Archive for the ‘ OKC Thunder Blog ’ Category

Dion Waiters hopes to stick with Thunder

Thunder shooting guard Dion Waiters started 15 games this regular season, but otherwise came off the bench. He’s an erratic player who is helpful for stretches, but must also refine his decision-making ability. In the regular season he averaged 9.8 ppg on 39.9% FG, and in the playoffs he put up 8.4 ppg in 41.7% FG. Here’s the Oklahoman with an udpate on his future with the team:

Dion Waiters hopes to stick with Thunder

Waiters is 24 years old. He had a solid postseason, proving he can impact the game, both offensively and defensively, on a winning team. Two-way wings are hot commodities in this market flush with money. He’ll get plenty of interest. But because he’s restricted, the Thunder have the right to match any offer he receives.

Durant is the top priority for this franchise when July 1 hits. But Waiters’ future, especially if Durant returns, will also be a crucial decision. The Thunder has a history of losing young, talented backup guards. Waiters is in that James Harden, Reggie Jackson role. But his early public comments should give OKC hope it can retain him.

Mere days ago, the Warriors were down 3-1 to the Thunder and looked overmatched. They weren’t playing up to the level we’ve come to expect from them. Stephen Curry’s shot wasn’t golden. Draymond Green was erratic and not helping the squad. But then the efficient, effective Warriors that we’re used to seeing returned for Game 5 and again in Game 6, and suddenly we have a tied series and an upcoming Game 7. Monday night should be epic. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

Warriors in good shape to achieve rare comeback

The Warriors have a chance to do what few thought they could do and something rarely done before, because they’ve managed to send the Western Conference finals to a winner-take-all Game 7 on Monday.

The Warriors are the 31st team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-1 and the first team to do so in a conference finals since Portland in 2000 against the Lakers.

Among the first 232 teams that trailed 3-1 since the league went to a seven-game format, only nine have won the series.

Things certainly looked bleak for the Warriors after consecutive 20-point losses had them facing elimination for the first time in Steve Kerr’s two-year tenure, but they’ve won two in a row to get the odds back on their side. Home teams are 100-24 in Game 7s. In conference finals, teams that rallied from a 3-1 deficit to play Game 7 at home are 8-2.

A few days ago, the Thunder had a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Finals series against the Warriors. But after last night it’s a tied series, with Game 7 in Oakland on Monday. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on some key late turnovers that helped seal OKC’s fate last night:

Late turnovers hurt Thunder in Game 6 loss

Forget the Thunder’s disappointing 55-win record this season or Golden State’s record-setting 73-win march to history. Forget the first round breeze by Dallas, the second round shock of San Antonio, the first five games of this series and the first 45 minutes on Saturday night.

Go back to October or mid-March or two weeks ago and lay out this scenario for Sam Presti or Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook: You’re up three at home with possession of the ball and under three minutes to play. Close it out and you’re in the NBA Finals. None of what came before it matters. Not the midseason struggles, the KD free agency chatter or the historic dominance of their two conference rivals. KD and Russ will jump at that scenario every time. The bumpy road had navigated them to that very spot on Saturday night, a conference title in their grasp. But in three of the most agonizing minutes in the franchise’s young history, they fumbled it away.

Neither star had a first half turnover in Game 6. Not one in 24 minutes. But Durant and Westbrook combined for eight turnovers on Saturday night. Six — 6!!! — came in the final three minutes. That’s six on the Thunder’s final eight possessions, all committed by Durant and Westbrook. The final one didn’t matter. KD fumbled it away with seven seconds left. But by then, the damage was already done, the colossal loss already decided.

With many recent playoff games coming by way of blowout rather than dramatic close victory, fans need all the thrilling games they can get. And Thunder at Warriors Game 5 Thursday night provided just that. Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting:

Thunder-Warriors Game 5 provides much-needed drama

Finally, the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder provided a game that more completely explains why there should be two more of them.

Not because of the identity of the victor, mind you. The Warriors extended the Western Conference Final with a sweatbox-quality 120-111 win over the Thunder in Game 5, forcing a trip back to the Midwest. No, we speak of more of its quality, and the way it more accurately reflected the strengths, weaknesses, quirks and hidden face cards of these two teams.

Kevin Durant was brilliant. Stephen Curry was healed. Russell Westbrook was deliciously erratic and indomitable in the best Iversonian tradition. Andrew Bogut rose from the morgue to play perhaps his best important game since those in the Denver series two years ago, and Stephen Adams struggled as a result. There was give and take, yin and yang, hoi and polloi and a wonderful sense of balance between two teams that would do this mostly sub-mediocre postseason an enormous solid by having the NBA declare it a best of 13-series.

Andre Roberson steps up big in Game 4

The Thunder beat the Warriors 118-94 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Finals series. OKC shooting guard Andre Roberson, who generally plays as limited a role a starter on a good team can play, stepped up in dramatic fashion and was one of the best players on either squad. It was impressive. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

Andre Roberson steps up for Thunder in Game 4

Klay Thompson bricked a 3-pointer on one end, the sharpshooter drawing a rare blank as he tried to snipe his shell-shocked Warriors back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit.

Eighteen seconds later, Andre Roberson dropped in a corner 3 on the other, the non-shooter nailing a 3 for a fifth consecutive game, bumping the Thunder’s commanding lead to 16. It soon jumped to 18 to 20 and beyond, the cushion growing as Roberson’s point total kept rising…

“I’m a basketball player, man,” Roberson said, a bit peeved at the notion that he’s a one-sided liability. “I can go out there and do it all.”

His stat-line on Tuesday night bore that out: 17 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, five steals and two blocks – becoming the only player in the past four seasons to reach those numbers against Golden State. In his 40 minutes, OKC outscored the Warriors by 25.

There were very few bright spots for the Warriors on Tuesday, but if you forced us to pick one it was awesome third quarter play from shooting guard Klay Thompson, helped make a game out of this thing. For a stretch, at least. But the Thunder were collectively the clearly stronger squad last night. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

Klay Thompson erupts in 3rd quarter but Warriors still lose Game 4

Thompson understandably saw himself as partly culpable for his team’s 72-53 halftime deficit. He scored all of four points in the half, on just four attempts from the field, and spent more time than usual on the bench because of foul trouble (he picked up his third with 7:55 left in the second quarter).

He emerged from the locker room with fresh bravado, essentially winging it — and scored 19 consecutive Warriors points during a scintillating, third-quarter stretch. By the time Thompson’s personal run ended, his team trailed only 80-74 and harbored genuine hopes of an epic comeback…

He finished with a team-high 26 points, on 9-for-17 shooting.

Draymond Green continues to struggle

The champs are in trouble. After getting blown out in Game 3 and beaten fairly soundly in Game 4, the Warriors are down 3-1 to the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. One Warriors in particular who has struggled in dramatic fashion has been Draymond Green. Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting:

Draymond Green continues to struggle

Green’s performance in a 118-94 loss to Oklahoma City in Game 4 brought neither him nor the Warriors any comfort.

Game 3 was the worst of his four-year career, and Game 4 was about as bad.

“I don’t think the last 48 hours affected me,” Green said. “But I think it’s the first time in my life that I didn’t respond to critics. That’s what’s kind of been my story.”

A second-round draft pick in 2012 that was selected for the All-Star team in February played 38 minutes. The sum of his production was 6 points (1-of-7 shooting from the field), 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, one blocked shot – and six turnovers.

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.

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