The Orlando Magic has hired Thunder assistant general manager Rob Hennigan as the club's new general manager.
Hennigan, 30, becomes the league's youngest GM and the latest front-office executive to get plucked from the stable of Thunder general manager Sam Presti.
Hennigan oversaw the team's pro, college and international scouting departments and was in his second season as assistant GM.
Before joining the Thunder, Hennigan worked for the San Antonio Spurs, starting as an intern out of Emerson College, the exact same path as Presti.
Hennigan replaces Otis Smith, who was let go by the Magic in late May, and becomes the fifth Thunder front-office exec to be hired away, joining Rich Cho, Bill Branch, Scott Perry and Gerald Madkins.
Troy Weaver, another assistant GM for the Thunder, was believed to be a candidate for the Orlando general manager job as well. Weaver, who reportedly interviewed for Portland's general manager job last fall, continues to be sought after.
ON THE REBOUND
It is not yet known who Thunder three-time All-Star Kevin Durant will defend in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night at American Airlines Arena. Whoever he is defending, Durant had better crash the boards.
Durant was the Thunder's leading rebounder during the regular season with an 8.0 average. He finished with 18 double-doubles in 2011-12, has six double-doubles this postseason, but has yet to hit double-digits in rebounds against the Miami Heat.
In an effort to stay out of foul trouble, Durant defended Heat point guard Mario Chalmers in Game 4 on Tuesday and being on the perimeter understandably led to fewer rebounds. Durant had just two rebounds Tuesday and has just 19 total in the Finals.
Defending on the perimeter is no excuse in the eyes of Thunder coach Scott Brooks.
“He can do it,” Brooks said of Durant controlling the boards. “He's our best rebounder. We need to get him in there. I expect him to have a big rebounding game (Thursday) night. We need his rebounding abilities.”
Thunder players have been bombarded with a reminder that no team in the NBA Finals has ever overcome a 3-1 deficit, that teams are 30-0 all-time when leading 3-1 in the Finals and 13-0 since the NBA started using the 2-3-2 format in the 1985 Finals.
With all that history going against it, what is OKC possibly thinking about?
“To make history,” Thunder guard James Harden said. “As simple as that.”
What's it going to take for the Thunder to get back to OKC for Game 6 on Sunday?
“Toughness, man,” said point guard Russell Westbrook, who exploded for a career playoff high of 43 points in Game 4. “Just got to come out and play with toughness. Any way we do it, we've got to find a way to get a win. That's all it is.”
The Thunder rediscovered its free-throw shooting, converting 15 of 16 (.938) in Game 4 after shooting 70.1 in the first three games of the series.
OKC's 3-point shooting continues to plummet, however.
The Thunder is now shooting .273 (21 for 77) in the Finals.
“Well, I look back at some of our 3s or all of our 3s, and we got some good looks, and that's all you can ask for,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “There's some of them that were contested, there's no question. They're a great defensive team, and they make you take some tough shots, but you have to be able to keep moving the basketball and find those good shots.
“We are a good 3-point shooting team (35.8 percent in the regular season), and we've improved on that the last three or four years, but you have to step up and make them. That's the bottom line. When you're open, you have to take them and you've got to shoot them with confidence. And our guys, hopefully (Thursday) night, we step up and get those shots, and hopefully they fall in.”
Harden on the most difficult time to maintain his confidence: “It's definitely when those shots that you get open don't go in, but you've got to continue to play, especially for a player like me. I rely more on than just shooting or just scoring the basketball. Every aspect of my game has to be picked up in order for us to win games.”