Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma City Thunder: More questions about Memphis series

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm •  Published: May 1, 2014
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Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) shoots a 3-point shot over Memphis' Zach Randolph (50) during Game 5 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka (9) shoots a 3-point shot over Memphis' Zach Randolph (50) during Game 5 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

We interrupt the firestorm of the Thursday Oklahoman‘s headline to finish off my online chat from yesterday. I had to end the chat after about 40 minutes, and a bunch of questions remained in the que. I promised to get to them, so here goes:

GUEST: You are big in defending the team and some players and coach. What is their problem or is the coach the problem?

The biggest problem is Memphis is an excellent team. The Grizzlies have neutralized Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Does that fall on Durant and Westbrook? Yes. Does that fall on Scotty Brooks? Yes. Does that all on all kinds of people? Yes. The truth is, the Thunder climaxed back in January and has struggled to get back to that level of play. Then OKC got a bad draw in Memphis, which is not a normal 7-seed.

GUEST: What’s your solution to the failing Thunder squad or just quit for this season and try again next one?

There is no solution. Just play and play hard and play as well as you can. This is a 50-50 series with a bunch of 50-50 games. Take your chances.

DAVID: Presti not deviating = KD gone in two years. What then?

Presti not deviating from what? The organization Presti has created is the reason the Thunder and Durant have flourished, and the reason Durant is more than likely to re-sign with the Thunder, though it’s not for sure. I don’t understand the belief that it’s the Thunder’s divine right to win. You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to put yourself in position to win, then play well when you get there.

JOHN: If Thunder lose Thursday what is most likely? A. New Coach B. Trade Russell C. Amnesty Perkins D. Something else.

Not B. They’re not trading Russell Westbrook. I think it’s D. I think it’s possible but not likely that Brooks is fired. Possible but not likely that Perk is amnestied. So I’d say D.

JOSH: Nenad Krstic had better numbers in OKC in his three years than Perk. He could shoot too. He wasn’t the problem on the team. We will look back at that 2010 roster and wonder if we kept it as is. The Thunder had the money, we are going over limit anyways.

The Thunder got WAY better the minute Kendrick Perkins arrived. Krstic was not a defensive presence. The Thunder was not a defensive team. As soon as that trade was made, and Perk and Ibaka became the starters, the Thunder’s status changed. Krstic was a good stopgap center. But with Perkins, the Thunder soared.

MATT M: Would we be a championship team if the Thunder could have ponied up the dough to keep Harden here?

I personally don’t think it was possible to re-sign Harden. The Thunder was forbidden, by rule, from offering him a max contract, max being five years, $18 million or so. The best the Thunder could offer was four years, $15 million. The Thunder offered four years, 13.25M. Not a huge difference. Harden wanted to be THE guy in a franchise, and you can’t blame him. 

RYAN: Assuming the main cogs stay intact, which player will be most valuable in 3 years? Adams or Reggie?

Now that’s a good question. I will guess Adams, because big men are really valuable. If he produces like I think he will, Adams will be the starting center soon. Maybe next year. But Jackson’s future is bright, too.

JOHN: It’s hard to win without a guy that can score down low. Where can we get one?

It’s not that hard to win. Lots of teams do it. But those guys are hard to find.

JOHN: What do we need most? A. 3-point shooter B. Low-post scoring C. Perimeter defender D. Another playmaker.

Well, everyone can always use a playmaker. Low-post scoring is always preferred but is very hard to find. I would say a 3-point shooter is the least important priority.

MONTY: If the Thunder lose this series, will it be the first time in NBA history where a team that had the MVP didn’t make it out of the first round?

No. It’s happened about four times, if I remember right. Jerry West. Dirk Nowitzki. Karl Malone, maybe.

GUEST: When Derek Fisher is inducted into the Hall of Fame, any chance he goes into it as a Thunder player…or will he always be know as a Laker?

Well, he’s always be known as a Laker, but I don’t know if the Basketball Hall of Fame even has players go in as anything. I’ve even heard of the concept.

BOB: What do you think about Jeremy Lamb?

I think he’s a good future prospect, but I think the stage is probably a little too big for him right now. Not enough defense.

GUEST: I thought we would struggle with our matchup against the Grizzlies but still believed that we would get past this team and move onto the 2nd Round and have an easier time beating a Clippers team or Golden State. After what I’ve seen these last 5 games,  I’m not so sure we wouldn’t have a hard time beating anyone else in the West. This team isn’t showing that hunger and drive they showed 2 years ago. They almost have this defeated look on their face since game 3.

Memphis just sucks the life out of you. The Grizzlies are tough and mean. If the Thunder survives Memphis, things will look more smooth in the next round. At least offensively.

RYAN: Of the guys on the Sports Animal, who do you like conversing with the most? Do you ever want your own show?

I like talking to Traber almost all the time. Not really interested in my own show. Takes too much time.

DUFF: Berry, I think everyone on the team has to take a look in the mirror on this one. There is very little ball movement on offense, which is needed against good defenses. There are several players lost on defense allowing uncontested shots. And I think there is a chemistry issue. Kinda like quarterback and receiver have their timing right. I know some say it is nonsense but what do you think? With some many different people in and out and in of the rotations this year. Reggie feels comfortable with PJ and Lamb, etc.

I don’t disagree with you on the chemistry issue, but man, there’s no reason for it. Sure, Westbrook, Thabo and Perk were out for long stretches. But they’ve played a ton together.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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