Tag:Oklahoma City THunder
Posted on: November 15, 2011 1:14 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 1:14 pm
 

The biggest lockout loser could be Miami

Posted by Royce Young



With an NBA season hanging in the balance, thoughts are shifting to who has the most at stake right now. Who loses the most without a season? Players? Owners? Fans? Teams?

All of the above, really. But in terms of dollars and cents, Miami loses the most. Not the Heat though -- the city.

According to CBS Miami, the city will lose some $200 million without an NBA season. Parking next to the arena is currently going for just $3. A nearby Buffalo Wild Wings has already seen its sales drop dramatically from last year.

It shouldn't be surprising though. When a $4 billion business disappears, things are affected. A report from Cleveland says the NBA accounts for 35 percent of annual downtown restaraunt revenue. Estimated losses for Portland are $59 million. For Oklahoma City, $60 million. For San Antonio, $90 million.

Some cities like Memphis have considered filing a class action suit against the league because taxpayer funds were used to build a new arena that now is sitting empty.

We all know that a season without the NBA greatly changes things for a lot of people. We've all heard players pretend to apologize to arena workers about it. We've all heard David Stern pretend to call this a tragedy. People are hurt by this. Cities are being damaged. Maybe it's irresponsible for businesses and cities to put so many eggs into the NBA basket, but it's just the way it is.

I live in Oklahoma City. And the overhaul the city has seen in the three years the Thunder have been here is incredible. But right now, a newly renovated arena is sitting there with new outdoor video boards and a brand new grand entrance that nobody is using. And the city is not only paying for that still, but not reaping any of the rewards that were promised to it because of a team.

Projections in OKC early on said the city would add an extra $50 million to the economy with an NBA franchise. But that number is around $60 million now and growing. People wanted an NBA team here regardless, but to that casual person, the promise of an economical boost was enough to vote yes on a new tax to get a team. And now citizens are getting absolutely no return on their investment.

Everyone is losing. Everyone. Except the lawyers. They're winning big.

Via The Post Game
Posted on: November 7, 2011 8:29 pm
Edited on: November 7, 2011 9:58 pm
 

Frustrated players circle Wednesday on calendar

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Basketball games are supposed to provide both joy and despair, but usually there’s no difficulty in delineating: Just look at the final score and take a glance at both benches. The body language and facial expressions will tell a familiar story.

Things weren’t so cut-and-dry at the University of Portland on Sunday night, and not just because the college’s Chiles Center was playing host to a charity game in which tears wouldn’t be shed by the winners or losers because the result had no consequence.  Instead, every player present -- from 8-figure per year stars to unrestricted free agents, from rookie contract youngsters to a D-Leaguer who has never played a minute in the NBA -- carried both joy and despair.

That’s what happens when a for-the-fans charity game sells out, packing thousands of die-hards into a college arena, with an ongoing labor impasse lurking like a thundercloud over the entire proceedings, threatening to wipe out the entire 2011-2012 NBA season and make this charity game the first time, and the last time, that Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jamal Crawford and others take the court in a city obsessed with professional basketball.

Sunday’s game came just 24 hours after NBA commissioner David Stern delivered a nationally-televised ultimatum to the NBA's players: Take the league’s offer, which isn’t particularly favorable, by Wednesday or prepare to immediately absorb the shock of a significantly worse offer. This, after rumors swirled last week of infighting among the National Basketball Players Association’s executive staff and reports surfaced about agents agitating in hopes of decertifying the union. The game itself went off without a hitch, fans left overwhelmingly happy, but the players struck a somber, frustrated tone as they took the court for warm-ups.

“It’s sickening,” said Durant, who is coming off of his rookie deal and set to earn $13.6 million in 2011-2012. “It’s sickening. Us players have sacrificed, gave up money, doing what we have to do. Now it’s on the owners. At this point it’s starting to get bad. We’ve done our thing. They’re trying to pressure us, back us into a corner and take a deal that’s not fair to us.”

