The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry took questions from readers in his OKC Thunder Power Lunch Chat today. You can join our Power Lunch Chats Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. on NewsOK.com/Sports. Here's a recap of today's chat:
What options are available if Maynor is on the trade block? I have played with the ESPN trade machine and the pickings appear to be slim.
The pickings are indeed very, very slim, especially since any trade that brings back a little more salary will put OKC over the tax line. That's something the Thunder can't afford to do this year. But I've got a name for you. Derrick Williams. He appears to be on the outside looking in up in Minnesota, and the Thunder might be able to get the former No. 2 overall pick for peanuts (stop me if you've heard that before). But Williams has a sizable contract that could do to the team's payroll exactly what the team can't afford. Presti would have to get creative.
I know you’ve said in the past you see the Thunder making some sort of move at the deadline to add a piece. Any idea on who might be targeted or still unsure?
I don't know who the target might be. But I've got my eyes set on Derrick Williams in Minnesota.
The Thunder broadcasters mentioned a few games back about the coaching staff working on Serge's hand eye coordination using some unorthodox methods. Can you confirm and elaborate?
They've done that for years with Serge and others. There's a funky set of glasses that Serge has work that distorts his vision. With those on, he has to catch different types of passes from a coach. Bounce passes in different locations and soft chest passes, for example. Another drill is throwing a tennis ball off the wall and catching it.
Lots of bigs in the draft this year. Can/will the Thunder snag a talented one with Toronto's pick? Zeller, Noel, Len, Plumblee?
I'm thinking that pick will be somewhere between 4 and 7. If that's the case, I can't see the Thunder not taking a big man. I haven't seen much of the names you mentioned aside from MP3. But the one game I saw from Noel, he seemed to need a lot of work offensively. Defensively, he has raw talent that could help. But this team already has the league's leading shot blocker.
What is going on with DeAndre Liggins? I thought the Thunder really liked him.
They do. He's been sent Tulsa with the goal of getting him some playing time.
Maynor is quickly morphing into Kevin Ollie. I thought that Reggie looked pretty good in the JV game last night. Scotty has to at least think of bumping Reggie up to backup point doesn't he?
With all due respect to Kevin Ollie, ouch. Maynor hasn't looked quite like a 36-year-old backup. I thought he was much better last night in terms of setting up teammates. His shot still didn't fall though. As for the JV game, I didn't put any stock whatsoever into any of those minutes.
Is Maynor being traded the only way that Reggie Jackson gets regular minutes?
I want to give Scott Brooks the benefit of the doubt. I really do. But his track record suggests the answer is yes. Look at James Harden and Serge Ibaka. It took Jeff Green being traded for Brooks to finally play those guys the minutes they deserved. I'm still holding out hope that Brooks maximizes his roster without having players yanked from him.
Thabeet seems to be playing angry. Is he playing with an edge or is it just me?
You're right. He’s playing with an edge. I don't think he's playing "angry" though. He's probably the nicest guy on the team. Soft-spoken. Very polite. Extremely respectful. It's just when he gets on the court, he's been all business — which is something he's needed to be for quite sometime.
Do you see the Thunder keeping the Raptor pick or shipping it off in the deadline?
If they trade that pick I'll take back every good thing I've ever said about them.
Is Serge on his way to becoming a 20/10 guy?
No. There are only a handful of those guys in the league. Ibaka has a long way to go to get there. The team's makeup also will make it extremely difficult. He's the third option, and at times he's the fourth option. Name me a fourth option who is a 20/10 guy?
I remain convinced that Demarcus Cousins would be perfect for the Thunder. Is he an automatic max contract guy? Are the Kings getting sick of his act?
Based on talent, he's a max guy. And somebody is going to give him a truckload of money. But I don't know if he's worthy of it based on his attitude. He just doesn't seem to be a great locker room fit with the Thunder. The dude confronted Spurs color commentator Sean Elliott for crying out loud.
To be fair to Cousins, Elliot needs to be confronted every now and then.
No player ever has a right to confront a broadcaster for analyzing the game and the personalities that make it up, in my opinion. Not if the broadcaster is doing his job with professionalism and respect.
Is Thabo going to be around for a few years or is he going to be a salary cap victim?
I think he sticks. He's on a cap-friendly number and his effectiveness hasn't tailed off.
Who guards Harden on Wednesday? Will the crowd boo him?
Thabo to start, and then Kevin Martin ... Cheered by most when introduced. But as soon as he starts making shots, whining to the officials, or doing that 3-point celebration, be prepared.
Lamb seems very lost. Did he just mentally check out when he was traded and realized he wouldn't get many minutes?
He's a rookie. A very young and raw one at that. I'm not sure why so many people expected him to be a contributor so soon.
So if all the starters stick around, is the Thunder looking for cheaper bench options as draft picks instead of Martin?
It's not out of the question that Martin sticks around. But he'd have to take a big pay cut. One thing you have to remember, though, is the future remains bright with Reggie Jackson, Lamb and PJ3. Now Thabeet looks to be getting better and gaining confidence. So the bench is in good shape going forward.
