Big Week Ahead For Thunder

The All-Star free-for-all was kinda fun. Lots of highlight dunks, especially from former OU star Blake Griffin, and plenty of points from both Griffin and Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.

KD and Blake led the Western Conference with 38 points apiece but the eastern Conference rallied from 18 down to win a wild shootout 163-155.

Thunder head coach Scotty Brooks played Durant a game-high 35 minutes and joked he liked everything about his star's game except his defense...there wasn't any.

Brooks and his counterpart, Eastern Conference coach Frank Vogel, know championships are won with defense and they preach it all the time.

All-Star games though are all about the offense and the highlight plays and there were plenty of those.

But now it's time to buckle down and get serious again. This is a big time week ahead for your hometown team.

The Thunder are scheduled to practice tomorrow, though Brooks may decide to go easy on his guys, especially the ones who were busy during All-Star Weekend, and wait until Wednesday to have a full practice.

Regardless, Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook is scheduled for another full medical evaluation on Tuesday. Westbrook has had these periodically since his original knee surgery.

He's made a lot of progress toward getting back into the lineup and last Sunday reporters who were at The Peake early saw Westbrook go through the most extensive workout we've been able to see.

If Westbrook passes all the tests tomorrow, and that remains a big IF, then he should be cleared to play in the team's next game which is, of course, Thursday night at home, on national TV against LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

That game is already attracting worldwide media attention and if word comes out that Westbrook will indeed play, you can crank up the hype machine even more, though I wouldn't be shocked if Brooks keeps that news under his coaching cap until just before gametime Thursday.

And speaking of Thursday, the NBA trade deadline hits at 2pm Oklahoma time. Chatter along the league grapevine indicates the Thunder are looking for a shooter to bring in.

The names that have ben mentioned the most lately are Mike Dunleavy of the Bulls, Ben Gordon of the Bobcats and Arron Afflalo of the Magic.

Gordon would seem to be a stretch, though the Thunder might not have to give up too much to get him. He's not had a very good year so far, playing in only 18 games for the Cats. His contract is expiring but he's on the books for $13.2 million.

Afflalo is having the best season of his career. He's Orlando's leading scorer and one of the better defenders in the league. His contract is a little more friendly at $7.5 million this season and next, but it would take a pretty good package from the Thunder to pry him away from the Magic, probably Jeremy Lamb, and draft pick or two, or maybe someone else, like Thabo Sefolosha, whose contract is expiring.

Thunder fans have also thrown in Kendrick Perkins as trade bait.

Dunleavy might make the most sense. He's a high character guy, a coach's son, a solid defender and a very good 3-point shooter.

His contract is very attractive too, just $3 million this season and next with a player option for the next season.

The Thunder have draft picks, a couple of trade exceptions and maybe a couple of players they'd be willing to deal in some sort of combination to get a shooter, but not just any shooter. One that can also defend.

Remember, though, the Thunder do have a deal already in place for one of the best players in the NBA. An All-Star point guard named Westbrook whose due to join the lineup anytime, perhaps as soon as a few hours after that trade deadline Thursday.


Randy RennerComment