The first two players to voluntarily arrive for the Thunder both attended the same college and spent much of the lockout working out together.
Cole Aldrich arrived Thursday afternoon, and Nick Collison worked on Friday morning. Both are Kansas products.
Here is part of Collison's Q&A session from Friday:
Your thoughts on the new practice facility?
“I had been in it when it was studs and drywall but not totally finished. It's unbelievable. It's going to be a great asset for us as players to come here every day. We really appreciate the taxpayers paying for it. It will be a big advantage for us in the next 10-15-20 years, however long we have it. It's got to be the best in the league, I would think.”
You followed labor negotiations closely. How would you gauge the final result?
“It was a tough process, and I think the good thing that we can focus on now is that we can put it behind us hopefully and play. Whether players won or owners won, it's beside the point now. I think we are all fortunate and we've all realized that all along, that we're fortunate to play. We're just all happy to be able to play basketball again. Hopefully, we can start to put the lockout behind us and focus on basketball.”
What did you think about the times you guys held your own voluntary workouts during the lockout?
“We got together three times. We thought it would be good just to touch base. We didn't do anything crazy. We played some pickup every day and worked out for about four days. We did it once in Austin, Texas, once at the University of Kentucky and once here (at Southern Nazarene around Halloween). I don't know if it will give us a huge advantage. I think it was good for us. It was just good to see everybody again and break up the monotony of working out on your own. The guys look like they are in good shape. We'll be as prepared as anybody. I think every team is going to be rushing and probably feel unprepared going into the games because it's less time than what we're used to in getting ready for a season.”
Is it odd to be in the same building as your coaches and (general manager) Sam Presti and not being able to look at them or see them?
“Yeah, that is kind of strange. They kept the blinds down and kind of stayed away – out of sight and out of mind, I guess. This is a much bigger building, so they can be in different parts of it. Yeah, this whole lockout thing is a little bit awkward, and hopefully it will get done and we can get back to business as usual.”
Given last year's success, what kind of reaction did you get from people during the offseason?
“I think a lot of people enjoy watching us play. We obviously have a lot of young talent, and we play hard. I got a ton of people in the off season say that they really enjoy watching us play and that they're rooting for us. It's fun to be one of those teams that people are talking about, and it creates a lot more motivation to just try to get back and do the work all season to hopefully get back to the point of the season where we're in the playoffs again.”
When do you think your teammates will be back?
“I don't know for sure. It's kind of a crazy process to get everybody here and get people moved in with their families and stuff. Everyone's kind of got different things they're dealing with. I would imagine Tuesday or Wednesday, we'll probably get everyone here. I think we'll have to do physicals before camp starts.”
Will you be organizing the teams?
“We're trying to get everybody here for Tuesday. I think some guys probably won't be here to work out Tuesday but most guys Wednesday, so we'll probably be able to play a little bit.”