The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry took questions from readers in today's Oklahoma City Thunder Power Lunch Chat. Join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Here's a recap of today's Q&A:
Are you at that point where you can say that the Harden trade was a mistake?
No. I will never say that. I can question if they should have traded somebody else or amnestied someone. But I will never say it was a mistake. This team would have been blown up in two years had he re-signed. And even if he did, the Harden you're seeing in Houston is not the same Harden you would have seen on the Thunder. People need to get that through their heads.
As of right now, who do you think plays Miami in the Finals?
Seeing how Martin has struggled, do you think the Thunder will resign him? Do you think they should resign him?
He's shooting a career-high from 3-point range. I wouldn't call that struggling. But as everyone knows by now, or should, it's going to be a matter of money. If Martin's asking price is reasonable the Thunder will bring him back.
Of the Thunder’s rookies, which do you see making an impact on the court next season?
Kevin Durant raved about Jeremy Lamb the other day. He said Lamb would be a big contributor next year. I think it all depends on whether K-Mart comes back.
Which free agents would you like to see the Thunder go after and why during this off season?
Haven't really thought in those terms. J.J. Redick could be a fit as a floor stretcher. But, again, the price would have to be right. Truthfully, though, there is so much talent at the end of the bench and so many great players/important pieces in the current rotation that free agency is merely a fantasy at this point.
Do you see the Thunder offering Derek Fisher a coaching position if he retires? Seems the Thunder love what he brings to the table despite his diminishing game.
It's possible. But I'm not sure Fish wants to coach so soon after his playing days.
Do you think the Thunder could lure any big name free agents? Do you think Oklahoma City (the city itself and the organization) appeals to outsiders?
Don't have the money. But, yes, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook having turned this franchise into a winner, people will want to play here.
Is Jeremy Lamb coming back?
Yes. Lamb is under contract for another three seasons.
Is it fair to say that Ibaka getting open midrange shots is a barometer for how well the Thunder is moving the ball? If not, what's the biggest indicator, if any?
Not really. Ibaka could just be benefiting from a simple pick-and-pop with Westbrook, which also is the reason Westbrook's assists numbers sometimes don't show how he truly is or is not moving the ball. I think Sefolosha's 3-point attempts are a decent indicator, although those can be a bit misleading as well. For example, if the guards are just driving and kicking, that's one pass and a shot. So there's no one real thing that is a good indicator. You just have to watch the game and judge for yourself really.
You really got after Brooks in your recent nuggets. It seems most everyone would agree with your reasoning. Do you think the current Fisher PT issue will keep the Thunder from making the Finals again?
I don't think it's that serious, and I'm not trying to "go after" anyone. Just pointing out observations. Brooks just happens to be the man pulling the strings.
Do you think the Jackson/Fisher situation has anything to do with future contract negotiations? Possibly trying to limit his success to drive his resigning price down? I just can't find a logical reason at this point.
I've given up trying to understand it.
Am I the only one who thinks Maynor walking away for nothing would've been better than signing Fisher?
He did essentially walk away for nothing. The Thunder got a trade exception out of it, which the team may or may not use.
How many rings does Jeremy Lamb have?
College: 1. NBA: 0. Pinky: unknown.
Do you think the success that the Reggie Jackson/Russell Westbrook backcourt lineup has yielded in the last week or so will finally get through to Brooks that Reggie is a better option than Fisher to close out games?
I've stopped giving Brooks the benefit of the doubt when it comes to these things. He's a "feel" coach, and that seems to win out over obvious results.
If you’re guessing, who won’t be on the Thunder’s roster next season that is right now?
Thabeet hasn't been too bad this season. Do you think the future looks brighter for him after this season than prior? Maybe a decent starter somewhere someday?
He's still extremely foul prone. Not sure how much he can ever be relied on to be a starter. But, yes, his future looks brighter today than it did in October. I think we all forget the guy just turned 26. He's still got plenty of time to grow.
It’s a shame that Scott Brooks doesn’t give Derek Fisher’s minutes to Lamb.
I still have doubts about whether Lamb is ready. Frankly, I don't think he is. But playing Fisher over, in order, Thabo Sefolosha, Reggie Jackson and Ronnie Brewer, that's just madness.
Do you travel with the team to away games or are you on your own?
I'm on my own. Always have been. Always will be.
What's it going to take to get Brooks to trust these young guys like Reggie and Lamb more?
Oh, I'd say 17 years and five championships.
I see a lot of people say that Derek Fisher is taking away from Reggie Jackson’s minutes, but I really think he might be taking away from DeAndre Liggins. I think Jackson, Liggins and Kevin Martin keep a good balance of offense/defense that Fisher at SG lacks. Watched the 66ers game and Liggins has more offensive game then I thought.
Listen buddy. You don't have to tell me about DeAndre Liggins. I'm the driver of that bandwagon in case you haven't heard. Have been since the preseason in Hidalgo, Texas. There's room aboard if you'd like to hop on. But you will not start questioning the driver!
Is it fair for me to believe that the Thunder will never win a championship as long as Brooks is head coach?
