Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti has had himself quite the off-season. From acquiring Paul George to signing Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton to cap-friendly contracts, Presti has gone from the man that let Kevin Durant walk for nothing to the man most likely to win Executive of the Year at next years’s NBA Awards.
But if we rewind back to July 4th, 2016, the state of the organization was on much more treacherous footing. One of the pillars of the franchise, Durant, chose to defect to the team’s biggest rival instead of re-signing with the team. Another pillar, Serge Ibaka, was traded two weeks prior to garner younger assets. And the team’s lone remaining superstar, Russell Westbrook, was coming up on the final year of his contract. From the outside looking in, this felt like the end of a memorable, yet disappointing run from a group of young superstars who were drafted together and rose up to prominence, likely a little too fast for their own good.
That was the feeling during the press conference Presti had the evening following Durant’s departure. The questions ranged from, “when did you know Durant was signing with the Warriors?” to “are you now going to trade Russell Westbrook?”. It was the first time I’d ever seen Presti a little rattled during a press conference. (And by rattled, I mean Presti stumbled over like five words over a 45 minutes presser.) Continue reading →
Hello Tuesday. Hopefully everyone is over their weekend/Game of Thrones coma. Here are the DTRs…
Just when you think the awards are done, here comes Sports Illustrated crowning Russell Westbrook the most fashionable athlete for 2017: “Why not? This is the two-word mantra by which he shops, but also by which he practices, plays, walks, talks, dresses and eats. It’s the phrase he wears on an orange silicone bracelet on his wrist. It’s the phrase that helped him reap the 2017 MVP award after averaging a triple double, a feat no NBA player had achieved since Oscar Robertson in 1961–62, while piling up a record 42 of them. It’s the phrase that appears in the name of his charity organization, the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation. It’s the phrase he hashtags on his Instagram posts, which often show off his unorthodox attire. “It goes across so many things, not just in fashion but your whole self,” says Westbrook. “It’s so important to remember to be yourself, regardless of what others think.”
Erik Horne looks at four questions still unanswered for the Thunder this offseason: “It’s been almost a month since the NBA Draft, and the Thunder rookie still hasn’t signed his contract. Ferguson’s clearance is still being worked out with the International Federation of Basketball (FIBA), as the 19-year-old played in Australia last season. The biggest potential benefit to Ferguson getting his deal done has already passed. The Thunder would have liked to have him play Summer League, but now that it’s over there’s no rush in getting him signed. He should have his deal done in time for training camp in September. Last offseason, rookie Domantas Sabonis didn’t sign his contract until Aug. 12.” Continue reading →
A little late, but here are the Rumblings as we begin the new week on DTR!
A great one on one interview from Royce Young and Andre Roberson: “Were you talking to other teams or did you basically just work with the Thunder directly on this before shopping around? Roberson: Oklahoma City is where I wanted to be, to be honest. So I tried to work a deal with them first before we went to anyone else, and that was that.”
Erik Horne looks at the options for the Thunder in regards to Kyle Singler: “Singler remaining salary will still be on the Thunder’s team salary when he’s waived, but the Thunder would be able to “stretch” the contract over twice the number of remaining years on Singler’s deal, plus an additional year. The Thunder has until Aug. 31 to stretch Singler’s contract. Singler has two guaranteed years remaining on his contract, and a third year which is a team option. That means the remaining $9.66 million guaranteed over two years (2017-18, 2018-19) could be stretched over seven seasons in even amounts. Singler’s cap hit this season would be lowered from $4.66 million to $1.38 million, saving the Thunder $3.28 million this season.” Continue reading →
The Oklahoma City Thunder re-signed 14-year veteran Nick Collison to a one year deal on Friday afternoon. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but it is expected the deal is for the veteran minimum. Shams Charania of The Vertical was the first to report the deal, also adding that this will be Collison’s final season in the NBA.
In trading for Paul George and signing Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton, this has been a whirlwind of an off-season for the Thunder. But re-signing Collison brings back a player that has been with the organization his entire career, and is the only other player besides Russell Westbrook to have been on the Thunder since they landed in Oklahoma City in 2008.
Collison played in 20 games last season, averaging 6.4 minutes, 1.7 points, and 1.6 rebounds. During exit interviews in April, Collison was asked if he planned to be back the next season. Collison’s response was, “I plan to play, for sure. I wasn’t sure going into the season how I would feel at the end of the year. But I still enjoy playing. I enjoy being around the group. I enjoy being on the team. And I still feel I have a lot to offer.”
