russell-westbrook
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Saturday , Jun , 04 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook?

Demps laughed at Internet speculation there has been trade talks between the Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder regarding point guards Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.

“(Thunder GM) Sam Presti and I, our offices used to be right next to each other, so we still text each other all the time, and I can assure you that has not been a conversation we’ve had,” Demps said, cracking a smile as he spoke to reporters.

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HoopsVibe`s Very Quick Call: Losing players in free agency leads to speculation. Losing games also leads to speculation.

It`s no surprise there was speculation that the New Orleans Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder were considering swapping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook.

Paul can opt-out of his contract next summer. He can leave New Orleans as a free agent. The Hornets will get nothing back. 

Meanwhile, Westbrook, fair or not, became the scapegoat for the Thunder losing the Western Conference Finals to the Mavericks.

Critics felt he was trying to get his offense at the expense of teammates. And critics felt his score-first mentality will make it difficult for the Thunder to take the next step.

A trade makes sense for both parties, right?  Well, wrong.

Hornets GM Dell Demps denied ever having a conversation about swapping point guards with Thunder GM Sam Presti.

It`s a no to the inquiring public. The real, unofficial story could be different.

Demps and Presti came up together with the San Antonio Spurs. They were tight. And still are. Demps admitted they text each other all the time.

Know this: NBA executives are no different than you or I. They do business with executives they trust and like.

For instance, Kevin McHale, when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves, wrapped Kevin Garnett in a bow and gave him to former teammate and friend Danny Ainge, who was and still is boss of the Boston Celtics.

For instance, Jerry West played a part in Pau Gasol leaving Memphis for Los Angeles. West was once the front office Tsar for both the Grizzlies and Lakers.

If Paul for Westbrook happens, it will be because of the relationship between Demps and Presti.

After all, what's a swap of All-Star table-setters between friends?

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

Dallas vs. OKC: Age Before Beauty
Tuesday , May , 24 , 2011 Paul Eide

Dallas vs. OKC: Age Before Beauty

 

 
It’s almost impossible to quantify in a tangible way, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The value of having experienced, battle tested veterans on an NBA roster during the playoffs is priceless and accounts for unexpected game and series victories every year.  
 
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Saturday , May , 21 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

In defence of Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook

Westbrook, the Thunder's most misunderstood, puzzling or overanalyzed player, depending on your perspective, wouldn't flame the scrutiny on coach Scott Brooks' decision not to play him a single second of the fourth quarter in OKC's Game 2 win over Dallas on Thursday. The play of the Thunder's second-best player has been publicly picked apart throughout the postseason. Does he shoot too much, take bad shots and not pass enough?

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Russell Westbrook has a giant bulls-eye on his back.

The critics allege the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard shoots too much, knocks heads with Coach Scott Brooks, and wants to establish himself at the expense of his team.

The critics argue Westbrook should be the Thunder’s third option, with superstar Kevin Durant and super-sub James Harden as primary scorers.

Perhaps this is fair. Perhaps, the Thunder would be better with Westbrook using his athleticism to set-the-table for teammates and averaging a balanced 15 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The criticism is, to an extent, unfair. Especially since the Thunder won game two of the Western Conference Finals in Dallas. 

Sure, Brooks sat Westbrook for the entire fourth quarter. Sure, the Thunder won in spite of Westbrook, not because of him.

They still won, though. They still achieved a split on the road. And they have home-court advantage.

The world isn't ending. Westbrook isn’t the devil. He’s just a 22-year old point guard, who sometimes struggles with when to pass and shoot.

Others have had issues with decision making. Like Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons. Like Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. And like Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls.

By the way, these three figured 'it' out and won a combined 13 NBA championships.

Don’t get it twisted: Westbrook is not the next Zeke, Kobe, or MJ. It takes time for players, specifically point guards, to figure ‘it’ out.

Take Chauncey Billups. Before he became Mr. Big Shot with the Detroit Pistons, Billups was a nomad, playing on four teams between 1997 and 2002.

