Veteran Big Man Returns To Thunder

By Randy Renner

Though the Thunder have been searching for a veteran wing who can knock down threes and play quality defense they’ve ended up signing a veteran big man who may not play at all.

That being said Nazr Mohammed may provide the Thunder with something they also need, a highly respected presence in the lockerroom, who played on a championship team and won’t put up with any bull s—t.

And Nazy has been here before, playing for the Thunder from 2010 to 2012.

Here is the official press release from the Thunder announcing Mohammed’s return to OKC.

“The Oklahoma City Thunder has signed free agent center Nazr Mohammed to a contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam PrestiPer team policy, the terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Mohammed (6-10, 250) previously spent two seasons with the Thunder (2010-12), appearing in 87 games (eight starts) averaging 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in 12.9 minutes per game.

A 17-year NBA veteran, Mohammed owns career averages of 5.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 15.9 minutes in 1000 games (354 starts) with Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, San Antonio, Detroit, Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Chicago.

Also today Nazy published a blog announcing the move at nazrmohammed.sportsblog.com

Here’s part of what he wrote…

 I’m Back…

It’s official. “I'm back.” I’ve always wanted to say that…like I’m MJ or something LOL. I’m officially back in an NBA jersey, and I could not be more excited for this opportunity.

I am now a proud member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, the very team I competed for a Championship with in 2012. I was days away from turning “semi-retirement” into full retirement when I received word from Sam Presti that they had interest in me returning to OKC as a player. That quickly changed the course of my plans and forced me to do some real soul-searching to see if this was something my family and I wanted.

Once I got the green light from my family, it was a fairly easy decision to make, given that I’ve played in OKC before. Plus, I have great relationships throughout the organization, from management to the players (especially guys like KD, Russ, Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka). I also played with Royal Ivey, one of the assistant coaches. And since Billy Donovan and I both played for Coach Pitino, I consider us part of the same basketball family. I have a pretty good grasp of this organization, which has always been so great to my family and me. I had such great experiences there, which is what made the decision to go back much easier. From a basketball standpoint, I have a lot of confidence in this team. I have high hopes that this is one of the five or six teams that could compete for a Championship. They have more than enough talent.

This is a winning organization with players who are dedicated to winning and playing basketball the right way. I’m one of Kevin and Russ’s biggest fans. You could argue that Russ is one of the best guards in the NBA. You could argue that Kevin is the best at his position – or even the best player – in the NBA. I like to think of it this way: there are about five or six players in the NBA that can truly claim that they are the best players in the world. And two of those guys are on the Thunder. But even after all that, the deciding factor was the character of the locker room and its stars. Off the court, they are great people; guys that you want to be around. Kevin and Russ epitomize what the stars of this generation are all about…being great players AND great people.

After playing for so many years, I didn’t really need to be informed what my role will be on this team. I kind of know. I bring my experiences and leadership to the table, and I’ll be there to support the guys and the coaching staff. Of course with me being a big guy, I’m going to kind of gravitate to the other big guys and give them whatever tips I can. But I am a basketball player, so whenever I’m needed, I’ll be ready for that. They’re third in the West and having a great season without me. I’m just coming in to do the things that have afforded me the privilege to play in the NBA for 17 years before this…being a good teammate and doing whatever's asked of me to the best of my abilities.

At the end of last season, I anticipated playing this season. That was my mindset. It didn’t work out that way, so I really didn’t get to experience true closure, knowing that "this is it.” It would have been nice to appreciate my last time in the locker room as a player; my last regular-season game; my last training camp. Now I have the chance to get some of those “last” moments and really soak it in. I think I’m going to be more aware of living in the moment. I won’t save anything, even if that means I’m only going out there for a minute during a blowout. I realize how important it is to leave it all out there on the court, enjoy it and relish in the experience. I’m going in with a “this is it” mindset. There is no next year as far as basketball for me.

To the fans of OKC: you have been supportive of me for years, even after I left to play in Chicago. I appreciate that and look forward to your continued support. I can't wait to be on the floor representing you one more time.

To my new teammates: I’m ready to give whatever I have in any capacity, mentally and physically. I’m ready to leave it all out there on the court and in that locker room. This is my last go-round, and I’d like to help this team end the season as NBA Champions.

Welcome back Nazy.