Durant, the league’s scoring champion with guaranteed money coming to him from the Oklahoma City Thunder through 2015-2016, had more license for candor than anyone else in attendance. You didn't have too read too far between the lines, though, to sense a shared frustration among his peers.

“It sucks,” said Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, who was signed to a 5-year, full-midlevel deal in the summer of 2010. “It sucks. We’re in a bad position, the owners are in a bad position, the fans are in a worse position. Everybody wants to play basketball.”

So does that mean he is ready to vote on the league’s offer?

“I want to play basketball,” Matthews repeated, before admitting that he was dodging the question. “[I know] that’s not an answer, that’s just what I want to do.”

He later apologized directly to NBA fans.

"We are really, really sorry that there’s not an NBA season going on right now," Matthews, who stripped off his jersey after the game and gave it to a fan, said. "We want to [play]. We want it more than you guys do. We know that the NBA wouldn’t be the NBA without its fans. Just stick with us because we want this just as bad as anybody." 

31-year-old free agent guard Jamal Crawford, who could be in line for the last major pay day of his career,  wouldn’t say whether he was ready to vote or not but did say he felt that rumors of an NBPA leadership rift between executive director Billy Hunter and president Derek Fisher were off-base.

“I don't believe that,” Crawford said. “I'm not in every meeting but I don't believe that from what I've seen. This is my third [charity] game and everybody I've talked to is on the same page. I think [Derek] is doing a great job. He goes in there trying to negotiate in good faith and trying to get us the best deal.”

Crawford also wouldn’t lean one way or the other on the latest hot topic, the decertification of the union which could threaten to blow up the entire 2011-2012 season and take the labor fight to the courts, but Blazers guard Raymond Felton, who is entering the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2012, said it's an option that should be considered.

“No question [decertification should be a topic of conversation],” Felton said. “If something doesn’t get done, that’s something we definitely need to sit down and talk about.”

Felton agreed with Crawford that the reported NBPA rifts were a product of the slow pace of negotiations.

“When things aren’t getting done, you’re going to hear a lot of stuff,” he said. “All the guys that I’ve talked to, everyone just wants us to get the best deal.”

Free agent big man Jeff Pendergraph, now fully recovered after missing all of 2010-2011 due to a season-ending knee injury, said the reported rifts might be explained by the looming possibility of further game cancellations.

“It’s getting to be crunch time, people are getting nervous,” Pendergraph said. ”Everything is going to start coming up. Whenever there’s head-butting [in negotiations] there will be friction like this.”

"I think everybody is anxious to play,” added second-year Blazers forward Chris Johnson, a former D-League call-up, set to earn the minimum in 2011-2012. “Everybody wants to play, it’s unfortunate what’s going on… Hopefully they get a deal done. I feel like Derek Fisher and Billy are doing things for more than themselves, they are doing something for the future. That’s why I appreciate what they are doing."

Somewhat ironically, the only player who had absolutely nothing to say on the lockout subject was Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Blake.  It was reported by multiple outlets on Monday that Blake is pushing hard for a vote on the NBA’s current deal.

“I have no comments on that,” Blake, who signed a 4-year, $16 million deal last summer, said when asked a lockout question on Sunday.

“Nothing?” the reporter replied.

“I have no comments on that,” Blake repeated flatly.

With tip off of the charity game approaching, Durant sighed deeply when asked whether he knew when the lockout might finally be resolved.

“I wish I could tell you,” he said glumly. “As a union, we gave [up] that money, we went down on the BRI. We have a few system issues we’re trying to work out but it’s like [the owners are] not helping us at all.”

Crawford, as cool a player you’ll ever find with the ball in his hands, made it clear that he is starting to feel Stern’s deadline pressure.

“They put it out there,” he said. “It's going to be Wednesday, or whatever goes after that.”

