Howlin’ T-Wolf on the trade: “Much like the trade last week for Quentin Richardson, this is at best just a lateral move that helps the Wolves positionaly this season while also now splitting Etan’s expiring contract into two for Kahn to have more flexibility in trades moving forward. I don’t foresee either guy playing too much (you can see the Daily Thunder rejoicing at their departure here), although Atkins could see more time as the backup pg over Bobby Brown especially after his summer league play, and I see both as being acquired for more of a veteran presence in the locker room especially with Atkins being able to show the point guard ropes to Jonny Flynn. As for Etan Thomas, although a serviceable center in the league, he probably wouldn’t have seen too much time either with Love and Jefferson both getting the heavy minutes at the 4 and 5.”
Canis Hoopus: “…Chucky Atkins will probably be our veteran PG somewhat like Kevin Ollie was last year. Atkins has been a very good player in some years, with his best season being for the Lakers in 04-05. He’s a good playmaker and he has a decent shot. Damien Wilkins has time to improve his skills at age 29 although he hasn’t shown much improvement over his career. He gives us a third SF, along with Ryan Gomes and Corey Brewer. Damien isn’t a great shooter of any kind. Not a good 3pt shooter, 2pt shooter, FT shooter … Etan Thomas wouldn’t do that much for our team, probably somewhat like Jason Collins, so I’m completely fine with this trade. We could have done something with our 2nd round picks, but I think it’s fine to give those up.”
Chris Mannix on Team USA mini-camp standouts: “Russell Westbrook – The best point guard in camp, Westbrook showcased physical defensive skills and an improving jump shot. He picked up three steals in Saturday’s scrimmage and was a menace to Rose, Harris and D.J. Augustin during practices. “He’s a bulldog out there,” marveled Coach K … Kevin Durant – When asked how he would improve the ’08 team, Colangelo was succinct: “Kevin Durant.” Durant was better than any other player in Las Vegas. His jump shot continues to develop and the U.S. coaches are infatuated with his versatility and ability to score inside and out.”
TimberwolvesPress.com gives the trade an A: “I like this deal a lot for us because we filled two huge roster needs by bring in 1) a veteran point guard in Atkins and 2) a veteran wing player in Wilkins. With Telfair out the door, we were left with Bobby Brown backing up Jonny Flynn at the PG position. Now we have a serviceable guy in Atkins who can provide leadership and will occasionally have some nice scoring nights running the point. Wilkins’ name may sound familiar to some of you, that’s because we actually signed him to an offer sheet back in 2005 when Wilkins was a member of the Seattle Supersonics. I’ve always like Wilkins as a player, he’s nothing more than a back-up, but he is an athletic perimeter player who has a nice jump shot. Both of these players should have key roles off the bench next season and possibly in the starting lineup from time-to-time. The best part of this deal is we gave up virtually nothing. Etan Thomas’ value on our team was very low considering we already have Al Jefferson and Kevin Love ahead of him on the depth chart, so moving him was nothing worth crying over. I’ve also heard that Thomas is quite the head case and that he got in several disputes with his teammates in the past, most notably Brendan Haywood.”
Sources tell ESPN that the Okafor-Chandler trade is a done deal. Well, that is if Chandler can pass his physical…
Austin Kent of The Good Point has a piece on Desmond Mason that is definitely worth reading: “Desmond Mason might as well exist in an alternate universe – better yet, a fourth dimension; technically there, but ungrasped by man. His feats go unnoticed, his accomplishments unrecognized and his presence unfelt. He is, when you think about it, one big fat “un” – unknown, unremarkable and unjustly under-appreciated. His background is nothing spectacular; he went to four years of college when the rage was prep-to-pros and he hasn’t done anything particularly famous or sensational since joining the league nine years ago. And so the mystery begins.”
Darnell Mayberry: “On one hand, the deal could be viewed simply as three aging reserves and two second-round picks swapping places. But this trade holds much more significance for the Thunder in both the short and long term. Just last week I touched on how the Thunder’s post play remains the weakest link. Young guns D.J. White, Serge Ibaka and Byron Mullens aren’t ready to contribute consistent minutes next season and the addition of Thomas now means they don’t have to. Oklahoma City is now looking at a steady power forward/center rotation of Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic as the starters and Nick Collison and Etan Thomas as their backups. Roles should be clearly defined in 2009-10 as opposed to the uncertain responsibilities surrounding Thunder bigs Collison, Green, Chris Wilcox, Joe Smith, Robert Swift and Johan Petro at the start of last season.”
David Berri looks at the most overrated players in the NBA and Jeff Green checks in at No. 12.
Tim Povtak of Fanhouse looks at the Thomas trade: “Thomas is well known as the center who returned last season after being struck by a serious illness that required open heart surgery in 2007. Before that illness, though, Thomas often provided the inside toughness that the Wizards needed with a mostly offensive-minded lineup … As the Thunder try and build a team around Durant, a superstar in the making, they are beginning to understand they can’t allow teams to get too physical defending Durant without providing him with some physical protection, which explains the need for Thomas.”
Kevin Durant showing off the new KD2 (with more pics of him and Russell Westbrook).