Training Camp 2009: Daily Report

Day 24 | Looking Ahead to Tonight's Preseason Finale

Thursday, Oct. 22 -- Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said the objective heading into tonight’s final preseason game against the Sacramento Kings will be the same as the previous games.

“We want to continue to work on the things we’ve talked about the last three weeks and get better at executing them,” he said. “Our effort has been good. We just have to do a better job of containing the ball. We’re going in it to play well.”

Brooks said he would go with a starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and Kevin Durant and that everyone is available to play.

Brooks said that the coaching staff still wants to look at several lineup combinations tonight.

“You try to figure out what a guy does with different guys,” he said. “The game is impacted with who you’re playing with. If you’re a big and you’re pinning down with Kevin Durant there’s going to be a lot of attention on you and the bigs can get open. If you’re a big pinning down for not the big shooter that Kevin is, you have to worry about the secondary options that are more important than the first. But you still learn a lot of things about guys and how they play in certain situations and we’re still figuring it out.”

Regardless of who is on the floor, the objective on the defensive end will never change. Brooks said containing the ball and keeping a tight shell defense has been the top priorities, something that has gotten away from the team at times in the last couple of preseason games.

“You just can’t get broken down,” Brooks said. “Any time you get broken down, the ball is what scores. So if you don’t stop the ball with help, the ball’s going to score. So when you do help you’ve really got to do a great job of closing out to their shooters, and that’s something that we work on every day.”

Day 20 | Durant Takes In Red River Rivalry, Thunder Ready for Back-to-Back Games

Sunday, Oct. 18 --Three years later, and Kevin Durant finally got to experience the Red River Rivalry.

Durant, who starred at the University of Texas before turning pro in the spring of 2007, went to his first-ever Texas-Oklahoma football game on Saturday. Durant took advantage of the team’s day off by driving down to the Cotton Bowl with rookie James Harden.

The outcome, a 16-13 Texas win, capped the day for Durant.

“My favorite part had to be when the clock read zero and everybody ran onto the field on my side,” Durant said. “It was a joyous day, I would say. We sang the Texas fight song at the end. It was a good celebration. It felt good to win.”

Durant said all he saw was orange and maroon, and that the atmosphere reminded him of NBA All-Star Weekend. Durant, who wore his Texas threads, watched the game from the sideline and said he got some attention from both UT and OU fans.

“A lot of Oklahoma fans knew who I was,” he said. “They were real nice to me. Nothing negative. It was fun. It was loud.”

BACK TO WORK

The team went through a two-hour practice on Sunday before departing for Houston, where it will play the Rockets on Monday night.

And for the second straight practice, the Thunder wrapped things up with a series of intense scrimmages.

“This team, there’s so many things I like about our team, but one of the main things is they compete against each other,” Brooks said. “You don’t get better by playing buddy ball with your teammates, and they don’t do that.”

MINUTES, ROTATIONS MOVING FORWARD

Brooks said that he will go with a different starting lineup for Monday and Tuesday’s games, but had not settled on a starting unit for the Rockets’ game as of Sunday afternoon.

Brooks said that all 18 players will be available for both games.

“It lets us see where we are, not only from a physical standpoint but mentally," Brooks said. "A back-to-back game, a lot of it is mental. You have to really stay focused and concentrate and do all the important things, not only on the court but off the court. You have to get your rest and eat well, and back-to-back games, some guys are going to play good minutes.”

Day 18 | Team Goes Through Intense Scrimmage Before Day Off

Friday, Oct. 16 -- Kevin Ollie practically belly flopped onto a loose ball.

Kevin Durant swatted a teammates shot at the rim with a scowl on his face.

Etan Thomas hit the game-winning shot, looked at the opposing team and did the Shooter McGavin.

The Thunder played four eight-minute scrimmages toward the end of practice, and it was as intense as it gets.

Assistant coaches Rex Kalamian and Mark Bryant drew up the plays as head coach Scott Brooks watched and instructed from the sideline, making sure there was carryover from what the team did earlier in practice.

“We want our guys to execute our game plan,” Brooks said. “When the scrimmages take place you kind of a have a tendency to do it a little bit differently and it gives our coaches and myself an opportunity to correct and understand that we’re not doing it a little differently. We’re staying with the game plan and I thought our guys did a very good job at that.”

The team kept score and used a running clock as well, which Brooks felt was vital in a competitive situation.

“Guys love to compete and I really believe that whatever you do, whatever drill, whatever game, you should always put a score on it,” he said. “Whether it’s a free-throw shooting game or the scrimmages or just one of our defensive or offensive drills, you put a number on it. Competitive juices will start to really show and I think our guys really did that.”

