Author - Chuck Chaney

NBA set to make July 31 targeted return date for season

Adam Silver NBA

The NBA’s Board of Governors is set to vote on Thursday to make July 31 their target return date to finish the 2019-20 season.

How they will return remains a mystery.

As of now, the NBA is expected to bring 20-22 teams to Orlando for a single location to finish the season. The bubble would allow the league to control testing, while providing a safe environment for the teams to finish the season.

The NBA’s Board of Governors is expected to vote on Thursday as well to choose the returning format with a handful of options being mentioned.

To return to play, the league needs three-fourths approval and the owners appears to be ready to return to play. With television contracts on the line, teams are eager to complete those so the financial loss does not grow bigger than already anticipated.

There are four ideas currently, with a 22-team idea the front runner. Bringing back all 30 teams currently seems to be dead in the water.

A 22-team format would include teams that are currently within six games of the final playoff spots in each conferences. So, New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio would head to Orlando and Washington in the east.

A majority of the NBA general managers would like the league head straight for the playoffs, meaning those teams who are in their respected eight playoff seeds would advance to the playoffs and the league would accept the financial losses for not completing any of their television contracts, which most require reaching 70 or 72 games.

There is also talk of putting in a World Cup style format, where 20 teams would be split into five different groups, let those teams play in groups and the winner and runner-up advance through to the knock-out round. Those players who play for international teams would be familiar with the format as FIBA and the Olympics have the same format.

Those same GMs expressed approval in the idea of adding two-way players to the playoff rosters. By the current standards, Lu Dort would not be eligible for the playoffs since he is only a two-way player.

By the current suggestions of starting the season on July 31, this gives the league two months to finish the regular season and the playoffs, with the season potentially wrapping up by Oct. 1.

Then, the season would push through and re-start on Christmas.

For now, all of this is expectation and conjecture. Nothing is finalized. What we do know is we want basketball back.

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The league trying to decide on format to bring back basketball

It’s hard to believe the Thunder participated in the game that sent the league into a spiral shutdown. The unfortunate suspension of play has been hard on players and fans. Everyone wants basketball back.

Teams and the league have a financial obligation to get to at least 70 games. Many TV deals are predicated on getting to that marker. If they don’t, it would cost a league millions that will see a drastic reduction in revenue due to the shutdown already.

Currently, the league is considering different options that are not limited to playing out the season or just going straight to the playoffs. If they go straight to the playoffs, that leaves 14 teams at home and some teams may feel jilted. Such as Portland, New Orleans, and Sacramento, who were all less than three games back of a Memphis team that was reeling due to injuries.

Then, players that are on expiring deals, who showed out through the first 66 games or so, are at risk of getting out there, laying goose eggs and potentially costing themselves money.

For now, the league worries on what the league will look like if and when it resumes. Damian Lillard already said is not going to play. The Thunder want to play, they were one of the league’s hottest teams before the shutdown. Why does Golden State want to play? Atlanta had the most active in voluntary workouts on Memorial Day, so it’s all across the board in terms of activity.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, there isn’t going to be any resistance from teams if they do bring back all 30 teams but the league is worried about the product. After four months off, you’re going to have some sloppy play and maybe some upsets. The Thunder may not be the same team we saw throughout the season. They may not be the same team we fell in love with.

There’s talk of putting the league back into action mid-July, with the playoffs and NBA Finals ending in September. The draft and free agency would start later in the month when the 2020-21 season starting on Christmas.

Mark Cuban has a wild proposition. All 30 teams to finish out their television obligations. Tehn, the top 10 teams from both conferences would qualify for the playoffs and be re-seeded based on record. There would be two play-in games between the 17 vs. 20 and 18 vs. 19 games. The winners would be the 15th and 16th seeds in the final playoff bracket.

By this proposal, there are 28 of the 30 teams that are within three games of the 10th seed and could make the altered playoff bracket.

There will be no unanimous decision. The players don’t really want to risk injury but they don’t want to risk financial gain. They are already taking a 25 percent pay cut due to the suspension due to COVID-19. There will be teams who don’t want to risk their draft position and some who are trying to better that or their playoff positioning.

We want basketball back. What will that look like when it does return? That remains to be seen.

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Thunder commit to paying game day employees, arena staff

The Oklahoma City Thunder finally stepped up and made a public statement about paying their game day staff that is not limited to the Thunder drummers, the cheerleaders, storm chasers. It comes after over a week of silence as the rest of the NBA had said something publicly.

That’s all these arena workers wanted, they wanted some sort of statement they were taken care of. Instead, they were met with the opposite. The Thunder, who have always been about family first become the 30th team to commit to paying their part time workers.

