Archive for the ‘ OKC Thunder Blog ’ Category

Thunder hire Billy Donovan as head coach

Oklahoma City Thunder hire Billy Donovan as head coach

Thunder hire Billy Donovan as head coach

The Oklahoma City Thunder named Billy Donovan the team’s new head coach, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Donovan becomes the third head coach in Thunder history after spending the past 19 years at the University of Florida where he led the Gators to two National Championships and four trips to the Final Four while amassing a record of 467-186 (.715).

“We are thrilled to welcome Billy and his family to the Oklahoma City Thunder organization. When we began the process of identifying the next head coach of the Thunder, we started with a vision and the identifiable qualities that we felt were necessary for our organization as well as the ever evolving role of the head coach in today’s NBA. We wanted to identify a person with the traits associated with high achieving leaders in their respective fields; a continuous learning mentality, the ability to adapt, evolve and innovate, intrinsically motivated, humility, and great tactical competence,” Presti said. “While we created a comprehensive analysis regarding the qualities we were looking for, it became quite evident that Billy was the ideal fit for the Thunder as we look to transition our team into the future. Billy has achieved an incredible level of success and experience within his 21 years as a head coach and has shown the unique ability to not only create but sustain an elite program. His emotional intelligence, commitment to the concept of team, and relentless approach to incremental improvement have allowed him to bring his players together and establish lasting relationships through competitive success. Billy’s core values and alignment with our culture and community, as well as his proven tactical abilities, make him an ideal addition to the Thunder organization.” ‎

Billy’s core values and alignment with our culture and community, as well as his proven tactical abilities, make him an ideal addition to the Thunder organization.

During his tenure at Florida, Donovan led the program to 16 straight 20-win seasons, three 30-win seasons, 17 consecutive trips to the postseason and six SEC Championships. Under Donovan, Florida has advanced to the Elite Eight in six of the past 10 seasons.

“We warmly welcome Billy and his family to Oklahoma City,” said Clayton I. Bennett, Thunder Chairman. “He is the perfect fit for our organization and for our community and we look forward to a long and successful relationship.”

After winning back-to-back national championships (2006 and 2007), Donovan led Florida to 18 straight postseason wins, the longest run for any program since John Wooden led UCLA to 28 straight postseason wins. This past season, Donovan became the second youngest coach in NCAA history (Bob Knight) to claim 500 career wins.

“I am honored and humbled to be named the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I knew that it would take a unique opportunity to leave the University of Florida and that is clearly how I look at this situation,” said Billy Donovan, Thunder Head Coach. “The Thunder represents so many of the values that I embrace as a head coach; the commitment to the team above oneself, the dedicated pursuit of excellence, the commitment to organizational culture, the identity they have established and the fact that the Thunder and the community are so intricately woven into the fabric of one another. To have the ability to work with such a talented and high character group of players is also rare, and I am excited to forge ahead creating those relationships. It is of course bittersweet as the University of Florida will always hold a very special place in my heart and in my family’s. I’ve had the good fortune of working with the best athletic director in the country in Jeremy Foley over the last 19 years, and I’ll be forever grateful and thankful for the opportunity and his friendship. Countless players, students, and other people in the administration were responsible for our success and for the meaningful connection we had with the Gainesville community. I have a deep appreciation for what the University of Florida will always mean to me and I’ll forever be a Gator.”

Donavan has been the recipient of numerous collegiate coaching awards including ESPN.com’s National Coach of the Year (2001), the Wooden Award’s “Legends of Coaching” Honor (2010) and SEC Coach of the Year (2011, 2013, 2014).

In addition to his responsibilities at Florida, Donovan has served as head coach of USA Basketball’s U18 and U19 National Teams in each of the last three summers. As a head coach with USAB, Donavan’s teams have captured three gold medals while going a perfect 19-0 during national team competition. Prior to leading the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Team to the gold medal last summer in Colorado Springs, CO, Donovan guided the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team to a perfect 9-0 record and the gold medal in Prague, Czech Republic and the 2012 USA U18 National Team to a 5-0 slate and gold in Sao Sebastiáo do Paraiso, Brazil.

Donovan’s coaching experience dates back to the 1989-90 season where he served as a graduate assistant coach at Kentucky. After five years with the Wildcats, Donovan was hired as head coach at Marshall where he spent two years before leaving for Florida.

Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Donovan enjoyed a four-year playing career at Providence where he helped lead the Friars to their best season in school history and a trip to the Final Four in 1987. In addition, Donovan appeared in 44 games as a member of the New York Knicks during the 1987-88 season.

Nick Collison undergoes knee surgery

Nick Collison undergoes knee surgery, out 4-6 weeks

Nick Collison undergoes knee surgery

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison underwent a successful arthroscopic procedure today on his right knee, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.

The procedure was performed by the Thunder’s Head Orthopedic Physician, Carlan Yates at the McBride Orthopedic Hospital in Oklahoma City. Collison is expected to miss 4-6 weeks before returning to normal offseason activities.

This past season, Collison appeared in 66 games (two starts) and averaged 4.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 16.7 minutes per game.

Billy Donovan is getting the OKC Thunder head coaching job

The Oklahoma City Thunder have made a decision as to who should lead Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Enes Kanter and friends into the future. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

A coaching search that started with Thunder general manager Sam Presti saying he wouldn’t limit the scope of candidates he would consider ended Thursday with Oklahoma City getting the one man it seemed to be after from the start.

Billy Donovan will become the third coach in Thunder history after agreeing to a multi-year deal with the team just one week after Oklahoma City fired Scott Brooks.

Complete terms of the deal are unknown at this time. Yahoo Sports reports the deal is for five years.

Donovan, 49, is a two-time national championship coach at Florida, the program he’s leaving after 19 seasons.

OKC Thunder fire head coach Scott Brooks

Thunder fire head coach Scott Brooks

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced today that the organization has parted ways with Scott Brooks as head coach.

“This is an extremely difficult decision on many levels. Scott helped establish the identity of the Thunder and has earned his rightful place in the history of our organization through his seven years as a valued leader and team member,” said Sam Presti, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager. “As we all know, this past year we had unique and challenging circumstances and as I have conveyed, not many people could have accomplished what Scott and this team were able to. Therefore, it is very important to state that this decision is not a reflection of this past season, but rather an assessment of what we feel is necessary at this point in time in order to continually evolve, progress and sustain. We determined that, in order to stimulate progress and put ourselves in the best position next season and as we looked to the future, a transition of this kind was necessary for the program. We move forward with confidence in our foundation and embrace the persistence and responsibility that is required to construct an elite and enduring basketball organization capable of winning an NBA championship in Oklahoma City.”

According to the Oklahoman, “after an injury-plagued season, the Thunder finished 45-37 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant missed 55 games due to foot and ankle injuries, Serge Ibaka missed the season’s final 18 games and Russell Westbrook missed 15 games.”

Brooks was named head coach of the Thunder on April 15, 2009 after serving as interim head coach during the 2008-09 campaign. Over the course of the last seven seasons, Brooks accumulated a 338-207 (.620) record with the Thunder and was named the 2009-10 NBA Coach of the Year. An NBA veteran of over 24 years as a head coach, assistant and player, Brooks helped guide the Thunder to three appearances in the Western Conference Finals (2011, 2012, 2014), and a trip to the 2012 NBA Finals.

“We have a deep appreciation for all that Scott has contributed to the Thunder organization over the last seven years,” said Clayton I. Bennett, Thunder Chairman. “He helped us build the foundation of this team and led us to much success. While a very hard decision, I support the need to transition to a new coach that will allow us to continue the growth and progress that will help us reach all of our goals. We wish Scott and his family only the best as he moves forward.”

The Thunder will initiate the search for a new head coach immediately.

Fan reaction to this news: OKC has fired Scott Brooks.

Kevin Durant had bone graft surgery today

Kevin Durant had bone graft surgery today

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant underwent bone graft surgery today for the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Martin O’Malley with Thunder medical personnel present at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. Durant will miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season and is expected to return to full basketball activities in the next four to six months.

The reigning NBA Kia Most Valuable Player appeared in 27 games (all starts) during the 2014-15 campaign, averaging 25.4 points on 51.0 percent shooting from the floor (238-of-467), 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 33.8 minutes per game.

Enes Kanter playing well for Thunder

Enes Kanter playing well for Thunder

Here’s the Oklahoman discussing Thunder center Enes Kanter, who is playing very well and appears to be a keeper for OKC — if the team can make it happen:

Enes Kanter playing well for Thunder

Enes Kanter has been with the Thunder only five weeks. In that time, he’s wowed observers with his inside play on offense, the kind of play that hasn’t been seen in the state since Big Country.