LATER TONIGHT

Be sure to come back later tonight for a story on Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Serge Ibaka’s trip to tonight’s high school football game between Edmond Memorial and Westmoore, where the trio will greet fans, participate in the coin toss and hand out wrist bands and t-shirts. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Wantland Stadium at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Day 17 | Livingston on Playing Multiple Positions, Brooks Pleased With Defensive Efforts

Thursday, Oct. 15 -- Training camp has been a time for the Thunder to implement, learn and get a feel for what works.

For guard Shaun Livingston, that’s meant putting his versatility to use by playing multiple positions – point guard, shooting guard and even some small forward.

“A lot of our stuff, when he’s in the game we treat him as a point two-guard or a point-three,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. “But he thinks like a point guard. He’s a playmaker and he’s done a good job.”

In Wednesday’s win over Miami, Livingston often found himself on the floor with starting point guard Russell Westbrook. In Monday’s win over Phoenix, Livingston at times shared the floor with point guard Kevin Ollie and shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha.

While he’s a natural point guard, Livingston said he also likes playing the wing positions.

“I could end up playing a lot off the ball because I can guard bigger players as well,” he said. “I think they’re going to interchange, they’ll probably allow me to make plays more at the 2 and 3. I think it gives them more options with ball handlers out on the floor.”

There were several instances in each of the last two games where Livingston exploited his matchup against smaller defenders by establishing himself in the post.

“That’s just another option,” Livingston said. “It gives us more options offensively. It allows us to be more versatile. Not take so many jump shots, maybe get down and get some posts and kind of slow the clock down a little bit.”

UPON FURTHER REVIEW…

It was a quick turnaround from Wednesday’s game to Thursday’s practice, but Brooks said he still made time to review the game film. The one thing that jumped out at Brooks was the team’s defensive efforts.

“I thought we really picked the defense up in the fourth quarter, which was good to see,” he said. “We stayed with our game plan and we didn’t get frustrated because things weren’t going our way. It was good fourth quarter defense. We were very active and we didn’t get frustrated. We were trailing most of the game and we fought back and we knew going into the game Miami would be a tough test.”

Day 16 |Thomas Going-Going, Back-Back to Tulsa

Wednesday, Oct. 14 -- Tulsa native Etan Thomas said he has collected over 100 tickets for tonight’s Thunder game in hometown. And he’s used a variety of methods in getting them: from teammates, from his own allotment and from buying tickets out of pocket.

Immediate family aside, Thomas said the junior varsity and varsity basketball teams at his alma mater, Booker T. Washington High, will be in attendance, as well as members of his church. Thomas said his mother gave him a list of people for whom he had to get tickets.

“I had to cap it off at some point,” Thomas said. “I just got as many tickets as I could. A lot of close friends, my English teacher from growing up. I have a lot of people in Tulsa. I do a lot of work there. I have a lot of ties.”

Thomas hasn’t played an organized basketball game in Tulsa since the state championship game in his senior year of high school. He said he grew up about 10 minutes from the BOK Center, and is obviously thrilled about playing before so many friends and family. Thomas will also be in the starting lineup for the second straight game.

“It’s big for Tulsa,” Thomas said of tonight’s game. “That they have professional basketball in Tulsa is a beautiful thing and I grew up there and never imagined that professional basketball would be in Oklahoma. Having a preseason game in Tulsa is really special. It’s going to be great.”

  • The Thunder is taking a bus to Tulsa for tonight’s game, a form of travel not too common in the NBA these days.

    Thunder head coach Scott Brooks recalled his first two years with the Philadelphia 76ers when they’d take a bus to New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. for games.

    “It’ll be like old days,” Brooks said. “It’s great.”

  • Brooks said that he installed two more offensive plays during Wednesday’s shoot around.

    "That's how we're going," he said. "Our offensive playbook is going to get bigger and as much as our guys can absorb, I'm going to throw more at them. I think our guys are doing a good job of picking it up. Not all guys learn at the same speed but I'm teaching to the head of the class. You have to keep up to the head of the class."

  • Brooks also said that center Nenad Krstic will play a few minutes tonight.


    Day 15 | Brooks on Starting Lineup, Thomas, Practice Drills

    Tuesday, Oct. 13 -- Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said he will stick with the same starting lineup for the second straight game when the Thunder plays the Miami Heat on Wednesday in Tulsa, giving center Etan Thomas a chance to start before in his hometown while also allowing the coaching staff another look at the newly acquired big man with the first unit.

