5 min read

Wednesday Bolts – 3.4.09

Wednesday Bolts – 3.4.09

KD won’t play tonight, but he could this weekend: “The Oklahoma City Thunder could have leading scorer Kevin


Durant back in the lineup by the weekend. The second-year forward was off crutches and walking with only a slight limp during Monday’s 96-87 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Durant was expected to miss seven to 14 days after suffering a severely sprained right ankle in Dallas on Friday. “It’s definitely improving,” Oklahoma coach Scott Brooks told The Oklahoman. “Young guys’ bodies heal a lot quicker than older guys.” Durant will not play Wednesday against Washington, meaning the earliest he could return would be Saturday at New Orleans.”

SI writers discuss awards, including Rookie of the Year and Most Improved: “This is a close one between Rose and Mayo, and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook is closing strong. But from the beginning of the season, it was Rose’s task to lead the Bulls, and he has done so in an efficient and mature fashion … I struggle with this award. You don’t necessarily want to reward a player who had a bad season and comes up with a pretty good one the following year. And you almost never have a young player because he needs a track record to establish a baseline. Nevertheless, I’m going with second-year player Kevin Durant, who has expanded his game and showed a lot of leadership in getting the Thunder back on track.”

And Russell has taken over the SI rookie rankings top spot: “Hours after being named Western Conference’s Rookie of the Month for February, the point guard got a jump on the March race. With starting forwards Kevin Durant and Jeff Green sidelined by injury, Westbrook had 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in 41 minutes in Oklahoma City’s 96-87 victory against Dallas on Monday. “Russell did a good job of making guys better,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks told The Oklahoman after Westbrook’s first career triple-double. “He’s learning how to play a position, and he’s doing a great job. He’s improving month to month. I don’t look at Russell game to game. I look at him in bigger chunks. … He’s improved every month, and we all see that.”

HoopsWorld discusses what non-playoff teams are playing for now: “New city, same results. But there is actually good news for the Thunder: an impressive young core. Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook – who is coming off his first career triple-double in the NBA – are one of the most talented trios on the rise the league. While they’ve struggled to find home cooking in Oklahoma City – where they are 11-20 this season – patience is key once they put this trying season behind them. What the Thunder need most – even with a month left during their losing regular season – is time to mature together, a chance to build chemistry.”

Another key injury for the Thunder. This time it’s our sideline reporter going down: “After the Thunder wrapped up its daily session, coach Scott Brooks and his staff put 14 media members through an authentic team practice. The idea was to give us a first-hand account of what the players and coaches go through on a daily basis to prepare for an NBA game. The 60-minute session was an enlightening experience considering much of practice is closed to the media and we rarely get to see much more than the team shooting free throws by the time we’re allowed in … But Bob Barry Jr., Toby Rowland, Mark Rodgers, Matt Reese and Thunder sideline reporter Brent Weber were just a few of the media members in attendance. I came out unscathed. Weber, on the other hand, broke his right wrist when he fell following a layup attempt. The team is listing him as day-to-day.”

HoopsWorld’s Mike Moreau did a Q&A yesterday and here’s some results: “Chris in Dallas, TX: Not sure if you caught the last two games of the Mavs and Thunder, OT on Friday and Mavs blown out last night. Do you see it as out hustled or better coaching? As a Mavs fan, I’m worried…  Mike Moreau: One team is young, hungry and on the rise. One team is aging, bewildered, and on the decline. As a Mavs fan, you should be worried. Graham in OKC: The Thunder play hard for 48 minutes a game, and actually remind me of their coach when he used to play. What are your thoughts on a team taking on the personality of their coach? Mike Moreau: Coach Brooks has done a great job, and my guess is they love playing for a guy who gives as much as they do. He’s the right coach for that team.”

It’s tanking season and John Hollinger investigates: “Nonetheless, teams instinctively realize that being first in the draft is better than second, which is better than third, and so on down the line. And at some point in the final two months, their decisions are impacted by such logic. It’s especially true this season, because several teams of similar awfulness are “competing” to get the best odds in Secaucus. Just two wins separate Washington, Sacramento, Memphis, Oklahoma City and the L.A. Clippers, giving each team some incentive to make sure it is the worst of the five and will have the greatest odds of winning the lottery. Of course, even finishing with the worst record in the league is hardly a guarantee of lottery riches. You know where the team that finishes with the NBA’s worst record is most likely to be on draft day? Fourth. There’s a 36 percent chance the league’s worst team will pick at that spot, but the probability of a team’s pingpong ball combination winning the No. 1 pick is capped at 25 percent.”

SI’s power rankings: “The Thunder: 103 points per game allowed in three games (two losses) last week. Tyson Chandler: 11.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and one healthy toe in 35 minutes per game last week for New Orleans. Oh, and a game-winning tip-in to beat Milwaukee on Friday.”

Joe Smith plans to sign with the Cavs: “The veteran forward, traded last summer by the Cavs in the deal that brought them All-Star guard

Mo Williams

, agreed to terms Tuesday night on a one-year contract with Cleveland, his agent told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “After careful consideration of his options, Joe has decided that the Cavs are the best fit,” agent Dan Fegan told the paper. Smith can not officially sign with the Cavaliers until he clears waivers on Wednesday. But that’s the final procedural hurdle in a signing that has been expected since the 33-year-old Smith bought out his contract on Sunday with the

Oklahoma City Thunder


The Ford Center is starting to get prepped for its major makeover: “Today, the Oklahoma City City Council moves into the final stages of getting ready to improve the Ford Center.  They also got the first look at big plans for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Practice Facility.  The City Council took a look at the preliminary designs of the Ford Center, so they can get ready for bids to do the work.  But another big part of keeping the Thunder in Oklahoma City is the permanent practice facility, which is finally taking shape. While the Thunder are 3/4 of the way through their first NBA season at the Ford Center, Oklahoma City is still a $100 million renovation from completing the big league city transition.”