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:
Does Scott Brooks just not trust Reggie Jackson? Or is he afraid of sending Eric Maynor's confidence over the cliff if Reggie is the backup point for at least one game?
Brooks is a coach who sticks with what's worked until it's clearly not working any longer. He doesn't make changes swiftly. He doesn't pull the plug at the first, or even second, sign of trouble. While we might see someone is not performing, Brooks looks at the team and it's track record. That's why Maynor is still in the lineup. The Thunder is 14-4 and the second unit has probably only cost the team one game (Boston maybe). In addition to that, it's likely a situation where if he yanks Maynor now the entire league, if it doesn't already, will know he's struggling to recover from the knee injury. That would destroy Maynor's trade value, if it hasn't already plummeted.
If training camp/practice time were equal, who would be more "in future plans" between PJ3 and Lamb? Whose skill set fits better into what the Thunder need over the next few seasons considering how set the roster looks?
PJ3 is more versatile, while Lamb is more of a natural scorer. This team loves versatility, so I think privately the team would say PJ3. But we've all seen the need for a third scorer alongside KD & Russ. Lamb might have the potential to someday develop into that guy.
Which player do you think will end up being the biggest impact player for the Thunder: Perry Jones III, Jeremy Lamb, Hasheem Thabeet, Reggie Jackson or the Toronto pick?
I'm sticking with Reggie Jackson.
Kevin Durant MVP so far this year?
The first 8-10 games it was KD. But in the last six to eight it's been Russ.
Why has Hasheem been serviceable in OKC but nowhere in the league to this point? Is it just a matter of bigs taking some time to develop?
They believe in him here.
You've said Martin might be worth too much to re-sign at the end of the year. What dollar amount do you think the Thunder would be willing to re-sign him at? 11 million?
No. $11 million would be way too much in my opinion. Anything more than, say, $7 million a season and it's time to look elsewhere. That's not an indictment on Martin. It's more about where this team's payroll currently stands.
What do you think about Charles Barkley? He sure loves the Heat.
Barkley is what he is. He gets paid to analyze the game and sometimes spew controversial things. But like it or not, he's right much more than he is wrong. People rarely want to give him credit when he's right and always want to roast him when he's wrong.
Do you see Lamb and PJIII as trade bait or keepers? Any chance the Thunder picks up a name free agent for the playoff run?
Those two, and Reggie Jackson, will not be traded.
What are Serge's All-Star chances? PF is pretty deep in the West.
I think we'd have to wait at least another year before seriously discussing that. His rebounding is still pretty average, and his scoring still streaky.
What is the worst and best road trip for media in your opinion? The Philly airport is a dungeon. That has to be up there.
Ironically, the worst used to be New Jersey. I say this as I'm sitting in a Nets media room in Brooklyn (thank God). The best is probably Oklahoma City, the one that's not a trip for me. Writers always rave about how the airport is easy and close to downtown. And since most traveling media members stay at Marriott properties, the Courtyard Marriott being a stone's throw from The Peake is like beat writer luxury. The nightlife is another story.
Any idea what position the Thunder will target in the draft? Any players you have your eye on?
I don't really have my eye on anyone specifically. I just try to get a feel for the players who might be in the Thunder's range every year. I think the Thunder has to target a big man.
Do you see Thabeet becoming a double-double machine for the second unit? Any ideas on if K-Mart will want to stay after this year?
I can't see that. But I also couldn't see him making an impact at all this year. As for K-Mart, I'm sure he'll say the right things. But where have we heard that before?
Who gets triple doubles this year for the Thunder and who finishes with the most?
Durant, Westbrook and I'll say at least one for Ibaka. My guess is Westbrook will finish with the most.
You see Byron Mullins monster dunk on Aldridge? Can't believe the Thunder traded away that athleticism.
Don't act like you weren't one of the many calling him a bust when he was here.
Durant is a free throw or two away from 50-40-90. Think he'll finally do it this year?
Nope. His free throw shooting might not hold up.
Does Brooklyn have enough defense to stop the Thunder tonight?
Thoughts on the Jordan 28's that Westbrook will debut tonight?
I was at the launch last night and when I first saw them I was like most. I didn't like them. But the more I looked at them, they're not bad. Coincidentally, KD was just asked about it at shootaround and his reply was "different." Tells you all you need to know about his opinion of them.
In a previous chat you gave your opinion that the best chance for the Thunder to beat the Heat in the Finals was to add someone — would you still feel that way if you KNEW that Russ would play the Finals at his current awesome level?