    Thomas finished with six points, three rebounds and a steal in Monday’s win against the Phoenix Suns. On Wednesday, he’ll have another chance to start alongside Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.

    Thomas gives the Thunder a completely different look when he’s on the floor. Known as a physical, rugged player who likes to play closer to the rim, Thomas is a mirror opposite of Nenad Krstic, the skilled perimeter shooting seven-footer.

    Brooks liked what he saw from Thomas.

    “I thought he was fine,” he said. “He did a lot of good things for us. One of the things we like is he plays with toughness and that’s an important role we will need on our team. He needs to continue to get himself in game shape and he has, he’s worked extremely hard and we like where he’s at at the moment.”

    Brooks also confirmed on Monday that he’d like to play Durant, Green and Westbrook somewhere in the 30-minute range against the Heat.

    VIEW FROM THE COUCH

    An illness forced Krstic to watch Monday’s game from home, and the Thunder center gave similar remarks about the win as his coach and teammates.

    “I think they played good for three quarters and the last quarter they just didn’t make shots,” Krstic said. “But we competed and played good defense. I’m glad we won, even if it’s an exhibition game.”

    BUSTING OUT THE PADS

    Members of the coaching and basketball operations staff held football tackle pads and took defensive stances in the paint at the end of Tuesday’s practice. One by one, Thunder players would have to dribble through three waves of defenders to the rim for a layup, all the while absorbing a blow or two from the pads.

    It’s something you’d see more often on a football field, but Brooks said every team he’s been a part of has used this type of contact drill, which he said stresses concentration.

    “We talk to our guys all the time – ‘you have to concentrate, take the hit and make the layup,’” Brooks said. “And I think it helps. It’s one of those things we want to continue to work on, finishing the play strong and making our layups.”


    Day 14 | Notes from Shoot Around

    Monday, Oct. 12 -- The Thunder held shoot around at the Ford Center this morning prior to tonight’s game against the Phoenix Suns, giving the team its first good look at the Ford Center renovations, which includes a new locker room.

    “We’re thankful for the fans voting it in and giving us the opportunity to give us a great facility,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. “The locker room is tremendous. Our guys appreciate it.”

    Forward Jeff Green said the players were blessed to have such upgrades. Asked for his favorite thing about the new digs, Green replied, “everything.”

    WESTBROOK POSTING SOLID NUMBERS

    Through two preseason games, point guard Russell Westbrook has totaled 18 assists to just three turnovers. Green said he’s seen Westbrook mature as a point guard from the summer through training camp, and called the second-year guard a general and leader.

    “He’s learning the game a lot better,” Green said. “I think it’s slowing down for him and he’s making better decisions on the court.”

    NOTES

    This is the third preseason game for both the Thunder and Suns. Phoenix (1-1) is coming off a 104-101 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. This isn’t really game-oriented, but the Arizona Republic had a cool feature today on the new locker placement in the Suns’ locker room…One of the first signs that the season is finally here came this morning on my walk to work when I saw about a half dozen autograph hawkers outside the Skirvin Hotel, where the Suns are staying. Fans were there a good 45 minutes before the team departed for its shoot around.


    Day 11 | Thomas Getting Into Swing of Things; Training Camp Invitees Making Impressions

    Thursday, Oct. 8 -- Thunder center Etan Thomas is still learning about his new teammates, and the newly acquired veteran picked up a few more things during Wednesday’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

    Thomas recalled several instances where he was trying to find the best floor spacing as point guard Russell Westbrook attempted to create something off the dribble.

    “A couple times when Russell dribbled the ball down and I backed up away from him, he passed it and I dunked,” Thomas said. “And I said, ‘okay, you like that a little bit better than me coming to you.’ And he was like, ‘yeah, it creates different space.’ So I’m learning different players as we go.”

    Thomas said he’s still getting back into the swing of things and is hoping to build on his four-point, one-rebound performance in nearly 18 minutes off the bench from Wednesday.

    Thomas said he had only a few days with the team prior to the start of training camp, so he’s still getting a feel for how everyone plays. The same thing can be said about the Thunder’s four other newcomers. Thomas said it’s been a beneficial training camp so far.

    “The way the coaches push these guys and the way that (Thunder head coach Scott Brooks) really implements his program and guys push each other, up-tempo, I think it’s great,” Thomas said. “I think this is a great camp.”

