simply to keep things steady and moving forward. Unless a player becomes injured or a dramatic scenario plays out somewhere, Sam Presti simply needed to press the right buttons and hold tight while everyone else makes their moves.
Royce Yong from Daily Thunder says that the Thunder deserves an 'A' for their offseason grade, but admits it's an easy one to earn. By swapping Royal Ivey for Hollis Thompson, signing Hasheem Thabeet as an upside choice over Nazr Mohammed and drafting Perry Jones III, Presti did a nice job of adding potential without any risk.
Young writes, "The existing roster has three months to improve and develop (with four players doing so at the Olympics), the subtractions were acceptable additions and don't forget, the Thunder get back Eric Maynor next season. Which almost like a terrific signing in its own right. A solid offseason and one that could really only be screwed up. And as you know, the Thunder front office doesn't do that very often."
For a brief moment, the Oklahoma City Thunder were rumored to be in on NBA free agent veteran Grant Hill. While it wasn't going to be a major addition for the Thunder or any team, the small forward can definitely be an asset for whoever signs him as a scoring option off the bench and an experienced player in the league. If Derek Fisher is going to go, then Hill would have made a nice signing on a number of levels.
Alas it was not to be and Hill signed with the Los Angeles Clippers over several franchises rumored to be interested in him. J.A. Sherman of Welcome To Loud City notes that he was frustrated that the Thunder weren't able to make roster room for Hill to play alongside such a young team.
He writes, "This story actually kind of bums me out. I know that the Thunder cemented their roster last week, but I was hoping that they were in the hunt for Grant Hill's services. I thought he'd make the perfect backup for Kevin Durant. And now he's going to a Clippers team that is going to be making a serious push to contend for a top playoff spot next season."
The Thunder are still loaded for another run and the team's big four of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden will all have international experience from the 2012 Olympics. That should be enough to keep them as the favorites in the West.
It's a minor signing and one that was expected, but it was finally made official today that Royal Ivey will not be returning to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins offered up the news that Ivey had signed with the team that traded him in remarks to the media on Tuesday.
Ivey was buried on the bench behind a loaded backcourt, and even with the potential exit of Derek Fisher via free agency as well, the Thunder seemed ready to move on from Ivey. They signed undrafted rookie free agent Hollis Thompson from Georgetown as a long-range weapon off of the bench and the team is likely looking to save money in doing so.
Collins seemed excited about the Sixers' offseason plan as they prep for the future, and particularly with Ivey, Collins mentioned his habits in practice that will help the entire team.
"The beauty of every day in practice is that we think we've got opening day of training camp," he said. "We have Jrue [Holiday] going against Royal Ivey every day. We think Royal is going to really make Jrue work every single day."
Ivey averaged 2.1 points per game in 34 apperances for the Thunder.
In a recent interview over at the Oklahoma City Thunder's official website, brand new first round pick Perry Jones III from Baylor recently sat down with Nick Gallo to discuss several topics. It's an interesting look at a player that slipped farther than some might have anticipated, but it's a nice surprise to grab a player with so much upside for a team that's already loaded.
Jones himself believes that the Thunder serve as a "good fit" for him as he transitions to the pro level.
"It's a good fit, especially when they called me and told me that they wanted me to just play basketball like I've been playing," said Jones. "They know I'm a very unselfish guy, and that's what they want the most from me is to be very unselfish. The team already has everything, and I just want to be able to contribute. I don't care if it's 15 seconds on the floor or 10 seconds on the floor, I just want to be able to help somehow."
He also noted how the NBA game is different, even with a limited stint in playing with the Thunder's summer league team in Orlando recently -- a team that also included former KU player Cole Aldrich and the team's 2011 first round choice Reggie Jackson. When asked about the major difference between college and the pros, Jones had a few notes:
"How physical it is and the speed of the game, and the fact that the point guard runs the tempo," he explained. "Reggie Jackson did a good job running the tempo for our team. And being able to follow and watch somebody else lead and him get everybody else involved. "
Jones should be a great fit for the Thunder as long as he can stay healthy. Apparently the team felt good enough to draft him in the first round and the early word seems fine besides a slight injury that kept him out of part of the summer league.
The Oklahoma City Thunder continue to explore all of their options for building a stronger team next season. One of the names that was tied to the team recently is that of Russian player Andrey Vorontsevich, who is currently with CSKA Moscow.
Niki Bakouli of Eurohoops.net reports that Vorontsevich will not be getting a contract offer from the Thunder and will remain with his current team.
