Thunder players were unaware of damage to team plane until landing

 
 
Updated 10/28/2017 11:12 PM
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Nick Collison was camped out in his seat, watching "Stranger Things" on his tablet, when it happened.

Just a quick drop by the team's charter plane, the sort of thing that happens every once in awhile to frequent flyers.

It wasn't until the Oklahoma City Thunder's team plane landed at Midway Airport that everyone saw what actually happened. The plane had a huge dent in the nose. Several Thunder players sent photos of the smashed plane on social media.

"For sure, I'd never seen anything like that," Collison said before Saturday's game at the United Center. "Surprised. I was walking to the bus and Steven (Adams) was taking a picture of something. I went to see what he was looking at and I saw it. I don't know exactly what happened, but we're happy we're all safe."

Collison and others said the passengers were unaware of any sort of midair collision.

"It was kind of just like turbulence," he said. "There was like one drop. We've had those before and then the (pilot) came on and said there was a malfunction, he wasn't sure we were going to be able to land. Then we landed OK. Then we saw the nose when we got off. I don't think anybody realized that happened. It was strange. It wasn't really that scary."

There were suggestions of a bird strike. But Thunder coach Billy Donovan said the incident happened about halfway through the trip from Minneapolis to Chicago. Bird strikes typically happen at takeoff or landing, not at 30,000 feet.

"I don't know, it must have been a pretty big bird, a pterodactyl, maybe," Collison joked. "I'll leave that to the experts, I guess."

OKC star Russell Westbrook wasn't in a joking mood when discussing the damaged plane.

"You don't ever take anything for granted. You just be thankful and blessed we were able to land the plane and everything is OK," he said. "Seeing stuff like that just shows you how need to cherish life and understand the important things in life and embrace every moment."

Hoiberg explains Payne:

Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg talked about why the Bulls picked up the fourth-year option on guard Cameron Payne, even though he hasn't shown much since arriving last February in a trade with Oklahoma City.

"The biggest thing we saw was especially in the playoff prep when he was playing the role of (Boston's) Isaiah Thomas," Hoiberg said. "He really showed an ability to get downhill, spray the ball out. He had a really good camp in the summer league.

"I know it didn't translate to the games that he played. He had a lot going on with his grandmother, who basically raised him, who was very sick at the time.

"But Cam does some things that could help this team when he gets healthy by getting into the paint and making plays. We'll obviously be excited when he gets back and see what he can do in the second half of the season."

Payne is sidelined while recovering from foot surgery. Hoiberg said Payne is due for a visit to the doctor and CT scan next week. The plan is to get him back in January.

No sign of Mirotic:

Coach Fred Hoiberg said injured forward Nikola Mirotic has not yet been to the Advocate Center for supervised light exercise, which John Paxson talked about Friday.

"Not yet," Hoiberg said. "I believe (Sunday) or possibly the next day."

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