Yo, fine readers of Welcome to Loud City!
I know that the Summer is generally a time of hibernation for basketball fans, but, as the saying goes, basketball never stops. There will be the usual draft evaluation, coverage of free agency, and post-season recapping. And, of course, we will have coverage previewing next season.
But the Summer holds so much more then that! Below, you can find a handy guide to all of the Thunder related events going on this Summer.
Scott Brooks' Contract Expires
Saturday, June 30th
As of the time of writing, it's looking like Scott Brooks and the Thunder are far apart in their negotiations. The Thunder have offered something to the tune of 4 million a year for four years, but Brooks wants money compared to the league's best coaches. If Brooks doesn't get a new contract extension signed by tomorrow, he will be a coaching free agent, and some say that the Trail Blazers will be interested in his services.
2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Monday, July 2nd-Thursday, July 5th
No Thunder players will be participating in this event, but two of the three winners of this tournament will be in Team USA's group come Olympic time. It's worth watching because there's some pretty good teams in the tournament that fell on hard times during qualifications, like Greece, Russia, Lithuania, Puerto Rico, and Angola. Also, a player the Thunder have been interested in signing for next season, Andrey Vorontsevich, will be participating for Russia.
All Games will be streamed worldwide on FIBATV.com.
Orlando Summer League
Monday, July 9th-Friday, July 13th
The Thunder will be fielding a team, most likely consisting of Perry Jones III, some of the Thunder's younger players, some 66ers who shined last year, a few undrafted rookies, and possibly one or two foreign assets. The games aren't terribly exciting to watch, but they're fun viewing for basketball die hards that just can't get enough. We'll have a full preview of the event when rosters are released during the weekend.
All games will be on NBATV.
Thunder Schedule (CST): July 9th at Noon vs. Boston, July 10th at Noon vs. Indiana, July 11th at Noon vs. Detroit, July 12th at Noon vs. Brooklyn, July 13th at 7 AM vs. Utah.
Begins July 11th
The Thunder aren't facing a lot of free agency-related questions this year, but at least one player will be leaving the roster. By picking Perry Jones III in the first round, the Thunder have given him a contract, and essentially nixed a spot for one of the Thunder's three free agents this summer. Those players are Nazr Mohammed, Derek Fisher, and Royal Ivey. The Thunder are also reportedly interested in Russian big man Andrey Vorontsevich, possibly leaving only one roster spot open for the trio of Fisher, Mohammed, and Ivey. Plus, with the looming doom of Harden and Ibaka coming off of contract next season and demanding max salaries, Sam Presti could have a few cap-saving moves in the mix. All Free Agency happenings will be covered on WTLC.
Below: Team USA Exhibitions, The Olympics, Next Season!
Team USA Exhibitions
July 12th-July 24th
As you might know, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden are all vying for spots on Team USA's roster. How they perform at these games will most likely determine who gets on the team and who doesn't. That being said, Westbrook and Durant are shoo-ins, and James Harden is a big maybe, though his cause was helped by Dwayne Wade pulling out of the team due to injury. The exhibitions will be against some of the world's best teams, and will conclude with a epic game against Spain, who will most likely feature Serge Ibaka. Spain will also be playing in exhibitions during this time as well, and we'll do our best to keep you updated.
All Games (besides the Argentina matchup) will be on ESPN.
Team USA Exhibitions (CST): July 12th at 8 PM vs. Dominican Republic, July 16th at 7 PM vs. Brazil, July 19th at 1:10 PM vs. Great Britain, July 22nd at 3:30 PM vs. Argentina, July 24th at 4:30 PM vs. Spain.
July 28th-August 12th
The big event. Team USA looks to reclaim the gold medal while the international basketball community fields some of its' best teams ever. Gone are the days where teams from the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia were the greatest challenges to team USA rule. Now some of the most heavily favored teams come from Western Europe, with Spain and France packing star-studded rosters. Latin America looks to pose quite a challenge as well, with Brazil and Argentina sporting NBA veterans. There will definitely be full coverage and a preview of the event later on.
Some games will be on KFOR (NBC) and all will be streamed at NBCOlympics.com.
Team USA Schedule (CST): July 29th at 8:30 AM vs. France, July 31st at 4:15 PM vs. Tunisia, August 2nd at 4:15 PM vs. TBD1, August 4th at 8:30 AM vs. TBD2, August 6th at 4:15 PM vs. Argentina. Playoff Games TBD based on Team USA's position.
NBA Schedule Releases
There's no labor negotiations this year, so the season will start on schedule. During Mid-August is when we should be able to salivate over our schedule, and start planning our winter nights.
Some time in October. Let the Thunder festivities commence once again!