    GUNNING FOR THE FINAL ROSTER SPOT

    With the minutes and lineups are expected to change, at least one of the four training camp invitees will see playing time during Saturday afternoon’s exhibition game at the New Orleans Hornets, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said.

    After playing 22 minutes on Wednesday, veteran forward and camp invitee Ryan Bowen will not see time tomorrow, leaving room for either guard Tre Kelly or forwards Mike Harris and Michael Ruffin to take some of those minutes.

    And while Bowen might have made a favorable impression on the Thunder coaching staff with his efforts against Memphis, Brooks said that the competition for the team’s 15th and final roster spot remains wide open. That is, if the team decides to fill it.

    “I don’t think one of them has separated themselves, but they’ve all played well,” Brooks said. “They’re even, if that’s ever a way to be, four guys even. But they’ve all done what we’ve asked them to do.”

    Brooks himself has been down a similar path. Undrafted out of the University of California-Irvine, Brooks was cut from the Philadelphia 76ers training camp before coming back to make the roster a year later.

    So the best advice Brooks could give to a free agent invited to camp is to only worry about the thing you can control, and to give maximum effort each day.

    “I’ve been down that road many times,” Brooks said.

    Brooks described Ruffin as a smart, veteran player who understands the system in place. Kelley, a rookie out of South Carolina, is being asked to provide pressure on the ball and make solid decisions. Brooks said Harris is a tough, defensive-minded player, a “little big man” with a strong base. Bowen, meanwhile, has provided the energy and intangibles that seldom show in a box score.

    “He’s not a stat guy – never was and never will be,” Brooks said. “He’s a guy that comes with energy and plays team basketball and makes winning plays.”

    Bowen said that hustle is something he’s always tried to bring to a team. Bowen then went onto retell a favorite story of his that dates back to the time he came out of Iowa University. His college coach, Tom Davis, pulled him aside and told Bowen that to make it to the NBA, he has to be good at everything and great at something.

    So the two went down the list.

    Davis told Bowen he wasn’t a great shooter, but a good one. Nor was he a great rebounder, but a serviceable one.

    “What about hustle and energy?” Bowen recalled Davis telling him. “You can be a great hustle and energy guy. That’s what you’re going to have to do if you’re going to try to make it. So I kind of took that and ran with it. I just go out there and play. You know, one or two plays can really change the way the game flows sometimes. So I’ve always tried to just bring energy and hopefully good things will happen.”


    Day 11 | Minutes, Lineups to Change Against New Orleans

    Thursday, Oct. 8 -- Like he said earlier this week, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks will shuffle the lineups and disperse the minutes differently on Saturday against the New Orleans Hornets.

    Brooks said that he’d like to have Kevin Durant, Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook play in the mid to high 20 minute range on Saturday, meaning they could log anywhere from two to five more minutes than they did against Memphis on Wednesday.

    Brooks also said we can expect to see more of Serge Ibaka, who played just four minutes on Wednesday, and less of D.J. White, who logged 22 minutes.

    Nenad Krstic, who played 14 minutes the other night, will also see his playing time increase; Brooks said at the start of camp that the team would be monitoring his minutes after the Serbian center spent most of the offseason with his national team.

    Also, in an effort to give all four training camp invitees enough playing time to prove themselves, veteran Ryan Bowen will not play. Bowen was effective in more ways than a box score would show in the 22 minutes he played against the Grizzlies.

    And finally, Brooks said he expects veteran point guard Kevin Ollie to make his preseason debut on Saturday.

    Be sure to check back later for more from Brooks, who spoke about the battle for the 15th and final roster spot, as well as a note on White and center Etan Thomas, who spoke on Friday about his training camp experience thus far.


    Day 10 | Harden Talks About His Pro Debut; More on Rebounding

    Thursday, Oct. 8 -- The day after Thunder guard James Harden made his professional debut against the Memphis Grizzlies, he was getting ready for a film session with assistant coach Ron Adams.

    As both Harden and Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said following Thursday’s practice, it’s about continual growth for the No. 3 draft pick.

    “That’s a position he’s going to learn everyday,” Brooks said. “And by saying that, when you play against the best players in the world at that position, the twos and the threes and the wing players in this league are incredible athletes. They’re very talented scorers. He’s going to face a good player every night and he just has to bring his concentration level every game. There’s no nights off. There’s no possessions off at that position.”

    Good thing Harden is big on game film, which he said stems from his two seasons at Arizona State.

    “Every single day I watched film,” Harden said.

    Harden finished with 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in a starting role on Wednesday after Thabo Sefolosha didn’t travel with the team because of a mild concussion.