The current line of thinking is that No. 28 overall draft pick Perry Jones III is a capable equivalent to Vorontsevich, even with concerns about Perry's knee. It is now believed that Perry's meniscus problems will not be an issue and he will likely receive a roster spot. Vorontsevich will have to keep waiting for the NBA to call.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have made a few free agent signings and roster moves since the season ended and it's clear that the team isn't likely to really to make any other significant moves. They signed undrafted free agent Hollis Thompson of Georgetown as a new rookie sharpshooter as the latest move after previously netting center Hasheem Thabeet as a free agent and Perry Jones III as the team's first round choice. Together, they save the team $4 million from the players they replace from last season.
Derek Fisher, Royal Ivey and Nazr Mohammed are likely finished playing for the Thunder, which means the team has been able to save a bit of cash going forward -- a good sign, perhaps, of the team trying to store away money to keep the big guns known as James Harden and Serge Ibaka on the roster. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have already received their extensions, but the others are going to become well-paid in time.
"We've got to understand there's going to be some tough challenges ahead," Presti said. "That's part of our process internally, understand the effect of that, not only on the team, but on the franchise. But what I can tell you is we're going to do everything we can to make it work. We're going to put everything toward it.
"It's also important to note, when you get into a situation with finances and pro sports, I can say here in Oklahoma City, if there's a piece of compensation that's not going to a specific person or player, that doesn't necessarily mean that's going into Mr. (Clay) Bennett's pocket. It's just going towards another player that ultimately can help us win. We've got to be able to build a team that can win year in and year out. And those are the challenges that have to be balanced. We love the group that we have and we're going to work tirelessly to make it work here."
It's not as if the new additions are purely economical savings. Thompson adds a nice three-point threat off the bench and Thabeet has the upside of a former No. 2 choice if he could ever apply the work ethic to take advantage of such size at 7-3. As for Jones, he's the wild card as a celebrated player filled with potential in college who never quite put it all together. A quick glimpse during the Orlando summer league, however, and everyone was all smiles about his pro future.
Still the Thunder have major questions going forward and have to start answering them soon with potential extensions due for Harden and Ibaka coming up in October. For now, they'll save where they can while adding what they need in the hopes of continuing toward an NBA championship.
Free agent forward Grant Hill is considered three teams to with for the upcoming season, and those teams are the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. The aging forward revived his career some wi th the Phoenix Suns, but he is looking to signe with a contender to win a title before he hangs it up:
Free agent forward Grant Hill is still considering at least two other teams-the two teams in last month's Finals, Miami and Oklahoma City-as well as the Lakers as he decides where he's going to play next season, according to a source with knowledge of the 39-year-old forward's thinking.
Reports Tuesday indicated that Hill has decided either to play for the Lakers or retire. But the source strongly indicated that Hill has not limited himself to Los Angeles as he makes up his mind. The Lakers emerged as a strong favorite for Hill after they agreed to terms with the Suns last week on a sign-and-trade deal that will send Steve Nash to the Lakers after the end of the July Moratorium on the 11th for four Draft picks and $3 million. But Hill is looking at the Heat and Thunder as well.
Hill to the Thunder would likely be just a one-year deal, but the question is if the Thunder really need Hill who would find it hard to give the veteran quality minutes:
They aren't likely to extend anything more than a one-year offer to Hill, and depending on his thinking, he probably will want at least a partially guaranteed second season. And with Oklahoma City at 14 on the roster after drafting Perry Jones III and signing Hasheem Thabeet, offering that final spot to Hill rather than a developmental player seems unlikely.
Also, where does Hill get minutes in the Thunder rotation? Obviously he seems like a natural backup for Kevin Durant, but depending on how minutes shake out, Hill might only see 10-15 minutes a game. If that's something he's fine with, then it could be a fit. He makes sense, especially in replacing Derek Fisher as that veteran voice on the team. The problem comes down to money, contract length and role.
If Hill is just looking to be on a team that can contend for a title and he does not care about minutes then the Thunder would be a good spot, but if he wants playing time then he may want to find a different team to sign with.
Chad Ford has his offseason grades column out for ESPN, and the NBA analyst says that the Oklahoma City Thunder had another nice offseason. Of course, any move that the team makes under Sam Presti can be counted on to be well thought out and effective, but this is also a team without much to do.
With the core intact with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook among others, the key is to grab guys with potential for the last few spots on the roster. With the introduction of Hasheem Thabeet to yet another team early in his NBA career to the Thunder roster and the drafting of Perry Jones III from Baylor at No. 28 overall, Presti imported two high upside players with promise. Ford likes the move and gave the team a B+ overall.
