The Oklahoma City Thunder's Most Significant Questions for This Offseason
The NBA is hopeful of a return sometime this season, but the reality of how difficult that is going to be is starting to set in with league officials. Players, owners, and executives are racking their brains to figure out how they can crown a legitimate champion.
The ideas of putting teams in one central location, playing on cruise ships, or in empty arenas don't make sense if you are still putting people at risk. So far, no deadline is being given on when Adam Silver might announce the cancelation of the season.
Nevertheless, if the COVID-19 forecast isn't better by mid-April, it's hard to see anyone in the league excited about going back to work. So, where does all of this leave the Thunder?
Let's take a look at the most critical questions facing Sam Presti this offseason.
Billy Donovan: Donovan's contract expires at the end of this season, and so far, there hasn't been one word about an extension. By all reasonable accounts, he is exceeding what expectations were for this year.
He has seen significant roster turnover every year he's been in Oklahoma City, plus, he's watched three super-stars either leave or be traded. The biggest thing he brings to the table his ability to connect and develop young talent.
If the Thunder are going to build through the draft, having an ex-college coach who has put the likes of Udonis Haslem, Al Horford, and Bradley Beal in the association is an excellent way to go. You can also throw out any notion that Donovan can't get along with veteran players.
Chris Paul shows immense respect for Donovan because these two have open lines of communication; the Thunder has fallen in line this year. Donovan won't come out say it, but this has to be the most fun he's had coaching during his tenure in Oklahoma City.
Plus, Donovan is one of four active coaches with over 200 wins and a 60 percent winning percentage. The others, Steve Kerr, Doc Rivers, and Gregg Popovich. Just saying.
Chris Paul: At 34 and set to make over $85,000.000 the next two seasons, it would be logical to find a team that's looking for a veteran one and get Paul's salary off the books. If you're going to rebuild and Shai Gilgeous Alexander is your point guard of the future, it's better to hand him the reins now and let him grow into that role.
If it were only that easy, Paul is not only the Thunder's most valuable player; he's a combo coach on the floor and GM in waiting. Paul's leadership and experience can go a long way not only in helping the Thunder for the next two seasons but well beyond.
Paul's professionalism brought the Thunder together, remember this team together. Rember before Thanksgiving Oklahoma City was 6-11 since then they have the third-best record in the NBA at 34-13.
Things could have gone south at 6-11. Paul not only didn't let that happen but, he also made Presti ok with giving up one of his two first-round picks for the upcoming draft.
Yeah, the Thunder will only get to use the selection they have from Denver they acquired in the Jerami Grant trade. Oklahoma City's other pick will go to the 76ers because it was top 20 protected. A sacrifice Presti was happy to make, in light of the fact he wanted to play meaningful games at the end of the season.
Lou Dort: Ok, there may be more pressing questions, like what do to with Nerlens Noel and Danilo Gallinari, but we can answer those in Monday's article. For now, we want to give well-deserved props to a guy who has become a fan favorite.
Dort has started 21 games for the Thunder since Terrance Ferguson took his leave of absence in January. He's numbers are about what you would expect from a defensive specialist averaging six points, and two rebounds per game, while shooting 40 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three.
But, Dort's value is measured by his hustle and having to guard the opponent's best player on a nightly basis, although there are nights that he can explode offensively as he did against the Spurs in February.
Dort's 15 points (6 for 6 from the field) was just half of his story tonight. Much like Friday's game vs. Denver Dort was all over the floor, making hustle plays. With the Thunder down six in the second quarter, Dort stole the ball from Dejounte Murray and went the other way for a layup making the score 45-41 Spurs and Greg Popovich was forced to take a timeout.
Billy Donovan says, "Credit him for keeping himself ready like that and taking advantage of an opportunity that was presented in front of him."..."I always said the good Lord's gotta lot of great plans for a lot of different people certainly he was the recipient of keeping himself ready and falling into a great situation." Donovan also says that he knew as early as Summer League that Dort was an NBA defender.
Dort is still on a two-way contract and isn't being vocal about having his status change; however, if the season were to resume, Dort could not play in the postseason. In a perfect world, Presti would sign Dort yesterday with the plan of taking him to Vegas this summer.
Neither is going to happen right now, but in the interest of being optimistic, my not so bold prediction is Dort is a full-time NBA player by the start of the 2020-2021 season.
Tell us what questions you want to be answered before the beginning of next season. Click the comment box below.