Posts Tagged ‘Eric Maynor’

Wait … Kevin Durant Is How Tall?

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – As the Oklahoma City Thunder wrapped up morning shootaround a couple weeks ago in Dallas, Kevin Durant was asked about the one-legged fadeaway he borrowed from Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki and inserted into his own arsenal.

“I wanted to learn it because I’m 6-9 and Dirk used it so much on us in the playoffs and in the regular season,” Durant said.

Durant went on to talk about how if Dirk could master the shot then so could he, and with his length how difficult the shot is to block and this and that. But, I barely heard any of it as I fixated on the first part of his sentence. It bounced around in my brain like Durant splitting the lane with a dribble drive and finishing it off with a tomahawk jam.

“I wanted to learn it because I’m 6-9…

“…because I’m 6-9…”

“…6-9…”

Wait, Kevin Durant is 6-what?

“How tall is he?” OKC coach Scott Brooks said rhetorically. “Before or after a haircut?”

It says it right here in black-and-white in the Oklahoma City Thunder media guide. And it says it here and in all of the previous Oklahoma City Thunder game notes since Durant’s first game as a rookie with Seattle that he’s 6-feet, 9-inches. 

Lies.

There’s been players who measure darn close to 7-feet tall if not 7-feet tall that have preferred to go by 6-11. But 6-9? Please, it’s insulting.

“Probably 6-11,” said backup point guard Reggie Jackson, who is a legitimate 6-foot-3. “I don’t want to boost his ego too much. He’s not 6-9. I’ll say 6-10 1/2, in shorts.”

In shorts? Huh?

Reserve guard Eric Maynor was the only Thunder to peg Durant at 7-foot, then he looked over at 7-foot-3 center Hasheem Thabeet and said of Durant’s mysterious height, “7-3?”

“Six-10,” Thabeet said. “He’s not as tall as me.”

Center Kendrick Perkins looked over at Durant, who was listening to music through his headphones a few stalls down, smiled and said, “6-11,” which would put Durant an inch above Perk’s scowl when face-to-face.

Russell Westbrook agreed with Thabeet: 6-10.

So to review, we have Durant’s official height listed at 6-9 — the one KD perpetuates — and then every inch thereafter up to the full 84.

What other player can span a tape measure like that and induce such heated debate in his own locker room?

OK, coach Brooks, care to give your estimation, before and/or after haircut?

“Six-10,” Brooks said, hardly convincingly. “Ish.”

Great.

Maynor Is Thunder’s Wild Card




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Eric Maynor was forced to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder’s run through the Western Conference and to The Finals like the rest of us, from the sidelines in street clothes. A knee injury cost the Thunder point guard his chance at making a significant on-court contribution to the cause.

But he’s back now and seemingly better than ever, working as the Thunder’s resident wild card after a summer spent growing what’s already in the fold as opposed to adding new pieces to what Thunder fans hope is a championship-ready roster.

Derek Fisher was used in this same position last season, and proved to be particularly valuable in the postseason. He was only keeping the spot warm for Maynor, who reportedly faces a serious challenge for playing time from Reggie Jackson.

If what Maynor showed last night, however, is any indication, Jackson might spend more time watching Maynor work instead of stepping into his shoes.

Barry Tramel of the Oklahoman was there and loved what he saw from Maynor in the Thunder’s win over the Bobcats :

A cool hand. A settling force. A silky facilitator in a land of Olympians and all-stars.

Maynor had seven assists and just one turnover in 19 minutes against the Bobcats. Ten points on 3-of-5 shooting. Even had five rebounds.

“Really good to see him out there,” Scotty Brooks said. “He’s solid, as we all know. He makes good decisions. He facilitates the offense. He gets everyone involved.

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Rubio’s knee, not timetable, matters

 

They waited two years for him after spending the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft on a worth-the-gamble move. What’s the big deal if the Minnesota Timberwolves have to wait another three months? Or even four?

Ricky Rubio wants to be ready when he’s ready.

