Friday Bolts – 7.24.09

The preseason schedule is out (all times CST): Wed., October 7 at Memphis 7:00 p.m.; Sat., October 10 at thunderbolt2New OrleanscTBD; Mon., October 12 vs. Phoenix 7:00 p.m.; Wed., October 14 vs. Miami 7:00 p.m. in Tulsa, OK; Mon., October 19 at Houston 7:30 p.m.; Tue., October 20 vs. San Antonio 7:30 p.m. in Austin, TX; Thu., October 22 vs. Sacramento 7:00 p.m.

Coach K raved about Kevin Durant’s play yesterday: “Pencil in Kevin Durant for a spot on the 2010 version of Team USA. Better yet, put it in ink. Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski singled out Durant and showered him with praise following the first day of a three-day mini-camp for a group of 20 young players trying to make the senior national team. Durant was the most dominant player on the floor in the team’s 12-minute scrimmage after the squad spent the bulk of Thursday’s practice working on drills. Friday’s practice was expected to be more focused on scrimmaging.”

A nice story about KD and his developing leadership: “That definitely is not the case for Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have developed a symbiotic duality that all teams wish to have with their franchise player. Durant, who told HOOPSWORLD at the Gatorade Player of the Year ceremonies that he plans to remain in Oklahoma City for the rest of his career because “that’s where [he] started,” has grown in front of everyone’s eyes and – at only 20-years old – has become the team’s leader and the face of the franchise.”

Susan Bible looks at the state of the Thunder: “With all the attention the Thunder receives because of its very young, quick, talented players in a new NBA market, playoff-bound proclamations for next season are plentiful. Nobody doubts that this group will light up the scoreboards with points, but until the center situation is addressed, success in the low post will continue to be a huge road block. However, they will likely win a lot more games than last year, and could even take the eighth spot in the Western Conference, and that would be quite an accomplishment.”

The Lost Ogle fantasizing about bring Chris Paul to OKC: “That leads to news that Chris Paul seriously thinks he might be traded. He later recanted, but the author who wrote the article says the quote is on tape. And while, honestly, the Hornets would be insane to trade their franchise player, the truth is that their owner is possibly insane and cheap. With the other contracts weighing the team down being practically untradeable, they may have to deal their star out of necessity. If they do, one team has the assets to make it happen. After the jump, find out how the Thunder could bring back their first love and create a Big Love-style pairing of CP3 and Kevin Durant.”

Chris Mannix on KD’s USA camp performance: “Enter Kevin Durant, the 6-foot-10 Oklahoma City forward who nearly made the team in 2008 and is considered a lock to make the 2010 squad. Triano singled out Durant’s strong play after practice, and his perimeter skills — he was one of the few U.S. players knocking down jump shots in drills — combined with his ability to play multiple positions have made him a favorite of Krzyzewski and Colangelo.”

Berry Tramel on James Harden: “I like left-handers in hoops. They’re hard to guard for the same reason they’re hard to hit in baseball. You don’t see them often enough. Presti wouldn’t bite on the Ginobili likeness: “I think James Harden is going to create his own identity in the league.” You never know, of course. No one ever thought Manu Ginobili would be Manu Ginobili. San Antonio drafted Ginobili in the second round of the 1999 draft, 57th overall, and he didn’t join the Spurs until three years later, at the age of 25. History tells us Harden, who has yet to turn 20, could be anything from star to bust and, most likely, all points in between.”

KD talked with SLAM: “SLAM: Oklahoma City will have to be speaking with you and your representatives about an extension very soon. Do you believe in GM Sam Presti’s vision for this team and is this the team you want to be on in the future? KD: I love this team, man. This is where I want to be. Sam is incredible. He’s like another father to me, outside of my real father. Anything I need. He’s always asking if I need anything or how my family is doing. I just like good people like that. He’s not just a GM. He’s more of an everyday guy that is always around. He asks my input on everything, whether it’s about the newest music out or what type of shoes I like. Small stuff like that. I love him, I love the organization and hopefully I can stay as long as possible.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal on KD and the Olympics: “Having barely missed the Beijing Olympics, in which Team USA won the gold medal, Durant said he is highly motivated to make the roster that will play in the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey and 2012 London Olympics. “Definitely,” Durant said. “I’m watching (the Olympics) and I’m thinking, ‘Man, I would love to be there with those guys.’ So this camp is important in trying to establish myself for the next Olympics. It starts right now.”

