Friday Bolts – 4.3.09

Update: Chris Sheridan looks at interim coaches in limbo and says Scott Brooks is a “near lock“: “Start with the fact thunderbolt232that nobody in Oklahoma City has uttered anything but positives when discussing him. Add in the dynamic that he gets along splendidly with general manager Sam Presti and got more out of Jeff Green and Kevin Durant by sliding them over to power forward and small forward, respectively. And toss in their two most recent efforts — playing the Celtics tough for 3½ quarters Sunday, then stunning the Spurs in San Antonio on Tuesday — and you pretty much get the picture that Brooks is there to stay. Think the Sacramento Kings are kicking themselves for passing over Brooks in favor of Reggie Theus two years ago? When they promoted him, the Thunder said they’d give Brooks every opportunity to earn the job. He did.”

HoopsWorld has Scott Brooks as one of next year’s leading Coach of the Year candidates: “This team has taken significant steps this season and Brooks has defined three players (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green) to build around. Thabo Sefolosha immediately contributed upon his arrival after being ignored in Chicago. Brooks’ biggest obstacle next season will be building offensively. Oklahoma City ranked 29th in the league in offensive efficiency. Brooks has gotten Durant’s approval and hopefully will return to coach the Thunder next season without the “interim” tag.”

The Magic traded Dwight Howard to OKC? Huh? How did I miss this? Oh, it was just an April Fools joke played by the Magic: “The Magic’s PR and Marketing team sure had some fun with April Fools’ Wednesday in Orlando. Let me try my best to explain. Giddy with whoopee cushion excitement all night long, the Magic pretended to “trade” Dwight Howard to the Oklahoma City Thunder, “re-sign” former great Penny Hardaway, and “play professional basketball” exactly like the Washington Generals. (They nailed that last one flawlessly, falling 99-95 to the sub-sub-sub-.500 Raptors.)”

Berry Tramel with some excellent points on the cost of losing: “You know what I’m talking about. The theory that defeat is fine, since every loss increases the odds of Oklahoma City landing hometown hero Blake Griffin, the runaway best player available in the 2009 NBA Draft. It’s only natural to check out the lottery standings, since the playoffs never were an issue for the Thunder. When OKC pulls a stunt like it did Tuesday night – winning at San Antonio – you check the standings and realize if the Thunder had minded its own business, this morning it would be tied for fourth place in the lottery standings. Instead, the Thunder is sixth. That’s a huge difference in lottery odds – 13.7 percent for fourth, 7.5 percent for sixth. But those odds are 13.7 and 7.5, not 83.7 and 77.5. And no matter what the odds, increasing them comes at a high cost. Losing is not easily shaken. Mason is exactly right; losing can become a habit.”

Thunder to honor Wayman Tisdale: “Oklahoma City’s NBA team plans to honor one of the state’s all-time college basketball legends. The Thunder said Thursday that Wayman Tisdale, who starred at Oklahoma before a 12-year NBA career, will receive the team’s Community Hero Award for April. Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy Corp. sponsors the award, which will be presented to Tisdale at halftime of the Thunder’s game on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs.”

David Berri revisiting Oden and Durant: “We now see, though, that Durant’s numbers have changed.  So is it a contradiction to say Durant is “good” now but “not good” last year?  I think it’s important to emphasize that the evaluations posted last year were statements about how Durant was playing in 2007-08 (a point made last year).  And the evaluation based on this year’s numbers is simply a statement about this year’s performance.  What these two evaluations tell us is that Durant has clearly improved. This improvement, though, does not change what happened last year.  No matter what Durant does the rest of his career, his production from his rookie season will remain below average.  And I will continue to think Durant should not have been Rookie of the Year.”

Blazer’s Edge with a preview: “Basically, if you think of the game in rock band terms you score like the drummer, OKC scores like the keyboard player, and that’s the end of the ballgame. When the Thunder have beaten good teams (and it’s happened a handful of times) it’s usually been because they’ve rebounded decently and the other team forgot to play defense, letting them run away with the score.  Or the other team has been San Antonio, whichever.  Absent either of those two things happening, this should be a win for Portland.”

Shaun Livingston likes what he sees so far: “This is definitely a young group of guys and I really like them,” Livingston said. “They’re energetic. Guys are talented, some of the most talented guys in the league along with Portland’s group as far as young, talented athletes. So I’m excited to work with them and just be a part of it.” No word on if he’ll be in uniform tonight.

Not Thunder news because I’m having trouble finding a lot, but good news (for me). Jeff Capel is definitely staying at OU: “I’m going to be at Oklahoma,” Capel told the World in an interview this morning in Detroit during Final Four activities. Capel said that he has agreed to a contract extension and a raise from OU. He didn’t specify any details of the agreement. “I don’t like to talk money. I’ll let Joe handle that,” Capel said referring to OU athletic director Joe Castiglione.

Draft Express has a list of players’ actual heights with and without shoes. I think my eyes are bleeding.

Speaking of Draft Express, right now they have OKC taking Brandon Jennings. No thank you.

Crap, does too! Well, I guess it’s a done deal now. Those draft things are never wrong.

Ric Bucher evidently believes in Russell Westbrook’s point guard-ness: “There are key components to building a championship team,” Bucher said. “You have to have a superstar who dominates his position. And you have to have a point guard … The Thunder isn’t at the same place right now. But their flexibility, their room to grow, is better. And they already have some key parts you have to have. Portland doesn’t have that point guard, yet. And in my mind they don’t have that superstar player.”