And tonight, it begins. We did it OKC. Tune in to KSBI-52 to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder take on the Minnesota Timberwolves. More info and probables here.
- A little preseason game preview for tonight: “Presti and McHale have taken a similar approach, using trades to acquire both young players for the future and veterans who can help win now. Both execs are also relying on high draft picks to speed their turnarounds. Presti selected guard Russell Westbrook with the fourth overall pick in June. McHale chose his UCLA teammate, forward Kevin Love, with the fifth selection.”
- An AP wire story on the team’s relocation: “Kevin Durant and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates will have to wait to get settled in their new hometown. The former SuperSonics spent the offseason relocating from Seattle, but their exhibition schedule hardly gives them a chance to be at home. They are scheduled to start a road trip tonight against the Timberwolves in Billings, Mont., and swing through Sacramento and Golden State before returning to Oklahoma. Even then, it won’t be for a home game — the Thunder are playing what technically is a road game in Tulsa, Okla., against Houston next Monday before finally playing their first game in Oklahoma City the following night.”
- SLAM Online previews the team: “Say what you will about Kevin Durant’s shot selection, but he’s a 19-year-old ROY with upside potential that makes Jay Bilas feel like moving furniture. As questionable as his choices were on offense early in the season, he showed improvement down the stretch. Putting up numbers on a team that won 20 games last season won’t make Durant feel like a winner, but with another year under his belt, the ceiling on his game is still under construction and the blueprint looks like a hell of a roof. The 2008-09 Durant has added muscle, patience, and, most importantly, experience that will help him do things like position for a rebound or pass up a deep three for a dime.”
- According to The Sporting News, OKC is the 79th best sports city: “Oklahoma City is waiting for the NBA season to start, but we couldn’t wait with our Best Sports City rankings, so the city doesn’t reap the benefit of having the Thunder. But wait till next year!” said Sporting News Chief of Correspondents Bob Hille, who has coordinated the rankings since their expansion 12 years ago. Boston is ranked No. 1.”
- Part nine of Thunderguru’s roster breakdown: “Though an elder statesman by NBA standards at the age of 33, I wouldn’t call Joe Smith a “journeyman”. To me, a journeyman NBA player is someone who has sort of bounced around the league and contributed here and there, without really being one of the important cogs. Matt Bonner is a journeyman; Brian Cardinal is a journeyman. Joe Smith was the #1 pick overall in 1995 and has frequently been the first or second option on his team. He was Robin to Latrell Spreewell’s Batman in Golden State, and to Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. He was an important part of the team in Milwaukee earlier this decade. He’s been a regular starter on the teams he’s played for until the ‘04-’05 season. In the three seasons since, he’s been on 5 different teams, the Thunder being #6.”
- From the Rip City Project, the Thunder has a fake wrestling fan: “I want to find the video of this but I can’t. I was flipping through the channels and tripped upon WWE RAW (god I miss the Rock) and for some reason decided to stick with it. There was an Italian wrestler out there by the name of Santino Marella, whoactually is lightweight hilarious. Anyways he was out there talking and talking. In an attempt to become “more American” Santino decided to adopt an NBA team: the Oklahoma City Thunder.”
- Steve Aschburner says P.J. Carlesimo is likely to be on the hot seat: “The pattern undoubtedly will continue, despite this silly admonition, and a certain number of terminated coaches invariably will seek out the NBA’s safety net — not unemployment insurance like the rest of us, per se, but sideline and studio credentials to work as TV analysts. Faced with that grim reality, we’re identifying the five coaches more likely to find themselves on hot seats, although several others — Woodson, Iavaroni, P.J. Carlesimo in Oklahoma City and Reggie Theus in Sacramento — might want to avoid stocking their produce crispers.