Tag Archives: Oklahoma City Blue

Thunder At A Glance – 18 September 2018

img_4063Nick Gallo (OKCThunder.com) on Steven Adams being the Thunder’s center of gravity: “The same can be said of the Thunder big man’s impact on the defensive side of the ball. With precise and deliberate communication and quick feet, Adams helps guards stay in front of the ball in pick and roll coverage. He can even switch out to the three-point line when it’s necessary or there’s a good matchup. With each successive year, the force that Adams brings to the team continues to grow, and that consistent improvement is why he’s become one of the most essential players on the Thunder’s roster and one of the very best centers in the NBA.”

Erik Horne (NewsOK) on the Blue’s acquisition of KJ McDaniels: “G-League contracts are with the league, not with the parent teams. McDaniels currently doesn’t have an NBA contract, but if he were to enter into a G League contract, the Blue, not the Thunder, would own his rights. The Blue would also own McDaniels’ rights if he were to play overseas, then return and sign a G League contract.” Continue reading Thunder At A Glance – 18 September 2018

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Thunder At A Glance – 11 September 2018

img_4063Erik Horne (NewsOK) with a preview of what could be the Thunder’s new City edition jerseys: “On Monday, Red Earth – a non-profit which promotes the traditions of American Indian arts and cultures – posted photos of the new uniforms on its Twitter page. Those photos are accurate, The Oklahoman learned.”

Horne (NewsOK) on Team USA selecting Bryce Alford of the Oklahoma City Blue to play on the USA World Cup Qualifying Team: “The FIBA World Cup Qualifying games are used to qualify nations that will compete in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China, as well as seven nations to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Coached by former NBA head coach Jeff Van Gundy, the team will begin the second round of qualifying on Sept. 14 against Uruguay in Las Vegas, then play Panama on Sept. 17 in Panama City.” Continue reading Thunder At A Glance – 11 September 2018

Thunder At A Glance – 28 August 2018

img_4063Brett Dawson (NewsOK) on the Thunder’s signing of Clemson star Donte Grantham: “The 6-foot-8 Grantham averaged 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds as a senior at Clemson, but his season was cut short on Jan. 20, when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.”

The Thunder’s G-League affiliate, the Blue, released their regular season schedule on Monday.  Continue reading Thunder At A Glance – 28 August 2018

NTTB Thunder Rumblings – 16 July 2018

img_4063Brett Dawson (NewsOK) on Thunder summer league (and Blue) coach Mark Daigneault: “He learned basketball from Jim Calhoun, for whom he worked as a student manager at UConn, and Ralph Willard, who hired him as an assistant at Holy Cross, and from Billy Donovan, who brought him on at Florida as a graduate assistant and ultimately followed him to Oklahoma City.”

Erik Horne (NewsOK) looks at the rotational players for the Thunder during summer league: “Diallo shouldn’t have lasted until the No. 45 pick in the draft. In Las Vegas, the 19-year-old showcased elite athleticism, was efficient (20-of-41 shooting), rebounded well (4.8 per game) for 6-5, and showed the ability to handle the ball on the fast break. Could he make a Thunder roster that wants to play faster? The Thunder minimized Diallo’s responsibility on offense in Las Vegas and he needs to continue to improve his perimeter shot, but purchasing his draft rights from Charlotte was a nice, low-risk play by Sam Presti.” Continue reading NTTB Thunder Rumblings – 16 July 2018

Thunder sign Daniel Hamilton to a two-way contract

OKC BLUE
Bryan Terry – The Oklahoman

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced, on Thursday, they signed Daniel Hamilton to the franchise’s first 2-way contract. The Thunder selected the 6’6″ guard out of UConn with the 56th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. In his final season at UConn, Hamilton was named 2nd Team All-ACC.

Last season, Hamilton played on the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, the Blue, where he averaged 14.9 points, 8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists in 31.2 minutes per game. His rebounding average led all qualifying rookie guards last season in the G-League.

He’s also played for the Thunder in summer league the last two years. This past summer league, Hamilton led all players in assists per game for the Orlando Summer League at 6.8.

