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…”

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