Thunder look to make noise
by Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
EDMOND, Okla. — Across the NBA, and most notably in Los Angeles this season, change has become the lone constant, as several championship hopefuls have tried in recent years to reinvent themselves by adding perennial all-stars.
Not here. The Oklahoma City Thunder continues to pursue a title the old-fashioned way — developing a champion because of the absence of significant change. No need to hand out a roster at media day with this familiar cast of characters.
“We build a brotherhood here, a brotherhood from past years that is hard to break,” said James Harden, the NBA’s sixth-man of the year. “Other teams are just teammates. We are really brothers.”
The same core of players filed into the Thunder Events Center on Monday, more than three-months after losing to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Though other teams can boast headline-grabbing player acquisitions, the Thunder speaks of sacrifice and continuity.
“A lot of different teams are making a lot of changes around the league,” guard Russell Westbrook said. “I think we have something special here. We have been together for a while and understand each other.”
The spotlight this season will glare most prominently on the Lakers, who bolstered their chances of toppling the Thunder in the Western Conference by adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to an already talent-rich lineup that includes Kobe Bryant.
“We respect them, but we are not fearful,” Thunder Coach Scott Brooks said.
Kendrick Perkins was more blunt, saying the moves look good on paper but “at the end of the day, we can’t crown nobody but the Heat. They won.”
As for the Thunder, an already young and talented team became younger this season. It said goodbye to veterans Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammed and Royal Ivey during free agency.
The biggest question now concerns the future of Harden. If the Thunder do not sign him to an extension by Oct. 31, he will become a restricted free agent after the season. But Harden said Monday that he is confident that he will sign a deal in time. He added that he is willing to sacrifice and accept something less than … [For more on Thunder look to make noise after quiet offseason, click here.]