Boy this speculation is driving me nuts. Now Darnell Mayberry is on the Blake Griffin trade wagon: “That would make Rubio available to the Thunder at No. 3 and open the door for a swap with the Clippers for Griffin. And you can forget about packaging Jeff Green or Russell Westbrook to land Griffin, although any potential negotiating by L.A. is sure to start there. But Thunder general manager Sam Presti likely wouldn’t part with Green or Westbrook and the No. 3, and history suggests he might not have to. Let’s revisit the 1993 draft. There was a power forward named Chris Webber who declared following his sophomore season. He was the consensus No. 1 pick out of Michigan and went first overall to the Orlando Magic. A point guard prodigy named Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was also available. The Golden State Warriors were able to select him third overall only because the Philadelphia 76ers, with the No. 2 pick, went gaga over a 7-foot-5 center out of BYU named Shawn Bradley. The Magic and Warriors swapped selections, with Golden State also giving up three future first-round picks for Webber’s services. The Thunder sits in position to do the same with two potential lottery picks to offer next year, its own and Phoenix’s. OKC could also throw in its 2011 first-round pick and still avoid mortgaging its future by building a core that includes Westbrook, Green, Griffin and Kevin Durant.”
You know, all that doesn’t sound that far-fetched. If Sam Presti can somehow move to get Blake Griffin, while not giving up a piece of the core, then consider him a wizard. If things go as planned, next year’s and the year after that’s first round picks shouldn’t be all that valuable. In fact, Phoenix’s pick might be the most valuable of all. This next month is going to be fun – or torture, depending on your perspective.
OKC has reportedly worked out Vladamir Dasic, and 48 Minutes of Hell looks at the intriguing prospect: “Vladimir Dasic’s reported skill set makes my head spin. A basic report would tell us that Dasic is a 6′10 combo forward with legit 3 skills. DX has him at 225 lbs, but I’ve been told he is closer to 240. He has three point potential, looks comfortable on the perimeter, and can create his own shot. Good, good and good.”
Rumors and Rants has “NBA: Homegrown Edition” and let me tell you, OKC stinks: “Unfortunately for the Thunder, Blake Griffin isn’t walking through that door – at least not yet. Heck, screw Blake Griffin, Stewie Griffin could start on this team. Oklahoma City will struggle. Evidence of that is the re-emergence of Bryant “Big Country” Reeves, who I’m sure looks a little something like Jabba The Hut these days. Relying on Shelden Williams, Wayne Simien and Ryan Humphrey in the frontcourt is suicidal. Azubuike provides nice athleticism and grit and Brandon Rush is an emerging talent, but there’s no sugarcoating it. Oklahoma City sucks.”
Yet another take on the Thunder’s draft prospects: “With the third pick in this draft they’ll most likely try to fill one of their two weakest positions of SG or C. James Harden and Hasheem Thabeet are the top prospects at those positions. At this point most draft experts, including myself, have Thabeet going to Oklahoma City. He’s the perfect fit for their team and I don’t see how they could pass on him if Memphis ends up taking Rubio. The Thunder have an extremely small front court, but the addition of Thabeet will be able to make up for some of Jeff Green’s lack of size at power forward. At this point Thabeet’s only NBA ready skills are his shot blocking and rebounding, and that’s all Oklahoma City will need him to do. Kevin Durant is on his way to becoming an NBA star with his second and third options (Westbrook and Green) already beside him. Thabeet would be the perfect role player to come in and help this team gel together.”
The JaVale McGee rumors appear to be false – maybe: “I told you guys yesterday not to get too alarmed over the JaVale McGee rumor on ESPN.com. I spoke to someone in the know who told me that there was “absolutely nothing at all” to infer from Chad Ford’s item that Oklahoma City and the Wizards discussed a swap of the No. 3 pick for the No. 5 pick and McGee. It’s understandable that teams would be interested in McGee, with his long arms, highlight reel dunks and oodles of potential. It’s also not unusual for teams to make inquiries about the availability of players this time of year. But the Wizards aren’t looking to move McGee. They are still high on him, encouraged by his potential and upside, and expect him to blossom into a star with this organization. So you JaVale Junkies can relax – for now.”
