Here on NTTB, during the offseason, we’ll be looking to do a weekly article on the happenings around the Thunder organization. Before the explosion of social media, the offseason was usually a waiting game of news and stories. A signing here. A signing there. Unless someone made the police blotter in a major way, the stories weren’t really there. But now, with most players giving fans access to their lives 24/7, newsworthy events and stories are plentiful.
Here are a couple stories from this past week:
May 3rd – Alex Abrines undergoes surgery to repair a sports hernia.
It’s always been known that when it comes to Alex Abrines, problematic knee issues can sometimes creep to the surface. Last summer, while playing for his native Spain, Abrines had to sit out most of the FIBA EuroBasket tournament with knee issues. Because of the knee issues, Abrines was unable to fully implement an offseason training regiment and as a result, came to camp a little out of shape. Using the first 2 months of the season as a training camp, Abrines eventually found himself a featured part of the rotation and stayed healthy throughout the season, save for a couple minor injuries here and there.
When the Thunder put out the new release that Abrines had undergone sports hernia surgery, it came as a bit of a surprise as Abrines was playing his best ball of the season at the end of the year and during the playoffs. There was nary a hint that he was having issues with a sports hernia. With the surgery, Abrines is expected to be sidelined for about 6 weeks, before being able to resume his offseason training regiment.
May 4th – Russell Westbrook, the father
As I’ve mentioned on my podcast several times, as much of a fan that I am of Westbrook, the player, I’m even more of a fan of Westbrook, the family man/father. I’ve taken my daughter to Westbrook’s offseason camp for the past three summers. His camp is mainly run by his family along with staffers. The genuine interactions you see among the Westbrooks is something that I can definitely relate to as a family man myself.
As Westbrook’s son Noah approaches his first birthday, it will be fun to see the nearly daily interactions between Westbrook and his mini-me. And luckily for us, No-No is at that fun age where he is able to get around on his own and is a little tougher-bodies than say a 3 month old baby. So let the paternal adventures begin.
May 5th – Russell Westbrook and Paul George paintball together
With all the talk around gun violence and 2nd Amendment rights in this country, I find it hilarious that an entire fan base was completely ecstatic that their two best players were fighting a paintball war against each with highly sophisticated paintball weaponry. In this, the summer of Paul George’s recruitment, Westbrook planted the first flag by joining Paintball P on the range.
Recruiting is something that is completely out of character for Westbrook. For that reason alone, I don’t necessarily think this was a recruiting thing. I genuinely think Westbrook and PG get along wonderfully. And if that works as a recruiting tool to keep George in an OKC uniform past this season, I’m all for it.
May 8th – Russell Westbrook trade talk (Wait, what????)
Zach Lowe is very much respected as one of the top writers around NBA circles. His ability to break the X’s and O’s down to layman terms is a skill not many have. But as the premier basketball analyst for ESPN, many people take his word as gospel and even mistakenly misconstrue his words. On Tuesday, Zach Lowe revealed the following tidbit:
“There’s an increasing number of people around the league who think the Thunder should look at trading [Russell] Westbrook. To be clear, not a report. Not Thunder sources think they should do this. Just in spitballing ideas with teams around the league, there’s a number of people who have heard, just like, ‘It’s time for something to change here.'”
It amazing how much the Twitterverse struggles with reading comprehension. As soon as Lowe said that, Twitter exploded with trade rumors and back and forth bantering between fan bases. Lowe does such a great job of explaining the X’s and O’s of basketball, that I think I’m going to take a stab at explaining his statement. Here we go:
A whole bunch of us in the NBA department at ESPN were just lounging around and talking about this past season. Much of our attention was tuned towards the Thunder because they were one of the big disappointments in the league. Many of the people in the office thought maybe it was time to trade Westbrook. No one from the Thunder was in the office. We were just throwing out ideas around the water cooler.
That’s basically it. It amazes me that his statement took on a life of its own. My thinking is the “increasing number of people around the league” are probably in some way related to teams that would like to sign Paul George this offseason. Sometimes the rumors of war cause more damage than the war itself. This is likely just a case of other teams looking to cause confusion and chaos before July 1st.
May 9th – Paul George has arthroscopic knee surgery
Thunder players must love to take pictures while in their surgical hats and gowns. At least Alex Abrines had the decency to wait until the surgery was over and give us a thumbs up. Paul George messed around and just released this picture with absolutely no context:
It wasn’t until several hours later that the Thunder released a statement saying George had successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Apparently the knee had been bothering him throughout the year. So a team of George, the Thunder medical team, and the surgeon went ahead and took care of the issue early in the offseason. George is expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks before resuming his offseason training regiment. Hopefully, he’ll be preparing for his second season in Oklahoma City.