Author - Brady Trantham

New York Knicks interested in Sam Presti

According to Ian Begley of ESPN New York, the New York Knicks have had internal conversations about possibly adding Sam Presti to their front office to replace Phil Jackson.

In the report, Begley says that the Knicks would “likely need to offer compensation to OKC for Presti, who is currently under contract.”

It is unclear how serious the talks are at this point. Regardless, New York is being run currently by Steve Mills.

Presti is an attractive name to float around to add to another team’s front office. With a résumé including drafting Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka among others, Presti was ranked first out of all 30 NBA general managers by Bleacher Report.

The Knicks are in disarray after the abysmal tenure of Jackson. It is safe to assume the talks are wishful thinking at this time. Considering the Knicks would need to compensate Oklahoma City, these whispers appear to be only that — whispers.

Stranger things have happened, however.

Presti recived a multi-year extension to his previous contract in 2010. Thunder owner Clay Bennett did not announce the terms at the time.

 

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Westbrook, Thunder in top 10 jersey sells for April-June

Westbrook nominated for multiple ESPY awards

According to NBAStore.com, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder are in the top 10 of jersey sells for the months of April and June.

The 2016-17 NBA MVP came in at fourth behind Steph Curry, LeBron James and former Thunder teammate Kevin Durant. Another former Oklahoma City player cracked the top 10 — James Harden came in at number nine.

As a team, the Oklahoma City Thunder ranked seventh in overall team merchandise sells. Those that finished ahead of the Thunder were the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Overall, Westbrook is the fourth highest jersey sell for the 2016-17 season behind the same three players.

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OKC still interested in Rudy Gay

The former Sacramento King small forward Rudy Gay is still on the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s radar.

According to The Vertical‘s Adrian Wojnarowksi, the soon to be free agent will be hosting suitors in Austin, Texas while the Thunder “continues to be a team that sees fit.”

Ever since the departure of Kevin Durant, Gay and Oklahoma City have been linked in numerous trade rumors prior to the achilles injury he sustained on January 18 against the Indiana Pacers. At the time, Gay and former Thunder back up point guard Cameron Payne were linked in a potential deal.

It is unclear what role Gay’s achilles tear will play in his free agency experience. As Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript points out, players who have suffered a similar injury — such as Dallas Maverick Wes Mathews — have never fully bounced back from an achilles tear.

Considering Oklahoma City is near the tax, the Thunder may not extend the full mid-level extension towards Gay as that would hard cap them, according to Katz.

The fit is a little puzzling. While his position is that of a small forward, Gay has experience playing power forward in small ball lineups. Not typically known for his rebounding or defense, the experiments in Sacramento at PF did not yield pleasing results.

The Thunder have plenty of bigs at the PF and center positions.

His shooting skills, scoring and offensive versatility are what Thunder general manager Sam Presti probably see in potentially adding him in free agency.

Prior to his injury, Gay was averaging 18.7 points per game on 45 percent shooting to go along with 37 percent from beyond the arc. The former University of Connecticut Husky is a career 18.4 point scorer and averages just over five rebounds per game.

Free agency meetings can begin on Saturday, July 1 at 12:01 a.m.

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Andre Roberson named 2nd Team Defensive All-NBA

Andre Roberson was named to the All-Defensive Second Team NBA squad.

The Oklahoma City Thunder forward received three first team votes to go along with 47 second team votes. Joining Roberson on the second team is Tony Allen from the Memphis Grizzlies, Danny Green from the San Antonio Spurs, Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans and Giannis Antetokounmpo from the Milwaukee Bucks.

The All-Defensive First Team NBA included Draymond Green from the Golden State Warriors, Rudy Gobert from the Utah Jazz, Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs, Chris Paul from the L.A. Clippers and Patrick Beverley from the Houston Rockets.

Russell Westbrook received 10 overall votes and five first team nods. Steven Adams‘ name also was listed as players receiving votes — the New Zealand native received one second team vote.

Roberson’s position at small forward may have been the culprit in leaving the talented defender off the first team. In the 2016-17 season, Roberson allowed 107 points per 100 possessions.

Routinely guarding the opponent’s best guard or wing player, the San Antonio native thrusted himself as one of the premier defenders in the NBA. The Colorado alum’s reputation as one of the more difficult defenders to face grew as the Thunder moved through the post-Kevin Durant era.

Roberson now looks forward to his first experience of uncertainty as he becomes a free agent on July 1st. Earlier in the year, Oklahoma City and Roberson could not come to an agreement on an extension, allowing the All-Defensive Second Teamer the opportunity to test the free agency market.

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Sam Presti post-draft press conference

After a grueling draft day that saw names big and small traded and selected, Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti took to the podium at the Integris Thunder Development Center to speak on the newest addition to the team; Terrence Ferguson.

