Archive for the ‘ OKC Thunder Blog ’ Category

Warriors forward Draymond Green escaped suspension for his kick to Thunder center Steven Adams, though he still needs to be extra careful for the rest of the playoffs, as the Oklahoman explains:

Draymond Green must still be extra careful for rest of playoffs

On Monday, the Golden State Warriors forward was fined $25,000 and his Flagrant “1” foul on Thunder center Steven Adams in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals was upgraded to a Flagrant “2”. The ruling puts Green dangerously close to missing a postseason game, but keeps him eligible for Tuesday’s game at Chesapeake Energy Arena…

Green said Monday that his first thought was the Flagrant “1” was going to get rescinded and that he wouldn’t be facing a suspension…

Green already had a Flagrant “1” foul (worth one point) entering the series with the Thunder. Add that to the upgrade to a Flagrant “2” (worth two points), and Green is one point away from an automatic one-game suspension. Under NBA rules, if a player’s playoff total exceeds three points, he’s suspended for the game after his point total has exceeded three.

Draymond Green not suspended for Game 4

Draymond Green not suspended for Game 4

Warriors forward Draymond Green has many talents, and one of them appears to be nailing Thunder center Steven Adams in a painful place during playoff games.

It seemed possible that the league might suspend Draymond Green for Game 4, but their decision, revealed around 7:30pm ET Monday night, was to fine Draymond Green $25k and upgrade the foul on him to a Flagrant 2.

The incident occurred with 5:57 remaining in the second quarter of the Thunder’s 133-105 win over the Warriors in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on May 22 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“After a thorough investigation that included review of all available video angles and interviews with the players involved and the officials working the game, we have determined that Green’s foul was unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine,” said Kiki VanDeWeghe, the league’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

“During a game, players – at times – flail their legs in an attempt to draw a foul,” VanDeWeghe continued, “but Green’s actions in this case warranted an additional penalty.”

The Thunder currently lead the Western Conference Finals 2-1. Game 4 will be played in OKC Tuesday night.

Thunder reach West Conference Finals

The Oklahoma City Thunder advanced to the 2016 Western Conference Finals after defeating the San Antonio Spurs, 113-99, Thursday night, winning the second-round series 4-2. The third-seeded Thunder will now play the first-seeded Golden State Warriors in Oklahoma City’s fourth Western Conference Finals appearance in the past six seasons.

The Thunder and Warriors will face off starting on Monday, May 16, in Oakland at 8 p.m. (CT) followed by Game 2 on Wednesday, May 18, at 8 p.m. (CT) at Oracle Arena.

The series will then shift to Oklahoma City for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 will take place on Sunday, May 22, at 7 p.m. (CT) and Game 4 on Tuesday, May 24, at 8 p.m. (CT) at Chesapeake Energy Arena. If necessary, Games 5, 6, and 7 will be played at alternating sites beginning with a road contest on Thursday, May 26, followed by Game 6 in Oklahoma City on Saturday, May 28, and concluding with Game 7 in Oakland on Monday, May 30. The game times for Games 5, 6 and 7 will all be 8 p.m. (CT).

The defending champion Warriors will be considered the favorites in the series, but OKC poses a very respectable threat. And from an entertainment perspective, the point guard matchup of Russell Westbrook versus Stephen Curry makes the series must-watch. Kevin Durant against anybody is also top-notch viewing. It’ll be interesting to see who Golden State sticks on Durant. It could be Harrison Barnes for some stretches but Draymond Green for others. Like the point guard matchup, Green against Durant would also be must-watch — at least when Durant’s the guy with the ball.

We’ll of course post more on the series this weekend.

Wizards hire Scott Brooks as head coach

Wizards hire Scott Brooks as head coach

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that Scott Brooks has been hired as the team’s new head coach. Brooks will become the 24th head coach in franchise history. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released.

“I am beyond thrilled to return to coaching with a team that is filled with such potential and to be able to join an organization that is committed to helping us reach our goals,” said Brooks. “I’m very grateful to Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld for this opportunity and I can promise the great fans of Washington that we will work extremely hard both on and off the court to represent them in a manner fitting the most powerful city in the world.”

Brooks joins the Wizards after serving as the Oklahoma City Thunder’s head coach for seven seasons (2008-09 through 2014-15). With Brooks at the helm, the Thunder amassed a 338-207 (.620) record, tallied four 50-plus win seasons (including 60 wins in 2012-13), made three appearances in the Western Conference Finals (2011, 2012, 2014), and advanced to the 2012 NBA Finals.

“Scott’s approach to the game, track record for player development and ability to communicate with his players made him the clear-cut choice to guide our team as we continue to rise as contenders in the Eastern Conference,” said Monumental Sports & Entertainment Founder and Wizards Majority Owner Ted Leonsis. “His accomplishments as a coach are matched only by his sterling reputation around the league and we’re confident that our fans and players alike will embrace and support him as he leads the way.”

