Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World says give up everything short of the farm to get Griffin: “The Thunder has a boy-genius in 32-year-old general manger Sam Presti, who was a Rhodes scholar nominee. But it doesn’t take a hoops Einstein to figure out that this state’s NBA franchise better figure out a way to get the draft rights to the best player this state’s produced since Tulsa’s very own wonderful Wayman Tisdale. It will, however, take someone with Presti’s intelligence to put together a deal that puts Griffin in a Thunder uniform without giving away the farm.”
Cavs.com’s awards: “Already coming off a solid freshman campaign that saw him win Rookie of the Year, Durant was even better this season – improving his scoring average from 20.3 ppg to 25.6. His shooting average is up (.430 to .479) and he’s grabbing over two more rebounds per game (4.4 to 6.5).”
In case you can’t find it, Ric Bucher’s interview with OKC’s Big Three. Man, I love these guys.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports looking at potential suitors for Griffin: “For a team that’s scraping the bottom of the standings, the Thunder have an impressive array of assets at their disposal, starting with four first-round picks in the next two drafts. In addition to his own first in ’09, GM Sam Presti will receive another No. 1 from either San Antonio or Denver (whichever is better). They have no second-rounder this year, but the big payoff comes in ’10, when the Thunder get Phoenix’s unprotected first-rounder from the Kurt Thomas trade. Throw in the rights to Serge Ibaka and DeVon Hardin (who was almost sent to New Orleans as part of the aborted Tyson Chandler trade), plus $13 million in cap space this summer (including draft picks) followed by even more space in ’10, when the expiring contracts of Earl Watson and Damien Wilkins come off the books, and you have the makings of a potentially impressive turnaround.”
Pro Basketball News’ awards: “Our favorites are Boston’s Rajon Rondo, who has climbed from weak link to elite point guard; Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, who has transformed from naive gunner to all-around star; New Jersey’s Devin Harris and Orlando’s Jameer Nelson, who made the jump to All-Star status; and Indiana’s Danny Granger, who opened the most eyes over the season’s first half. However, Granger’s numbers are dramatically up only in points and blocks. His shooting, rebounding and steals actually are down from last season. Yes, he has improved. But not as much as Durant, who has lifted every aspect of his game to the cusp of superstar status and is still only 20.”
After tonight, the Ford Center renovation begins: “The next time anyone watches the Thunder play a preseason game in October, capacity will be reduced by around 550 seats. Major additions will include: – A new $5.5 million scoreboard with video wings on the top and bottom and high definition-like quality. – Upgraded floors and wall finishes in Loud City. – 48 new box seating areas in the club area. – A new locker room the length of the court that will include weight equipment, video equipment and player-friendly amenities.”
AskMen.com has the top 10 “Hype Worthy Athletes of 2009” and Kevin Durant is No. 1 (h/t donuteyes): “He’s only 20 years old, but Kevin Durant is the face of the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise. Durant may be one of the least talked about 25-point-per-game scorers, but that won’t last too long. He’s already playing at an all-star caliber and could legitimately dominate the sport for the next 10 years. Why he will be big in 2009: It’s hard to keep the wraps on one of the top 10 scorers in the NBA, so Durant should be a household name soon (the only reason he’s not right now is because the Thunder are one of the worst teams around). Almost all of his stats have improved by the month in the 2008-’09 season and he’s ready for stardom.”
SLAM featured Uncle Jeff’s stuff on the Birdman and I liked this comment: “Well, it is Green Week in the NBA.” Hiiiiii-oooohhh!
And since we gave Uncle Jeff love yesterday for his poster of the Birdman, here’s KD:
Adrian Wojnarowski looks at the NBA’s offseason coaching carousel: “Scott Brooks, the interim coach, likely will be brought back with a contract extension. As much as anything, Brooks oversaw the vigorous development of Kevin Durant.”
Steve Aschburner looks at it too, but doesn’t even mention the Thunder needing to fill their opening. I guess we’re all assuming Coach Scotty is here to stay. If he’s not, Sacramento may come back after him: “The Kings gave serious consideration to hiring Scott Brooks two years ago before opting instead for Reggie Theus, who overachieved at 38-44 last season but got fired at 6-18 this time around. Sacramento’s losses have come at brisker pace since then, and the Maloof brothers, who own the Kings, aren’t the types to stick with a bad hand of cards. They are the team most in need of a big-name coach with more sizzle than Kenny Natt offers.”