Seattle Thunders off-season overview
- By Luke Forte, Day 1, 2021
After last seasons conference final lost to the 2020 JBL Champions (Nashville Stars), a bad taste was left in the mouths of the Seattle Thunder players. They now seek revenge in 2021. For this to eventuate it was always vital that the Thunder keep the young team together during the off season.
As Thunder close out their final training session before the first game of the 2021 season against the new look Houston Lightning, teams around JBL prepare for their opening games of the 2021 season.
We take a look at Thunders preseason overview.
Draft - After trading multiple picks to Baltimore Bullets the Thunder received pick number 18 in return. The team chose to elect point guard Zach Lynch in anticipation of the loss of Devante Parker. The 6ft 1in Zach Lynch was on their radar even before Syracuse had success in CJBL finals. Lynch’s performance in the final 4 solidified what they already knew of the fine prospect.
Free Agency - Lynch was a wise pick up as Thunder did in fact lose Devante Parker in Free Agency to the Las Vegas Scorpions. I’m told that the Thunder were a little surprised Parker decided to chase a payday rather than a chance at a ring with the Thunder. Keeping Parker would have almost solidified them in a spot in the conference final once again but now with the loss of Parker, it has certainly raised questions of DeAngelo Tarver and his ability to run the team on a play by play basis. Is he ready to take on the starting PG role? This is the big question hanging over the Thunders heads and the one true factor about their ability to be competitive late into the finals.
The Thunder then added veteran Kenyon Hammick as a backup/third string PG for some valuable experience at the point guard position. His knowledge and wisdom throughout his 14 year career will bring some much needed experience to the point guard position and support to starting PG Tarver.
That brings us to the two key re-signings of the off season. The Thunder hung on to starting center Antoine Hall and SF Devan Carroll. Antoine had said winning a championship was the one thing that mattered most to him and that he really enjoyed the second part of the season with the Thunder. Early on in FA both parties agreed to a huge payday of 24million over 4 years for the 26 year old.
Management went back and forth with Carroll’s new contract. Seemingly both parties couldn’t agree on a figure. There was much interest from rival teams in Carroll’s skills throughout FA but after last years game 7 defeat in the conference finals, Devan wanted to return to the Thunder to seek revenge on the Stars. Negotiations ended with the Thunder offering a max 20mil over 3 years contract to the 6th man of the year.
Coaching Free Agency - The Thunder added 15 years of coaching experience with the addition of Charles Bradley. He was a fantastic pick up by the team after the loss of Brett Jordan. Assistant coach Pearce and Assistant Coach Bradley are highly skilled and experienced coaches to backup Mitchell Butler this season.
Training Camp - Coach Butler believed training camp was a huge success. He mentioned that all key players dramatically improved on weakness and others simply just becoming better players/athletes.
“I’m very happy with how the off season has gone. Team cohesion is at an all time high, and the players that want to be here are right in this locker room. We’ve never been closer as a group and there has never been more belief than there is right now. Everyone feels ready and everyone has improved during the off season. In some cases, dramatically. Antoine has been working hard on his defensive and has definitely improved his footwork and rim protection. Ainsley is looking fantastic all round. He never fails to impress me. The younger boys Aaron and DeAngelo have really come into their own, and it’s scary to think that Andre has improved his shooting and offensive awareness. He is looking sharper than ever before. He’s a player that is coming into the height of his career and it will be exciting to see what he accomplishes this season.”
I caught up with Thunders GM Luke Forte and I asked him about his expectations on the upcoming season.
“The owners and the executive team are all very hopeful this year. We have the talent, and the coaching around that talent to win the championship. After speaking with the player leadership group they all feel that anything other than a ring this season will be viewed as a fail. We all feel it’s our time.”
JC Pennpacker reporting for Channel 4 news.