Critics said he lacked a position, couldn’t involve teammates and was a bust. Billups suddenly figured 'it out. Over the last ten years, he has won an NBA championship, been a Finals MVP, and made regular appearances in the Conference Finals.

Bottom line: Billups has had an excellent career. And he isn’t done. Like Westbrook, he needed time. Westbrook, at this age, is mch further along than Billups.

Critics need to appreciate Westbrook for what he is and can do. Soon enough, he’ll figure ‘it’ out. Then opponents will have to watch out.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

The 2011 NBA Most Improved Player is…
Friday , Apr , 01 , 2011 J.N.

The 2011 NBA Most Improved Player is…

This race is actually a lot closer and tougher to call than the MVP one. The Most Improved Player award should probably be considered the poor man’s MVP trophy, which is not a bad thing. There are 3 contenders this year with a possible fourth. I thought the most improved player was easy to figure out. That is why barely anyone is discussing it; just look at who increased their numbers the most from the previous season, right? Is it really that simple? I’m not sure now.

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The 2011 NBA MVP race is the weakest ever Vol. Stop Crying
Thursday , Mar , 03 , 2011 J.N.

The 2011 NBA MVP race is the weakest ever Vol. Stop Crying

That’s all I’ve been hearing lately. Blah, blah, blah, weak sauce, blah, blah. Why you mad, though? The major complaint is that no one really stands out from the pack. My thinking is “How the eff does that make the race weak?” My dude, you serious? Go watch Tommy Wiseau’s The Room if you think the race is the weakest then hit me back up or get slapped with a notice out of nowhere to give up the kids like Charlie Sheen. If you don’t like this season’s MVP race, you don’t like NBA basketball.

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Tuesday , Feb , 08 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Rumor: Could OKC Thunder really get Kevin Love?

I’m not saying the Wolves are or should be looking to trade Love- the sole issue at point is that they would not hang up the phone immediately if Sam Presti came calling.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: On the surface, it doesn’t sound realistic –Kevin Love joining Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook with the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder.

Here are two facts about Sam Presti, the Thunder’s lead executive, resident whiz kid, and one of the up-and coming suits in pro sports.

First, after making his bones with the San Antonio Spurs, Presti has rebuilt the Thunder through astute drafting, collecting undervalued assets, and maintaining fiscal sanity. He’s ready to use some of these excess chips to put his club over-the-top with a significant trade and/or signing.

Second, that may mean trying to bring the league’s leading rebounder to Oklahoma City. After all, Presti has a plan for every situation and scenario, and knows how well Love would complement Durant, Westbrook, and the raw Serge Ibaka.

Right now, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Love seem connected. The country strong post has given the lowly Wolves an identity for the first time since you-know-who was dealt to the Boston Celtics.

These two are far from married, though.

Love may be having a fine season; however, he’s not untouchable. He has shown little interest in inking a long-term extension with the Wolves. His relationship with Coach Kurt Rambis is touch-and-go.

Bottom line: Love wants to win now. No more waiting; no more rebuilding. He knows he won’t win championships in The Frozen Tundra of Sota.

While it isn’t likely, Love to the Thunder isn’t impossible. It makes some sense. For now, that will keep us talking.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

Russell Westbrook. Better than Durant?
Friday , Feb , 04 , 2011 J.N.

Russell Westbrook. Better than Durant?

Seriously. Is he? He does EVERYTHING for the Thunder. He is the facilitator, scorer, and defender (although he’s been slipping). He has more duties than Durant. The kid from Long Beach, California does that stuff very well. I’m wondering if he is a real MVP candidate. He took a quantum leap this year and the numbers are jaw dropping. This is a serious question and needs to be scrutinized. He led the team without Durant to beat the Boston Celtics on their home floor. Without Durant ya understand?

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Saturday , Jan , 01 , 2011 Hoopsvibe

Josh Smith feels ‘disrespected’ by Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook

Asked if he was upset by Ibaka’s dunk, or the foul, or both, Smith said, “You know what it was. That’s showing disrespect (dunking the ball). Everybody in the whole league knows you don’t do nothing like that. I talked to Durant about it. He said he would talk to him (Ibaka) about it, and he knew that wasn’t right.
 
