Thunder Name Michael Cage New TV Analyst

By Randy Renner

Wednesday afternoon the Oklahoma City Thunder sent out a press release announcing the new TV analyst replacing Grant Long.

As is often the case with these types of things the name on the press release was not one of the names that had been brought up in newspapers, websites (this one included) radio shows and TV sports segments.

Michael Cage is the name, not Desmond Mason, not Stacey King, not Malik Rose nor Nancy Lieberman nor a dozen or so others folks had talked about.

In case you didn't know, or had forgotten, Michael Cage played 15 years in the NBA and was a pretty darn good rebounder, led the league one season in fact.

Those who have met him or have seen some of his work in TV say he has a great personality, is very fun and engaging and has tremendous knowledge of the game.

Here is the full press release about Mr. Cage sent out by the Thunder:

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced today that Michael Cage is joining the Thunder broadcast team as its new analyst. Cage joins play-by-play announcer Brian Davis, who begins his seventh season as the TV voice of the Thunder on FOX Sports Oklahoma. Sideline reporter and host Lesley McCaslin returns for her third season with the Thunder.

 Cage played 15 seasons from 1984-2000 as a power forward in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers, Seattle Supersonics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets. He led the NBA in rebounding in 1988, capturing the title by grabbing 30 rebounds in the final game of the regular season.

 “We are very excited and proud to have Michael Cage become part of the Thunder broadcast team,” said Dan Mahoney, Thunder vice president of Corporate Communications. “Michael brings experience, energy, knowledge and passion for the game. We think our fans will enjoy his perspective and knowledge gained by playing more than 1,000 games in the NBA.”

 A native of West Memphis, Ark., Cage was a first-round draft pick of the Clippers in 1984 following a successful career at San Diego State University. At SDSU he was named a second-team All-American in 1984 and twice was selected as Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year. The Aztecs retired his jersey (No. 44) in 1984. He was also a member of the gold-medal winning 1983 United States team in the Pan American Games.

Following his playing career, Cage has worked as both a broadcaster and a high school and AAU basketball coach. His broadcasting experience includes serving as TV analyst for the Memphis Grizzlies, FOX Sports West, Prime Ticket and Westwood One radio. Cage coached Mater Dei High School in Los Angeles to back-to-back state titles in 2013-14. He also served as a guest coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers at the 2013 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Cage has a long history of giving back to the community during and after his NBA playing career. The Michael Cage Foundation works with young athletes to mentor, teach and share life lessons.

"Thank you to the Oklahoma City Thunder for giving me such a wonderful opportunity to join the franchise. I'm looking forward to working with an already terrific broadcast team,” Cage said. “I've been involved in basketball, sports broadcasting and charity work for over 40 years and I look forward to getting to know the passionate Thunder fans in Oklahoma! My family and I are excited and feel very blessed."

FOX Sports Oklahoma will broadcast 70 Thunder games during the 2014-15 regular season, beginning with the season opener on Oct. 29 at Portland. The Oct. 17 Thunder preseason game in Wichita against the Toronto Raptors will also be carried live on FSO. During the other preseason games and any national exclusive regular-season broadcasts, Cage will join Matt Pinto on the Thunder Radio Network.

It's believed that Mr. Cage will be on hand for Thunder media day on September 29th.

 

Lamb Ready For Training Camp

By Randy Renner

The students at Oklahoma City's Christ The King Catholic School got a rare treat Tuesday afternoon when four NBA players and an assistant coach showed up to help lead the Thunder Fit Clinic.

Thunder players Jeremy Lamb, Reggie Jackson, Steven Adams and Grant Jerrett were all there along with Thunder assistant coach Rex Kalamian.

Usually one, or sometimes two players will help the regular Thunder Fit staff with these clinics but Wednesday the timing was right for almost a third of the team to show up.

"Seeing the kids smile and seeing how they look up to me, it's a great feeling," Lamb said after the workout. "We don't always get to stay long but we make the most of it."

Indeed they do. During the school year these clinic appearances usually occur during the last class period of the school day and many times it's during a normal PE class.

Lamb was the main spokesman for the group on Wednesday, "these events are always great, I think the kids had a good time with us and I know we had a good time with them."

It's been a busy summer for Lamb between trying to have some fun away from basketball during his summer vacation to spending time working on improving his game as training camp gets close.

"Attacking the rim was the main thing and just continue to work on my craft and working on my shot, my handle and my defense, workin' on every area really."

He's been back in town for a few days now getting in some voluntary workouts at the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center and getting to know his new teammates, rookies Mitch McGary, Josh Huestis and Semaj Christon along with free agent signees Anthony Morrow and Sebastian Telfair.

"Yeah I've been with them a lot. Morrow, he's a vet, he's a great shooter and just a real solid player. He knows how to score, he knows his spots on the floor. Sebastian really helps me. He's a real hard worker and he gives me advice, you know he's been around a long time and then the rookies are coming in and working hard and it's cool to see them grow."