“With respect to Terrance,” Presti said during his opening comments. “We’re thrilled to have him, add him to the Thunder. He represents I think a few things that attract us to him.”

Ferguson hails from Tulsa, Okla. but has played professionally in Australia for the Adelaide 36ers for the last year. Presti was careful to say professional experience at a young age was advantageous.

“I wouldn’t say it is a huge difference,” Presti said. “Not everyone comes in with the same opportunity. I mean it’s very rare that a guy like (DomantasSabonis could find his way onto the starting lineup on a playoff team. That is a rare thing.”

Hopping from one young Thunder player to another, Presti used Alex Abrines as another example.

“Fortunately for us, we’ve had some guys over the years that have been able to get opportunities. Abrines, when he arrived here as a rookie, a lot of people saw him as a developmental player. But he had played in significantly big games in Europe, had a lot of experience and found his way to minutes over time.”

In addition to the draft selection of Ferguson, the question arose to the Thunder’s work behind the scenes. With names like Jimmy Butler being dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves, and other teams swapping picks, some saw Oklahoma City as a potential mover today.

“Obviously they weren’t fruitful,” Presti said with a smirk. “But we talked.”

After the press conference ended, Royce Young from ESPN tweeted the following:

Presti was in good spirits despite missing out on a potential blockbuster addition.

“The only person who knows how close it (a deal) is, is the other person on the phone,” Presti shared. “We felt good about our work and we have no intention of becoming complacent.”

Presti kept going back to being satisfied with the end result.

“We feel good about what we were able to get done with Terrance.”

Historically, players like Ferguson have always intrigued Presti and the Thunder. At 6’7 and possessing explosive potential, the Tulsa native appears to have the tools necessary to fill a need to increase wing athleticism.

“I think guys that are 6-7″, put major heat on the defense in transition,” Presti said. “He can knock some shots down, like, that’s sort of the type of player you hope he can become. But, you know, he does a lot of things that I think are pretty useful with our team, has the athleticism to play with our team.”

Before leaving the podium at around 12:45 a.m. local time, Presti said the plan was to have Ferguson in Orlando for the annual Summer League games.

“First thing that has to happen is we have to get a physical, then as a participant in summer league, yes.”

It wasn’t the blockbuster deal many wanted, and it wasn’t the exciting draft like last season’s edition which saw Oklahoma City acquire Sabonis and Victor Oladipo during the event. In the end, the Thunder selected, in their minds, the best player available at 21.

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Thunder Digest draft tracker

Today is the day. The 2017 NBA Draft will begin tonight at 7 p.m CST and we here at Thunder Digest will have you covered on all things Oklahoma City Thunder.

In addition to coverage on the website, we will be doing a live show during the draft on Facebook Live and Twitter. Join in and share your comments and thoughts with us as we march through tonight’s events. We will be happy to read your thoughts and answer questions on air.

You can find our NBA Draft prospectus here.

This tracker will be where you will be able to find new information as it appears. Anything to do with Oklahoma City, the Thunder or the draft spot will be placed here:

8:47 p.m.

5:44 p.m.

5:26 p.m.

2:22 p.m.

The Thunder might make some noise tonight

2:21 p.m

looks like maybe Oklahoma City has promised someone.

10:36 a.m

While Oklahoma City isn’t explicitly mentioned, this could pertain to the Thunder who pick at 21.

June 22, 10:00 a.m

DraftExpress.com have updated their mock draft. This new mock has the Thunder selecting SMU SF/PF Semi Ojeleye. You can find our analysis on Ojeleye here.

June 21, 11:00 p.m

Ian Begley of ESPN New York says of the Knicks/Thunder talk on Porzingis that Oklahoma City did not “have enough” for New York to further engage in talks. It appears the talks never went further than what has been reported at this time.

June 21, 10:37 p.m

The Kristaps Porzingis talks began late last night.

We’ll continue to update as this comes along.

 

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NY Knicks called OKC about Kristaps Porzingis

According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the New York Knicks have engaged in trade talks with the Oklahoma City Thunder in regards to Kristaps Porzingis. However in the report, Ian Begley of ESPN  relays from a source that the Thunder simply “don’t have enough.”

It is unclear at this time what players or draft picks were mentioned in these talks.

While this news may be disappointing to Thunder fans, it is important to remember that Oklahoma City may not be in position to acquire a player like Porzingis.

The Knicks have been busy contacting teams in the top five of the 2017 draft lottery in regards to the seven foot-Latvian. Reports say the Knicks are looking for first round picks as well as starters in a potential deal.

Oklahoma City has a roster of talented young players with potential but little trade assets for a blockbuster deal like this.

