Oklahoma City Thunder
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Oklahoma City Thunder
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Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a professional basketball team in the National Basketball Association (the NBA). The Oklahoma City Thunder play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference with four other teams: the Utah Jazz, the Dever Nuggets, the Portland Trailblazers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Thunder tickets will surely be hard to come by during the 2014-2015 NBA schedule.
Oklahoma City Thunder 2014-2015 Outlook
An initially promising offseason ended with the Thunder looking as vulnerable as the top-tier Western Conference teams they were supposed to have an edge on.
Kevin Durant’s fractured foot was the biggest blow, but then Anthony Morrow sprained his MCL. Reggie Jackson rolled an ankle, and Jeremy Lamb’s back flared up.
Injuries are part of every summertime and preseason slate, and they’re bad news for everybody. But for OKC, a team in position to take advantage of the Clippers’ minimal improvement and San Antonio’s theoretical decline, the onrush of maladies was particularly ill-timed.
The Thunder’s window is by no means closed. Fully healthy, they’re a threat to knock off absolutely anyone. And if there are no lingering effects from the current laundry list of injuries, they might even be favorites in the conference by the time the postseason rolls around.
At the same time, playing at less than full strength could hurt Oklahoma City’s playoff positioning. Heading into the dance as a No. 4 seed makes reaching the final round a whole lot harder. So Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and second-year breakout candidate Steven Adams must compensate for their missing teammates’ production.
OKC still belongs on the contending pedestal, but its footing is shakier than expected.
Chesapeake Energy Arena
Chesapeake Energy Arena
Opened in 2002, Chesapeake Energy Arena was built without luxury accommodations, but designed to accommodate luxury "buildouts" should a professional sports franchise locate to the city.
A plan for such build-out improvements began in 2007. It came in the wake of the acquisition of the Seattle Supersonics by an Oklahoma City-based ownership group the previous October. A city ballot initiative approved by a 62% margin on March 4, 2008, extended a prior one-cent city sales tax for a period of fifteen months in order to fund $101 million in budgeted improvements to the arena and a separate $20 million practice facility for a relocated franchise.
Renovation work on the arena was delayed by a sales tax-receipts shortfall during the 2008-10 economic crisis. Revised plans limited the size of a new glass entryway and eliminated a practice court to accommodate the shortfall. Major construction work on the arena expansion was also delayed from the summer of 2010 to the summer of 2011. Seating capacity of the stadium is 18,203 for professional NBA basketball games.
Similar revisions were made to the plans for the Thunders separate practice facility, for a total cost savings of approximately $14 million. The Thunders practice facility completion date was pushed back to approximately March 2011.
Chesapeake Energy Arena
100 West Reno Avenue
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102
Formerly the Seattle SuperSonics, the team relocated in 2008 after a dispute between owner Clay Bennett and lawmakers in Seattle, Washington. As the SuperSonics, the franchise qualified for the NBA Playoffs 22 times, won their division six times, and won the 1979 NBA Championship. In Oklahoma City, the Thunder qualified for their first playoff berth during the 2009–10 season. They followed that success by winning their first division title as the Thunder in the 2010–11 season and their first Western Conference championship as the Thunder in the 2011–12 season, appearing in the NBA Finals for the fourth time in franchise history and first since 1996, when the club was based in Seattle.
In 2006, Howard Schultz sold the SuperSonics for $350 million to a group of Oklahoma City investors led by Clay Bennett, a move approved by NBA owners the following October. In 2007, Bennett announced that the franchise would move to Oklahoma City as soon as the lease with KeyArena expired.
In June 2008, a lawsuit brought by the City of Seattle against Bennett due to his attempts to break the final two years of the Sonics’ lease at KeyArena went to federal court. Nearly a month later, the two sides reached an agreement to settle. The terms awarded the city $45 million to get out of the remaining lease at KeyArena, and could provide an additional $30 million payment to Seattle in 2013 if certain conditions are met. The owners agreed to leave the SuperSonics name, logo and colors in Seattle for a possible future NBA franchise; however, the items would remain the property of the Oklahoma City team along with other "assets," including championship banners and trophies. On September 3, 2008, the team name, logo, and colors for the Oklahoma City franchise were revealed to the public. The name "Thunder" was chosen due to Oklahoma being a frequent victim of powerful storms for its location in the Tornado Alley, and Oklahoma City housing the 45th Infantry Division, the Thunderbirds.
In the 2012 NBA draft, the Thunder selected Baylor University forward Perry Jones III with the 28th overall pick. The Thunder also signed free agents Hasheem Thabeet and Daniel Orton, and signed guards Andy Rautins and DeAndre Liggins. They re-signed forward Serge Ibaka to a four-year, $48 million extension. After failing to sign James Harden to an extension that was reportedly worth four years and $52 million, the team decided to trade Harden rather than having to pay the luxury tax penalty. On October 27, 2012, the Thunder traded Harden along with center Cole Aldrich and forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, first-round draft picks from Toronto and Dallas, and one second-round draft pick. Martin took over Harden’s sixth-man role for the season. The Thunder finished with a 60–22 regular season, taking both the Northwest division title and top seed of the Western Conference. In the first round of the playoffs, they faced the 8th-seeded Houston Rockets, featuring former team member James Harden. In game 2 of the series, Russell Westbrook was struck by Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley, and fell down with an injury and missed the rest of the playoffs after having knee surgery. Without the team’s second-leading scorer, the Thunder, who had a 3–0 lead, lost the next two games to bring the series to 3–2. In game 6, the Thunder defeated the Rockets to advance to the second round, facing a rematch of the 2011 second round, with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Thunder lost the series 4–1, losing four straight games after winning Game 1 at home.
In the 2013 NBA draft, the Thunder selected 12th pick Steven Adams, 21st pick Andre Roberson, and 47th pick Grant Jerrett. Kevin Martin’s contract expired, soon signing with the Timberwolves. In addition to Oklahoma City’s offseason movements, they signed free agent Ryan Gomes and re-signed Derek Fisher. The team finished 2nd in the conference to San Antonio with a 59-23 record. They met with the Memphis Grizzlies for the 3rd time in the playoffs, hoping for a revenge after last year’s finish. The series set a record for most consecutive overtimes in a series with 4. OKC would prevail in 7 games to play the Los Angeles Clippers for the first time, whom they finished in 6. Their final opponent in the Western Conference Finals were the San Antonio Spurs, with the San Antonio Spurs winning 4-2.
With the 21st and 29th pick in the NBA draft, the Thunder selected Mitch McGary from Michigan and Josh Huestis from Stanford. "He brings energy, passion, and great basketball IQ and toughness what we value" said Presti on drafting McGary. Oklahoma City also signed Semaj Christon in the draft. On July 3, the Thunder signed Sebastian Telfair. But they lost a major piece in shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha as his contract expired, after agreeing to a 3-year, 12 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Hawks. Since then the Thunder have signed Anthony Morrow to a 3 year, 10-million dollar contract.