Posted on: November 5, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 4:05 pm
 

The Biggest Game of the Night We're Missing: 11.5

Posted by Ben Golliverdurant-dirk

Saturday's NBA showcase event would have been a rematch of the Western Conference Finals: the defending champion Dallas Mavericks to a potential budding dynasty in the Oklahoma City Thunder

The major storylines that dominated an exciting but brief 5-game series back in May would remain. Could Kevin Durant shake free of Dallas' team defense and get back to his super-efficient scoring ways? Could Russell Westbrook keep things together down the stretch so as to maximize his supreme physical advantages? Could anyone concoct a strategy that would effectively slown down Dirk Nowitzki?

The big questions have to do with how many defections Big D would be dealing with? Would center Tyson Chandler, one of the most coveted free agents on this year's market, cash in to play elsewhere or would owner Mark Cuban pay up to keep him. Ditto for teeny-tiny J.J. Barea and trash-talker in chief DeShawn Stevenson. Then, there's Caron Bulter, who missed the entire playoff chase due to a knee injury, and would play a major role in shrinking the talent gap on the perimeter against the Thunder. Retaining him will also likely cost a pretty penny.

Oklahoma City, on the other hand, got most of its work done prior to free agency. Every key member of their rotation would be returning, no questions asked, and the star players fit well enough together that return trips to the Western Conference Finals seem almost inevitable. If Oklahoma City is the future, this game would boil down to serving as a first look at whether Dallas is still the present, or if their reign atop the West is already in the past.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 9:37 am
Edited on: November 1, 2011 9:38 am
 

Video: Kevin Durant goes to OSU for flag football

By Matt Moore

We told you late last night that Kevin Durant went out with some random folks and played flag football on the Oklahoma State campus. Which is kind of the most awesome thing ever. Now we have video of how the entire thing went down. Durant hit Twitter to say he was bored. A student said he needed a deep threat.

Durant asked "Can I play?"

The student asked "Can you catch?"

And Durant came. He saw. He conquered. Here's video talking to the student with more clips of Durant dominating. Check out the first sack-dodge and long bomb. 



"Probably the coolest moment of my life."

No Nike setup. No corporates sponsorship. Durant was bored, so he hung out with some folks and played flag football. When people say he's the best personality in the NBA, this is what they're talking about. 

Just so we're clear on this. We have no NBA games on opening night. And Kevin Durant is just hanging with some students playing flag football. You watching this, Clay Bennett? Do you see what you're missing? Do you?

/cries self to sleep 

Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:05 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:06 pm
 

Serge Ibaka signs with Real Madrid

Posted by Royce Young

Serge Ibaka really likes Spain. He started his professional career there, speaks the language fluently, became a citizen this summer and helped the team take gold at Eurobasket.

So if he was going to play anywhere overseas during the lockout, you could bet it would be Spain. And that's where he signed Tuesday as he inked a two-month contract with Real Madrid worth about $140,000 per month. The deal includes an option to return to the NBA earlier if the lockout ends.

Ibaka posted this on his website:

“I'm very proud to start being part of an historic club like Real Madrid. I'm thankful for this great opportunity as a person and as a player. I arrive with humility to try to learn from the coach and the teammates and, at the same time, with ambition to try to help the team win as many games as possible while I'm with the team. I'm excited to get to know the team's fans.”

What Real was after though is to sign Ibaka for the future, as they did with Rudy Fernandez. That’s extremely unlikely as Ibaka is very happy in Oklahoma City with the Thunder.

Real Madrid bolsters an already strong club that features Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Llull, Sergio Rodriguez and 2011 NBA draftees Nikola Mirotic and Ante Tomic.

Ibaka is set to leave for Madrid Tuesday evening after spending the last few weeks in Oklahoma City and Miami working out.

The Thunder have had only two players defect overseas during the lockout with Thabo Sefolosha signing in Turkey with Fenerbache and Byron Mullens signing for a short stint in Greece. Kevin Durant’s name was tossed around a bit during the summer but it’s not looking like he’s going anywhere. Durant set a deadline of Oct. 1 to make a decision to go overseas and since it’s Oct. 24 and he hasn’t signed anywhere, I think he’s staying put.

Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Does the league care about competitive balance?

Posted by Royce Young



The NBA wants you to believe something. We’re fighting for the little man. We’re sticking up for the small market team that can’t fend for itself.

That’s what Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver hammered home this week while basically announcing that the league is screwed right now.

“I know we’ve had lots of back and forth with people in this room, but we think that a team that spends $100 million on its payroll versus a team that spends $50 million is at a huge competitive advantage. It’s not a perfect one-to-one correlation, but there’s a huge competitive advantage that comes from the ability to spend more time. And there’s a reason we believe why the NFL has been so successful from a competitive standpoint with a hard cap and a reason that the NHL has been so successful from a competitive standpoint with their flex cap type system which has a hard, absolute cap at the top of the band.”

Before that, David Stern went on and on during his media blitz about how the Sacramento Kings are trying to live in a world where they spend $45 million to the Lakers $100 million. It isn’t fair. No way around it. It’s not. Historically, the trophies live in the big markets. Chicago, New York, Boston, Los Angeles — over the past 60 years, 36 championships were won by those cities (40 if you count the four won by the Minneapolis Lakers). Four cities accounted for 60 percent of the NBA’s champions since 1950. There’s never, ever been a precedent for competitive balance in the NBA. Never has the playing field been level.

And has the league grown? Has it succeeded? Yes and yes. Most would say the top of the mountain for the NBA was the 1990s with Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Or if not that, the 1980s with Magic’s Lakers battling Bird’s Celtics. Or if not that, maybe right now with the plethora of talent littered throughout the league.

This isn’t to say small markets haven’t ever won. There’s the Spurs, who have served as the beacon of hope for little guys. Except remember: When those boring Spurs were winning, that was kind of a dark time for the league. Scoring was down, ratings slipped and interest waned. That could’ve been because of a post-Jordan hangover, but the 2000s weren’t great for the league.

LaMarcus Aldridge, who plays in a small market, wouldn't speculate on what the league's real intentions are.

"If they're saying it, then hopefully they're trying to do it," he said after Sunday's charity game in Oklahoma City.

Which is kind of what you have to think with it. If they're saying it, then hopefully they really mean it.

But even with the league preaching that, I get the feeling it’s a red herring to divert attention away from the fact the owners are trying to squeeze the players out of a 20 percent (or so) paycut. It’s the owners’ version of “Let us play!” Preach fairness and tug at the heartstrings of small market fans to win support. All while reaching in the back pocket of the players. Preach parity and win public support. It’s a brilliant move. Maybe they mean it this time, but the league’s never really cared much for competitive balance, so why now? With proper revenue sharing, big market success often leads to more small market money. Or at least, more money and more success for the NBA. Which is what it’s really all about, right?

"I just want the fans to trust us and know that we're far from greedy," Chris Paul said following the charity game. "We just want a fair deal. We want to get out there and play more than anybody. But we understand that at the end of the day, we're the product. We're the reason the fans come and we just want a fair deal.”

The league though, says it wants to make life fair for a team like Paul's Hornets (which it happens to own, but nevermind that). The league wants to give equal opportunity to everybody not in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or Boston. Last season's champion Mavericks? They had a payroll upwards of $90 million. That would never happen in Sacramento, Minnesota or Oklahoma City, where all the stars gathered Sunday.

The Thunder have become a poster child for parity, the beacon of hope to every struggling small market franchise. Before them were the Spurs. Even playing against the system, both teams built a perennial contenders. Why? Brilliant management, shrewd financial discipline and a good amount of luck.

Luck? Yeah, don’t deny it. OKC's general manager Sam Presti’s done wonderful work in the draft, but let’s face it: He drafted No. 2, 4 and 3 in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In 2007, he snagged the fifth pick in Jeff Green. Kevin Durant fell in his lap after Portland whiffed on Greg Oden. Now to Presti’s credit — and you won’t find anyone that sings his praises louder and more often than me — he’s three-for-three. Where other general managers pick duds — Hasheem Thabeet, Oden, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo — Presti has taken players that not only fit well into his roster structure, but have develop-able talent.

