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News » The NBA playoffs: 6 players to watch

The NBA playoffs: 6 players to watch

The NBA playoffs: 6 players to watch
Just because Oklahoma City didn't make the playoffs doesn't mean this postseason shouldn't be enjoyed by Thunder fans. All you have to do is put on your Thunder Blue-colored glasses and picture which players could land in OKC this summer as the franchise continues to restructure its roster.

To help you get started, here are six players to watch over the next few weeks:

Ben Gordon, Guard, Chicago Bulls

→2008-09 stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.4 apg, 41 % 3pt fg.

→The skinny: He recently turned down multiple contract extensions of $50 million-plus from the Bulls, which means he's looking for a big payday. But this summer is expected to be a buyer's market with not a lot of buyers. If the Bulls let Gordon walk, only Memphis and Detroit join the Thunder as teams that have ample salary cap space to lure him. He'd be the shooter Oklahoma City desperately needs and would give the Thunder a player who can create his own shot when things break down.

Samuel Dalembert, Center, Philadelphia 76ers

→2008-09 stats: 6.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.78 bpg.

→The skinny: He's the exact type of rebounder and shot blocker OKC tried to acquire when it traded for Tyson Chandler. Dalembert had a down year but is still young (27), athletic and, most importantly, durable. He has two more years remaining on his contract at $11.3 million next season and $12.2 million in 2010-11, meaning his deal comes off the books one year before extensions for Kevin Durant and Jeff Green would kick in.

Paul Millsap, Forward, Utah Jazz

→2008-09 stats: 13.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg,

→The skinny: With starter Carlos Boozer sidelined most of the year, Millsap stepped in and had a breakout year in his third season out of Louisiana Tech. He's currently one of the best bargains in the league ($797,000) but is a restricted free agent and could command a hefty chunk of change. The Thunder could make Millsap an offer that the capped-out Jazz simply could not afford to match.

Anderson Varejao, Forward/Center, Cleveland Cavaliers

→2008-09 stats: 8.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.8 bpg.

→The skinny: His hustle is contagious on the court, but he might have an inflated sense of self worth. Varejao has a $6.2 million player's option this summer that he could decline and test the free-agent waters. Any more coin than that, though, and he becomes vastly overpriced.

Linas Kleiza, Forward, Denver Nuggets

→2008-09 stats: 9.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.8 apg.

→The skinny: Kleiza showed steady improvement over his first three seasons before settling in as a solid rotational player in year four. He just turned 24 in January, has a nice touch from downtown and is expanding his game more and more. He'll be a restricted free agent this summer, and the Thunder could easily make things tough on Denver by offering a deal starting at $4 million-$5 million a season.

Gerald Green, Guard, Dallas Mavericks

→2008-09 stats: 5.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.4 apg.

→The skinny: The former Oklahoma State signee is on his fourth team in four seasons. But he's still only 23, and the Thunder could become the fifth team to take a chance on the ultra-athletic guard hoping he finally puts it all together. He'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer and hasn't shown he deserves much more than the $800,000 he's making this year. It would be the exact type of low-risk, high-reward signing Thunder general manager Sam Presti has hung his hat on so far.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 22, 2009


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