The soon-to-be free agent is also causing some fans to suffer some heartburn about his future with the team. Fears are percolating that the Thunder may not be able to keep its new inside presence past this season. While you never know what crazy events could unfold, the Thunder is in position to offer Kanter long-term security if he wants it.

Kanter is in the last season of his four-year rookie scale contract, so the Thunder will have the ability to make him a restricted free agent. All that requires is tendering what’s called a Qualifying Offer, which is a 1-year offer that, in Kanter’s case, would be worth over $7.4 million. As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the Thunder will do this.

Kevin Durant removed from basketball activities

This is bad news. Bad for Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the NBA in general. We all want Kevin Durant back in action. But his foot isn’t cooperating with us. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

Kevin Durant removed from basketball activities

Kevin Durant is being removed from basketball activities and will be out indefinitely, Thunder general manager Sam Presti announced Friday.

Durant has experienced multiple setbacks from an October surgery to repair a fractured bone in his right foot. He was expected to return to the lineup next week.

“He’s not making the progress that we had hoped and anticipated him making,” Presti said. “He still has some soreness in his foot, and the protocol that’s in place calls for him to be able to compete on the floor without that at this stage.”

Durant underwent a second surgery on Feb. 22 to alleviate persistent swelling, which was said to have stemmed from the screw that was initially placed in his foot pressing against another bone in the foot. In the second surgery, the original screw was replaced with a new screw that didn’t have a head that would push against the other bone.

Serge Ibaka out 4-6 weeks after knee surgery

Serge Ibaka out 4-6 weeks after knee surgery

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka underwent successful arthroscopic surgery today to address right knee soreness, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.

“After monitoring the soreness in Serge’s knee and having taken several intermediate steps to assess and manage the discomfort, it was determined that the necessary next step in the evaluation was to see a specialist to discuss options to help alleviate the soreness and swelling he had been experiencing,” said Presti. “During the consultation with Dr. David Altchek, his recommendation, in agreement with Thunder medical personnel, Serge and his representatives, was for Serge to have arthroscopic surgery to remedy the problematic area.”

Ibaka will be out approximately four to six weeks.

According to the Oklahoman, “the team initially treated Ibaka’s discomfort with medication and a modified practice schedule to allow him more time to rest. Ibaka then had his knee drained earlier this month to address what Presti called “roughening underneath his kneecap,” but that process resulted in swelling, stiffness and limited mobility.”

This season, Ibaka has recorded 17 double-doubles, while averaging 14.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.42 blocks and 33.1 minutes in 64 games (all starts).

mo williams

Charlotte Hornets guard Mo Williams and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, March 2, through Sunday, March 8.

Williams led the Hornets to a 4-0 week, which included two road wins and a home victory over the Toronto Raptors. Williams’ 19.5 ppg was tied for 10th in the East, while his 10.8 apg led the conference. He scored 20-plus points in three of four games, and posted two point-assist double-doubles. On March 6, he connected on four three-point field goals en route to 23 points and added seven assists during a 103-94 win over the Raptors.

russell westbrook

Westbrook averaged a triple-double as he led the Thunder to a 2-1 week. His 40.7 points led the league, while his 11.3 assists placed third in the West. Westbrook also averaged 11.3 rebounds - good for fifth in the conference, and his 3.0 steals were second-best in the conference. Westbrook recorded his seventh triple-double of the season on March 8, posting 30 points, 17 assists and 11 rebounds during a 108-104 win over the Raptors.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Houston’s James Harden, the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, Miami’s Dwyane Wade, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo, Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan.

Steven Adams back in action for Thunder

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on the Thunder:

Steven Adams back in action for Thunder

Four Sundays after breaking his hand against the Clippers, Steven Adams returned to the Thunder lineup

In OKC’s win over the Raptors, Adams was relatively effective in his 16 minutes. Adams entered to a rousing ovation from the home crowd and immediately blocked a shot on his first possession.

For the game, Adams finished with six points, six rebounds and two blocks. He nailed a pair of floaters with that surgically repaired right hand – which was covered by a protective glove – including a smooth buzzer-beater to end the third quarter.

“He’s still getting his timing back,” teammate Anthony Morrow said. “But he did a great job defensively tonight.”

For the first time this season, though, Adams came off the bench. Enes Kanter started and played extremely well, compiling 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Frank Vogel

The Indiana Pacers’ Frank Vogel and the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Scott Brooks today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month, respectively, for games played in February.

