5 min read

Tuesday Bolts – 6.30.09

Tuesday Bolts – 6.30.09

Oklahoma City ranked 28th on Steve Aschburner’s top free agent destinations: “Oklahoma City: The talent on the


roster, and the brainpower in the front office have lots of admirers, and the Ford Center fans can be among the league’s most active and loud. But there’s no cachet to being the first franchise in, at the big league level, and the Thunder will need to win soon to convince young players to stay or come aboard.”

Darnell Mayberry with some great analysis about the Paul Millsap rumor: “He’ll create a logjam. Where will Millsap play? The Thunder isn’t really worried about positions right now. The team is playing Green out of his customary small forward position at power forward just to get him the most minutes as possible. But acquiring Millsap will either move Green to the bench (highly unlikely) or mean Millsap will continue coming off the bench (making him one of the league’s most expensive reserves). Add to that, Green already plays 37 minutes, mainly at power forward, and Durant plays 39 per game, mostly at small forward. There is little wiggle room in the rotation at those positions (unless you want to move Durant back to shooting guard, Green back to small forward and cut off minutes for Thabo Sefolosha and third overall pick Harden. Again, highly unlikely).”

Layup Drill on the Harden pick: “James Harden was not only one of the best talents available, but fits well into the Thunder’s plan. The pick solidifies Russell Westbrook as their Point Guard of the future and gives them a solid scoring punch at the Shooting Guard position. Harden is one of the more NBA-ready prospects, and will be able to contribute immediately. The lefty can shoot well, uses his solid frame to rebound and has been praised for his highly unselfish game and ability to feel out the game. This again fits well for the Thunder, who have a lot of options in Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Westbrook.”

Kevin Durant’s basketball camp started yesterday: “The Oklahoma City Thunder star opened the three-day camp Monday at Heritage Hall High School. About 350 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14 are participating in the camp, which was formerly hosted by All-Star point guard Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets. Durant just finished his first season playing in Oklahoma City, finishing sixth in the NBA in scoring. He was the Rookie of the Year during the 2007-08 season. Campers paid $199 to attend the camp, although some scholarships were available through the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City.” And Adrian Peterson’s camp just wrapped up too. Good time to be a sports camper in Oklahoma. (Picture KD put up on Twitter)

The Thunder appear to be close to hiring another assistant: “The Thunder is expected to soon announce at least one new addition to its coaching staff, but two names have been linked to the position. Former Sacramento Kings assistant coach Rex Kalamian has interviewed for the job, according to a source. J.B. Bickerstaff, the son of former head coach Bernie Bickerstaff, who most recently served under Kevin McHale with the Minnesota Timberwolves, has also received interest from the Thunder.”

D.J. White isn’t having your normal summer: “While most of his teammates left town at the end of the season, Thunder forward D.J. White has remained put for the most part. White, coming off an injury-shortened rookie season, said he is trying to make up for lost time. The last two-plus months have allowed him to do so. After missing the season’s first 75 games with a benign tumor in his jaw, White has spent the off-season bulking up and doing plenty of skill work. He said he’s already up to 235 pounds, and said he’d like to tack on five more. Whether at the Thunder practice facility or back home in Tuscaloosa, Ala., White has remained busy. “I’m pretty much feeling like my old self,” White said. “I’ve had a chance to do a lot of things I haven’t done in the past couple of months. I can workout fully, no restrictions. I can lift weights. I can eat what I want to. I feel good right now.”

A perfect example of why Sam Presti is a step ahead of all other general managers: “The last thing we needed to do was be demanding and assertive. Not now,” Kahn said. “I don’t know how this is going to play out. There could be a lot of twists and turns. But I don’t feel any self-imposed pressure that this needs to be resolved or concluded in any short fashion.” Kahn said he didn’t know how the Rubio situation was “going to play out.” Presti did. That’s why he passed on Rubio and that’s why the Thunder’s moving forward with an exciting new player and Minnesota is scrambling to figure that thing out.

The Baseline previews free agency: “There isn’t often a strong crop of free agent centers, and this year is no different. Mehmet Okur should wind up back with the Jazz. If your team is looking for a center, it’ll be sorting through Zaza Pachulia, Marcin Gortat and Rasho Nesterovic.”

Some impressive words from Shaq about Blake Griffin: “My (10 year old) son is starting to play now, and I don’t like to let him watch players that are really, really fancy. Of course, I’ll let him watch Kobe, LeBron, T-Mac (Tracy McGrady). But I show him Blake Griffin and I say, ‘Shareef, this is the dude you should watch and pattern your game after.’ Because my son, when he’s older, I think he’s going to have the same body type — 6-10, muscular, freakish athletically.”

Empty the Bench looks at the top 12 unrestricted free agents: “Mr. Ariza is one of my absolute favorite free agents this summer. He’s one of the youngest kids out there, his natural ability measures up with anybody available, he’s got tremendous work ethic, he constantly working on and improving his game and he’s already proven himself to be a winner. Oh, and on top of all that he’s a pretty good basketball player, too. Ariza is the rare defender who is both a strong man defender and an excellent vulture in the passing lanes. On offense he takes it to the rack hard and in the last year, especially in the 2009 postseason, he’s turned himself into a strong outside shooter.”

It’s looking like Marcin Gortat will be available: “Smith said the Magic haven’t given up on trying to keep Turkoglu, but they will have to go deep into the punitive luxury tax to re-sign him or promising center Marcin Gortat – and other players. They have only eight players on their roster, and need to at least add five more this summer. The Magic aren’t expected to be able to match offers for Gortat, a restricted free agent who made $770,000 last season as Dwight Howard’s backup. Smith indicated they would be out of the running if offers “were north of 5 [$5 million per season.]”