How much does Reggie Jackson pay you to hype him up like you do? He looked pretty good last night. He and Maynor actually played well together. Any chance Reggie gets Thabo's 2nd team minutes? Thabo's defense hasn't been as good with the extra minutes (Pierce, Richardson and Turner all took it to him in the last few games).
I don't get paid anything by Jackson or any other player. I'm just analyzing the roster. Jackson is a better all-around threat, and has improved since last year. Coupled with Maynor's regression (and the fact that he's probably not going to be here next year) it seems natural to try to blend in Jackson now and let him develop more while you can.
Do you think OKC pulls away in its division? There doesn't seem to be any real strong challengers at the moment.
Yes. Amazingly, it's sort of already happening.
What happened to the defense over the weekend? Blip or legitimate concern?
Oh it's a concern. It hasn't been good this year. We've seen little to no improvement from last year, when it also wasn't very good.
Do you think that Maynor's trade value is at it lowest point right now?
Probably so. News travels fast in this league, and I have no doubt that other coaches and GMs know Maynor's struggling right now to come back from that injury.
Does the 2nd unit run offensive plays that fit their personnel, or are they running sets designed for the All-Stars on the 1st team? Does that have any bearing on bench production?
Early on, they were running a heavy dose of ball screens similar to what the bench did last year when Harden excelled in those situations. Now, you can see them sharing the ball and making everyone a threat.
You don't think that KD and Russ could keep Cousins in line? And Perk for one year (maybe) I think a Cousins extension and Perk contract would coexist for one year if Perk is amnestied. Cousins would excel on the Thunder team if he would follow the lead of the leaders on this team
This team has done a fantastic job of getting players to fall in line. Cousins would be the biggest challenge yet. Some guys just don't get it and aren't trying to get it. I'm close to putting Cousins in that category. But I haven't spent any time around him to know. Outside looking in, though, it looks like a long shot.
Did you ever get the sense that Harden didn’t want to be in OKC?
No. But I always had the sense that he wanted the max ... which basically meant he wasn't going to be here.
Why were you harping on the Thunder not passing the ball in your Nuggets? They have been sharing the ball very well this year, and I think they are getting better
Harping? That's a little strong. And not once did I say they are not passing the ball. In fact, I pointed out the 31 assists, and Westbrook's phenomenal passing, and his game-high 11 assists, and the second units ball movement. But the fact is, the one game (or even three) doesn't define a season. Yes, the ball movement has been better this year. But there are still too many times where the ball stays on one side of the floor while Russ or KD wait on ball screens.
What do you think of the change to KD's new distribution of minutes?
I like it. It's helped bring balance to the second unit and freed up Kevin Martin more.
That was a nifty little play the Thunder ran last night with Martin coming off a Westbrook screen/handoff.
I noted it last night in my nuggets. I've got to go back and review it, because it was a terrific play. Best part was the pick Westbrook flattened Taylor with.
Is it better to attend several games sitting in Loud City, or one sitting in a prime Lower Level seat?
For this team, I would say several upstairs. If it was a bad team, I'd say one downstairs against a good opponent.
I think that Lamb needs to go to Tulsa to get some burn. I think he will be a good player, he just needs to play somewhere, anywhere.
I don't think we're far away from seeing that.
Perkins should be getting more rebounds. Why is he such a poor rebounder?
He's boxing out for the most part. Durant also is swooping in and taking many on the defensive end. And he's not all that agile to just go and get them.
How would you rate Westbrook's play so far? I think he is doing a lot better this year and growing into the point guard position.
A week ago I said average. Today I'd say he's been great. That shows you how quickly things can change. It's been 15 games, and for about the first 12 Westbrook was average. So let's see how this storyline evolves.
Which team is the biggest roadblock to a Championship at this point?
The Clippers, followed by Memphis.
Is OKC likely to resign Martin?
Martin is driving up the price more and more with his play right now. So as of today, I'd say no. But we'll have to wait until the end of the year to see how things played out.
Was Orton officially called back up last night? I saw him and the Tulsa coach on the bench.
No. They just had a break in the schedule that allowed them to be here.
What is the next blockbuster trade in the NBA? Or will there be one?
Sounds like the Lakers are hellbent on moving Pau Gasol.
Are the Grizzlies getting the 1-seed?
It's possible. But there should be a race between them, OKC and San Antonio.
Why did PHX give Beasley 6 million a year? He would have been a good scorer to bring off the bench, but not at that price.
Strange as it might sound. That's another guy I'm thinking could be a fit on the Thunder for bench scoring. There's no way it happens. But I think he's a guy that could fall in line a little bit being around KD.
Do you think the Thunder can beat Miami if they reach the Finals?
If the Finals started today, no.
Thanks for joining me today. We'll do it again next week. Also, we're doing a Google Hangout on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at NewsOK.com/live. Join us.