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Nate Robinson not returning to Thunder

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Modified: December 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm •  Published: December 8, 2011
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Restricted free agent Daequan Cook could be forced to miss the start of camp, as well as rookie Reggie Jackson, the 24th overall pick.

The Thunder has been in discussions with Cook's representatives about a contract extension. But with the signing period beginning at 1 p.m., and practice scheduled to start at 3 p.m., it appears unlikely a deal will be completed in time for Cook to join the team. Because of uncertainty with rules contained within a collective bargaining agreement that was ratified on Thursday night, Jackson also is at risk of not being able to participate in the opening practice.

Oklahoma City is better off than most teams, a handful of which have only a few players under contract. The Thunder has 12 if you exclude Robinson. The league maximum is 15.

Still, thanks to the lockout the Thunder, like every other team, has little time to spare. OKC has only nine days of practice time to prepare for this shortened 66-game season before the preseason opener at Dallas on Dec. 18. The regular season opener is Dec. 25 against Orlando inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“It's going to be up to each team to prepare themselves on a day-to-day basis,” Presti said at his annual preseason news conference Wednesday. “And I've got tremendous confidence in Scott and our players that they're going to be able to manage that and be ready to play each night.”

It's unclear which direction the Thunder might go with Robinson in the meantime. The team could agree to a buyout, trade him or use the amnesty clause in the new collective bargaining agreement. It's unlikely that the Thunder will amnesty Robinson, however, because the team is under the salary cap and Robinson is scheduled to be paid a relatively inexpensive $4.5 million this season in the final year of his contract. The Thunder could hold onto its one-time amnesty option to use on a larger deal later so long as it was signed before July 1, 2011.

Robinson, who holds career averages of 11. points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists, appeared in only four regular season games with the Thunder. He averaged 3.3 points and 1.5 assists in 7.5 minutes.