ESPN the Mag’s preview is out and overall the team got a C-minus. The highest grade came in chemistry: “CHEMISTRY — A-minus … The Thunder pointed no fingers during last season’s 3–29 start, and many of them hung out and worked out together this summer. You can’t find that kind of solidarity outside San Antonio or Boston. And GM Sam Presti did his part for team-building by drafting James Harden. Call it a vote of confidence for Westbrook at point guard.”
Jeff Green apparently named his bulldog Rumble. That makes me happy.
Ime Udoka was waived by Portland and Jason Quick of the Oregonian surmises OKC might be a suitor: “Udoka said he is hoping to sign on with another team, and is awaiting word from his agent, Mark Bartelstein, who has been talking to other teams. Udoka said some potential suitors could be Oklahoma City, Denver, Sacramento and Utah.”
A lot of people are talking about last night’s piss-poor performance so I want to toss this in there as well: It was preseason. It didn’t count. It was the last game. The starters played very little. Sure, it’s a little disappointing, but just because the Thunder got whooped in a preseason game doesn’t mean there are MAJOR issues with the team. Now, a week into the season and we’re seeing the same issues? Then yeah, there could be problems. The arena was flat last night, the team was flatter and it just seemed like a walkthrough all around. Now get a full house in there and a game that counts and it happens again? That’s cause for worry. The perimeter defense is the biggest thing to fret, but I feel like that will get ironed out. I may be trying to live in denial, but I tend to not overreact about stuff and fear the worst. This season might not be any fun if I did.
Speaking of, Darnell Mayberry’s recap and he wasn’t pumped: “Once is a mistake. Twice is a habit. Three times? Well, that’s a lifestyle … Making Thursday’s thrashing more alarming was the Thunder yet again played with half-hearted effort, this time allowing Sacramento to impose its will from the opening tip. The Kings beat the Thunder to loose balls, forced Oklahoma City into turnovers and — when they weren’t draining 3s — turned the game into a layup drill.”
And more: “Don’t think this game didn’t matter. Not for a second. If for some reason you’re still under the impression that Thursday night’s 104-89 loss to the starless Kings was simply a throw-away game, the last of this exhibition season, carefully chew on Kevin Durant’s words. “It always means something when we step on this floor,” he said. “We’re a young team. We want to get better every time we step on the floor. Tonight was a tough one. We took some steps back.” Steps. Plural.”
Video highlights of the game. Amazingly, Serge Ibaka’s monster jam was left out.
Gary Bond of MLive.com writes that the Shock’s move was strictly financial: “On Tuesday, the Detroit Shock, the WNBA’s best franchise this decade, was sold and will relocate to Tulsa, Okla., for the 2010 season. Tulsa is a non-NBA city where the team will be the top sport in town. It was a business move, plain and simple. The Tulsa franchise is 90 miles (the drive from Grand Rapids to Mount Pleasant) from its nearest professional competition, the NBA Oklahoma City Thunder. It won’t be fifth on the list of interest like the Shock were behind the big four: the Detroit Lions (NFL), Detroit Tigers (MLB), Detroit Pistons (NBA) and Detroit Red Wings (NHL).”
The Wall Street Journal is a little late to the party on the Kevin Durant plus/minus debate.
CelticsBlog’s NW Previews:
Denver Nuggets – Denver Stiffs | The Nugg Doctor
Minnesota Timberwolves – Canis Hoopus | Empty the Bench | TWolvesBlog
Oklahoma City Thunder – Blue Blitz | Daily Thunder
Portland Trail Blazers – Blazersedge | A Stern Warning | The Rip City Project | Blaze of Love | BustaBucket | Trail Post
Utah Jazz – SLC Dunk | True Blue Jazz
I did a quick Q&A about the Thunder for Raptors Republic yesterday. Read up.
Now only five days away. Podcast coming later today and a full on season preview after the weekend. Get happy folks. It’s just preseason.