Posts Tagged ‘Darnell Mayberry’

Westbrook Returns Tonight For Thunder

VIDEO: The Starters discuss Russell Westbrook’s impending return

g

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Nerd alert!

That is, keep your eyes open for any Urkel lookalikes with a 40-inch vertical leap, a wardrobe swiped from Beau Brummell and a cockiness factor that goes straight through the roof.

Yes, Russell Westbrook is back.

The news was first tipped by Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, and then officially released by the Thunder: the All-Star guard will make his return to the lineup when the Thunder play host to the Suns tonight on NBA TV (7 p.m. Eastern).

It would be Westbrook’s first game since tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee on April 24 during a run-in with the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley in the first round of the playoffs.

Westbrook suffered a setback in his recovery and required a second surgery to repair a loose stitch in his knee on Oct. 1 and at the time it was believed he would miss at least the first month of the season.

But if you know anything about Westbrook, it’s that he doesn’t do anything at half-speed and his conditioning and rehab regimen have enabled him to pass all medical clearances by the team doctors.

Reggie Jackson has been starting at the point guard spot for the since the injury, but the Thunder are clearly not the Thunder without their 1-2 punch of Kevin Durant with Westbrook.

He’s been taking part in practices all week and his teammates told Mayberry that Westbrook has been impressive.

“He looks good,” Durant said this week. “I don’t know the timetables or what the doctors are saying, but he looks good to me. Russell put in a lot of work, so I expected him to look like this. So we’ll see when he gets back out there. We’re waiting for him.”

A world of nerds awaits, adjusting their glasses and primping their bow ties in high-flying anticipation.

Durant Has Earned The Right To Make His Own Free-Agency Decision




VIDEO: Durant burns Nuggets for 36 points in preseason

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The drum beat has already begun for Kevin Durant.

The endless line of questioning, the non-stop speculation and the outright rumors (and lies) about what he’s going to do as a free agent three summers from now is officially a part of our daily NBA conversation. I hate it for Durant and I hate for his Oklahoma City Thunder, whose organic quest for a championship has been one of the better storylines the league has seen in recent seasons.

“Small-market superstars dig in and battle the big-city superstars for supremacy.” It had the makings of great drama from the very start … Durant and Russell Westbrook — and James Harden and even Jeff Green at one time — joining forces in OKC to challenge the establishment.

But like all good things, the reality and the bottom-line nature of the business threatens to derail it completely. ESPN’s Jalen Rose has already fired the first shot, predicting that Rose will bolt for Houston and a seat alongside Harden and Dwight Howard on a championship quest those two stars are just starting.

“I think that after he plays out the couple years on his contract that he goes to Houston to play with Dwight Howard and James Harden,” Rose said in this clip on Grantland.com’s video YouTube channel.

That’s a bold statement indeed, and based on the recent history of stars like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Howard, one that should not be dismissed. The reality for all of these stars is that they will be faced with a similar stay-or-go dilemma at some point in their careers. And the entire drama will be played out in public, with a huge assist from social media.

I’m not nearly as convinced as Rose is about Durant bolting. Durant’s response to Rose’s claim in an interview with the Oklahoman‘s Darnell Mayberry should calm any immediate fears:

Q: Did you hear what Jalen Rose said about the Houston thing?
A: Yep.

Do you have any thoughts on that?
Nah, I’m here for the Thunder (laughs). I mean, that’s all I can say. I’m not thinking far down the line at all. It’s about today. Today we got better against the Chicago Bulls. I can’t tell the future. I can’t speak on that. That’s his opinion. I’m just going to keep playing for the Thunder. I love playing here.

People probably will continue to say that for the next three years.
Unfortunately.

How do you deal with that?
I mean, just let them know I’m not thinking that far down the line, I guess. I mean, I love my teammates. I love where I live. I love playing for this organization. So I’m just taking it a day at a time.

But whatever the three-time scoring champ decides to do, whatever choice he makes in free agency in the summer of 2016, he will have earned the right to make a decision of his own. He’s given the Thunder everything a city and its fan base could ever dream of, short of that Larry O’Brien trophy he is still pursuing.

If Durant decides in two years that he’d rather chase it elsewhere, so be it.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti lives with that reality daily. He knows that there are no guarantees in free agency, not even with a transcendent talent like Durant, whose loyalty to the Thunder has never wavered.

The doesn’t meant these next two seasons won’t be an absolute nightmare for Presti and his crew. That speculation that drives the day for so many will be magnified behind the walls of the Thunder’s headquarters. The way LeBron left Cleveland, Carmelo left Denver and Dwight left Orlando has forced every team to take stock of their situations a bit differently.