Yes. Something is missing. The Thunder is in the process of trying to patch it up, and OKC is doing a good job of doing that. But Durant and Westbrook still are having to have incredible performances to lead this team to some wins. As we saw in the Finals last year, that's not enough.
Do you see the Thunder signing Kevin Martin to a long-term contract?
It all depends on the price. And I have no idea what Martin's asking price will be. But, again, if it's more than $7 million per I'd shy away.
To beat the Heat I believe we should have Westbrook, Sefolosha, Martin, Durant and Ibaka on the floor together much of the time. What do you think?
It's been a solid lineup so far. It could work against the Heat, as long as Sefolosha's on LeBron and Westbrook is on Wade. You'd have to hide Martin on Chalmers and KD on Battier.
How much has Hasheem Thabeet surprised you so far this year?
Earlier this year I wrote that K-Mart's fast start was my biggest surprise. Now, it's Thabeet. He's been great in his role.
Who do you think will win the PG matchup tonight?
Is Serge at least in the All-Star discussion? It seems that is how the membership goes, you must be in the conversation to make the team for at least one year before finally making it
That's precisely what we've seen in the past.
Any idea who the Thunder might target for the final roster spot for a playoff run?
It's difficult to project since most any move would put the team over the tax threshold, something the Thunder is not willing to do this season.
Footrace from one end of the court to the other. Russ versus the rest of the NBA. Who wins?
Whose interests should the NBA have in mind the most: owners, players or fans? That's what the Spurs deal last Thursday comes down to right?
First and foremost, I'm a fan of the game. I was before this job, and I will be long after this job. So I'm biased. I'm going to say the fans. But that decision was more about the advertisers.
Geez, the Raptors are terrible. It is possible they keep the pick this year. Which probably would be a good thing for the Thunder to defer that pick one year.
Not sure why people are saying the Thunder doesn't need the pick this year. That makes no sense to me. I say get the pick, get a player in here and get him acclimated as soon as possible, or use it to land a veteran. Either way, I'm not much of a fan of waiting on picks. Most importantly, Toronto is likely to get better, not worse. This year is the best shot the Thunder has at a top five pick. If it's in the top three this year (which Toronto would keep), next year could be 10-14. Is that really what you want? I'd prefer this year's fourth or fifth overall pick as opposed to next year's 12th. But that's just me.
Was Aldrich not a hard worker? Thabeet's rapid improvement in the "Thunder program" to me is a glaring indictment of Aldrich, who had a couple of years in the program and never did improve.
Aldrich got caught in a numbers game. First, James Harden's contract number. Then, the numbers to make the trade work. And finally, the number that is his salary, which for this team had become to big for a backup center. He worked extremely hard and was improving. He just never got a chance to show it.
Are the Jordan Brand shoes their own company, or are they a part of Nike?
It's a subsidiary of Nike. But it's sort of like it's own company.
So you think Martin likely won't be re-signed which means he will be flipped for something. Do you see Martin (maybe picks) being flipped for the deadline or after?
No. Martin is here to stay. The team is investing a lot of time in figuring out how to best use him. The Thunder isn't just going to blow up all that progress in February.
If the Thunder were to make a trade for some bench help who would get minutes taken away from them?
Probably Sefolosha and Durant. Those are the two guys currently being forced to play minutes with the second unit.
But there is no way that Martin gets 12 per from anybody on his new deal is there?
Of course I want to say no way. But with the way these owners and GMs are making decisions, I wouldn't be surprised.
Do you think the Thunder can lure any name free agents this summer? Who should the Thunder target and why?
I've got a name for you. Seems every week we do this I have another one. J.J. Redick. The guy is like Kevin Martin lite. And he's probably guaranteed to be available at a lower number than Martin. He's slightly younger, just as good of a shooter, if not better and has improved his all-around game over the years. Oh, and he's a typical high-character Presti type guy. It makes sense on a lot of levels.
Could the Thunder find any use for the Jimmer?
Maybe. Teams always need specialists like Jimmer. But based on how Cook was used, I'm not sure Brooks would use Jimmer.
Any chance the Thunder loses Sefolosha anytime in the near future due to money?
No. He's not going to command a ton from anybody. And he's shown in the past that he wants to stay here even if it means sacrificing the potential for more money.
If a move is in the plans, who are some players around the league that Presti will be targeting to maybe add a little more to the roster for a Championship run this year?
My gut tells me that a move is not currently in the plans.
Should the LAL be worried? Or do they just need to get the final playoff spot?
Until Steve Nash returns, I'm reserving judgment.