Vogel led the Pacers to the Eastern Conference’s best record in February at 7-2 (.778). He became the franchise’s all-time NBA coaching wins leader thanks to the Pacers’ second win of the month over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a 93-86 victory on Feb. 27. Indiana also topped the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors. The Pacers shot 47.2 percent from the field to lead the NBA in February, and also held opponents under 100 points in six-of-nine contests.

scott brooks

Brooks guided the Thunder to the best record in the Western Conference in February at 9-3 (.750). The Thunder recorded a seven-game winning streak from Feb. 8-24, winning by an average of 15.6 points during that span. On the month, Oklahoma City’s 111.8 ppg led the league, while its 46.8 field goal percentage placed third. The Thunder went from one game under .500 to five games over thanks to its February performance.

Other nominees for Coach of the Month were Boston’s Brad Stevens, Cleveland’s David Blatt, Houston’s Kevin McHale, Los Angeles Clippers’ Doc Rivers, Milwaukee’s Jason Kidd, and Portland’s Terry Stotts.

Blazers survive monster game from Westbrook

Here’s the Oregonian reporting on the Portland Trail Blazers, who were able to come away with a win despite Russell Westbrook unleashing yet another monster game for the OKC Thunder as Kevin Durant continues to miss time due to injury:

Nicolas Batum looked over the stat sheet searching for something he could point to explain the Trail Blazers comeback win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“We…stepped up defensively,” Batum finally said after an extended pause. The Blazers’ small forward sat in front of his locker with ice on both of his knees after he was tasked with slowing Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook down the stretch of an exhilarating victory.

“That was a playoff game,” Batum said. “That was a playoff game.”

The Blazers rode the postseason atmosphere inside the Moda Center to a 115-112 win over the Thunder on Friday night, overcoming an 13-point fourth quarter deficit in the process.

Westbrook was electric. He ended his historic February with his third straight triple-double, finishing with 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists. But the Blazers slowed him just enough in the closing minutes to escape with the win.

Russell Westbrook says Thunder do not need to consult him on roster moves

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook, who is content to stick to his role as a star player and not someone that helps make roster decisions:

Years from now, Thursday’s blockbuster trade will likely stand as one of the most important decisions this franchise made over its first decade in Oklahoma City.

And hours before general manager Sam Presti pulled the trigger, Russell Westbrook – one of the franchise’s two cornerstone – said he and Kevin Durant had no desire to be consulted on the decision.

“Not my job,” Westbrook said. “My job is to come out and play. We have a great general manager, great owner and great coach who have done a great job thus far putting this team together. So I’m pretty sure they know what’s best for us.”

When asked if Presti ever comes to them to gather their opinion, Westbrook reiterated his previous answer in the most Westbrook way possible.

“I don’t want to repeat the same answer, so whatever I just said last time use it as that answer,” he said.

Westbrook scores 34, Thunder smack Mavs 104-89

Here’s the Dallas Morning News reporting on the Mavs, who now have Amar’e Stoudemire to add depth off the bench once they decide to utilize him, which is good, but were treated rudely by the Thunder as the NBA regular season resumed Thursday:

Russell Westbrook scores 34

[The Dallas Mavericks] were manhandled 104-89 by the Oklahoma City Thunder, who had traded away four players earlier in the day, none of whom were named Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook or Serge Ibaka.

That Big Three – and mostly Westbrook and Ibaka – were more than enough to pummel the Mavericks, who looked out of sync in the first game back from injury for Rajon Rondo. They never led and trailed by 20-something much of the night.

Worse, Rondo was glued to the bench for a long stretch in the third and fourth quarters. Clearly, the Mavericks offensively remain an unfinished product. They struggled to get their shooting above 35 percent against the Thunder.

When the Mavericks closed the gap to 10 in the fourth quarter, Westbrook scored eight points and assisted on a Nick Collison bucket to rebuild the lead to 99-83 with 2:24 to go. Westbrook finished with 34 points and 10 assists. Ibaka had 21 points and 22 rebounds.

Russell Westbrook wins 2015 All-Star MVP

Russell Westbrook wins 2015 All-Star MVP

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who went nuts in the 2015 NBA All-Star exhibition and won the game’s MVP award:

The Thunder point guard scored 41 points in the Western Conference’s 163-158 victory at the Garden, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk that left Westbrook rubbing his head because he knocked it on the bottom of the backboard. With his final free throw just before the buzzer, Westbrook surpassed Michael Jordan’s 40-point performance in the 1988 game. He couldn’t quite catch Wilt Chamberlain’s 42-point record from 1962.

