Nenad Krstic is going back to Europe. His NBA career might not be over, but it kind of feels like it is. So he’s sort of getting a little retirement treatment. Berry Tramel wrote that Krstic gave Thunder fans a little bit of hope during a dark time. And he’s absolutely, 100 percent right.
Krstic arrived in OKC the same day defensive guru Ron Adams did. Without Krstic and Adams, the Thunder were 3-29. With them, 20-30. Krstic was a big part of the second half surge that gave the Thunder a little momentum and the fan base a serious jolt of optimism. Krstic might as well been Dwight Howard because he was something.
I remember writing about how much Krstic’s signing was more of a symbol of hope than it was anything else. Finally, reinforcements were coming. Here’s what I wrote the day Krstic signed with OKC:
My feeling is that if OKC is a current “F,” Krstic will take it to a “D”. After watching this group play 32 games and see them win three, if nothing would have been done, I’m thinking the Thunder would win about 11-14 games. If that. But with a healthy Krstic, the Thunder could potentially push that number 15-20. One reason being because he could give a mental boost to the team. Right now, nothing feels right and losing appears to be the only option on a night-to-night basis. Adding a potential star to the fold could help the team break from this loser mentality and kind of give OKC a fresh start.
Now the obvious question remains what will happen to the roster now that Krstic is a part of it. This gives OKC three seven-footers (now that Steven Hill has been waived) — 14 feet of it being pretty crappy. But there’s an abundance in the blocks for the Thunder — Joe Smith, Nick Collison, Chris Wilcox, Johan Petro, Krstic, Robert Swift, Mo Sene and even the injured D.J. White. Somebody has got to go. Maybe two of ‘em. Maybe three.
Krstic will be formally introduced to the media today at 4 p.m. And he will likely be formally introduced to some of the worst basketball he’s ever seen Wednesday night. But he’s a good player and he fills a gaping hole for OKC. This is a big step in a 10,000 mile walk. But I see it as a pretty good one. And an absolutely necessary one.
A potential star? Was I high? Did someone throw a chair into my head? I was really searching back then. Desperate for something good to happen, I guess. And wouldn’t you know it, Nenad Freaking Krstic was the only good thing that had happened to the team in those first three months. It was true at the time though and remains true today — Krstic can play. He was playing at an All-Star level before his knee injury and there was reason to feel good about him in December of 2008.
But that might’ve mainly been because the alternative was either Johan Petro or Robert Swift. The Thunder could’ve pulled Bill Wennington out of retirement and I think I would’ve been pretty stoked.
A salute to Krispy though. He was a beacon of hope during The Dark Days, part of The Turnaround, part of a 50-win playoff team and I’ll never forget some of those weirdly random third quarters where he got hot from 18 feet.
And of course, this.