Erik Horne hands out mid-season report cards to the Thunder roster: “The Thunder is a ship where one hole gets patched up and another leak springs. Rip off six consecutive wins in a row in 10 days behind the league’s No. 1 offense? Check. Lose five of seven with the defense playing like a bottom three squad? Double check. Here’s how the Thunder grades out for the first half in what’s been a disappointing start.”
Dakari Johnson was assigned to the OKC Blue: “The Oklahoma City Thunder has assigned center Dakari Johnson to the Oklahoma City Blue of the NBA G League, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. In 19 games (five starts) with the Thunder this season, Johnson has averaged 2.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game.”
James Herbert (CBS) on Jerami Grant and the process continuing for OKC’s x-factor: “Those mean highlights might actually obscure how hard he has worked to become more polished. Grant knows, however, that he is still far from complete. He has fully bought into his role as a complementary player, but would like to earn the opportunity to be more than that eventually. If that is going to happen, he must recapture the consistency he showed behind the 3-point line last season. Grant has only made 25 percent of his 3s in 2017-18, but remains optimistic that this will turn around.”
Erik Horne on All-Star voting and where the OK3 currently stands: “Russell Westbrook is facing an uphill battle to earn a starting spot in the backcourt. He’s among the leaders in Western Conference votes, again ranking fourth behind Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, and Houston’s James Harden after the second round of fan voting results was released by the NBA Thursday afternoon.”
Bobby Marks (ESPN Insider) with the Thunder’s updated trade guide: “GM Sam Presti has been known to shed salary to reduce the luxury tax in the past (see: the Randy Foye trade in 2016) and that approach should be no different with Singler. While the Thunder have $5.1 million in cash to send out in a trade, the lack of first-round picks to attach, coupled with Singler being under contract for next season, will make it extremely difficult. On the other hand, Abrines has struggled this season and recently his role diminished at the expense of rookie Terrance Feguson. On a value contract of $5.7 million and 5.2 million through 2018-19, moving Abrines could replenish OKC’s diminished assets and reduce the current and future tax bill significantly. It would also have an impact on the future of unrestricted free agent Jerami Grant. The small forward is likely going to see a salary in the $6-7 million range this summer. If Oklahoma City retains George, Grant will probably be in another uniform next season.”
Colin Cowherd blamed Russell Westbrook for the Thunder’s struggles on yesterday’s episode of The Herd: “Shoot less, win more.”
John Kim (Sneaker News) takes a detailed look at the Jordan Why Not Zero.1: “There’s certainly a minimal and modern look to it due to the thin blank-canvas shell overlay that lends to a more artistic approach to colorways. The “Mirror Image” features a mosaic of iconic imagery from the brand’s past and present; the left shoe presents an oversized Jumpman logo in red, while the right shoe features Westbrook taking flight for one of his ferocious jams. The ankle strap, held down by velcro on the medial side, features his RW logo debossed into the padding, while the tongue’s “Why Not?” message adds to the eccentricity that reflects Westbrook’s personal style. The ultra-sleek heel structure appears like it was carved out of clay.”
Around the League: Dion Waiters will have season-ending ankle surgery…. LaMarcus Aldridge asked for a trade prior to the season beginning…. Tyronn Lue says the Cavs must get rid of personal agendas…. Adam Silver is firmly against televising the All-Star Game draft…. Trae Young and the most entertaining NBA Draft debate in years.