First, let me say I like Rumble. I like the name, I like the idea and I like the look (for the most part). For those that are wondering why a bison, well, that’s the official state animal for Oklahoma. Also, does anyone else think the similar look to Squatch was intentional? I kind of do. I think this is a good start for the mascot and though it kind of looks a little werewolf-y and a little shaggy, I dig him. If I were to complain, I do think his hair should be a little more “matted” if you know what I mean and I think his hair should be a touch darker. I’ve never seen a light brown bison. Most times they are you know, dark brown/black.
Ball Don’t Lie Behind the Box Score: “Sam Presti, you couldn’t have waited until Wednesday morning to make this deal? Playing without anyone that could guard David West, the Thunder’s interior was pretty suspect, Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic had no chance, and the Hornets pulled out a pretty offense-heavy road win. And though the Thunder put up a very respectable 109 points per 100 possessions, that was mainly coming from two guys. No team is going to win with Earl Watson (ohfer six), Russell Westbrook (5-15, all over the place offensively, looking very much like a rookie), and Kyle Weaver (2-7) shooting from the perimeter like that. Good thing for Kevin Durant. Great thing for Kevin Durant. Kevin Durant is a great, great thing. 47 points for this unmitigated stud. This kid is an absolute … I have no words. And I can’t even buy him a beer until the beginning of next season’s training camp.”
Reaction from the Times-Picayune: “For all the world, the trade looks like a salary dump. The Hornets, like every other NBA team, don’t want to exceed the salary cap and pay a luxury tax and trading Chandler for Smith and Wilcox allows the Hornets to get expiring contracts, which is money that’ll soon come off the books. It certainly doesn’t look like the basketball-first move it has been touted to be. Smith and Wilcox have their positives (check out tomorrow’s column in The Times-Picayune); Chandler simply seems to have more at the point. And he seems better equipped to help the Hornets make a run in the playoffs. Now, we seriously have to consider if the team even will get to the postseason.”
John Hollinger grades the trade: “Thunder GM Sam Presti continues to accumulate assets on the cheap for OKC, which is rapidly building up a rather appetizing future. Chandler is only 26 and gives the team an offense-defense duo at center with Nenad Krstic. A quality big man on a reasonable contract, at his age, for two expiring contracts? Seriously? Even after this deal, the Thunder are still going to be under the cap next year, and they are still sitting on a flotilla of draft picks from previous deals that teams made with them in assorted other salary dumps. Combine the cap space and the future picks with a Durant-Green-Westbrook-Chandler nucleus and their own lottery pick this June, and the Thunder could be set for a very rapid ascent in the Western Conference pecking order over the next two seasons … Grade: A.”
Chris Littman of Sporting News draws a comparison to the young Thunder and a TV show. Also included is a comparison to the 2001-02 Clippers. Thanks?: “The Pilot Episode: This is the stage where Oklahoma City resides right now. None of this really matters yet. Right now, all we know about this show titled Thunder is that we’ve got some amazing actors/writers involved in the program. The reason why we aren’t already in Season One is the fact that a lot of people are already thinking about how a potential lottery pick will fit with this squad. (Have mercy on the NBA if the lottery falls in OKC’s favor and they somehow end up with Blake Griffin.) On paper, it looks like it should be a hit. This is the first phase for any rising team. So after you get your network pickup based off of all that critical buzz from your pilot episode (also known as the remaining games of this season), we move on to …”
48 Minutes of Hell wants to wish one of their own a congrats: “I cheer for Kevin Pritchard, Danny Ferry and Sam Presti. They’re family. All three are doing work that ranges from good to tremendous. Sam Presti is in the news for taking advantage of the economy by turning Chris Wilcox and Joe Smith into defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler. In the short term, this makes New Orleans an easier playoff out. In the long run, it could make the Thunder a handful. With a nucleus of Durant, Green, Westbrook, Krstic and Chandler, the Thunder could eventually out scary-young-talent the Blazers. They’re not far behind. Making matters worse, Portland and OKC boast 1, 378 picks between them in the next two drafts. Strangely enough, the next 10 years of NBA history may well be written by front offices that approximate to Spurs Northwest, Spurs Midwest and Spurs not quite so Southwest. I’ll cry in my beer later, but tonight I say three cheers for Sam Presti. He’s done good.”
Game reaction and trade reaction from Hornets247: “Fast forward to the CST telecast of tonight’s game, and I hear Bob Licht and Gil McGregor gushing relentlessly about the players we acquired (“28 other teams wanted Joe Smith!!!”), how the trade improves the Hornets’ offense, rebounding and depth, and how Tyson’s departure should speed up the development of Hilton Armstrong. Then Byron gets interviewed by Jordy Hultberg and we hear Coach citing our shallow bench as the main reason for doing the deal with OKC. No mention of by far the biggest reason the Hornets pulled the trigger on this trade, which was of course to cut salary. No mention of that by anybody. No mention of it at all. I’m insulted. We all know the truth behind this deal, so for everybody associated with the Hornets to emphasize the silver lining while ignoring the cloud is nothing more than a slap in the face to the fans. Worse still, refusing to acknowledge the real issues makes us wonder if you know what you’re doing here. It breeds mistrust. You traded Tyson Chandler because you’re broke. That’s okay. I can accept that. What’s not okay and what’s not acceptable is lying to everyone about it. We the fans deserve better than that.”