As a 2-way player, Hamilton has the ability to join the Thunder for 45 days. The rest of the time, he’ll be with the Blue. Hamilton’s contract will be between $75,000-$275,000, depending on how many days Hamilton spends with the Thunder. In addition, Hamilton’s deal will not count against the team’s salary cap or 15-man roster.

Hamilton has a good basketball pedigree. His older brother, Jordan, played 5 seasons in the league with Denver, Houston, New Orleans, and the Clippers. His younger brother, Isaac, currently plays for UCLA.

Thunder sign Yannis Morin


After signing Dakari Johnson yesterday, the Oklahoma City Thunder have now signed 24 year old French big man Yannis Morin. The news was first reported by international website Sportando. 

Morin is an athletic 6’11” PF/C who can develop into a prototypical big man for the pace and space NBA. He moves well without the ball and can even float out to 3-point territory to space the floor. He’ll initially to be a rim runner, but he has good mechanics on his shot and may develop into a pick and pop option. He’s a little on the light side and may need some time in the weight room before he has an impact in the NBA. 

Morin played with Le Havre of the French Pro B League last season averaging 6.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He played with the Thunder in this recent summer league, appearing in 4 games. Morin was scheduled to play with Chalons-Reims of the LNB Pro A league next season, but opted out of his deal to join the Thunder. 

According to Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com, the thinking is that this might be a 2-way contract to allow Morin to develop in the G-League with the OKC Blue. 

Here’s a highlight of Moran to get to know him a little. 

Thunder sign Dakari Johnson

dakari johnson

According to Shams Charania of the Vertical, the Oklahoma City Thunder have signed center Dakari Johnson to a guaranteed two year deal. Johnson, who was drafted by the Thunder in the 2nd round of the 2015 NBA Draft, has been playing on their D-League affiliate for the past two seasons.

Johnson is a big, burly center in the Kendrick Perkins mold. He’s a legit 7-footer with a 7’2″ wingspan. He played two seasons at Kentucky, mainly at back-up center, averaging 15.2 minutes, 5.8 points, and 4.3 rebounds over 78 games. On a different team he may have had better numbers, but playing for Kentucky meant Johnson was usually lower on the depth chart. In Johnson’s two seasons in Kentucky, the players ahead of him were Julius Randle, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Willie Cauley-Stein. All three of those players were selected in the Top-10 of their respective drafts.  Continue reading Thunder sign Dakari Johnson

Thunder sign Semaj Christon

christon

On Saturday, the Oklahoma City Thunder signed guard Semaj Christon. The 2014 2nd rounder played last season with Consultinvest VL Pesaro of Lega Basket Serie A, the top professional league in Italy. While there, he averaged 14.3 points, 3.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals in 33.2 minutes of playing time. Previous to that, he spent his first two professional seasons with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the Blue. In addition, he has also been a member of the Thunder’s summer league team the last three seasons.

The 6’3″ point guard out of Xavier has shown a penchant for getting into the lane and causing havoc once he gets there. His sturdy frame and long arms allow him to finish in traffic, while his floor game allows him to find teammates for higher percentage shots. His jumper, while not the best, has improved over the past 3 seasons to the point where he has a pretty solid mid-range game.

With the signing of Ronnie Price earlier this offseason, the Thunder’s roster currently sits at 15 guaranteed contracts, with 3 of those contracts belonging to point guards (Russell Westbrook, Cameron Payne, and Price). So why did the Thunder sign Christon, if their roster is already at max capacity with contracts and points guards? The reasoning for that could be two-fold. Number one, the Thunder don’t appear to be done wheeling and dealing. The roster, as it currently stands, is a weird mixture of bruising big men, offensively challenged wings, and athletic guards who aren’t great at shooting. They have a sizable expiring contract in Ersan Ilyasova, and a young big they may be ready to move on from in Mitch McGary. If the right deal comes along, they could also feature Payne, who could net something substantial from a point guard starved team.