Names like Enes Kanter, Victor Oladipo and even Steven Adams to go along with the Thunder’s 21st pick in the draft are the common assets mentioned in potential Oklahoma City trades. Kanter’s salary as well as his importance off the bench still presents a challenge in terms of moving him while Oladipo and Adams may be too valuable to the core of the team.

In the past, leaks of behind the scenes talks like this have been rare in Oklahoma City. Sam Presti has a reputation of running things close to the vest. At the 2015 trade deadline, the popular name was Brook Lopez only for Presti to acquire Kanter at the last second. At last year’s draft, no one knew of a Serge Ibaka swap for Oladipo and a lottery pick until Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted it.

The Thunder are trying. It is still uncertain whether they have the assets to be a true player to make a deal of this magnitude. Time will tell.

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Draft Prospectus: Justin Jackson

With only a few days to go until the NBA Draft, we’re going to break down a few mock draft selections for the Thunder. We’ve already done six, Semi Ojeleye, Luke Kinnard, Terrance Ferguson, Harry Giles, Jawun Evans, OG AnunobyDerrick White, and TJ Leaf.We’re going to break down a couple more. Stay with us as the NBA season ends and the NBA offseason ramps up.

Who: Justin Jackson
Position: Small Forward
Class: Junior
Age: 22
Where: North Carolina
Ht: 6-8
Wt: 193 lbs.

After winning an NCAA championship and adding the ACC Player of the Year title to his resume’, Justin Jackson said goodbye to the University of North Carolina and immediately set his sights on the NBA.

As the leader of the Tarheels, Jackson’s game shined while improving upon areas of his game. At 6-8, Jackson averaged 18.3 points per game on 44 percent shooting from the field as well as 37 percent from three. Per 40 minutes, his scoring average ballooned up to 22 points.

Many — if not all — mock drafts have Jackson going in the late lottery. With his offensive game and versatility as a scorer and facilitator, Jackson possesses the tools necessary for an exciting lottery pick. As deep as this current draft class is, there is still hope that after trades, moves and other draft night hoopla, a player like Jackson could slide down the draft.

That is where the Oklahoma City Thunder come in.

Strengths

At 6-8 with a 6-11 wingspan, Jackson has the ideal body type to succeed in today’s NBA. That is certainly something Thunder GM Sam Presti values historically. Jackson’s ability to see the floor gives him the advantage of seeing over defenders and finding the open man in a fluid offense.

As an outside scorer, Jackson provides day one value. A natural shooting stroke with a quick trigger helped propel Jackson as one of the more efficient scorers in one of the tougher basketball conferences in the country.

On the fast break is where Jackson flourishes. His understanding of spacing rarely leads to a logjam of players at the rim after a steal, resulting in a missed opportunity. Either streaking to the rim to finish a turnover or fanning out to hit an open jumper, Jackson’s basketball IQ shines in the fast break.

The greatest asset to Jackson’s game is exactly that — his basketball IQ. He can easily integrate himself into an offense and adapt his game in order to make an impact and flourish. He prefers to create offense off the ball or as the passer. His savvy understanding of spacing allows him to find holes in the defense and score.

Weaknesses

While his size and length jump out at scouts initially, his weight also has the same effect on the opposite end of the spectrum

Jackson is small. Small enough that at times, he found himself pushed, pulled and bullied by bigger, stronger forwards/wings. This will certainly become more of the norm transitioning into the NBA unless he makes a serious change to his body. His lack of physicality may scare some teams earlier in the lottery allowing Jackson to slide down further in the draft.

With his lack of physicality, Jackson loses versatility on the defensive end — forcing him to only defend players his size or smaller. Switching him on to PFs or bigger SFs could create problems for team defense.

His preference of scoring off of floaters is not necessarily due to preference but rather necessity. Due to his smaller frame, he has trouble finishing off of deep penetration to the basket. In the NBA where some shooting guards/wings are 6-7 — like the Thunder’s own Andre Roberson — Jackson will have to develop the ability to finish to find success as an athletic wing in this league.

On the defensive glass, Jackson leaves some to be desired. Averaging only 4.7 rebounds per game with his measurables is a little concerning.

Overall

It is easy to see why Jackson provides a ton of optimism for potential drafting teams late in the lottery. His scoring, offensive versatility and basketball IQ give scouts confidence that he can become a great contributor to an NBA franchise.

He is no stranger to improver as well. His shooting percentage from beyond the arc — something scouts were worried about after his sophomore campaign — jumped from 29 percent to 37 percent this season. When you factor in his knowledge of the game on the court, it is far from wishful thinking that he could improve on his weaknesses elsewhere in the NBA.

Jackson may be just out of reach for Presti and the Thunder, but if he slides to 21, he is a player they should seriously consider to improve their roster.