Ford writes, "Because of the impending salary hit, the Thunder kept their spending down. They made a great pickup in the draft with Jones, who slid from a potential lottery pick to the late first round because of questions about his left knee and his motor. He has looked solid in the summer league, and with Durant as his mentor, he could be the star of the draft.
"Thabeet has been a bust, but he is young, blocks shots and is on a cheap two-year deal," he continues. "Thompson was one of my undrafted sleepers. He shoots well and has good size and athletic ability at the 3. He is a nice, cheap pickup."
Finally, Kendrick Perkins underwent surgery today in Philadelphia to repair the hip injury that plagued him throughout the postseason. He will be on the shelf for three to four weeks. Perkins had originally said the injury that was listed as a right hip strain wouldn't require surgery. But further examination recently revealed that it did.
Perkins averaged 5.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game in in the regular season, but struggled at times during the postseason while dealing with the injury.
The newest Oklahoma City Thunder is Hasheem Thabeet and he sat down and talked with the Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman to discuss many things ranging from what expects in Oklahoma City, pressures of being the former No. 2 pick and other topics.
Thabeet has already said that he chose the Thunder because of the positive culture surrounding the team. The theme of his interview was that he needs to work hard to be able to earn playing time.
Here is just some of what Thabeet talked about with Mayberry:
Q: What do you expect in your first season with the Thunder?
A: Just come in ready to work. I don't expect too much here. I've got to establish my position on the team, so I've just got to work and come in ready.
Q: What kind of feedback have you gotten from the coaches during your private workouts with them this week in Orlando?
A: I've got to be ready to work. I've got to get in shape. They told me that with this organization everything you get you have to work for it. Nothing is going to be given. You've got to come in here and just work.
Q: This is now your fourth team in four seasons. What do you think will be different about this team?
A: It's a different situation, a new situation. Just come in with a defensive mentality. It's not about the past. It's about what I have now and what I face now. So, again, my work will be the key.
The Oklahoma City Thunder signed undrafted free agent Hollis Thompson to a three-year contract on Wednesday.
Say what you might about Scott Brooks' coaching in the 2012 NBA Finals, but The Oklahoman is reporting that one of his very famous ex-teammates is offering some one-on-one coaching, just big man to big man. Hakeem Olajuwon has contacted Brooks about working with Serge Ibaka, in an effort to help OKC's big man.
"I played with Hakeem for three years," Brooks said of his stint with Olajuwon and the Rockets from 1992-95. "He’s one of the best to ever play the game. Anytime you can get players that played at a high level that can share their insight, you have to take advantage of it."
This isn't a first for Olajuwon, either: according to the story, he helped Lebron James with his footwork and post moves last summer. Ibaka led the league in blocked shots last season, so the concept of an Olajuawon-refined Ibaka on defense just seems... unfair.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder were interested in acquiring a player less than 40-years-old this offseason, Devin Ebanks of the Los Angeles Lakers was one such rumored target. The restricted free agent had reportedly earned the attention fo Sam Presti in the OKC front office as a potential target during the NBA free agency period. However it appears such rumors are off the mark with word that Ebanks has re-signed.
Devin Ebanks is off the market. L.A. Times reporting he's signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal to remain with the Lakers.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) July 10, 2012
The 2012 NBA offseason continues to be full of twists and turns. The Oklahoma City Thunder are attempting to build an even stronger team to capitalize on their 2012 NBA Finals run and may be looking to pick up some big free agents.
David Aldridge of NBA.com's Hang Time Blog reports that Phoenix Suns small forward Grant Hill is considering the Thunder as a possible destination, along with the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Reports Tuesday indicated that Hill has decided either to play for the Lakers or retire. But the source strongly indicated that Hill has not limited himself to Los Angeles as he makes up his mind. The Lakers emerged as a strong favorite for Hill after they agreed to terms with the Suns last week on a sign-and-trade deal that will send Steve Nash to the Lakers after the end of the July Moratorium on the 11th for four Draft picks and $3 million. But Hill is looking at the Heat and Thunder as well.
The 39-year-old veteran averaged 10.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in Phoenix last season.
Sports Illustrated NBA writer Sam Amick, one of the best in the business, cites a source with knowledge of Fisher's free agency situation that confirms the Cavs are the frontrunners for the 5-time NBA champion's services. The Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks are also possibilities for Fisher.
Here is Amick explaining why Fisher, at this point in his career, would play for the Cavaliers:
For Fisher, the Cavs could present a good mix of a significant role and money (though possible terms not yet known) while playing a mentor role to Kyrie Irving.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have released their summer league roster already, but that doesn’t mean that their newest addition will not also show up in a Thunder uniform when the team goes to play in Orlando next week.
Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman had a great reminder that teams cannot sign players yet, which means the Thunder cannot include Hasheem Thabeet officially in anything they do despite word that they’ve agreed to a deal with the center.
"Yes, noticeably absent is a 7-foot-3 center with whom the Thunder recently agreed to terms," writes Mayberry. "That’s because Hasheem Thabeet isn’t officially a member of the Thunder yet. He can’t sign his contract until July 11, when the league’s free agent moratorium is lifted. But that doesn’t mean Thabeet will not compete in Orlando next week. He could sign his contract Wednesday morning and suit up for the Thunder’s noon showdown against ninth overall pick Andre Drummond and Detroit. I suspect he will be in Orlando and he will play later in the week. So don’t rule out that possibility."
Thabeet joined the Thunder a few days ago unofficially after frustrating stints with three other teams. Sam Presti is hoping the culture of the Thunder will help Thabeet turn the corner in the NBA.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will field an interesting NBA Summer League roster this next week in Orlando with talent to watch like former Kansas star Cole Aldrich, new draft choice Perry Jones III, guard Reggie Jackson and others. It's also interesting, however, that international import Tibor Pleiss is not playing and neither is newly acquired center Hasheem Thabeet. Both players could likely use the seasoning and a chance to show their new team what they have in house.
Nevertheless, here's the full roster the team will field this summer as their Thunder teammates like Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook try to make Team USA for the 2012 London Olympics.
2012 THUNDER SUMMER LEAGUE ROSTER
PLAYER POS. Ht. Wt. School
Cole Aldrich C 6-11 240 Kansas
Morris Almond G 6-6 220 Rice
Kent Bazemore G/F 6-5 195 Old Dominion
Dwight Buycks G 6-3 190 Marquette
Lazar Hayward F 6-6 225 Marquette
John Holland G 6-5 205 Boston University
Darnell Jackson F 6-8 240 Kansas
Reggie Jackson G 6-3 208 Boston College
Perry Jones III F 6-11 235 Baylor
Gary McGhee C 6-10 250 Pittsburgh
Ryan Reid F 6-8 235 Florida State
Garrett Temple G 6-5 200 Louisiana State
Latavious Williams F 6-8 225 Christian Life Center High
For the uninitiated, the NBA summer league is comprised of two separate weeks of games in two separate locations: Orlando and Las Vegas. Some NBA franchises will field a team in just one of two locations while some, like the Boston Celtics, will appear in both. The Thunder have chosen to send a team to Orlando for the first of two summer leagues running from July 9-13.
The Thunder will join the Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz in Orlando, which certainly gives the Thunder a decidedly Eastern Conference flavor to contend with.
Here's the complete schedule to catch the Thunder.
OKC Thunder Summer League Games - Orlando
Monday, July 9 vs. Boston 12 p.m.
Tuesday, July 10 vs. Indiana 12 p.m.
Wednesday, July 11 vs. Detroit 12 p.m.
Thursday, July 12 vs. Brooklyn 12 p.m.
Friday, July 13 vs. Utah 7 a.m.
The Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly have interest in bringing back veteran point guard Derek Fisher, according to Howard Beck of The New York Times. Fisher finished out the 2012 season with the Thunder in a limited role off the bench, providing an occasional spark during the postseason. According to Beck, five teams are interested in adding the veteran to their rotation:
The Nets are now among the front-runners to sign Fisher, along with the Mavericks, the Chicago Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Fisher, who won five titles with the Lakers, joined the Thunder in February and was a key part of the rotation for Oklahoma City, which lost to the Miami Heat in the finals.
Fisher obviously does not have much left in the tank, so the winning suitor will likely land him on a short-term deal for limited money. The Thunder and Sam Presti, who took a flyer on Hasheem Thabeet this week, may be willing to bring back Fisher although he could prove to be an impediment to Reggie Jackson's growth in his sophomore season.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have a team-first environment cultivated over the last four seasons by the coaching staff of Scott Brooks and the player selection by Sam Presti's front office. It's the strong work ethic and unselfish culture that has allowed the team with several stars to play together and make it to the 2012 NBA Finals. Now Hasheem Thabeet, a project center who has never lived up to his rep as a former No. 2 overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft, hopes that culture can help develop his game and personality on court.
Thabeet just signed with the Thunder and his agent spoke about the team's reputation and environment as a reason for signing.