 
HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It wasn’t as offensive as Andray Blatche screaming at a teammate or Ricky Davis shooting on his own basket.

It was close, though.

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and center Serge Ibaka won’t win any friends on the Atlanta Hawks by padding their statistics in the final moments of yesterday’s game.

Last night, the Thunder had beaten the Hawks. Time was set to expire. Both teams seemed content to let the final seconds play out and move on to the next game.

Then Westbrook suddenly passed the ball to Ibaka for an uncontested, breakaway dunk. Westbrook needed one assist for a triple-double, while Ibaka needed two points for a double-double.

This is a no-no.

The Hawks’ Mike Bibby and Josh Smith rightfully took exception to Westbrook and Ibaka’s actions. Thunder superstar Kevin Durant was left to play peacemaker after the game.

Even Thunder coach Scott Brooks couldn’t defend his players, telling The Oklahoman “when you got the game won, you run the clock out”. Anyway, watch the clip and get at us with thoughts on Westbrook and Ibaka’s last second basket against the Hawks.

 
(Ibaka's dunk is at the end of the highlight package.)
 
--Oly Sandor.
2010-2011 Top 10 Fantasy Statistical Point Guards (5-1)
Thursday , Dec , 02 , 2010 J.N.

2010-2011 Top 10 Fantasy Statistical Point Guards (5-1)

I was standing in front of a food truck called “Oh For Sweet Sake” located in Orange County, California somewhere. I was enjoying some conversations with owners Lisa and Al while enjoying my hot coco and Mac N Cheese. Some guy in my fantasy league offered Derrick Rose and Anderson Varejao for Tyreke Evans and Brook Lopez. I took it because Rose is performing at an MVP level. Stats are accurate as of December 1, 2010. Thanks for the hot food, guys! That made my head clearer especially with sports conversations. Follow their Twitter - http://twitter.com/ohforsweetssake

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Saturday , Nov , 13 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Is Team USA responsible for Kevin Love’s 31 point, 31 rebound night?

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Earlier this week, Kevin Love had 20 points and 20 rebounds against the Los Angeles Lakers. Last night, he became the first player in 28 years to tally over 30 points and 30 rebounds.

There are many explanations for Love’s fine play of late: he has always had talent; he’s finally healthy; he’s no longer sharing the frontcourt with Al Jefferson; he’s taken another step in year three.

Of course, conspiracy theorists believe Love has stepped up his play so other teams will call the Minnesota Timberwolves and inquire about his availability.

Perhaps there’s truth in all of these.

However, there’s no disputing winning a gold medal with Team USA at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey had a positive influence on Love.

Love is fitter, more confident, and understands his place in the game. The same can be said for Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who also benefited from representing stars-and-stripes.

Hopefully, other players take note of Love and Westbrook’s improved play and are more open to suiting up for their country.

Click the videos below to watch highlights of Love’s historic game and hear his comments on notching 30 and 30.
 


--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Monday , Sep , 20 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Rondo left Team USA to ‘win another championship’

 "It was great to practice every day against the best young talent in the league, a veteran like Chauncey Billups and play for a Hall of Fame coach [Mike Krzyzewski]," Rondo said. "But some of these guys hadn't played since April. Lamar [Odom] and I had just got out of Game 7. And next season is right around the corner. I feel like I had to take advantage of the opportunity I have right now to win another championship. It's not often you get to play with four Hall of Famers. Another couple of years and I won't have that."

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: It’s hard to criticize Rajon Rondo’s decision to step away from Team USA.

Rondo hadn’t recovered from the Boston Celtics’ crushing seven-game loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. He was drained and needed rest.

The emerging table-setter understands the championship window is closing on the green-and-white. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce – also known as The Big Three - are hitting the end of their careers.

Rondo knows he needs to be at full strength in 2011 and 2012 because opportunities to win championships are rare. Playing in the World Championship would be tiring.

