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Berry Tramel: Westbrook 'fantastic' for the Thunder so far this season

by Berry Tramel Modified: November 29, 2012 at 11:35 am •  Published: November 29, 2012
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The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel took questions from readers in today's Power Lunch Chat. Join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Today's chat covered the Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and a lot of conference realignment. Here's a recap of the Q&A.

ON THE OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER AND THE NBA:

I am very impressed with Russell Westbrook’s play so far this season. What are your thoughts?

I love Westbrook's play. I thought he was bad last night, but for the most part, Westbrook has been fantastic. Love his game.

Were there ever any rumblings of bad blood between Harden and Thabeet last season? That looked a little tense last night.

I don't think so. Thabeet didn't play enough last year to get under anyone's skin. I just think they had a tense moment that escalated for no good reason. But man, I loved the way Thabeet played. He's really impressed me.

Sounds like Houston was mentally not there against OKC. Your thoughts?

I would agree. I thought it was a terrible spot for Houston. Flying from Houston to Minnesota to OKC in the span of 16 hours, with a funeral in the middle? Terrible. No chance for the Rockets to be on top of their game.

Are you still high on Maynor? Eric has been big time struggling lately and I think it is time to give Reggie regular minutes and see what he can do.

I am disappointed in Maynor. But I wouldn't go to Jackson. I think Maynor very well could be still in recovery mode. I'm optimistic Maynor will improve. But if he's still playing like this in February, I'd be worried.

What do you think about trading Maynor to Sacramento for Jimmer?

It wouldn't be the worst trade in the NBA. But it would be on the list. I see no evidence that Jimmer Fredette can play. The Thunder needs a backup point guard, if Maynor can't go. But I still think Maynor can get back to where he was. And Reggie Jackson playing with one arm is better than Jimmer.

If you’re Sam Presti, do you package the picks and maybe Reggie Jackson or one of the rookies for someone that would help you for a shot at the title this year? If so who? A low post rebounder would be nice.

No. I would not package the picks. But here's what the Thunder needs most. They need a hybrid forward who can at least bother LeBron James. They need a Stephen Jackson/Shawn Marion type to help guard LeBron in a potential NBA Finals. That's what the Thunder needs most.

A perimeter defender would help a lot, but you are going to have to give up something. You say no to the picks then who are you going to give up?

You could send an expiring contract, or one of the young guys — Lamb, Jones, Jackson. Or you could trade that Dallas pick. That would be fine. I just wouldn't trade the Toronto pick.

I know I'm in the minority, but I really want to see Kelvin Sampson get an NBA gig. The guy knows how to coach and connects with his players well. Do you see any potential available jobs for him this year after McHale comes back?

I'm pulling for Kelvin, too. He said yesterday he thinks he'll be a head coach next season in the NBA. I wouldn't bet against it. Kelvin has done a good job with these Rockets, filling in.

Are the Raptors going to be so bad that they keep their pick this year? I assumed it is probably going to be at least a top 6 pick, but I didn't think they would be bad enough to keep it.

Even if the Raptors get in the top three, that's good news for the Thunder. Because then the pick reverts to next season, only it's protected just for the top two. And if Toronto still gets it, then it reverts to the NEXT draft, 2015, and is protected only at No. 1. So the Thunder is going to get a good pick.

 

ON THE OKLAHOMA SOONERS:

What announcement is coming today from Norman?

Confirmation of OU-Nebraska series in 2021-22.

Do you think OU beats TCU?

Yes, but I think it will be tough. TCU is solid on defense. Meanwhile, the Frogs are different from the offenses OU has seen the last three weeks. TCU is a run-first attack. So it should be very interesting.

Do you think OU will be better with Blake Bell next year?

No. Not at quarterback. Probably not team-wide, since the defensive line is about to get wiped out. Landry Jones is very good. I don't see Blake Bell being as good as Landry.

The last time the Sooners played in Fort Worth in ‘98, a fight broke out in the middle of the field after the game. Any chance that happens again, and your memories of that dreadful game 14 years ago?

I had forgotten the fight. I would say there's a next-to-nothing chance of that happening again. My memories — rained all day, neither team could move the ball, TCU led 9-0 the whole game, OU somehow got 10 points in the final few minutes. Jason Freeman made a huge play for OU. Someone — Jarrod Reese, Patrick Fletcher, somebody — threw an interception, but Freeman stripped the ball from the interceptor, and OU trotted out the field goal unit to win at the end.

The worst defense in the Bob Stoops era? ‘99, ‘05, or ‘12?

Not 2005. I would probably say 1999. But 2011 and 2012 runs it a close race.

 

ON THE OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS:

OSU has huge basketball games coming up against Virginia Tech on the 1st, then South Florida on the 5th, 3 gimmies, and a big one against Gonzaga on the 31st. Chances the Pokes can get through December still undefeated?

Pretty good. Playing at home helps. And this OSU team looks much better. Marcus Smart makes all the difference in the world. Wouldn't it be great if the Cowboys got to Big 12 play unbeaten and untied?

 

ON THE BIG 12 AND CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT:

Since Louisville is headed to the ACC what team is or should be the focus for the Big 12 to bring in? FSU?

FSU? Why not just go after Notre Dame. Look, I don't think Florida State is coming. If Florida State wasn't coming last year, why would it come now, when the ACC is fortified. Look at the ACC: it's added Pitt, Syracuse and Louisville, plus Notre Dame partially, while losing Maryland. The ACC's better than ever.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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