From SI’s Truth and Rumors: “Anyone who can handle simple addition knows that the Oklahoma City Thunder don’t have a great deal of freedom to pull in a big-time free agent this off-season. But for all those Thunder fans who didn’t want to believe their calculators, a salary cap wizard was happy to end any speculation for them. Bosh will be eligible to make over $16.6 million and the Thunder are expected to have no more than $12 million in cap room this summer. Bosh is seen as being a good chemistry fit with the Thunder however, and is from Dallas, which has sparked the rumors that he may take less money to head there. But clearly not that much less.”
Let me present Russell Westbrook’s case for February Player of the Month: 18.8 ppg, 10 apg, 6.5 rpg, only 2.3 turnovers a game, shot 46 percent from the field and his team went 9-2.
John Rohde: ”Before the NBA season began, I predicted the Thunder would win 35 games. Nailed it. Nailed it with 24 games to spare. With Sunday night’s methodical 119-99 victory over Toronto, the Thunder now has a record of 35-23, which is considerably more impressive than my projected 35-47. The Thunder’s winning percentage has crept into the 60s (.603). Last season’s final winning percentage was in the high 20s (.280). This year’s team is on pace to win 49½ games, which sounds ½-crazy. Winning 50 games suddenly seems like a reasonable request.”
Raptors Republic: “The Thunder are the third best defensive team in the league and have the personnel to basically switch 1/2/3/4 and still manage to guard individually. They pressure the ball by picking it up early, cause deflections with their length and don’t relent. Our PGs and Turkoglu needed to be at the top of their game at protecting the ball and dissecting their aggressive defense, it just didn’t happen and we were forced to scramble for points which is exactly what a good defensive team wants you to do.”
Skeets is passing on Ball Don’t Lie and it’s going to land in good hands. Sad to see Skeets go, but I’m excited about who’s taking over.
Pro Ball Talk on the game: “The Thunder are built to have Durantula put in between 20 and 40 every night, but to also create even distribution. And that’s what they got tonight. Six players in double figures. Two players with double-doubles. And their defense? It’s not opportunistic, it’s relentless. It’s Soviet tanks rolling over fences and crushing houses. Holding one of the best offenses in the league to 99 points per 100 estimated possessions? That’s phenomenal.”
HP looks at the MVP race: ”And that’s all because of Durant’s play – he’s basically carrying this team. If he keeps playing at this clip, he’s work a serious look as MVP. But he’s on a small-market team in a tough division, which can hurt his MVP chances. The Thunder are good, but they’re behind both Utah and Denver, two of the three best teams in the Western Conference. Even though he may be taking a pedestrian team into the playoffs almost single-handedly, it’s possible that MVP voters would take higher profile player on a more elite team.”
Some people have wondered if the Thunder might eventually change their name or logo. Well Michael Jordan is potentially looking to do that with the Bobcats and it’s not cheap: “This wouldn’t be cheap. I spoke with an NBA executive who estimated it would cost the franchise anywhere from $3 million to $10 million to rebrand the team. There are so many signs and logos that would have to be replaced, and any pre-existing merchandise gets deeply discounted or thrown away. (Example: You could have bought an Adam Morrison jersey REALLY cheap last March.)”
Ball Don’t Lie Behind the Box Score: ”Here’s what to expect: Kevin Durant,in the MVP race. It isn’t a race, he’s not the best player in the NBA, nobody’s even close to LeBron James at this point, but people are going to bring him up. He’s not the MVP, and it’s not close. But he is a scintillating player that I feel lucky to be able to watch (look at how happy Rasho is just to be next to him in the picture above), night in and night out. I don’t know why the media feel a need to qualify that with things he probably doesn’t deserve. I don’t get why he can’t just be this amazing player, working on this team that I adore. I don’t understand why everyone has to be mentioned (Carmelo? Come on). Can’t he just be Kevin Durant, awesome basketball player?”