You should do a run-down of the top Thunder Killers. Thunder Killers, meaning players who always seem to play above their heads against the Thunder. — Dustin T.
Well, no Thunder Killer list can be correct without having Dirk sitting firmly at the top. That dude is basically Charles Manson to Thunder. He’s a straight Thunder serial killer. (To kind of define this, what I consider a Thunder Killer is someone that seems to always hit big shots or play really well against OKC. And that doesn’t always mean LeBron, Kobe or Chris Paul. It’s pretty much anyone that seems to save their best games for the Thunder.)
But this would be my All-Thunder Killer Team:
PG: J.J. Barea — The flopping and the acting is bad enough, but the little guy just kills OKC. I thought it was just a Mavericks thing, but he did it again for the Wolves in the second game of the season. Every time he gets into the paint, I fully expect Serge Ibaka to swat his layup so hard the ball explodes on impact, but somehow, it always finds its way in.
SG: Jason Terry — It’s hard not to picture the Thunder having a seemingly comfortable five-point lead with a minute left against Dallas, only for the Jet to hit back-to-back 3s after missing his previous 21 shots. It’s almost a guarantee.
SF: Tony Allen — He had games of 19, 27 and 20 against OKC last season. Really! Tony Allen! He actually did that!
PF: Dirk — Freaking Dirk.
C: LaMarcus Aldridge — I’m fudging a bit and putting Aldridge at center. But that guy consistently seems to murder the Thunder.
Matt Bonner — He once hit 7-7 from 3 against OKC.
Zach Randolph — I think he had 46 offensive rebounds in a quarter one time against the Thunder.
Monta Ellis — I can’t seem to shake the lead the Thunder blew with 30 seconds left against the Warriors at home last year. And Ellis was the guy that was in charge of that. He can kill a lot of teams because he scores so effortlessly, but it seems he always has a solid night in store for OKC.
Shane Battier — I can’t really recall him ever scoring against the Thunder, but his defense on Kevin Durant was some of the most frustrating stuff to watch. The way he crowded and held KD without really ever fouling made me want to throw a kettlebell at Battier’s face.
Nene — Have you ever wanted to grab Nene by that bun on the back of his head and drag him around Bricktown behind one of those Clydesdale carriages? I’m not saying I have, but…
I saw somewhere that under the new CBA that players can actually restructure their current contracts to take less money. If that’s the case, what do you think the chances are of Durant taking less than max in order to keep the core intact, if that’s what it takes? LeBron and Wade were willing to take less to play together (granted, that was before the contracts were signed, not a restructuring). I don’t see why KD, the leader of our family-oriented team, wouldn’t take less as well to give him a better chance at rings. What are your thoughts? — Spenser S.
In the old CBA you couldn’t really “re-structure” like you can in the NFL where you can just re-do your contract for less. You could only go up. CBA expert Larry Coon explained:
A contract for four or more seasons can be renegotiated after the third anniversary of its signing, extension, or renegotiation that increased any season’s salary by more than 8%. Contracts for fewer than four seasons cannot be renegotiated. A contract cannot be renegotiated between March 1 and June 30 of any year. Only teams under the cap can renegotiate a contract, and the salary in the then-current season can be increased only to the extent that the team has room under the cap. Raises in subsequent years are limited to 10.5% of the salary in the first renegotiated season. The renegotiation may not contain a signing bonus. Contracts cannot be renegotiated downward (players can’t take a “pay cut” in order to create salary cap room for the team) or to contain fewer seasons.
Player contracts can be renegotiated downward in extensions, as long as the player’s salary does not decrease by more than 40 percent. Previously, renegotiations could only increase a player’s salary. This could provide another key avenue for teams to maintain roster flexibility and add players with space created by restructuring existing contracts, similar to the NFL.
After speaking with a few people in the know, this is a pretty unlikely thing to happen because as this person put it, “That’s what the union is for.” The union would likely try and talk a player out of doing something like that just for the sake of the team.
There was some chatter that Durant might be able to decline or divert some of the Rose Rule bump, but there’s no reason for him to do any of that in the near future. Might as well collect on that while it doesn’t matter. Harden and Ibaka’s deals will get sorted out all the same. And if it works out so that one can’t stay, that’s the breaks. It’s not every often you see a team keep the same entire core it drafted.
