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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

Chances it gets checked off: 40 percent chance. For as long as the Thunder's been in town, it has had a veteran presence to serve as a mentor. Mohammed might be brought back mainly to fill that role.

TRADE NATE ROBINSON

When it can happen: Between now and June 30, or next season.

Whose job it is: Sam Presti.

Why it's on the list: Robinson was a throw-in piece in the Jeff Green-Kendrick Perkins trade. He wasn't and likely never will be in the Thunder's plans. And the more games Robinson misses due to coach's decisions, the more likely he is to become a cancer. The Thunder can't allow that to happen. Robinson did a great job this season of remaining positive. But that's not likely to continue for another season. If the Thunder doesn't intend to use him next year, look for Robinson to be included in some sort of package on draft night.

Chances it gets checked off: 100 percent. Again, he's not in the plans and the Thunder can't afford to risk ruining the locker room chemistry.

FIND ANOTHER SHOOTER/SCORER OFF THE BENCH

When it can happen: During the draft or free agency.

Whose job it is: Sam Presti.

Why it's on the list: James Harden could become the starting shooting guard next season. If that happens, the Thunder will lose its scoring anchor off the bench. More importantly, the Thunder got exposed on the offensive end at various times throughout the playoffs. Defenses could key on Durant and Westbrook too easily. Only when either Cook or Harden was on the floor with the All-Star duo did the defense have to remain honest and not load up on Westbrook and Durant. Another shooter would take tremendous pressure off the team's two best players, who often found themselves playing 2-on-5.

Chances it gets checked off: 30 percent. We're not too optimistic about a solution to this issue because the draft isn't likely to yield a player who can crack the rotation, while the Thunder must be mindful of how it spends its money in free agency. A trade that allows the Thunder to match another team almost dollar for dollar could be the answer.

DEVELOP THE PLAYBOOK

When it can happen: Now.

Whose job it is: Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

Why it's on the list: If you missed the first 97 games of the Thunder's season but caught the final two, you have all the evidence you need as to why the team needs a renewed focus on the offensive end. In Game 4 against Dallas, the Thunder got outscored 28-6 in the game's final 10 minutes. In Game 5 against the Mavs, the Thunder was outscored 17-6 in the final 5 1/2 minutes to get sent home. The other 97 games weren't quite as bad. But trust us, the team had more than its share of problems, particularly in late-game situations. The Thunder might have been one of the most efficient offensive teams, but when it was winning time the offense bogged down too frequently. That ultimately was a leading factor in the team's downfall.

Chances it gets checked off: 50 percent. There's no choice but to be middle of the road because you just never know with Brooks. He's had more than 2 1/2 seasons to implement a more intricate offensive game plan but, rightfully so, he has focused more on shoring up the defense. At this point, we can't say with certainty whether that'll change next season.

PLAYER-ORGANIZED WORKOUTS

When it can happen: From now until the start of training camp.

Whose job it is: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Why it's on the list: Just the potential for a lockout has forced the NBA to already cancel summer league. That means the Thunder's youngsters won't get proper nurturing. And if there is a lockout, coaches, front office members and support staffs aren't permitted to have any contact with players. That's a big hit to a team like the Thunder, which sends coaches throughout the country each summer to workout players. With that option potentially being taken away, the players must take it upon themselves to organize team workouts and maintain chemistry continuity. If they do, the Thunder will have a leg up on the competition whenever the season starts.

Chances it gets checked off: 75 percent. We've learned never to underestimate the camaraderie on this Thunder team.

PULL UP A CHAIR AT THE NEGOTIATING TABLE

When it can happen: July 1.

Whose job it is: Every Thunder player.

Why it's on the list: A lockout could threaten the entire 2011-12 season. That's not good for anybody, not the fans, media, players, owners, arena employees or the networks. While the players shouldn't be the only side sacrificing their time and surrendering their assets benefits, the key to ironing out a deal starts with them making concessions. The owners are in a position of power. The players have to come to that realization.

Chances it gets checked off: 20 percent. Players like Durant and Nick Collison have already been involved in meetings and vow to maintain a presence in the near future.

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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