 

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The last time someone averaged a triple-double…

Russell Westbrook has ascended into basketball legend by averaging a triple-double for the entire 2016-17 NBA season. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard completed his run at history tonight by becoming the first player since the 1961-62 season to achieve this statistical anomaly set by the great Oscar Robertson.

With his performance tonight, Westbrook has achieved what many over the years said could never be done.

Something this historic requires exactly that. History.

1962 FACTS

  • John F. Kennedy begins his second year as President of the United States
  • Eleanor Roosevelt dies at 78
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis
  • Johnny Carson begins his 30 year stint as the host of NBC’s Tonight Show
  • Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points on March 2nd in Hershey, Pennsylvania
  • The first WalMart is opened in Rogers, Arkansas
  • Marilyn Monroe is found dead at 32
  • James Meredith, a black student, begins his study at the formerly-segregated University of Mississippi
  • Actors Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Demi Moore are born as well as Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett
  • Alabama defeats Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl to claim the national championship
  • Jackie Robinson is elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
  • The Boston Celtics defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games to win the NBA Finals
  • The average NBA salary was $13,000.00
  • The average cost of a new home was $12,500.00
  • The average income per year was $5,556.00
  • The average monthly rent was $111.00
  • Marvel superhero Spider Man debuts in Amazing Fantasy #15 
  • The Beatles release their first recording “Love Me Do
  • Lawrence of Arabia grosses over $44 million dollars to become the #1 movie of the year
  • A triple-double is averaged by a single player over an entire NBA season…

Robertson’s final game of the regular season came on March 3rd of that year. It has been 55 years since an NBA player has reached this historic accomplishment.

661 months.

20,124 days.

31.8 points.

10.7 rebounds.

10.4 assists.

1 player.

Number 0.

Take a bow, Russell. This is your moment.

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OKC should invite Oscar Robertson to final home stretch

By Michael E. Keating, Cincinnati Enquirer

Since the inception of the franchise, the Oklahoma City Thunder has been adamant on building its own history and legacy.

While technically the records and numbers of the Seattle SuperSonics remain with the franchise, the Thunder see themselves as a team who’s first days began in 2008. This is out of respect for the people of Seattle who want to keep their history and for those in Oklahoma City who wish to hold on to their own fortunes.

So much so that Oklahoma City denied the ability to don the gold patches that adorn the back collars of every title-winning team’s jersey in 2014. That of course would have commemorated the Seattle NBA Finals championship won by the franchise back in the 1978-79 season.

“It’s important to this organization, and fans, that we keep separate Oklahoma City records that are set here,” former Thunder public relations director Brian Facchini told NewsOK back in 2008.

But now, history has thrust itself upon the busy street of Reno Ave in downtown Oklahoma City. History in the form of a basketball supernova from sunny southern California — Russell Westbrook.

After notching his 38th triple-double last night in Orlando, Westbrook finds himself three away from tying the legendary Oscar Robertson and four from passing him with eight games remaining.

Once, the question was “will Westbrook do it?” Now transitioned to “when will Westbrook do it?”

Count Robertson along with Thunder and Westbrook fans as one who is rooting for the All-Star Oklahoma City point guard to tie or break the record.

“I hope he gets it (a triple-double average this season),” Robertson said on NBA TV earlier in March. “Why should I care, man? I hope he does. I think it’s great to talk about it.”

Yes, in the Thunder’s head, their history began in 2008. But the NBA has been around since the end of the Second World War — one of the more hallowed achievements in the game is Robertson’s 1961-62 triple-double season.

It would be an excellent gesture from the franchise of Oklahoma City if the Thunder invited Robertson to the two final home games.

The first chance Westbrook has of tying Robertson’s 41 triple-doubles is April 4th in Oklahoma City against the Milwaukee Bucks. To do so he would have to triple-double for the second time ever against San Antonio on Friday night and against the Charlotte Hornets for the first time two days later.

After the Milwaukee game, the Thunder go on the road for four games before the regular season and home finale on April 12th against the Denver Nuggets.

For a franchise so focused on creating its own strong legacy in the post-Seattle move, inviting the “Big O” would be a positive way to tap into the pre-Thunder days of the NBA and bridge the eras between Robertson and Westbrook.

Westbrook has been wise to downplay his triple-doubles in exchange for focusing on team success. While the two are certainly connected — the Thunder are 31-7 when he earns a triple-double — the dynamic guard has only worried about wins and losses. As the season and his historic run has progressed, Westbrook has opened up more and more about the possibility of joining Robertson in basketball legend.

“It’s a blessing to be able to come out every night and compete at a high level,” Westbrook told reporters after he tied Wilt Chamberlain for second in NBA history for triple-doubles in a single season. “To be mentioned with those guys (Chamberlain and Robertson) is truly a blessing.”

It could certainly provide an amazing and emotional scene if Westbrook ties or breaks the record with him in attendance.

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