After playing his first seven NBA seasons with Oklahoma City, Steven Adams makes his first appearance there as a visitor Thursday night when the Thunder host his New Orleans Pelicans.
“It’s not like I died or anything. I’m gonna see them again, so that’s fine,” Adams said of Oklahoma City after he was traded in a November deal that netted George Hill, four other players and draft picks for the Thunder.
Adams was one of the biggest pieces in the Thunder’s offseason overhaul that also included trades of Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder among others.
Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti has made a habit of trading away big pieces during the past few years, especially dealing Russell Westbrook and Paul George during the 2019 offseason.
“I think the No. 1 thing for us to recognize in these situations is we have to put the best interest of the organization first,” Presti said of the three-team trade that sent Adams packing after 530 games with the Thunder. “That doesn’t make the decision easier by any stretch.
“It wasn’t my best day or work, I can tell you that. But I feel passionate about relentlessly pursuing a bright future for this organization. If you’re comfortable during that period of time, I don’t know that you’re doing anything that’s going to lead you to be different.”
Adams is averaging 8.3 points and 8.5 rebounds through four games with New Orleans. He had 11 points and eight boards in Tuesday’s 111-86 loss at Phoenix, where the Pelicans shot just 12.5 percent (3 of 24) from 3-point range.
Since making 19 of 42 3-pointers in a season-opening win over the Toronto Raptors, New Orleans has canned only 18 of 83 attempts (21.7 percent) from behind the arc.
Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said the hot shooting in the opener masked other problems in the offense that have been evident in every game except Sunday’s 98-95 win against the San Antonio Spurs.
“Our offense right now is completely discombobulated,” Van Gundy said. “Other than the San Antonio game, we don’t take care of the ball, we’re not getting good ball movement, we’re not screening. We’re really not doing much of anything well offensively.”
The Thunder have lost two consecutive home games by a combined 12 points since winning their opener on the road at Charlotte.
Oklahoma City was without two starters in Tuesday’s 118-107 loss to Orlando — Hill and Al Horford.
Horford should be back Thursday after missing the game against the Magic for rest on the second of a back-to-back. Hill sat out due to neck spasms.
With Horford and Hill out, coach Mark Daigneault went with Justin Jackson and Isaiah Roby in the starting lineup after neither played in the season’s first two games.
Roby, who was scoreless in three previous NBA games in 2019-20, took advantage of the opportunity with 19 points and seven rebounds.
“These guys are all in the NBA for a reason,” Daigneault said. “They’re all here for a season, and we never want to underestimate one of our own players.”
–Field Level Media