Twitter Mailbag: Offseason queries

Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

Questions in 140 characters or less, answers in 140 characters or more.

Think I’ll be able to keep my Twitter name next season? — @DurantIsMVP

That’s a fun way to ask if KD is going to repeat as MVP. That’s tough. Because on one hand, I say absolutely. Durant is only going to get better (he’s still just 25, which I have to repeat to myself every morning), and he’s had his breakthrough meaning he’s playing with less individual pressure. He didn’t let it out really, but he wanted that MVP. And at times, he pressed because of it.

On the other, not only will LeBron be in the way, there are a lot of players poised for their own breakthrough. Stephen Curry, James Harden, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Damian Lillard and on and on. Or, you know what? Maybe even Russell Westbrook.

A big part of Durant’s MVP campaign this season was Westbrook missing nearly half the season to which KD carried OKC. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen again next season. But now that he has the reputation as an MVP, a 60-win season for the Thunder in which Durant puts up 30-7-5 on near 50/40/90 splits, how can you really deny that?

What’s the most important thing for the Thunder to accomplish this off season to ensure a championship contending team again? — @iDREWiT_uP

Do you think OKC makes a splash (or mini-splash) this offseason? Or continue draft/develop model? — @mister_eff

What are OKC’s biggest needs this offseason? Which players should they sign/draft to fill these needs? — drocklee27

The Thunder’s offseason plan is a bit cloudy, because there are options. I gave an early breakdown here, but to answer the main offseason questions, I’d say the most important need is filling the starting 2-guard spot, I wouldn’t expect a big splash, but could see a mini-splash on draft night, and the most important thing to ensure contendership next season is to make sure Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka show up at training camp this September.

Do you think David Blatt would be successful as an NBA head coach? — @RoyistheBoy

That’s a hard question to answer. Nobody has really tapped Europe for an NBA head coach yet, and while Blatt’s success with the Russian national team has been impressive, and he has quite the coaching pedigree, there’s a certain level of in-house respect you have to have to cut it. I think Blatt can coach the heck out of a basketball team, but can he manage and command an NBA locker room? I think he needs to be an assistant first, or maybe a D-League coach, and then maybe he could move up.

What do you think will happen with Thabo? — @nocando4

I don’t think he’s back next season. He essentially played his way out of town in my mind, and seemed to realize that himself during his exit interview. If he were willing to take an extremely discounted contract, as in near vet minimum, he might be back, but the Thunder have a need at shooting guard and Sefolosha is going to be 30 next season and played poorly and battled injuries last season.

Who is a shooting guard in free agency that would fit well with the Thunder? — @ToddGodley

Seven (realistic) options that come to mind first, not in order:

1. Alan Anderson — He’s got 3-and-D potential, and could be had for $3 million or less per year. This is obviously assuming he doesn’t exercise his player option with the Nets.

2. Vince Carter — His age and health are problems, but starting at shooting guard in OKC doesn’t require playing 40 minutes a night. So at 18-22 minutes, Carter could give OKC a pretty ideal veteran presence in the starting five, plus some needed shooting and offense.

3. Ray Allen — He’s obviously headed back to Miami, if he doesn’t retire, and if LeBron returns. But a one-year deal if the Heat blow up? I’d do it.

4. Anthony Morrow — He can shoot. That’s mostly it, but in OKC, that could make him very valuable.

5. Mike Miller — He turned OKC down once. Maybe he learned his lesson?

6. C.J. Miles — Presti already tried to get him once with an offer sheet back in 2008. He can shoot, is big, and can play a little defense.

7. Trevor Ariza — More of a small forward, really, and probably out of OKC’s preferred price range. But he’s 29 and might be more interested in a contender than a payday.

Who should OKC take with their first two draft picks? — @ewibb

What type of player would you like to see OKC draft? Low post scorer, athletic defender, guy who can create his own shot etc? — @SJ_Andretti

Several mock drafts have us taking a draft and stash center at 21. Do you see us using a first rounder on a draft and stash? — @BoneDiggity

I think the Thunder have two clear needs with their picks: 1) a point guard and 2) a power forward. They’re light in the backcourt with Derek Fisher retiring, plus with Reggie Jackson’s future unsettled, they may need a new Reggie Jackson. At forward, Nick Collison is getting older and while Perry Jones’ future is probably at the 4, they need some more brawn on the depth chart.

The Thunder are extremely secretive with their draft workouts, but I know two players, among many, that they’ve brought in are Dwight Powell from Stanford and Russ Smith from Louisville. Both guys are likely second round picks, but there’s some insight there possibly into Presti’s thinking. A big man, and a point guard.

I could certainly see a draft and stash scenario, because the Thunder love that stuff, but I think there are immediate needs the roster has that the draft could help address. Probably depends on what the free agency plan is, though. If they draft and stash, it probably means they’re going to sign someone in July.

Has the ‘best player’ designation changed on the Thunder after these playoffs? — matthewarich7

Nah. Westbrook was outrageously good, but so much of that was in direct connection to Durant drawing so many eyeballs. Don’t forget: Durant averaged 29.6 points on 46/34/81, with 8.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 19 playoff games. And you’re looking at that saying, “Eh, not all that great.” That should answer your question.

Can the Thunder win a championship with Scott Brooks as the coach? — @Aleena_Garcia

I think so. People were asking that same question about Doc Rivers back in 2007. And then about Erik Spoelstra in 2012. It won’t have an answer until it happens. The Thunder are so much closer to doing it than you might think they are. Brooks may not end up being the guy to break the door down, but I don’t think the head coach is what’s prevented them from doing it so far. Besides, who’s the available answer right now?

What move this summer would surprise you the least dealing with the Thunder? — @tbauschek

If they did nothing. If they used their two picks, signed a token veteran to stuff on the bench, and came to camp with virtually the same roster.