According to Sports Business Daily, James Harden is about to sign with Nike.

And it looks like Uncle Jeff’s nickname has caught on with the team: “Headed to breakfast wit, Uncle Jeff and @russwest44…”

Blake
2009-07-24 12:44:27
The bolts just complete my day. A crappy friday (if there is such a thing) turned into a great one.
Royce
2009-07-24 12:46:33
<a href="#comment-18125" rel="nofollow">@Blake</a> Yeah sorry about them being a little later than usual. I slept in today. :)
Air_Thurman
2009-07-24 13:04:13
Man I hope Durant is not setting us up for a heartbreak. He is saying all the right things. I'm going to go into severe depression if he leaves. I don't think people fully realize what we are witnessing. Few players are doing what he is doing at this youg of an age.
J.G.
2009-07-24 13:14:06
This just in, Portland Trailblazers offer the 33 year-old PG Andre Miller a $21 million dollar contract over 3 years. I mean, wow, no one else was realistically shopping for Miller (the Knicks were no longer in the picture). I love the get for them, but the price is horrific. This off-season has definitely proven to us all why Presti hates free agency so much when compared to trades.
Royce
2009-07-24 13:15:13
<a href="#comment-18131" rel="nofollow">@J.G.</a> Right on J.G.
Vega
2009-07-24 13:15:13
<a href="#comment-18130" rel="nofollow">@Air_Thurman</a> KD has an awesome situation in OKC. He is the leader of one of the best young team in the NBA, he has a lot of friends on the team, a good coach, a genius GM, and a growing fanbase that loves him. There isn't a better place for him to be. He's going to be a Thunder for his entire career. I guarantee it.
Blake
2009-07-24 13:15:31
I dont blame ya. I was just gonna suggest saturday bolts to make up for not doing it today. But since you did I guess your off the hook.
Vega
2009-07-24 13:22:20
If Miller accepts Portland's offer, Steve Blake becomes obsolete. If I were Pritchard, I'd call up Atlanta and Miami to see if they want Blake. He's a solid point guard with an expiring contract, and Miami and Atlanta could both use a backup point guard.
Vega
2009-07-24 13:23:48
Also, Hoopsworld has given graded Byron Mullens' Summer League performance. Byron Mullens – Oklahoma City Averages: Six points and two rebounds (Orlando and Las Vegas). Noteworthy Performance: 18 points and five rebounds vs. the Nets/76ers. Grade: C+ Review: Nobody is really expecting anything from young Byron next season, so the fact that he wasn't overly productive this summer should come as no surprise. Although his numbers may have been modest at best Byron impressed a lot of people with his size and skill set. He's got all the natural talent needed to be a starting center in this league, he just has to focus and really dedicate himself to learning the game. Being with a patient team like the Oklahoma City Thunder could allow Mullens to finally grow into his full potential. Where his career goes from here is solely up to him.
Royce
2009-07-24 13:31:24
<a href="#comment-18136" rel="nofollow">@Vega</a> I think that's pretty spot on. I'd give him a C-, but the review is well put. He's got a chance, it's just whether or not he wants to put in the time to get there.
Gar
2009-07-24 17:10:29
Didn't Kevin Durant start in Seattle? He played his rookie year there, correct?
Royce
2009-07-24 18:02:25
<a href="#comment-18159" rel="nofollow">@Gar</a> I think it was more meaning started his career with this franchise.
Crow
2009-07-24 14:06:51
I'd be surprised if Blake moves this season. I wouldn't do it. Miller is an ok move but not great. He is at least the opposite of Blake in many ways. But the defense doesn't get better and hee is weak on adjusted +/-, incredibly weak in the last playoffs. Not sure if they play him mostly as a starter or sub but they have to get that choice right. Bayless probably doesn't play much. So far he shouldn't.
Joe
2009-07-24 13:45:26
I'd take Blake on my team. Now the Blazers have Miller, Blake, Bayless and Patty Mills who broke his foot. That's a lot. Patty is likely going to have to play over seas this year after healing.