A great story about Serge Ibaka and how he’s catching people’s attention: “Through two days at the Orlando Pro Summer League, Congo native Serge Ibaka has gained a lot of admirers. Whisperers are circulating about how Oklahoma City managed to pick up on a unique 6-foot-10, 19-year-old lottery-level talent under everybody’s nose, especially given the enviable stockpile of young skill players the Thunder have managed to draft over the past few years.”
Joe whipped up a few numbers on Harden: “I just did a quick calculation. Our offensive rating was 107, our defensive rating was 107.7. Harden is like a man among boys. His two game averages are: 28.9 minutes, (54.5%,)(44%),(80%) 4.5 rebs, 2 ass., 2.5 pf, 1 steal, 2 turns, .5 block, 18 ppg. That’s an eFG% of 63.6%. I know these games are somewhat meaningless, but it’s great to see how well he does a little bit of everything, including putting the ball in the basket efficiently, which is why most of us were so high on him, and why I think he will really help the team.”
Oklahoma City’s city council approved the new practice facility set to open in 2010: “The city council approved final plans for the project Tuesday. The council also awarded a multitude of contracts for pieces of a $100 million renovation of the Ford Center to bring it to NBA standards. The practice facility will be located near Britton Road and the Broadway Extension. It will include practice courts, locker rooms, a strength and conditioning area, sports medicine area, team offices and storage areas along with furniture, fixtures and equipment.”
Darnell Mayberry’s observations on yesterday’s game: “Ibaka plays with confidence even if he is raw. He isn’t afraid to do different things, shoot from the outside, bang on the inside, put the ball on the floor, rebound, contest shots, bring the ball up. He’s got a good mix of skills that could become awfully deadly because of his athleticism if he works to refine his God-given abilities.”
The AP’s recap: “Harden has proven to be one of the more athletic guards in the summer league. The 6-foot-5 left-hander from Arizona State played nearly the entire games against the Pacers and continually beat defenders off the dribble. He showed a smooth shooting stroke and played with swagger. And don’t be fooled by his full beard and receding hairline. He’s only 19 years old. Harden had a chance to send the game into overtime, but came up just short on a wide-open 3-pointer at the buzzer. “Wide-open look. Got to knock those down,” Harden said. “Big shot. Got to get used to those and be ready to shoot at all times. It looked good, felt good, just didn’t go in. It’s good that coach has that trust in me to take those big shots.”
Here’s an artist rendering of the new Integris Health Thundersoon-to-be-sponsored practice facility. I like how the artist put extremely fancy NBA-type cars out front, even equipped with monster rims. It would have been funny if he would have put a ’94 Ford Tempo and a ’96 Mitsubishi Galant out there. Not realistic at all, but mildly humorous nonetheless.
I got word yesterday that the Ford Center new mega-scoreboard arrived yesterday and is being assembled this week. It’s quite an ordeal from what I hear, with them basically putting together the huge parts on the ground and then using a lever and pully system to hoist it into place. I might have some pictures of it soon.
A little story about Russell Westbrook’s summer league experience: “For some players summer pro league is the most important time of the year because it’s their best chance to show NBA executives that they deserve an invitation to training camp. For Russell Westbrook this event is nowhere near as important though as he’s firmly established himself as a vital part of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s future. “I’m just trying to have some fun and make sure we win,” stated Westbrook.”
Just in case you were wondering, former Thunder great Rodrigue Beaubois signed a rookie contract with Dallas yesterday: “Rodrigue Beaubois, who has played professionally in France, took part in his first summer-league practice Tuesday and signed his rookie deal with the club. As the 25th overall pick, he’s slotted to receive almost $896,200 this season and $963,400 next season, with a $1.03 million option for his third year.”
Susan Bible of HoopsWorld on James Harden: “Harden looked extremely comfortable on the court, as if this was just another year in the pro league. The guy has an exceptional basketball IQ and court vision which were demonstrated throughout his minutes of play; he created shots for players, moved incredibly well, and showed some confident passing skills. Oklahoma City has serious reasons to be excited about James Harden.”
Sam Amico on Harden’s play: “I’m not sure who has been more impressive through two days of summer play: Oklahoma City’s James Harden or Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough. I’d probably give a slight edge to Harden, who made 6 of 13 shots for 19 points in the Thunder’s 91-88 loss to the Pacers. Harden is just so talented with the ball, and like Hansbrough, doesn’t get enough credit for doing all the little things so well. Case in point: Harden also compiled five rebounds, three assists and a steal, and committed just one turnover.”
The new salary cap has been set: “The National Basketball Association today announced that the Salary Cap for the 2009-10 season will be $57.7 million. The tax level for the 2009-10 season has been set at $69.92 million. Any team whose team salary exceeds that figure will pay a $1 tax for each $1 by which it exceeds $69.92 million.”
The Birdman has signed a five-year deal with Denver: ”Andersen, who provided shot-blocking, rebounding and energy off the bench for the Nuggets in their run to the Western Conference finals, could make as much as $26 million from the deal, his agent, Mark Bryant, told the newspaper. Andersen could sign the contract as early as Wednesday, when the NBA’s free agent signing period begins. Andersen will earn $3.7 million next season from the contract, which is back-loaded and sweetened with performance incentives, Bryant said, according to the report.”