Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he would prefer to have Joe Smith remain on the roster for the final 25 games rather than see the front office come to terms on a buyout for the 14-year veteran forward. Smith must be released by Sunday in order to be eligible to join a playoff team for this season.
“I admire Joe Smith’s professionalism, how he takes his time with our guys,” Brooks said. “And he’s a great veteran leader. I’m not concerned with the business side of it. I have to coach the guys that we have. That’s going to be between (general manager) Sam (Presti) and (Smith’s) agent. I don’t know what’s happening. I just know I like what Joe brings to this team. Joe’s perfect for this team. He’s been terrific for us.” Mason recovering ahead of schedule Desmond Mason is ahead of schedule in his recovery from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee but still will not be available for the Thunder’s final 25 games. Mason visited the team’s doctor Monday and an MRI has been scheduled for early next week to determine how the knee is progressing. “He’s confident everything is good right now,” Mason said. “We’re a little bit ahead of schedule in getting off of the crutches and being able to start rehab stuff. I’ve already started hamstring and quad stuff, which is really good. So everything is going really well.” Reject realignment With a two-game road trip looming this weekend against Southwest Division teams Dallas and Memphis, Brooks was asked if he’d like to see the NBA realign its divisions to move Oklahoma City into the more geographically-friendly Southwest Division which includes the Mavs, Grizzlies, San Antonio, Houston and New Orleans.