In what has become a summer tradition, members of the Oklahoma City Thunder, old and new, will meet in L.A. next week to work off some of the summer rust.
However, with so much on the line this season, this summer session could become the most critical of any to date as it will be the first chance for possible unrestricted free agents Russell Westbrook and Paul George to take the court as teammates. Surprisingly enough, considering each players extensive international background, they have yet to suit up for the same US National team and have always been on opposite benches during All-Star week. Since the trade with Indiana on June 30th the two have taken a bit of time to get to know one another personally, but these practices will represent the first time they have laced ‘em up for the same team.
Obviously the same holds true for the rest of the returning Thunder as well as the other two new faces joining the team this summer, Raymond Felton and Patrick Patterson.
Steven Adams mentioned the Thunder’s summer workout with Stuff Sport’s Mark Hinton:
"I am actually joining him (George) after this in LA. I haven't met the guy but I'm excited to meet him. I'm more excited just to be going back and being with the Thunder – just working out every day, with the family vibe.
He (George) is obviously going to help us. He is going to be a good guy. If you are a good guy then everything else is easy."
Unlike the summer of 2015, Adam’s fellow ‘Stache Brother, Enes Kanter, restricted to travel in the US since the Turkish government revoked his passport, also plans on participating in drills with his new teammates. Kanter was a 19-year-old rookie the first time he played PG13 in a pick-up game in L.A. Enes had no idea who George, who according to Kanter was “dunking like crazy” the entire game, was but learned quickly enough the following season:
“When the league started I was like, ‘man this guy is good,’ I think it's gonna bring a lot of energy, excitement. I'm really excited he's joining our team.”
Kanter, who promised adding a 3-point shot to his already lethal post scoring repertoire during the off-season recently posted this video:
(Would someone in L.A. please explain to Enes that when his foot steps on the line, that 3-point shot becomes a long 2-point shot and that he isn’t included in trade rumors from any shortfalls offensively.)
It is unknown at this time if Terrance Ferguson, the Thunder’s #21 pick in the 2017 NBA Rookie Draft, will attend, but since the workouts are voluntary, any FIBA issues that prevented signing his rookie contract and participating in Summer League shouldn’t be an obstacle.
More on who will take part as that information becomes available, but with the start of training camp just a couple of months away, it is hard to imagine any Thunder player, or head coach for that matter, not wanting to attend this all important first step in team building.