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Friday Bolts: 3.2.18

Friday Bolts: 3.2.18

Corey Brewer will sign with the Thunder: “Swingman Corey Brewer plans to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder upon clearing waivers Friday, his agent confirmed to The Associated Press. The Los Angeles Lakers waived Brewer after the two sides agreed to a contract buyout Wednesday. Brewer, 31, will be joining his former coach with the Florida Gators, Billy Donovan. Brewer was a starter for back-to-back NCAA championship teams at Florida in 2006 and 2007. An 11-year veteran, Brewer gives the Thunder a versatile wing player to help fortify a roster that lost starting shooting guard Andre Roberson for the season.”

Bobby Marks (ESPN) on the financial impact of Brewer’s deal: “The Thunder are making a $1.2M investment with the addition of veteran Corey Brewer. The signing will cost Oklahoma City $852K in additional luxury taxes and $341K in salary. In total, Brewer will earn $539K if he signs his contract on Friday. The Thunder only had the pro-rated minimum exception to use to sign Brewer and now have a tax bill of $25.4M, 3rd highest in the NBA.”

Bryan Kalbrosky (HoopsHype) on Brewer’s ability as a cutter: “Despite their efficiency on this play type, only one team in the league has run cutters less often than the Thunder (5.4 percent frequency) this season. Other than big man Steven Adams and power forward Jerami Grant, injured wing Andre Roberson was the only one on the roster who cut to the basket with any regularity for Donovan. Brewer was used mostly as a one-on-one scorer and as a spot-up shooter for Los Angeles. But he would help the Thunder on cutters, where he is shooting an impressive 20-for-28 (71.4 percent) from the field overall. That rate is higher than stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo (70.8 percent) so far this season. While the 31-year-old may have lost a step over the years, he can still compete at a high level and help a team like the Thunder that could use more depth.”

Berry Tramel on the still lackadaisical Thunder: “Westbrook defiantly asked what is the Thunder’s record against the league’s best teams. Westbrook said 7-1 or 7-2. Well, if you count teams that have at least a .600 winning percentage, OKC is 5-3. If you want to dip down into the Minnesota/San Antonio/Washington class, that record goes down to 8-8. I guess Westbrook’s point is that the Thunder won’t play any rumdums in the playoffs. But to play in the playoffs, you have to make the playoffs. And that’s not assured, though the Thunder has expanded its lead over eighth-place Denver to two games and over the ninth-place Clippers by 2-1/2 games. Much has been made about the Thunder’s propensity to play up and play down to the level of competition. But that’s not even happening anymore, at least by results.”

Grant Hughes (B/R) has the Thunder 12th in his latest power rankings: “While the Thunder are 4-1 against the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors this year, they somehow struggled to survive against the Kings, Mavericks and Magic. Westbrook iced Sacramento with a game-winning triple back on Feb. 22 and had to hit a clinching foul shot to beat the Mavericks on Wednesday. The moment of truth lies ahead, as 14 of Oklahoma City’s final 19 games come against teams with winning records. Is OKC a top-four seed or a possible lottery club? We’re about to find out.”

Chris Smith (Forbes) on the Thunder rising in the SportsMoney Index: “The Forbes SportsMoney Index (SMI) is the only comprehensive ranking of the sports world’s most influential teams, athletes, brands, and agencies… Among teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the biggest movers. OKC jumped 65 spots to No. 46, moving ahead of the likes of the Oakland Raiders and Luis Suarez. The Thunder’s Russell Westbrook is the second-highest ranked NBA player on the SMI (No. 16), and the additions of Paul George (No. 52) and Carmelo Anthony (No. 67) make OKC one of just eight teams with three players among the SMI ranks.”

Jonathan Givony (ESPN) on how Australia is targeting one-and-done players: “The NBL has already proved to be a soft landing spot for one U.S. high schooler facing NCAA eligibility concerns in Terrance Ferguson, the No. 11 high school recruit in ESPN’s 2016 Top 100. Ferguson elected not to enroll as a freshman at Arizona, instead signing with the Adelaide 36ers. He ended up being drafted in the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 21 a year later, despite an up-and-down season abroad. After benefiting from the exposure of helping Ferguson reach the NBA, the NBL has formalized a rule that should make it much easier for future prospects in his mold to forgo college and develop in Australia instead. As part of its new “Next Stars” program, the NBL will be adding an extra roster spot next season intended strictly for draft-eligible players such as Ferguson, the league told ESPN.”

Yahoo Sports previews tonight’s Thunder @ Suns match-up: “The Thunder, after losing the next two games following the Jan. 7 loss in Phoenix, went on an eight-game winning streak and have won 14 of the last 21. The teams will meet again Thursday to conclude the three-game season series. The Suns have lost 15 of 17.”

Around the League: Shabazz Muhammad was bought-out and will sign with the Bucks…. Zach Lowe’s 10 things he likes/doesn’t like…. The importance of Minnesota’s young players in Jimmy Butler’s absence…. Steph Curry shattered a hotel coffee table with a golf club…. Isaiah Thomas discussed his upcoming free agency…. JR Smith was suspended…. The rise of Anthony Davis.