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Oklahoma City Thunder VIDEOS

November 6, 2014 Updates

With seven players currently sidelined by injuries, the Thunder will sign guard Ish Smith using a hardship exception recently awarded by the league, according to a source. He is expected to be in uniform Friday against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Oklahoman earlier reported news of Smith's signing. Smith, 26, has played for seven teams in four seasons, most recently appearing in 70 games last season with the Phoenix Suns. He was with the Houston Rockets in the preseason before being waived. ESPN.com

What is a hardship exception? It’s a temporary roster spot that must be granted by the league. It allows a team to exceed the 15-man maximum roster when it has at least four players who are sick or injured for longer than two weeks. Each of the four sick or injured players must miss at least three consecutive games during their two-week absence. An independent physician, not the team’s doctor, must decide whether each player is required to miss two weeks. With Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Mitch McGary and Grant Jerrett all having missed at least three straight games while sidelined for at least the season’s first month with various injuries, the Thunder meets the criteria. Oklahoman

Long-awaited relief for the Thunder’s injury-ravaged roster has made its way to town. The Thunder has agreed to sign point guard Ishmael Smith via the hardship exception, a rare temporary roster spot the league must grant to allow depleted teams to exceed the 15-man roster maximum. Oklahoman

November 5, 2014 Updates

The injury-hit Indiana Pacers are in the process of signing free-agent guard Gal Mekel, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN.com that Mekel, who's in his second NBA season and ranks as one of Israel's two exports in the league alongside Sacramento's Omri Casspi, also drew interest from Oklahoma City since his release by the Dallas Mavericks last week. ESPN.com

November 4, 2014 Updates

Darnell Mayberry: After spraining his left foot Monday night, Andre Roberson joins Kevin Durant and Mitch McGary as Thunder players wearing a protective boot. It's more cautionary than anything. Just immobilizing his foot. No timeline has been given for Andre. But it isn't believed to be long term. Twitter @DarnellMayberry

After suffering the first significant injury of his career, Kevin Durant got some advice from another superstar that was forced to grow used to watching his team from the bench -- Kobe Bryant. "Kobe reached out to me at one point right after I got out of surgery," Durant told ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" on Tuesday. "We played a preseason game [against the Los Angeles Lakers], and I was sitting on the sideline, and I was just wanting to get into the game. I just asked him, how'd he do it? What was his thought process? He just told me, he tried to learn the game as much as he can from the sideline and be the best teammate he can be and support all the guys. ESPN.com

Chris Mannix: On Reggie Jackson: Don't expect a James Harden situation to unfold. Thunder confident they can and will match offers next summer, I'm told. Twitter @ChrisMannixSI

Durant’s free agency in 2016 is bearing down on them, and every external circumstance seems to be hurting Oklahoma City’s cause in convincing him to stay. Winning a title would be a game-changer, and the Thunder have two chances left on Durant’s current contract — and just one, this season, before he becomes an expiring time bomb. They will have a hard time even engaging Durant in contract-extension talks. The collective bargaining agreement damn near wrote star extensions out of existence by placing strict limits on the number of years an incumbent team can offer in such a deal Grantland

With the experience of deep playoff runs in their early 20s, the Big Three of Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka are in their prime winning years now. With Ibaka turning 25 and Durant and Westbrook 26, this very season seemed to be the sweet spot. Instead, it has started out decidedly rotten. No team could expect to lose its two best players and stay afloat for long -- not even the Thunder, an organization that has done so much right in terms of managing small-market limitations and developing a perpetual wave of young talent. "Obviously, with some of our players out, we have to be realistic," Brooks said. "But the two things that never change are to play as hard as you can and play for your teammates." CBSSports.com

The Thunder's D-League team has since relocated to OKC -- and I don't mean that as a joke; the team literally has moved from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, making it an even more convenient and useful player development tool. The reality, of course, is that no amount of planning or player development can prepare a team for the injury wave that has engulfed the Thunder. "We've lost a lot of points out of our lineup – throughout the lineup, not just with Kevin and Russell," Brooks said. "I think the guys have done a good job of stepping up and trying to figure out ways to score for each other." CBSSports.com

And Thunder coach Scott Brooks had been so happy earlier in the day about getting Reggie Jackson back from injury for the Nets game. "Having nine guys is a lot better than eight," Brooks said, having turned to page 373 in the coach's handbook, in the chapter titled, "How to placate the media with gallows humor." Well, now it's back to eight -- and, by the way, Jackson shot 8-for-20 with seven turnovers in his return. "I felt like I let my team down," Jackson said. CBSSports.com



Kevin Durant may end up claiming the No. 1 spot, but for now it belongs to Gary Payton.


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