Archive for the ‘ OKC Thunder Blog ’ Category

Here’s the Washington Post reporting on the Oklahoma City Thunder:

Russell Westbrook has never really had the chance to be appreciated on his own merit, away from Kevin Durant or as a part of some talented ensemble cast on Team USA or at all-star games. For that reason, his accomplishments – and there are many – are overlooked or undervalued, giving Westbrook a desperate desire to make people take notice, either with ferocious play or eccentric clothing.

Westbrook’s contributions are treasured immensely by the Oklahoma City Thunder and especially Durant, who chose to make his stubborn, snappy, pit bull of a point guard the final teammate mentioned during that memorable, tear-inducing most valuable player speech. Durant expressed his love for Westbrook because he respects the passion, endless energy and relentless spirit to give the Thunder everything else the four-time scoring champion can’t.

While Durant has typically been the rudder of the Thunder’s steady, glorious warship, navigating the team through dangerous waters, Westbrook has been the fiery cannon to push back all other threats. But now that Durant is going to be sidelined for at least six weeks with a broken right foot, Westbrook will now have the chance to assume both roles in an effort to keep the Thunder afloat in the highly competitive Western Conference. He could also possibly earn the respect – at least among casual fans – that often gets drowned out by complaints about his shot selection, sometimes erratic play and unwillingness to just get out of Durant’s way.

We’re just about a week through NBA preseason and already a major injury has struck the league.

The Oklahoma City Thunder released the following statement on behalf of Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti regarding forward Kevin Durant:

“After practice yesterday, Kevin made us aware of discomfort in his right foot. We proceeded to perform the necessary imagining studies to determine the cause of his discomfort. At this stage, Kevin has been diagnosed with a Jones fracture. Traditional treatment of this injury requires a surgical procedure and recent NBA cases have resulted in a return to play in 6-8 weeks. We are in the process of collaboratively evaluating the most appropriate next steps with Kevin, his representatives, and Thunder medical personnel. Until a course of action is determined, we are unable to provide a timeline specific to Kevin’s case.”

Mitch McGary injures foot, out six weeks

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced that rookie forward Mitch McGary underwent an evaluation today that confirmed he suffered a fracture in his left second metatarsal (foot) during last night’s preseason game at Denver. He is expected to miss approximately six weeks.

McGary, the 21st overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, finished the game with 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the floor, to go along with four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 36 minutes of action.

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced today that its NBA Development League team will be called the Blue. The team will play the majority of its home games at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City, with four games to be held inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. The season begins on Friday, Nov. 14, when the Blue hosts the Maine Red Claws.

“Blue is one of our primary Thunder colors, but it has become more than just a color for us. It has come to represent the passion, loyalty and unity of our fans and our community in their support for our team. Our players wear it proudly on their uniforms, our fans sport Thunder blue shirts, Thunder blue flags fly across Oklahoma and our statewide Blue Alliance fan groups show their connection to our team and what it stands for,” said Brian Byrnes, Thunder senior vice president of Sales and Marketing.

“It is only fitting that our development team, which is such an integral part of our organization, be called the Blue to represent the cohesion it has with the Thunder. We think this new name accurately reflects the enhanced unity between the two teams, which are now geographically and philosophically aligned in Oklahoma City and focused on development.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder finished last season with a 59-23 record — the second best winning percentage in the entire league. Enjoy this video showcasing some of their top highlights:

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook averaged 21.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game last season. Enjoy this video showcasing some of his top highlights:

Thunder trade Hasheem Thabeet to 76ers

Thunder trade Hasheem Thabeet to 76ers

The Oklahoma City Thunder acquired a trade exception and a 2015 protected second round draft pick from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for center Hasheem Thabeet and cash considerations, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

The Thunder will have one year from today to utilize the trade exception.

The Oklahoma City Thunder named Mark Daigneault as the head coach of its D-League team, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

The Thunder are moving the Tulsa 66ers to OKC, and it’s possible that the team’s nickname may change.

“Mark has placed a high value on development throughout his career and we feel that he is well aligned with the goals of our organization,” said Presti. “His experience at Florida under Coach Donovan has provided him the platform to apply his intelligence and relationship skills to help strengthen the program. We are excited about Mark joining the organization and continuing his professional growth.”

