During his annual international preseason "state of the union” teleconference Friday afternoon, NBA commissioner David Stern mentioned only three players by name during 35 minutes of questions and answers — Sacramento’s Omri Casspi as Israel’s first NBA player and Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose as rising stars.
Stern’s comment was in reference to a question about how recent rule changes have opened the floor, allowing the NBA to produce a more entertaining product. "Into our system comes players, not just the established stars, or the great veterans, or the international standouts, but this year’s rookies and the Kevin Durants and Derrick Roses,” Stern said. "It’s an extraordinary group of players.”
BATTLING FOR BACKUP pg DUTYAfter seven preseason games, the Thunder’s backup point guard spot remains unsettled. Shaun Livingston was the favorite coming into the season to play the majority of minutes behind starter Russell Westbrook. But Kevin Ollie turned the competition into a closer-than-expected battle. "We still have five days to figure it out,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "It’s open, and I like what both guys bring. We still have some decisions to make.” In five games, Livingston averaged 20.2 minutes, 4.8 points and 1.8 assists. In four games, Ollie averaged 22.5 minutes, 3.0 points and 2.3 assists. "We’re just playing it by ear,” Livingston said.