Intriguing idea from Berry Tramel: “A variety of reports have Billups likely leaving the Clippers, for whom he has played the last two seasons. Yahoo!Sports reported that Billups has drawn interest from Cleveland, San Antonio, Dallas, Sacramento, Brooklyn and Minnesota. Others have speculated that Detroit, where Billups rose to fame as NBA Finals MVP in 2004, could be a destination. But why not OKC? Billups doesn’t have a lot of mileage left, and a torn Achilles tendon in the 2011-12 season cost him much of the last two seasons, when he played just 20 and 22 games for the Clippers. But Billups remains an effective player. He averaged 15.0 points a game and shot 38.4 percent from 3-point range in 2011-12. Last season, Billups averaged 8.4 points and shot 36.7 percent from 3-point range, but in less playing time. As recently as Game 1 of the playoff series against Memphis in April, Billups had 14 points in 21 minutes.”
Note: Big fan of Tramel’s idea there with Billups. The Thunder need a little added veteran insurance on the bench. And Billups has a very strong voice and a ton of respect. It’s like Derek Fisher, except not.
Charles P. Pierce of Grantland: “Then there’s Chris Paul, who has condescended to return to Los Angeles now that the Clippers gave him 107 million good reasons to be coached by Doc Rivers. This is another guy with a costume-jewelry résumé whom the league nonetheless slobbers over. You have your analytics and I have mine, but if you’re a big-money point guard, the basic metric is whether you can get your team to win anything and, right now, Paul’s got one division title with L.A. He, however, has fewer rings than Rajon Rondo or Mario Chalmers. But he gets to hold up the Clippers to the point where they raid another team for its coach, throw the league into an uproar, launch a brawl between my favorite person in the NBA and my, uh, boss, and all so that Paul won’t take his stylish, couldn’t-beat-the-Grizzlies-with-a-hand-grenade hindquarters somewhere else in the league. The barstools are full of point guards who guided their teams to a loss in a six-game playoff series.”
Rob Mahoney of SI.com: “While losing Martin strips down the Thunder bench, it also creates an even greater incentive to amnesty Kendrick Perkins and make unencumbered use of the full mid-level exception. If OKC had re-signed Martin on any reasonable terms, the full MLE would have been virtually out of the question; the combination of Martin’s likely salary and a mid-level addition would have approximated what Harden is now paid ($13.7M), putting the Thunder beyond the financial threshold they had established. But with Martin’s salary cleared away entirely, OKC is now in range of using the full mid-level without going over the luxury tax line — provided that they first amnesty Perkins. That’s a tough call to make on a player clearly valued by Brooks and in the Thunder locker room. But the opportunity to add a quality bench scorer (O.J. Mayo, Dorell Wright, Mo Williams, or perhaps even Monta Ellis) without any tax hit whatsoever makes too much sense for the Thunder. If they’re too attached to Perkins to amnesty him, however, Martin’s departure still affords the Thunder the room to make a near-MLE signing that would walk them very near to the tax line or they could just accept the minor financial penalty that would come with using the full exception.”
Serge Ibaka is blogging for NBA.com: “Both my parents were basketball players, so I was attracted by the game since I was a child. I used to go to my dad’s practices and wear my mom’s – huge – basketball uniform. I learned and fell in love with the game at the Avenir du Rail basketball club, everything started there. That is why I go back there every summer, because I think you can never forget where you come from. Right now I am developing a project to rebuild the club’s basketball court so other kids have the opportunity to follow their dreams like I was fortunate enough to do. I feel blessed to be in a position to not only help my family but also to help the young generations of African basketball players. The game of basketball keeps growing more and more in the whole African continent.”
Bradford Doolittle of ESPN Insider: “The Thunder are much better than this projection, but it’s telling in a concerning way. The departure of Kevin Martin could really hurt the Thunder, though the offseason is still young. Right now, though, the lack of depth makes the pessimistic projection less than surprising. Other than Nick Collison, six of the other eight reserves who figure to be on the OKC roster have two or fewer years of experience. The other is Hasheem Thabeet. There are reasons to like a lot of those young players — Perry Jones III, Andre Roberson, Steven Adams, Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb — but they have yet to produce at the NBA level. The vaunted Thunder development program might really be put to the test. Power move: Exercise amnesty rights on Kendrick Perkins, who has become a veritable vortex of negative WARP.”