The Thunder plan is to provide financial assistance to the part time staff on the team’s current payroll. They will also have a separate fund to pay the employees of ASM Global.

Oklahoma City sent this message out on social media:

Our game-night staff are vital to the game experience and are part of our Thunder family, whether they are employed by the Thunder or by ASM Global, the company contracted by the City of Oklahoma City operate the arena. To help them during this time of uncertainty, the Thunder will offer them financial assistance. The plan includes providing financial assistance to the part-time staff who work directly for the Thunder each game night and will potentially miss the remainder of the regular season, seven home games. The Thunder will also provide financial assistance to the additional part-time employees who work and are paid by ASM Global and who will potentially miss those seven games. Distribution of those funds is to be coordinated by ASM Global.

The Thunder also sent out this email to the game day staff:

We know this is a unique and unprecedented time of uncertainty for all of us. The NBA season is on hold, games are not being played and we know you are certainly impacted by the season hiatus.

I wanted to let you know that we will offer financial assistance to you, as a part-time employee of the Thunder. it will be based on the potential of missing the final seven games of the regular season and should help bridge some of the payment you would have received for working the games. I want you and your family to have the peace of mind while we go through this difficult situation together.

We will be in contact with you to provide details of this financial assistance plan. Each of you is part of our Thunder family. We deeply appreciate you and all that you do for our organization and our guests. We couldn’t do it without you.

While they are the last, seeing the Thunder step up gives those employees peace of mind going forward during these trying times.

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Thunder remain only NBA team to not announce something for game day employees

UPDATE: The Thunder have since made a statement how they would take care of their part-time employees and the ASM Global game day staff

Oklahoma City is often on the forefront of taking care of their own. They preach family and loyalty. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thunder have remained silent, despite being at the epicenter of the NBA’s suspending the season.

The Timberwolves announced on Wednesday they were paying workers for games missed, leaving the rest of the fans to wonder what Oklahoma City is doing. At least the Utah Jazz, who are only paying some of the workers (and not with the money Rudy Gobert donated for them). Some will not be paid. However, it’s still more than what the Thunder are currently doing.

There is this increased thought of: “Well, the Thunder are private in their talks.”

The Thunder are only silent when it comes to player movements. When it comes to touting their philanthropic achievements, they are one of the tops in the league. Yet, they remain silent.

It’s not just the silence that is unbearable. It’s the communication between game day staff and the organization that is most pressing. When asked how the organization is going to help as most work two jobs and depend on the money, one unnamed source due to fear of repercussions from the team said: “They said there was nothing they could do.”

There is a misconception about the $100,000 donated by Gobert. It is intended for coronoavirus-related social services, not to pay the arena employees.

From the Thunder drummers to your usher that helps you find your seat and is that first real smiling face you see, many work two jobs. They may be a senior citizen and this is their only means of income. The suspension of the NBA has hurt more than just the fans, it’s hurt the employees. As a different source told me, “I have a full-time job but what about those who bartend or wait tables? That’s gone now, too.”

Currently, arena employees have missed four dates. Thunder game day staff has missed three dates.

“It’s not a lot of money working games,” said one source. “People still count on that to pay their bills and to put food on the table.”

The silence is deafening when talking to those within SMG. The Thunder have not made any real comments to those at SMG about supplementing the pay. There are multiple factors that do go into all of this. You have your payroll tax. Do you pay it twice when the games are eventually made up? Do you just wait to see? For all of his faults, Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban sees no issue with paying people twice.

“There’s issues of payroll taxes. Do you pay the payroll taxes if they don’t work?” Cuban said. “There’s issues of, ‘What happens if the games are actually played in the future? Do we pay them twice?’ I personally don’t care. That’s fine.”

The players have remained quiet, too. Gone are the days where we’ve seen Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook donate their own funds to help those in need. This overturned roster hasn’t stepped up to the plate. Though, only a handful of players have. It should fall on the owners of these multi-million dollar franchises and according to Forbes, are valued at $1.5 billion in Feb. 2020. It should be noted the Thunder lost $23 million last season, as the only team in the NBA to lose money last season.

While the Thunder remain quiet on the front, the concern rages. Why haven’t this organization that preaches family and loyalty stepped up to say something. There are many who feel left out by the team with something they cannot control.

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2K SIM: Thunder take down Memphis, win seventh straight

We’ve decided to continue the season. The Thunder’s season will go on. We’re going to simulate 12-minute quarters and make highlights for you all. You can follow along with us as the Thunder ascend, hopefully, to the top of the Western Conference and the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

 

Oklahoma City led by as many as 24 in their 104-89 win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night. They had six different players score in double figures.