    Harden spent time guarding former rookie standout guard O.J. Mayo and chasing opponents through one screen after the next. That’s one thing he admitted he’ll have to get used to.

    “I had to get out of that zone mindset that I had at Arizona State,” Harden said. “Chasing a great player like O.J. Mayo, I think I did pretty good but I have a long way to go in my one-on-one defensive mentality and help (defense) as well.”

    That’s why Harden said he was looking forward to the film session, which he said he uses to analyze his own performance, his teammates’ tendencies and the opponent.

    “This is the real thing now,” he said. “All these guys are for real. They’ve all been here. Every single night it’s a great player. It’s a lot different. I have to be a lot more mentally prepared.”

    REBOUNDING A POINT OF EMPHASIS

    Three things Brooks was pleased with from Wednesday’s game: help defense, challenged shots and overall effort.

    “Sometimes you watch a game on tape after and you’re kind of like, ‘okay, it wasn’t as good as I thought,’ but it was,” he said. “I thought the guys did a good job of zoning in on what we taught them the last 10 days.”

    One thing Brooks thought the team could do exceptionally better: rebound.

    The Grizzlies outrebounded the Thunder, 40-30.

    Brooks said that the focus at Thursday’s practice was rebounding.

    “We had box out drills,” forward Jeff Green said. “It was just putting the emphasis on that’s what we have to do to win games…Just having the urge to go get the ball.”

    Brooks talked about focusing on the moment, how the team can’t get caught thinking ahead to getting out in transition without having made a commitment to crashing the boards.

    The Thunder actually was one of the league’s top rebounding team’s last season, when it ranked sixth out of 30 teams. The Thunder outrebounded its opponents in 19 of 23 wins. Also, Russell Westbrook led all guards in offensive rebounds (2.2 per game).

    “I feel that we’re doing a pretty good job in our half court set,” Brooks said. “We just have to really focus on – reward yourselves. For all the effort you put into that 24-second shot clock, finish it up with a rebound.”


    Day 10 | Brooks Pleased With Wednesday's Efforts; Notes on Playing Time, White's Performance

    Thursday, Oct. 8 -- A quick update from Thursday's practice:

  • A few hours removed from its loss to the Memphis Grizzlies to start the exhibition season, the Thunder went back to practice on Thursday, and it wasn’t a light one. While Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said he was pleased with last night’s effort in OKC’s 99-91 loss, there was much the team needed to work on, primarily on the defensive end.

  • Brooks said he’s a “big drill guy.” A night after getting outrebounded, 40-30, Brooks said he put the team through several rebounding drills. He said the team did a good job in half court sets defensively, but it needed to finish possessions at the boards.

  • As part of switching up the playing rotation and minutes for upcoming games, Brooks said he’d like to get Serge Ibaka some more playing time against New Orleans on Saturday. Ibaka had four points and two rebounds in four minutes on Wednesday.

  • Brooks said the preseason games will give forward D.J. White an opportunity to show how he can help the team this season. White, who missed last year’s training camp and the preseason with a jaw injury, posted 16 points and five rebounds against Memphis. Brooks called White a “sneaky athlete who has a knack for the ball.”

  • Check back later for more from Brooks, forward Jeff Green and notes from the conversation we had today with rookie James Harden.


    Day 8 | Minutes Up for Grabs; Team to Announce Captain(s) Soon

    Tuesday, Oct. 6 -- Regardless of who starts and who comes off the bench, minutes will be up for grabs when the Thunder opens the exhibition season on Wednesday at the Memphis Grizzlies.

    Brooks said on Tuesday that it’s vital for everyone to make the most of their minutes. He added that there will be players who do not log heavy minutes in the first game but gave no indication as to who.

    Regardless, now is the time for the players to put all they’ve learned throughout the last seven days of training camp to use. The Thunder had what Brooks called a tremendous practice on Tuesday just hours before it would board its charter jet for Memphis, where it will take on a new-look Grizzlies squad that’s playing on the back end of a back-to-back.

    The Thunder reviewed all of its previous practices on Tuesday, rehashing plays and concepts.

    “It’s important for us to not take steps back,” forward Kevin Durant said. “I think that’s the only thing, to always get better when you’re on the floor. I don’t think you can gain momentum because in the preseason teams aren’t playing their regular five throughout the whole game.”

    On Wednesday, Brooks said the focus will be more on the Thunder than the Grizzlies. And he said he expects to see “winning basketball plays.”

