Anthony Slater: Kevin Martin now OKC's best scorer coming off the bench

NewsOK.com Sports Blogger Anthony Slater stood in for Darnell Mayberry and took questions from readers in today's Power Lunch Chat. Join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports.
Oklahoman Modified: October 30, 2012 at 3:20 pm •  Published: October 30, 2012
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Any chance of Kevin Martin taking Thabo's starting spot?

No. Like I said, his role will be similar to Harden. They need scoring off the bench (Martin) and defensive toughness in starting rotation (Thabo). But there is a chance, in games where his shot is on, Martin will be in the closing rotation.

Saw Lazar got released by Houston, any way OKC might bring him back?

Because of the new CBA agreement, Oklahoma City won't be allowed to sign Lazar Hayward for a calendar year. It's a rule implemented as a way to dissuade players from holding out after trades, forcing a release or buyout and then going back to his new team (similar to what Zydrunas Ilgauskus did a couple years ago in Cleveland).

What are the chances Harden gets a 5-year deal from Houston?

Very good. Houston GM Daryl Morey brought him there (and gave up a lot) with the idea that he will become the Rockets franchise player. Clearly, they are willing to pay him whatever he wants, which is the max amount of years and money. That will be five years and $70 million, so I'd expect that's what they'll agree on.

Still think the Thunder wins the West?

It's Oklahoma City and Los Angeles, then everybody else. I'd still favor OKC, but that gap closed slightly on Saturday night. The Thunder's biggest advantage over the Lakers was speed and youth, two things they gave up in the trade. But the Thunder still have the West's best player and a more cohesive unit. But if the Lakers veteran unit can generate chemistry early, and stay healthy throughout, this season, they may snatch that favorite crown come playoff time.

Over/under 55 wins?

Over. OKC's young unit loves to play ball and has shown an unique ability to stay healthy (Russell Westbrook has still never missed a game in his NBA career). They'll thrive during a long season while others have lulls, winning the West with around 60 wins.

What are the Thunder going to do with the two empty roster spot now available?

For now, it's good to have some flexibility. It's not like player 14 or 15 will be contributing on the court, except for the lead cheerleader role, slapping high fives as the stars come off for timeouts. Eventually, I expect them to use one spot on a younger project-type player (probably a big man) and then keep the other open for a late in the season veteran pickup (if available and needed).

Has Darnell been traded?

No, he wasn't shipped to Houston as the player to be named. Although the Rockets could probably use him for more depth. He was just running a little behind.

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