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Thunder Notes: Westbrook, McGary, Presti, Oladipo

Russell Westbrook‘s efforts to become a more vocal leader have already given him laryngitis, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. The star point guard could barely speak after the first of two practices today, a result of his plan to talk more on the court in the absence of Kevin Durant. That commitment to leadership started with the three-year extension Westbrook signed in August, one month after Durant announced that he was leaving for the Warriors. “He, I think, is setting a tone in terms of that, at least from a defensive standpoint, we’ve got to communicate,” coach Billy Donovan said of Westbrook. “And I think when you’re the caliber of player like Russell who’s doing it every single time and communicating it and expressing and pointing out the value and the importance of that, I think it carries a large weight.”

There’s more news from Oklahoma City:

  • Mitch McGary vows he has “turned over a new leaf” after two drug suspensions this summer that will sideline him for the season’s first 15 games, relays Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. McGary confirmed that the five-game ban he received this summer was for failing a drug test, while the 10-game suspension imposed last week was for not taking enough tests to comply with the NBA’s drug program. The third-year center may be near the end of his time in Oklahoma City. He is guaranteed more than $1.5MM this season, but has a team option worth more than $2.4MM for 2017/18. “I’d love to stay with this organization,” McGary said. “This is hands down like the best organization that had treats for you, cares for you, does everything for you, pretty much hand feeds you. I’ve known that from guys around the league have said this is the organization to be with, so obviously I don’t want to leave.”
  • “Disappointed” was the word GM Sam Presti used to describe his reaction to McGary’s latest drug issues, according to Cliff Brunt of The Associated Press. Presti also insinuated that the Thunder have lost patience with McGary. “We’re not privy to the NBA’s program, so I don’t have a whole lot of information,” Presti said. “All I can say to you is that I’m disappointed. Then from there, I don’t think I have to expand past that.” 
  • Victor Oladipo said he had thoughts about joining the Thunder a year before the draft-day trade from Orlando. In a video posted on The Oklahoman’s website, the new OKC guard addresses a number of topics, including his longtime interest in joining the Thunder. “I literally thought about being here a year ago,” Oladipo said, “and thought what it would be like to be on this team. And for it to actually happen is a surreal experience, and I know that it’s supposed to be the way it is now.”

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