Tag Archives: Oklahoma City Blue

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.

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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.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Depending on Puppies

waiters thunder bench

Roger: Look, Anita! Puppies everywhere!

Anita: There must be a hundred of them!

Nanny: One, two, three and four. Seven, eight, nine.

Roger: Two more. Nine plus two is eleven.

Nanny: Thirty Six over here!

Roger: Thirty Six and eleven? That’s forty seven.

Anita: Fourteen. Eighteen, Rog.

Roger: Uh, eh sixty five!

Nanny: Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen!

Anita: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Six more.

Roger: Well, let’s see, now. That’s eighty four and fifteen plus two. A hundred and one!

Anita: A hundred and one? My, where did they all come from?

Roger: Oh ho, Pongo, you old rascal!

This is a quote directly from the Disney movie 101 Dalmatians. But it could also serve as a microcosm of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s depth chart. A glance at the Thunder’s roster reveals one rookie (Mitch McGary), one “red-shirt freshman” (Grant Jerrett – 2nd year in the system, but technically a rookie with the Thunder), two second year players (Steven Adams and Andre Roberson), both of whom are starters, and three third year players (Dion Waiters, Jeremy Lamb, and Perry Jones). That’s nearly half the team with less than 3 full seasons of NBA experience under their belts. In addition, they have a fourth year player (Reggie Jackson) that is in the “late teen/early adult” stage of his NBA career, and is ready to leave the nest for what he portends to be greener pastures. And, the Thunder’s big free agent get (Anthony Morrow) is in his 7th season and has yet to sniff the playoffs. If this was the roster of a team the resided in Philadelphia or Minnesota, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But this is the Thunder, a team that envisions itself as a championship contender.

Even with all the issues the Thunder have suffered through in the first half of the season, the general consensus is that the Thunder have enough time to turn it around, get into the playoffs, and be a force to be reckoned with in the postseason. While injuries have played a huge role in the Thunder’s early season struggles, inexperience within the roster may be another factor aiding in the Thunder’s struggles.

fisher butler durant jackson thunder

Last season, Derek Fisher, Caron Butler, and Thabo Sefolosha played huge roles in getting the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals. That’s three playoff-tested, grizzled veterans that knew their roles, played to their strengths, and avoided their weaknesses whenever possible. Between them, those three players brought 41 seasons worth of experience to the table. In addition, Kendrick Perkins (along with Sefolosha) was the defensive anchor of the starting line-up. While each of those players had their warts and flaws, their “years of service” allowed them to either be useful in most situations or not make critical mistakes in other situations.

With the departure of those aforementioned three players and the demotion of Perkins to the bench, an experience vacuum developed in the offseason. There were times in the past two seasons where the rallying cry for Thunder fans was more playing time for the young players. But now that that time has arrived, it’s easy to miss the days of having veterans with defined roles who didn’t crack under pressure. What I see out there on the floor now, is a team that is dependent on young players to fill in the spaces around Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. While it may work some nights, most nights will include developmental lapses and common “lack of experience”-type mistakes.

When you factor in the injuries and the hole the Thunder dug themselves early in the season, you get a picture as to why the Thunder are struggling to build any type of momentum. The Thunder are trotting out players that have never had to deal with this kind of pressure. Think about how Durant and Westbrook must feel when the game is on the line. When they look around, they see inexperienced players who have never had to fight for a playoff spot and have never had to win games in the playoffs. They see Waiters, who toiled two and a half seasons on the post-LeBron Cavs, and is a volume shooter on the perimeter. They see Morrow, who is more experienced, but has already played on 6 teams in his 7 seasons in the league, with the average win total for those teams being 31. They see Roberson, who is already an adept perimeter defender, but also an extremely raw offensive player (and that’s putting it nicely). They see Jones or Lamb, who have the talent to be consistent scorers in the league, but lack the mental fortitude to put it all together. They see Jackson who has been wildly inconsistent this season as he deals with his future and his contract situation. Is it any wonder why the Thunder’s crunch-time offense devolves into Durant and Westbrook isos? The only people they trust is themselves.

