The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry took questions from readers in today's OKC Thunder Power Lunch Chat. You can join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Here's a look at today's Q&A:
Will the starting five be intact at the start of the season? What about the chemistry issue of them not having played together yet?
I had doubts whether they really were going to throw Kendrick Perkins out there Nov. 1 without practice full contact at all in the preseason. But Perk is starting to do more and more, and Brooks said holding him out of the contact drills is now like pulling teeth. So they should be fully healthy. But I do think it is going to take some time to get the chemistry back, especially with the second unit.
Did Orton pass Thabeet last night against the Bobcats?
This team doesn't make decisions like that in one night. It's easy for us as fans and media to evaluate players like that. But the best teams let things play out. Orton had one solid night, not great but solid. I doubt that's suddenly going to move him up the depth chart.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook can beat 28 teams in this league just alternating possessions. Do you think there will be more of an effort made to get other guys into the flow offensively so that late in the playoffs guys are used to getting shots?
That's been the goal for a while now. Sometimes it happens, other times it doesn't. But you saw in spurts last year (Game 4 against San Antonio) how helpful it can be. So we'll see if they've learned a thing or two and try to focus more on that throughout the year this season.
I assume the rotation will be Westbrook, Sefolosha, Durant, Ibaka, Perkins; Maynor, Harden, Cook, Collison, Aldrich. Any changes you anticipate?
Perry Jones might be ahead of Daequan Cook, or the two might split time depending on the game. But other than that, I'd say that's about right.
Can the Thunder afford four roster spots to Cs when three are hopeful at best?
Since the three backups would earn about $4 million combined, I say yes.
PJIII dropped in the draft because of concerns over his knee, but your reporting hasn't mentioned that he has been hobbled or shown signs of problems. Was/is the concern that he might be slowed this year? Or that it may become an issue in 2-3 years?
Down the line, sort of like concerns with DeJuan Blair or Brandon Roy when they were coming into the league.
PJ3 looked great last night! Do you see him getting much playing time?
I still don't see it. Remember, he has to play behind Durant, Ibaka and Collison. There just aren’t enough minutes to be had for him to get much time.
I agree with you about keeping the big guys. But if Liggins is playing as well as you say, why would you keep Hayward over him? What are the ramifications of cutting Hayward? Would the Thunder have to pay the one million he is owed this year anyway and it still counts against the tax?
The Thunder is not in the tax this year. So there wouldn't be a luxury tax penalty. But look, if it was my decision I'd keep Liggins over Lazar. But the budget has become a real situation that the team has to be mindful of. I just don't see them getting rid of Lazar to keep a guy who isn't likely going to play much, if at all, anyway in Liggins. They'd have to pay Hayward's buyout and pay Liggins. It probably would be more money than just paying Hayward this year.
So happy to see Maynor back on the court. Is there really a backup PG race or is that Brook's motivation?
I've long thought that it was more motivation than anything else. But Reggie has looked good.
It was Collison a couple of years ago and this year is Thabo. Can you explain to me how they show up to camp with an injury?
Is Daequan Cook tradable? Especially if somebody like Rautins could knock down threes for far less money. Would Presti accept something as little as a second-round pick to remove Daequan's contract from the tax number?
In a heartbeat at this point.
Daniel Orton and Andy Rautins had some nice plays last night. Chances they will make the cut?
Orton I'm saying 95 percent. Rautins, zero.
I didn't care for the answer as to why at least more than a couple of preseason games are not televised. In my opinion that is weak that the games are not televised and the franchise is just being cheap.
You want televised preseason games or James Harden?
I hate that it seems as if I am pulling against Maynor, because I obviously really like him, but I wanted Reggie to play and play well last night just to shut up Berry Tramel. He seems to think that Maynor is Bob Cousy. Reggie has really improved and I hate that he is getting ripped because he is not Maynor.
I don't think anyone is ripping Jackson (not anymore at least). But it is clear that Maynor is special for what he is and what he is to this team. I'm with you though. I'd like to see Jackson succeed (but not to shut up Berry).
What are the chances that some minor deals could be made, like moving Cook or Hayward if Presti and Brooks like Liggins and want to hang on to Orton?
Slim. But I wouldn't doubt Presti. The problem, though, is that a team has to be willing to give up an asset for those guys. That might be hard to find, even if it's only a second-round pick. They just don't have much value.
If the cheap bigs play as well as Aldrich, could you see Aldrich being traded due to his salary, especially with the increase next year?
Didn't see a lot of Aldrich last night, what's your assessment of his progress?
He has a good possession and then a bad possession. We might all want to get used to that for now. But if his good possessions have outweighed his bad by the end of the night, then he's done his job.
Your prediction for biggest surprise teams in the East and West?
I'll say Cleveland in the East and Sacramento in the West.
One thing I have noticed with Hayward when he gets to play, dude is a serious ball hog. He has a JR Smith like quality of getting shots up when he is in the game.
Would you say Orton appears to be a more confident scorer in the post than Aldrich?
I think it is safe to say that Darren Rovell would not approve of Russell Westbrook’s "Why not Wednesday" on Twitter. Geez, he is killing everybody's timeline.
Lol. Yup. Westbrook's absence from Twitter made me forget how annoying that is.
How good is Denver? Can they get a top 4 seed?
I think so. I'm really high on the Nuggets. They play great team ball, a style that is hard to defend for most teams and, in my opinion, upgraded from Afflalo to AI.
What do you think of the Celtics this year?
Kind of funny that I was just saying to myself either yesterday or two days ago that I really like how they've retooled. Jason Terry and Courtney Lee can make up for Ray Allen. I like Sullinger. Not so high on Fab Melo. They're getting Jeff Green back, and at some point will get Bradley back. And I think Darko will help them. They should be in the thick of it in the East ... but probably still can't beat Miami.
How did Aldrich do defending Utah's bigs?
He was awful against Al Jefferson. But it's Al Jefferson. He makes a lot of guys look awful trying to defend him. Aldrich resorted to hacking Enes Kanter. That was sort of embarrassing. But, again, Aldrich's good plays outweighed his bad, which is the only goal you can really have for him.
Any news on the new sideline reporter?
Haven't heard anything yet.
Speaking of Utah, was that Jerry Sloan on the Bobcat bench last night?
I didn't see that.
Daequan is perilously close to the “shooter who can't shoot.”
I wouldn't go that far.
How many games do you think it will be before the Lakers gel, or don't?
I'll give them two months to get on the same page. But if it doesn't happen by then, I don't think that means they won't get there.
Bradley Beal seems to be playing well. Do you think Presti is going to regret not making the Harden for Beal deal?
If he has to lose Harden at the deadline, I think he might wonder what could have been.
Nice potshot from Haberstrok in his Harden article. "All you can eat steak and catfish barn in downtown OKC" Are you kidding me.
I wouldn't even pay attention to it if I were you.