    “We focus on our team,” Brooks said. “I understand that most teams will run a mid pick-and-roll, a side pick-and-roll and a post-up play here and there. We’re not really concerned with what they run. We feel that in our last eight or nine days of camp we’ve covered just about every situation they’ll see in a game and now they’ll just have to play with some effort and make sure our technique is proper.”

    BROOKS CLOSE TO NAMING TEAM CAPTAINS

    Brooks said we’ll see “very soon” who the team captain or captains will be for the season, meaning it could be announced before Wednesday’s game.

    Brooks said that he takes some input from players on who would make a good captain. While he has some players in mind, Brooks wouldn’t reveal any hints although he did stress how important a role it is, one that he and the coaching staff take seriously.

    It’s more than just a title and a ‘C’ embroidered on a jersey.

    Asked for his job description for a captain, Brooks said:

    “You are responsible for how the team practices and how the team plays along with the coach. You are conduit to the coach. You have to really focus on being a good teammate and it has to be consistent. It can’t just be when you have a good game. It can’t be, ‘I don’t feel like practicing today because I’m tired.’ You have to bring it every day. That’s the responsibility as a captain and I’m looking forward to our guys stepping up and challenging himself and our team to really focus on being good leaders.”

    Contact Chris Silva


    Day 8 | Thunder Set to Open Exhibition Schedule

    Tuesday, Oct. 6 -- Just a few quick hits from this afternoon’s practice:

  • Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said he had a few players in mind but wouldn’t reveal who would start in place of Thabo Sefolosha in Wednesday’s preseason opener at the Memphis Grizzlies.

  • Brooks said that Tuesday’s practice was about getting back to the basics, which included a lot of defensive drills such as guarding the ball and contesting shots. Brooks said he added only one offensive set and gave the opportunity for players to ask questions before heading to Memphis. “I really kept it simple,” Brooks said.

  • Kevin Durant spoke to the media for the first time since Media Day. The Thunder forward said he hopes to play a lot of minutes tomorrow. He would play all 48 minutes if allowed.

  • We saw Collison getting after it in the weight room, where he spent a lot of time working on his core with a medicine ball.

  • And finally, Brooks said he hopes to announce a team captain (or captains) in the coming days. He has some players in mind but obviously wouldn’t reveal who. Brooks was asked whether he’d ever served as team captain. “I was a captain in 1983 for the East Union Lancers in Manteca, California. I was a captain for, let me see, the UC Irvine Anteaters in 1987, and that was my last time.”

  • That’s it for now. Be sure to come back later this evening for a full report, including notes on Brooks’ approach to tomorrow’s game, what he expects from a captain and more from Durant.


    Day 7 | Thunder Hosts Open Practice, Mullens Talks About First Week

    Monday, Oct. 5 --After taking Sunday off, the Thunder was back to work on Monday at its open Community Practice at Midwest City High.

    After practice, we had a chance to catch up with rookie center Byron Mullens, who spoke about his first week of training camp.

    Mullens said he is taking it all in.

    The Ohio State product is one of three rookies in training camp, and the seven-footer said he’s learned plenty through his first week of camp.

    Mullens said he sat down last week for a chat with veteran Nick Collison, who talked to the rookie about the different defensive schemes and coverages he’ll see throughout the league.

    “It’s just taking a lot of information in, really,” Mullens said.

    Mullens said he’s adapting well to the pace of the game, the amount of practices and how much of the playbook the coaching staff has implemented.

    “You’ve just got to be patient with it,” he said. “These coaches are really good with being patient and they just told everybody to speak up. They are throwing out a lot of information and a lot of plays but they’re going over everything.”

    Day 5 | Thunder Preps for Intra-squad Scrimmage

    Saturday, Oct. 3 --With the first week of training camp almost in the books, the Thunder spent Saturday morning going through all the plays and concepts they’ve learned from the last eight practices in preparation for an intra-squad scrimmage later in the evening.

    Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said the morning session was about challenging players to stay with it mentally.

    “I’m throwing out a play on the fly so they don’t have time to really think and just let it register and they’ve done a good job,” Brooks said. “Some guys pick it up quicker than others and we just want to make sure everybody picks it up. I’m not really concerned how long it takes for them to pick it up, as long as they pick it up…We just really have to focus on knowing it, understanding it and being able to play with our instincts.”

    Brooks said he’d like to scrimmage for four or five quarters.

    “As long as the games don’t get sloppy,” he said.

  • The team will take Sunday off and resume training camp on Monday at Midwest City High School, where the team will host its open practice.

