Exit Interview Day

We’re live from the Thunder practice facility, where players and coaches will meet with the media before parting ways for the off-season. We’ll provide you live coverage after we speak to each player. Be sure to refresh your browser periodically for the latest updates.

The Thunder was maybe six hours removed from landing back home after Wednesday’s season-ending 126-85 victory at the Los Angeles Clippers, and the entire team was back at the practice facility for one final time.

On Thursday, each Thunder player stopped by individually for exit interviews before heading off to who-knows-where for the off-season.

For those who are unfamiliar with NBA exit interviews, here’s how the Thunder ran its version:

Players begin by tidying up their locker room stalls, picking up extra gear and sneakers and anything else they want to take with them for the summer. More often than not, you’ll see a player lugging a dolly full of boxes and belongings.

Then, it’s off to meetings. First, a player will meet with head coach Scott Brooks and then Sam Presti to discuss individual performance and what is expected of them during the off-season. Then, the player will meet with the team’s development staff, where they will sometimes plan a summer visit and at the very least go over off-season workout plans.

After that, it’s onto face the media for 10 minutes or so, the final time they’ll have to do so in a controlled setting until training camp.

Finally, it’s off to the team doctor for a physical. Every player has to take one.

And then the players are free to go wherever they’d like.

There you have it. Nothing too thrilling, although what the players discussed with the media was certainly worth a read. Here’s the play-by-play of how the day unfolded:

D.J. WHITE

D.J. was the final Thunder player to have an exit interview, and I thought he was one of the more engaging guys. After all, he is less than 24 hours removed from his first career double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds.

White said this off-season will be primarily dedicated to putting on weight. After two jaw surgeries that sidelined him for all but seven games this season, White estimated he was playing 15 to 20 pounds under weight. His goal is to get back to the 235, 240-pound range.

The added weight, he said, will also help improve his rebounding. White has shown he’s willing to throw his body all over the court. He also remains one of the more athletic big men on the Thunder roster.

White also estimated that he participated in just two practices with the Thunder this season and maybe one with the Tulsa 66ers.

The Thunder coaching staff told White to be cautious and to pace himself this off-season. While many players are ready for a rest, White is still fired up. The organization wants to make sure he doesn’t overdo it this summer.

SHAUN LIVINGSTON

First off, what a great story. Shaun Livingston has done things this season that few thought he would ever do after seriously injuring his knee in 2007.

So naturally, everything Livingston does this off-season will be centered around improving his left knee.

Livingston said the objective of this off-season is to gain explosiveness. I think he used the word “explosiveness” three times in one sentence.

Livingston said he had yet to see the clip of his monster alley-oop dunk last night against the Clippers, but he did say he had a DVD of it in his pocket. Livingston described his dunk as “vintage.”

Livingston also used the word “crucial” to describe the upcoming NBA Summer League. He’ll play for the Thunder.

KYLE WEAVER

Just spoke to Kyle Weaver, whose mother is touring the practice facility for the first time. Weaver is getting his tonsils removed tomorrow, so his mother flew down here to take care of him.

Weaver said he plans to spend the off-season between here and his hometown of Beloit, Wis. He added that, because he’s from such a small town, he has to travel a good distance to find super competitive pickup games.

And being that he’s from Beloit, which has a population of fewer than 40,000, Weaver said he’ll need to manage his time well between the community and his workouts. Weaver certainly will be in demand this summer.

Weaver said his top priority is to become stronger. He didn’t specify how much weight he wants to put on, but said that he just wants to improve his overall strength.

After playing point guard, shooting guard and small forward this season, Weaver said he’s still finding his niche.

Only two more players to go: D.J. White and Shaun Livingston.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK

Russell might have had the briefest exit interview with the media. He spoke for just over three minutes. If you haven’t learned by now, he’s not very talkative with the media. Nothing wrong with that, though.

Away from the media, Westbrook did say that he might wear protective sleeves on his arms next season; his arms were covered with bruises, scratches and scars from attacking the rim on a regular basis.

Asked what in particular he needs to imprvove on, Westbrook said, “everything.”

Westbrook will spend most of the off-season back home in Los Angeles, where he will take an English and history course at UCLA in his pursuit of a degree in African American Studies.

KEVIN DURANT

OK, so where to begin? Well, let’s start off with Durant saying he is about to dedicate himself to an intense strength program that will have him lifting weights at least three times a week, which will be sans basketball activities.