Daigneault joins the Thunder organization after spending the past four years working under Billy Donovan at the University of Florida where he most recently held the position of Assistant to the Head Coach. Last season, the Gators became the first SEC team to go 18-0 in conference play, and during Daigneault’s four years at Florida, the program posted a 120-30 record (.800) while advancing to the Elite Eight each season.

“Mark has been a valuable member of our staff the past four seasons, and I’m very happy to see him get this opportunity with a great organization,” said University of Florida Head Coach Billy Donovan. “We all wish him the best of luck and know he’ll do a tremendous job.”

Prior to arriving at Florida, the Leominster, Mass. native spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Holy Cross.

“I have had a great deal of respect for the Thunder organization throughout my career, and I’m excited to immerse myself in the culture there, and focus on the continued development of the program,” said Daigneault. “The University of Florida, Coach Donovan, the Florida basketball staff and players that I had the privilege of working with contributed to my personal and professional growth, and for that I am grateful as I embark on this opportunity with the Thunder organization.”

A 2007 graduate of the University of Connecticut, Daigneault served as a student manager with the Huskies under Jim Calhoun from 2003-07.

Daigneault, who holds a master’s degree in Sports Management from the University of Florida, will replace Darko Rajakovic as head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate. Amongst multiple front office members and coaches who have been called up from its D-League affiliate, Rajakovic was the third straight head coach of the Thunder’s D-League affiliate to make the move to an NBA bench, after he accepted an assistant coaching position on Scott Brooks’ staff last month.

Team USA moves on without Kevin Durant

Team USA moves on without Kevin Durant

While Kevin Durant takes a step back, the U.S. national team is moving forward.

Durant stunned the Americans when he decided to withdraw after practicing with the team during its first week of training camp. Now that they’ve had time to get over the surprise, they aren’t dwelling on it.

“I’m through talking about Kevin,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday after the Americans practiced for the upcoming Basketball World Cup.

“We’re done with that. We’re on to this group. What a coach does, a coach coaches who he has, not who he doesn’t have. You’re married, you’re with that woman, you’re not thinking about who you dated.”

Durant pulled out Aug. 7, shortly after the Americans finished working out in Las Vegas, where a year earlier he announced his plans to play for the team this summer.

– Associated Press

Here’s ESPN.com reporting Kevin Durant’s reaction to news from earlier in July that LeBron James was taking his talented back to the Cleveland Cavaliers:

kevin durant

Kevin Durant made a point not to ask his friend LeBron James any questions. He gets enough of those already. And besides, James answered just about every question of him with the letter he penned in Sports Illustrated which explained his decision to leave the Miami Heat and come home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But Durant did reach out to congratulate James soon after he announced his decision.

“I thought it was well-thought-out. It was classy. It was a great move to do it as a letter,” Durant said Tuesday, after a training camp session with USA Basketball. “That was pretty cool. It’s funny seeing guys think about more than just basketball for once. He thought about the city where he comes from, about Northeast Ohio and how he can affect so many of the kids just being there playing basketball. I love that. So many guys get criticized for making the decision that’s best for them instead of what’s best for everybody else. He’s a guy that did that. You gotta respect that. I applauded him, I texted him and told him congratulations on the decision and told him I was happy for him. As a fan of the game, it’s going to be pretty cool to see him back in Cleveland.”

Here’s stuff.co.nz via the Oklahoman reporting on young Thunder big-man Steven Adams:

Steven Adams discusses representing his country in the U.S.

New Zealand native and Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams takes being a role model seriously.

Along with some of New Zealand’s other famous athletes, Adams spoke to a group of elite young athetes in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday at the Powerade Breakthrough Academy. Adams isn’t one to mince words, and wasn’t shy about the responsibility he has to represent his home country.

“For me once I go out there to America I’m pretty much representing all of New Zealand because most people haven’t met New Zealand people, so I have to take that into consideration. If I’m like a d—, then they’re like New Zealand guys are d—-,” Adams said. “If you’ve just got a normal Kiwi attitude then they’re fine with it. That’s one of the key things.”

Thunder may upgrade offense this season

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on the Thunder:

Roll call on the Thunder summer.

Drafted Mitch McGary. Tried to sign Pau Gasol. Did sign Anthony Morrow. Re-signed Grant Jerrett.

Let’s see. A rookie with all kinds of offensive talent but probably not ready for NBA defensive assignments. A former superstar who isn’t the player he used to be but still has a great set of ball skills. The NBA’s second-best shooter, behind only Steph Curry. And a big man whose only discernible ability, albeit it strong, is deep shooting.

