UPDATE: Have a listen to today’s B.S. Report as Bill talks with Joe House about HORSE. Bill was there and has some interesting stuff about interacting with KD. The best was Bill trying to talk Durant into a trick shot and KD said to him, “Nah man, I’m winning this thing.” (Starts at about 25 minutes) And also, Bill mentions OKC by name at the 64:27 mark. Victory!
Along with Tyson Chandler, OKC is also reportedly after Marquis Daniels: “Hornets center Tyson Chandler is one of three players “who might be on the verge of joining the Thunder,” according to The Oklahoman. The Hornets are one of the NBA’s many teams trying to avoid the luxury tax, as SN’s Sean Deveney reported last week, and Oklahoma City is reportedly offering Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox and one of its five first-round picks over the next two seasons, according to ESPN.com. Wilcox ($6.75 million) and Smith ($4.8 million) have deals that expire after this season. Chandler is set to make $11.85 million in 2009-10 and holds a player option for 2010-11 at $12.75 million. The Oklahoman reports the Thunder are in the running for Kings guard John Salmons and Pacers guard Marquis Daniels.”
Chris Colston of USA Today says the ’08 draft class ranks up there pretty high: ”Another comer is Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, the fourth overall pick. He has averaged 16.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.2 steals since becoming a starter Nov. 29. “Rookie wall? I don’t know what that is,” Westbrook says.”
Since us Oklahomans are trying to be hip basketball fans, do your civic duty and read this, ahem, lengthy piece by Michael Lewis (Moneyball author) on the importance of Shane Battier. Everybody’s doing it: “To him the only pleasure in these sounds — the name of his beloved alma mater, the roar of the crowd — was that they marked the end of the worst part of his game day: the 11 minutes between the end of warm-ups and the introductions. Eleven minutes of horsing around and making small talk with players on the other team. All those players making exaggerated gestures of affection toward one another before the game, who don’t actually know one another, or even want to. “I hate being out on the floor wasting that time,” he said. “I used to try to talk to people, but then I figured out no one actually liked me very much.” Instead of engaging in the pretense that these other professional basketball players actually know and like him, he slips away into the locker room.”
Tacoma News Tribune on native son Kyle Weaver: “Maybe that is why Kyle Weaver was out early Wednesday, getting in extra shooting practice before the Oklahoma City Thunder’s final game before the All-Star break against the Portland Trail Blazers. The rookie out of Washington State University is now a starter for the Thunder. Being a starter for one of 30 NBA teams does not guarantee you’re going to immediately become a household name, not even in an area of the country where you played some of your college ball. As Weaver finished up his pregame shooting, he was the last visiting player to leave the court.”
Ian Thompson of SI sees OKC as a seller in this trade market: “They have a number of valuable frontcourt producers (Joe Smith, Chris Wilcox, Nick Collison) who could be helpful to a contender. But the Thunder won’t give away those players just to unload them, and they aren’t interested in compromising their cap space over the next two summers.”
NESN is starting to think about end of the year awards: At the beginning of the season, it looked as if the first-overall pick, point guard Derrick Rose, was a lock for this award. He has averaged 17 points to go along with close to seven helpers per game in the first half. Recently, Memphis guard O.J. Mayo and Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook have turned it on. Mayo leads all rookies with 19.3 points a game, but has not been as consistent as Rose. Westbrook could be the dark horse of the trio, averaging 15 points, 4.7 boards, and 4.9 assists. Westbrook arguably plays on the most talented team, although that talent is very young. Thunder teammate Kevin Durant makes a lot of players better, so that could help Westbrook or hurt him.
This writer has Russell Westbrook in the ROY conversation and Kevin Durant making second team All-NBA: Rose is second among Rookies in scoring at 17.0 and first with 6.3 assists. He’s grabbing 3.6 boards a game as well. He’s been every bit as good as advertised. O.J. Mayo is a close second. Russell Westbrook and Brook Lopez are in the conversation.
Bleacher Report: “It’s been almost 10 months since the Seattle Super Sonics made the move to Oklahoma City. For 10 months the state of Oklahoma has heard that it is home to legions of hillbillies and others with less than average intelligence. Oklahomans have sat and watched as ESPN and other sports outlets have called the move a travesty. These commentators said that the state could never permanently support a professional sports team. Quietly the state has taken these attacks and dealt with the name calling.”
All-Star weekend winners and losers: Winners, Kevin Durant: “Does this kid have a little Kobe in him? A stealthy performance in the Rookie game followed by a HORSE victory that was basically a victory rooted more in “I don’t want to lose” than “I want to win,” the second-year player out of Texas is starting to look just like the kid we thought he may be. Wait for him to get in the big game over the weekend. It might be a battle to see who takes home the hardware at the end of the game.”
Mascot tonight and Dime had an interesting stat: “With 81 of the 92 Major League Baseball, NFL and NBA teams having a mascot, they often see more PT and photo ops than guys on the bench, attending between 300 to 400 functions a year. And with that come bank. For example, the Phillie Phanatic generates approximately $500,000 a year in merchandising, which is about 8 percent of the Phillies in-park sales.”
And now for something completely different: LeBron on the possibility of switching numbers: “Out with no.23, in with no. 6? It could happen: “So indeed, he is No. 23, but No. 6 is part of him too. Someday, there’s a chance it could be his number all the time. ‘It’s interesting to think about. I feel like 6 is my number, too,’ James said about the prospect of switching. ‘If the NBA retired 23 because of Michael (Jordan) like baseball did with Jackie Robinson (42), I would definitely switch it. Maybe I would someday, we’ll see.’”