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Oklahoma City Thunder: It’s been long journey for Atkins

BY Darnell Mayberry Published: January 10, 2009

/> "What I learned is pretty much just to never give up and to always look at the positives of things,” Atkins said of his journey. "Obviously I’ve been bounced around a few times, but after 10 years I’m still here in the league.”

Atkins is set to join his eighth team after being traded five times. He was inactive Friday against Houston but is ready to help out the last-place Thunder in any way he can. Much of his role will be to mentor rookie guard Russell Westbrook.

"He is one of the most athletic guys in our league,” Atkins said of the No. 4 overall pick. "The guy is 6-3, he’s explosive, he’s extremely fast and he has long arms. I was watching him last week when we played here, and I couldn’t believe how fast he was.

"A lot of people talk about his athleticism as far as jumping, but I never really knew he was as fast as he was. So he has all the tools. He has a lot to work with, and I look forward to working with him.”

Atkins, a career 36.8 percent 3-point shooter, also gives the Thunder another player who can spread the floor with his perimeter shooting. Although he’s likely to serve as the third-string point guard behind Westbrook and Earl Watson, Atkins is expected to see spot minutes and be used in specific scenarios such as late-game situations.

"He gives us an outside shooter, a veteran presence,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "And talking to him, he loves that role that he will have. He will have the opportunity to talk to our younger guys and help them along the way. He’s been in the league for a lot of years and he understands tendencies. So he can help in a lot of areas.”