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Friday Bolts: 6.29.18

Royce Young on the Thunder’s impression on Paul George: “It’s been 363 days since Presti swung for the fences to land George. In a few days, the franchise will find out whether it was all worth it. The Thunder have made a strong impression on George, league sources with knowledge of the situation said, and George had said early in training camp that the Thunder “checked all his boxes” while speaking lovingly about his new franchise. There was a connection building and it carried throughout the season. A few days after George’s 28th birthday in May, Westbrook joined him for some paintball. George’s family threw a surprise party a little more than a month later — on draft night — inviting Thunder staffers, including Donovan, to come to Southern California for it. Now that he’s officially opting out, George is weighing his options, with his unrestricted free agency starting on July 1. That’s all the Thunder really ever hoped for: He actually has a decision to make.”

Zach Lowe (ESPN) on Paul George and the future of the Thunder: “If he leaves, the Thunder have Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Steven Adams, a bunch of role players and limited cap flexibility in 2019 and beyond. We saw that movie in 2016-17, and it will get old fast. It leads nowhere interesting. George leaving would at least raise the question of transitioning into a full-on rebuild, a teardown the likes of which Thunder fans have never really witnessed, and sniffing out what Westbrook might fetch on the trade market. Is that cold? Yes. Westbrook is the one who stayed. Losing all three of James Harden, Durant and Westbrook in the span of six or seven years — before any of them passed their primes — would be depressing. But Westbrook’s super-max carries huge risk on the back end, and Presti is no fool. He will not close off any options.”

Part two of Paul George’s SportsCenter free agency series:

Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) on why opting0out doesn’t mean Paul George is leaving OKC: “George’s relationship with Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has strengthened, and George expressed unhappiness about his own play down the stretch last season, saying, in Tuesday’s ESPN segment, that he “left something on the table.” George joined OKC last offseason in a blockbuster trade with Indiana, However, even then, the process playing out now was expected. Indeed, the Thunder might not be in the running to retain his services had the organization not secured them prior to last season. “I don’t know if Oklahoma City would have gotten a free agency meeting if he didn’t go there,” George’s agent, Aaron Mintz said during Thursday’s second installment of the mini-documentary. “Now, instead of getting a two-hour free agency meeting with Paul, you’re going to get a year-long meeting.”

Moke Hamilton (USA Today) on the money the Thunder can offer Paul George: “Since the Thunder own George’s Bird rights, they can re-sign him on a five-year deal beginning at his individual maximum salary, with 8 percent raises each year. That amounts to $176 million over five years, or $35.2 million per year. Any other team could only offer George a four-year deal. While a non-incumbent team could begin George’s contract at the same individual maximum salary, they could only offer him 4.5 percent raises. Such a deal would total $130 million over four years. That averages out to $33 million per year. While the difference between $176 million and $130 million is significant, it should be pointed out that the $176 million figure is for five years, while the $130 million is for four years. Over the first four years of the deals, George would “only” earn $8.8 million more with the Thunder.”

The Thunder, Bulls, Pacers, and Magic are all rumored to be interested in Jerami Grant: “According to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports, the Oklahoma City Thunder isn’t alone in the Jerami Grant sweepstakes. Per Schultz, the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, and Orlando Magic are also showing interest the 24-year-old unrestricted free agent. He will officially hit the open market on July 1.”

Newshub (New Zealand) on Steven Adams ‘annihilating’ professional Korean basketball players: “Adams put on a clinic in his one-on-one pickup games at the team’s facility, showcasing footwork and shots his Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, Russell Westbrook, would be proud of. The skill and size disparity were there for all to see, as Adams made short work of the two players and often seemed like a dad asserting dominance over his sons. Adams would soften the blow afterwards, revealing that he’s beaten Westbrook in similar fashion and that he was impressed with what he’s experienced. “I won last year, I won all the games three-two – he won two, I won three of them,” he told Rookie The Basket. “I made two threes against him.”

Erik Horne on Russell Westbrook and the Thunder being in the top 10 of NBA.com store sales: “No. 0 and the Thunder are again among the NBA’s most popular selling items. According to NBAStore.com’s sales from April through June, Westbrook’s jersey finished the season No. 9 among all players. Westbrook was sixth overall from October 2017 to April 2018. The Thunder wrapped the season ninth in most popular team merchandise, the smallest market among the Top 10 teams. The Golden State Warriors topped the team merchandise list. Warriors guard Stephen Curry was No. 1 in individual jerseys.”

SLAM recaps Russell Westbrook’s trip to Paris with Jordan Brand: “Russell Westbrook rolled through to Wagram Pavillon and sat down next to Billie Eilish and Don C. The trio was out in Paris for the launch of Jordan Brand’s Fall 2018 line. But Russ lost his voice and apologized, with a laugh and smile, to the group of international media sitting in front of him for not being as talkative. Eilish and Don C kept the pace. Eilish, who’s just 17, had the Brodie shaking his head as she ran through why the Air Jordan I counts as her favorite J. And Don’s combo of energetic excitement and passion had the room buzzing. Westbrook was laced in the low-cut Russell Westbrook 0.3. He was rocking threads from his upcoming Why Not? fashion line, too.”

Around the League: Why teams can get good free agents at a low cost…. Expiring contracts to watch out for in trade talks…. The Spurs will talk to the Lakers and Celtics about Kawhi Leonard…. The Mavericks plan on trying to land DeAndre Jordan again….  Thad Young is staying in Indiana…. All the latest LeBron free agency buzz…. The top 40 free agents of the summer.