Does Collison feel more comfortable with his shooting now that he is expected to contribute on that end?
He's been working on it the past two summers and wants to be more aggressive. I think that's what has him feeling more comfortable.
Have you seen the Barclays Center yet? Is it nice? How does it compare to Orlando's new arena?
I'm sitting in the media room at the arena now. But I haven't seen much of the arena yet. I will try to get here early tonight and take a little tour.
Do you see K-Mart's Defense as better, worse, or “as-advertised”?
So far, I'd say better. Because the way it was "advertised," you'd think he was the Thunder would get outscored every minute he was on the floor. He's been OK so far.
Can we expect to see Lamb playing a major scoring role in the playoffs this year or years to come?
Seems like in the NBA people have a pretty good idea of who will be the top 2-3 teams in each conference at the beginning of the year with few exceptions while other leagues seem to be more wide open. Why is that?
Parity in other leagues, and stars in the NBA having more of a dominant impact than stars in other sports.
Who do you have in the WCF?
I don't know. Spurs-Thunder.
I am glad that Maynor wasn't signed to a 16-20 million 4-year extension in the summer.
Yup. Great point. Good thing Presti waited. He hasn't gotten any credit for that. But he should, although in fairness the Harden situation was preventing him from being able to do it.
If you could make a starting 5 with Laker-style money, whom would you pick and why? This generation of players only.
Simple. Chris Paul. Kobe Bryant. Kevin Durant. LeBron James. Dwight Howard. They're the best players at their positions.
I think a veteran point guard/ combo guard will be added after the trade deadline. One that has bought out there contract. What do you think?
It's possible. But, again, the money has to be right. In this case, it'd have to essentially be minimum contract since the Thunder wouldn't be losing any salary. That tax monster is a beast.
If Martin were to be out of the Thunder's price range in the summer, what other affordable free agents would be available that the Thunder might look at for that 6th man role?
J.J. Redick. But I'd start him.
If you had Presti's ear, who would you want to try and trade for and why?
This year, his hands are tied because of the tax. I'm not dodging the question. I'm just giving you real analysis. The Thunder's team salary is such that any move could put them over the tax and force them in three years to have to pay the repeater tax.
If the Thunder could do it all over again, do you think they would have built this franchise around Durant/Harden instead of Durant/Westbrook?
The answer is no.
Have Lamb and Jones been a disappointment, not being ready for the NBA game? And is management worry about them ever making an impact for the team?
No. They're rookies.
Do you think Westbrook will be at this level all the season and PO?
It'll be hard, but I wouldn't doubt Wolverine.
Your thoughts on Lamb's 33 points on his 1st game with Tulsa. Seems like he has a lot of upside offensively. Does he need to improve his defensive skills?
Yes. A lot.
Does Westbrook remind you of a young Michael Jordan?
Not sure I'd say that.
Brooks has been playing small ball less during this current run of wins. Will that turn into fool's gold for what he thinks is best? I just don't think he likes the smaller lineup as much as I do.
He goes to it when he needs scoring. But he knows it's a lineup that gives up rebounds and allows even more second-chance opportunities. So it's a give and take.
If Thabo was moved to the 2nd unit, do you think he would score more or just defend and defer?
I think he would feel like he is able to score more.
Ibaka has really impressed me with his jumper and getting his average close to 15 per game. Is he the best wide open shooter on the team?
Best wide open midrange shooter, yes. But let me tell you about these two Kevins I know ...
What was the rationale for the Thunder valuing Westbrook (who is a lesser player) over Harden?
One guy has proved his ability to take over games consistently and dominate throughout. The other guy was a great No. 3 option on this team. I don't think it's even a question who the Thunder should have kept given the salary demands.
Worth noting in Lamb's 33 point performance was that it took 33 shots. Dude went 13-33. Should we be worried that he is a chucker?
I wouldn't say he's a chucker. Far from it. Even in college he was passive at times and established a rep for disappearing. But he does have a lot to learn about how to score.
What are these people talking about? Give me Wolverine over the Beard any day of the week. Do they not remember the Finals?
And about 50 other examples.
Do you agree that right now Harden is the better player over Westbrook?
As I've written elsewhere, Harden might be the better player but not the more dominant one. He's more complete and smarter than Westbrook. But you can't deny Westbrook's impact on this team, from everything to his mentality to his toughness to his stat-stuffing.
That's a wrap. Thanks for joining me today folks. We'll do it again next week. Don't forget to join us Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at NewsOK.com/live for a Google+ Hangout. Have a great week.