westbrook durant thunder

While the coach and the players are easy targets to fault, the lion’s share of the blame needs to go on general manager Sam Presti and how he has constructed this team. The architect of the Thunder has built a top heavy organization that is largely dependent on a few players, while filling in the gaps with cheap young talent in hopes that the young talent will develop in a 2-3 year time span. It’s a great idea in principle, but a risky idea in practice. Come up empty on a couple draft picks, and the team is left scrambling looking for other options that may be more expensive and detrimental in the long run. If you look at the elite teams around the league, the Thunder and the Warriors are the only ones constructed in this manner. Most other elite teams have a rotation that is full of veterans.

And all signs point to the Thunder continuing this manner of operation when it comes to roster building. In addition to their 15-man roster, the Thunder are also keeping close tabs on about 5 players who are all within the scope of their organization. Josh Huestis, the first round pick from the last draft whom the Thunder convinced to delay the signing of his contract in order to further his development with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate, will likely join the team next season. Huestis’ Blue teammates Semaj Christon and Talib Zanna are also candidates to join the team next season or be late season call-ups this year, depending on how the team looks after the trade deadline. Over in Europe, the Thunder have been keeping close tabs on their Eurostashes, Tibor Pleiss (who will likely join the team next season) and Alex Abrines (who is likely a season or two away, but is one of the top 3-point shooters in his league).

The hope is that the experience gained over this past season will begin to bear fruit later on in the year for these young players. If this was any other normal season (you know, no injuries or contract disputes), then experience likely doesn’t become a factor until the playoffs. But this season, with the injuries and the hole the Thunder dug for themselves, the lack of experience on this team is definitely rearing it’s ugly head. The Thunder have PhD dreams, but have elementary aged children doing some of the heavy lifting. That is usually not a recipe for success.

Early Training Camp Stories

durant media day thunder

With Monday’s media day out of the way, the Oklahoma City Thunder started their journey into the 2014-15 NBA season. Like every other training camp before this one, there are questions and issues that need to be settled before the season begins. Luckily, the Thunder don’t have to contend with any roster-shattering trades or major injury issues like they have in the last two training camps. The Thunder come into camp basically intact and healthy. Here are some of the issues the Thunder are hoping to settle before October 29th.

1. Reggie Jackson

Probably the biggest question mark heading into the season is the contract situation of Reggie Jackson. The Thunder have until October 31st to work out an extension with Jackson. If no deal is done by then, Jackson will enter restricted free agency next offseason. Thunder GM Sam Presti, in his address to the media, said Jackson was a “core member” of the team and that the team was working hard in trying to secure an extension.

Many people will hark back to how the Thunder handled (or didn’t handle) the James Harden extension. As has been rehashed many times over, Harden and the Thunder couldn’t get an extension worked out and Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets four days before the beginning of the season. But there are two major differences between the two situations. The first difference is that Jackson is not a max player. While NBA teams have been giving out very generous contracts to “upper middle class” type players in the past few offseasons, Jackson unfortunately plays a position of excess in the NBA. Many teams already either have their point guard or aren’t necessarily in the market to pay max money for a “middle class” player. The second major difference is the Thunder’s financial situation. Due to the Harden trade, the Thunder were able to maintain their salary cap flexibility and, even with 3 max or near max deals, are in great financial shape. With the salary cap set to greatly increase in the next 2-3 seasons, the Thunder can offer Jackson a reasonable contract without endangering their ability to extend Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka.

The Thunder have everything in their favor to re-sign Jackson. But like many other situations in life, the events we think will be solved in a straight line, usually become roller coasters before we reach the finish line. The monkey wrench in this situation is Jackson’s adamant desire to be a starter. He planted the seed during exit interviews at the end of last season. And his tone didn’t change throughout the offseason. As Jackson stated during media day, “I can’t remember any great that wasn’t a starter. All the greats have started. I just want to be great. I want a chance to be great. I can’t recall a superstar Sixth Man.” The problem is that Jackson is point guard sized, and the Thunder have an opening at shooting guard, a position usually reserved on the Thunder for a long-winged defender that can (hopefully) make spot-up 3-pointers.

