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Thunder sign Caron Butler

The rich get richer once again.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, already loaded with talent, have signed forward Caron Butler to a contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. A team that really didn’t need any additional help now has an even stronger bench.

Butler (6-7, 217), a two-time NBA All-Star, has appeared in 764 career regular season games (710 starts) and recorded averages of 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.42 steals in 33.9 minutes per game during his 12-year NBA career.

“We are pleased to welcome Caron Butler to the Thunder organization and to Oklahoma City,” said Presti. “Caron represents what we look for in a Thunder player and will positively impact our team. His toughness, hard-nosed defense, resiliency and highly regarded professionalism will only enhance our depth and bring additional versatility to the roster.”

This move has been expected for days, but became official this evening.

The 10th overall selection in the 2002 NBA Draft, he has appeared in 47 career postseason games (all starts) and posted averages of 13.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.45 steals in 34.6 minutes per game.

The Thunder roster now stands at 14.

Kendrick Perkins out six weeks after surgery

Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins underwent a successful procedure on his left groin, the team announced today.

The injury occurred during the third quarter of the Feb. 20 game versus the Miami Heat. This season Perkins has appeared in 54 games (all starts) averaging 3.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 19.7 minutes per contest.

Perkins is expected to miss approximately six weeks.

Russell Westbrook health update: He is back

The following statement was issued today by Oklahoma City Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti regarding Russell Westbrook’s availability to play in tonight’s game versus the Miami Heat:

“We are all very excited to have Russell back. He has worked extremely hard throughout his rehabilitation, and his addition will allow us to build on the progress we have made in his absence. As Russell integrates back into the team we are going to manage the transition by building his minutes over time and will evaluate his availability in back-to-back situations. These steps are an effort to control the areas of his return to play where feasible, given the reduced practice and conditioning time during the regular season. Our goal is to create the best foundation for Russell and the team as we head into the postseason.”

The Oklahoma Thunder are a powerhouse, and they’re about to get even stronger. Here’s the Associated Press reporting:

Russell Westbrook returns to practice for Thunder

The Miami Heat had plenty of trouble with the Oklahoma City Thunder last time the teams met.

They might have even more to deal with this time around.

Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook made it through a full practice Wednesday for the first time since his most recent surgery, just in time for Thursday’s rematch with the two-time defending NBA champion Heat. The ultra-athletic Westbrook’s presence could be a game changer for a team that already has the NBA’s best record.

His return nearly overshadows the usual hype that goes with matchups between Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and Miami’s LeBron James.

jared sullinger won east nba player of week

Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Feb. 3, through Sunday, Feb. 9.

Sullinger helped the Celtics to a 2-1 week, which included wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings. He averaged 20.3 points (13th in the conference), 12.7 rebounds (second in the conference) and 1.67 blocks (fourth in the conference). Sullinger posted a point-rebound double-double in all three games, including a 31-point, 16-rebound effort on Feb. 7, when the Celtics topped the Kings 99-89 at TD Garden.

Durant led the Thunder to a 3-1 week, which included wins over Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks. He averaged 31.8 points (second in the conference), 9.0 assists (second in the conference) and 8.0 rebounds. Durant posted two-double-doubles, including a 41-point, 10-rebound effort in which he added nine assists on Feb. 9, as the Thunder beat the Knicks 112-100, at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee, Charlotte’s Al Jefferson, Detroit’s Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, Houston’s Dwight Howard, Indiana’s David West, Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and San Antonio’s Patty Mills.

As dominant a force as Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant has already proven to be, he’s still capable of raising the bar even higher. The latest example came today vs the Knicks. Here’s New York Newsday reporting:

The NBA’s two best scorers squared off Sunday. Carmelo Anthony struggled putting the ball in the basket, and Kevin Durant showed he can do that and so much more.

He controlled the game on the offensive end and played smothering defense on Anthony. Durant had 41 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as he led the Thunder to a 112-100 victory over the Knicks at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“He makes it look easy,” Anthony said. “When he gets it going like that, he’s hard to stop.”

Durant has emerged as the MVP front-runner and has the Thunder atop the Western Conference with a 41-12 record. He’s always been a dominant scorer, but his playmaking and defense have improved.

“In order for us to be a good team,” Durant said, “I have to be a two-way player, and I’ve realized that these past few years.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder has recalled forward Andre Roberson from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

During his most recent assignment with the 66ers, Roberson recorded two double-doubles while averaging 14.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.75 steals, 1.75 blocks and 31.3 minutes in four games (all starts). Overall, the forward is averaging 15.6 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.45 steals, 1.45 blocks and 35.2 minutes in 11 games (all starts) over four separate assignments with Tulsa.

