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Loud Links: Oklahoma City Thunder News for July 15, 2009


4D back with more Loud Links. There is more coverage of the Las Vegas Summer League games. After stumbling with the Grizzlies on Sunday, James Harden has bounce back performance against the Lakers last night. examines the lack of true centers in the NBA, and how Byron Mullens fits into that equation. As discusses some NBA contract incentives Nick Collison is mentioned. Lamar Odom and the Lakers talks are falling apart. Where do you think the Candy Man will land?

THUNDER: Thunder Summer League Notebook
As active as Mullens was on the offensive end with his 10-point performance in Tuesday’s loss to the L.A. Lakers, the 7-0 rookie made it a priority to protect the rim on the defensive end. Mullens recorded five blocked shots on Tuesday to go with five rebounds, three that came on the offensive end. Mullens was often seen talking to fellow rookie Harden during breaks. Harden likes what he’s seen from the big man. "He did a great job," Harden said. "He’s a great athletic big man. Running the floor, finishing around the basket, getting rebounds, which is something he’s getting better at. And like I said, he’s still young, so he has a lot of room to grow."

THUNDER: Live From Vegas: Thunder All Business
The team is staying off the Las Vegas Strip at a hotel without a casino in the lobby. Game days include a morning shoot-around that’s more like a practice. And if there’s no games, there’s a guaranteed practice. "It's definitely demanding," guard Shaun Livingston said. "There’s no B.S. here with the coaching staff and what the organization expects out of us, so I think they’re getting their point across." "The expectations are high but it’s for a reason," Livingston said. "Our circumstances are different than a lot of teams. It’s a new beginning in Oklahoma, there’s a rebuilding process and it’s really about developing. It’s going to be important to catch these guys up with where our other guys are."

SLAM ONLINE | " NBA Summer League: Day 5 Recap
– Shaun Livingston really looks like he’s getting it back. He’s moving much better on the defensive end, and still has the same court vision that he always had. – The Thunder sub out D.J. White and B.J. Mullens, only to bring in two big men just as athletic: Serge Ibaka and Devon Hardin. – There is a dude dressed in a half red, half royal blue Clippers suit. We’re talking matching blazer and pants. He just screamed "U-G-L-Y, you ain’t got no alibi, you ugly!" at Adam Morrison at the top of his lungs.

L.A. Lakers retract offer to Lamar Odom |
Lakers public relations director John Black said the team had taken the offer off the table in the past two days. "There are specifics behind why we pulled it, but that's not something we're going to get into," Black said. According to the Los Angeles Times, Lakers owner Jerry Buss had offered Odom two deals. One was worth $36 million for four years and the other was for $10 million a season for three years.

Byron Mullens and the death of the big man | Daily - Where Thunder Happens
But don’t just blame B.J. Byron Nelson James Mullens. Because by all appearances the true center is dying, one seven-footer at a time or as Clark Matthews put it in an email, "The center position should be on the endangered species list next to albino otters." It’s a basketball epidemic. Or I guess maybe it’s just an evolution in the game. Who knows? We’re seeing more and more Amare’s, Mehmet Okur’s and David Lee’s and less Shaq’s, Al Jefferson’s and Yao Ming’s. Heck, look at guys like Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Nenad Krstic. They’re seven-feet tall but they prefer the pick and pop instead of the post and score. In Mullens’ defense, he is uniquely gifted for a guy that size. He has nice touch on his jumper and he’s absurdly athletic for his size. He’s not some stiff that just takes up space. He really has the skills of a jumpshooting power forward. But combine that with at least a mediocre post game and match him up against slower, less athletic guys of similar size and wouldn’t he be a matchup nightmare? Well, that’s just what common sense says.

James Harden bounces back |
"You don’t want to go back and say you should have done this or you should have done that," Harden said. "But I didn’t play as good as I wanted to. And Coach did the right thing taking me out. So I wanted to bring the right energy and intensity that my team needed (Tuesday), and I think I did that."

NJ Nets: A closer look at contract incentives -
Some incentives are bizarre. Consider Nick Collison of the Thunder -- nice player, probably worthy of anybody's power rotation. He gets $100,000 if he wins -- wait for it -- MVP. MVP? If he wins MVP, someone ought to anoint him king.

THUNDER: Building the Thunder’s Summer League Infrastructure
It's about constructing a roster full of players who fit both a need and a mold. Its about booking a hotel, arranging for transportation and making sure every player has a plane ticket to their proper destination. It's about watching as many games as possible to get a feel for where nearly every player in the league stands, all the while keeping dibs on your own team.

The Vista - Harden signs with Thunder
Although the full terms of the deal were not initially disclosed, Sports Illustrated reports that Harden, the third overall pick, can earn up to $4 million this season. James Harden played for Arizona State. Harden was first-team All-American and the Pac-10 player of the year award winner last season. He averaged over 20 points a game, 5.6 rebounds a game and 4.2 assists last year. Hoops Hype reports the deal to be $4,000,160 for his rookie season and $4,304,520 next season. Then the team has the option of paying Harden $4,604,760 during the 2011-2012 season. They can also choose to fork over $5,820,416 for the 2012-2013 season.

NBA Summer League: Day 5 |
Points off turnovers (5 to’s in 5 minutes) hurt the Thunder badly to start the second half with the Lakers going on a 11-2 run to take a 5 point lead. Harden then calmed his team down with a much needed three point play and 2 three’s from the left wing. The Thunder remarkably went on a 16-6 run themselves to go up 5 after three quarters.

OKC's Livingston Trying to Make It All the Way Back -- NBA FanHouse
He remains 6-foot-7 with superior ball-handling and distributing skills, yet Livingston seeks a job in the NBA despite lacking the explosion of three years ago. "It's good, just taking my time to getting back," he said following OKC's 74-68 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. "It's really about just playing for my knee, my situation's different. Obviously after six years, I wouldn't be playing summer league. But after injuries and everything else, I'm getting back into the flow and getting ready for the season."


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July 2009

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