Reggie Jackson in a Q&A on what it means to have teammates in Orlando watching: “I believe that’s a tradition they’ve built here in Oklahoma City. I think you come back, you watch, you want to see what the young players are doing, if you can help once you sit down and talk at dinners, in the hotel rooms. Guys are trying to help me when I was coming to the bench. That’s the kind of teammates we are. It’s a college atmosphere. We all enjoy each other’s presence and being around each other. We’re always trying to help each other get better. I think that is what makes us kind of a unique team and helped us get where we were last year. I think we’re all trying to improve. As one person improves, the whole team improves. You’re only as good as your worst guys, so that’s why I believe they come back and try to help us learn quickly.”
Sekou Smith of NBA.com on OKC’s Olympic trio: “You’d think Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden would be sick of seeing each other by now. The Oklahoma City Thunder trio have been going basically non-stop since the NBA season opened, grinding away through every milestone together just as they have throughout their NBA careers. Nearly every prominent professional first, both good and bad, has come together. Their first taste of playoff success, their first trip to the Western Conference finals, their first appearance in The Finals and the fallout that comes with falling short on that grand stage. That’s why their time on the U.S. Olympic team, and even their time here at USA Basketball training camp, isn’t something they’ll take for granted. While it can’t completely wipe away the sting of losing to the Heat in The Finals the way they did, Westbrook said, it’s at least a start on the road to redemption for the Thunder’s young core.”
Berry Tramel on overlooking Russell Westbrook: “We’ve often talked about the fuel that drives Russell Westbrook, who seems to play basketball not with a chip, but a boulder, on his shoulder. The idea that he’s long been overlooked and underappreciated. It’s not imaginary fuel, not made up. Russell Westbrook really was disrespected much of his career. A visit with TCU basketball coach Trent Johnson on Monday brought another Westbrook story. Johnson coached four seasons at Stanford, 2004-08, during which Westbrook was coming out of high school and eventually signed with UCLA, with the last scholarship from the Bruins, who did not heavily recruit him.
Darnell Mayberry: “Cole Aldrich turned the ball over on the game’s first possession. The writing was on the wall from there. This was not his day. Of course, with yesterday not being his day either that means he hasn’t had a day in Orlando. But I’m withholding all judgment on Aldrich until the regular season. The Thunder believes Aldrich needs to be around his regular teammates. The team believes he’ll blend in better and be able to contribute more of what it is he’s able to do in the regular season setting. Write off Aldrich if you must. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and wait to see what happens in the fall.”
A Q&A with Latavious Williams: “I mean, playing against them guys, they’re bigger, stronger, smarter, but I think I learned a lot over there. Just to go over there and see how they play over there from playing here. Everything is different, like the travel and all that. After it was all over, I think it was a good experience.”
LeBron on if he thinks it’s hard on KD to be teammates: “I bet it bothers him and Westbrook. They probably don’t want to hear about it. It would bother me, it would bother anyone. That you lose to someone in the Finals where everyone is competing at the highest level and you want to win, and you have to team up not too long and far removed from the games.”
Chris Bernucca of Sheridan Hoops on OKC’s offseason: “Thabeet’s signing means Nazr Mohammed likely will not be re-signed. Royal Ivey probably will hang around on a veteran’s minimum deal, but the same may not be said for Derek Fisher, whose contributions on and off the court after his late-season signing were considerable. The veteran is considering Oklahoma City but also has gotten the attention of Brooklyn, Dallas and Cleveland. GM Sam Presti could use his exceptions on an extra big (Kenyon Martin? Elton Brand?) and still stay well below the tax line. But he also has extensions looming for James Harden, Serge Ibaka and possibly Eric Maynor next summer.”