The new program has Durant gaining up to 10 pounds this summer, which he said will help with his endurance and allow him to take more of a beating in the paint.

The biggest improvement Durant feels he made this season was simply learning more about the game of basketball. At 20 years-old, he admitted he has a long way to go. When you consider he was the league’s sixth-leading scorer this season, it’s a scary thought.

Like teammate Jeff Green, Durant will spend a bulk of his time back in D.C., and also on the road, where he plans to visit as many teammates as possible. Durant also said that teammate Kyle Weaver will probably spend a few weeks with him in D.C.

Summer classes at the University of Texas are scheduled to begin on June 5. Durant said he will be there, and he’s hoping to have former Longhorn teammate and current Charlotte Bobcat guard D.J. Augustin there with him.

Durant credited Brooks for improving all facets of his game, saying that being switched from shooting guard to small forward is more of a “natural fit.”

CAFFEINE TIME

Don’t ever underestimate head coach Scott Brooks’ culinary skills. He just whipped up some coffee smoothies for the staff. And they looked delicious.

NENAD KRSTIC

Nenad and I have at least one thing in common. Krstic was asked what was his least favorite part about Oklahoma City. His response: “The one thing I don’t like is that the restaurants close at 10 p.m.”

The big news with Krstic is that he’ll be playing with the Serbian National Team this summer, shortly after he gets married in July. “No honeymoon,” he added.

Krstic said that he needs to work on his post moves and interior defense this summer.

Krstic said he would spend the next two months doing mostly conditioning drills, especially for his legs. He won’t do much with a basketball until he joins the national team.

MORE NEWS & NOTES

I just saw assistant coach Mark Bryant working up a sweat on an elliptical machine … Just spoke to video coordinator Vin Bhavnani, who was passing by. Bhavnani and his staff won’t have much rest until August. Even though Bhavnani won’t have to prepare game film and scout tapes for upcoming opponents, he still has plenty of work to do in the coming months. Bhavnani and his crew will be working around the clock compiling film on college prospects for the upcoming NBA Draft, plus sift through highlights and film of any free agents that might land on the Thunder’s radar.

THABO SEFOLOSHA

When Sefolosha was asked what area of his game he will focus most on, the swingman didn’t skip a beat, saying, “I need to work on my shooting.”

Sefolosha, listed at 215 pounds, said he would like to gain some weight this summer as well, but did not specify how many pounds he plans to tack on.

Sefolosha said the left index finger he dislocated in Friday’s home finale should heal within a week or two.

Sefolosha said he will first head to Chicago, where still keeps a home, before crossing the pond to stay in his hometown of Vevey, Switzerland, where he will spend a majority of the offseason as well as run a basketball camp. Sefolosha also said he might workout with the Swiss National Team this summer.

Thabo and his wife are expecting their second daughter in June.

In less than a week, Sefolosha went from sporting braids to an afro to more of a cropped hairdo on Thursday. With his second child on the way, Sefolosha said he wanted to, “get my grown man look on.”

JEFF GREEN

Green will head back to his hometown of Washington, D.C., where he will take more courses towards his degree in Women’s Studies at Georgetown.

Green said he will mostly workout with Kevin Durant at Georgetown, where many - if not all - the Washington Wizards come through.

Green said he’s heading into the off-season with the goal of improving his all-around shooting and dribble penetration.

Green described his mindset as being “normal” and his body as “beat up” right now.

If he had to grade his performance this season, Green said he’d give himself a ‘C.’

Green plans to visit several of his teammates’ hometowns, including Kyle Weaver (Beloit, Wis.), D.J. White (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) and Russell Westbrook (Los Angeles).

One more thing about Green: he was wearing some dark Bvlgari frames for his glasses, which in my opinion enhances his fashion sense. As Borat would say, “Very Nice!”

MALIK ROSE

Rose, an unrestricted free agent, called the nearly two months he spent with the Thunder a “refreshing experience.”

Rose followed that up by saying he wants to return to the Thunder, but understands that this is a business and that anything is possible.

Playing 15 to 20 minutes a night, Rose said, would be like “nirvana” for him next season.

Rose spends his off-season in San Antonio, where he works out mostly with Spurs players.

Rose said that he’d like to see the Thunder practice with more “edginess,” especially among its younger players.

NICK COLLISON

Nick’s heading back to Seattle, where he spends his off-season and works out with fellow NBA players like Sacramento’s Spencer Hawes and New York’s Nate Robinson.