Pleiss in this season, next or never? — @guille4s

Any word on Alex Abrines? — @casares_raul

Do you know if the Thunder intend to ask for Pleiss and Abrines to transfer to the NBA this summer? — @rafeal_uehara

As it stands right now, both are likely to stay in Europe another season, at least. Both are under contract with teams, and both are very raw and very young. Pleiss may have seen his chances take a hit with the emergence of Steven Adams, and while Abrines could fill a role and potentially be helpful, the indications are he isn’t ready.

Who steps up for the Thunder next season, Jeremy Lamb or Perry Jones? — @cwgile

I think Lamb is on the verge of being really good. Go back and look at a few of the months he put together early in the season. In December, he averaged 10.6 points on 50/40/89 splits, plus 2.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 21.9 minutes a game. In January, he averaged 10.7 on 42/31/78 with 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 24.6 minutes. Then his production fell apart and his minutes started to dwindle. But there’s something there. I’m sure of it.

Consider this: Lamb is 22 years old. That’s the same age as Victor Oladipo, C.J. McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams.

Do you see the Thunder starting Reggie with Russell next year? Also, Shumpert rumors have resurfaced, thoughts? — @ThunderLogic

I don’t think Jackson is going to start at shooting guard next season. One of the Thunder’s cornerstones in their philosophy is size at positions, and with Jackson at shooting guard, the Thunder would have a small backcourt. Plus, the bench would need serious help (they’d need to sign two point guards). The Jackson move worked against the Spurs, but I think it was an isolated adjustment.

As for Shumpert, it’s certainly a possibility. The Knicks didn’t want to make that deal at the deadline, because it was either for the 29th overall pick, or a first rounder that the Thunder didn’t actually have at the time. Now that it’s official that the Mavs pick is the 21st overall, there’s a good chance the two teams could kickstart those conversations again. Shumpert is a pretty ideal fit at shooting guard, with his ability to defend with size, as well as hit a 3. His contract could complicate things (he’ll be a restricted free agent in 2015-16), but I’d give up the 21st overall pick for him. No question.He’s just 23, you know.

Do you think Lamb can become OKC’s next sixth man? — @JeanMadera

No, because I still think that’s Reggie Jackson’s job.

Do you see any possible situation in which OKC lands Afflalo? — @wibo8

It would only be via trade, and it would be a tricky one. Afflalo is making $7.5 million next season, so with a little wiggling, the Thunder could get him and stay under the tax. The question is, what do the Thunder have that the Magic would want? Two first rounders, sure. OKC still has the traded player exception created in the Kevin Martin deal, but would two first rounders and the TPE really be all the Magic would want for a near All-Star guard? I think OKC would have to give up something fairly decent in that deal, probably Jeremy Lamb, plus the first round picks. That’s a hefty price to pay.

Who are the top 5 players in the league, in order — @lreiknight

Oh good, a question that everyone will agree with and there won’t be any shouting about. I’ll just be smart about this and say 1) Matt Bonner; 2) Channing Frye; 3) Josh Smith; 4) Jimmer Fredette and 5) Jodie Meeks.

(Seriously, I’d go: 1) LeBron; 2) Durant; 3) Westbrook; 4) Curry and 5) Love. I already hate my answers.)

Best guess at the Knicks’ record next year under Derek Fisher? — @shelleybOKC

43-39.

Any validity to the Durant-to-Knicks storyline? — @oso_wright

Have you heard anything from KD’s camp about future in OKC? Hearing a lot of rumors that I don’t want to believe especially NY. — @Ngutz5

Ah, the good ol’ assumption that because KD knows someone in another city that therefore, he will sign there in 2016. Yes, Durant loves him some D-Fish. But two things: 1) There’s a very good chance that Fisher won’t be the head coach of the Knicks in two years and 2) in 2016, the Knicks will have a mostly blank slate to spend with in free agency. Maybe Phil Jackson can actually pull off what Pat Riley did in 2010 with the Heat, clearing the decks to go pull in big names, but then again, this is the Knicks we’re talking about.

I can say this with a decent amount of conviction: Durant, nor anyone in his “camp” is thinking about 2016 right now. They aren’t planning exit strategies, they aren’t shopping around and considering options. Durant’s “camp” is a small one, and he makes his decisions himself.

Durant might choose the Knicks, who knows. But he’s not thinking about them right now.

Why does the ball sometimes go in and sometimes out? — @YZamora1_

Because sometimes Kevin Durant shoots it, but then, sometimes Thabo Sefolosha does.

Does watching Heat-Spurs make you feel like Thunder are further away? — @shattereddrmz

Really, no. It shows how close they actually are.

The Spurs are fantastic, and them beating the Thunder in six was less an indictment of OKC and more of a testament to how great they are. But if you review that series, the Thunder played the first two games without Serge Ibaka, then got him back at about 60 percent, and smoked the Spurs in two straight. The Thunder beat the Spurs four times in the regular season, which you can wave off as the regular season, but it happened, and it was impressive. If that series is played on even turf, with both rosters at 100 percent, I think the Thunder win it, and in six games.

Will Derek Fisher wear ankle socks with his suits on the sidelines next season? — @wadepierce

This is an excellent question.

How does trading the rights to a Euro player work when you have to match salaries? — @ThunderMob405

Since they aren’t under an NBA contract, you’re simply trading their “rights,” not their contract. But if you trade for, say, Arron Afflalo, you can include Alex Abrines in that, but only his draft rights. He wouldn’t count towards the matching salary aspect.

Kevin Love for Hasheem Thabeet who says no. — @keri_young

It’s too bad David Kahn isn’t still the Wolves GM, because he probably wouldn’t.