  • I'll have a feature story and "Getting To Know" with training camp invitee and veteran forward Ryan Bowen tonight. On Sunday evening, I'll have a look back at the team's first week of training camp.


    Day 4 | Players Overcome Fatigue; Harden Back on Court

    Friday, Oct. 2 --Fatigue could have settled in for the Thunder on its fourth day of training camp. But it didn’t.

    “It could have easily been a feeling-sorry-for-yourself type of day but our guys battled back and competed and challenged each other and I appreciate that,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. “I’ve been through camps where two-a-days, they start piling up on you and legs get a little soft and rubbery, the mind is not always sharp, but I thought the guys really fought through it and competed hard throughout the practice. We had a long one this morning.”

  • Rookie James Harden said he was able to do some catch-and-shoot drills during Friday’s practice after being nicked up with an eye and ankle injury the first three days of camp.

    “Just a little bit every day,” Harden said. “A little bit of running, a little bit of mobility stuff, whether it’s slide steps or things like that.”

    While Harden hasn’t been able to participate in every drill and scrimmage, the rookie said there’s been some carryover from what he learned in Summer League and just from working out with the coaching staff in voluntary workouts.

    “It makes it easier, the transition is a lot easier,” Harden said. “Most of the plays that we ran in Summer League are the ones that we’re running now. I remember things from Summer League. It’s just about keeping those and adding new ones.”

  • There are four training camp invitees – forwards Ryan Bowen and Michael Ruffin and guards Tre Kelley and Mike Harris – who are trying to make a strong enough impression to possibly earn the Thunder’s 15th and final roster spot this season.

    They’re not in an easy position. Through four days of camp, Brooks said they’re all doing well and that each have helped make it a competitive camp.

    “Not one guy in the (four) days now have stood out in a bad way,” Brooks said. “Everybody is really focused on improving and they all have competitive attitudes.”


    Day 3 | More on Collison, Thursday's Practice

    Thursday, Oct. 1 --Just to elaborate on the Nick Collison note from earlier today: Collison said the swelling in his sprained ankle has gone down and that he worked on stabilizing it on Thursday.

    Collison said he hurt the ankle during a pickup game a week prior to training camp.

    “I definitely would love to be out here,” he said. “Everybody’s playing hard. This part of the season, although it’s grueling, is really important to get that base level of getting your body in shape. I had a great summer, was in great shape coming in.”

    Collison ran on an AlterG anti-gravity treadmill, which minimizes stress by taking away up to 80% of the user’s body weight. He also did some light basketball drills.

    “I’m trying to work on pivoting, getting up on my toes, shooting, and then just a ton of different rehab stability exercises,” he said. “I went at it for an hour or two.”

  • Thunder head coach Scott Brooks gave the team off Thursday evening after a positive morning session; the team will hold another double session on Friday. Brooks said that if Wednesday’s practices were energized, Thursday was about being aggressive.

    “The coaches have a lot of opportunities to put them in situations to compete against each other in different drills and games and scrimmages and they did that today,” he said. “It’s still weighted on the defensive end but we’re moving the ball very well offensively. We’re making it very tough on the defense because we’re passing the ball very well. That’s what we want to continue to stress.”

  • Forward Jeff Green was the man of the moment at the end of practice. The forward showcased his precision passing by becoming the only player to successfully bounce pass a basketball into a ball rack, thus saving the rest of the team from running sprints.

  • A look ahead to tomorrow’s coverage: another Camp Report following Friday’s morning practice session, plus a feature later in the day on Nenad Krstic’s hectic yet memorable summer and how he’s looking forward to having a full training camp with his Thunder teammates. A few nuggets of info on Krstic’s summer: he got married on July 12 and had to report to the Serbian National Team training camp the following day, meaning the newlyweds couldn’t go on a honeymoon. Krstic moved into a new pad not far from the team’s practice facility upon his return to Oklahoma City a few days ago…the funny part was that he said he left all his belongings (mostly clothes) in the trunk of his car, which stayed in OKC.

    Contact Chris Silva


    Day 3 | Collison Returns to Practice; Green on Ibaka

    Thursday, Oct. 1 --Forward Nick Collison participated in training camp for the first time on Thursday, while rookie James Harden (ankle) was held out of the morning session.

    Collison missed the first two days of camp with a sprained left ankle he suffered during offseason workouts.

    “It’s getting better, slowly but surely,” Collison said.

    Collison was able to participate in some basketball drills and also spent time on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill. I’ll have more on Collison later today.

  • Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said that practices this week have been weighted more on the defensive end.

