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Friday Bolts: 5.18.18

Erik Horne on the possibility of bringing back Corey Brewer: “Brewer wants to come back to Oklahoma City, and would likely have to do so at the veteran’s minimum since the Thunder projects to exceed the $101 million salary cap. He could be more valuable if Roberson isn’t ready for preseason camp or takes time to get back into form during the season. It took Roberson a full preseason and about 10 regular-season games to regain his rhythm after platelet-rich plasma treatments for left knee tendonitis last summer. A ruptured left patellar tendon will require an even tougher road to recovery. There’s a balance to the Corey Brewer Experience. The Thunder needs to determine if it’s worth bringing back. “It was good for me to have a chance to play, to get to show everybody I can still play, just coming in here to try to help the team as best I could,” Brewer said.”

Bobby Marks (ESPN) on the biggest offseason decisions for every NBA team: “Cap-space breakdown: With or without George, the Thunder are heading towards the luxury tax for the fourth time in five seasons. / If George returns, OKC will have a payroll of $153 million and a tax bill of $115 million. / The Thunder will likely lose Grant to free agency. Bringing back the forward would cost around $53 million in salary and taxes for one year. / If George leaves, the Thunder roster would resemble a lottery team with $117 million committed in payroll. / Bringing back Grant helps but the signing along with filling out the roster would push OKC into the luxury tax with a projected $130 million in salary and a tax bill of $18 million. / Is $148 million sustainable for a borderline playoff team? Unlikely.”

Berry Tramel on Thunder fans calling for Sam Presti’s head: “Lots of questions about why Sam Presti still has a job, and lots of answers about how spoiled are Thunder fans. Guest: “If, let’s say, PG-13 stays, do you see this team change at all for next season? I mean Presti likes getting draft picks, do you believe he may do any big move in order to improve the team? Or as he said, you believe he will keep the roster as consistent as possible?” I think Presti will do all kinds of things trying to improve the team, but his options are more limited than in the past. Presti in the early days accumulated a lot of young assets, and for the most part was able to maintain a lot of young assets. So when the opportunity came to trade for Kendrick Perkins, he had a Jeff Green to deal. When the chance to trade for Paul George, he had a Victor Oladipo to deal. But now OKC is limited in young assets, and Presti will have to figure out other ways to change the roster. One thing in the Thunder’s favor – almost every team is dealing with salary cap issues, so non-superstars are going to be available on the cheap.”

Fred Katz grades Terrance Ferguson’s 2017-18 season: “This organization believes in Ferguson, who it selected with the No. 21 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. That’s true for a front office that chose him over eventual contributing rookies like O.G. Anunoby and Kyle Kuzma. It’s true for Donovan, who will praise specifically Ferguson’s mind and his quickness at any and every opportunity. It’s true for many of the players, too, including George, who included Ferguson in his commercial and insisted all year that those on the outside haven’t yet seen what the rookie can do.  “It’s a luxury to have a young guy like that that comes in and plays hard and doesn’t play out of his body,” George said. “He keeps everything within himself.” George isn’t the only one. Thunder players go out of their way to hype up Ferguson.”

Cody Taylor (USA Today) on OKC finding value with its second round picks: “While it remains to be seen how the Thunder will use the No. 53 and No. 57 picks in the draft, there should still be a potential steal available to them if they can scout correctly. Teams drafting that late in the draft typically decide to stash those prospects overseas, but we’ve seen some teams recently decide to stash a player for a year domestically in the G League, as well. For instance, the Celtics drafted Abdel Nader at No. 58 two years ago. He spent last season in the G League with the Maine Red Claws and went on to win the Rookie of the Year Award. He signed a four-year deal with the Celtics last summer. The Thunder could also decide to package those two draft picks in a potential trade this summer — perhaps in a Carmelo Anthony trade. They have options with those picks, but if they decide to keep them, they can still find a potential gem.”

Dan Favale (B/R) on if Lone Wolf Russ is a problematic building block for the Thunder: “Can the Oklahoma City Thunder afford to pay Russell Westbrook $205 million over the next five years if Paul George leaves?  The question has to be asked. It implies this summer’s nightmare scenario, but the worst case is hardly far-fetched. More than a few are treating it as reality. The Los Angeles Lakers have mountains of cap space. The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to join the party, per the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Keith Pompey. The Thunder are working off an unconvincing first-round exit. George could bolt. Oklahoma City is left to wallow in a functional double bind if he does. Westbrook is the franchise. He’s outlasted James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant. Trading him would be an emotional gut punch and pave the way for a protracted rebuild without even a loose endpoint in sight. Plus, what kind of team jettisons a top-10 star in his prime under contract for the next four or five years? Try one with foresight.”

Tramel grades Corey Brewer’s 2017-18 season: “Brewer is no Roberson on the perimeter. In one-on-one matchups, Brewer usually held his own. But in the playoffs, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell warmed up and stayed that way. In 165 possessions against Brewer, Donovan made 24 of 48 shots. And the Thunder defense was overall ineffective with Brewer. His defensive rating was 109.4 (points per 100 possessions), second-worst on the team. Roberson’s was 96.4. But Brewer still made like a thief; Brewer had 2.7 steals per 36 minutes, besting even George. And Brewer’s steal percentage (steals per 100 possessions played) of 3.7 also was the best on the Thunder by a long shot.”

Gabe Zaldivar (Forbes) on the latest PG13-to-LA rumors: “The star forward is now healing after getting his knee shined and polished for next season. At the moment, there isn’t any definitive movement on where George could be headed. The Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps wrote the following on April 28: “Ask people today – particularly in the wake of this first-round exit – and they’ll say the Lakers still remain the favorites to get him this summer.” One should assume that the Lakers are still favorites to procure his services once the free agency race begins this summer.”

Riley Jones (Sole Collector) on the latest Nike PG2 colorway: “Although Paul George’s future with the Oklahoma City Thunder up in the air this summer, it’s business as usual for his signature sneaker line. The latest colorway to join the Nike PG2 lineup is a “Blue Lagoon/Hyper Violet/White” makeup set to drop next week. The “South Beach”-like color combination blends a light blue upper with black overlays, a white midsole, and a violet purple liner that pops out from every angle. The colors are mixed at the center of the outsole, which also includes a violet PG logo. This colorway is confirmed to release at retailers including Foot Locker and Shoe Palace on Friday, May 25 for $110.”

Around the League: Is Warriors/Celtics inevitable?…. Can Boston continue its run over Cleveland?…. Choosing between Brad Stevens and a superstar player…. JR Smith wants the Cavs to do more for LeBron James…. The Spurs reportedly want a “Grand Slam Offer” in exchange for Kawhi Leonard…. Luka Doncic isn’t sure he’ll play in the NBA in 2018…. The NBA’s new virtual reality frontier.