This past offseason, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau entered a Los Angeles gym to check out one of Derrick Rose's summer workouts.
By happenstance, in a place he didn't know would be filled with NBA players, Thibodeau arrived early enough to catch the tail end of one of Kevin Durant's grueling training sessions.
“It spoke volumes as to his commitment to team, readiness to play,” Thibodeau said. “And when you have that type of commitment, you can see why (the Thunder) is so good.”
As Durant's workout ended, the OKC star made his way over to Thibodeau, wanting to pick his brain. The two talked defense, team-management and all things basketball for the next 30 minutes.
“He's all in,” Durant said. “He's one of those guys that relates to the players, but he's a no-nonsense type of guy … I learned a lot from talking to him. He's been around the game, been around so many great minds. He's won championships with Boston, and he's had so much success with Chicago. So he's a bright, bright coach.”
The conversation left an impression on Thibodeau, too.
“I think our league is in really good shape because of guys like Kevin and Derrick Rose,” he said. “They're special.”
JEREMY LAMB BREAKS OUT IN PRESEASON FINALE
Maybe all Jeremy Lamb needed was a matchup against one of the league's toughest defenses on a national stage to get back into an offensive flow.
Because after struggling with his shot through six preseason games, Lamb was extremely impressive in Wednesday night's exhibition finale against the Bulls, scoring an efficient 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
And most of it came against Jimmy Butler, who is widely considered one of the NBA's best perimeter defenders.
“As training camp has gone on, I've seen (improvement out of Lamb),” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He's not there yet. (But) this is a great game for him to watch film, learn from what was going well for him tonight.”
Lamb was aggressive on the drive throughout the night, with nine of his 16 shots coming inside the paint. Multiple times, he flashed a smooth-looking floater and showed an ability to get out and finish in transition with either hand.
DANIEL ORTON IMPRESSING THE 76ERS
Earlier this month, the Thunder played Daniel Orton extended minutes in a preseason game against Philadelphia. Two days later, OKC cut him.
On the surface, it looked like a setback. But in reality, those might have been two developments that prove to be jumpstarters for the young center's career.
Because soon after putting up six points, four rebounds and two blocks against Philadelphia, the Oklahoma City native signed a non-guaranteed training camp deal to compete for a spot on the Sixers.
And since arriving in Philly, he has apparently made an impression.
“He's young (and) he's got great hands,” Sixers coach Brett Brown told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think he should look around and be excited that there is a legitimate chance for somebody to see (him) and to be seen here, and maybe find a home in Philadelphia.”
In three preseason games for the Sixers, Orton is averaging 5.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 21.6 minutes.
“Being in this situation, it's very exciting,” Orton told the Inquirer.