Brooks was named the 2009-10 NBA Coach of the Year after guiding OKC to a 50-32 record in his first full season as head coach and leading the team to a 27-win improvement (tied for the eighth-largest in NBA history). He also was twice named as head coach for the Western Conference All-Star Team (2012 and 2014). Brooks was originally promoted to head coach of the Thunder on April 15, 2009, after being named interim head coach on Nov. 22, 2008.

Look. The NBA playoffs are very competitive, but there’s still an occasional opportunity for players to give helpful advice to guys on other teams. The latest generocity comes from Charlie Villanueva, who offers a useful tip to Russell Westbrook. Via ESPN.com:

Charlie Villanueva suggests Russell Westbrook take his dancing to a club

Charlie Villanueva has a simple request for Russell Westbrook: Find somewhere else to dance.

The Dallas Mavericks reserve forward and Oklahoma City Thunder superstar guard had a minor confrontation before Monday’s Game 2, after Villanueva stepped between Westbrook and rookie guard Cameron Payne during their normal pregame dance routine in front of the scorer’s table at midcourt.

Villanueva, who was shoved by Westbrook but didn’t push back, weighed in Tuesday after video of the incident went viral.

“If you want to go dancing and stuff like that, go to a nightclub,” Villanueva said on a Fox Pro Cast video he filmed.

Thunder player health update

The Thunder are up 1-0 against the Mavericks in their first round playoff series. Here’s the Oklahoman with a Thunder health update:

Thunder coach Billy Donovan said he’s “pretty optimistic” about Cameron Payne, Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed each being available for Game 2 Monday against Dallas.

Collison (chest contusion) didn’t play in the second half and Mohammed (strained right calf) left in the fourth quarter of the Thunder’s 108-70 win in Game 1. Payne was inactive (hip soreness).

lebron

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in March.

James ranked second in the East in scoring (25.6 ppg) and fifth in assists (7.1 apg) as the Cavaliers went 11-5 for the month (10-4 with James in the lineup). He added 8.2 rebounds and shot 53.8 percent from the field. James was the only player in the NBA to average at least 25.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists in March. He posted seven double-doubles and recorded two triple-doubles. In a 107-87 win over the Brooklyn Nets on March 31, James scored 24 points to move into 12th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (he is now 11th).

russell westbrook

Westbrook led the Thunder to an 11-5 record behind averages of 21.7 points, 10.6 assists (third in the NBA) and 8.3 rebounds. His seven triple-doubles in March were the most in a calendar month since Michael Jordan had seven in April 1989. Those performances increased Westbrook’s season total to 16 triple-doubles, the most since Magic Johnson had 17 in 1988-89. Westbrook scored at least 20 points in 11 of 16 games for the month and logged nine games with double-digit assists, including a career-high 19 in a 120-109 win over the Clippers on March 9.

Other nominees for the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month were Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Houston’s James Harden, Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Portland’s Damian Lillard, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan.

Serge Ibaka gets a game to rest

Serge Ibaka gets a game to rest

It took 69 games, but Oklahoman City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan finally employed the Gregg Popovich regular season strategy.

Facing the floundering 9-win Sixers on Friday night, Donovan rested power forward Serge Ibaka, the first time Donovan has sat one of his players strictly to give him an off-day. Veteran forward Nick Collison started in Ibaka’s place.

And the timing made sense. The Thunder plays again Saturday night in Indiana, the much tougher end of this back-to-back. Plus the playoffs are now only a month away and Ibaka, who has had an inconsistent season, looked exhausted during some recent games.

– Oklahoman

Monty Williams will miss rest of season

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced today that assistant coach Monty Williams will not return to the team this season after the passing of his wife Ingrid last month.

Oklahoma City Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti:

“The most important thing for Monty during this time is for him to be with his family, and the most important thing for us as an organization is to support him as a person, in any way that we can. Even though Monty will not return to the team this season, his presence will be felt by all of us within the program and we will remain close with him and his family.”

Oklahoma City Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan:

“I have really enjoyed my relationship with Monty, and clearly we will miss him, but we value and embrace that it is critical he is there for his family at this time and our focus is on doing whatever we can, in any small way, to help him. He and his family will continue to be in our thoughts.”

Thunder sign Nazr Mohammed

Thunder sign Nazr Mohammed

The Oklahoma City Thunder signed free agent center Nazr Mohammed to a contract today, team Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.

Mohammed (6-10, 250), who is best used in very limited minutes off the bench, previously spent two seasons with the Thunder (2010-12), appearing in 87 games (eight starts) averaging 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game.