"Playing in that environment is positive," said Thabeet's agent, Bill Duffy. "Sam Presti has done a great job of not only building a winning organization but a culture that's conditioned to developing and nurturing. So we think it's a really good fit. So now the onus is on Hasheem to buy into that and to develop and to reach his potential."
Thabeet certainly has a height and size that intrigues at 7-3, but the talent has to be there as well. Thabeet's reputation of a poor work ethic and conditioning will not earn him any time on the court here, but perhaps teammates like Kevin Durant can help change that. At the very least, his own agent recognizes that the only person holding Thabeet back is the Tanzanian himself.
Cole Aldrich will likely assume the starting center role on the Oklahoma City Thunder at some point in the near future. His path just got a bit clearer with the newly announced move that center project Hasheem Thabeet has signed with the team.
The team is now likely to move on from Nazr Mohammed, who was one of three internal free agents the team was going to have to make a decision on along with point guard Derek Fisher and guard Royal Ivey. Darnell Mayberry writes that the order has now switched with Mohammed likely out of the way.
Mayberry writes, "The addition of Thabeet all but guarantees veteran center Nazr Mohammed will not return to the Thunder. If not, that paves the way for third-year center Cole Aldrich to step into the primary backup role behind starter Kendrick Perkins. Thabeet is expected to be the third-string center."
Aldrich, a former KU big man, steps up in the rotation but Perkins himself is typically riddled with nagging injuries and could become an issue financially as the team gets closer to long-term decisions with Serge Ibaka and James Harden. Aldrich could find himself becoming a starter if the team decides that Perkins is simply too expensive to keep around as well.
For now, Aldrich will find a bit more playing time and the Thunder will see a bit more of what they have in their former first round selection. Aldrich averaged 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds per game last season in very limited playing time.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have reportedly signed Hasheem Thabeet, the former No. 2 overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft, after general manager Sam Presti was rumored to be interested in the raw center. Thabeet has not worked out with any of the three franchises he's joined just yet, but the Thunder hope that the team's strong culture of hard work and team focus will help the 7-3 center's potential. Kevin Durant is apparently ready to welcome him at the very least.
Welcome @hasheemthedream! Yessir— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) July 5, 2012
Thabeet started in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies who took Thabeet in a draft loaded with NBA talent. Now looked upon as one of the biggest bust selections of the last decade, the Thunder are hoping that he's not a lost cause just yet. Thabeet has averaged 1.8 points per game last season between the Rockets and Trailblazers.
The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired one of the biggest prizes in the NBA offseason that several other teams were jostling for, and the payoff is going to cause issues for everyone, including the defending Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder. Steve Nash is now the new Lakers point guard, and combined with the other storied vets on the team, a new power has been established before the Lakers competitive window is completely closed.
As if the conference weren’t difficult enough (and the Lakers team as well), LA’s Mitch Kupchak pulled off an incredible sign-and-trade with the Suns that gives up two first- and two second-round selections in alternating future drafts for the next four years. That’s a small price to pay considering the Lakers’ first rounders are always near the second round anyway.
Nash, however, will give LA instant championship potential after being swept out of the NBA playoffs this season in the second round by the Thunder. With Nash at the point, the offense becomes incredibly difficult to defend.
ESPN’s Brian Kamenetzky writes, "The Lakers have instantly gone from a staid, struggling team on offense to one with incredible potential. Nash at the point, Kobe Bryant on the wing, with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum up front (at least for now)? Good luck guarding those guys. The potential for spectacularly entertaining basketball is very, very strong."
The Thunder were considered the team to beat in the Western Conference for the next few years and many were calling the Thunder-Heat finale a potential rivalry to be developed. However, the Lakers have answered with another veteran acquisition of their own that should prove tough to beat. Perhaps now the Lakers stand as the biggest competition within the conference for the Thunder to overcome.
It wasn’t too long ago that Kansas State’s Michael Beasley was the second overall selection in the NBA Draft for the Miami Heat. Two years later, the Timberwolves tried a change-of-scenery move to resuscitate his image and potential and that lasted the same amount of time. Now the Phoenix Suns hope they can do the same with a newly announced three-year deal with Beasley.
The Phoenix Suns lost Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers in a sign-and-trade that officially turns the corner for the franchise to a new era. They’re hoping Beasley and potentially Eric Gordon can be the scoring cornerstones of that period. Beasley has had issues in the past, but the Suns clearly like what they see.
Marc Stein of ESPN writes, "Suns general manager Lance Blanks has a history of working with troubled players dating back to his time as an executive with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Blanks was instrumental in bringing volatile guard Delonte West to the Cavs and continues to have a strong relationship with him."
