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Loud Links: Oklahoma City Thunder News for June 30, 2009

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I’m 4D, this is Loud Links, your daily run down of Thunder related goodness. At the close of the day the free agency frenzy will begin. What should Thunder fans expect? Marcin Gortat, Ben Gordon, Anderson Varejao, and Paul Millsap are a few names that are being mentioned as potential recruits of the Thunder. Here is a name that I’ll think we will sign: Desmond Mason. That is right; Mason’s contract expires tonight. Personally, I’m not a big fan of his game, but he does bring some veteran experience and leadership to the Thunder's budding young roster.

Also expect Chucky Atkins to be waived or traded. Next year Atkins contract will be worth $3.4M, but only 760k of that is guaranteed. As a trading piece Atkins could be an interesting asset. He could be traded to a team that needs cap relief, then waived by that team for an instant $2.6M worth of cap space savings. Even more if the OKC-bound player’s contract is over $3.4M. Could Orlando send Pietrus to OKC to free up space to try to resign Turkoglu and Gortat? Probably not, but that would be a quick way for them to save $4.5M. Anyway, enough speculation we have links to be read…

Thunder: Don’t Give The Money To Ben Gordon | Dime Magazine
That’d be a mistake. OKC has built one through three through the draft. They have solid role players behind those guys in Thabo Sefolosha, Kyle Weaver, Earl Watson, and Damien Wilkins. There’s no need to create a traffic jam for Harden to get on the court. The Thunder’s money would be much better spent on Paul Millsap, who they’re supposedly ready to offer a five-year, $65 million sheet. The 24-year old power forward takes this roster one step further, solidifying them one through four. It might force Austin’s boy Jeff Green to come off the bench, presuming that Harden is ready to start from day one.

Chad Ford: Who's going to be spending money? - ESPN Insider
Given a projected $58.7 million cap, the Thunder could have roughly $13-14 million in cap space this summer, depending on what they do with Chucky Atkins.

How To Save Money, Part 2: - Chicago Bulls Confidential
Chucky Atkins (Oklahoma City Thunder): $760,000 of $3,480,000 guaranteed, no guarantee date.

Free-agent fits: Bucher's top 20 - ESPN Insider
Anderson Varejao, PF/C, Cavaliers - His game: Defensive stopper on the post, clever moving without the ball, chasing loose balls and rebounds for extra possessions, excellent help defender in every way except as a shot-blocker. Deceptively agile and athletic. Finishes well around the rim in traffic. Jump shot is improving but still unreliable. - Right system: Defensive-oriented with four offensive threats around him, leaving him free to score off putbacks and backdoor cuts. Drive-and-kick in which he's the big rolling to the basket. - Wrong system: Post-player-dominated offense or scheme based on pick-and-rolls in which he's not involved. Those frameworks eliminate his cuts off the ball for baskets or chances for putbacks. - Best fits: Cavaliers, Celtics, Hawks, Bulls, Nuggets, Thunder, Suns " 2009 Western Conference Draft Review
The only reason I have a problem their draft is because they passed on Rubio. I don’t care if Russell Westbrook would be upset (lets be clear on this, Russell Westbrook is NOT a point guard). You have an amazing young core of athletes, and you’re going to bet on Westbrook developing point guard skills instead of drafting the prodigy point guard whose passing evokes comparisons to Maravich and Magic? I can’t be too mad though, because I think Harden fits really well there, and adds another nice piece to their core. Mullens is also a good pick at 24. He’s a longshot, but this is a guy who would’ve been a top 5 pick out of high school and has outrageous physical tools. In a draft that really only had 2 legit center prospects, the Thunder needed a center and got one of them. He may be a flop, but in a draft this weak, a talent like Mullens is certainly worth the risk.

Durant hosts basketball camp in Oklahoma City -
The Oklahoma City Thunder star opened the three-day camp Monday at Heritage Hall High School. About 350 boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 14 are participating in the camp, which was formerly hosted by All-Star point guard Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets.

Nuggets, Rockets also earn kudos for draft-day moves -
The Oklahoma City Thunder were among the winners last week when they swapped the rights to their first-round pick, guard Rodrigue Beaubois, and a future second-round pick to the Dallas Mavericks for 7-foot center B.J. Mullens. The former Ohio State Buckeye will give the Thunder the solid post player they have lacked.

Emerging face of a franchise |
He wasn’t perfect last season, turning the ball over too much, but he was a rookie point guard. There are very few newbies who can come into the NBA and play point guard like a veteran. Chris Paul had about as good a rookie season as any point guard could, and still, Oklahoma City fans know CP3 had his struggles. But he improved throughout the season.

Durant seeks Longhorns help as he tries to beef up -
Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant says the two-hour workouts he's been doing on his old college campus this summer are strenuous enough that he sweats through his entire uniform by the time he's done. For the former Rookie of the Year who's trying to shake his resemblance to a stick figure, Durant says its exactly what he needs. Durant finished last season as the NBA's sixth-leading scorer, but wanted to come back as a stronger player. He's been taking a summer school class at the University of Texas this summer and working out with the Longhorns players when he can.

Questions after the NBA Draft remain | - A Basketball Fans Dream
James Harden was not only one of the best talents available, but fits well into the Thunder’s plan. The pick solidifies Russell Westbrook as their Point Guard of the future and gives them a solid scoring punch at the Shooting Guard position. Harden is one of the more NBA-ready prospects, and will be able to contribute immediately. The lefty can shoot well, uses his solid frame to rebound and has been praised for his highly unselfish game and ability to feel out the game. This again fits well for the Thunder, who have a lot of options in Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Westbrook.

Rankings of NBA free-agent destinations - Steve Aschburner -
Oklahoma City: The talent on the roster, and the brainpower in the front office have lots of admirers, and the Ford Center fans can be among the league's most active and loud. But there's no cachet to being the first franchise in, at the big league level, and the Thunder will need to win soon to convince young players to stay or come aboard.

Onward and upward: Looking towards free agency | Daily
Oklahoma City doesn’t really need a big name player. The keys to the car have been turned over to Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook and now James Harden. While a Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsap would obviously help right now, signing one of those two could set you back for your long term plans. You’ve got to let your existing parts develop and turn into your breadwinners. One bad free agent signing where you overpay for a player because he had a good postseason can set your franchise back years or leave you scrambling to dump the salary (see: Elton Brand, Philadelphia 76ers). It can decimate your cap room and handcuff you from making solid trades that improve your team. It turns you from a buyer to a seller, even if you’re in the playoff hunt (also see: New Orleans Hornets). And I just don’t think that’s Presti’s way. Maybe it is and maybe he’s got an offer sheet all filled out for Paul Millsap, but I’m just not so sure.

Chris Sheridan: Dead money and cap ballast - ESPN
Nick Collison ($6.25 million against Oklahoma City's cap) - Collison also is on the books for $6.75 million in 2010-11, meaning he'll earn nearly as much money in the next two seasons as Kevin Durant will have earned over the first three seasons of the rookie contract he currently is playing under. The good news for the Thunder: Earl Watson's $6.6 million salary comes off the books next summer, and Collision will come off the cap a year later when Clay Bennett and his partners have to start digging deep to pay veteran money to Durant, Jeff Green and then Russell Westbrook and James Harden. (Another positive note for OKC fans: The Thunder own Phoenix's unprotected 2010 draft pick, which means they could have two lottery picks next June.)


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