Blunder ‘management’ spent two years decimating the franchise to enhance their ability to move. Now the OKC fans will be paying to watch the Kevin Durant show and little else. Durant’s contractually in OKC through 2010, so will he play all-star basketball or phone it in until he can leave? Do trade talks start this season or next?
The core of Green, Durant and Westbrook are intriguing, but oh so young. The loss of Ridnour may hurt more in the experience and chemistry department than anything else. Once again, this team has no center presence, a legacy brought to OKC. The former Sonics have not had a legitimate center since Jack Sikma. Ouch. Expect power forwards to do the rotating in the paint. Desmond Mason was likely acquired more for his “Local Player Comes Home” feel-good press release than his actual skills. He’s decent defensively but an offensive liability.
The battle between UCLA alums Earl Watson and Michael Westbrook will be fun to watch. Picking up Joe Smith for his veteran presence is an interesting choice. Don’t get it. Expect him, Watson and even others like Collison to be trade bait late in the season. How much effort will the mercurial Wilcox put forth?
PJ, a poor choice to begin with, will be on the hot seat as the losses pile up, creating a distraction to this team. This team may have a little success early on just feeding off of the fan’s enthusiasm, but over the long haul this team is not very good. The Blunder ownership group has been a public embarrassment. This will influence team decisions and free agent players desire to play there. I do not see difference-making players wanting to play for this ownership group. It’s just too toxic. They will have to overpay players to lure them and with the dire economic landscape, that may not even be possible.
Heart is what will determine this team; does the core of this team have the heart for the NBA/OKC Experiment or are they just biding their time until they can leave? The real story on this team will be speculation on who the next coach will be, what trades are looming and the impending Durant exodus. This team has stock piled draft picks, but how will they use them? The fans will love it…but how long will they embrace a loser? I do not see this team being a playoff contender for a long while.
With $30 million in losses projected for the Blunder this season, coupled with the massive financial losses their owners incurred on Wall Street, how long can they even stay in business? How can they offset these losses? Can the NBA survive under these conditions in OKC? How long until we hear rumblings about "relocation" or "new ownership group" looming?
Forecast: The Northwest Division is loaded with talent and that talent will run over OKC most of the season. This is a 25-30 win team and a last-place finisher. The OKC fans will have a blast, though.