Only days shy of a training camp he’ll experience mostly as a bystander, Rubio continued his rehabilitation from knee surgery at the team’s practice facility. He is one of several NBA guards (Derrick Rose, Eric Maynor, Iman Schumpert) fighting back from torn ligaments, each on a timetable dictated less by the date of his injury than his body’s reaction to the repair.

Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune caught up with Rubio Thursday:

Back running on his surgically repaired knee for the third week now, … Rubio stopped long enough Thursday at Target Center to show off three scars that stripe his left leg and said he could play his next NBA game by December, nine months after he tore two ligaments there.

“I don’t know, they say December, but it could be January,” he said. “I don’t want to say a time because I don’t want to rush it. I want to be ready when I am ready.” (more…)

Future Is About Sense, Not Dollars

HANG TIME, Texas – Numbers are good. Numbers are practical. We need numbers to remind us how old we are, how much that bacon double-cheeseburger is going to show up in that next photo on Facebook, if we can afford one more $6 cup of bad coffee at the airport.

However, sometimes too many numbers just get in the way of the good things in life.

Take James Harden, for instance. Just don’t take him away from the Thunder.

The always thoughtful, always analytical Zach Lowe of SI.com makes a commendable case that as the NBA’s second-smallest market, it only makes sense that Oklahoma City consider the long-term balance sheet of the franchise when it comes to maybe trimming The Beard from the payroll:

It would be difficult for Oklahoma City to find a reasonable approximation of Harden’s versatile talents on the trade market, especially next season, when Harden will “only” make $5.8 million — a salary that makes it difficult to bring back a top talent under the league’s salary-matching rules.

But there’s an argument to be made that Harden’s skills overlap closely enough with those of Durant and Westbrook to make a trade for the right sort of package, even in the short-term. Step back, and you can see that package taking form: Some cheaper shooting, with perhaps a dash of ball-handling creativity, and multiple high draft picks. Forget the future for a second: Is it possible the Thunder might be able to maintain their current status as (at least) Western Conference co-favorites in 2012-13 if they got that kind of package?  What if Eric Maynor, forgotten after a season-ending knee injury, emerges by the trade deadline as the league’s best back-up point guard — a player with the combination of shooting and pick-and-roll creativity required to fill Harden’s role as the second-unit quarterback? And what if Perry Jones, the Thunder’s first-round draft pick, comes into his own as a second-unit force?

And what if Harden simply gets it in his head that, for all the fun he’s had with his young playmates in OKC, it is simply time to collect his deserved max contact payday and go off to be a big dog in a bigger city?

While so much of the focus has been on the Thunder’s side of the equation, the insightful Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman notes that, a few weekend snapshots from his All-White Yacht Party aside, the most fun Harden has experienced came from his bonds with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the gang. (more…)

Can Thunder Put A Price On The Future?





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If the Oklahoma City Thunder thought making The Finals with home court advantage and losing in five games was excruciating work, they haven’t seen anything yet.

James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor are all eligible for contract extensions on their rookie deals and Thunder boss Sam Presti has to come with a way to keep his roster intact.

With the changing landscape in the league and the new salary cap structure of the new collective bargaining agreement to consider, the Thunder will need a serious plan to keep Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook surrounded by one of the best supporting casts in basketball.

At their exit meetings over the weekend the players involved spoke of continuing a franchise trend of sacrificing their own financial ambitions for the greater good, surely a unique (and some might say foolish) approach when you talk about the business of basketball.

But if we’re to take them at their word, that is exactly what they are prepared to do, per Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman:

“Sacrifice,” said Maynor, “if we really want to continue. It feels like we got something special here. I feel like if guys sacrifice to get something done then everybody will be here still.”

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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.

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Rosen’s Report: Thunder at Celtics

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Along with most NBA watchers, the Oklahoma City Thunder are convinced that their sprightly legs and extraordinary team-wide talent will enable them to trump the difficulties of the shortened season and eventually run their way to the championship.  As if the Thunder need any further motivation, beating the Celtics in Boston would provide immediate evidence that elderly tortoises are no match for young hares.

Conversely, the Celtics understand that this is the last go-round for their rapidly aging core of KG, PP and Ray-Ray.  Here is a golden-age opportunity to demonstrate that they’re not quite ready for the glue factory.