Collison wants to become a more efficient shooter for next season, and stressed that he wants his shooting to become a “weapon.”

Collison also will stick with a tough strength workout regimen that will focus on improving his explosiveness and strengthening his hips.

Collison added that he still has two fractured fingers, but they should heal this summer.

Collison used the word “rare” to describe the improvements Russell Westbrook made this season.

EARL WATSON

Watson said he started to find a rhythm and feel “normal” after playing the final three games of the regular season. Watson had thumb surgery on his shooting hand last July.

Watson will have a busy summer ahead of him. First, he will hold a basketball camp for children in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, at the end of the month as a part of his Emagine Foundation. After getting married in May, he’ll get back to work on his off-season program.

Watson said he’s excited about getting up as many shots and reps as possible this season. Watson shot 38.4% from the field this season, which is below his career average of 41.5%.

Watson said he will workout on the campus of UCLA, where he played collegiately, and will be joined by about 20 to 30 NBA players.

NEWS & NOTES

Marc St. Yves, the director of team operations, is rather busy today. He’s in charge of making sure all the players clear out their lockers at the team’s practice facility. He’s also emptying out the equipment room. He just sent Damien Wilkins home with six pairs of Adidas sneakers; Wilkins has an endorsement deal with Adidas. A lot of players accumulate workout gear, sneakers and tons of other stuff throughout the season. Now is the time for them to collect their belongings. Every player also gets to go home with their game jerseys; some like to frame them, while others do who-knows-what with them.

DESMOND MASON

Mason said he will be able to run on a treadmill in the coming days. Mason had season-ending right knee surgery in January.

Mason, an unrestricted free agent, reaffirmed his desire to return to the Thunder next season.

Mason also said that he will travel between Oklahoma City and Portland, his off-season residence, this summer. When he’s in Portland, he often works out with some Trail Blazers.

Mason said that the prospect of the Thunder making the playoffs next season is “realistic” if the team can maintain a certain focus for 82 games.

Mason believes the next step for Kevin Durant is to add some more moves to his offensive arsenal.

Mason, an avid painter, said he does not have any art shows/exhibits scheduled for this summer. He’ll spend some time this summer preparing for his next show at a date and time to be determined.

DAMIEN WILKINS

Wilkins ended his media session with his take on the Oklahoma weather: “The wind was nerve-wracking, but I’ll take wind over rain any day.”

All joking aside, Wilkins said he’ll head into the off-season with a focus on improving his long-range jump shot - he shot 37.5% from behind the arc - and his post-up game.

Wilkins said that, aside from some vacation, time spent back home in Atlanta and an upcoming birthday party for his son, he’ll spend a chunk of time training in Chicago with a few handful of NBA players ranging from Dwyane Wade to Russell Westbrook. Wilkins works out with renownded Chicago-based trainer Tim Grover.

Wilkins said the biggest stride the team has made in one season has been its ability to maintain intensity.

Wilkins said no one was really surprised to hear about the hiring of head coach Scott Brooks. Wilkins said he was having lunch in L.A. with Kevin Durant and Kyle Weaver when the news broke.

Wilkins said it’d be impossible not to recognize the fan base when thinking about Oklahoma City.

SCOTT BROOKS

Brooks was the first to address the media this morning, and the new head coach spoke for about 20 minutes.

Brooks used the words “resiliency” and “backs against the wall” to describe Wednesday’s season-ending victory in Los Angeles before adding that he’s “excited, pleased and thankful” to be named the full-time head coach.

There won’t be much down time for Brooks, who said he will meet with every player today for exit interviews. He also said he plans on visiting every player at some point this summer to talk philosophy, work out and just get the guys in an off-court setting.

As far as off-season moves go, Brooks said that he trusts general manager Sam Presti will “find guys that will help us improve.”

On a follow-up to that, Brooks also stressed the importance for the team to improve its interior defense, whether it’s through the draft, free agency or another acquisition.

While the players will be working on getting better over the summer, Brooks said he’ll be doing the same as a coach. He plans to visit coaches across the country this summer, looking for better insight into running a team, whether it’s by picking up another practice drill, installing another play or improving his ability to communicate with players.

Brooks said the fans were “a major reason” why the Thunder played well at home.

Brooks said his family is excited to remain in Oklahoma City, saying, “they’ve opened their hearts to the city and they love it here.”

In regards to the development of Kevin Durant, Brooks said that he’s a “humble star in the making.”