The opening possession was a lot of how the game would go for the Thunder, as they are in a tight Western Conference battle. The Thunder needing a win over the Grizzlies on Tuesday night found what they were searching for. Opening possession, they limited Jonas Valanciunas on the block with a nice defensive effort from Steven Adams.

Defense and transition was the name of the game for OKC. They forced turnovers and got out on the break. Terrance Ferguson with the two-hand over the head jam to put the Thunder up to start the game.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had his own lay up as the Thunder only trailed for a split second but controlled most of the game from the early minutes.

Burton’s slip pass to Schroder is FILTHY. Then Schröder shakes of De’Anthony Melton for the long 2-point jumper. Schroder shook Melton once agin for the wide open layup and the Thunder increased their lead to eight.

Then it was Lu Dort’s turn. After Noel’s tipped ball fell right into the lap of Dort, he raced to the court for the easy lay up.

Jonas Valanciunas finished with 28 points and 16 rebounds, feels like 10 of those rebounds happened on this play.

He had not one. not two. not three but four rebounds before he finally was able to score cutting the Thunder lead to six.

Once again it was Schröder who finished with 19 points on 9-of-18 shooting. Burton once again found him on the slip pass for the easy bucket

Here, Valanciunas picked up a missed 3 and put it back up to try and slow the bleeding but it didn’t happen as Burton had his own layup in the festival of grizzlies turnovers.

Schröder had an almost identical play as Burton but the same result as Oklahoma City went up by double digits.

Mike Muscala getting in on the action, nailing a three-pointer from deep and the Thunder were rolling. The Thunder went on a 15-4 run to open up a large lead heading into the break

Schröder had one of his five assists to Nerlens Noel for the lob dunk. Then, Dort had a nice baseline spin move and the little floater to put Oklahoma City up 37-22.

Steven Adams put back a missed Chris Paul three with a one-handed jam to put the Thunder up by 17 midway through the second quarter.

Oklahoma City led 61-38 at the break and were up 89-60 after three quarters.

The win over Memphis was their 7th in a row as the Thunder have not lost since falling to the Clips on March 3.

Oklahoma City finishes up a three-game road swing at Atlanta on Wednesday, March 18.

Current Western Conference Standings:

 

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Will the Thunder roll into the playoffs?

We’re Not Rebuilding – You’re Rebuilding

We’ve all seen the tear-jerking videos of a military man surprising his family at a family picnic or the lost puppy miraculously found and caught by someone with a camera in hand. The tag line is along the lines of “I’m not crying, you’re crying” – because in effect – it’s hard for anyone not to get a bit misty-eyed.

So, what does this have to do with the Oklahoma City Thunder, circa 2019-2020? Well, it was a year that was supposed to be a bridge to the future and not a pathway to postseason success, at least not this season. In the offseason, the Thunder moved the cornerstone of the franchise, All-Star Russell Westbrook, to the Rockets in exchange for Chris Paul and Houston’s first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 as well as the right to swap first-rounders in 2021 and 2025.

Shortly before that blockbuster the Oklahoma City brass traded All-Star forward Paul George to the Clippers for forwarding Danilo Gallinari, guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a stunning haul of five first-round selections. Considering that the Thunder last reached the NBA finals in the spring of 2012 with the All-Star triumvirate of Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden, yet still bowed to the Heat in five games, the chances of climbing that prodigious mountain again with only Westbrook and George leading the charge were not good.

The Thunder fans would not be happy with such a shocking liquidation of their most precious assets but it was a necessary teardown to a brighter future, or so the OKC suits said. Even Vegas and the online sportsbooks made the Thunder one of the longest shots on the board to win the NBA championship at 325-1 before the season began.

However, the disastrous season many were envisioning for this year’s Thunder has yet to occur and, in fact, the results have been no less than shocking as we check out the standings during the All-Star break. Oklahoma City has registered a 33-22 record and is tied with Dallas for the sixth seed in the West with 27 games remaining on the regular-season slate. If we check out SBR Odds, we see that those championship odds have plummeted to 195-1 as the playoffs are now a very real possibility for a team that was destined for the cellar this year.

One of the most surprising contributions for Oklahoma City’s unanticipated success this season stems from their bench, the role players. The Thunder has emerged victorious in 15 of their last 18 road tilts and in 41 of their 55 games the Thunder backups have outscored the opposition’s second-stringers. Veteran point guard Dennis Schroder (19.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game) has been one of the league’s most unheralded bench players and his admiration for Chris Paul is boundless. Schroder gushed, “He’s (Chris Paul) awesome. He’s one of the best or top point guards who ever played this game…. He changed the culture here as well — how we’re playing together as a team. He’s talking to every one of us every time during games, practices. Even if we’re off the court he talks to us. Leading this group. Obviously, he did a lot for us so he deserves it (an All-Star selection).”