Truth About It on the rumor: “Would Thabeet even be an upgrade over JaVale McGee? Doubt it. Thabeet hasn’t been playing organized ball for that long versus McGee, whose baby carriage used to rest courtside while his mom played pro ball; The two can be similar defensive players with the caveat that McGee gains more weight/muscle (although JaVale may always be more finesse); and McGee, even with a long way to go, is leaps and bounds beyond Thabeet in offensive ability.”
Mike Moreau of HoopsWorld sees the playoffs in OKC sooner than later: “One of those teams is the Oklahoma City Thunder, and after spending four days as a guest coach at their free agent mini-camp this past week, I can say this with complete confidence: The playoffs are coming to Oklahoma City. Maybe not next year, or even the year after, but they are coming. How do I know that? Because when I got off the plane in OKC, Judy was right there at baggage claim to meet me. When I walked outside, Wilson was waiting with the van to take me to my hotel. How do I know the playoffs are coming to Oklahoma City? Because when I got to the hotel, I was given all of the information I needed for mini-camp, complete with a personalized daily itinerary with my name on it, right next to a color Thunder logo. I was also given a Thunder equipment bag with not only enough gear for five practice sessions over the next three days, but also an extra shirt to wear on the plane going home. So what ? What does this have to do with making the playoffs? Everything. Because the same attention to detail they gave to me as a guest coach is the same attention to detail they gave the players in the camp, from giving the players a financial seminar to providing massages after practice. And keep in mind that most of these players won’t even get an invite to their summer league team, much less have a chance to make their roster and help them win games.”
More trade speculation, this time from Sactown Royalty: “The #4 and #23 pick and Donté Greene to OKC for the #3 and #25 pick. This is providing that Rubio is still there at #3, of course. The Thunder move up a couple slots later in the 1st round and land Greene at the low price of $870,000, and still get whomever they would have selected at #3. The Kings get their man, and retain a latter 1st round pick. I would be willing to keep Greene and let them keep their #25 pick if that was OKC’s preference.” Umm, no thanks.
Via Kevin Durant’s Twitter, Russell Westbrook is evidently on there too: Now as soon as we get Nick Collison and Robert Swift’s, we’ll be set. Walking to the mall… ah! My ankle! (Update: Also, Thabo appears to be Twittering.)
The Ford Center’s upgrades are underway: And whoever is doing the masonry for it better do a good job. Oh wait, my dad’s company is. So I’m sure he will. Go dad.
Bill Simmons on Durant and Oden (again): “We’re getting there with Oden. Look how well Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah played in the 2009 postseason. Look how much Rajon Rondo grew from Season 1 to Season 3. Look at some of the beauties Durant had this season; same for Kevin Love or Brook Lopez, or even Russell Westbrook. If you’re headed toward greatness, or even goodness, you’re going to show us flashes of your ultimate destiny in your embryonic years. That’s just the law. You can’t go from “I am doing nothing” to “I’m an All-Star!” unless you’re Jamaal Magloire (who immediately went back to nothing). It’s a series of baby steps. And through two seasons, Oden has shown nothing other than a remarkable ability to suffer bad luck with injuries and draw empathy from his fans. I don’t know what else to say. If he’s good, let’s see it. We could always use more blue-chippers. But he hasn’t even shown hints of flashes. It’s been a full-fledged blackout for two seasons. When you’re clumsy, you’re clumsy. We should have seen something by now. Just remember the lessons of the Darko era. After a while, it stops being an accident.”
Ian Thompson on the Rubio situation: “I saw Rubio in Spain last week for an upcoming story in Sports Illustrated. During an extended interview at their home, his parents said Rubio would take his name out of the draft to avoid landing with a “bad” franchise — one that offers a negative future to their son. Is Memphis, which holds the No. 2 pick in the June 25 draft, one of those “bad” teams? The Grizzlies play in a small market with little support; they’ve slashed payroll and — as the Rubio family knows well — they gave away fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol in a controversial salary dump to the Lakers. (In all fairness, the dynamics of that Gasol deal are likely to be duplicated many more times this summer by other teams needing to reduce payroll. The Grizzlies merely were ahead of the curve.)” Wouldn’t the Clippers be the ultimate “bad franchise”? Tough to know what they mean there…
A new Rubio mixtape: “You already know that the hype is crazy about this kid, but truly how good is Ricky Rubio? Some see him as a franchise PG, others as the definite second pick in the Draft, others still have no clue. Check out the latest Rubio mixtape dubbed, “Un Futuro NBA” a.k.a. “The Future of the NBA” and let us know what you think.”