Former NBA coach and respected ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy was in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, calling the Thunder-Mavs game.
And before tip, when asked his outlook on the Thunder, Van Gundy took a wait-and-see approach.
“They've had a lot of personnel changes,” Van Gundy said. “A lot depends on guys like (Jeremy) Lamb, who no one knows what he's going to become. It's too early to speculate. But they're obviously going to have another great, great year. And they're a model franchise.”
In regards to the James Harden trade, Van Gundy said “it definitely brought them closer to the pack talent-wise” and “no one can dispute that”.
But before and during the game, he seemed high on Lamb and, particularly, rookie center Steven Adams.
“I like rough Steven Adams,” Van Gundy said. “He doesn't shy away from contact. He's involved in the paint. He's a good player.”
THUNDER ADDS LONGTIME EXECUTIVE MAURIZIO GHERARDINI TO STAFF
The Thunder has added longtime executive Maurizio Gherardini to its staff as a senior adviser/international affairs.
Gherardini is best known for his 14 years as general manager of Benetton Treviso, where he established himself as one of the brightest minds and administrators in the history of European basketball.
During his tenure with Benetton Treviso, Gherardini helped to turn the Italian club into one of the most familiar and successful clubs outside of the NBA. Under his guidance, Benetton captured four Italian League championships, seven Italian Cups, three Italian Supercups and made four appearances in the Euroleague's Final Four.
Since 2006, Gherardini has held the position of vice president and assistant general manager for the Toronto Raptors.
Gherardini was in Oklahoma City in recent days, attending team meetings and functions at the team's training facility. He'll be stationed in Europe helping the Thunder in international initiatives but will also be available in other capacities as designated by the team.
CARTER APOLOGIZES FOR ELBOW ON ADAMS
Dallas veteran Vince Carter was ejected for an intentional elbow to the face of Thunder rookie Steven Adams on Thursday.
Following the loss, Carter showed clear regret for the retaliatory move, which came after Adams nailed him with an incidental elbow moments before.
“I just want to apologize to the fans of both sides,” Carter told the Dallas Morning News. “There's no need for it. They're trying to clean up the game and make it fun for fans to watch. It was one of those things where I got caught in the moment and reacted to a reaction that was done to you. My intentions have never been that way.”
No suspension has yet been announced for Carter. But given the intent of Carter and the recent history of the league office, one is likely before Dallas' next game on Friday against Minnesota.
REGGIE JACKSON DAY-TO-DAY WITH HIP INJURY
After a trio of rough falls in the first half against Dallas, Thunder guard Reggie Jackson left Wednesday's game with a left hip contusion.
Already hampered by a back injury he suffered last week, Jackson's status moving forward remains unknown.
Officially, he's listed as day-to-day, with information on his availability against Detroit on Friday likely to come at shootaround.
Dallas forward Jae Crowder talking about all the drama in Wednesday's game against the Thunder: “I'm not surprised it went that route because those guys talk a lot of smack, and they can get under your skin a little bit.”