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Loud Links 10/21/10

Ah, it's cold and crisp outside. Smells like basketball season.

As the preseason wraps up and we get closer to our opening date with the Chicago Bulls, the Thunder hype machine in the sports media starts to shift into high gear.

I'm not sure if that is a good or a bad thing for the Thunder, but I do know one thing...

It gives me plenty to talk about, and that makes me happy.



Is Jeff Green worthy of an extension? - from Sports Illustrated
At first glance, this seems innocuous, and valid. Of course the Thunder and general manager Sam Presti should sign Green to a reasonable extension before he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. He’s one-third of the core group that has the Thunder positioned as perhaps the most exciting young team in the NBA.

 
But it’s not that simple. Durant is already on the books with a deal that kicks in next season and averages about $16.5 million per season through 2015-2016, according to ShamSports. Westbrook could become a free agent after the 2011-12 season, and you’d have to imagine he’ll demand an extension averaging at least $12 million per season — provided the next collective bargaining agreement looks something like this one. That’s nearly $30 million for two players...

For those of you unfamiliar, Zach Lowe's "The Point Forward" is a new daily blog-like feature over at SI.com, starting earlier this month.

I'll say to anyone who would listen, Green is a great guy, however he is also what I believe to be the most easily replaceable of our big 3.  As talented as he is, he's kind of been a little like Desmond Mason: Popular, if slightly overrated.

Presti could do far worse than to offer up his low-cost, expiring contract to a team looking to lower their cap hit and get a fairly well rounded player in the process, possibly using the chance to bring in a journeyman big man under center, one with some experience to help spur along Aldrich's development.

An Oklahoma City Downtown Dilemma from Copper & Blue
Oklahoma City hockey is no stranger to scheduling conflicts. When Katrina hit New Orleans hard, Oklahoma City adopted the team for a brief time causing the OKC Blazers of the Central Hockey League to share time with the new kid in town. Looking back, it seemed to work fine. No one ever questioned the priority the Hornets would take over the minor league hockey team in town. As a fan, I saw the marlin devour the minnow. In 2008 the fumbling Seattle Supersonics relocated to Oklahoma City, and I knew that the minnow was about to be devoured by the shark.

Neal Livingston over at the Edmonton Oilers blog "Copper & Blue" wrote an excellent piece about problems he sees coming up as the Thunder now share downtown with the Oilers new AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons.

The big one on his list, parking, for me personally is not that big of a problem. Then again, I usually park in the big lot on the other side of I-40 from Bass Pro Shop, where parking is usually free, and hoof it up to the Ford Center.

However, one big event usually pushes Bricktown's parking capacity to the breaking point, and throw in those four dates where both the Thunder and Barons have big games...whoo, sounds messy.

My suggestion is to show up early. There is plenty to do in Bricktown if you arrive at 4-5 p.m. for a 7 p.m. tipoff (I myself am partial to a pre-game meal at Zios.) However, I would not be surprised to see someone announce a gameday shuttle service from other locations in the Metro.

I do not agree, however, that there will be a problem with law enforcement. Every Thunder game I've been to has been charged and exciting, but orderly. I doubt throwing 6,000 hockey fans in the mix would make the OCPD implode on itself.

Oklahoma City's love affair with the Thunder - from newsok.com
To this day, members of last year's Thunder roster struggle to explain how they felt after Game 6, when their magical season ended abruptly with a 95-94 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Even more inexplicable is what happened roughly 30 seconds after the final horn sounded inside the Ford Center on April 30, 2010.

I know that it's been several months and this has been talked about before. However, I don't know of a single person watching that game who didn't get chills when, following a heartbreaking Game 6 loss, when over 18,000 people stood and cheered a losing team for everything they've done for the fans and the city. It was one of those sports events that people never forget.

I certainly won't.