And unlike a hometown star like Chicago’s Derrick Rose, Durant’s roots in Oklahoma City don’t run deeper than the six seasons he’s spent with the franchise.

The Thunder also have to deal with the reality of their own situation. There have been some dents in the organization’s armor of late. When Westbrook suffered his knee injury during the 2013 playoffs, the entire world (and more importantly, the rest of the league) got a glimpse of just how vulnerable OKC can be when one of their big two is out.

That deep team that had home-court advantage in The Finals against the Heat two years ago is no more. They’re no longer viewed as that precious team on the rise. They are now a part of the very establishment they were challenging just three years ago.

The perception of what this team is and the reality of what this team is presents the dilemma for Durant that is no doubt coming. Fearless predictions or not, Durant will be a free agent in the foreseeable future. He and his representation, as well as the Thunder’s brain trust, need to be prepared to address it.

Whatever the final outcome, it is (and was) Durant’s decision to make. If he’s learned anything from his contemporaries and the way they handled their business, that should be at the forefront of his mind when we actually get closer to July of 2016. He has to own this decision!

Perkins Report: Thunder Close On Harden Deal?




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Might things be heating up between the Oklahoma City Thunder and their prized sixth man James Harden regarding negotiations for a contract extension?

That’s what Thunder center Kendrick Perkins told the Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry today after a speaking engagement in the city, stirring hopes that something could get done sooner rather than later:

Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, speaking following an appearance at a Thunder Fit event at a local middle school, said the two sides are “getting close” on a deal that would keep the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in Oklahoma City.

“We’re doing good. We’re making positive steps going forward,” Perkins said of the organization’s off-season. “We got coach (Scott) Brooks locked in. We got Serge (Ibaka) locked in. And we’re getting close with James, and we’re getting close to keeping our unit together. And we’re still hungry.”

(more…)

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 83) With Darnell Mayberry And John Schuhmann

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – LeBron James and the Miami Heat versus Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in The Finals is a matchup made in basketball heaven.

Too bad neither one of these superstars is interested in that narrative, because as far as drama goes, we could ask for much more in a postseason no one was sure would happen in November.

Whether they like it or not, the three-time MVP and the three-time scoring champ will be center stage for the next four to seven games. And they are front and center on Episode 83 of the Hang Time Podcast, as well, as we preview The Finals with Oklahoman Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry and NBA.com’s numbers guru John Schuhmann.

That’s not all we’ve got going on, though. In addition to examining the The Finals, we also spent a little time reflecting on the Dream Team and the impact they have on the global game born out of their Olympic experience 20 years ago. (Our very own Lang Whitaker, whose oral history of the Dream Team is in the July edition of GQ Magazine, spent months digging into the details about the greatest team ever assembled.)

Check out Episode 83 of the Hang Time Podcast with special guests, Darnell Mayberry and John Schuhmann. And don’t forget to tune into NBA TV’s “The Dream Team,” presented by Right Guard, Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET.

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our superproducer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


Batman Wears No. 6 In Miami!





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – LeBron James still has work to do to solidify his legacy. He still has to stare down his crunch-time demons in the fourth quarter of a season and have a potentially career-defining moment to chase away his haters. He still has to win a championship to shut us all up and to validate all the premature coronation that’s gone on since he was 16.

But there is one debate that needs to come to an end today: the notion that James is riding shotgun on Dwyane Wade‘s team needs an immediate obituary. It’s simply not the case, and never has been as far as we can tell.

Batman wears No. 6 in Miami, folks. And last night’s performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder is the latest statement to that point from James, who outdueled Kevin Durant in their second MVP showdown in the past two weeks (Durant won Round 1 in Oklahoma City 10 days ago) and made you forget that Wade and Chris Bosh were on his team as he went off on the Thunder.

The MVP race between James and Durant has a couple of weeks to go before we crown a winner (even though our main man Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman, and this week’s Hang Time Podcast, made his decision last night).

The MVP of the Heat is a race that ended months ago. This is a team that rises and falls on the shoulders of James. And it has been that way since the Heat fell to the Mavericks in The Finals last year.

If it’s ultimately his responsibility when they fail, why wouldn’t he be equally responsible when they succeed?

(more…)

Hang Time Podcast With Darnell Mayberry, Greg Anthony and Kevin Arnovitz

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We should apologize in advance for overloading your basketball senses with one of the most jam-packed Hang Time Podcasts of the season.

We tackle everything from Russell Westbrook‘s surge to the Thunder’s chances to win it all to the chances of Anthony Davis being an immediate factor in the NBA to what’s in store for Vinny Del Negro and the Los Angeles Clippers to why in the world one of our favorite analysts was rocking that “Elevator Ernie” Halloween costume on Fan Night last night on NBA TV.