Fortunately, Stars and Stripes had talented floor leaders in Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook. His departure wasn’t an issue and, in fact, eased the log-jam at point guard. 

Rondo’s choice may be a win-win for all involved.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Wednesday , Sep , 15 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Brandon Jennings on Team USA snub: It’s gotta be the shoes

It's not my call. That's on them," Jennings said. "But if you want to get technical about it and you really want to look at it, half of the guys there are Nike guys. I'm not saying it's a Nike thing, but Nike is kind of running a lot of things right now. To have a guy like myself on the USA team that's flashy and really outgoing, you don't want Under Armour to get all that [publicity]. "I'm just telling you how it is." 

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: To quote Brooklyn legend Mars Blackmon: ‘It’s got to be the shoes’.

At least, this is the reason second year guard Brandon Jennings believes Team USA didn’t invite him to try out for the World Championship squad. Stars and Stripes were sponsored by Nike. Jennings is sponsored by Under Armour.

Jennings sees a connection. The Swoosh supposedly concocted a grand conspiracy of Oliver Stone proportion to keep Jennings – a pretty good, but hardly great table-setter - off the squad.

There’s a simpler and better answer: Jennings isn’t as good as he thinks.

Team USA had other options. Better options. For instance, the coaching staff selected Chauncey Billups and Derrick Rose at point guard. Both are more advanced than Jennings. Neither wears Nike.

Off the bench, the Americans had Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon, and Russell Westbrook. Curry makes Team USA because they needed outside shooting. Gordon surprised the coaching staff. And Westbrook’s energy and athleticism was irreplaceable.

Frankly, the 2010 American team won gold at the World Championship because everybody parked their egos at the door. Nobody bitched. Nobody moaned.

Would the coaches want someone who describes himself as flashy and outgoing, and believes a multinational shoe company is out to get him? Or, would they want a player who puts the team first?

There’s an easy answer. And it makes more sense than Mars Blackmon.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

 

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Tuesday , Sep , 07 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Can Durant and Thunder stop Kobe and Lakers from three-peating?

Coupled with the stiff resistance that the Thunder offered the Lakers last spring, the coming of age of both of these players bodes well for the immediate and long-range success of the Oklahoma City Thunder ... That leaves Dallas and Oklahoma City as the Lakers' only viable competition.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: No doubt about it, the Oklahoma City Thunder is on the rise.

The upstart franchise pushed the world champion Los Angeles Lakers in the 2010 Western Conference Quarter-Finals. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City’s best players, have represented USA well at the FIBA World Championships.   

So the student, the Thunder, is learning. However, they aren’t ready to challenge the master in 2011, the Lakers. After all, the purple and gold has improved, too.
 
For instance, Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol have spent this summer getting healthy; a leaner, meaner Ron Artest will have another year in the triple-post; and Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, and Theo Ratliff will bring consistency to the second-unit.

The Lakers are primed for a three-peat. In 2011, the Thunder won’t be ready to stop them.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Thursday , Sep , 02 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Andre Iguodala: ‘Kevin Durant will be the NBA’s all-time leading scorer’

Kevin Durant, Team USA's scoring leader after three games, is coming off a season in which he led the NBA in scoring -- something Andre Iguodala believes we should get used to seeing. "Kevin Durant will be the NBA's all-time leading scorer when it's all said and done," Iguodala said emphatically. "He loves the game and has a knack for putting the ball in the basket." Through three NBA seasons Durant is 33 points shy of 6,000 for his career. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the league's all-time leader with 38,387 points. Karl Malone is second with 36,928 points, and Michael Jordan is third with 32,292.

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HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: No doubt about it, Kevin Durant is a straight scorer. Like George Gervin and Bernard King.

While he’s on the verge of becoming, perhaps, the NBA’s best player, KD will be hard pressed to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer.

First, Kareem was able to preserve his body, in part, because he was a post. The Skyhook’s game was also methodical and efficient. As a perimeter player, Durant uses greater energy to get his numbers.

Second, Kareem’s slighter frame wasn’t an issue because old school players weren’t so muscular. Durant is especially skinny and long, which may become an issue in today's physical NBA.