The Thunder thrive on rookie contracts and high-value veteran. Why? Because it’s the cheapest labor there is. There’s no coincidence that on every “underpaid NBA stars” list the Thunder register three or four players. The question is though: What happens with Serge Ibaka and James Harden? After Durant and Westbrook see their paydays, will Clay Bennett have the pockets to keep Ibaka and Harden too? If the Thunder were in Los Angeles or New York, it would happen. Will it in OKC?

Once upon a time, Geoff Petrie was Mr. Genius in Sacramento when he was rolling with Chris Webber. Kevin McHale drafted Kevin Garnett in for the Wolves and built a playoff contender. Eventually the well runs dry. At some point, Tim Duncan’s going to retire. And the Spurs will either reload or have to go through some small market pains.

(The opposite example has been the Knicks over the past decade though. Tons of money, tons of spending and tons of futility. Money doesn’t always equal wins. Management does. The league is cyclical. Sometimes your team is good, sometimes it’s not. Do the big markets have an advantage? Sure. But does it always matter? Nope. Do I like asking myself questions? Sometimes.)

But it’s worked so far in Oklahoma City. It worked in San Antonio. Which is why some are quick to wonder why it can’t work in Sacramento, Minnesota or Milwaukee. Why? Because there aren’t 10 Tim Duncans. There aren’t 10 Kevin Durants. And there sure as hell aren’t 10 Sam Prestis or R.C. Bufords. It’s the world we live in — some people are better at things than others. And when you’re better, you see success. Are organizations like the Thunder, Spurs, Wolves and Bucks at a competitive disadvantage? Sure they are. But is it a death sentence for mediocrity? Absolutely not. History says it’s harder to win, but it’s not impossible.

History also says the league doesn't really care. The league always has and always will look to do what's best for it, and its owners as a collective whole. Henry Abbott of TrueHoop put it well: “Instead, the league asks us all to celebrate competitive balance—so long as the pain of creating it is felt primarily by the players. When owners could do something real to make the league more competitive, like change the playoff format or pay Chris Paul far more on the open market, they lose interest.”

What does the league want this upcoming season? An NBA Finals featuring the Celtics and Lakers or a competitively balanced Finals with the Bucks and Kings. I think we all know the answer to that. Don't sell me on looking on for the little man, because we all know what you're really after -- getting your checkbooks competitively balanced.

Posted on: October 16, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: October 16, 2011 6:44 pm
 

Video: Kevin Durant raps in a club

Posted by Royce Young

Note: Potentially bad words ahead. Though it's kind of hard to tell for sure.



Enough of Kevin Durant dropping 50-spots in pickup games. It's time for him to impress us some other way.

So how about grabbing the mic to bust out a little rap? Tell me how my Durantula taste.

Now of course this isn't the first time Durant's shown off his flow. As his alter ego, Velvet Hoop, Durant dropped some lines and showed off a little ability.

I have no idea what he's saying here, but he definitely has the presentation down. Mic cocked just right, using the off-hand to play up the crowd and saying words fast in rhythm.

And let me tell you who seems to be loving it: Russell Westbrook. See everyone! They're friends! (It's unconfirmed though whether or not Westbrook grabbed the mic from Durant later though.)
Posted on: October 11, 2011 1:10 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:20 pm
 

10 great games we're missing out on

Posted by Royce Young



There will be an NBA season. You can take that to the bank. Or to the grocery store. You can take it somewhere.

But what there won't be is a first two weeks of the season. Those are canceled. Ninety-nine games... gone. Which totally sucks, but that's just the reality. Blame who you want to blame, yell about it to your cab driver, write letters to your congressperson (that's what you're supposed to do, right?), but it doesn't matter. Until the players and owners -- very rich people, mind you -- can agree on how to split up some $4 billion in revenue, we won't be seeing basketball.