Kevin Durant free agency will be fun

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on the eventual Kevin Durant free agency. Like every other team in the league, the Brooklyn Nets wouldn’t mind landing him:

On Friday, the Nets will chase Kevin Durant around the Barclays Center court, hoping to contain the NBA’s most dynamic scorer. And some two years from now, they likely will be joining the crucial chase for his signature on a contract.

The impending Durant free agency bonanza should start picking up steam next season and will undoubtedly engulf the NBA in the summer of 2016. And make no mistake: the Nets are targeting Durant, the 25-year-old offensive juggernaut, even if it’s too early to predict their odds.

The Nets could be committed to no salary when Durant becomes a free agent, depending on whether Deron Williams picks up his one-year option for the 2016-17 season. Everybody else is off the books.

Durant, who hired former Nets minority owner Jay Z as his agent last year, plays in one of the NBA’s smallest markets, if not the smallest, with a dedicated fan base and an owner who has been intent on avoiding the luxury tax.

Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Jan. 20, through Sunday, Jan. 26.

Millsap led the Hawks to a 3-1 week behind averages of 21.3 points (ninth in the conference) on .508 shooting from the field, 7.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.5 steals (fifth in the conference) and 2.0 blocks (fourth in the conference). Millsap collected five blocks in a road win over the Orlando Magic on Jan. 22, and filled the stat sheet with 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists on Jan. 20, in a win over the Miami Heat.

Durant led Oklahoma City to three wins during a 4-0 week, having missed the 101-83 win over the Celtics on Jan. 24 (shoulder). He averaged a league-leading 38.0 ppg and added 8.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists. Durant collected a triple-double with 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists during a 103-91 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Jan. 25.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Brooklyn’s Mirza Teletovic, Charlotte’s Al Jefferson, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Memphis’ Zach Randolph, Miami’s Chris Bosh and LeBron James, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, New York’s Carmelo Anthony, and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross.

Here’s the Oklahoman with a report on guard Royal Ivey, whose time with the Thunder will reportedly be followed by basketball work in China:

Royal Ivey likely off to play basketball in China

Royal Ivey’s latest stint in the NBA came with an unblemished record. And it will end that way.

During his recent 10-day contract with the Thunder, which expired on Sunday, Ivey received an offer to play in China.

And because of that, the likable but sporadically used Thunder guard will hop overseas for the final month-and-a-half of the Chinese season, rather than signing another 10-day contract with the Thunder.

During Ivey’s 10 days in OKC, he only appeared in two games, playing five minutes and grabbing one rebound. But his arrival coincided with the team’s sudden turnaround. The Thunder went 7-0 with Ivey.

Kevin Durant going extra wild lately

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who is simply going nuts on the court lately:

Want an idea of how unguardable Kevin Durant has been lately? Just take a look at the postgame quotes from Sixers coach Brett Brown. Durant went off for 32 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, his fifth career triple-double. And an perplexed Brown had no answers postgame.

Brown: “I thought we did a pretty good job on him. We try, we get small guys chasing him around, denying him and fronting him, and we get everybody scared because he’s Kevin Durant, because he’s so long and scores in such a variety of ways. He is the NBA’s hardest player. He’s always been an incredibly difficult guard. I gameplanned back in my Spur days. How do you guard him? Is it Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, Bruce Bowen, whoever. I thought our guys, I thought James (Anderson) was great and you look down and he’s got a triple double.”

- Durant is now averaging 36.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 13 January games.

- In his last five games, Durant has scored 198 points on 70-of-107 shooting (65 percent).

The Oklahoma City Thunder has recalled forward Andre Roberson from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

During his most recent stint with the 66ers, Roberson averaged 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist, 3.0 steals, 2.5 blocks and 40.5 minutes while helping the team to a pair of road wins at Bakersfield and Los Angeles. Over three assignments this season, the forward is averaging 16.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.9 steals and 1.3 blocks in 37.1 minutes in seven games (all starts).

The Oklahoma City Thunder has assigned forward Andre Roberson to the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

Roberson has appeared in 16 games (four starts) for the Thunder this season, averaging 1.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 8.7 minutes per game.

This will mark Roberson’s third assignment to the 66ers this season. In five previous games (all starts) with Tulsa, he has averaged 15.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.8 steals in 35.8 minutes per game.

He is expected to be in uniform tonight when the Tulsa 66ers take on the Bakersfield Jam at Dignity Health Event Center in Bakersfield, Calif.

OKC signs Royal Ivey for 10 days

The Oklahoma City Thunder have, as expected, been one of the league’s best teams this season. Even with star point guard Russell Westbrook injured, the team is a force.

But the team can still use a bit of help in their backcourt. And so enters Royal Ivey, who is a solid backup to have at the end of a bench for use in limited minutes.