Finally, Kareem had a superb pass-first point guard in Magic Johnson. ‘Mr. No Look’ and 'The Architect of Showtime’ hooked Kareem up with easy hoops. Durant doesn’t have this luxury because Russell Westbrook, a good table-setter, is still developing as a distributor.

Durant will have a Hall of Fame career, however, he’s unlikely to replace Abdul-Jabbar as the game’s all-time greatest scorer.

--Oly Sandor.

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.
 

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Wednesday , Aug , 25 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Parting ways best for Rajon Rondo and Team USA

The Celtics point guard withdrew from Team USA yesterday, sensing the writing on the wall as coach Mike Krzyzewski began to test different backcourt combinations minus Rondo.

HoopsVibe’s Very Quick Call: Did he withdraw? Or, did he get cut?

These are the questions surrounding Rajon Rondo’s departure from Team USA on Tuesday afternoon. Yesterday’s news may have been sudden, but it wasn't surprising.

Rondo swallowed his first career DNP-CD (Did Not Play-Coaches Decision) against Spain. While his poor outside range and inconsistent free-throw shooting were rarely exposed with the Boston Celtics, it would have been a liability in international play.

Clearly, Rondo didn’t fit Coach Mike Krzyewski’s plans, so parting ways made sense.        

After losing the championship in heartbreaking fashion to the Los Angeles Lakers, Rondo needed time off to heal his mind and body. A death in his extended family wouldn’t have helped, either.

Team USA is also point guard heavy, with table-setters Chauncey Billups, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook. All are better shooters than Rondo.  Even if he made the final roster, there would have been few minutes available.

Bottom line: whether he withdrew or got cut, Rondo and stars-and-stripes are better off after yesterday’s decision.

--Oly Sandor.   

Got thoughts? Well, get at HoopsVibe News in the comment box below.

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Thursday , Apr , 29 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe Asked to Guard Russell Westbrook

It was Kobe Bryant's idea to swap defensive assignments for Game 5 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Bryant guarded Russell Westbrook instead of Thabo Sefolosha. Derek Fisher checked Sefolosha. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Bryant approached him and said, "I'd like to guard Westbrook." Jackson added: "It takes a much higher activity level (to guard Westbrook). It's every play. There's no time off on defense. It told me what his determination was, whether his knee was better or not (I don't know)." Bryant has been troubled for months by injuries to his right index finger, left ankle and right knee.

Westbrook scored 15 points on 4-for-13 shooting in Game 5.

"I enjoy the challenge," Bryant said of checking Westbrook. "He's been playing sensational, and if we're going to be eliminated I don't want to go into the summer thinking I could've done something about it, so i accepted the challenge." 

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Can Oklahoma City Thunder really upset Kobe Bryant and L.A. Lakers?
Saturday , Apr , 24 , 2010 Oly Sandor

Can Oklahoma City Thunder really upset Kobe Bryant and L.A. Lakers?

The Quick Hit: It was supposed to be case of master versus student. It has become a case of student challenging master.

Quite simply, the Los Angeles Lakers, with all their star power and glitz, were expected to handle the talented but inexperienced Oklahoma City Thunder. After all, the Lakers had that Larry O’Brien swagger; the Thunder were unproven upstarts.

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Liveblogging Game 1 of LAL-OKC
Sunday , Apr , 18 , 2010 C.Y. Ellis

Liveblogging Game 1 of LAL-OKC

I'll be taking quick notes as I watch the game here. Feel free to drop in your comments below. They update in real time.

- What is Andrew Bynum drinking? A pre-game shot shows him chugging a foaming red liquid from a water bottle.

- OKC tosses the ball to Durant for the first play.  He dribbles around for a few seconds before tossing up an awkward brick. Bad opening.

- Pau connects on a shot with so much arc the ball came down with snow on it.

- That red stuff is obviously working for Bynum, who connects on his first attempt.

- Durant botches an open layup. Let's hope that's a fumble and not a sign of the pressure getting to him.

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