We should also point out that two of the players the Thunder received in their blockbuster deals, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari, are the team’s leading scorers while Schroder is a candidate for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award. And let’s not forget to give oodles of credit to head coach Billy Donovan who has taken what his bosses have given him and forged a team that is strong on defense and even stronger on chemistry. San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich commented on Donovan’s performance this season and stated, “He’s done one of the more masterful jobs in the league this year.”

And while the Thunder’s record this year compares admirably to where they stood last season after 55 games (36-19), there are still games yet to be played and playoff seeds to be cemented. But from where we’re sitting, Oklahoma City is poised to be tipping off in the postseason come April and this Cinderella story has only just begun!

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No move at the deadline is the right move

It’s easy to sit there and want the Thunder to make a trade before the deadline. This team by all honest accounts is a middle of the road team in the NBA. The teams at the top are GOOD.

That’s not what the Thunder did on Thursday, especially without trying.

There appeared to really be only one legitimate trade, Danilo Gallinari to Miami. It was reported the Heat and Gallinari’s team were working on a contract extension but unknown reasons broke down the talks and OKC survived the deadline.

Oklahoma City stayed put at the deadline and that’s what most Thunder fans wanted. They wanted this team that has become so fun to watch give it a real go at the season. They are fully aware the chances at a championship are long but it’s been a moment since the Thunder have been fun to watch.

Sure, Russell Westbrook and PG were fun by the Thunder really have caused a lot of heartbreak and frustration by their play. They never lived up to the potential with multiple first round exits.

This team… this team is different. Their fight is different. Their comradery is different and it’s refreshing. Must like the 2016-17 team where we just hopped on Westbrook’s back and rode the wave.

It was just as frustrating as it was fun. This team is all fun. They look like they are having fun. They’re not barking at each other (sans Burton) and enjoying the basketball game. The lack of expectations is a part of it and the fact they are just good.

We wrote on here a week ago this team is curing all their issues by just winning games. That will mask a lot of what may be wrong but doesn’t matter this season.

You’re not going to fix everything that may be wrong with this team this season. The draft is expected to be 2012 bad. Their fighting for their playoff lives. It would be different if this team was a .500 team or out of the playoffs but they’re right in the thick of things and have a chance to move up higher.

Let the fixing of the team happen in the off season. We know Gallo is gone. We know you’re going to trade Schröder and CP3 is going to be a big trade piece next season. This season, they’ve beaten the predictors.

Let them try to do the unthinkable.

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Thunder defying expectations by winning

This team is going to be terrible they said. Tanking for days. The Thunder are not going to be good for the foreseeable future.

That’s what they all said and despite all of the bad words the mean guy on the TV and radio said, the Thunder have fought that narrative and are good… and fun.

It starts with Chris Paul. The 36-year old veteran didn’t appear overtly happy to be traded away from his family and a ring opportunity but when one door shuts, another opens. The Thunder are happy to have the future first ballot hall of fame inductee. It’s been a beacon of light for Paul, who appears to be in the best health in many moons. The man they dub “Point God” has been the best role model for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Speaking of SGA, the 20-year old has been everything many had promised. He’s a quiet leader and down right a bad ass on the court. While he’s going to be taking part in the Rising Stars game, it might not be too long when we see him move from Saturday night’s events to Sunday afternoon.

On Friday night when the team needed them most, the 3-guard lineup showed up and made their mark. A 15-2 run to put the Thunder ahead before the tornado hit. The Thunder avoided the twister and picked up the win but most importantly, they continued to win. They’ve won a lot of games where they weren’t supposed to. A lot of games where they trailed. They’ve won 13 games when trailing heading into the fourth quarter. Their 13 fourth quarter comebacks are the most since 2014-15 when the Portland Trail Blazers did it 14 times. The most wins in the last 20 years is Cleveland’s 17 comebacks in 2007-08.

The rest has just fallen in place. From the surprising emergence of Lu Dort from the two-way contract to the surprising three-headed monster that has become the Thunder’s closing lineup. When it comes to individual players, the guard trio is the best lineup in the NBA. Their net rating is the best by at least eight points. Oh, The CP3-Schröder-Gallinari line up is third best.

The Thunder are a team without expectations by many which considered the Thunder to only win 30-32 games and with those no expectations of winning, this team has flourished.

There are obvious issues with the team the Thunder have to deal with like Andre Roberson and what to do with Terrance Ferguson.

The fans are enjoying the ride and with only six days left until trade deadline day, this team could be dismantled next week.

