Tag: Sebastian Telfair

Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers

No Durant, Westbrook goes down, Thunder still make it interesting but fall to Clippers


Doc Rivers will take the win.

But he’s got a lot of fodder for the team’s next film session.

The Oklahoma City Thunder should have gotten blown out this game. Kevin Durant is out and then Russell Westbrook broke his hand in the first half and had to leave for the night. By the time the final buzzer sounded the Thunder were down to eight players.

Yet they were a close Serge Ibaka three at the buzzer away from sending the game to overtime.  The shot was just short.

With that the Clippers escaped with a 93-90 win in their home and season opener. But neither team looked anything like the contenders they aspire to be. Sure, it’s just one of 82, but these teams have some work to do.

The Thunder are now off to an 0-2 start and have a rough month ahead of them without their stars (there is no timetable for Westbrook officially, but broken hands take time).

The Clippers came out flat — OKC started the game off on an 8-0 run — and just could not make shots. They shot 39.1 percent as a team and were 7-of-30 from three — and just 2-of-10 on corner threes. Sharpshooter J.J. Redick was 1-of-10, Jamal Crawford was 5-of-15, Chris Douglas-Roberts 0-4.

But it was more than just an off night shooting — the Clippers had the best offense in the NBA last year because of their ball movement and player movement, particularly in transition. Not Thursday, the ball stuck. Players stood.

Meanwhile the Thunder just kept grinding. Perry Jones stepped up in a big way with 32 points on just 17 shots, while Serge Ibaka added 17 points an 9 rebounds. It’s not that the Thunder were sharp — they shot 43.1 percent as a team — but they would not give up and they kept making plays.

A couple of times in the second half the Clippers would pull away — for example the Clippers lead got up to 10 with 5:30 left in the game, but the Thunder responded. Sebastian Telfair made it a one-point game with 1:44 when he scored to cap a 14-5 run.

What did the Thunder in was turnovers — 27 of them. Without Westbrook they shot themselves in the foot.

But the Clippers settled for jumpers and didn’t take advantage. Then in the final minute Chris Paul bricked a couple free throws. It was just that kind of night, but the Thunder lacked the guys to create the offense to make the Clippers pay.

Blake Griffin finished with 23 points, Chris Paul had 22.

It was a sloppy game. Steve Ballmer got an exciting one for his first as the LA owner, but mostly the Clippers will just take the win and try to move on.

The Thunder are going to have a rough month ahead of them.

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 NBA Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder

San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three

Last season: Russell Westbrook was out and Kevin Durant stepped up with (or if you prefer, finally showed off) the well rounded, complete game we’ve always expected of him. He earned the league MVP with his carrying of the Thunder to 59 wins. OKC was again strong on both ends, seventh in the league in offensive rating and fifth in defensive rating. Reggie Jackson stepped up as Thabo Sefolosha faded, and Serge Ibaka took another step forward with his game. With Westbrook back to his terrorizing form the Thunder entered the playoffs as title contenders but again they were undone by injury, a calf strain to Ibaka. The Thunder again made it to the conference finals but with Ibaka missing a couple games they could not overcome the eventual champion Spurs.

Signature highlight from last season: It’s almost impossible to chose, this team has so many. I think the best one was Russell Westbrook’s overtime corner three to beat the Warriors:

But if you prefer a Kevin Durant game winner, here he goes basically one-on-five to beat the Hawks:

Offseason moves: For a years now, coach Scott Brooks stuck with certain guys no matter what logic or eyeballs dictated, but a couple of those fallbacks are now gone. Thabo Sefolosha (a regular starter) was allowed to walk in free agency after a down year, while Derek Fisher retired and will coach the Knicks.Last year’s free agent pickup Caron Butler left as well. Oh, and they traded Hasheem Thabeet.

In their place they picked up Anthony Morrow as a free agent as well as Sebastian Telfair, plus they drafted Mitch McGary.

Keys to the Thunder season

Just stay healthy. Of course this is true of every contender, but two years ago it was Westbrook’s knee that ended their real playoff hopes. Last season Ibaka suffered a grade two calf strain in the playoffs that kept him out for a couple weeks, including the start of the series against the powerhouse Spurs. We don’t know how that series turns out if Ibaka’s healthy, but we know if this team can’t keep its big three healthy they can’t get back to the Finals. Not in this loaded Western Conference.

Is there enough around Durat/Westbrook/Ibaka? This is ultimately the question. They have a championship caliber core, but since the James Harden trade they have not been able to get back to the Finals (in part due to that health issue). The question is do they have the right role players in the right system to lift this team up to the Finals and to win a ring?