A 17-year NBA veteran, Mohammed owns career averages of 5.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 15.9 minutes in 1000 games (354 starts) with Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, San Antonio, Detroit, Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Chicago.

Charles Barkley has been a vocal critic but staunch fan of the Thunder for a long time.

But Thursday night, as the Thunder stumbled to their sixth loss in eight games since the NBA All-Star break, Barkley said he has seen enough. The Inside the NBA TNT studio analyst declared he has jumped off the Thunder bandwagon.

“I’m going to go ahead and say it right now. I’m off the Oklahoma City bandwagon. I am totally off. They are not going to win (the championship). But I will tell you this. You know whose bandwagon I’m on? The Los Angeles Clippers. If Blake Griffin comes back and dominates down low, the L.A. Clippers got a chance of winning a world championship…They’ve got the best leader in Chris Paul. They won’t be making those mistakes that the Thunder make. Chris Paul’s going to get them into something every time.”

Barkley’s biggest beefs with the Thunder through the years have been the team’s reliance on its star tandem of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, its shot selection and its poor late-game execution.

– The Oklahoman

Nuggets trade Randy Foye to Thunder

Nuggets trade Randy Foye to Thunder

The Denver Nuggets have acquired guard D.J. Augustin, forward Steve Novak, two second round picks and cash consideration from Oklahoma City in exchange for guard Randy Foye, General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.

Augustin, 28, has appeared in 34 games for Oklahoma City this season, averaging 4.2 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 15.3 minutes per game. The eight-year NBA veteran has appeared in 545 career games (170 starts) for Charlotte, Indiana, Toronto, Chicago, Detroit and Oklahoma City, averaging 9.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 24.2 minutes per game. He was drafted by Charlotte out of the University of Texas with the ninth overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft.

Novak, 32, has appeared in seven games for the Thunder this season, averaging 2.4 points in 3.4 minutes of action. He has appeared in 456 career games (six starts), averaging 4.7 points and 1.3 rebounds while shooting 43.2% from three-point range in 10 seasons with New York, L.A. Clippers, Houston, Toronto, San Antonio, Utah, Dallas and Oklahoma City. The Marquette University product was drafted by Houston with the 32nd overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft.

Foye, 32, has appeared in 185 games (106 starts) with Denver over the past three seasons, averaging 9.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 25.1 minutes per game. The 10-year veteran has appeared in 656 career games (392 starts) with Minnesota, Washington, L.A. Clippers, Utah and Denver, averaging 11.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

Thunder assistant coach Mo Cheeks out six weeks

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced that assistant coach Maurice Cheeks underwent successful hip surgery today. Cheeks will return to the team in a week for practices and meetings, and will be back on the Thunder bench for games in approximately six weeks.

Oklahoma City Blue Head Coach Mark Daigneault will join Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan’s staff as an assistant for the remainder of the season. Blue assistant coach Jarell Christian will assume Daigneault’s role with the Blue for the rest of their 2015-16 campaign.

Daigneault becomes the third coach to be called up to the Thunder from its D-League team. Darko Rajakovic was hired as Thunder assistant coach in July 2014 after serving two seasons as the head coach of the Thunder’s D-League team, and Royal Ivey was hired at the start of the 2015-16 campaign as a player development assistant following his stint as an assistant for the Blue during the 2014-15 season.

On the OKC Thunder offense

The OKC Thunder are 33-13 this season and getting 26.6 ppg from Kevin Durant, 23.9 ppg from Russell Westbrook, 13.2 ppg from Serge Ibaka, and 11.6 ppg from Enes Kanter. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on what drives the Thunder offense:

In general, the Thunder offense seems to be moving a bit more fluidly this season. OKC’s assists are up and its point distribution is more spread.

But despite Billy Donovan’s tweaks, the engine of the Thunder’s offense is still its rare individual talent. Nearly everything is predicated off Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook making something happen, often in isolation.

Per NBA.com/stats, the Thunder ranks dead last in the league 263.3 passes per game, more than 10 fewer than the next team (the Detroit Pistons). But despite that, OKC’s offensive rating (points per 100 possessions) is second in the league at 109.2, right behind the Warriors (112.7) and ahead of the Spurs (108.2). The Warriors average 325.2 passes per game, fifth most in the NBA. The Spurs average 339.0, third most.

Thunder at Nets game start time moved to 7:30pm ET

Like much of the Eastern United States, New York City is covered with a ton of snow. So today’s area game is being moved to a later start time.

The NBA announced that the Brooklyn Nets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game at Barclays Center scheduled for 3:30 pm ET today has been delayed to 7:30 pm ET “due to the impact of severe weather conditions in the New York area.”

Yes, there’s bigtime playoff football on today. But the chance to see Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and friends unleash their basketball magic in person is a great draw. We’ll be at the game.