The Thunder got a sneak peak at what a Westbrook/Jackson back court would look like in the last four games of the Western Conference Finals. While the results were positive, the Thunder will probably choose to go the traditional route for the regular season. Whether its a ploy by Jackson to leverage the Thunder into more money or whether Jackson truly wants to be a starter in the league, this monkey wrench is probably a long ways away from getting resolved. Look for Jackson to head into the season without an extension.

2. Starting Shooting Guard

For the first time in five seasons, someone other than Thabo Sefolosha will start at SG for the Thunder on opening night. Sefolosha signed with the Atlanta Hawks in the offseason, thus opening the 2-guard spot. Sefolosha struggled in his final season with the Thunder and was relegated to bench duty at times in two of the Thunder’s three playoff series. The Thunder have a bevy of candidates that could possibly start at shooting guard.

Andre Roberson started 16 games for the Thunder as a rookie when Sefolosha was out with a calf strain in the 2nd half of the season. He has shown flashes of being the prototypical wing defender that the Thunder love to use at the 2-guard position, but is a developing work in progress on the offensive end. In 40 games total last season, Roberson only attempted 13 3-pointers, making only 2 in the process. He knows his limitations offensively and usually defers to his more offensively minded teammates.

Jeremy Lamb was viewed as being the heir-apparent to James Harden after the trade two seasons ago. He could shoot like Harden and was long and rangy enough to be made into an adequate defender. He showed flashes last season, averaging nearly 10 points per game until he hit the “rookie” wall in the second half of the season. Last season was Lamb’s second, but it was his first playing significant minutes. By the end of the season, Lamb’s minutes were going to veterans Caron Butler and Derek Fisher. The Thunder seem to really like what Lamb brings to the team and may look to him to be their version of Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs.

lamb jones thunder

Reggie Jackson is another option. He started the final four games of the Western Conference Finals with Westbrook to positive results. But the Thunder probably view Jackson as their firepower off the bench and one of their closers. While Jackson has been adamant that he would like to start, his best role on this team may be that of his current role as a sixth man.

The dark horse in this competition is Perry Jones. He started six games for the Thunder at SG and did a memorable job defensively on LeBron James in the Thunder’s victory in Miami against the Heat last season. He’s the median between Roberson and Lamb. He can hit the corner 3 pretty consistently and has the tools and ability to be a good defender. The question is whether he has the motor and “want to” to beat out the other candidates?

In the end, I think Lamb comes out of the fray with the starting position. His ability to space the floor will give the Thunder a dimension in their starting line-up they have been severely lacking. The onus will be on Lamb to improve defensively. The Thunder preach defense, and if Lamb is not up to task, there are at least 3 guys in the wings that can replace him.

3. Starting Center

With Kendrick Perkins nursing a quad strain, Steven Adams has an opportunity to supplant the veteran as the team’s starting center. The signs have been pointing towards Adams being the center of the future for this team. But Adams’ play last season may have fast-forwarded that development to this season. Adams started 20 games last season when Perkins was out and developed consistently as the season progressed. In the playoffs, Adams averaged nearly 4 more minutes per game than Perkins after Game 5 of the first round.

Perkins’ contract is up after this season and the team is probably ready to move on from it. While Perkins has been a great locker room presence, his play on the court has not merited his hefty salary. But if the Thunder start Adams, they run into a bit of a conundrum. Perkins’ value is as a starter. He is great defensively against traditional post players, most of whom start. As a bench player though, the little value Perkins does have gets muted. The team could always trade Perkins, as a $9 million dollar expiring contract is a commodity during the trade deadline, but the depth at center suffered a bit when the team traded Hasheem Thabeet. Nick Collison, Serge Ibaka, and Mitch McGary can all play center, but are better suited for power forward.

