Thunder play-by-play man Matt Pinto will be on The Sports Animal this Friday morning at around 8:25. I really enjoy Pinto. He’s a quality basketball mind and he’s always got something interesting to say.
Derek Fisher was asked some questions about traveling (like actual traveling, not NBA traveling) and he had something nice to say about OKC: “What’s the most surprising/unexpected place you’ve ever visited? A: Being in the NBA, you are on the road and in a different city every few days. We have traveled to Oklahoma City, and I was very surprised to find such a sense of community, kind people and was extremely touched by the Oklahoma City National Memorial honoring those who were lost in the bombing of the Federal Building.”
Sam Amick of the Sac Bee sits down and interviews Ricky Rubio (on video). One interesting quote, among many: “I come here to play and to play the minutes. I didn’t come here to play in the NBA, and (be) done. No, I want to be a really good point guard here in the best league in the world, and I want to have minutes. So I have to find the team who wants me, who really wants me.”
Rubio will also run drills today for the Kings: “Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof, who would have to commit to a potentially complicated legal process and/or potential trade scenario if Geoff Petrie identifies (Ricky) Rubio as his NBA Draft Day target (at No.4), are flying in from Las Vegas early Wednesday to watch the 18-year-old run through some drills during an early afternoon workout. Details of the session are unclear, though apparently it won’t be too extensive. Rubio recently finished his EuroLeague season and has been taking a break physically. Nonetheless, I am sure Petrie and new Kings coach Paul Westphal are curious for a closer peek.”
The official Kings site also had an interview with Rubio:
Clearly it seems Rubio is interested in the Kings and it seems the Kings are equally as interested. That gives Chris Wallace and Sam Presti some leverage to take Rubio and dangle him in front of the Kings like a carrot. And also, it really seems like Rubio is a nice, well-spoken young man.
This interactive seating chart is pretty spiffy. You make an interactive thing where I click and it spins around and I can waste a solid 15 minutes, no sweat, on it.
SLAM’s mock draft finally gets to the 25th pick: “Tyler Hansbrough. If today’s December 25, why is the air conditioner cranking at a level where I can’t keep our player evaluation reports from flying off my desk? And why does my BlackBerry keep telling me it’s 9:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 25? If this isn’t Christmas, how did Sam Presti and I manage to score the top point guard in the draft (and I’m not talking about Brendan Jennings) as well as the ACC’s all-time scoring leader, who’s widely regarded as one of the hardest working college athletes of all time?”
A nice story by Mike Baldwin about James Harden and how he’d fit: “He’s one of those kids that’s a throwback from a different era,” one NBA general manager was quoted. “His background came back as clean as it gets. His coach and teammates rave about him. He’s all business on and off the court” … “(Redd) was the player I used to compare him to when he was in the 10th grade,” said Pera, who left after Harden’s junior year at Artesia High for an assistant job at Arizona State. “As he’s grown I now see him more as a poor man’s version of Paul Pierce or Brandon Roy.”
Scott Howard-Cooper looks at the biggest storylines of the offseason, one of them being the Phoenix Suns’ direction which directly affects the Thunder: “O’Neal is not an automatic to be dealt, but he is the likely candidate, ahead of Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash. Coming off a season in which he played 75 games, averaged 17.8 points and 8.4 rebounds and shot 60.9 percent from the field, and, again, with only 2009-10 left on the books, this is the time to move him. Not specifically to Cleveland. Somewhere, though. Except that Phoenix could make a major investment to re-sign Nash, 35, at a time when trading the 37-year-old O’Neal would be signaling a transition to the future. Any Shaq deal would likely be for prospects or picks or, as in the Cleveland option, the chance to save big money. Spending heavy to keep some older players in the final stages of their career — the Suns are already aiming for the return of Grant Hill, 36, on a one-year deal — while shipping out a credible center with similar AARP qualifications is a mixed message on the direction. Either push to win now or work to reload, not both.”
The official site looks at Stephen Curry: “Curry, a two-time Southern Conference Male Athlete of the Year winner, finished his career ranked 25th on the NCAA Division I career scoring chart (2,635 points) and fourth in three-pointers (414). His long-range shooting accuracy is his bona fide strength, and his ability to play both guard positions adds to his repertoire.” There’s really no new breakdown or anything, just a few nuts and bolts about each player.
Ben Gordon with a committment from the Pistons?: “Bulls.com’s Sam Smith dropped a little nugget in his draft workout report yesterday, suggesting that he’s heard rumor that Raymond Brothers the agent for Ben Gordon is telling people he has an $11 million per year commitment from the Detroit Pistons for Gordon.
It is important to again state that the NBA has very clear rules that teams can not open discussions with free agents until July 1st, and that if talks with Gordon have taken place the NBA would come down hard on the Pistons.”
P.J. Carlesimo is up for the USC job: “Carlesimo, 60, was fired as coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder in November, early in his second season with the team. He also has coached the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors. Carlesimo last coached on the college level in 1994, the last of his six seasons at Seton Hall. The Pirates reached the NCAA championship game in 1989.”
DX with some new info on DeJuan Blair: “We’re hearing that DeJuan Blair is in pretty good shape at the moment, and he continues to have very strong workouts that are easing the concerns teams have about his knee. Blair’s draft range looks pretty steady between 12 and 16, although he will work out for teams above and below those picks. Don’t be surprised to see a team like Oklahoma City or Portland try to make a move for him on draft night, as both organizations are reportedly very high on him.”
Also, new episode of Blake Griffin: The Rookie -