A lot was expected from Lamb last season and he got off to a hot start but tailed off, his 3-point shot failed him at times late in the season and especially in the playoffs when he was just 2-for-14 (14.3 percent) but still he averaged 35.6 percent from deep and 43.2 percent overall during the regular season.

One of the knocks on him last season (and something he admits to) is that he didn't pay enough attention to the defensive end of things.

That should change this season as Lamb fully understands now how important defense is in the NBA.

If he can bring that aspect of his game up and keep his shots falling he'll be in the mix for the starting shooting guard spot for the Thunder but it looks to be a pretty crowded field with both Jackson and Morrow along with defensive specialist Andre Roberson all expected to challenge each other for playing time at that spot.

Last season Lamb was on the floor for 1,538 minutes spread out over 78 of the Thunder's 82 regular season games and he logged exactly 100 minutes of playing time in 11 playoff games. A good chunk of that playing time (67 percent) was spent at the shooting guard position, most of the rest of his time on the floor (29 percent) was logged as a small forward.

The numbers from last season were almost exactly opposite of the time spent at those position in his rookie season when he was at small forward 65 percent of the time and shooting guard 35 percent.

This season? Who knows at this point what the splits will be but Lamb hopes to be ready this season to take full advantage of whatever opportunities are there.





Choctaw Will Host Thunder Blue-White Scrimmage

By Randy Renner

The Oklahoma City Thunder are continuing their tradition of holding their annual blue-white scrimmage at a smaller, fan friendly venue around the state.

This season's scrimmage will be held inside the gym at Choctaw High School on Sunday, October 5th.

The very first blue-white scrimmage was inside what was then called the Ford Center, now Chesapeake Energy Arena. Ever since the scrimmage has generally been held in high school gyms to give fans an up close look at the team.

The Thunder released the following statement about this year's Blue-White scrimmage:

The scrimmage will begin at 3 p.m. and will include many Thunder game-night features, such as Rumble the Bison, the Thunder Girls, Thunder Drummers, Storm Chasers and more. In addition to the open practice, the team will hold Thunder Alley outside of the school starting at noon, with activities such as pop-a-shot, sport court, Thunder merchandise trailer and the OG&E ThunderBolt. Fans will also be able to enjoy a U.S. Cellular semitrailer with an interactive display.

 “Our tradition of the Blue and White Scrimmage enables fans in communities across Oklahoma to understand that they’re an important part of our Thunder team,” said Dan Mahoney, vice president of Corporate Communications and Community Relations for the Thunder. “We love having the opportunity to start the season by bringing the Thunder experience to fans in their hometowns and show them how deeply we appreciate their support.”

 In previous years, the Blue and White Scrimmage has been held in Moore, Bixby, Bethany, Yukon, Midwest City and Oklahoma City.

 All Thunder fans are invited to take part in Thunder Alley festivities. A limited number of tickets will be available on the day of the game, starting at noon outside of Choctaw High School. Tickets are free of charge and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

All Thunder players are expected to be involved and of course it will be fans first chance to see the newest members of the Thunder, free agent signees Anthony Morrow and Sebastian Telfair and rookie draft picks Mitch McGary, Josh Huestis and Semaj Christon.

It's always a lot of fun and you can expect full coverage from our entire crew here at InsideThunder.com. We'll be live tweeting during the game and we'll have postgame blogs and videos.

 

Adams Talks Haka, Hoops And...Rooster Balls???

By Randy Renner

One thing we've learned about Thunder center Steven Adams in the short time we've known him...you can ALWAYS count on him to say something worthy of a sound bite, quote or tweet and the big Kiwi didn't disappoint us Wednesday afternoon.

Adams is one of those guys who works hard at everything, including having fun. Wednesday he climbed aboard the Rolling Thunder Book Bus and helped students at Oklahoma City's Mark Twain Elementary pick out some books to take home.

"This book bus is amazing and so are these kids, I mean I wasn't reading at their age," he told a small cluster of reporters.

While Adams talked to the students about reading he also handed out Thunder wristbands, book marks and some advice too about always remembering your manners and saying please and thank you.

"Yeah, that's always good, manners get you a long ways and besides they don't cost anything so might as well."

Adams has had a very busy summer, conducting basketball camps in his native New Zealand and helping out with other camps in that part of the world.

"It was amazing, we had a real good turnout, 350 kids in one camp and 400 in the other. It was really fun."

One of the highlights for Adams was being able to bring a couple of special guests to his camp and to show off his home country.

"At the first camp (Thunder GM) Sam Presti and (Thunder assistant coach) Mark Bryant were there and that was really huge. All the kids loved having them there. It helps basketball there in a way you can't really measure but it's huge."

Adams is the first native New Zealander drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft and if he continues to improve his game, the way he showed he could during his rookie year, he's on his way to a long career and possibly stardom here in the states, not to mention his home country.

"We're just trying to focus on development right now with basketball all over the country so having Sam and Mark come along it had even more of an impact."

