The Thunder and Heat were the two more talked-about teams in the league this offseason, both capturing significant media attention. Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant sees a large gap in each team's overall exposure, however.
"Naw, those guys are much more sought-after than us," Durant said. "They're talked about as a championship contender already. We're just trying to grow as a group."
Durant admits he is puzzled at certain people's animosity toward LeBron James since he decided to sign with Miami.
"A lot of people really don't get to see what kind of person he is," Durant said of James. "He was trying to look out for himself, his family and trying to make the right decision for his family. You can't blame a man for that, no matter what you do, (whether it's) playing basketball or being a teacher. People with different professions leave their jobs all the time for better places. So you can't judge him for what he did. He's just looking out for himself."
No party animal
James was scheduled to have a party at The Midland, a theater in downtown Kansas City, on Thursday night.
Durant was invited but politely declined.
"I don't go out to parties the day before a game," Durant said. "I really don't go out too much during the season."
Guard Thabo Sefolosha met the team in Kansas City after staying at home with flu-like symptoms and missing the Thunder's game in Fayetteville, N.C., on Wednesday night.
It is not know if Sefolosha will start tonight against Miami. James Harden started in Sefolosha's place against Charlotte, finishing with 16 points four assists and three rebounds in 29 minutes.
Cook still not close to returning
Daequan Cook participated in more drills during Thursday's practice and continues to progress from concussion he sustained last week in practice. But Cook said Thursday that he doesn't expect to make his Thunder debut in the near future.
Cook will not be in the lineup tonight against the Heat, and he said he is doubtful for Tuesday's game against Memphis in Tulsa. Cook could make his debut against CSKA Moscow in Oklahoma City on Thursday, he said, but the team's coaches and training staff must first be comfortable with him in practices.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks did not play Durant in the second half of Wednesday's 97-93 win over Charlotte. But Brooks said Durant, as well as guard Russell Westbrook, will receive more playing time tonight against Miami. Brooks also said the starting lineup could change on a game-to-game basis in the preseason.