Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Four

One statistic that shows just how unlucky the Thunder were by losing Serge Ibaka to this particular injury

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The Thunder suffered what might be a fatal blow to their championship aspirations for the second straight season, once it was learned that their best interior defensive player in Serge Ibaka would be lost for the remainder of the playoffs due to a calf injury.

Last year, it was Russell Westbrook who was injured, tearing a knee ligament in the first round while battling the Houston Rockets.

That’s some terrible luck for Oklahoma City to suffer in consecutive years, and given the specific nature of Ibaka’s injury, it would appear that the misfortune involved was even more dramatic.

From Matthew Tynan of 48 Minutes of Hell:

Reports out of OKC are saying the injury is a grade 2 strain of the plantaris muscle, and the recovery period is lengthy because of a high re-injury risk. Here’s an excerpt from a Sports Injury Clinic post on what we’re talking about, something actually known as ‘tennis leg.’

Tennis leg is a tear or rupture of the plantaris muscle and possibly the medial head or inside of the gastrocnemius muscle which is the larger of the two calf muscles.

The Plantaris muscle is a thin muscle in the back of the lower leg, which attaches just above the knee on the outside, passes down the back of the calf and inserts on to the heel bone. It’s function is to assist the larger calf muscles in plantar flexing the ankle or pointing the foot down. This muscle is actually absent in up to 15% of the population.

The injury most frequently occurs due to a force or trauma to the leg whilst the knee is straight. Movements such as jumping or pushing off may also cause tennis leg. Both movements are frequent in tennis, hence the development of the term tennis leg to describe this injury.

That’s right. The muscle Ibaka injured doesn’t even exist in 15 percent of the population.

Now, maybe without that muscle, Ibaka’s athleticism is diminished, and he isn’t quite the player we see today. But either way, there are plenty of people out there who don’t possess this muscle to begin with.

Ibaka, unfortunately for the Thunder, just happens to be one of the lucky ones.

Craig Sager to get third bone marrow transplant thanks to anonymous donor

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16:  Legendary TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager talks with Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Sager is on a one game assignment for ESPN. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.

Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.

This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.

Report: With Joffrey Lauvergne trade, Mitch McGary likely done with Thunder

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 16:  Mitch McGary #33 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Center on March 16, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.

Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.

McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.

McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.

Dwight Howard is shooting 19-footers to improve his free throw stroke

Dwight Howard
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If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?

Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.

It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.

The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.

The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.

But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.

Report: Veteran big man Jason Thompson agrees to deal in China

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 15:  Jason Thompson # 34 of Sacramento Kings in action during the 2014 NBA Global Games match between the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings at MasterCard Center on October 15, 2014 in Beijing, China. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
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Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.

Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.