Clay Bennett Rumors
You can’t blame the Thunder chairman — who also is chairman of OU’s board of regents — for rearranging his priorities in recent months. Last year, sometime before the Thunder’s 10th season tipped off, Bennett underwent brain surgery. Last week was the first chance for many Oklahomans to see Bennett since the surgery. Not much more than occasional glimpses of Bennett at his baseline seat for Thunder games, and even then not nearly as often as in seasons past. People were startled at Bennett’s appearance. Weight loss, a thinned face and an ominous scar across his head. But he looks much better than he did four months ago.
Bennett, 58, remains friendly in social settings. In private, he can be a little ornery, a side he is loath to reveal in public. Bennett’s deliberate speaking remains unchanged. I’ve never been around anyone who uses words as precisely as Bennett. If the Thunder was as careful with the basketball or defensive rotations as Bennett is with his words, OKC would have 10 more wins.
“Those people really mean a lot to me to this day,” he says. “No matter if they talk to me or they’re mad at me. Whether it’s Sam Presti or Troy Weaver or Russell Westbrook or Nick Collison. Whether it’s Wilson Taylor or Clay Bennett and his family, I love them from the bottom of my heart. We’re not talking, but eventually we will.
“Those people really mean a lot to me to this day,” Kevin Durant says. “No matter if they talk to me or they’re mad at me. Whether it’s Sam Presti or Troy Weaver or Russell Westbrook or Nick Collison. Whether it’s Wilson Taylor or Clay Bennett and his family, I love them from the bottom of my heart. We’re not talking, but eventually we will. “I didn’t have that perspective at first. I didn’t have it when I went back to OKC. I was like, ‘F–k all of them.’ I didn’t have it when they gave my number away. I was, ‘F–k all of them.’ My best friend works for the team, I told him, ‘F–k all y’all. That’s f–ked up.’ Then I had to get out of my head, tell myself, ‘It’s not that serious, it is what it is.’ I understand it’s not my number anymore, they can do whatever they want with it, but you hand that number to a two-way player, you’ve got to be, like, ‘Nah, we’ve got too many good memories with this number, man.’ But at some point, that thing’s going to be in the rafters anyway; it’s all good. I did something they didn’t like. They did something I didn’t like. S–t happens. If I was on my death bed, I guarantee you Sam Presti and Russell Westbrook would come check on me. So I’m going to look at it that way rather than the other way.”
Despite the fact that the Thunder expressed a willingness to go deeper into luxury-tax territory next year to keep Paul George and Carmelo Anthony around, Wojnarowski is very skeptical, suggesting it will probably just be a one-year run with the current roster. “This would be an incredible [tax] bill for the New York Knicks, the Lakers or Steve Ballmer to pay, never mind Clay Bennett in a small market like Oklahoma City,” Woj said.
Speaking after Golden State’s Monday morning shootaround in OKC, Steve Kerr disputed the report. “I don’t agree,” Kerr said. “(Thunder GM) Sam Presti’s a friend of mine. I know (Thunder owner) Clay Bennett. It’s a class organization all the way, so I don’t really pay any attention to a story like that unless there’s an actual name name that’s put on it. I assume it’s just sources. Is it ‘sources’? I don’t know who that is. It’s nobody with the Warriors. We have great respect for them. Sam’s been a friend of mine forever. They’re first-class, so I don’t know where that comes from.”