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Thunder chat: Anthony Slater talks about the Spurs' streak, sitting Westbrook and Perry Jones' future

by Anthony Slater Published: April 2, 2014

NewsOK Sports 10:32 a.m. Welcome to the Power Lunch chat. Anthony will be on at 11 a.m., so keep those questions coming.
NewsOK Sports 10:40 a.m. While you wait, check out Darnell Mayberry's piece in today's Oklahoman, which detailed five things to know about the Spurs headed into Thursday's game: http://bit.ly/1lnb4Bb
Anthony Slater 11:02 a.m. OK, let's get started. Thanks to everybody for the questions.
Guest 11:02 a.m. What does the spurs vs thunder game going to prove?
Anthony Slater 11:04 a.m. In the grand scheme, not much. Whatever happens Thursday night, these two talented and confident teams won't think too much of it. I still think there's a chance Gregg Popovich decides to rest everybody. It's the fifth game in seven nights, the closing side of a back-to-back and a road game against one of the league's elite. It's the perfect time for Popovich to stick it to the NBA (and its fans) and prove that regular-season battles, while intriguing, often don't mean much.
Guest 11:04 a.m. If you were permitted to ask brooks one important question before the playoffs, what would it be?
Anthony Slater 11:05 a.m. That he'd answer with truth serum? It'd be all about Westbrook's health, because that's what I think this playoff run rides on. Is he fully healthy? Do you plan to have a minute restriction in the playoffs? Have these recent limitations been an overly cautious deal or a legit long-term worry? That remains the biggest thing surrounding this team.
Anthony Slater 11:06 a.m. Oh, and I'd probably also get in a question about the recently terrible 3-point defense.
Guest 11:06 a.m. Who in your opinion among the young guns; adams, perry jones, lamb and reggie j. would you make sure stays with the franchise for the future?
Anthony Slater 11:07 a.m. I think Adams is a must. He seems to be the future starting center and has the potential to be a really good one. Then Reggie Jackson, if he's willing to accept a Sixth Man role and probably a pay cut, followed by Lamb and Perry Jones. In that order. All have nice futures in the league.
Dan 11:07 a.m. Would you like OKC to go after Vince Carter as a free agent to replace Fisher if he retires?
Anthony Slater 11:09 a.m. That's an interesting name to throw out there. And he's really been good in that role this year. Another guy, from that same team, that I could see being a nice replacement for Thabo Sefolosha -- Shawn Marion. A three and D guy that's won a ton in his past. I like him as a better fit for OKC.
Guest 11:09 a.m. Do you recommend that Adams, the center should learn how to dribble the ball, so he could fast break from end to dunking the ball on the other end? How about asking him how he feels about it during summer for his development?
Anthony Slater 11:10 a.m. I think he'll probably leave the coast-to-coast handling / dunking to Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
Guest 11:10 a.m. IYHO, can the Thunder win it all or what is it they still need to do?
Anthony Slater 11:11 a.m. Yeah, they certainly can still win it all. One of the three or four favorites to do just that. But first, they have to get healthy. OKC needs Thabo and Perk for a chance at a title run. Then, they need to shore up the recent defensive woes, especially on the perimeter. And those two will help with that. Then lastly, they need a little luck. It seems every team that wins the NBA title gets some luck along the way.
Guest 11:11 a.m. What do you think about the up coming game with the Spurs, any predictions?
Anthony Slater 11:12 a.m. I think the Thunder win Thursday. Three days off before the game, while the Spurs will be on their fifth game in seven days. It's in Oklahoma City and the Thunder has had San Antonio's number of late (winning 9 of 11). So I'll take the Thunder.
Guest 11:13 a.m. Is the MVP race dead and gone to KD?
Anthony Slater 11:13 a.m. Yeah, I think he sealed it a couple weeks ago with that 51-point outburst against the Raptors. He's been the favorite all year, but it seems over at this point.
Josh 11:13 a.m. Will Russell Westbrook sit against San Antonio on Thursday or against the Rockets Friday
Anthony Slater 11:14 a.m. My guess: He sits against the Rockets on Friday. In all three of the other back-to-backs, he's rested against the lesser opponent. And in this situation, Houston is clearly that. Plus, it'll give Westbrook another day of rest before a tough game in Phoenix on Sunday.
Anthony Slater 11:15 a.m. That said, if Popovich decides to rest his starters, maybe Brooks counters and sits Westbrook.
Guest 11:15 a.m. Do you put a lot of stock in Thabo and Perk needing reps with the first team before the playoffs? If so how many games do they really need to ready to win the West.
Anthony Slater 11:16 a.m. Ehh, I don't think it's as imperative and it was to get Russell Westbrook back in rhythm. Thabo and Perk don't handle or shoot the ball much. They're in the game for defense and, I'd think, defense takes less time to regain rhythm than offense. So I don't think either would need more than a few games.
guest 11:16 a.m. Who is the bigger threat to an OKC championship, The Heat or The Clippers?
