Andrew Sharp & Ben Golliver (SI) discuss trading Russell Westbrook & Melo on the Open Floor Podcast: Westbrook: “There is so much history there, and he’s such a consistent draw for them, it would shock me if they were ready to move on at this point… I think it’s going to be another year or two and then it will be much easier because I think a couple of these seasons are going to be pretty bleak and both sides are going to look around, look at each other, and say, ‘maybe it’s best to move on.‘”…. Melo: “Melo to the Heat. I think that could make sense for both sides this summer. You look at that OKC team and they’re going to be super thin if Paul George leaves… I would think really hard about taking Melo on an expiring deal and giving James Johnson, Dion Waiters, and maybe someone like Tyler Johnson to OKC. I think that leaves both teams in a better spot going forward.”
Zach Buckley (B/R) on draft questions every team must answer: “Oklahoma City Thunder (Picks 53 & 57): Can either pick produce a contributor? The Thunder need cheap talent. They’re already on the hook for three salaries of $24 million-plus next season, and that’s before George’s possible return. They also need shooting and depth at both backcourt spots. Is finding them with a pair of 50-something picks remotely realistic? The odds aren’t great. During the past five drafts, only one player drafted 53rd or 57th has played an NBA game—Kadeem Allen, last year’s 53rd selection, who played 18 games for the Celtics on a two-way contract. But every now and then, someone slips through the cracks—Manu Ginobili and Marcin Gortat were 57th picks—and there should be interesting shooters available late like Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Kenrich Williams.”
Arash Markazi (ESPN) on Fortnite and how it’s taken over NBA locker rooms: “It’s a great game,” Paul George said. “It’s the competitiveness. It’s one versus 100 people. If you’re a competitive person like me you enjoy that challenge of going through so many people to win a game. That’s what it really comes down to for me. It’s a fun, interactive game that attracts everyone from little kids to grown adults and from single guys to family men. It’s a great game for all generations.”
Grant Hughes (B/R) on this summer’s biggest storylines: “Paul George has been signaling his intentions to become a Laker forever, and though James’ presence in L.A. would sweeten the pot considerably, it just feels like George has had his mind made up independent of who else might join him. He made it known well over a year ago that the Lakers were his preferred destination, and who knows how long that preference had been an open secret before it made the news rounds? It’s exciting that the Lakers are relevant again, and it’s also comforting to know they’ll use their cap space on worthwhile expenses this time. There’ll be no repeats of the ghastly overpays for Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng. And while the expectation of George winding up in Los Angeles has been fun, the reality will be far more interesting, because that’s when we get to start thinking about how he fits with Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and whichever other big name the Lakers land with the rest of their cash.”
Jordan Greer (Sporting News) on not counting out a Paul George return to OKC: “George made it clear in April the final result of the season wouldn’t “persuade or indicate where I’m going to this offseason,” so this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. He has also grown close to triple-double machine Russell Westbrook, saying this past season the 2017 NBA MVP was making his decision easier. “Russ is the reason why this decision is becoming even more easier to make, is the character Russ [has],” George said in January (via ESPN’s Royce Young). “A stand-up guy, and he has his teammate’s back.” This is all positive news for Thunder general manager Sam Presti, who sent Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Pacers last summer in exchange for George. OKC’s front office is ready to sign a big check to keep George, even if it means paying a hefty tax bill.”
AJ Neuharth-Keusch (USA Today) describes every team’s 2017-18 season with one word: “Underwhelming. The Thunder had championship aspirations heading into the season, with reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook, perennial All-Star Paul George and one of the most consistent scorers in league history in Carmelo Anthony headlining the roster. Not to mention a top-tier post presence in Steven Adams, an elite perimeter defender in Andre Roberson and veterans like Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton to help make it all work. Boy, did it not work. In the end, the Thunder won one more regular-season game and one more playoff game than they did last season, and they now head into a summer of uncertainty with George’s impending free agency.”
Ben Felderstein (Sneaker News) on the Nike PG 2.5: “Confirmed to be a first look at the Nike PG 2.5, it takes clear design cues from PG-13’s first two signature sneakers with the Beaverton Brand. Its midfoot strap is clearly borrowed from the PG 1, while the overall structure and sole is much more reminiscent of the PG 2. A Fortnite-friendly color scheme is in full effect here, with it coming dressed primarily in royal blue with a teal instep and orange details. Check out a first look above and stay tuned for any and all updates regarding George’s third Swoosh Brand sneaker as they become available.”
Around the League: The NBA Draft is full of risk at the top…. Michael Porter Jr. is having a medical issue a week before the Draft…. Where will LeBron James land this summer?…. Vegas favors the ’17 Warriors over the ’96 Bulls…. The Warriors have work to do in order to win more rings…. Latest NBA free agency buzz.