Part of me can certainly see KD doing something just like that if it truly was the difference of a couple million and keeping Harden and/or Ibaka. We’ll see though. That bridge doesn’t have to be crossed for a little while.
Let’s call it like it is. Perkins isn’t good enough to stay OKC’s starting center. — Francis M.
Perk isn’t doing anything. Should Cole Aldrich get some consideration in front of him? — Dan W.
It’s a little funny how things have gone with Perk. Everyone was stoked about him after the trade last year and then griped about him during the playoffs. Then he gets into great shape and everyone is fired up but then he does his usual Perk thing and doesn’t put up numbers and everyone thinks he’s not doing anything.
Perk is almost as valuable a player to this team as any other guy. It’s no coincidence that OKC is 34-11 with Kendrick Perkins in the starting lineup. I get tired of a lot of Scott Brooks’ cliched answers like “he’s just a winner that wins” and such, but him always saying he never looks at the box score for Perk is the best way to say it. If you’re really judging Perk based on a final line of four points, six rebounds and a block in 31 minutes, then that means you either didn’t watch the game, or you value statistics too much and winning not enough.
I wish that Perk would do better on the glass than grab five rebounds a game, but that’s not really his job. When you watch him, you see how valuable he is defensively without really doing anything obvious. It’s kind of incredible.
Would Cole Aldrich do a better job rebounding or maybe score a bit more? Possibly. Actually, probably. But keep in mind, Aldrich got to do his work Monday against the Pistons third unit while Perk held Greg Monroe to 3-14 from the floor. Would you trust Aldrich to defend guys one-on-one like Marc Gasol, Nene and Andrew Bynum over Perk? I don’t think I would. If you’re hoping for a post scorer or a guy that puts up double-doubles, Perk’s not the guy. But it’s no coincidence that the Thunder are a better team with Perk playing 30 minutes a night. I mean, we’re talking about the West’s best team here.
Just wanted to point out a “What If?”. Can you imagine if we never traded Uncle Jeff last season, and this season we were left without Jeff and Eric Maynor – plus the possibility of Nenad Krstic still starting at center? The Thunder would be without two key pieces to the puzzle and a mediocre center. I doubt that the team would be off to the start their on, neither would the expectations for this season be so high. What do you think? — Zack Gallagher
That What If makes me extremely sad and incredibly depressed. Nenad Krstic starting every night at center –hoo boy. Serge Ibaka would be getting his time in the starting five like he should, so basically it would just be this team currently but instead of Perk, Nenad Krstic.
Which evidently some fans might be happy with.
Steve Nash — can anyone see him fitting in at the Thunder? Again excuse any ignorance, but could you see him coming in and playing off the bench, teaching Westbrook a thing or two about being a point guard and he can get a ring and then retire after a year or two maybe. — James M.
Have you been talking to my buddy Tom Haberstroh? Because he’s a big believer in Nash coming to OKC. The reason that won’t happen is because A) The Thunder just signed Westbrook to a five-year extension and want this to entirely be his position and B) The Thunder aren’t trading any quality pieces to get Nash when they don’t really need him.
Plus, you could probably add that I really doubt Nash would be fine coming off the bench and playing 15 minutes a night behind Westbrook. I don’t think he’s at that point of his career yet.
Do you share the opinion that Thunder can absolutely make a case to field 3 All Stars in Orlando, the obvious choices being KD, Russ and the Beard? (I know West is packed with good players but it really hurts me to read NY is making a case for 3 All-Stars and we just wiped them off the Peake’s floor. Granted, Melo was out, but he wouldn’t have made much a difference, Thunder is simply unbeatable on nights like this. — Marin R.
Yes, I do. I almost think it’s becoming a sure thing. It’s likely the Thunder will have the best record in the West by the All-Star break and typically, you see those top teams get their most influential players into the game. Durant will be a starter — that’s a given. Westbrook will almost assuredly make it because other than Chris Paul, there’s not a better Western point guard.
It won’t be Ibaka, but Harden should have a good shot. He’s fourth among Western shooting guards in scoring, first in field goal percentage, in the top 10 in assists and steals and third in PER behind Manu Ginobili and Kobe.
Kobe will be the starter, but after that your options are Monta Ellis, Kevin Martin and Jason Terry. I have to think Harden will get serious consideration as the season goes on. Besides, the coaches are the ones that select the All-Star benches and every coach I ever hear talk about Harden just raves about him.
Have a question for the next mailbag? Send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org.