The NBA salary cap might not sink as low as the league originally thought next season. NBA commissioner David Stern on Friday said the league now projects the cap to be set at around $56.1 million for 2010-11. The exact figure won’t be known until early July. Although the projected figure remains lower than the current $57.7 million cap, it’s a much more rosy projection than earlier estimates that had the league prepared for a cap as low as $50 million. While the newest projection is great news for teams that are expected to be big spenders on 2010 free agents, the most highly anticipated class of all time, it doesn’t appear likely to have any bearing on the Thunder. Oklahoma City, which was projected to have between $10 million and $12 million in salary cap space this summer, could now have $12 million to $14 million to spend. The Thunder, though, has several players in line for contract extensions in the upcoming years, including Kevin Durant and Jeff Green this summer. It is likely that the Thunder will reserve its cap space to maintain a reasonable budget once extensions for its current young players take effect.
Krstic expected to play SundayNenad Krstic, who missed the final four regular-season games with a right knee bruise, went through a more intense practice Friday and will more than likely play in Sunday’s Game 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers. "He did some work (Thursday), felt good (Friday) morning and we increased the intensity level (Friday),” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "After practice, he felt good. But we’re going to see how he feels (today).”
Avoiding L.A. distractionsThe Thunder will hold one more practice in Oklahoma City today before departing for Los Angeles this afternoon. That means players will have Saturday night in L.A., which could pose a problem for such a young team with many players preparing for their first playoff game. But when asked whether he intends to address the importance of avoiding the nightlife, Brooks said he is not concerned with his players losing focus. "We haven’t had a problem with that all year,” Brooks said. "Our guys are great professionals. I know they’ve only been in the league a few years, most of them. But they understand the game has to be played at a high level and you’d better have your good stuff.”
BrieflyDurant was named the Western Conference’s Player of the Month for April. ... The Thunder has sold out of its allotment of playoff tickets for Games 3 and 4. Fans bought nearly 4,000 tickets in 25 minutes Friday. A limited number of tickets will be made available as next week’s games approach. ... Every playoff game can be heard locally on WWLS-98.1 FM. FOX Sports Oklahoma will broadcast games 2, 3 and 4. If necessary, Games 5, 6 and 7 also will be shown on FS Oklahoma. ...ABC’s lead broadcasting crew of play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy and reporter Lisa Salters have been assigned to Sunday’s game.