  • Forward Jeff Green had some nice things to say about rookie forward Serge Ibaka, an African native who spent the last two seasons in Spain. Ibaka is still learning the English language and has much to learn about the NBA game, but Green has been impressed so far. Ibaka spent a majority of the summer here in Oklahoma City, working with the coaching staff and getting acclimated to a new city.

    “He hustles every possession,” Green said. “It seems like he never gets tired. He’s quick to the ball. He can knock down the outside shot. I think he’s going to be a big help for us as far as having another athletic big.”

  • Guard Mike Harris, who was added to the training camp roster on Wednesday, went through last night’s practice and this morning’s session. Harris played last season in Kuwait, averaging 31.1 points and 14 rebounds in 52 games for Al Qadsia. The Rice University product appeared in 17 games with the Houston Rockets during the 2007-08 season.

  • I’ll have more on Collison and what Brooks had to say about Thursday’s practice later today on the site, so be sure to check back.


    Day 2 | Tracking Nenad; Notes From Practice

    Wednesday, Sept. 30 -- After joining the Thunder straight from the European Championships, where he played 15 games with the Serbian National Team, the Thunder has decided to ease center Nenad Krstic into his first training camp with the team.

    After going through the Thunder’s double practice session on Tuesday, Krstic was held out of Wednesday morning’s practice.

    “We’re just monitoring his minutes,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. “He came in great shape. He’s in great shape. We’re just going to be careful with his minutes.”

    Krstic spent the entire offseason in his native Serbia, where he went through training camp and preliminary games with the national team prior to September’s European Championships, where he helped Serbia to the silver medal.

    Krstic averaged 14.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 blocks in 23.9 minutes per game during the two-weeklong tournament.

    This is Krstic’s first NBA training camp since the 2007-08 season when he was with the New Jersey Nets.

    “We definitely need some reps but we’re definitely going to monitor them in practice and in the games,” Brooks said. “We know come October 28 we want him fresh and at full-strength and he will. He’s been around the game a lot of years and he knows how to get his body ready.”

  • Rookie James Harden missed half of Wednesday’s practice with a mild ankle roll but could be back for the evening session, Brooks said. Harden has an eye poked by a teammate during Tuesday’s morning session. “You can’t go a game or a season without getting nicked up,” Brooks pointed out.


  • Nick Collison (ankle) also sat out of practice and is still listed as day-to-day.


  • Brooks paid compliments to guards Russell Westbrook and Kevin Ollie for diving on the floor for several loose balls on Wednesday. Brooks said there was one time that five players were on the floor. “As a coach you want plays that make an impact on our team and effort plays are the ones I really look at and say, ‘wow, getting it, we’re improving,'" Brooks said. "When you see three or four guys on the floor, that’s basketball. That’s how we want our team to play.”


  • Day 1 | Training Camp News & Notes

    Tuesday, Sept. 29 -- Training Camp is in full swing out here in north Oklahoma City, as the Thunder kicked off its month-long camp this morning.

    The media was allowed to watch the final half-hour of the morning session, and let me tell you it was an intense, fast-paced portion of camp.

    We caught a few five-on-five half-court scrimmages, where players were arguing loose-ball possessions. Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks, running his first training camp at the helm, told the media not to read much into the different lineups on the floor, saying that “everyone will get a crack at guarding everyone.”

    With the team running two-a-days during camp, Brooks said that tonight’s session will be shorter with no contact.

    That’s it for now. Be sure to come back later today for a story on Brooks’ first impressions of training camp. In the meantime, here’s a few more news and notes from the morning’s session:

  • Nick Collison didn’t practice today with a sprained left ankle he sustained prior to training camp. Rookie James Harden left the end of practice after getting poked in the eye. Both players are listed as day-to-day.

  • After a pre-birthday bash with teammates and recording artist Wale in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, Thunder forward Kevin Durant celebrated his official 21st birthday on Tuesday.

    On Media Day, I asked Durant for his most memorable birthday gift. Considering he’s a self-professed video game fiend, it wasn’t much of a surprise that he responded with a Sega Genesis game system, which he received on his eighth birthday.

    “Mortal Combat came with it, a couple of baseball games,” Durant said. “So that was the best day of my life.”

  • The players and coaching staff are wearing a new training camp logo on their T-shirts. Below the team’s logo are the words “Training Camp 2009” inside a pentagon.

  • Aside from new assistant coaches Rex Kalamian and Maurice Cheeks, the staff had another new face on the court in assistant video coordinator Scott Simpson, who held the same position with the Houston Rockets.

    Contact Chris Silva