Anthony Slater 11:16 a.m. Miami
Josh 11:16 a.m. Who Do you want to see in the first round of the playoffs ?
Anthony Slater 11:18 a.m. Personally, I'd love to see the Golden State Warriors. It'd be a fantastic series to cover, with an up-and-down frenetic pace and a ton of points. Plus, I'd get to travel home to the Bay Area. But who should the Thunder want to see? Phoenix, easily. It would be a happy to be there team who already reached its season goal. Anyone else (Memphis, Dallas, GSW) would have playoff experience and eyes at an upset.
Freddy 11:18 a.m. First time here, so not all sure whats been asked, but I'm curious as to see your thoughts on PJ3. I remember when our pick came up and PJ3 was still up for grabs. I was stoked out of my mind that we got him just because of his overall athletic versatility and his offensive game. Since he's been with us, we rarely get to see much of him unless its a blow out game. My question to you is, what do you think his future is with us? I'm a huge fan of his and have faith that he can turn into something interesting, so long as his knees hold up, but Brooks seems to think otherwise.
Anthony Slater 11:20 a.m. I think PJ3 still has a bright NBA future. And he's clearly grown the past two years, with Brooks trusting him in some key situations this season (30 minutes against the Heat in Miami comes to mind). Will the next step in his career come in OKC? That's tough to say. He's behind a bit of a logjam in the rotation. But I think eventually he will be an every night rotation player somewhere in this league.
CC 11:20 a.m. is home court that important to OKC
Anthony Slater 11:21 a.m. Not really. If you look at the history of the NBA, especially recently, one seeds don't make it to the Finals nearly as much as you'd think. OKC went as a two-seed a couple seasons ago and then went out as the top seed last season. So no, it's not important.
Andrew 11:21 a.m. With the possibility of losing Fisher, Butler, Thabo and maybe even Reggie in a trade, what does our backcourt look like next season? I think this is the biggest question we have to ask ourselves in regards to next season.
Anthony Slater 11:21 a.m. No doubt. But there's no way to answer that at this point. The offseason will have to play itself out. Will be interesting for sure.
CC 11:22 a.m. if OKC does not the 1st seed, don't they get home court though the semi-finals?
Anthony Slater 11:22 a.m. If they are the two seed.
CC 11:22 a.m. will Lamb be here in years to come
Anthony Slater 11:22 a.m. I would think, yes. He's young, cheap and talented, with what seems to be a bright future. All the things OKC's front office likes.
Guest 11:22 a.m. When is the OKC crowd going to fully get behind the MVP chant for Durant--at games I feel like me and a few others are the only ones saying it--it's getting ridiculous.
Anthony Slater 11:23 a.m. Agree. It's pretty crazy to me that, every night, there's (false) MVP chants across the league, while the NBA's likely MVP doesn't get the chant in front of his home crowd. Does seem like it's growing a little by the game. Heard a decent one the other night.
Guest 11:24 a.m. For Brooks, the center is to rebound, block, clog the paint and create screens for Westbrook and KD, is that also your best game plan for the center?
Anthony Slater 11:25 a.m. On this team, it pretty much has to be. You have two dominant ball-control attackers, who need solid screens and an unclogged lane. Then you have a pick-and-pop big man that needs shots and a playmaker off the bench that's gonna get his touches. There's just not a lot of offense to go around for a dump it down big man. And there never will be.
J.D. 11:26 a.m. I've been completely baffled as to why Brooks has been starting Roberson when Lamb or Butler clearly are much better overall players. What in the world does he see in this guy or is it that he just wants a guy in the starting lineup like Thabo that sucks offensively?
Anthony Slater 11:27 a.m. To your point, I think he does want someone in the starting lineup that has more of a Thabo feel. A lengthy defensive-minded two-guard who he can stick on the other team's best perimeter defender. If it was me, I'd start Lamb, for his confidence now and in the future. But I don't hate the idea of starting Roberson.
CC 11:27 a.m. did I hear that durant T got resended from raptors game?
Anthony Slater 11:27 a.m. Yep. He's back down to 14 on the season. Two away from a suspension.
Guest 11:28 a.m. Who are your top 5 coaches in the NBA, without naming Brooks?
Anthony Slater 11:29 a.m. Popovich, Thibodeau, Spoelstra, Doc Rivers and I'll throw Jeff Hornacek in there. Just his first season, but what a job he's done in Phoenix.
Shawn 11:29 a.m. Does the technical foul count continue in the playoffs? So could KD get suspended in the playoffs?
Anthony Slater 11:29 a.m. No, it doesn't. The slate is wiped clean. Then, I believe, you get eight in the playoffs before a suspension.
Anthony Slater 11:30 a.m. That'll do it for this chat. Thanks again to everybody who asked questions and sorry to those I didn't get to. Gotta jet off to Thunder practice. Talk to you again soon.
by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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