Look, people. Pregame NBA dance routines from players are important. They set the tone. Bad dance routine? Expect a loss. That’s just the way it is.

OK, maybe not quite. Perhaps we’re just being silly. Still, pregame dance routines are fun, so we support them and any coverage they receive.

Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

Cameron Payne says there’s a simple name for it.

“Swagdaddies,” he says.

Hyphen?

“No hyphen. One word. Swagdaddies.” With an emphasis on swag.

Payne has used that word to describe other things, like a ridiculous Euro step, but in this case is talking about his now moderately infamous pregame dance routine — if you want to call it that — with Russell Westbrook. It goes like this: Actually, it doesn’t go like anything. You’ve just sort of got to see it. And then watch the next game’s routine, because no two are the same.

“Every game is something new,” Westbrook said.

john wall

Washington Wizards guard John Wall and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant and Thunder guard Russell Westbrook today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in December.

Wall averaged 22.6 points, 11.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.3 steals to lead the Wizards to an 8-8 record, despite the absence of several key players to injury. He is the first player to average at least 22.0 points, 11.0 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals in a month since Chris Paul in April 2009. Wall scored 20 or more points 11 times, his career high for a month, and recorded 10 games with at least 20 points and 10 assists, the most in team history for a month. The guard also became the first player to post three straight games with at least 26 points, 12 assists and five rebounds since Dwyane Wade in November 2006. Wall shot 46.0 percent from the field and 83.6 percent from the free throw line.

kevin durant

Durant (24.9 ppg) and Westbrook (23.8 ppg), co-winners in the West, ranked sixth and seventh in the NBA in scoring, respectively, as the Thunder went 12-3 in December. Durant added 7.2 rebounds and 5.7 assists while shooting 50.8 percent from the field. He reached the 20-point mark in all 15 games and shot 87.3 percent from the free throw line. Westbrook led the league in steals (2.73 ppg) and contributed 8.9 assists (fourth in the West) and 5.9 rebounds. He had three 30-point games, handed out at least 10 assists seven times and posted his third triple-double of the season.

russell westbrook

Other nominees for NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month were Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, Detroit’s Reggie Jackson, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the Los Angeles Clippers’ J.J. Redick, Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic, Portland’s CJ McCollum and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard.

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on a young bruising Thunder forward whose playing time is coming by way of the D-League:

Mitch McGary spending serious time in D-League

On Tuesday, the 6-foot-10, 260-pound McGary posted his second-consecutive double-double for the D-League Oklahoma City Blue with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes in a win over the Idaho Stampede.

The 2014 Thunder first-rounder hasn’t appeared in a game for the Thunder since Nov. 23 and hasn’t been on the Thunder’s active roster for a game since Nov. 27. McGary, however, is getting consistent minutes for the Blue he wasn’t seeing behind the Thunder’s frontcourt logjam of Serge Ibaka, Enes Kanter, Steven Adams and Nick Collison.

In 11 games with the Blue, McGary is averaging 14.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 assists in 26.1 minutes per game.

Russell Westbrook is dominant on the basketball court, and has made a huge move off of it, as reported by the Oklahoman:

Russell Westbrook makes big donation to UCLA

How does “Russell Westbrook Court” sound?

On Monday, UCLA announced that Westbrook has a made a “significant financial contribution” to its Mo Ostin Basketball Center project — the largest donation by a former basketball student-athlete in school history.

For his contribution, the university will honor Westbrook, who played two seasons at UCLA, by naming the new men’s basketball practice floor “Russell Westbrook Court.”

“When I heard that I was a little surprised,” Westbrook said Monday via conference call. “I can’t wait until it is all said and done to kind of go in there and shoot and see the court and see my name. It is going to be a great thing to see.”

Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant were today named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Dec. 7 through Sunday, Dec. 13.

DeRozan led the Raptors to a 4-0 week, averaging 24.0 points (third in the conference), 5.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.0 steals while shooting 51.7 percent from the field and 91.9 percent from the free throw line. DeRozan matched his career record, scoring 25-or-more points in three consecutive games, and led Toronto with a game-high 28 points against San Antonio on Dec. 9.

Durant led Oklahoma City to a 4-0 record behind averages of 27.3 points (third in the league), 8.8 rebounds, 6.3 assists (ninth in conference), and 1.8 steals. He shot 59.7 percent from the floor (fourth in the conference) while scoring 30 or more points in two games and was 26-of-27 (96.3 percent) from the foul line. Durant recorded his first triple-double of the season when he scored 25 points to go with 12 rebounds and 10 assists against Atlanta on Dec. 10. The next night, he scored 21 points, including the Thunder’s final 11, in a 94-90 road win over Utah.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, Chicago’s Pau Gasol, Cleveland’s LeBron James, L.A. Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor and Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe.

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