Adams and most of his Thunder teammates are back in Oklahoma City participating in voluntary workouts to prepare for the opening of training camp in just more than two weeks. So far he's liked what he's seen from the new group of Thunder rookies and free agent signees Anthony Morrow and Sebastian Telfair.

"Honestly, I've been trying to find something wrong with them," he said laughing, "but I can't find anything, it's annoying! But, no, they're all really cool, good guys. They have their heads screwed on straight. They know the season is going to take a lot of hard work and that's what they're doing."

Adams also said he's pretty much buried the hatchet with Warriors guard Andre Iguodala who sent out a tweet a few weeks ago comparing the Haka dance performed by New Zealand's basketball team before its game with Team USA to nothing more than the old "A-Town Stomp." Adams was not amused and tweeted back that Iggy should respect other cultures.

"I haven't contacted him but I was really surprised it blew up like that. I don't want any controversy with him but just to tell him, you know be careful with what you say. I actually want him to come down to New Zealand, just so I can show him around, I don't wanna discourage anyone from coming down to New Zealand because it's an awesome place."

New Zealand will always be home but during his summer travels Adams also went to Taiwan for some NBA camps and discovered some of his favorite things, new food items.

"Oh it was awesome mate, the food there is amazing. I actually had rooster's testicles, straight up, not kidding. They didn't tell me till afterwards, so that was pretty funny. And they were quite good really."

So maybe next on Adams' menu will be some Oklahoma favorites like calf fries and lamb fries but unlike here where those delicacies are usually deep fried, in Taiwan they were "boiled and mixed in with other things," Adams said, "hearts and livers, so I learned something."

Like maybe ask before you eat, but then again that's not really the big guy's style and we're quite happy with that.

 

 

 

OKC Reminds Anthony Morrow Of Home

By Randy Renner

Thunder free agent signee Anthony Morrow is happy as can be to be in Oklahoma City and not just because of the Thunder.

Morrow already feels right at home in OKC because it reminds him so much of his own hometown, Charlotte, North Carolina.

"It's a really good city, kinda right up my alley," Morrow said after spending much of his Tuesday afternoon at the Positive Tomorrows school. Which is something else that's right up his alley.

"I love giving back to the community," he said, "and I've done a lot of work in Charlotte with my foundation so it was really good for me to start giving back here and start meeting the people in this community."

Positive Tomorrows is the only elementary school in Oklahoma City that is specifically designed to take care of children and their families who are homeless. (To learn more about Positive Tomorrows and how you can help, click here).

Tuesday afternoon Morrow and new teammate Reggie Jackson jumped aboard the Thunder Book Bus and helped students pick out some new reading material.

"This is the same thing that my foundation, The Anthony Morrow Foundation, embodies trying to help homeless children and homeless families. So this fits right in with some of the things I've already been doing and I'm really looking forward to doing more stuff."

He's also looking forward the upcoming NBA season perhaps more than any other because of his new team and his new teammates.

Morrow is a career 43 percent 3-point shooter despite never having been on a team with other offensive weapons close to what he'll have now with the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Reggie Jackson.

"Yeah I haven't had a lot of open looks in the last seven years."

Last season in New Orleans, Morrow nailed 45.1 percent of his long balls and had the fourth highest 3-point shooting percentage in the league. Kyle Korver had the highest at 47.2 percent.

Coming in Morrow will have the best career 3-point percentage of anyone on the Thunder (Durant for instance is a career 37.7 percent shooter from deep).

So Morrow should be able to provide some instant offense and be a escape route for passes from Durant and Westbrook when they find themselves double-teamed.

"Yeah, that'll be great man and we're already working on chemistry with guys. Me and Kevin had a friendship before and I've known Russ off and on so I've kinda known these guys since I came in the league so it should be an easy transition."

And so far so good, Morrow says he's had no problems at all fitting in and he's impressed to see so many of his new teammates already here in Oklahoma City, working out and playing pickup games with still almost three weeks to go before training camp starts.

"I think it says a lot when a lot of guys wanna get here early and get to work, there's only two or three guys who aren't here yet so we're already getting geared up and ready for the season."

As far as his role on the Thunder, Morrow said neither head coach Scott Brooks nor GM Sam Presti have defined anything specific and Morrow said he's willing to do whatever is needed.

"Starting or coming off the bench, it doesn't really matter to me. You just have to earn it. And that again is right up my alley. Because you know I was undrafted, one of those guys whose back was against the wall and so I've never had a problem accepting that role. I'm just ready to get to work."

Morrow likely will come off the bench midway or so through the first quarter but is also likely to finish games on the court, providing that extra punch that could be needed.

But as you know the Thunder have a starting shooting guard spot open with the departure of Thabo Sefolosha and a big time battle between Morrow, Jackson, Andre Roberson and Jeremy Lamb could play out during training camp.

That's something we haven't seen around here in a long time. Except for injuries OKC's starting lineup has been as dependable as the summer heat dome.

That's changing now, now the heat will be cranked up indoors during the Thunder's October training camp.