Shoals on the trade: “But what’s really crazy is that Chandler’s going to Oklahoma City, the mother of all small markets. Granted, their core is almost all still under their rookie contracts, and there’s no way they can afford to extend Westbrook, Durant, and Green at market value, even if the economy changes. Still, right now OKC’s probably the best collection of young talent around. Move over, Kevin Pritchard. Sam Presti is here.”
Basketbawful on the trade: “Great move for the Thunder, though, assuming Chandler ever gets healthy. I know the Thunder Cats have been an ongoing punchline around these parts, but seriously, with the way Kevin Durant is developing, they might be only another year or two away from actual mediocrity, even competence. Which is more sweet torment for the denizens of Seattle. The only way those poor people could receive a more thorough cornholing would be if the Thunder won a title within the next five years. Don’t laugh. It could happen. Just ask Cleveland Browns fans.”
Royce on the trade – oh that’s me: “I love this trade. I absolutely love everything about it. Sure Chandler’s numbers are a bit down this year but he hasn’t been completely healthy and frankly, I don’t think he’s been completely happy this year. But he’s a game changer for OKC. Right now, Nick Collison is starting at center and is playing horribly out of position. He’s a solid four, but for instance against the Lakers, Pau Gasol absolutely abused him. Nenad Krstic is a jump shooter and a decent post player but he’s not an enforcer in the paint. OKC needs a guy like Chandler. When he’s at his best, he’s a 12-12 type of guy and even at his “worst” he’s an 8-8 type of guy that can block shots – which is better than anything OKC’s got right now.”
More Shoals, this time from FreeDarko: “First, you’ve got the Thunder, a bandwagon you need to be finding if you haven’t tracked it down already. All the payroll went to heaven, causing much controversy and embarrassment, or was of the walking corpse variety—save for the rookie contracts belonging to the team’s nucleus. And now, even if Chandler improves them greatly, OKC’s most likely landing a choice lottery pick. A once-in-a-generation phenom—LeBron is the exception that proves everything, which is why Durant can still be once-in-a-generation—combined with very astute use of high picks, and one big contract stolen off of team’s not blessed with such meager payroll. Will this last? No. Does it take a mastermind to pull off? Probably. Does that mean, in the wartorn economic future of the NBA, it’s not a viable model? Only if there’s a cheaper alternative that promises such a strong chance of competing. Blow the team up before it takes your hand with you, then start all over again. It’s not nihilistic, it’s living each second like it’s your last, and having the balls to believe your front office can repeat the process every five years.”
The Sac Bee says the Chandler deal makes the Salmons deal more likely. Strange: “According to the Sacramento Bee, the trade that sent Chandler to Oklahoma City might have increased the chances that the Thunder win the John Salmons sweepstakes. With a starting lineup of Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook and Chandler, “the Thunder appears motivated to add a guard such as Salmons and still retain the pieces to make it happen (expiring deals and draft picks).”
Fanhouse on KD and D-West’s duel: “As the Hornets visited Tyson Chandler’s new digs, questionable All-Star David West and questionable snub Kevin Durant had themselves a duel. We’ll have to give it a “no decision,” though — K.D. pulled 47 points in 27 FGAs while West went for 37 on 20 FGAs. But West pulled double-digit (13) boards and N.O. got the important win. A dejected Nick Collison decided he’s done with this “scoring” thing.”
Hardwood Paroxysm on KD’s career night: “For realsies, Kevin Durant is amazing. He alone is worth the price of admission, and outside of the Bulls, the Thunder are my only appointment viewing league-wide so he’ll be on here a lot. He went for 47 points last night on 16-27 shooting, with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 turnovers. He’s averaging 29.5 a game in 2k9, to go with nearly 8 rebounds. He’s the future of the league and the future is now. It’s not ludicrous to suggest that, for the past month and a half, Durant has been a top 10 player in the NBA. I mean, those are basically equivalent to what LeBron has done in the same time frame. We’ve known about his potential, but it’s awesome to see him start to realize it so soon. All this and Scott Brooks can’t even call a play to get him open. Amazing.”
Rob Mahoney on the deal: “This trade is absolutely unbelievable for the Thunder. Care to guess which position has been the most productive against the Thunder this year? Center? No way! And here I thought Nick Collison, Chris Wilcox, and Robert Swift were the real deal, long-term starters destined for the Hall and bobble head nights aplenty. Tyson is infinitely better defensively than any of those three, and adding Chandler to the starting lineup allows players like Collison and Nenad Krstic to thrive against the lesser second units of opposing teams. In the meantime, Chandler can take his time with his recovery because the Thunder are comfortably outside of the playoff race. It’s a beautiful thing, really.”
Rumble’s backstory. Umm, yeah: Rumble’s story is fictitious, but the Native American tale concocted represents Oklahoma’s history. A near-sellout crowd was told at halftime Rumble is a bison that hundreds of years ago led his herd to safety only to be trapped alone in a storm atop the Arbuckle Mountains. The story claims Rumble was struck by lightning and suddenly walked on two legs like a man. According to campfire legend, Rumble possesses amazing strength and agility but felt alone until NBA players with similar athletic skills arrived in the Ford Center hundreds of years later.