Thunder players held their exit interviews the past two days, speaking to the media for one final time this season. There were a lot of very interesting things said, here's the top 10:
10. Reggie Jackson, on his contract situation:
"I think when the time comes we'll figure out a way to get it done."
Jackson made it clear that he wants to stay in Oklahoma City, but that's not all he made clear (more on that below). Jackson emphasizing that he believes the deal will get done is a positive sign for Oklahoma City. Of course it doesn't mean it will, but a good sign nevertheless.
9. Thabo Sefolosha, on his experience in OKC:
"It's been a great time here in Oklahoma City. The fans, the city, it's something that's very special. It was a great time, I'm happy about the time here and we'll see what the future holds."
Sefolosha spoke to the media as if he knows his contract won't be renewed. Sefolosha struggled mightily this season, especially on the offensive end, and the Thunder has younger, cheaper and more talented options waiting in the wings. But as he always has, Sefolosha took the professional route when discussing his potential departure.
8. Kendrick Perkins, on the Thunder's necessity to improve mentally:
"The Spurs, they weren't more athletic than us, they weren't more talented than us, but they outsmarted us and they won the series off of that."
Perkins spoke at length about the Thunder's offseason goals, one of which is to improve mentally. Perk discussed how OKC is right there on the doorstep, but must cut down on the unforced errors and silly mistakes.
7. Kevin Durant, on coach Scott Brooks' job security:
"That's our guy, I'm riding with him."
Durant and Russell Westbrook both spoke about why Brooks should not only be retained but fits this roster well. There has been speculation that Brooks' job could be available after OKC failed to reach the NBA Finals once again, but Durant made it clear that he wants Brooks back on the Thunder sideline next season. And when it comes to impacting the organization's decision, never underestimate the opinion of a superstar.
6. Steven Adams, on his biggest welcome-to-the-league moment:
"Probably the biggest thing is the private plane. Boy, that thing's amazing. They've got all the food on there, bunch of drinks, it's just amazing; never seen nothing like it. They got tables, tables on planes! It's amazing. That was probably like the biggest ‘whoa' for me. Like, ‘I made it.'"
As usual, Adams was hilarious. He also told a story about how Kendrick got mad at him at practice and elbowed him in the ribs while shouting "I'm the only silverback here." This quote isn't important, nor does it give any indication about anything that the Thunder is going to attempt to do, but it sure is awesome.
5. Kendrick Perkins, on Kevin Durant needing to get stronger:
"I feel like he can get stronger, in my opinion that'll help him a lot. I told him all the great players that have played the game, from Jordan, Kobe, LeBron, they all put size on and it helped ‘em. That's what he needs to do and it'll help him on the defensive end."
It's rare that a role-player such as Kendrick will be so honest and open about a weakness of a superstar teammate, but that's part of why Perk is such a great interview; he's an honest dude that just wants his team to win. Perkins went on to explain that putting on muscle will help Durant withstand his heavy minutes load, as well.
4. Jeremy Lamb, on needing to improve his defense:
"I'm definitely, definitely gonna work on my defense. At first, I didn't care about my defense at all. But seeing a player that'll lock you up and then go score on you, that motivates me. So I'm gonna work on my defense and come back a much better defensive player. I think that's gonna help me be a better overall player."
Lamb rarely changes his facial expression when speaking, but he certainly did to answer this question. You could tell that Lamb is serious about improving his defense in order to become a key contributor to this team next season. Lamb is a guy who is arguably the fourth-most talented player on the Thunder's loaded roster, so it's good to see he's committed to completing his game.
3. Kendrick Perkins, on improving his game:
"I know this offseason is gonna be the biggest offseason of my career, it's my first time ever approaching a time where I'm an unrestricted free agent so I definitely gotta come back in better shape and try to get back to the basketball that I played in Boston. That's my goal."
Players in all pro sports understand the importance of performing well in a contract year, but this statement from Perkins is a little unique. Perk mentions coming back in better shape and trying to return to his Celtics form (something he hasn't looked like in years). Perkins makes is sound as if he knows he hasn't been in the necessary shape in the past few seasons, which if true, raises questions.
2. Reggie Jackson, on his desire to start:
"I'd like to be a starter, I'm not gonna lie."
Well, who could blame him? He's a gifted guy who can score at a high level. But this could create an issue going forward. Especially when Jackson also admitted his desire to play the point guard position. Westbrook is unquestionably the Thunder's point guard of the present and the future, so if Jackson truly desires to be a starting point guard, one must wonder if that can happen in OKC.
1. Derek Fisher, on the Thunder winning it all:
"One day, this team's gonna have a championship trophy."
Fisher was his usual eloquent, cogent and professional self in what might his final exit interview as an NBA player. Fisher spoke brilliantly about why this team will one day win an NBA Title, and how it's only a matter of time. He spoke about how they're right on the doorstep, but just need that last little push. Fisher is a five-time champion, so he knows one when he sees one. These are very encouraging words for Thunder fans.