4 min read

Friday Bolts: 5.11.18

Nick Collison (as told to Royce Young) on his retirement after 14 NBA seasons: “The practice court was in a big metal shed out in the middle of nowhere. It actually used to be an old skating rink, the air outside stained with the faint smell of dog food because of a production plant nearby. It was our second year in Oklahoma City, coming off a 23-59 debut season, one we started 3-29 and had people wondering if we were the worst team of all time. But this was different. I’d played one season already with Kevin Durant, but he was getting really good. Russell Westbrook was still trying to dunk everything, but he was getting better. James Harden was our new draft pick, and even though he’d just gotten here, he already knew what to do. There was a new guy named Serge Ibaka that they’d drafted a year before, but he was here earlier than they thought. I wasn’t sure if he spoke English, but man, he was a freak athletically. I remember thinking, “Are we good? I think we’re good.”

Nick Gallo on the impact of Nick Collison: “Around town, Collison earned the moniker Mr. Thunder, a nickname given to him by Thunder Assistant General Manager Troy Weaver, who encouraged the team to carry themselves more like the well-respected, longtime NBA forward. At the practice facility however, Collison goes by “Dirty”, a nickname coined by assistant coach Mark Bryant. “He means I do the dirty work and it’s not always pretty, but kind of like a basketball version of a janitor,” Collison said. “If you got to dive on the floor you got to do it or if you got to set a screen you do it or if you got to do a hard foul that’s what you’re supposed to do.” Alongside 119 teammates in 15 seasons, under six head coaches and two general managers, Collison has put in the work every day. He set screens, took charges, found cutters on backdoor bounce passes, took hard fouls and knocked down open jump shots.”

Russell Westbrook on Nick Collison:

Anthony Slater (The Athletic) with Kevin Durant’s comments on Collison: “Everybody can’t get the headlines and spotlight and Nick never did it for that. It’s not to say Nick was underrated because we all knew. All the best players on the team knew what he brought. We always wanted him in the game, fought for him to get more time. We all knew and that was good enough for Nick, good for us. Because he never was “Nick Collison, NBA player.” He just wanted to roam around, play ball, do his thing. That made me, as well, think about the difference of wanting to just play and not worry about the other stuff, the celebrity that comes with it. Nick never cared about that and it rubbed off on us all.”

Dan Devine (Yahoo Sports) on Collison — the plus/minus God and Sonics/Thunder lifer: “All those not-so-little things we measure now as hustle stats — screen assists, deflections, loose balls recovered, charges drawn, shots contested, box-outs — and the ones we’re still trying to get a handle on (help defense, positioning, shot quality, etc.) were the foundations of Collison’s game. His talent for contributing all over the floor without demanding shots and attention that would be better funneled to Durant, Westbrook and Harden — especially Harden, as part of Oklahoma City’s dynamic second unit — marked him as a “no-stats All-Star” in the vein of Shane Battier, and helped fuel the Thunder’s rise from high-lottery curiosity to legitimate member of the NBA’s elite, making the playoffs in six of seven seasons, with four Western Conference finals appearances and one trip to the NBA Finals.”

Jenni Carlson (NewsOK) with five memorable moments from Collison’s career: “The iconic image of Collison came the day OKC ended San Antonio’s 19-game winning in a battle royale. Late in the third quarter, Collison took a shot to the top of his head. It opened a gash that bled — a lot. Collison, who was regularly battered and bruised, had blood gushing down his face. Four staples closed the wound, and Collison actually could’ve returned to the game, though he never did.”

Harrison Faigan (Silver Screen & Roll) on rumors of Paul George possibly staying in OKC: “Recent reports have painted George — who had knee surgery that will take 6-8 weeks to recover from on Wednesday — as not being long for Oklahoma City, but Chris Haynes of ESPN reported on ESPN Los Angeles that #PG2LA isn’t quite a done deal just yet: “They don’t want to hear this around this neck of the woods… Somebody recently close with Paul were telling me they wouldn’t be surprised if he re-signed.”

Matthew VanTryon (Indy Star) on the Vegas odds of where Paul George will play next season: “If you’re hoping Paul George and the Pacers have a reunion next season, Vegas says don’t bet on it. According to Bovada, the odds are 9/1 that Indiana and George reunite. The Lakers are the favorites at 1/2, followed by the Thunder (4/1) and 76ers (6/1). The Pacers, Cavaliers and Clippers are all 9/1 odds.”

Fred Katz on how Russell Westbrook can improve his 3-point shooting by what he does before the shot: “Shot selection certainly played a role in the struggles. Shot creation, as well. It’s a subtler part of what Presti’s reference signifies: better shots mean more successful offense. The challenge is finding Westbrook those opportunities. And that takes modification A player can’t collect catch-and-shoot looks when he already has the ball. And Westbrook is not going to receive many inside an offense that perennially finishes at or near the bottom of the NBA in total passes per game, a direct effect of his preferred playing style, one that has always intertwined with his basketball identity. Of Westbrook’s 4.1 3-pointers per game this year, only 1.1 came on catch-and-shoot opportunities, per Second Spectrum, in line with his career ratio. But if the Thunder want him to see more spot-up opportunities, it requires change. Even subtle adjustments that involve relinquishing no control of the offense can make a difference.”

Around the League: Zach Lowe on the Celtics’ special brand of toughness…. The Warriors and the scariest three minutes in basketball…. Steve Kerr doesn’t think the Rockets have an edge in the WCF…. James Borrego (Spurs assistant) is the new coach of the Hornets…. Everything you need to know about the NBA’s final four.