Beasley averaged a career low 11.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game last year for the Wolves.
Check out Bright Side of the Sun for more info on the Suns offseason moves.
Hasheem Thabeet hasn't lived up to the hype of being the second overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. In his short, three-year career, he's been demoted the D-League and has already been traded twice to the Houston Rockets and Portland Trailblazers.
Now he'll be headed to his fourth NBA team as Marc Spears from Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Thabeet has agreed to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder for the next two seasons. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.
7-3 center Hasheem Thabeet agrees to two-year deal with @okcthunder, source tells Y! Second overall pick in 2009 draft joining his 4th team.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) July 5, 2012
Thabeet has career averages of 2.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in 136 NBA games played.
Former Kansas State star Michael Beasley has yet to really earn his keep as the No. 2 overall selection in the 2008 NAB Draft. However, there are a number of teams apparently chasing Beasley as a free agent on the open market in hopes that he can continue to grow as a scorer and realize his potential with their team. The latest and perhaps the team pushing hardest is the Phoenix Suns, according to Paul Coro, the Suns beat writer for the Arizona Republic
Beasley has played two full seasons apiece with the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves. Last season in Minny, he averaged a career low 11.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game just one season after setting a career high with 19.2 points per game.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, fresh off the franchise's first NBA Finals appearance, have one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA. But after giving Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook max contracts, many wonder whether the small-market team can afford to pay Harden as well as Serge Ibaka.
However, Durant doesn't appear too concerned, tweeting that "Harden won't be hitting the market".
NBA players are not known for their mastery of the CBA, so it's hard to know what to make of Durant's comments. While he obviously doesn't want to lose his good friend to free agency, Harden would almost have to take a discount to stay in Oklahoma City long-term, which is something Durant did not do himself.
The Thunder could keep all their stars if they decide to run up a New York Knicks size payroll, but there's no indication that owner Clay Bennett is willing to do that.
According to a report from ESPN's Ric Bucher, the difference which will be which player Coach K thinks would be more comfortable as a role player on the star-studded team:
The team's scrimmages and workouts in Las Vegas beginning this weekend are likely to determine who wins this spot. This isn't about who the best overall player is, but which one is the better defender and scorer off the ball.
Bucher gives the early edge to Gordon, a career 37% three-point shooter who came into the NBA known as a shooting specialist.
There isn't a huge amount of difference in the games of the two SG's, who are widely considered the two best young players at the position. It could also be the start of an intriguing individual rivalry between Gordon and Harden, especially now that Gordon's Hornets picked up Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers in the lottery and have a chance to be a long-term threat to the Thunder's domination of the West.
In the wake of resigning head coach Scott Brooks, The Oklahoman has a nice breakdown of everything that Oklahoma City Thunder G.M. Sam Presti has to address before the start of the 2012-'13 season, and it's quite the list.
First, there's the issue of contracts for one or both of the team's biggest names on the market, James Harden and Serge Ibaka, who are signed through next season but could become restricted free agents if extensions on their deals aren't reached by October 31.
There's also the low-end deals that could be reached to retain Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey, as well as veteran point guard Derek Fischer, who at his age would come at a bargain, but not without some interest in the open market from teams like Chicago.
Needless to say, Brooks' deal was only the beginning:
"An NBA offseason is definitely a marathon and not a sprint, and we've got several things we need to do as an organization internally to make sure we're moving forward in the right direction. A big part of that is our own internal evaluation and the systems we have in place to make sure we're continuing to improve."
The Oklahoma City Thunder are going to check in on several free agents as they figure out what to do with their own rotation of players as well as survey the FA landscape, and the team is apparently checking out multiple big men as they consider options other than Nazr Mohammed in the middle.
Orton would be coming home if he were to sign with the Thunder since he's an Oklahoma native. He was the first round pick of the Orlando Magic in 2010, but unfortunately suffered a season-ending injury in just his second game in the NBDL his rookie year. This last season, Orton came back and played in 16 games with the Magic. Thus the former Kentucky player's experience is limited and it's hard to tell just what the Thunder would be getting by bringing in Orton.
If anything, a team that is checking in on Orton and Thabeet is apparently interested in low-risk, high-ceiling big men. There's little harm in doing the research, and the Thunder are apparently doing just that early on in the NBA free agency period.
The mystery has been revealed and Deron Williams told the world himself via his Twitter account that the New Jersey Nets had won the bidding for his services. That means that the greatest player available in the NBA free agent market was returning back to the team that was hoping such good fortune would await them if they would just take a chance on acquiring him in the first place.
