Berry Tramel writes that Mark Cuban could have a good point for the Thunder: “Cuban could be doing the Thunder a huge favor. Westbrook and Durant figure to be right in the middle of U.S. Olympic and World Championship teams the next few years. And with the Thunder having committed more than $150 million to the duo over the next five years, the health of Durant and Westbrook is paramount. I know, we all want to think of patriotism and playing for love of the game and love of the country. But when you write checks for that much money, you’ve got to start thinking of protecting your investment. If the flood of NBA stars into international basketball subsides, it can only help the Thunder. Mark Cuban might be the one man who talks enough to make the league take a look at the current system.”
CBSSports.com power rankings have OKC No. 2: “I’d harp about their defense like I always do, but I can understand how difficult it is to get mentally prepared to shut someone down when you’re up by 25 points all the time.”
Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com: “Catastrophic injury or apathy seems to be the only ways OKC will drop from the top-3 spots in the Power Rankings all season. They’ve won at home and on the road, they’ve beaten good teams and bad, and they’ve dominated in conference play. Russell Westbrook’s contract status is settled. All that’s left to do is nitpick the play of the lower rotation players until the playoffs finally arrive. A postseason rematch versus Denver at some point sounds like a mighty appetizing idea, doesn’t it?”
SI.com’s rankings has OKC second: “Whether he was distracted or otherwise affected by his contract status, Russell Westbrook has been better at involving his teammates without losing his aggression in the period surrounding the signing of his five-year, $80 million deal. And now that the starting lineup is humming, the Thunder have removed the pressure on rookie backup point guard Reggie Jackson to try to play beyond his capabilities to rescue the team. Since the former backup, Eric Maynor, was lost to a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 7, there has been only one time in eight games (against the Hornets on Jan. 11) in which Jackson has checked into the game for the first time with his team tied or behind. Not coincidentally, OKC is 7-1 since Maynor went down, and has an NBA-best plus-4.4 point differential in the first quarter.”
Hollinger’s playoff odds. OKC’s a 26.5 percent chance to go to The Finals and a 9.9 percent chance to win it, both best in the West.
Via Sports Business Journal, the new revenue sharing plan: “Sources said that the core of the plan calls for all teams to contribute an annually fixed percentage, roughly 50 percent, of their total annual revenue, minus certain expenses such as arena operating costs, into a revenue sharing pool. Each team then receives an allocation equal to the league’s average team payroll for that season from the revenue pool. If a team’s contribution to the pool is less than the league’s average team payroll, then that team is a revenue recipient. Teams that contribute an amount that exceeds the average team salary fund the revenue given to receiving teams … League projections call for about 15 of the league’s 30 teams to receive payments from the new revenue sharing plan, with seven of the 15 neediest teams, such as the Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings, to receive a distribution of roughly $16 million after the new system is fully phased in, up from the nearly $5.8 million maximum that teams could have received this year.”
People talk about the Thunder model, but maybe more teams should look at the Sixer model. Justin Rogers of MLive.com: “Two seasons ago, the Sixers finished with a 27-55 record. They also had some lottery luck, scoring Evan Turner with the No. 2 pick that year, but he hasn’t made an impact anywhere near that of Durant or Westbrook. Turner did add to a core of young, homegrown talent drafted by Philadelphia over the years, including Andre Igoudala, Jrue Holliday, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young and Jodie Meeks. The Sixers are loaded with quality players, but lack a superstar. What they do have is an undeniably chemistry and a commitment to playing defense, two things Pistons coach Lawrence Frank is committed to cultivating.”