Thunder's 2011 offseason to-do list

Thunder beat writer Darnell Mayberry looks at what the franchise needs to address during this offseason.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: May 28, 2011

Two days after the Oklahoma City Thunder was eliminated from the playoffs, a pre-draft workout was being held bright and early at the team's practice facility.

It was back to business as usual for the 3-year-old franchise that had just gone deeper than it ever has in the postseason.

That's because the Thunder has little time to spare. In many ways, this offseason could be the team's most critical yet now that it is facing championship expectations. And there are plenty of issues that need to be addressed before the Thunder embarks on what could be a special 2011-12 NBA season.

Here's a look at 10 things on the Thunder's summer to-do list.

WORKOUT AND EVALUATE DRAFT PROSPECTS

When it can happen: From now until the June 23 draft.

Whose job it is: Front office and coaching staff.

Why it's on the list: This is the final opportunity for the Thunder to get an up-close look at draft-eligible players. These private workouts are by invitation only at the team's practice facility. On the heels of the NBA combine in Chicago, these sessions are the only other time the Thunder can interview prospects to get a better feel for their personalities and whether they'll mesh with the organization's culture. A maximum of six players are allowed in each workout, which present an opportunity to gauge players' conditioning and competitiveness in games of 1-on-1, 2-on-2 and 3-on-3. Unlike most teams, the Thunder doesn't even disclose which players are coming into town, keeping consistent with the franchise's close-to-the-vest mentality. But behind those walls, the next member of the Thunder could be revealing himself.

Chances it gets checked off: 100 percent. The Thunder has already conducted multiple workouts.

FIND A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH IN THE DRAFT

When it can happen: June 23.

Whose job it is: Sam Presti and front office members.

Why it's on the list: OKC has the 24th overall pick, which the Thunder knows all-too well can be a potential blessing (Serge Ibaka in 2008) or a potential bust (Byron Mullens in 2009). While the Thunder might now be a championship contender, no team is ever too good to continue stockpiling young talent for future use.

Chances it gets checked off: 5 percent. The general consensus is this is a weak draft. The Thunder will be hard-pressed to find a steal at 24. But you never know.

RE-SIGN RUSSELL WESTBROOK

When it can happen: Not until after July 1 and a new labor contract is in place.

Whose job it is: Sam Presti.

Why it's on the list: With three years of service in the books, Westbrook is now eligible for an extension to his rookie deal. And this is the most important bit of business on the Thunder's summer docket. Westbrook is the team's second-best player and a big key to the franchise's long-term success. Because of the expiring collective bargaining agreement, it's unclear what type of deal Westbrook will be eligible for. But it's looking more and more likely that Westbrook will command something close to a maximum contract, in whatever form it may be.

Chances it gets checked off: 100 percent. Don't believe the speculation. Westbrook wants to remain with the Thunder. And the Thunder wants to keep him.

RE-SIGN GUARD DAEQUAN COOK

When it can happen: Not until after July 1 and a new labor contract is in place.

Whose job it is: Sam Presti

Why it's on the list: Cook is a restricted free agent this summer, and he just might be the team's best sharpshooter. He shot a career-high 42.2 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season and proved he can provide instant perimeter shooting and floor spacing even in a limited role. That's invaluable for a Thunder team that doesn't have many minutes to spare on the wings.

Chances it gets checked off: 80 percent.

RE-SIGN CENTER NAZR MOHAMMED

When it can happen: Not until after July 1 and a new labor contract is in place.

Whose job it is: Sam Presti.

Why it's on the list: Mohammed will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He'll be 34 at the start of next season, but has proved to be a valuable addition because of his veteran leadership, savvy low-post defense and efficient offense. The questions are whether Presti wants to risk blocking young big men Byron Mullens and Cole Aldrich from playing time, and whether Mohammed wants to risk not playing if they pass him on the depth chart.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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KEY DATES

Sunday-June 22: Private pre-draft workouts at the Thunder's practice facility.

June 13: NBA early entrant withdrawal deadline

June 23: 2011 NBA Draft.

June 29-30: Third-annual Kevin Durant basketball camp at Heritage Hall High.

June 30: Expiration date of the current collective bargaining agreement.

July 1: No more contact is permissible between franchises and players if a new CBA isn't agreed upon.

Aug. 3: Date the league-wide schedule was released last year.

Sept. 26: Possible date for the Thunder's media day should the 2011-12 season start on time.

Nov. 1: Regular season tips off (if a new CBA is in place).

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