Thunder point guard Eric Maynor said he is on pace to be fully recovered by training camp from the knee injury that cost him the majority of the 2011-12 season.
Maynor, who sustained a torn ACL just nine games into the season against Houston on Jan. 7, also assured the injury will not force him to play catch-up once next season starts.
“I'm not going to be behind, I'll tell you that,” Maynor said. “I'm working hard this summer. I've been working hard since I got hurt.”
Maynor said he will remain in Oklahoma City for much of the offseason to complete the rehab process. While he didn't disclose a timetable for being healed from the injury, he did say he's on a good pace and is able to do more and more essentially each day.
As for his upcoming contract negotiations, Maynor said he doesn't think his injury will prevent him and his representatives from being able to enter into talks about a new deal.
“I'm working hard enough to be able to talk about stuff like that,” Maynor said.
Maynor, who will be a restricted free agent next summer if the Thunder is unable to come to terms on an extension with him by Oct. 31, went on to say that he plans to tell his agent that his heart is in Oklahoma City and his preference is remaining with the Thunder.
“I want to be here,” Maynor said “It's very important to me. Whatever we got to do to get it done, we need to make it happen. I enjoy being here, and I want to be here longer.”
WESTBROOK WANTS TO IMPROVE LEADERSHIP
Russell Westbrook wants to come back next season as a better all-around player.
But the Thunder's starting point guard also wants to focus on evolving into a better leader.
“I could go down a list for myself, it's not one particular thing,” Westbrook said when asked what he wants to improve on this summer. “I'm just going to come back and try to just be better, just be a better leader, just a better player overall, defender, just come back and try to do it all to make sure we come back with the same mindset and be hungrier next year.”
Kevin Durant said he saw Westbrook take strides as a leader this season.
“Russell was great this year at helping everybody out, being more vocal, controlling his emotions a little bit more and just leaving it all out there for the team,” Durant said. “You see one of your main guys doing that, you don't have nothing to do but follow it.”
GOING NEXT LEVEL
Forward Nick Collison said the next level for the Thunder is all upstairs
“For us, that level comes mentally,” Collison said. “We've done really well. We've come such a long way. But the next step for us, I think, is being able to sustain longer periods of that mental sharpness to where the only thing in our mind is playing this possession the best way for our team. The more we can get to where that's just who we are the better we'll be.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks on LeBron James' performance in the NBA Finals — “It wasn't natural what he was doing on the court. You don't see that often. He was at a special level that I've never seen before.”
By Darnell Mayberry