Zach Lowe of SI on a 66 game schedule: “The Celtics went 19-31 and were generally very bad. They did not have a roster like the current Thunder, a group that includes two of the league’s top 15 players and a bunch of other young guys hitting their primes. You could not build a schedule that would disadvantage Oklahoma City, save for assigning it 66 road games or forcing it to play only the league’s 10 best teams.”
The NBA will have five Christmas games, not three. Which means there’s a pretty good chance OKC would be one of those.
Practice facilities are open to players starting Thursday and agents can start discussing free agents on Wednesday.
Darnell Mayberry on Battier in OKC: “The Thunder, meanwhile, already has a defensive stopper in Thabo Sefolosha under a budget-friendly contract that will pay him a relatively cheap $10.8 million over the next three seasons. Battier, who has hit 38.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the 3-point arc, is a much better perimeter shooter than Sefolosha, a career 30.4 percent shooter. But Sefolosha is six years younger and still could grow into a more dominant defender and more accurate shooter. There is no doubt, however, that Battier could be a nice fit with the Thunder, a franchise that is creeping closer to a championship and potentially could entice Battier to sacrifice money and playing time to play for a winner.”
KD wants Shane Battier. He tweeted this the other day: “Hey @ShaneBattier, just wanted to see how you were doing and what size jersey you wear and also do u still want no.31?”
Rob Mahoney of the NYT on starting versus coming off the bench: “Even more unfortunate is the other implication of such a rule: if a premium is placed on players who start, then those who do not start – for whatever reason – are deemed by the system to be lesser. The N.B.A.’s owners and players have ingrained games-started as a goal for the coming generations and, in the process, marginalized the value (in the case of this specific contract element) of influential reserves. A spot in the P.A. announcer’s opening roll call took top priority, while the team-first mind-set that brings Odom, Terry or Harden off the bench was thrown into the wind.”
Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak with a great piece contrasting Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker: “But used this way: as a ball-handling creator in transition and a off-ball finisher in the half court, Westbrook combines the best parts of the point guard and off guard roles—a throat-seizing Tony Parker/Dwyane Wade hybrid. Even with a one largely dimensional offensive approach, Westbrook didn’t exactly struggle last year. Players that are constantly messing things up don’t use 30% of the possessions in a top 5 offense. Putting a greater emphasis on off-ball action would make Westbrook even more efficient, and diversify a Thunder attack that had an ugly tendency to bog down for long stretches in last year’s playoffs.”
Here’s how the Seattle Post Intelligencer reacted to that fun TBJ video yesterday: “When it is finally revealed that it’s all a joke, at least one fan admits she was more traumatized by “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” than the news that the team is leaving. Those are some loyal fans out there in Oklahoma.”