|Still adjusting, Thunder must take to road|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 07 October 2008 08:26|
The former SuperSonics spent the offseason relocating from Seattle but their preseason schedule hardly gives them a chance to be at home. They'll start a road trip Wednesday night against Minnesota in Billings, Mont., and swing through Sacramento and Golden State before returning to Oklahoma.
Even then, it won't be for a home game - the Thunder are playing what's technically a road game in Tulsa against Houston next Monday before finally playing their first game in Oklahoma City the following night.
``It's a long trip. It's maybe the longest road trip we have all season, and it's in the preseason,'' forward Desmond Mason said. ``I think it gives us a great opportunity to bond on the road, to grow together as a team, to hang out a little bit, to get some things accomplished, to get away from home and get out of our comfort level.''
pair of marathon three-hour sessions and also holding one at the Ford Center. After winning a franchise-low 20 games last season in Seattle, there's certainly no easing into this year.
``Five (games) in seven days, it's not something we'll ever do again. It was one of the casualties of the move. That's just the way it is,'' coach P.J. Carlesimo said.
``I think we've got enough bodies that we're going to be able to get people minutes and still get something out of these games. But you'd obviously like it to be spread out a little bit more. You can play a game or two, then you can regroup, have a couple practices, then go out again. We don't have that luxury, so we'll just deal with it.''
Carlesimo said it's likely he'll hold certain players out of games - particularly the back-to-back nights in Sacramento and Golden State - to keep their legs fresh.
At least now the problems have to do with basketball. The rumors of a possible move to Oklahoma City started in July 2006 when Clay Bennett bought the team from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and extended through a contentious lawsuit that played out in court this summer.
Bennett finally reached a settlement with the city of Seattle this July to clear the way for the relocation, and the final hurdle was cleared when Schultz dropped a separate lawsuit in August.
ike that, and now that it's out of the way, we're just focused on basketball now,'' said Durant, the reigning Rookie of the Year. ``We're working hard as a group, and we know that we're going to be better this year.''
The Thunder hope stability and some offseason roster moves will allow them to make strides in the Western Conference. Mason and fellow veteran Joe Smith were brought in through a trade, and general manager Sam Presti also added first-round picks Russell Westbrook and D.J. White through the draft.
They'll surround a core that includes Durant and Jeff Green, another 2007 first-round pick, and veterans Chris Wilcox, Earl Watson and Nick Collison.
``We've got a good group of new guys that's working hard, that's jelling with the team. It's going to be an adjustment for all of us,'' Durant said. ``It's going to be hard at first, but it's going to be hard for me my second year at first as well. We've just got to all go through it together and push through it together.''
Just since July, the team has changed its name, chosen and moved into a newly renovated practice facility, showed off new uniforms, sold out its entire allotment of 13,000 season tickets and hired a support staff.
All that's left now - except perhaps choosing a mascot - is playing the game.
nce for everybody. Hopefully it doesn't have to happen again, and guys can stay focused,'' Wilcox said.
``I think right now everyone is kind of settled in and we've just got to move forward. We've got to put that behind us, and we've got to focus in the gym.''