Marc Stein writes about what’s next for the Hornets and of course, there’s this part: “The obstacle there, though, is that concerns about Chandler’s long-term health are no longer exclusive to the Thunder. I’ve heard the suggestion more than once in recent days that the Hornets — if they can find a team interested in stealing the 26-year-old from a team desperate to shed long-term salary obligations — might not be able to do better than Denver did last summer when it dumped Marcus Camby’s contract to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nuggets, remember, gave Camby away for the mere option of trading second-round picks in 2010, agreeing to such a marginal return because the Clips had the cap space and willingness to absorb Camby’s contract.” Well, well, well. (h/t to JG for the heads up)
SI on Rubio-Griffin: “Oklahoma power forward Blake Griffin is still clearly the projected No. 1 pick and everyone else is in the chase car, as has been the case all season, and Rubio’s recent decision to enter the June 25 draft a couple of months after a lot of teams thought he would stay in Spain doesn’t move the needle much. It’s a boost for the depth of the draft, not the intrigue, according to an early read from NBA executives. “He is that far ahead of the pack,” one personnel boss said of Griffin versus the field … The Thunder, with the fourth-best chance, have the only no-brainer among the teams with the best chance to pick first. They play in Oklahoma City. Griffin is from an OKC suburb. Russell Westbrook is set as the point guard. Done deal.”
3 Shades of Blue has a mock draft up and I kind of like it. Actually, I really like it: “Oklahoma City Thunder – Blake Griffin – After LeBron to Cleveland and Derrick Rose to Chicago, this will result in conspiracy theorist going nuts. This should also establish the Thunder as the best young core in the NBA, including Portland. They have almost every base covered and have $15 million in capspace to fill in the empty spaces. Be afraid if this happens … No. 25 Thunder: Patrick Mills – Presti gets a spark plug at backup point as it seems that former Grizz, Earl Watson, does not want that assignment again.” For the record, I LOVE Patty Mills.
The Lost Ogle takes a look at roster decisions: “That being said, the first step of the off-season is making decisions about the players who are currently associated with the team. Some guys are entering free agency. Some guys have contract options. Others are entering the final season of their contract and could be bought out to make room for new players. For all of these players, General Manager Sam Presti will have a decision to make. For the rest of this column, I will point out what will likely go into his thought process.”
USA Today – Should the NBA shorten its season: “At the league level, Stern says, they do talk about schedule length. But a reduction of games would have “significant economic consequences” on team and league revenue, he says. And numerous business considerations also enter into the equation. “Is it good for our season to run from October to the end of June? Our sponsors and licensees would say yes,” Stern says. “Is it good to be the leading sport after the NCAAs are done? I think the answer is evident.”
I vaguely remember Bill Simmons writing his column about changing the NBA playoffs back in 2007, but I really like his idea: “First, shorten the season by one week (four games). Second, guarantee the first 12 playoff seeds (six for each conference) and put the next two up for grabs (best records get them, as described here). Third, create the Entertaining-As-Hell Tournament at the end of the regular season — sixteen teams in all, all nonplayoff teams — with the runner-up getting the 16th seed and the winner getting the 15th seed. (Note: As I spelled out in this 2007 column, the tourney prevents teams from tanking down the stretch or shutting down players, and even better, gives the playoff teams a week off to recover. You’re saying you would have been against the [Thunder] sneaking into the playoffs? And by the way, there would be no lottery repercussions because we’re also making the lottery open to all 16 nonplayoff teams, same odds for everyone. Again, the goal is to kill any inclination to tank. Covered it all in that column two years ago.) Fourth, the playoffs would no longer be by conference: Just a 16-team tournament, winner take all. And fifth, the top-seven seeds get to pick who they’re playing — No. 1 overall goes first, No. 2 goes second, and so on.” Boy, could you imagine that scenario? Giving up the chance at Blake Griffin to make a playoff run. Decisions!
Well this is a little weird. But cool at the same time: “If you find yourself craving a cocktail on Cinco de Mayo, I strongly suggest you grab one at Bricktown Brewery, where Thunder head coach Scott Brooks will serve as a guest bartender. Brooks is doing this to raise money for the fire victims in east Oklahoma County. He’ll tend the upstairs bar from 5-7 p.m. Word on the street is that the Thunder will also announce a special donation.”
I like this about Scott Brooks: “Brooks said he plans to visit every Thunder player this off-season to ensure they’re moving forward in their development. It will also give him an opportunity to further build relationships outside the usual work environment. Last summer, Brooks and assistant coach Brian Keefe traveled to Washington, D.C., to work out with Jeff Green and to the University of Texas to work with Kevin Durant. “I want to challenge all the players to get better all across the board,” Brooks said. “When that happens, it’s my job and the coaching staff’s job to take all that improvement and make it a better team come fall. And we’re looking forward to that opportunity.” If there were a team chemistry award, I think OKC would have that baby sitting in Leadership Square right now: