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July 17, 2014

Thunder’s picky during FA period

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City hasn’t been the busiest place during the NBA free agency period. However, it may have been among the pickiest.

The Thunder officially signed free agent guard Anthony Morrow to a contract Wednesday. The 6-foot-5, 210 pound shooting guard fills a need the team has been searching for the last few years — a great 3-point shooter.

“Anthony Morrow has demonstrated that he is among the most consistent and efficient 3-point shooters in the NBA over his career, and we are pleased to welcome him to Oklahoma City and the Thunder organization,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said.  “With his body of work, we feel Anthony is a unique addition to a diverse roster, while also possessing the toughness and selflessness that we are consistently seeking in Thunder players.”

Thunder have not released the terms of Morrow’s contract, per team policy.

Morrow shot 45.1 percent from 3-point range last season, which was fourth in the NBA. He also averaged 8.4 points, 1.8 rebounds and 18.8 minutes in a career-high 76 games with New Orleans.

Oklahoma City had only one player last season who shot better than 40 percent from behind the 3-point arc, Caron Butler, at 44 percent. Kevin Durant was next at 39 percent.  As a team, the Thunder never topped 40 percent from 3-point range in any month.

Morrow could help the team’s numbers improve. An undrafted rookie out of Georgia Tech, he shot an NBA-best 46.7 percent during the 2008-09 season becoming the first rookie in NBA history to lead the league in 3-point field goal percentage.

The six-year NBA veteran owns career averages of 10.4 points on 42.8 percent shooting from 3-point range (third highest amongst active NBA players), 2.5 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 23.7 minutes in 373 games (129 starts) with Golden State, New Jersey, Atlanta, Dallas and New Orleans.

Morrow will compete with Jeremy Lamb, Andre Roberson and possibly Reggie Jackson for the starting off-guard spot.

Morrow was the second free agent the Thunder added to the roster this week. Tuesday, free agent guard Sebastian Telfair signed a contract with the team.

The 6-0, 175-pound Telfair joins Oklahoma City after spending last season with Tianjin Ronggang in China where he averaged 26.1 points, 6.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 2.03 steals and 36.3 minutes in 35 games.   

Telfair was a highly touted point guard coming out of high school. The documentary “Through the Fire” chronicled his prep years at Abraham Lincoln High in New York.

Telfair went on to become the 13th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft, but he has never been able to live up to the hype surrounding him. He owns career averages of 7.4 points, 3.5 assists, 1.6 rebounds and 21.6 minutes in 548 games during nine seasons with Portland, Boston, Minnesota, LA Clippers, Cleveland, Phoenix and Toronto.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to welcome Sebastian to the Thunder organization and Oklahoma City community,” Presti said. “His competitiveness and work ethic have complemented his on-court leadership skills throughout his career, and we are excited to be able to integrate these qualities into our team.”

The Thunder also acquired the rights to Sofoklis Schortsanitis and a trade exception from the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for free agent guard Thabo Sefolosha, the rights to Giorgos Printezis and cash considerations.

Oklahoma City has one year from today to exercise the trade exception.

After six years, Sefolosha’s career with the Thunder comes to an end. After being benched twice during the postseason, the writing was on the wall that he would not be part of team’s future plans.

However, that didn’t keep the 30-year old Sefolosha from signing a 3-year, $12 million contract with the Hawks.

Sefolosha was selected to the All-NBA Defensive Second Team for the 2009–10 NBA season.

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