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ABC's Jeff Van Gundy says Thunder has potential to return to NBA Finals next season and win it all

Former NBA coach says Russell Westbrook needs to return to form, and team must resolve the Kevin Martin issue
by Mel Bracht Published: June 4, 2013
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NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy discussed some NBA topics in a conference call Tuesday, previewing the NBA Finals on ABC. Gundy, a former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets head coach, has been mentioned as a candidate for several coaching vacancies. Here are a few of his responses:

What does the Thunder need to do to get back to the Finals next year other than having a healthy Russell Westbrook.

Well, I think the positive of Westbrook getting hurt, and there's not many positives, is, A, I think everyone who was critical of Westbrook found out just how good and important he was. B, I think it gave them a better evaluation tool going forward about how good some of their younger players like Reggie Jackson could be. I was impressed with what he was able to do, and I think they have got to be excited about his future.

I think the Kevin Martin issue, do they sign him back? How do they fortify that bench? Is it Kevin Martin or is it younger players like (Jeremy) Lamb who they already have and spend their money someplace else.

But other than Westbrook getting back healthy and that resolvement of the Martin situation, I think they will be back in the Finals, if healthy, and I think they will be the favorite to win it all.

How would you evaluate where you are regarding a possible return to coaching against staying in broadcasting?

Well, you know, I think when you're talking about broadcasting, I'll never feel as comfortable broadcasting as I do in coaching because I'm just not — I'm still a novice at it. Thankfully I work with the Tim Duncan of broadcasting in Mike Breen; his understated greatness really helps out a novice like myself.

You know, as far as coaching, in particular, listen, if anything ever makes sense for a team and for myself where there is a fit of vision and values, I'd obviously consider it. And ESPN has been, you know, so generous in allowing me to do that.

But I also realize just how good I have it with the job I have right now. I don't take that for granted. I enjoy working with the people I work with. I enjoy being around the game. I've just been a big beneficiary of Mike and Tim (Corrigan), the producer, to help me try to get a little bit better every year.

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by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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