That also means that former Kansas point guard Tyshawn Taylor will enter the NBA backing up Williams and his new long-term deal with the Nets as he adjusts to the pro level. Taylor was the Nets second round selection last Thursday in the 2012 NBA Draft. He's a very experienced player with great quickness so he should be able to provide quality minutes for the team from the outset while learning from one of the best in the business.
As for the Nets, they can breathe a sigh of relief now knowing that they have a new stellar backcourt of Joe Johnson and Williams for the long haul with a new addition in Taylor among others to bolster the position. It was the plan they were hoping for — at least minus Dwight Howard — and it’s an incredible display of a franchise truly trying to turn things around.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are likely to kick the tires on several minimum wage players in the NBA to round out the roster loaded with superstars earning significant money. But one guy they are checking in on is Washington's Roger Mason.
OKC, New Orleans and Washington have expressed interest in free agent Roger Mason, sources say— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 3, 2012
The Wizards veteran guard is 6-5, 200 lbs. and has played for five different franchises to date, including two separate stints in Washington. Now a free agent, Mason could supplant Royal Ivey as a sharpshooting guard from downtown. Last season, Mason hit 38.3 percent of his 3-point attempts which was right in line with his career mark of 38.1 percent.
Mason, 31, averaged 5.5 points per game last year for the Wizards.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are likely to be one of the most passive teams in the NBA free agency period given the complete state of their roster. As mom said, there's no need to mess with a good thing. However, the team is not without some decisions to make regarding a few players. Here's a quick rundown of players the Thunder will make a decision on one way or another in-house:
1. Derek Fisher
This is the biggest decision the team has to make. While others may point to Serge Ibaka or James Harden's long-term plans, those aren't pressing issues that must be decided. Instead it's the presence of Fisher that provides OKC with its most challenging offseason question. The veteran point guard shot 34 percent from the floor, yet there's no denying his tremendous championship experience and leadership. It doesn't help that the Heat, Bulls and Mavs are potentially circling. The Thunder are still the favorites here, but it remains to be seen.
2. Nazr Mohammed
The big man turns 35 this fall and, at this point, serves as nothing more than a capable, rotational body underneath. He played sparingly in the playoffs this last year, and that's not going to change moving forward. Since he's already familiar with the system and his teammates, if he's willing to take a minimum deal, then he could stick. But it wouldn't surprise anyone if Mohammed left to play for his eighth NBA franchise.
3. Royal Ivey
The 6-4 guard is the least valuable of all players the Thunder need to consider here and it's likely that the team moves on. Ivey played in only five of the team's playoff games and in only 34 games in the regular season averaging 2.1 points in just over 10 minutes per game. Ivey's never been a great shooter, but his 3-point accuracy dropped from 43.8 to 34.0 percent from 2010-10 to 2011-12. That's unacceptable and the team is likely to move on.
Ray Allen is beginning to make his visits, but they aren’t including the Oklahoma City Thunder, at this point, despite rumors to the contrary when the NBA free agency period began. Instead the Boston Celtics sharpshooter is taking time to reportedly visit the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers as he searches for his new team. Of course, the Celtics are expected to make every effort to re-sign him.
Allen will have to choose between a certified starting spot and financial priorities when it likely comes down to it. A team like the Miami Heat is not going to have a starting slot for him — at least on the surface — unless they make further moves or a promise to do so. The Celtics even replaced Allen down the stretch.
At the same time, the Clippers, who can offer that spot, according to David Aldridge, doesn’t have the financial sway that the Celtics can bring to the table.
Aldridge writes, "The Heat can only offer Allen their mini mid-level exception that starts at $3.09 million next season, the same exception Miami used last year to sign free-agent forward Shane Battier. The Clippers have their full mid-level available at $5 million. Boston has offered Allen a two-year deal for $12 million."
It’s hard to picture Allen signing with anyone but the Celtics after Kevin Garnett re-upped for three more seasons. Then again, the amount of player movement already this offseason shows that anything is possible. Perhaps OKC can even get back into the Allen sweepstakes.
For all of the buzz around a myriad of players in the early stages of NBA free agency, a surprising amount can be found around Devin Ebanks of the Los Angeles Lakers. The second round choice in 2010 is a restricted free agent and early word is that the Lakers are keen on bringing him back. But that hasn't stopped the Oklahoma City Thunder, among others, from checking in.
Alex Kennedy wrote last night, "Ebanks has drawn interest from a number of teams including the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, according to sources close to the situation."
