News and Notes
Oklahoma City still hasn’t signed second-round pick DeVon Hardin. Second-round picks aren’t guaranteed to make the team, but Hardin’s case is unusual because GM Sam Presti has raved about his potential since the team drafted him last month. Here’s what Presti had to say when I asked him why Hardin still hasn’t signed:
“He’s a second-round guy, and we’re still evaluating what we’re going to do with him. He has the opportunity to come to camp and make the team. We’ll see what happens with him. But we’re excited by him. We think he could be somebody that is a part of what we’re trying to do because of his athleticism and his size. We didn’t think he’d be there at the 50th pick, but if you kind of look at second-round picks in general a lot of them aren’t signed before camp.”
Utah still is deciding whether it will match OKC’s offer for C.J. Miles. The Deseret News reports the Jazz will wait until the end of the seven days to announce their decision. What makes this stalemate interesting is Utah didn’t wait the full seven days to make a decision on Dee Brown when Washington signed him to an offer sheet.
Miles clearly is a better prospect than Brown, who is at best a third-string point guard. But what makes the two situations similar is Utah is loaded at both players’ positions. The Jazz have Deron Williams, Ronnie Price and Jason Hart at point guard and didn’t need Brown. They also have Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer and Morris Almond at shooting guard, and you’d think this would be an easy decision on Miles, especially considering OKC’s four-year, $15 million offer is a hefty price tag for a suddenly cash-strapped Jazz franchise. The Jazz have until Friday morning.
Recently, I’ve been asked whether Presti made the wrong call by passing on Jerryd Bayless and selecting Russell Westbrook with the fourth overall pick. My answer: it’s too early to say. I’m assuming this question is gaining steam because of the way Bayless tore up the Vegas Summer League, averaging 29.8 points on 48.5 percent shooting with 4.8 rebounds in four games. How quickly we forget, though, how Westbrook did the same in Orlando a week earlier and had NBA types calling him “the best player in the (Orlando) league not named Kevin Durant.” That includes fellow high-profile rookies Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose and Brook Lopez.
I thought the then-Sonics should have drafted Bayless, but I’m not ready to say they made a mistake by taking Westbrook. After all, summer league is just that. We’ll see how both players do when the lights come on in November.
A couple of Thunder-related items…
- The Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the Yankees, is trying to “ease the pain of Sonics fans worldwide” by offering any Sonics fans a free ticket to a Thunder game. Trenton Thunder GM Brad Taylor says, “We can’t blame Oklahoma City for choosing the best nickname in all of sports and certainly wish them well.”
- The Wichita Eagle has a poll on its Web site asking readers what will be their interest in Oklahoma City’s NBA franchise. Leading all categories so far with 200 of the 563 votes, “It’s the NBA. I’m only interested in college ball.” Wichita is home of the Central Hockey League’s Wichita Thunder, which plays the Oklahoma City Blazers. If OKC’s team name really is Thunder, things can get confusing around here if the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers are in town the same night Wichita brings its Thunder to face off against OKC’s Blazers.
- With the name Thunder, people seem to love it or hate it. Personally, each time I hear someone grumbling about it I think back to this city’s love of the Hornets, which without a doubt is one of the worst five nicknames in the NBA. Nobody cared then and, in time, nobody will mind whatever the name ends up being with this franchise.
Speaking of the Hornets, ESPN.com has a nice little article on former fan favorite Speedy Claxton on the comeback trail. Claxton is looking to bounce back with the Hawks after signing a four-year, $25 million deal following the 2005-06 season. He missed all of last season with knee problems and played in only 42 games in 2006-07.
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