Thunder coach Scott Brooks has yet to address roles or whether he will make any changes to his starting lineup. But one change this season could be how much guard James Harden has the ball in his hands.
Harden showed in the Western Conference Finals, when he averaged 14.4 points on 53.5 percent shooting along with six rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals, that he could be a threat as a playmaker as well as a scorer.
“I think he will have his fair opportunity,” Brooks said. “I don't know (about) more as a percentage or time-wise, but I expect him to make plays for us. He's a terrific triple threat. He can shoot, he can drive and he can pass.”
IVEY GETS DEGREE
Just days before the start of training camp, guard Royal Ivey received his degree from the University of Texas. Ivey, who turns 30 on Dec. 20, was a four-year player for the Longhorns from 2000-04 but took incompletes in his final semester to focus on draft preparation.
He was all smiles on Monday as he shared what he got his degree in: Applied learning and development/ youth and community studies with a minor in social work.
“It took me long enough,” Ivey joked.
Ivey, though, said he had always planned on finishing up.
“For one, I promised myself that I was going to finish,” Ivey said. “And I promised my mom. (My family) really stresses education. My mom's a school teacher. My grandmother's a school teacher. So I come from a lineage of school teachers and it was important that I got my education.
“When I have kids, I want to be able to say, ‘Yeah, I played in the NBA, but I also had my degree.' So it's a great feeling.”
IBAKA SATISFIED WITH SPAIN STINT
Forward Serge Ibaka made good use of his time during the lockout by signing with Real Madrid in Spain. Ibaka signed with the team in late October and averaged 5.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and two blocked shots while playing 14.3 minutes a night in six games.
“I think it helped me a lot,” Ibaka said. “It was a great experience for me, especially during the lockout. I was playing and working hard. I was learning something new. I was very happy.”
Ibaka teamed with some of the best talent on the international circuit, including Dallas swingman Rudy Fernandez, Felipe Reyes, Sergio Rodriguez, Sergio Llull and Ante Tomic.
“(I learned) a lot of stuff,” Ibaka said. “Not just to dunk or shoot the ball. How to play on a team. A lot of stuff. Defensively. Offensively. Personally, too. How to be a good professional.”
BRIEFLYSingle game tickets for the preseason and first half of the regular season went on sale Monday. A limited number remains. … Brooks said Nazr Mohammed, James Harden and Reggie Jackson are improving but are still day-to-day with minor injuries. … Center Kendrick Perkins has joined Twitter. He can be followed @perk5yunghawg. In one of his early posts, Perkins said he will give away two tickets to each home game. … The Thunder will hold an open practice Friday at Putnam City West High School between the boys and girls games. Seating is expected to be extremely limited. PC West is located on NW 23, just west of Council Road. ... The Thunder waived former Syracuse forward Terrence Roberts, leaving the roster at 17.
Royal Ivey on this season's expectations: “Anything can happen. We just got to be prepared. Keep on working. Keep on getting better. Keep the cohesiveness with this group because this is a tight group. There's no egos here. Everybody wants to get better and everybody wants to win. That's what makes this team special.”