Thabo Sefolosha spent five-plus seasons as the Thunder’s starting shooting guard. But he spent his final four games on the bench, basically unused.
“It was very frustrating,” Sefolosha said during his exit interview on Sunday afternoon. “It’s never easy. I would say the last month has been a little frustrating.”
Twice in this postseason, Sefolosha was replaced in the starting lineup – the first time by Caron Butler in the Memphis series and the second time by Reggie Jackson, for good, in the Spurs series.
“It’s just tough,” Sefolosha said. “You’ve got a lot of questions, like, why and what is the thought process necessarily behind it? Things like that. You just stick with the plan, stick with your teammates.”
The decision wasn’t an easy one for coach Scott Brooks. But it became necessary because of Sefolosha’s extended offensive struggles, which included two straight scoreless games to start the San Antonio series.
With Sefolosha heading toward free agency this summer, all signs would seem to point to his departure from OKC.
“I have no clue,” Sefolosha said when asked if he expected to be back. “I’m going to have to take some time to think about a lot of things.”
Asked if playing time and role would play a factor in his decision, Sefolosha said: “I like winning. I want to be in a good place with a chance to win something, and that’s definitely something that we have here. So definitely the system is a big part of it. You want to be happy and be able to play to your strengths. But at the same time, it’s going to be a lot of questions going on in the summer and (we’ll) see where it takes me.”
WESTBROOK, DURANT STAND UP FOR BROOKS
In his exit interview on Sunday morning, Brooks evaded questions about his job security, saying: “It’s something I don’t even consider. I just do my job every day.”
But Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook came to their coach’s defense.
“Ever since I’ve been here and Scotty became the head coach, he’s done a great job of having confidence in me personally,” Westbrook said. “There’s times where things have gone south, and he’s the only one, regardless of what happened, has had my back.”
“That’s our guy,” Durant said of Brooks. “I’m riding with him. It’s easy for everybody on the outside to criticize. But once you’re in the fire, once you’re in that arena, those are the guys that matter. The guys that shed the blood, sweat and tears and sleepless nights, those are the guys that count. Those are the guys that matter in our book. Everybody on the outside really doesn’t.”
WESTBROOK PLANS TO REST
Because of Russell Westbrook’s incredible athletic gifts, which he put on full display during this postseason run, it’s easy to forget about the three knee surgeries he underwent in the past 13 months.
Of late, he’s looked as healthy as ever. But with Westbrook such an integral piece of this franchise’s future, and the long-term health of his right knee still a potential worry, this becomes an important offseason for the star point guard.
“Rest is good for me,” Westbrook said on Sunday. “Taking some rest could be great. I’m gonna sit down and relax and get my mind and body right for next year.”
IBAKA HOPES TO PLAY FOR SPANISH NATIONAL TEAM
When Serge Ibaka went down with a calf injury in the Clippers series, his main concern was somehow getting back at some point in the postseason.
But a lingering worry also sat in the back of his mind — the possibility that he’d have to miss the FIBA 2014 World Cup in Spain this August.
“My hope is to play with the Spanish National Team,” Ibaka said. “But let’s see how my leg is going to feel the next couple weeks.”
Ibaka said he’s still not sure how his calf, which was originally thought to be season-ending, healed so fast.
“Like I always say, it’s a miracle,” Ibaka said. “Today, I was talking with the team doctor, and he said I was almost about to get surgery. So I was close about to get surgery, but it did not happen.”
Kendrick Perkins on the San Antonio series: “The Spurs, they weren’t more athletic than us, they weren’t more talented than us, but they outsmarted us and they won the series off of that.”
Nick Collison on how going out this year felt worse than in the past: “This year feels different. This year’s a little harder. It felt like more of a gut punch last night, probably because of the way the game ended and we had a chance to go to a Game 7. The other years, we’ve been down 3-1. It’s been a little different.”