Probably the Thunder's two biggest question marks heading into draft day.
I know J.A. Sherman covers the Loud Links, but since it's Draft Day, I figured I'd step in and just do a quick roundup of all of the news that's been coming in over the past few hours.
"Brooks’ contract expires on Saturday, and he could immediately become a candidate for the Portland Trail Blazers , sources said. Thunder GM Sam Presti and Brooks’ agent, Warren LeGarie, have had conversations this week, but there is still a gap between the sides.
With an NBA Finals appearance and consecutive trips to the Western Conference finals, Brooks has been seeking a deal that elevates his pay among a higher tier of league coaches. Presti has repeatedly said the Thunder value Brooks as their coach and insists they want him to return."
-Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports
It's looking like the situation is growing more and more dire. Some might not be worried about this, but if the Thunder aren't careful, they could be going the way of George Shinn's Hornets, constantly making moves to cut salary and never remaining competitive for more than a year or two. Obviously losing Scott Brooks isn't in the same league as losing a guy like Alonzo Mourning, but the next two years will be a true test of Clay Bennett's pocketbook. Is he willing to pay for a championship team, or will be be stuck in small market hell?
Aside from pocketbook concerns, Brooks is a big asset to have. Not because he's a great coach or anything (I'd only say he's around top 15 or so), but because he's evolved with these players since the beginning, and kicking him out after a run of success might not sit well with or send a good message to the players.
"The Oklahoma City Thunder may end up moving the No. 28 pick, according to sources close to the situation. The Thunder have a short list of players that they’re interested in selecting with the pick. If those players are off the board when they go on the clock, there’s a good chance Oklahoma City will move the selection."
-Alex Kennedy, HoopsWorld
This news should be of surprise to no one. The Thunder don't really stash players for the heck of it. Heck, they made a draft day trade for the unheralded Ryan Reid once. If nothing else, it should tell you that they like what they like. IF they did end up moving Pick 28, they probably wouldn't be able to get much more than a future second, some long-forgotten foreign prospect, or cash considerations. Late first rounders aren't highly valued among GMs, since the talent is more iffy around that area of the draft, and any player selected has a guaranteed contract.
There's also news that the rumored moving up to #2 isn't going to happen, because the Thunder value Harden too much, and he's all Charlotte will take (aside from Durant or Westbrook) in order to move the pick.
"Wade's chronic left knee issues will require a procedure in the coming weeks that eliminated the Heat star from Olympic participation. The U.S. roster won't have Bulls' point guard Derrick Rose or Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, who are also recovering from surgeries. The U.S. national team begins preparation for the Olympics with training camp in Las Vegas beginning on July 5."
Well, I still have no doubts about Team USA being favored heading into the Olympics, since their roster is easily the most talented top to bottom, and losing Wade doesn't rob them of any particular skill set. But rumors are swirling that this will leave a roster spot open for James Harden, who will play along with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. That would make three Thunder players on Team USA's roster, and only two Heat players. Sorry, I had to say it.
The 2012 NBA Draft Starts at 6 PM CST on ESPN. Picking will commence at 6:30.