Had a great time at the Paul George welcoming party and introductory press conference. Hopefully next year, at this time, we’ll be celebrating his contract extension. Here are the Rumblings.
Royce Young looks at the year long recruitment the Thunder are about to undertake with Paul George: “George was supposed to arrive at 1 p.m., and word had circulated on social media. Thunder fans, as has become their tradition, deployed to meet at their usual spot. On what was of course the hottest day yet of summer in Oklahoma, George’s flight was delayed an hour and a half. Bottles of water were passed around. A dozen or so pizzas showed up. Fans chanted, played music, fanned themselves with homemade signs and exchanged conversations that mostly started and ended with some variation of “Paul George? Paul George!” But George was here now, and he walked to the fence and pressed his hand up against it, dragging it from one end of the line to the other. Fans chanted “P-G-O-K-C!” as he posed for a selfie up against the fence. He waved and jumped in a black SUV. Fans hustled their way to line the road that exited the hanger and waved at George and his family as they were chauffeured off into OKC. And thus began Day 1 of a one-year recruiting trip.” Continue reading →
The Oklahoma City Thunder held a welcoming party for new forward Paul George at The Jones Assembly building in downtown OKC. The event was something new for the Thunder as they’ve never really held a welcoming party for any player. Thunder GM Sam Presti said as much in his press conference. But he also said the Thunder have always been an organization that is willing to try new things. These are different times and the Thunder are really in a new position. No longer are they trying to just keep homegrown talent. For the first time, they are trying to woo someone. And that year-long courtship has gotten off to a promising start.
Here are some of the highlights from tonight’s party and presser.
He kept mentioning “representing those three letter.” I’m guessing he meant OKC!
On playing with Russell Westbrook and against him.
On getting better in the offseason and why he continues working on his game.
Russell Westbrook will be competing against some pretty big names to garner some more hardware in what has been a very successful year for the Oklahoma City Thunder guard.
In April, Westbrook surpassed Oscar Robertson in triple doubles in a season with 42 of them. That record stood for 55 years before Westbrook did what he did this season. Then in June, Westbrook took home the NBA’s biggest individual award, winning his first MVP.
Westbrook is up for three of the biggest awards of the night. The most obvious is NBA player of the year. He’ll be up against LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and ex Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden.
The next big award Westbrook will be up for is Record Breaking Performance of the Year for breaking the triple-double record. He’ll be competing against Michael Phelps’ Olympic performance from the 2016 Olympics, Bill Belichick’s record for Super Bowl wins as a coach, and Diana Taurasi breaking the WNBA’s scoring record.
And the final big award Westbrook will be up for is Male Athlete of the Year. He’ll be up against Kris Bryant, Michael Phelps, and Sidney Crosby.
Westbrook will also be in the tournament-like category for Play of the Year in the NBA category for his game winner against the Denver Nuggets, the same game that notched him the triple-double record.
The offseason continues to be a very active one for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last week were all the moves. This week are all the introductions. What a time to be a Thunder fan. Here are the DTR’s for this hump-day.
Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton were introduced as members of the Thunder on Tuesday: “It was almost like a contest. Patrick Patterson discussed his love of fishing, mudding and simply getting to cruise the open road in his truck. Raymond Felton guessed, or perhaps bragged, that no one has ever heard of his hometown of Latta, S.C. To these two new Thunder veterans, Oklahoma City will be a booming metropolis compared to where they were raised. It also might just be the closest thing to feeling the comfort of home that they’ve had so far in their NBA careers.” Continue reading →
Paul George arrived into Will Rogers airport with much fanfare. Oklahoma City Thunder Storm Chaser and airport pep rally organizer Devin Newsom held another successful airport gathering. He supplied the party goers with free PG shirts, pizza, and water.
About 200 fans braved the blazing heat to show George a little OKC love. George arrived about an hour later than scheduled, but that didn’t matter. Sam Presti and many Thunder staffers were there to greet him when he arrived.
When he got off the plane with his gray OKC Thunder hat, the place erupted with cheer. George walked along the barrier fence giving high fives and wearing a huge smile on his face. After a couple minutes of showing fans some love, he got into an SUV with his family and was whisked off likely to the practice facility.
Paul George is here. Will he be here this time next year? That remains to be seen. If nothing else, this was a great start.