You get all that and more on a loaded Hang Time Podcast featuring Oklahoman Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry, NBA TV and CBS analyst Greg Anthony (that’s him wearing the “Elevator Ernie” outfit below, courtesy of a bet he lost to Chris Webber) and ESPN.com’s Kevin Arnovitz.

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our superproducer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


What’s Next For Fisher?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For months, Derek Fisher‘s face and voice were all over the place.

The lockout, and whatever good or bad came of it, seemed to have Fisher’s fingerprints all over it. No one looked more measured or steadfast during the lockout and no one more relieved when it was finally over.

But now, just days after his stunning trade from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets and the news that the Rockets would buy out the remainder of his contract, Fisher is in limbo.

Fisher has been silent since the trade, the only statement from his camp coming from his spokesman Jamie Wior:

“After much discussion and expressing their desire to welcome Derek to their team this season as well as the 2012-2013 season, the Houston Rockets and Derek have negotiated a buyout.

“Derek’s desire to win a sixth championship is what drives him and will continue to drive him as he moves forward.  We thank the Rockets front office for their interest, time and their absolute professionalism.

“There will be no further comment this time.”

It’s understandable. Fisher probably needs a little time to process it all before deciding on his next move. He’s been through an exhausting nine months, dating to the Lakers’ playoff sweep at the hands of the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks last spring.

One thing that the new collective bargaining agreement makes clear, though, is that Fisher will not be re-signing with the Lakers. He can’t do that before July 1.

So chasing that sixth championship will have to be done elsewhere, with another contender. And two of the most obvious places where a veteran point guard with Fisher’s clutch-shooting ability might come in handy are the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat.

(more…)

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 63)

HANG TIME STUDIOS – Eight days of NBA action is all we needed to fire up the engines here at the hideout. Eight days of highlights, heroics and high drama.

And you know whenever there is NBA drama (good and/or bad) to be discussed, we do it on the Hang Time Podcast.

We rounded up a crew of experts to chop it up with us this week.

– Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman joined us to break down the Thunder and the latest drama surrounding Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

– Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated dove in during the Ricky Rubio festival, which included us trying to finally settle the debate as to who is really driving the Rubio bandwagon, while also dropping a little Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao knowledge on us.

– Tom Ziller of SBNation and Sactown Royalty  helped us close out the show with the latest on Demarcus Cousins and the Sacramento Kings and all the craziness that comes with that mess.

Eight days and we get all this and more. If you have any suggestions or topics you’d like to see us cover as the season rolls along, let us know in the comments or on Twitter.

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of NBA.com, as well as our super producer Micah Hart of NBA.com’s All Ball Blog.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Labor Talks: Time To Make A Move

– For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Don’t beat yourself up if you’re having a hard time keeping up. Most of us are in the same spot, trying to figure out who is for what as the clock ticks down to the league’s 5 p.m. ET Wednesday deadline for the players to either take or dismiss the league’s 50-50 proposal.

Some players are all for making a deal, as Kobe Bryant told Yahoo! Sports:

“We need for the two sides to get together again before Wednesday, because we’re too close to getting a deal done,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports. “We need to iron out the last system items and save this from spiraling into a nuclear winter.”

Some others are not. Some of the owners are for it and apparently, per ESPN.com‘s sources, some others are not. It’s high time someone made a move, the right move to get the 2011-12 season up and running.

But when the sides can’t come to a consensus within their own caucuses, it’s tough to see some sort of breakthrough if and when the sides come together again to try and hash out the final details of a new collective bargaining agreement.

With the union representatives from all 30 teams set to meet today in New York, in advance of Wednesday’s end-of-business deadline, plenty of observers are a little nervous about what type of movement could emerge from the gathering. The players have limited options at this point. They can take a vote on the proposal and decide to take the deal, bowing to the league’s “ultimatum,” as union president Derek Fisher called it over the weekend, and breathe life into a season and the NBA fan base. Or they can refuse to even consider it, as Fisher insisted in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s bargaining session, and push this affair into an even darker corner.

Fair or not, the players will own the next 36 hours of this mess.

(more…)

It’s All About Tyson Chandler Now

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It’s obvious that the Mavericks’ season would be all but over if Dirk Nowitzki had not fought through the effects of fever to play the role of Lazarus in Game 4.

It was also timely and significant that Jason Terry used that clutch fourth quarter to finally pull his “JET” persona out of the hangar for the first time in The Finals.

But if Dallas is going to keep fooling the experts, bamboozling the Heat and have a real chance of clawing out its first NBA championship, the series will likely rest in the hands of Tyson Chandler.

(more…)