Oklahoma City needs to take a step back as an organization and see what it needs to do to take the next step and win an NBA title.
They have the hard part of assembling a contender covered — they have two elite stars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But you can’t just do that and role the ball out there, despite what Phil Jackson’s critics think. You need to put together a system, a philosophy on the court that works then fill the roster with role player who fit that system. It has to be a team effort in the end, with the stars as the foundational pieces.
Thunder GM Sam Presti believes Scott Brooks is the guy who can put that system around Westbrook and Durant. While there had been some speculation around the league Brooks’ seat was getting warm, Presti shot that down at his end-of-season press conference Thursday, as reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.
Presti on Scott Brooks: "Scotty, I think, did an excellent job."
The organizational philosophy in OKC is that the window is not closing anytime soon. They are not pressured to take gambles — Durant and Westbrook are 25 years old. They are not even in their statistical prime yet. The Thunder are not going to gamble with that future.
The only potential pressure is Kevin Durant becoming a free agent in 2016 and leaving (and Westbrook in 2017). But Durant is not built like some other stars, he is not just going to gravitate toward the bright lights of larger markets. He leaves only if he doesn’t think OKC can build a winner.
Presti is working on that. He is trusting Scott Brooks to be the guy to help build it.
Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver
That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.
Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.
What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.
Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.
By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.
Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.
How’s that going?
(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.
Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks
Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.
So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.
“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….
“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.
“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”
Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.
Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.