But clearly, he’s in elite company. The upstaged LeBron James was impressed.

“He’s unbelievable. He’s an unbelievable talent in our league. His motor, his athleticism, his demeanor about how he approaches the game, it’s all great,” said James, who led the East with 30 points. “And it’s great for our league. And he showed that tonight, showcased it on the big stage.”

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on Thunder star Kevin Durant, who appears to be getting annoyed by a bunch of reporters these days (he’s perfectly friendly to InsideHoops.com, though. Just saying.)

Kevin Durant is getting sick of reporters

Kevin Durant is making his feelings about the media clear at All-Star Weekend.

On Friday morning, Durant made national headlines when he expressed his opinion about the media having too much power in selecting postseason NBA awards.

On Saturday, he took things a step further when asked about rampant speculation surrounding Thunder coach Scott Brooks’ job security.

“You guys really don’t know (expletive),” Durant told reporters in his final interview session before Sunday’s All-Star Game.

Durant was later asked what stories he would like the media to focus on more.

“To be honest, man, I’m only here talking to y’all because I have to,” Durant said. “So I really don’t care. Y’all not my friends. You’re going to write what you want to write. You’re going to love us one day and hate us the next. That’s a part of it. So I just learn how to deal with y’all.”

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook doing big off-court things

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who are stars on the court but also in the world of marketing and sponsorship opportunities:

In addition to his NBA responsibilities, Durant served as host of an outdoor concert with Kanye West as the headliner Thursday night, was the guest of honor at a Manhattan shoe store Friday afternoon as part of his partnership with Nike and had Good Morning America Weekend host Paula Faris riding along with him nearly every step of the way for a feature that is scheduled to air Sunday. Westbrook, meanwhile, took part in a Wall Street Journal subscriber event, made an appearance at Barneys New York, home to his clothing line and filmed a promotional spot for an upcoming major motion picture.

Westbrook is quickly shooting up the list of the NBA’s most sought after players. In addition to his clothing line, Westbrook XO, and his signature eyewear, Westbrook Frames, he also has a signature Jordan Brand shoe set to release in June. Westbrook also has partnered with Subway, U.S. Cellular, Mountain Dew, Zenith Watches, True Religion, Six Star Pro Nutrition and King and Jaxs, a designer underwear company. He’s also endorsed Ozarka Water and BancFirst.

Kevin Hart says Russell Westbrook wears pants that are way too tight

Here’s the Oklahoman with a fun item featuring some hard-hitting analysis from funnyguy Kevin Hart about Russell Westbrook’s fashion decisions:

Comedian Kevin Hart jumped on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike on Friday morning, and in one part of his interview with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic was asked about the funniest guys in the NBA.

Hart said he’s spent some time with Thunder All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

“The funniest? I was with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook last night. We had a good time,” Hart said. “Russell had some pants on that I believe made his butt bleed. I’ve never seen jeans tighter in my life.”

Jusuf Nurkic replaces injured Steven Adams in 2015 Rising Stars Challenge

Denver Nuggets rookie center Jusuf Nurkic will replace injured World Team selection Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2015 NBA Rising Stars Challenge event that will take place Friday, February 13, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The NBA’s annual showcase of premier first- and second-year players at NBA All-Star 2015 features a new format that pits first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against first- and second-year NBA players from around the world.

Nurkic, the 16th overall pick of the 2014 draft, who was acquired by the Nuggets in a draft-day trade with Chicago, has appeared in 39 games this season, averaging 6.8 points, 6.2 rebounds (second among rookies) and 1.26 blocks (third) in 16.7 minutes. The 20-year-old Bosnia-Herzegovina native spent the 2013-14 season playing in Croatia.

Adams underwent successful surgery on Monday to address a fracture in the fourth metacarpal of his right hand. In 50 games this season, he has averaged 7.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.22 blocks in 24.3 minutes.

Steven Adams out at least three weeks after hand surgery

Steven Adams out at least three weeks after hand surgery

Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams underwent successful surgery today to address a fracture in the fourth metacarpal of his right hand, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.

The procedure was performed by Thunder team physicians at McBride Hospital in Oklahoma City. Adams will be re-evaluated in three weeks, at which time a further update will be provided.

In 50 games this season (all starts), Adams is averaging 7.4 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.22 blocks in 24.3 minutes per game. He was recently selected to participate in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge for a second consecutive season as part of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities.

Basketball blog