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Maynor-For-Westbrook Move Pays Off

DALLAS – Russell Westbrook watched the fourth quarter of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Game 2 win over the Dallas Mavericks like most of the rest of the 21,000-plus people packed into American Airlines Center Wednesday night.

He watched it from a distance, closer than most but certainly farther away than he’s used to.

The Thunder All-Star and second-team All-NBA pick didn’t play a second in the fourth quarter of what has to be his team’s biggest game of the season yet. Eric Maynor replaced him for the entire fourth quarter and played a critical role in the Thunder holding off the Mavericks for the 106-100 win that evened the series at 1-1.

It was a gutsy move by Thunder coach Scott Brooks, sitting one of his top two players during the most crucial stretch of the season. Had it backfired … but it didn’t. And Westbrook didn’t shy away from addressing it afterwards, doing his best to defuse any potential controversy by praising Maynor and making it clear that his first objective was leaving the building with a win.

“As long as we’re winning I’m good,” Westbrook said. “We were winning. I know you guys all want to ask the same question and I’m going to give you all the same answer. We were winning.”

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Blogtable: Budding playoff star

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Which generally under-the-radar player do you see making a big-time impact in the first-round of the playoffs?

David Aldridge: I see Jeff Green poised for a breakout in Boston. If the Cs hold onto second and play Philly or New York in the first round, you’d anticipate a small ball series, which would allow Doc Rivers to play Green a lot at power forward. I like that matchup of Green over either a Thaddeus Young or a Jared Jeffries or ‘Melo.

Steve Aschburner: Gerald Wallace seemed to disappear with his coast-to-coast move from Charlotte to Portland, so he’s managed to be both an All-Star and under the radar for me. Wallace is a versatile player at both ends of the floor, allowing Nate McMillan to exploit mismatches with Wallace against both bigger and smaller foes. He’s active and aggressive, and he should be enthused by the Blazers’ postseason involvement, period, never mind their prospects.

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Love Of The Game

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Remarkable is the only word we can think of to describe the rise of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the past 14 months.

Remarkable.

Now we don’t mind pointing out that we were ahead of the curve in predicting big things for the Thunder this season, just check our midsummer rankings and see if we weren’t dead on in our assessment of this crew when we ranked them behind the Lakers in the Western Conference food chain.

Fine, if you don’t wanna go back and see what we said in July we’ll do the work for you:

2 — Oklahoma City

Last season: 50-32

The Skinny: You think this is too big of a jump for a team was the 8th seed last season, don’t you? Well, too bad. If you’re not ready to drink the Thunder Kool-Aid we’ll handle it for you. As long as Kevin Durant is healthy and Russell Westbrook continues to evolve into one of the league’s elite point guards, the Thunder will be a force. Last season’s breakthrough season was just the appetizer. Jeff Green and Thabo Sefolosha are quality players at their positions, on both ends of the floor, and Nenad Krstic has Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison and rookie Cole Aldrich helping him out down low. James Harden had a solid rookie season and could challenge for a more prominent role this season. But even if he doesn’t push for a starting spot he’s already a huge part of a Thunder second unit that has been upgraded tremendously from where it was this time a year ago. Eric Maynor could start of plenty of teams at point guard and Daequan Cook gives them a distance shooter with fantastic size and solid experience, having played with Wade in Miami the past three seasons. Of course, everything here starts with Durant, who signed a five-year extension this summer. The Thunder will be among the West’s elite for as long as he is in uniform.

The one thing we left out of the mix is a fan base that rivals any in the NBA.

Seriously, the Thunder will enjoy a home court advantage this season that few teams on the professional level will ever have the luxury of experiencing. (Be sure to weigh in on the Prime Minister-inspired poll at the bottom of this post.)

We’re talking about a basketball love affair that is going on in Oklahoma City right now, with both sides equally head over heels for the other. It’s been spotlighted by several publications, Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated did a masterful job of capturing it in his magazine’s NBA preview.

But no one understands this bond like the folks that live it.

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