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OKC Thunder: Veteran leadership might be a Thunder weakness next season

Three players with a combined 38 years of NBA experience might be playing somewhere else.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 24, 2012
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/articleid/3687422/1/pictures/1758367">Photo - CHESAPEAKE ENERGY ARENA / OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER / MIAMI HEAT / NBA FINALS / NBA BASKETBALL: Russell Westbrook and Derek Fisher talk during practice for game two of the NBA basketball finals at the Chesapeake Arena on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Okla.  Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman
CHESAPEAKE ENERGY ARENA / OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER / MIAMI HEAT / NBA FINALS / NBA BASKETBALL: Russell Westbrook and Derek Fisher talk during practice for game two of the NBA basketball finals at the Chesapeake Arena on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Okla. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

“Those guys are veterans, but they're players with accumulated experience,” Presti said. “We've been fortunate to have some really good people come through…I think the thing that really ties all those guys together…is that they understood the vision of the organization, and they were fully committed to that. They were able to help us build some of our identity, yet our identity is still evolving.”

Presti said it's too early to know whether the team's upcoming unrestricted free agents will return. But it looks unlikely that the Thunder retains all three.

Fisher will turn 38 in August, and with Eric Maynor coming back from a knee injury, the backup point guard role is on its way to its old stability.

Mohammed will turn 35 in September, and rising third-year center Cole Aldrich is chomping at the bit for a chance to prove himself as the full-time backup to Perkins.

Ivey, only 30, seemingly is the most likely to return. But that's assuming he doesn't get a better opportunity elsewhere.

If all three depart, it'll be up to Westbrook, Harden and Durant to take the torch.

“They've continued to grow,” Presti said, “and understand their teammates and how to help them improve.”

It's the ripple effect.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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