In today’s paper, I wrote about Thabo Sefolosha’s contract year being an interesting case study that will test the Thunder’s philosophy. You can read that piece right here.
I recently spoke with Sefolosha about his contract year, and although he said he mostly standard stuff about not focusing on it right now, he did say that his preference is to stay in Oklahoma City. Here are a few questions and answers from my interview with Sefolosha about his contract year.
On how this time is similar or different to his first extension
“I don’t know. I don’t think too much about those kinds of things. I think if I do my job and work hard and believe in myself, things are going to be OK. So, really, I don’t think too much about any of that.”
On whether he feels any additional responsibility this season to prove he deserves another deal
“I think what I’ve done during the time I had with this contract, I don’t know if anything is going to be that much different. If I go out and do anything extra. I think I’ve been proving to be a good defender, one of the top in the league probably in my mind. That’s what I rely on, and that’s what the team expects from me. So I just want to go out there and have fun.”
On what will factor into his decision
“Again, I don’t know. It’s something that’s far ahead for me. So, really, I try to focus on right now, playing the game, playing it to the best of my abilities and that’s it.”
On how the Thunder’s history of not letting its players reach free agency, as well as other business on the team’s plate this summer, might impact him
“I haven’t looked at the roster and who’s coming up. I play the game. And at the end of the day, I think things are going to figure themselves out. So I don’t (think) about what should I do or this or that. I can’t control any of that. So I just play the game.”
On whether the Thunder has been a good fit
“Definitely. And I like the city. I like what we’re building here. And I’ve been part of it since almost Day One. So it feels great to be here and hopefully I’ll be able to stay.”
I also asked Thunder coach Scott Brooks a few questions about Sefolosha’s play this season, specifically whether he thinks Sefolosha is pressing. Here’s what Brooks had to say about Sefolosha’s slow start shooting the ball.
“His shot has not fallen as we have grown accustomed to the last couple of years,” Brooks said. “But the thing that I love about Thabo, as you saw (recently), he’s nonstop hustle. And that’s a great sign because when you don’t shoot the ball well, a lot of players in this league kind of relax on the defensive end. But that’s not Thabo. He still is chasing after every loose ball and he’s hustling after rebounds and he’s locking and chasing in on his man. And so those are things I look at. If you continue to work on your shot, and you take good shots those things are going to kind of even itself out. After five games, it’s unfair to say that he’s not going to have a good shooting year. He’s having a tough start. But that’s going to turn.”
I then asked Brooks about Sefolosha seeking to expand his game, as it seemed he was doing more than he typically does. This was a few games back, when Sefolosha started the season trying to take his man off the dribble more than we’ve been accustomed to seeing. Not surprisingly, Brooks publicly backed his player.
“I don’t see it the way you see it.” Brooks said. “He shot nine times (against Detroit), and six of them were 3s . To me, expanding his game would be to play a bunch of pick and rolls and post ups and all that. But he’s still doing what we need him to do, which is shoot 3s. He’s just missing them right now. He has not shot the ball well. He’s not shot the ball well in games, but he’s shooting the ball well in practice and that will all even itself out as the season goes”