The trend is clear. The Thunder’s priority is to upgrade its offense. And the statistical trend says that’s smart.

The Thunder ranked second in NBA offense (points per possession) in both 2011-12 and 2012-13 but slipped to seventh last season. Points per possession is the best way to gauge an offense (or defense), and the Thunder slipped to 1.081 points per possession last season, after averaging 1.102 the year before.

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Tulsa 66ers, will be moving to Oklahoma City, the Thunder announced today.

The 66ers have played home games the last two seasons at the SpiritBank Event Center in Bixby, Okla., but team officials were notified recently that the facility will no longer offer arena space for lease. The move will take place prior to the start of the D-League regular season, which begins in mid-November and extends through early April.

“Our two seasons in Bixby were successful and we were pleased to be there, but circumstances beyond our control made it necessary to look for a new home for our Development League team,” said Danny Barth, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of the Thunder.

“We explored several potentially viable options, but were unable to find a facility in the Tulsa area that meets all of our business and basketball needs, so we made the decision to bring the team to Oklahoma City,” Barth said. “We offer our sincere thanks to the communities of Tulsa and Bixby, and to all of the 66ers fans and sponsors in the area for their loyal support over the past few years.”

The Professional Basketball Club, LLC, which owns the Thunder, purchased the 66ers in 2008.

Thunder officials are currently in discussions with the City of Oklahoma City to play the team’s 24 regular-season home games at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City, directly across the street from Chesapeake Energy Arena. Along with the move of the team, the business and basketball operations of the D-League team will also relocate to Oklahoma City. The team will train at the Thunder Community Events Center in Edmond, the original training home of the Thunder from 2008-11. The move of the 66ers is subject to NBA D-League approval.

Thunder sign Anthony Morrow

Thunder sign Anthony Morrow

The Oklahoma City Thunder has signed free agent guard Anthony Morrow to a contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

“Anthony Morrow has demonstrated that he is amongst the most consistent and efficient three point shooters in the NBA over his career, and we are pleased to welcome him to Oklahoma City and the Thunder organization,” Presti said. “With his body of work, we feel Anthony is a unique addition to a diverse roster, while also possessing the toughness and selflessness that we are consistently seeking in Thunder players.”

Morrow (6-5, 210), shot 45.1 percent from three-point range last season (4th in the NBA) while averaging 8.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 18.8 minutes in a career-high 76 games (nine starts) with New Orleans.

An undrafted rookie out of Georgia Tech, Morrow shot an NBA-best 46.7 percent during the 2008-09 season becoming the first rookie in NBA history to lead the league in three-point field goal percentage. The six-year NBA veteran owns career averages of 10.4 points on 42.8 percent shooting from three-point range (3rd highest amongst active NBA players), 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 23.7 minutes in 373 games (129 starts) with Golden State, New Jersey, Atlanta, Dallas and New Orleans.

Thunder sign-and-trade Thabo Sefolosha to Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks completed a sign-and-trade deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder that will bring guard/forward Thabo Sefolosha to Atlanta, as well as the draft rights to Giorgos Printezis, in exchange for the draft rights to Sofoklis Schortsanitis, it was announced today by President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Danny Ferry.

“Thabo is an unselfish, competitive and playoff-tested player, and does many things well on both sides of the ball,” Ferry said. “He also fills a need, giving us more size and depth at the wing position. He’s been a part of winning programs and will fit our culture well.”

Sefolosha, 30, played and started in 61 games last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, averaging 6.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.3 steals in 26.0 minutes (.415 FG%, .768 FT%). In his eight-year career, Sefolosha has appeared in 551 games with the Thunder and Bulls (407 starting assignments) and has averaged 5.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 23.4 minutes (.442 FG%, .348 3FG%, .746 FT%). He was selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive second team in 2009-10.

He has also played in 78 playoff games, starting 67, averaging 4.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 steals in 19.9 minutes.

Sefolosha was originally selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 13th overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft, and was traded to Chicago in exchange for the draft right to Rodney Carney, a second-round pick and cash considerations. He spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Bulls before going to the Thunder on February 19, 2009 in exchange for a first-round pick.

