It has only been a little over three weeks since the season ended for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even though the games have stopped, the team has had plenty to keep them busy.
Sam Presti and his team had only one week after the conclusion of the NBA Finals to prepare for the 2012 NBA Draft. With the 28th pick, the Thunder selected Perry Jones III, a forward who just finished his sophomore year at Baylor University. Jones, a top-talent in this draft, was present at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Many expected him to go earlier in the first round, but when he was still available with the Thunder on the clock, Sam Presti could not pass him up. The 6’11” forward showed great promise in his two years at Baylor, and Oklahoma City hopes to help in his development as a player.
Presti also needed to attend to another pressing matter. He negotiated a contract extension for head coach Scott Brooks, ensuring that Brooks will be at the helm for the next four years. After taking over as head coach during the Thunder’s first season in Oklahoma City, Brooks has helped the team improve each year. Having been named the Coach of the Year in the 2009-2010 season and leading OKC to the NBA Finals this season, Brooks earned an increase in his salary that puts him among some of the highest paid coaches in the league.
The Thunder also made a move during NBA’s free agency period that began on July 1. The team has reached a verbal agreement with Hasheem Thabeet, a 7’3″ center who was drafted No. 2 overall in 2009 by the Memphis Grizzlies right before Oklahoma City picked James Harden at No. 3. So far, he has not lived up to the potential the Grizzlies saw in him when he played at the University of Connecticut, but Presti hopes that Coach Scott Brooks and some of the Thunder veterans can help him turn things around.
The Thunder will not be able to officially sign Thabeet until July 11th. By that time the Orlando summer league will have already started. Several members of the Thunder roster this year will be on the team representing OKC. Cole Aldrich, Reggie Jackson, and Lazar Hayward will all be playing in Orlando, along with the rookie Jones. Many believe that the acquisition of Thabeet suggests the Thunder are ready to give Aldrich the opportunity to fill Nazr Mohammed’s role, and the summer league is his first opportunity to show he is ready for that opportunity.
Several other players are also staying busy during the offseason. After the lockout last summer, the Thunder’s big three are getting the chance to make up for some of the time they lost on the court. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden were all named to the Team USA Men’s Basketball Team that will represent the U.S. in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Serge Ibaka will also be in London, playing with the Spanish national team. Stay with Oklahoma Sports Blog for updates on the Thunder players’ progress throughout the Olympics.