Until then, put your hands up as this team rides a rollercoaster season that was supposed to be a ride on teacups.

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Nerlens double-double powers OKC by Portland

The Thunder built an 18-point lead and everything appeared to be going to form. They would blow the lead, melt down in the third quarter. Damian Lillard would catch fire and everyone would srhug their shoulders as if we are to accept the outcome.

Except, the Thunder didn’t do that. They may have lost the lead but they overcame Lillard’s big third quarter to hold the lead after three. They pushed the lead back to double digits.

In the end, Oklahoma City beat the Trail Blazers 108-96 on Sunday night to start their West coast road trip in the best way.

The Thunder are now 10-12 on the year. With the win, Oklahoma City moves to seventh in the Western Conference playoff race.

Oklahoma City overcame so many of their early season woes in one game. In just days after the Trail Blazers hit their first approximately 1,000 shots against Oklahoma City, the Thunder forced Portland to miss 12-of-13 shots in the middle of the first quarter.

Dennis Schröder got the ball rolling for the Thunder in the second quarter. He hit two threes and an old fashioned, three-point play, pushing Oklahoma City into a double digit advantage. The lead grew as Nerlens Noel and others chipped in.

Before the Blazers really found their footing, the Thunder had built a 49-31 lead with just over four minutes left in the half.

Portland made a runoff two threes from Lillard. The Thunder held off the run, which would be one of a few, and controlled the halftime scoreboard 55-47.

Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Portland made their final run throughout the third. Lillard got hot but Oklahoma City found an answer every time the Blazers and Lillard did anything of value.

Then as if it was a switch that was flipped Shai Gilgeous-Alexander stepped up and made some buckets after struggling for a majority of the game. Danilo Gallinari did the same. SGA had 14 points in the final frame and Gallinari hit a big three that helped OKC keep their distance from the surging Blazers.

SGA finishes with 21 points. Schröder had 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep. Nerlens Noel had a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Oklahoma City plays the Utah Jazz Monday night in Salt Lake City. Their 8.5-point underdogs and it already feels as if they’re winners. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.

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Oklahoma City destroys Golden State 120-92

It’s everything we’ve wanted to see over the last few years, minus a few players. Oklahoma City Thunder-dumped the Golden State Warriors on Sunday afternoon 120-92.

The Thunder led from the beginning, with Danilo Gallinari scoring the first eight points. It set the tone and the Thunder would never relinquish the lead.

Oklahoma City picks up their first win of the season, improving to 1-2 on the year and it exercised a handful of demons in the process.

The win also ties the Thunder’s biggest win over the Warriors in franchise history.

IN the year’s past of the Warriors blowing out the Thunder, often with devastating. results as the Warriors spouted four all-stars and the Thunder riding these emotional waves that were nearly impossible to control. As the franchise continues to recover, the tide is turning. KD is gone and so is Westbrook. That chapter of the rivalry is gone. Oklahoma City notched the first win in the new era by shutting down Steph Curry and use an array of players to make the Warriors afternoon a nightmare.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to be this remarkable player with huge upside. His ability to contort his body against the body of his defender and still find a way to make a finger roll or a nice contested bucket leaves you jaw dropped and the Thunder can see a real superstar in SGA. He finished with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting in only 29 minutes.

Oklahoma City saw their first double digit lead early as they jumped up 13-3 on a nice move by Chris Paul. The Thunder saw their lead balloon to 20 midway through the second quarter when Hamidou Diallo made a 3-pointer, giving Oklahoma City the 48-26 lead with 7:29 to go until half.

The Thunder led 70-39 at half.

The onslaught continued for Oklahoma City as they pushed and pushed. Chase down blocks by SGA and outstanding production from Chris Paul, running the offense, and Danilo Gallinari scoring big time points, the Thunder pushed their lead to as many as 42 in the second half and Golden State really never could find any rhythm to get themselves back in the game.

Paul finished with 10 points on 2-of-5 shooting. Gallinari 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-9 from three. Six different players scored at least eight points for Oklahoma City. Dennis Schröder showed up finally. He finished with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting. He led OKC with six assists. He also had eight rebounds.

Oklahoma City held the Warriors to only 5-of-33 three-point shooting, one of their worst shooting performances in recent memory of the Warriors.

The Thunder led 105-68 after three quarters.

D’Angelo Russell was ejected in the third quarter for yelling at an official.

The best part about the game is Oklahoma City was able to rest their starters on the front of a back-to-back. No one played more than 30 minutes and that’s most important.

Oklahoma City will be back on the court tomorrow night against Russell Westbrook and the Houston Rockets.

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