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Thunder Notes: Mohammed, Payne, Cheeks, Durant

After veteran center Nazr Mohammed opted to come out of “semi-retirement” and sign with the Thunder, he explained his decision in a post on Sportsblog.com. The 37-year-old hasn’t played in the NBA this season. His last action was with the Bulls in 2014/15, when he appeared in 23 games. Mohammed said he was considering full retirement before Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti called with an offer.  “As a young player, your only desire is to be in the NBA,” Mohammed said. “As you get older, your desire is to play for certain organizations with certain circumstances, making it a little tougher to find the right fit. Mine was a combination of all of the above. Most of the teams that I had interest in didn’t need my services, and I didn’t have the desire to go just anywhere. And some teams just didn’t want me.” The 18-year vet was a member of the Thunder team that reached the NBA Finals in 2011/12.

There’s more out of Oklahoma City:

  • The Thunder’s trade at the deadline that brought Randy Foye from Denver has sharply reduced the playing time of rookie Cameron Payne, writes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. Even though Payne is a point guard and Foye is more of a shooting guard, Payne has fallen victim to coach Billy Donovan‘s new substitution pattern that sees Kevin Durant take most of the ball-handling responsibilities when Russell Westbrook is resting.
  • The Thunder hoped to have assistant coach Maurice Cheeks, who is recovering from hip surgery, back at practice today, but it will be some time before he can be part of games, Slater tweets. “Standing up and down during games, is that good for his hip?” Donovan said. “I’m not sure what the doctor will tell him.”
  • Durant’s best strategy in free agency may be to follow the example LeBron James set, according to Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders. Beer argues that Durant should maximize his earnings by signing a two-year contract with the ability to opt out in the summer of 2017. By then, the cap is expected to rise and Durant will be a 10-year veteran, which significantly increases the amount he can earn. Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors examined the issue in depth last month.

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