If the answer is going to be yes, it has to start with Reggie Jackson, who by the end of the playoffs last year had taken Sefolosha’s starting job and this season. He is going to get a lot of time paired with Westbrook in the backcourt and he brings a more dynamic offensive game with him to that role. He can make the Thunder offense that much more dangerous — and it doesn’t hurt this is a contract year for him (he’s a restricted free agent next summer if a contract extension is not reached by Oct. 31).

Another key role player is Steven Adams, who hopefully will supplant Kendrick Perkins this season (Perkins is another one of Brooks’ crutch guys). Adams brings toughness and defense, but more importantly a little better offense than Perkins. Defenses ignore Perkins (the Thunder try to get him going every game by giving him a couple early touches in the post) but Adams is a rim runner and more athletic, a guy defenses have to keep an eye on.

Finally, the Thunder need growth from Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III, they will need to play larger roles. Anthony Morrow needs to space the floor. If they can get something from the rookie McGary and the veteran Telfair all the better.

The pieces seem to be there, can Brooks put them in a less-predictable offense that makes the Thunder harder to defend? If so there is no limit to where the Thunder can finish this season.

How do the Thunder deal with Durant’s constant free agency questions? In every city — and especially in Washington, Los Angeles and New York — Kevin Durant is going to get questions about his 2016 free agency. Then reporters will ask the other Thunder players about Kevin Durant’s free agency in two years. Every answer will pretty much get national play. It’s a potential distraction and something the Thunder need to learn to deal with because it is not going away. (Durant doesn’t know what he’s going to do in two summers yet anyway, but staying with the Thunder is still the smartest bet.)

Why you should watch: Have you ever seen Durant and Westbrook play? Go look at the highlights above. This is as entertaining a team as there is in the league, with two of the game’s most dynamic stars leading them. Plus you should watch just to see what Russell Westbrook wears to the arena on any given night.

Prediction: 61-21, which will have them as one of the top two seeds in the West, maybe the top seed. Kevin Durant likely will pick up another MVP award (LeBron now has some real help around him and with that his numbers are likely drop a little, then guys like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will split the Clipper vote). But what really matters to him and the franchise is getting a ring. If they are relatively healthy, and if the role players have stepped up, the Thunder have a very real shot at that title. They are legit title contenders, the only real problem they face is that there are a couple others of those in the West.

If the Thunder don’t get back to the Finals, Scott Brooks could be the next change the Thunder seriously consider.

Report: Thunder to sign Sebastian Telfair

Oklahoma City Thunder v Phoenix Suns

Sebastian Telfair, once a lottery pick straight out of high school, played in China last season. Prior, he played for eight teams (including two separate stints with the Timberwolves) in eight NBA seasons.

At age 29, he appeared finished in the NBA.

But not only is he returning to the league, he’s joining a contender that might offer substantial playing time.

Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest:

The free agent point guard and Oklahoma City Thunder have reached an agreement, league sources informed CSNNW.com.

According to sources that requested to remain anonymous, the terms agreed to is for one-year at the veteran’s minimum

Oklahoma City already has a starting point guard (Russell Westbrook) and a backup point guard (Reggie Jackson), but with free agent Thabo Sefolosha’s clear departure, Jackson could move regularly into the starting backcourt. He already replaced Sefolosha during the Western Conference Finals.

That would leave a backup point guard spot open with Telfair the most logical choice – as of now – to fill it.

The Thunder already have 11 players under contract, two first-round picks (Mitch McGary and Josh Heustis), a qualifying offer out to Grant Jerrett and a mid-level exception that could draw Pau Gasol.

With such a crowded roster and a limit of 15 players once the season begins, that tells me either Telfair’s contract is unguaranteed – which would mean more point guards could be on the their way to Oklahoma City – or Thunder have more moves up their sleeve.

Waiving Hasheem Thabeet, whose contract is fully unguaranteed, would be a good start. Pulling Jerrett’s qualifying offer, if he’s not smart enough to accept quickly, could be another step.

Tuesday And-1 Links: Dwyane Wade releasing documentary on Heat’s title run

Heat's Wade sits with the Larry O'Brien Trophy after his team defeated the Spurs in Game 7 to win their NBA Finals basketball playoff in Miami
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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points more than Bostonites love to sing along with Neil Diamond….

• If you can’t get enough of the Heat’s 2013 run to an NBA title (and if not, it’s kind of time to move on unless you live in Miami) Dwyane Wade has exactly what you need — he is releasing a new documentary about the Heat’s title run. He will be posting the short film on his Web site next week, with a sneak peak coming out this week.

“I think it’s going to give people a different perspective on what it all meant to me,” Wade said.

• The Portland Trail Blazers became the first NBA team to officially come out in support of marriage equality (allowing gays and lesbians to marry). Why? There is constitutional amendment to support gay marriage coming up on the Oregon ballot, for one. This is the official Trail Blazers statement.

“The Portland Trail Blazers are in support of the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection ballot initiative. We do so as believers in individual choice as a fundamental right of all people.”

