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Is Oklahoma City an NBA purgatory or a fine place for ballers to chill? Scoop Jackson investigates. - ESPN
[Scoop Jackson wrote a back-handed compliment about Oklahoma City. He goes out of his way to mention a farm and include a semi-offensive statement about our young ladies. Sorry Scoop, OKC doesn't have a large variety of hoochie mamas.] In the NBA, Oklahoma City is considered the abyss. It's the place where no player wants to be stuck. Nothing against OKC -- it used to be Sacremento, Vancouver, San Antonio and Milwaukee. Not only is the Thunder one of the least likely teams to get anyone in the 2010 free agent extravaganza which begins in July, but OKC is generally considered the last place on the NBA map any player would want to play. Not because of the organization or the fact it relocated from Seattle, but because, well, it's Oklahoma City.

Hardwood Paroxysm " The Quiet Life: How A Small Market Presents Positive Options
[In response to Scoops article, Hardwood Paroxysm explains why OKC can be good option for a NBA player.] OKC’s players hang out, a ton. Twitter is a fantastic way of proving this. I can tell you where Jeff Green, Kevin Durant, and Eric Maynor are about 65% of their day. You know why? Because if they’re not on my tube beating down the Bulls, they’re telling me where they are and tweeting at one another about where they’re going. There’s a camaraderie there which is notable, because you want your players to like hanging out with each other. Do you want your point guard talking to your power forward and getting to know him so they can work together? Or bump and grinding with Tila Tequila?

Meanwhile, OKC also makes it hard for them to get in trouble. I’m a big believer after what I will only refer to as my Hazed Early Twenties that an important step in becoming an adult is learning how to avoid putting yourself in bad situations. OKC does that by not providing as many opportunities for them to get in massive trouble. They’re on the road so it’s not like their lives are limited. And for living expenses? With the kind of money those guys make, they are kings in OKC. They can have anything they want and not make a dent in their income. Apartment in Manhattan going to do the same?

I’ve long believed that there’s something to like about everywhere, just as there is something to dislike. The number and weighted value of those things are what determine if you can live there or not. But with the Thunder, that effect is a boon. Maybe if those players value the things OKC doesn’t have so much they don’t want to play there, then those aren’t the kinds of players OKC wants at all.

Thunder notebook: Kevin Durant sits out practice |
Kevin Durant, fourth in the NBA in scoring, didn’t practice Friday. Slowed by a sprained ankle he suffered Monday night in Chicago, Durant is questionable for tonight’s game but probably will play, according to coach Scott Brooks. "We’ll see how he feels (Saturday), but he was feeling pretty good today," Brooks said.

Thunder dunking: No showboating allowed |
"It’s important that we keep everything simple," Brooks said. "The more flashy things happen, the more likely you’re going to not have success. That’s why we don’t throw a lot of lobs." Players have bought into Brooks’ belief.

When asked, three of the team’s best dunkers, Green, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, said they’re not eager to exhilarate the Ford Center with a fancy flush. For Westbrook, that means post-practice throw-downs that make media members drop their jaws and shake their heads could never escape the obscurity of the team’s training facility. A shame, really, because Westbrook routinely throws down dimes off the glass, high lob bounce passes to himself from three-quarters court and two-step windmills with the greatest of ease.

"You try a dunk in a game that you never tried before and you miss it, it can turn the game around," Westbrook said. "360s and stuff like that, the defender basically has got to give up. You got to feel comfortable. You can’t try stuff like that when somebody’s chasing you."

Eric Maynor’s emergence fills a big hole for Thunder |
Eric Maynor goes into every game with a four-item checklist, a short, simple summation of what coaches expect of him when his number is called. "Get guys shots. Take care of the basketball. Score when you need to. And defend," said Maynor, the rookie point guard who the Thunder acquired in a trade with Utah on Dec. 22.

So far, Maynor has made it all look easy. In eight games with Oklahoma City, Maynor has recorded 24 assists against six turnovers. Check and check. As the backup to starter Russell Westbrook, Maynor has averaged 5.5 points and one steal in 14.8 minutes. Add two more checks.

Coug of the Decade Round One: Basketball - CougCenter
Kyle Weaver - The best Cougar defensive player of the decade. Second on WSU's all-time list in assists, third in steals, seventh in blocks (!) and 12th in rebounds (!!). Is the only member of the Pac-10 to ever net over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 450 assists, 175 steals and 75 blocks in a career. More recently, he's been crowned the best player in the NBA.

Court Lessons: A Gun Free Zone |The Baseline - Sporting News
Westbrook is making (some) progress. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has shown marked improvement here in his second season, becoming a better point guard-he really hadn't been a point guard in college-by improving his decision-making, boosting his assists and cutting back on turnovers. "He's doing a great job of learning," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "There are some times he is going to have to be aggressive and look to score. He has scoring ability. But he is doing a great job of distributing the ball and getting everybody involved." Westbrook's shooting, however, has not improved. He is shooting 39.5 percent overall, and he still has a hard time finishing at the basket, where he shoots just 47.6 percent. (Tony Parker, by way of example, shoots 61.9 percent at the basket.) "I have been settling on too many jump shots lately," Westbrook said. "I have to get back to attacking the rim." Maybe, but he needs to finish at the rim, too.

John Rohde: Scott Brooks’ answers tell all |
Brooks never loses it, but he sure seemed to fight the urge following Wednesday night’s 97-92 loss to the New Orleans Hornets. The man doesn’t raise his voice or pound the podium. He never snaps and never gets sideways, like so many did on the slick drive home from the Ford Center after the game. The angrier Brooks gets, the shorter his answers become. And the shorter the answers, the more Brooks is protecting his players. Brooks shared several brief responses after his team’s loss to the Hornets. "We didn’t have it tonight." "They did a better job of executing in the fourth quarter." "Part of our growth in getting better is execution." "It’s just part of who were are and what we have to continue to do to get better." "I’m not ashamed that we lost to the Hornets, (but) I’m not happy." Brooks is right, there is no disgrace losing to New Orleans, a good team that got off to a bad start this season.

NJ Nets: Mail's In (Armageddon Edition) | New Jersey Nets - - New Jersey Nets Basketball -
Dave: Watching that OKC game, it struck me how stupid it was for the Nets to not bring Nenad Krstic back -- who would not want him for a back up or starting front line position? Especially if it does not cost you much and he wants to play for you?

Mo: Well, let’s not forget what was happening at the time of the offer sheet, Mo. Brook had just taken over the starting job, they were committed to finding out what Yi would do at the 4, and Curly would have been a $5.2M-per-year extravagence that a team drowning in red ink simply could not afford. But on paper, you’re obviously right: You never let a quality big get away, period.