Full news item: Thunder sign Royal Ivey to 10-day contract

Kevin Durant nursing a sore left wrist

Here’s the Oklahoman with a report on Thunder forward Kevin Durant, who is banged up but should be OK soon — perhaps today:

Kevin Durant sore wrist

After a rough fall in Saturday’s win against Milwaukee, Kevin Durant missed practice the past couple of days, nursing his sore left wrist.

Durant did some light shooting, according to coach Scott Brooks, but his status for Tuesday’s game at Memphis remains up in the air.

“We’ll see tomorrow,” Brooks said Monday.

jerryd bayless

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have completed a three team trade with the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder in which they acquired guard Jerryd Bayless from Memphis and forward Ryan Gomes from Oklahoma City. The Celtics sent guard Courtney Lee and a 2016 second round draft pick to the Memphis Grizzlies. In a related transaction, the Celtics have waived forward Ryan Gomes. Memphis also traded a conditional 2017 second round draft pick to Oklahoma City.

Bayless, a 6’3” guard, has appeared in 30 games for the Grizzlies this season averaging 8.0 points, 2.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game. The 11th overall pick in the 2008 Draft by the Indiana Pacers has a season-high of 22 points against the Celtics on November 27 when he was 6-of-10 from the field and 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Bayless has posted career averages of 8.2 points, 2.8 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game split between Portland, New Orleans, Toronto and Memphis. An early entry candidate into the 2008 Draft from the University of Arizona, Bayless averaged 19.7 points and 4.0 assists while earning All-Pac 10 Second Team and All-Freshman honors. He was the first freshman in Arizona history to lead the team in scoring as well as being the first freshman to win team MVP since Sean Elliot in the 1985-86 season.

Gomes, a 6’7” forward, has appeared in five games for the Thunder this season totaling six points and four rebounds in 34 minutes played. Playing in his eighth NBA season, Gomes was originally drafted by the Celtics with the 50th pick in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft. The former Providence College Friar has posted career averages of 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 487 games split between Boston, Minnesota, the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City.

Three-team trade sends Jerryd Bayless to Celtics, Courtney Lee to Grizzlies

Lee (6-5, 200) joins the Grizzlies with career averages of 9.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists on .446 shooting (.387 3FG shooting) in 25.9 minutes in 395 games (174 starts) with the Orlando Magic, New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics. The 28-year-old has averaged 7.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 16.8 minutes in 30 games (zero starts) with Boston this season, recording career-high shooting percentages both from three-point range (.442) and overall (.492). The Indianapolis, Ind. native scored a career-high 30 points on March 8, 2010 at Memphis as a member of the New Jersey Nets.

The six-year veteran was drafted by Orlando in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft following a successful four-year collegiate career at Western Kentucky University. Lee was named 2007-08 Sun Belt Player of the Year and earned First Team All-Sun Belt honors for three consecutive seasons (2005-08), starting in every game he played with the Hilltoppers.

Russell Westbrook had knee surgery today, back after All-Star break

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee earlier today, Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti announced.

“Russell has been playing pain free, but recently had experienced increased swelling. After consultation and consideration by his surgeon in Los Angeles, a plan was established to monitor the swelling that included a series of scheduled MRIs,” said Presti. “On the most recent MRI it was determined by the surgeon that there was an area of concern that had not previously existed, nor was detectable in the previous procedures, and it was necessary to evaluate Russell further. The consulting physician determined that arthroscopic surgery was necessary to address the swelling that was taking place. We know that Russell’s work ethic and commitment will help him return to the level of play that we have all come to appreciate.”

Westbrook is expected to return post All-Star break, which is February 14-16, 2014.

Now this would have been fun to see video footage of. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on a postgame locker room visit gone wrong:

Joakim Noah visit to Thunder locker room angers Kendrick Perkins

Following the Thunder’s win over Chicago on Thursday night, the starting centers for both teams got into a brief but heated exchange inside the Thunder’s locker room.

Bulls center Joakim Noah accompanied friend and Thunder starter Thabo Sefolosha into Oklahoma City’s dressing room. Perkins immediately took exception.

“They let anybody into the locker room, huh?” Perkins shouted after spotting Noah at the entrance of the dressing room while seated at his locker.

Russell Westbrook, from across the room, soon chimed in.

Noah then addressed Perkins directly, asking if he wanted him to leave and saying if Perkins wanted him out he would leave. Perkins, still seated, responded with an obscenity-laced retort, which he capped by saying “Get yo’ (expletive) up out of here.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder has recalled forward Andre Roberson from the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

In three games (all starts) with the 66ers, Roberson averaged 17.3 points while shooting .561 percent from the field, 11.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 3.3 steals and 1.0 block in 35.0 minutes per game.

The Oklahoma City Thunder has assigned forward Andre Roberson to the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

Roberson has appeared in six games (one start) for the Thunder this season, averaging 1.7 rebounds in 6.5 minutes per game.

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