A lot of people seem to be making that proclamation lately. I think it's a little much. Remember when everyone thought the Heat would have to can Spoelstra to win it all? How'd that work out for Miami? I know, I know. The Heat have that LeBron James fellow, right. But there's this guy in OKC. His name is Kevin Durant. You might have heard of him.
Do you really think they're holding something back for the Playoffs like the team has suggested in interviews? What could that possibly even be?
I haven't seen or heard anyone say that in interviews. Wouldn't be very wise of them to admit it if they did. The one thing I think that can go up a few notches is the intensity. Other than that, this team is what it is.
Is it rust or old bones and calcium that Fisher hasn’t shot or played defense well? By the way, did you know that Fisher shows a 0.6PPP via Synergy Sports? To their metrics he is the best defender in the league.
I want a refund on my Synergy subscription.
How confident/worried should fans be that this team can pull it together for the post season?
I'd lean more toward worried than confident. Everything from the second round on is a huge question mark.
How worried should fans be that the Thunder will not make it past the second round?
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being The Sky Is Falling, I'd say 6.
Is it reasonable to think Jackson will be an 8-point, 3-assist, 3-rebound player next year?
Are you kidding me. He should be that THIS year.
What do you think about the Thunder’s defense so far? Do you think it needs some improvement?
Yes. It's atrocious at times. And even when it's been good lately it hasn't been consistent.
What does the Thunder need to work on the most in these last regular season games?
Most? I don't know. But it'd be good to see the team shore up the same things as always. Ball movement. Rebounding. Defense.
OKC has to go 8-3 to get to 60 wins. Think they get there?
Yes. They've got some pretty winnable games on deck. Washington, two against Milwaukee, Sacramento, Minnesota. That's five right there the Thunder should and probably will get.
I'm starting to think that K-Mart has gotten out of his slump. He is passing better and grabbing boards better. Do you think this is just him getting more acclimated to Brook's system or is he just assuming the Harden role better?
Neither. There is no real system and he is no James Harden. I think he's just starting to make shots again. Every player goes through a slump. He had his as a shooter. Now he's being more aggressive and getting more shots at the basket on backcuts and such. The evolving chemistry with Nick Collison is helping as well.
Will Brooks stonewall you on interviews via Russell Westbrook now?
I don't know. But Brooks is a professional and all class.
What kind of a player should OKC pick in the draft?
With Collison getting up there in age and Perk's contract running out sooner rather than later, not to mention numerous questions behind those two in Perry Jones, Hasheem Thabeet and Tibor Pleiss, I'd say a big man. There are plenty in this draft. But I'll tell you a guy that I've loved all season and think could really help the Thunder. That's Victor Oladipo. He reminds me of Russell Westbrook in a lot of ways. There is no real need for him with Westbrook, Jackson, Lamb, Liggins and, possibly, K-Mart. But I think he's good enough to put pressure on the coaching staff to play him.
Do you think OKC can beat San Antonio in the Playoffs?
I have doubts.
Every time Fisher shoots, Cuban laughs!
While others shake their heads.
At what point do you think the coaching staff will implement a more intricate (or any) offense? Any signs they ever will?
That's a great question. Brooks has said that he's wanted to keep it basic so that his players could master the fundamentals before moving on to more intricate things. Well now the pressure is quickly rising for him and his staff to show that they do indeed have more intricate things. Because Durant and Westbrook and company look ready.
I think Fisher's minutes are an insurance policy. He has been out half a season and Brooks wants to make sure he is in shape and in the flow of the game. If Reggie falters in the playoffs, Fisher doesn't come in having not played all season.
The thing about insurance, Tom, is that you rarely use it.
How great of a storyline would a Houston vs. OKC first round matchup be?
Pretty good … for four games.
Have you broached the topic of playing time with Fisher himself? I'd think even he might be surprised to be playing this much at 38 years old.
Highly doubt it. He was dressing all alone at his locker last night when Collison was the only other one in the locker room. A few of us in the media were still in there talking to Collison and someone jokingly asked if I was going to talk to Fisher. I laughed and said "What am I going to talk to him about?" That brief exchange got me thinking about what if I did talk to him? What would he say? In my opinion, Fisher is such a competitor and has been a winner for so long that I doubt he sees himself as a detriment. He's a prideful dude and has a history of getting exactly what he wants in his career. Guys like that don't let go of things easily.
How far down the roster do you see guys getting playing time in the Playoffs? Is 7 or 8 deep enough to not see KD and Russ playing 48 every game?
Starters, K-Mart, Collison and a platoon of Jackson/Fisher. Thabeet might creep in there at times depending on the matchup.
Do you think Durant is feeling the pressure to keep the 50-40-90 stats up?
I don't think. I know.
Is 50-40-90 affecting Durant’s shot selection & aggressiveness? Think he'll be freed up once playoffs start?
Yes, yes and yes.
When is Durant going to take this team by the neck and lead them like LeBron does the Heat?
It's a question I ponder every day.
What's the deal with Russ and interviews?
He has decided that he doesn't like doing it, and that's the way it is.
So last year at this time the Thunder was in a better position heading into the Playoffs?
I'd say so, but only because of personnel.
OKC would sweep Miami.
In what? Connect Four? Monopoly? Dominoes?