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Every now and again when former Oklahoma City Councilman Goree James would see something or hear something at a council meeting that he had seen or heard before he would fire off with a resounding, ‘seems like deja-vu all over again!’
That pretty much describes Thunder practices over the last week.
Players and coaches working on the same drills and trying to fight off boredom.
They still don’t know who they’ll be playing nor do they know if they’ll have their center. Kendrick Perkins is still listed as day-to-day and apparently you can say the same about the Nuggets-Lakers series though at least tomorrow we know will be the last day for that one. Whoever wins will get on a plane and fly to Oklahoma City where they will play the Thunder at 8:30 Monday night.
That bit of certainty at least spices things up a bit for the coaches and the players, “that definitely helps,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said, “at least for planning practices and planning our schedule but it doesn’t help who we’re gonna prepare for we’re still preparing for both teams.”
At this point, a week after closing out the Dallas Mavericks, the Thunder’s next on-court opponent may not be as tough as what they’re battling now, boredom and the threat of rest turning into rust.
“Sometimes it gets tough with this many days without a competitive game,” admitted Thunder backup point guard Derek Fisher. “Fish” has been down this road before of course. Through the years he and his former Laker teammates would sweep on opponent then have to wait around for the next round to begin. But just because he’s been through it before doesn’t make it any easier.
“I’ve been in this position a few times and sometimes you can start to lose that edge and that drive that you develop when you’re playing games so as soon as we start on Monday, regardless of who it is we’re gonna have to get right back to work.”
At least the days off have been good for Perkins’ healing or at least that’s what we’re guessing. The Thunder isn’t saying much about the big man though Scotty Brooks sounded a little more optimistic than he has over the last few days.
“He looked good but he’s still day-to-day, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Perkins has not practiced at all with the team, “but he was moving around pretty good,” Brooks said, “but we still won’t know until we see how he responds after today.”
Brooks isn’t worried too much about Perk missing practice time but he stressed again he doesn’t plan to run him out there if he isn’t ready, “he won’t go on the court if he’s not able to play, we won’t put him in that position.”
Perkins insisted on playing last season even though after being traded to Oklahoma City he knew he was no better than 75 percent healthy, if that. Perk still has that attitude but Thunder management is concerned about hurrying the big man. Fisher seems to agree with that philosophy.
“Perk’s been workin hard doing the best job he can do to try and get back out there for us but at the same time we don’t want to rush it. You know he’s not only important to us come Monday night but for longer term plans we want Perk to be as healthy as possible as we expect to continue to advance.”
For now they will have to settle for finding out Saturday night what opponent will hit the floor against them on Monday night. They realize they may have to wait all the way till game time to know which teammate will be on the floor with them.
Randy Renner has covered Oklahoma sports for 30 years and contributes to NBA.com.