If you’re looking for another reason, this is just smart business. The fact is the NBA’s demographic skews younger — and countless polls have shown younger generations are far more supportive of marriage equality. The NBA’s demographic also skews urban, another generally strong base of support for gay marriage.

• Former NBA player Joe C. Meriweather has passed away at the age of 59. In a 10-year NBA career he played for the Rockets, Hawks, Jazz, Knicks, and the Kansas City Kings. He may be best remembered as the women’s basketball at Park University in Missouri.

• You know the new Tom Hanks movie “Captain Phillips?” The Nets assistant head of security was a former FBI Counter Terrorism Unit guy who was one of the men who helped rescue the real Captain Phillips.

• A fantastic look at how the Grizzlies need a little more flow in their grit and grind.

• Andrea Bargnani has become a dividing line in New York on the love it/hate it trade lines. This is as good a breakdown of the arguments as you’re going to find, well done Knickerblogger. Based on watching him in the past, by next spring I expect almost every Knick fan will be in the hate it camp.

• Andrew Bynum showed up to Cavaliers practice. He didn’t actually do anything but sit there with ice on his knees, but he showed up.

• Guy who has quietly had a really good preseason? Omri Caspi with the Houston Rockets, as kind of a stretch four to balance out Dwight Howard. It’s just preseason but it’s something to watch.

• Kyrie Irving expects his assist numbers to go up this year. Which mostly means he need Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and the rest of the guys to hit a few more shots.

• With Trey Burke out, expect Alec Burks to get some starts at point guard in Utah, especially if Ty Corbin likes the matchup.

• Dallas rookie Ricky Ledo sprained his right ankle in practice on Tuesday and is out for their preseason game Wednesday.

• The Pelicans Jason Smith has been battling a sore hip and has missed practices because of it.

• Sebastian Telfair signed in China.

• The NBA and Yao Ming have partnered to open a school in China.

• The agent for Tim Duncan and Jeremy Lin has launched a new sports agency.

Ten free agents still out on the market

Chicago Bulls shooting guard Hamilton questions a call against the Charlotte Bobcats during the first half of their NBA basketball game in Charlotte

At this point, the free agent cupboard is pretty bare, and a number of teams have filled out their rosters anyway. Let’s just be honest — if you’re still on the free agent market there is a reason.

Still, there are a few teams still looking to add player 14/15 to the roster off minimum contracts… and there are still some guys whose names you know who do not have an NBA deal yet. Which makes us all want to play matchmaker, even when we shouldn’t (we remember the version of the guy from four years ago too often, not the reality of his play now).

Here are 10 guys who you know still looking for an NBA deal:

1. Richard Hamilton. Let’s be kind here and say Rip is not exactly at the peak of his powers anymore (he shot 42.9 percent last season and is not a strong threat from three). But he still got 9.8 points a game for the Bulls when healthy. As a veteran off the bench who would play limited minutes and has championship experience you could do worse.

2. Sebastian Telfair. He’s just 28 and is still kind of the player he always was — solid defender, not a great finisher in the paint, decent shooter from the midrange, not a special playmaker — but as a third guard in the rotation he could be a solid fit somewhere (interest from the Heat and Knicks faded).

3. Stephen Jackson. At age 35 we are seeing his skills fade (he shot 37.3 percent last season and had a PER of 8) and he couldn’t get along with Gregg Popovich. He’s had a couple bad endings with teams, which hurts his stock as much if not more than his play.

4. Marquis Daniels. What he brings is solid defense on the perimeter to the table. Not much on offense, but if you could use a defender off the bench you could do worse.

5. Dahntay Jones. He was a solid “3 and D” guy a couple seasons back but last season he shot just 22.4 percent from beyond the arc. At age 33, was that a fluke or just the way things are trending with him? Still he can defend and there are teams that could use that.

6. Shavlik Randolph. Only got in 16 games for the Celtics last season, but didn’t look too bad when he did (he shot 58.3 percent). You could do worse for a reserve big off the end of bench.

7. A.J. Price. The Wizards played him a lot last season (he started 22 games) because they had to, and he showed he’s not great at running a team. But he wasn’t a disaster (PER 12.4) and could fill a role if you brought him off the bench in a limited role.

8. Josh Howard. The question here is simply one of health — he has not played in more than 43 games (during the lockout season for the Jazz) in the past four seasons. With that his efficiency has dropped as well. Do you think he’s right now?

9. Tyrus Thomas. Has the former No. 4 pick fallen this far? That nobody is willing any longer to take a chance on his potential? Looks that way.

10. Cole Aldrich. He could barely get off the bench with the Thunder, then last season bounced between the Rockets and Kings without making many waves. Still, he has legit center size and is just 25, so he could get an end of the bench deal.