The NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 1 p.m. Denver time, roughly six hours before OKC faces the Nuggets at Pepsi Center.
The Thunder got busy at last season's Feb. 24 deadline, sending Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, cash and a 2012 first-round pick to the Boston Celtics for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson, and also shipping D.J. White and Morris Peterson to Charlotte in exchange for Nazr Mohammed.
Though no deals are expected from the Thunder, the process can become a distraction.
“I don't get a sense that our guys are distracted,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said. “I don't talk about it and haven't heard the guys. We're focused on what we do and who we have, and we're pretty good. We want to just focus on our team and not worry about the outside noise. You can't (let it distract you), even if you're a guy who's been in that position where rumors were speculating around your name. You can't worry about it. You just play your game, do your best and hope for the best."
When the Thunder and Nuggets last played on Feb. 19 in Chesapeake Energy Arena, the NBA record book gained a new entry as OKC's Kevin Durant scored a career-high 51 points, Russell Westbrook scored 40 and Serge Ibaka had a triple-double with 15 rebounds, 14 points and 11 blocked shots.
It marked the first time in NBA history a team has had three players on the same team score 50-plus, 40-plus and a triple-double in the same game. OKC came back from 14 points down midway through the second quarter and from nine down in the final eight minutes of regulation to post a 124-118 victory in overtime.
A breakdown of Ibaka's blocks: Ty Lawson (3), Corey Brewer (2), Arron Afflalo (2), Andre Miller (2), Al Harrington (1) and Timofey Mozgov (1).
Ibaka had eight blocks after halftime as Denver players continued to attack on the inside, almost daring Ibaka to try and block their shot, which he frequently did.
“That's what NBA players do,” Brooks said. “They're so competitive. They think they can challenge anybody in this league. that's what makes them be a player in this league, but it also at times hurts them and puts them on the bench if they don't realize, ‘This guy's blocking your shot every time and disrupting the game.' You have to be smart about it.”
At Friday's home game against the San Antonio Spurs, Thunder fans will have the opportunity to help the people of Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo, the hometown of Serge Ibaka.
The Thunder will hold a special in-game raffle and auction to benefit the people of Brazzaville following explosions and fires last week that killed more than 200 people and injured more than 1,300. The tragedy occurred when a munitions depot exploded on March 4. The blasts leveled nearby residential areas and left hundreds of men, women and children homeless.
The featured item in the auction will be Ibaka's autographed game-worn jersey and an opportunity to meet him after the game. Other signed Thunder memorabilia also will be up for auction. Fans can purchase a $5 raffle ticket for the chance to win a team-autographed Thunder basketball. Both the auction and the raffle will be outside Section 120 on the main concourse. A portion of the proceeds will go toward UNICEF.
Brooks on why there was plenty of blame to go around in Tuesday night's gut-wrenching 104-103 home loss to Houston, which outscored OKC 13-1 in the final 2:29: “I don't think we did a good job of demanding the ball where we wanted it (offensively). It's a breakdown of everybody. It's not just Russell. Everybody is involved in every set that we do. Everybody has to do their part. You can't discount one part of the play and think that's OK, and that's what we did throughout the last couple of minutes.”
After playing Denver on Thursday, the Thunder returns home for 8:30 p.m. games on Friday against San Antonio and on Sunday against Portland.