The Thunder officially wrapped the season up with their end of the season exit interviews. Players filed in to speak with reporters about their experience of playing in The Finals, to their future with the organization.
Two players didn’t speak because they were sick — Derek Fisher, and Kendrick Perkins. Perk, of course was said to have played the last three rounds with a torn groin. Something Scott Brooks confirmed Saturday.
“I’m proud of guys that never use excuses,” Brooks said. “And Perk had a partial tear. I give him a lot of credit. Most guys would’ve shut it down, but he didn’t. He fought.
“Perk played through it and we would have not been in the NBA Finals if it wasn’t for his toughness versus the Lakers and his ability to guard pick-and-rolls in the Spurs series.”
Full audio of the exit interviews after the jump.
Brooks on next season:”There’s no guarantee the next natural step is a championship. We all start next season 0-0.”
On LeBron in the Finals: “It wasn’t natural what he was doing on the court. You don’t see that often. He was at a special level that I’ve never seen before.”
On Ibaka improving, most notably his hands: “He’s definitely worked on that part of his game. It’s not like he’s Fred Biletnikoff or anything but he doesn’t have bad hands. He has hands that should and will get better.”
KD: “Russell was great this year at helping everybody out, being more vocal, controlling his emotions a little bit more and just leaving it all out there for the team. You see one of your main guys doing that you don’t have nothing to do but follow it.”
On Harden and Ibaka’s contract negotiations: “They know they’re a big part of what we do here. They know how much we value them as people first and as players. They know how much the city loves them. But we’re just going to let them do what they do. My job is to be a great teammate and a great friend to them. If they ever ask me for any kind of support, it’s always going to be there. If they ever ask me for advice, I’m always going to be there to talk to them. I’m going to let that take care of itself and hopefully it works out for the best.”
On his championship motivations: “I really wanted it for the team and the city, first off. But the thing about me after that [for] all the people that always told me I was too young, too skinny, I would never make it, I’m over-hyped. Because of stuff like that, I wanted to get there and I wanted to win it just to kind of show people I could do it and I could lead a team to a [championship]. Unfortunately, they still can talk about me in that way and throw the rings jokes out there.”
Westbrook on what he takes from losing the Finals: “Just the feeling. I think all the guys know what that felt like to walk off the court and not being champions. I think that’s going to push a lot of guys. I know it’s going to push me to come back better. It’s going to push everybody else to come back better players.”
On Brooks’ contract talks: “That’s how things go. You kind of (see it) get dragged out, dragged out, and then it gets done. It wasn’t never a panic for me. I know it’s just kind of how negotiations work…That’s kind of how the lockout was, just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk until finally we come to an agreement.”
Harden on his contract: “I’m just leaving it up to my agent and Sam [Presti]. They’ll do a pretty good job of working it out. I’m focused on several other things right now. But when the time is [right], they’ll figure it out and it’ll be done.”
Collison on what he wants to work on: “I’ve become a better shooter and I want to look to that more.”
On why he thinks he didn’t play a lot in the Finals: “We played a lot of small lineups with one big on the floor, and those two guys have played great for us this year. They’ve been really vital to what we’ve done, and coach has a lot of faith in them. He has a lot of faith in me. He’s got a lot of faith in all our guys. There’s just not a ton of minutes available to the three of us when we’re playing one at a time. That’s what we went with.”
On how Thunder fans have actually helped, outside of the noise: “The lack of negativity that we have to deal with here from outside that a lot of cities do helps us, too, especially in our growth and with young players, all players, but particularly in the last three or four years. If you’re also dealing with constant negativity from the city or you don’t feel that loyalty that everyone is on board it’s more difficult. It’s not impossible. People deal with it all the time. But I think it is an advantage for us that we’ve kind of have that unwavering support.”
Mohammed on his future: “Of course I’d love to be back. Hoping to be back.”
Mohammed on Cole Aldrich: “If I was in his position, I’d want to get on the court. I feel that that’s the next progression. You’ve got to give him a chance and see what you’ve got.”
On the contract questions with the roster: “If we really want to continue, it feels like we got something special here. I feel like if guys sacrifice to get something done then everybody will be here still.”
On what he’ll tell his agent about an extension: “I want to be here. It’s very important to me. Whatever we got to do to get it done, we need to make it happen. I enjoy being here and I want to be here longer.”
On if he wants to be a starter: “Of course I want to be a starter in this league. But at the same time, wherever I’m at I want to enjoy it while I’m playing basketball. Sometimes it’s not about that. Sometimes it’s, like I said, about that word sacrificing. That’s basically what I’m about. I just like to win and enjoy doing it.”