The second reason for signing Christon is to play the long game with him. While his contract can’t be guaranteed because of the Thunder’s 15 other commitments, there could be guaranteed money attached to it if he gets waived before the season starts. Then the Thunder could sign Christon to the Blue and see how the season plays out in terms of roster moves. If the trade deadline leaves the Thunder with an open roster spot, you can almost guarantee that spot will go to Christon. Another issue that is clouding the water in terms of Christon’s future is whether Price’s 2nd year is fully guaranteed.

If anything, the Thunder have secured themselves another weapon to throw at guard happy teams, while maintaining roster flexibility. Christon’s strength and wing-span could make him an asset on the defensive end of the floor, similar to what the Thunder saw from Dion Waiters in the playoffs last season. And while Christon’s offensive repertoire may not necessarily be what the Thunder need, it’s not like he’s offensively challenged. In the end, his contract is not currently guaranteed, and the Thunder have time to see how everything plays out in these next two months before the season starts.

The Thunder (finally!) sign Josh Huestis

josh huestis thunder

A long-standing national nightmare is finally over. The hostage situation in Oklahoma City that engulfed most of the basketball world for the past year has thankfully reached its conclusion. The Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday (finally) signed last season’s first round pick, Josh Huestis, to a four-year rookie scale contract. What’s that? You don’t know who Josh Huestis is? You never realized there was a hostage situation brewing for the past year in Oklahoma City? Ooooh, you thought the only recent hostage situation involving an NBA player was in Houston in early July, when the Los Angeles Clippers (yes, the entire team) sequestered DeAndre Jordan in his home and forced him to sign a near-max contract to return back to LA. Well, I guess you aren’t a true NBA fanatic, then.

Rewind back to last year’s draft. The Thunder owned the 21st and 29th picks in the draft. At 21, they selected Mitch McGary. While that pick was viewed as a bit of a stretch due to McGary’s injury history and previous suspension in college due to marijuana usage, the talent was definitely there to help explain the pick. With the 29th pick, the Thunder selected Josh Huestis from the University of Stanford. Collectively, much of the NBA wondered, “Who?”. Draft Express didn’t even have a “strength/weaknesses” pre-draft video on Huestis. Here was a guy that was slotted to go in the middle to bottom half of the 2nd round or to go undrafted, and instead, he was selected by the Thunder in the next to last pick of the first round.

When the news came out about a month after the draft that the Thunder had made a handshake agreement with Huestis and his agents to have the rookie “red-shirt” his first season without signing his guaranteed rookie-scale contract that every first rounder gets, many members of the media chalked it up to the Thunder being cheap again. But in addition to being cheap, some members of the media were worried that Huestis was going to be taken of advantage of. Tom Ziller of SB Nation wrote a scathing article on the deal, in which he stated, “this (the deal) almost assuredly breaks the spirit of the NBA’s draft rules, if not the letter.” Zach Lowe of Grantland wrote a more balanced article in which he stated, “It (the deal) seems ridiculous, almost exploitative. The gains for the Thunder are obvious at first glance.” But then he goes on to write, “Huestis in this telling appears the dupe of a dictatorial regime. But that holds only if you assume that $1.5 million would have been available to Huestis in any other scenario…”

Huestis went on to play with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate for the entire season and ended up earning about $25,000 for his one season with the Blue. He averaged 10.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game on 31.6% shooting from 3-point territory. That last stat is an important because the Thunder need role players that are able to play on both ends of the floor. The one skill Huestis was known for was his defense. It’s his development on the other end of the floor as a 3-point shooter that the Thunder want to enhance. While Huestis’ time on the Blue wasn’t memorable, he did develop into a role similar to what he will play on the Thunder.

john huestis thunder press conference

The fear from many writers was that the Thunder made this deal from a position of power and would exploit, not only Huestis, but also NBA salary cap and draft rules from that position. In the worst case scenario, the Thunder never offer Huestis the contract that he deserves as a first rounder, which in turn, would help the Thunder stay under the luxury tax or pay less money if they were over the tax. In essence, the Thunder would circumvent having to pay a first rounder, while paying less (or no) money towards the punitive luxury tax. From a cutthroat business perspective, it would’ve been a win/win for the Thunder. The team stays away from paying money to a player while also preventing or lessening the amount they have to pay to the NBA.