The Lakers have the right to match any offer due to the qualifying offer they extended him earlier this offseason. Banks was supposed to talk to the Lakers on Monday, per his agent, but those discussions were not confirmed yesterday. However it doesn't look like he'll be moving anytime soon despite the interest.
Restricted free agent Devin Ebanks has drawn interest from a number of teams including the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, according to sources close to the situation. The Los Angeles Lakers extended a qualifying offer to Ebanks last week, which means they can match any offer sheet that the 22-year-old signs.
The small forward averaged 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 24 games for the Lakers last season. Ebanks was drafted by Los Angeles in the second round out of West Virginia in 2010.
The Oklahoma City Thunder added a much-needed back-up point guard this spring when Derek Fisher decided to join the team after several years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Since Fisher could choose whichever team he wanted and went with the Thunder, they are the odds-on favorites to sign Fisher up again. However, that’s not a certainty with Eric Maynor returning from injury and other teams in on him.
The Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks are all reportedly interested in bringing in Fisher as a battle-tested point guard with plenty of NBA championship experience. The Thunder are also in, so it remains to be seen which high-profile team will land Fisher’s services.
Fisher averaged 8.7 points and 2.5 assists for the Thunder last season after coming over from the Lakers. He shot an abysmal 34 percent from the field.
In NBA circles, they say you can't teach height. You also can't play it if it's not going to actually work out on the court. For Hasheem Thabeet, his 7-3 frame has always been good enough to entice the front office to sign him, or even draft him at No. 2 overall. But for head coaches, Thabeet has always proved to be far too slow and ineffective to allow him any serious minutes at the NBA level.
That makes it unlikely that Thabeet would ever see any real court time for the Oklahoma City Thunder, despite rumors that he might land with them. To think anything would happen in 2012-13 for the team from Thabeet's perspective is to miss his career to his point.
The Memphis Grizzlies made perhaps one of the biggest blunders in recent NBA Draft history when they chose Thabeet at No. 2 in the 2009 Draft. James Harden, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings were just a few of the players on the board when the Grizzlies chose Thabeet, so there's a long list of teams grateful for the pick after them.
It wasn't too long after, in February 2011, that the team admitted its mistake and shipped him off to the Houston Rockets with an additional first rounder for Shane Battier. One year after that, the Trailblazers worked him into a deal from the Rockets involving Marcus Camby as well. Four years. Three teams. Now he's unrestricted and what once seemed like an immense amount of potential is becoming roster fodder bouncing from team to team.
It's easy for the new fan base to get swept up in the possibilities that a still young 7-3 player can offer a team. Thabeet didn't play organized basketball until well into his teen years. The height and defensive skills are definitely present. Perhaps just some time with a team is all that's needed. That sort of measured approach is what Royce Young has taken over at Daily Thunder when he writes:
There's something to be said for a 7-3 guy that was taken second overall, especially when you're talking a minimum level kind of contract for him likely to just practice and work. And in the Thunder culture based around development and growth, maybe Thabeet could finally realize a little of that talent he has. People are the league have told me that Thabeet isn't a knucklehead. He just hasn't had the kind of work ethic necessary to make it in the NBA.
Even that is a bit more positive that anyone needs to be. The reality is that Thabeet is a complete flier at this point. Thunder fans can cite the team environment, the deep roster, the positive culture, the lack of pressure and all of the rest, but the Tanzanian center has been a bust since day one and couldn't garner patience from the team that scouted, interviewed and drafted him despite the investment. The most likely story here is a one-year contract that never pans out and another short, unimpressive chapter in Thabeet's NBA career.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will not be nearly as active in the open market as other teams, especially with the Dwight Howard and Deron Williams sagas playing out in the media. However, Sam Presti, the team’s general manager, will make some moves and it seems he’s taking a chance on a big center who’s failed to realize his potential with former No. 2 overall selection Hasheem Thabeet.
Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amick has the story and writes, "First the Perry Jones "gamble," now Hasheem Thabeet? Source says Oklahoma City is the most likely landing spot for the 7-3 center who was taken No. 2 by Memphis in 2009 and will be playing for his fourth team (assuming he doesn’t sign with Portland, Houston or the Griz)."
The height and potential is always something to consider on a player like this, but a change of scenery is something that he’s had many times around. It’s unlikely that Thabeet would ever turn into anything for the Thunder, yet OKC is definitely the type of team that can take a chance on such a project. There are zero expectations for Thabeet and yet he has the one thing you cannot teach in the NBA: size.
The Oklahoma City Thunder open free agency with their roster pretty much intact from last season.
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