What I see happening is a repeat of last season’s playoffs. Perkins will get the starts, but Adams will get the lion’s share of minutes.

4. 15th Spot

The Thunder do have a roster spot open, but have always preferred to keep that spot open until the trade deadline in February. An open roster spots becomes more attractive to a team looking to trade more players than they are receiving. Also, after the deadline, expiring veterans on lottery bound teams are usually bought out so they have the ability to latch onto a playoff-bound team for the stretch run. The Thunder have used this roster spot in recent years to sign Derek Fisher and Caron Butler for late season playoff pushes. In conclusion, I see the Thunder going into the season with an open roster spot.

5. The Semaj Christon Situation

Christon, the Thunder’s 2nd round pick from the 2014 NBA Draft, will apparently be getting the Grant Jerrett treatment. Jerrett was the Thunder’s 2nd round pick from last season’s draft. Instead of inviting him to training camp and being forced to offer him a training camp contract, the Thunder, instead, renounced their rights to him and made him the first pick in that year’s D-League draft. He played the entire season with the Tulsa 66ers, and then signed with the Thunder in the final week of the NBA season. The Thunder then included him on their playoff roster. That inclusion allowed Jerrett to get paid the playoff bonus that all the other players received. The Thunder rewarded Jerrett’s loyalty by offering him a multiyear contract this offseason.

semaj christon thunder blue

According to Christon’s agent Doug Neustadt, he will begin his career with the Thunder’s renamed D-League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue. Christon has the physical attributes to be a Thunder-type point guard (long, athletic, able to drive and finish). On the Blue, he’ll probably be tasked with running the team and becoming a better shooter. If the Thunder have an open roster spot near the end of the season, look for them to reward Christon for his loyalty and patience.

6. Hot seat for Scott Brooks?

Is this the season that the coaching seat starts to warm up for Brooks. He has probably his most talented roster yet, and will be measured by whether he wins a championship or not. Injuries have had a big hand in deciding the Thunder’s fate the last two postseasons, but Brooks has also been to blame due to his lack of an offensive system and his stubbornness to make rotational changes whenever necessary. Brooks is a great ego-managing coach. He’s nursed the Thunder’s core players from “all-potential” to “all-production”. That is not an easy thing to do in the NBA. But now, its “put up or shut up” time. The team is primed for a championship run and their core players are just now entering their prime. Will Brooks rise above the fray, or will he, once again, be a game too late in making the right adjustments?

7. Is Russell Westbrook the best point guard in the league?

Yes! He outplayed Mike Conley, Chris Paul, and Tony Parker on head to head match-ups in last year’s playoffs. He was probably the 2nd or 3rd best player in the playoffs. And for a 10 game stretch before he necessitated another surgery on his knee in December, he averaged 21.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.2 assists per game on 46.5% shooting. Is he the best pure point guard in the league? Probably not. That title still belongs to Chris Paul. But pound for pound, bringing everything to the table, I’m taking Westbrook every time.

8. Steven Adams’ mustache

The Lord giveth…..

adams thunder 2

…And the Lord taketh away (just a day later – no ‘stache)

 adams practice

#SadFace

9. Will Serge Ibaka ever learn who Mitch McGary is?

OH, the outrage when it was discovered that Serge Ibaka didn’t know who Mitch McGary. How dare Ibaka not know who one of his teammates are? Until you consider that Ibaka was probably just enjoying his time in Spain representing the host country in the FIBA World Cup. Fans tend to think the players are as passionate about the roster makeup of their team as they are. American-born players are used to waking up watching SportsCenter and knowing the ins and outs of the league. Foreign-born players don’t have the same routines as American-born players, so they probably don’t necessarily keep track with all the happenings around the league. Plus, Serge was extremely busy this summer, so its understandable. And besides, he’ll have plenty of time to get to know McGary this season.

In the end, Ibaka could have just been trolling everyone, though.

10. Was this the longest offseason in Thunder history?

Yes!