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Oklahoma City Thunder: Thunder players have animal instincts

Kevin Durant surprised red panda cub named KayDee in his honor
By John Rohde and Anthony Slater Published: October 1, 2012

Reserve point guard Eric Maynor, who played just nine games last season because of a season-ending knee injured suffered Jan. 7 at Houston, has been cleared to participate in training camp.

“I feel good,” Maynor said. “I'm ready to go, I know that.”


With Perkins still on the mend, backup centers Cole Aldrich, Hasheem Thabeet and Daniel Orton figure to see plenty of action during the Thunder's seven preseason games.

“There's a lot of opportunity, no question,” Brooks said, “and we have enough players who can fill that spot while he's out. Cole will definitely get a good opportunity, (as will) Hasheem and Daniel. The league goes small quite a bit, so there's Serge. Nick Collison can play. I won't put Kevin there, definitely won't put Kevin there. Even though the league is small, I don't know if he could handle that (center) spot.”


Perhaps Brooks might be tempted to put a beefy Russell Westbrook at the center position.

The two-time All-Star officially will be listed at 187 pounds as he was last season, but the 6-foot-3 combo guard is noticeably thicker. The added bulk will help Westbrook post up undersized defenders in certain offensive sets.

Asked how much weight he gained, Westbrook would only offer: “A few pounds.”

Several teammates shook their heads when asked about Westbrook's chiseled physique.

Aldrich: “Russ, he's a freak. That's the best way to describe him.”

Guard Daequan Cook: “Russ is Russ. I mean, we always joke about Russ. Russ could probably take a whole year off and come back and be faster, more athletic and stronger than anybody on this team. … We might joke about it, but Russ is really in shape, all day every day.”

Guard Reggie Jackson: “Russ is a freak of nature already. He looks like he's always flexing. ... It's definitely good that he put on some weight. The way he attacks the basket, he takes a beating. It's only going to improve his game. The sky's the limit for him.”


The Thunder played until June 20 last season, one week before the NBA Draft. Four players then advanced to the championship game at the Summer Olympics in London with Team USA (Durant, Westbrook, Harden) defeating Spain (Ibaka) for the gold medal.

Brooks said he is not worried about a lack of rest for his Olympians, however.

“There's no question it was a short summer,” Brooks said. “We would have loved for it to be five days shorter by having a Game 6 and 7 (rather than losing 4-1 to Miami in the Finals). Not much of a concern, but I talked to all of them. I don't anticipate anything. They're all 23, 24 years old. Everything should be going forward.”


Durant on the departures of unrestricted free agents Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey: “I'd just like to thank those guys for what they've done for the Thunder organization. They helped build this mentality that we have here. They're character guys, they work hard every day. … So we thank those guys and what they've done for us. They really helped us grow.”



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