Two weeks could very well be the tip of the iceberg. Which would really suck. And what are we missing? Cover your eyes, diehards. It may be too much for you. Here are the 10 best games that vanished like a fart in the wind Monday night.

Bulls at Mavericks (Nov. 1)
Opening night in the NBA was going to be a real treat. It always is because we're all excited the NBA is back, but kicking things off with the Mavericks getting their rings and then taking on the MVP Derrick Rose and one of the East's best teams? Oh yes please.

 It was probably going to be a great game, but just the atmosphere in Dallas as the Mavs took one last victory lap around their trophy was going to be special. Granted, it'll happen eventually, but now it's tainted. It's just not the same anymore.

Thunder at Lakers (Nov. 1)
Wrapping up opening night was young versus old with a delicious matchup of Kevin Durant versus Kobe Bryant. The Thunder and Lakers quietly have a nice little rivalry going that started in the postseason two years ago, but stepped up a bit more when Oklahoma City acquired renowned Laker-hater Kendrick Perkins. Russell Westbrook always goes full tilt against the Lakers -- especially in L.A., where he's from -- and the game's are almost always good.

Plus, this was to be our official introduction to Metta World Peace.

Heat at Knicks (Nov. 2)
It's great that this old rivalry is back to meaning something, but holy starpower Batman. Carmelo. LeBron. Bosh. Amare. Wade. Chauncey. I don't really have to give you more reason as to why this one's a bummer to miss, right?

Magic at Heat (Nov. 3)
The Magic are a curious bunch. They could be good this season. They could be average. But whatever the case, they're going to be fired up to play their neighbor from South Beach. Dwight Howard always brings his best out in big games and I'm having visions of Orlando's awesome 3-point barrage comeback right now from last season.

Alas.

Mavericks at Spurs (Nov. 4)
Dirk and Tim Duncan -- how many more times will we get to see this matchup of titans? With both hitting the twilight of their careers, each time they square off, it's something precious to hold. Like the few sips of a Neapolitan shake from In-N-Out.

Thunder at Mavericks (Nov. 5)
The "REMATCH REVENGE RIVALRY" hook is a good one and definitely a top reason to be excited for this game, but it's also the type of matchup that almost guarantees a great game. Because here's the thing: If OKC blows out Dallas, Durant's giving you an awesome performance. If Dallas blows out OKC, Dirk probably dropped a ridiculously efficient line.

There would be flashbacks to their great Western Finals series and you know Russell Westbrook would be ready to try and stick it to his critics.

Hornets at Lakers (Nov. 6)

Remember how Chris Paul completely torched the Lakers in the opening round in last season's playoffs? Remember how he, and he alone, gave the Lakers a good scare?

He was probably going to do something like that again. Sad face.

Clippers at Bulls (Nov. 8)
Blake Griffin? Derrick Rose? Yeah, I like watching both of those guys play. What's that? I could've been watching them both play AT THE SAME TIME? Pretty much the NBA equivalent of having your cake and eating it too.

Spurs at Lakers (Nov. 9)
Time's running out for both these teams. Each year it feels like the Spurs will start to take a dip and then they win 60 games again. Same goes for the Lakers. These two franchises don't exactly like each other, which happens when you're always competing against the other for a trophy. Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich relish beating the Lakers and always bring their best to Staples.

Thunder at Bulls (Nov. 10)

You know how we're all talking about how the NBA's in such a good place right now, especially because of the young players who will inherit the spotlight? This is kind of the Super Bowl for that idea. Rose, Westbrook and Durant are three superstars under the age of 24 and all who have great attitudes and understand the game.

Plus, their teams are really, really good.

Too bad this game, or really, all of these 99, don't exist anymore. I'd take Timberwolves-Raptors 10 straight times at this point.
 
 
 
 
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