But the NBA, while being cutthroat as a business, is also very good at remembering a front office’s transgression, especially players and their agents. As a small market team, it would behoove the Thunder to not burn too many bridges throughout the NBA. Which is why the supposed “nuclear option” was never at play for the Thunder. Renege on this hand-shake agreement, and agents would be very leery to even suggest Oklahoma City as a destination to their player clients. Huestis and the Thunder were always in lockstep in this deal, and the writing was clearly on the wall when the Thunder traded Perry Jones to the Boston Celtics in early July.

The Huestis deal is a basic 4-year rookie contract where the first two seasons are guaranteed and the last two are team options. Since Huestis signed the contract this season, he gets locked into this season’s rookie salary scale, which will pay him $950,200, instead of the $918,000 he would’ve earned last season. Huestis will likely see a lot of his playing time this season at the Cox Convention Center, playing for the Blue. With a deep and talented, there will likely be no minutes for Huestis on the Thunder this upcoming season. Huestis comes into this season rehabbing a torn pectoral muscle he suffered earlier in the summer, and will likely start the season on the injured list. With this signing, the Thunder sit at 15 guaranteed contracts.

The Thunder hire Billy Donovan to be their new head coach

Billy Donovan I

Per league sources, the Oklahoma City Thunder have hired Billy Donovan from the University of Florida to be their new head coach. The team and Donovan agreed to a 5 year contract, with the terms yet to be disclosed. The hiring comes after the Thunder parted ways with long-time head coach Scott Brooks after the season.

Donovan coached at the University of Florida for 19 seasons, garnering two national championships (2006, 2007), four SEC titles, and three SEC Coach of the Year awards. With an impressive NBA player tree that includes names like Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Chandler Parsons, Mike Miller, and Bradley Beal, Donovan’s ability to coach NBA-ready players is second only to Mike Krzyzewski and John Calipari. His coaching tree is starting to pick up steam, as young coaches like Shaka Smart, Donnie Jones, and Anthony Grant, who were previous assistants at Florida under Donovan, start to leave their marks in college basketball.

Donovan’s system is tailor made for the NBA. His pick and roll-heavy offense plays for the Thunder’s personnel. And the addition of Enes Kanter as an interior scorer should make this offense that much more dynamic. His defensive approach will also play well into the Thunder scheme of pressuring the ball and defending the paint. The Thunder will have more chances to transform defense into offense under Donovan’s coaching. Donovan is known for his great rapport with his players, but also for holding them accountable for their actions on the court. That’s one area where he and Scott Brooks will likely differ. Donovan’s system has slowly been making its way to Oklahoma City, as the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, have a head coach (Mark Daigneault) that used to be an assistant under Donovan. In addition, the Thunder’s basketball information analyst, Oliver Winterbone, is a former video coordinator under Donovan, and likely helps out in the advanced metrics department.

Donovan comes into a situation many will deem as a dream and a possible nightmare. While the first job of many head coaches usually involves a struggling, rebuilding team, Donovan has been gifted with two of the best players in the world. The Thunder will enter next season with championship aspirations, as they have the last four seasons. But with Kevin Durant’s impending free agency in 2016, every misstep will reverberate even louder than it normally does. For a coach that has never coached in an NBA game, it will be tantamount that he know how to handle that pressure. Golden State’s Steve Kerr and Cleveland’s David Blatt faced similar pressures as first year head coaches heading into this season, and both have been successful. On the other hand, Derek Fisher has had a disastrous first season with the New York Knicks.

While its been reported that Thunder GM Sam Presti has not directly involved Durant or Russell Westbrook in the coaching search, that doesn’t mean the players have not done their homework. Durant stated that he spoke with several former Gator players and is, “generally positive” about the Thunder’s hiring of Donovan. While many will view this response as questionable (why wasn’t he fully positive about it?), one has to also take into account the loyalty Durant has for Brooks. A full endorsement would almost be like a disparaging comment against Brooks. Like any new relationship, this will take time. But I think this will work out fine. Presti has been scouting Donovan for years, and conversely, Donovan has likely been watching the progress of the Thunder from afar these last few seasons. This was not a decision made in haste. In fact, this was likely a decision that has been years in the making.