Thunder's Kevin Durant, Nick Collison trying to recruit Shane Battier

By Darnell Mayberry, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opubco.com Published: November 29, 2011
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Could Shane Battier be headed to Oklahoma City?

If Kevin Durant had anything to say about it, the defensive ace would soon join the Thunder for this season.

Durant, using the social media site Twitter, on Sunday reached out to Battier, the former All-American and Naismith College Player of the Year at Duke who is now an unrestricted free agent.

“Hey @ShaneBattier, just wanted to see how you were doing and what size jersey you wear and also do u still want no. 31?” Durant wrote.

Battier, 33, is entering his 11th NBA season. He ended last season with Memphis, his second stint with the Grizzlies after four-plus seasons as a member of the Houston Rockets. Battier was last seen tag-teaming with former Oklahoma State guard Tony Allen to supply stellar defense on Durant, the league's two-time scoring champion, in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Battier holds career averages of 9.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks. But his impact is widely believed to extend far beyond the stat sheet. A 2009 New York Times Magazine article labeled Battier “The No-Stats All-Star” and examined how his undervalued skill set and undying selflessness quietly became the backbone of many of his teams. In his 10 seasons, Battier's teams have had eight winning season and qualified for the playoffs seven times.

Those same qualities have helped Battier become one of the league's most respected players among coaches, general managers and a segment of players.

Four days before Durant's bid, Thunder forward Nick Collison also tried his hand at recruiting Battier to Oklahoma City. Collison, a University of Kansas alum, delivered his Twitter message to Battier just before the Blue Devils faced the Jayhawks in the finals of this year's Maui Invitational Tournament. When Battier asked Collison about placing a wager on the game Collison replied, “If we win u sign with okc when lockout ends.”

Battier earned $7.35 million last season while playing on the final year of a six-year, $36.8 million deal. Though Battier figures to soon be in high demand when the free agency period begins, he could receive considerably less on his next contract given his age and the changing collective bargaining system that has been designed to control spending.

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