This is the time of year for front-office shake-ups, which means the Thunder staff could be pilfered once again.
Of the six members joining general manager Sam Presti's original Seattle staff in 2007, only two remain in director of minor league operations/basketball technology Paul Rivers and director of East Coast scouting Frank Ross.
Presti has lost Rich Cho (Charlotte Bobcats general manager and previous Portland Trail Blazers GM), Bill Branch (Blazers assistant GM), Scott Perry (Detroit Pistons vice president director of basketball operations) and Gerald Madkins (New Orleans Hornets vice president player personnel).
Thunder vice president/assistant general manager Troy Weaver and assistant GM/player personnel Rob Hennigan, who joined the staff with the relocation to Oklahoma City, figure to be strong GM candidates this offseason.
“We're really fortunate to have had good people come though our organization, and Troy and Rob are among the best,” Presti said. “They've been integral to helping us build our program. I have great respect for them professionally and personally.
“I know there will come a time when both of them will have opportunities and I know both will be fantastic. We understand that change is part of the business and we want to be supportive of our people if and when opportunities present themselves.”
CUTTING A TRACK
When Thunder starting center Kendrick Perkins held a basketball camp in his hometown of Beaumont, Texas, last summer, teammate Kevin Durant and Spurs guard Stephen Jackson got a chance to bond by sharing a mutual interest — music.
Jackson and Durant recorded a rap song “Lonely at the top” and Jackson recently told San Antonio media he hopes to release the single soon.
“Yeah, we did a little something,” Durant said. “I told you, man, that's a hobby of mine. He actually hit me about it and wanted me to get on it. It's cool. It's a nice little track.”
A native of nearby Port Arthur, Texas, Jackson invited Durant, Perkins and other NBA players to his mother's home for a night of food, drinks and fun during Perkins' weeklong camp.
“She cooked for us some,” Durant said of Jackson's mother. “Coming from Texas, man, you got that southern hospitality. Anybody's welcome in anybody's house down there. So going down there for Perk's camp, they treated us well, and Jack was one of the main guys.”
Starting forward Serge Ibaka returned to practice on Saturday after missing Friday's practice with flu-like symptoms.
Coach Scott Brooks said all players are healthy, with Perkins (sore right hip muscle) still hovering around 80 percent. As Perkins said in Los Angeles, “I'm fine, but I'm not fine.”
HERE AND THERE
Thunder reserve center Nazr Mohammed, who played for the Spurs in 2005-06, said he sees similarities between the two franchises.
“It's amazing how these young guys around here (OKC) understand the hard work, the family atmosphere,” said Mohammed, who is in his 14th season. “I mean, I've been on some teams with a bunch of young guys and family atmosphere is the furthest thing from guys' minds. Guys are thinking about, ‘When am I going to get my opportunity to get out there and show the world what I can do and get my second contract?' Here, it's nothing like that. Guys just want to work, win, get better and they know and understand like veterans that the rest will take care of itself.”