The native of Vevey, Switzerland has also played for Tege Riviera Basket (Switzerland), Elan Chalon (France) and Angelico Biella (Italy). He also played briefly for Fenerbahce Ulker in Turkey in 2011.

Printezis was originally selected by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round (58th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft.  He currently plays for Olympiacos Piraeus in Greece.

Atlanta acquired the draft rights to Schortsanitis from the Los Angeles Clippers on July 30, 2012 in a sign-and-trade transaction for Willie Green, after he was originally selected by the Clippers in the second round (34th overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft.  He currently plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.

Steven Adams working on low-post game

Here’s the Oklahoman with an update on young Thunder big-man Steven Adams:

Steven Adams working on low-post game

But between trips to the foul line, Adams also will spend ample time down on the low block.

The Thunder throughout this week in Orlando has been working on Adams’ back-to-the-basket game, and if for whatever reason Pau Gasol passes up the Thunder, the team could turn to Adams to solve its longtime search for a low-post scoring threat.

“That’s exactly what we’re working on,” said Thunder assistant/summer league coach Darko Rajakovic. “We want to see Steven be able to get the ball on the low post more and create from there.”

Adams has all the tools to be successful.

At 7-feet, 250 pounds, he has ideal size and mixes that with strength, timing and footwork. He put all that and more on display throughout Wednesday’s game.

The Oklahoma City Thunder has named Darko Rajakovic as assistant coach, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Rajakovic has spent the past two seasons as the head coach of the Tulsa 66ers, the Thunder’s NBA D-League affiliate.

“Darko’s diverse basketball background, knowledge of the game and ability to develop players at a high level were clearly apparent during his time in Tulsa, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to add him to our staff,” said Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks. “His understanding of the core tenants of what we do, thanks to his time in Tulsa, will maintain a level of consistency that we value and his various head coaching experiences internationally will provide another layer to our coaches.”

A Serbian native, Rajakovic was the first head coach in NBA D-League history born outside of North America. Rajakovic led Tulsa to a combined 51-49 record over two seasons, including a 27-23 record and NBA D-League Semifinals appearance in 2012-13.

During his time with the 66ers, Tulsa was assigned seven players from Oklahoma City a total of 50 times (the most in the league during that stretch), including current Thunder players Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb and Andre Roberson. Rajakovic has also seen five of his 66ers players receive call-ups to the NBA, including four to the Thunder (Grant Jerrett, Daniel Orton, Mustafa Shakur and Reggie Williams). He coached 11 Tulsa players over the past two years who were on an NBA roster in the 2013-14 season.

Prior to joining the 66ers, Rajakovic spent the previous three years as the head coach of Espacio Torrelodones of the Spanish EBA League. In his first season (2009), Rajakovic led Torrelodones to the Primera Division de Baloncesto title, promoting the team to the Liga EBA.

Rajakovic began his coaching career at 16 years old with BC Borac Cacak in Cacak, Serbia. Following his three-year stint in Cacak, Rajakovic was named the head coach of the U-20 and U-18 teams of Red Star Belgrade. During his eight years in Belgrade, Rajakovic led Red Star to two Serbian championships. Rajakovic received a basketball coaching degree from the Belgrade Basketball Academy in 2004 and a degree in sports management from BK University in Belgrade in 2006.

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on the Thunder:

The Oklahoma City Thunder will be without forward Grant Jerrett for the Orlando Summer League.

Jerrett sustained an ankle injury that will keep him out of Orlando, as reported by Darnell Mayberry. The 6-foot-10 Jerrett was a revelation in the Summer League for the Thunder last season, shooting 50 percent from 3-point range while averaging 10.8 points per game.

Sebastian Telfair to join Thunder

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on the Thunder:

Sebastian Telfair to join Thunder

Looking to add depth and experience at the lead guard position following the departure of Derek Fisher, the Thunder has agreed to terms with veteran point guard Sebastian Telfair.

Telfair, 29, was the 13th overall pick in 2004. He’s played for seven teams in nine seasons but spent last season in China. In 548 career NBA games, Telfair has averaged 7.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 21.6 minutes.

The deal is a one-year contract at the veteran’s minimum, about $1.3 million.

Nick Collison undergoes knee surgery

Thunder forward Nick Collison undergoes knee surgery

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, the team announced today.

This past season, Collison appeared in 81 games and averaged 4.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 16.7 minutes per game.

Collison is expected to miss 4-6 weeks before returning to normal offseason activities.

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