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Friday Bolts: 8.31.18

Mike Chiari (B/R) on the Thunder waiving and stretching Kyle Singler: “The Oklahoma City Thunder reportedly waived small forward Kyle Singler on Thursday. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, OKC will use the stretch provision on the final year of Singler’s contract. By using the stretch provision, the Thunder will spread Singler’s remaining cap hit out over multiple years rather than incurring the full cap hit in 2018-19. Wojnarowski noted that the move will save the Thunder $23.4 million in salary and luxury tax this year.”

Erik Horne on how waiving Singler helps the Thunder now and later: “By waiving Singler, the Thunder will beat the Friday deadline to use the stretch provision and have it apply to this season. The stretch provision allows the Thunder to stretch out Singler’s guaranteed money remaining over the next five seasons. The Thunder will have close to $1 million in dead money on its cap until the 2023-24 season, which should do minimal damage to its salary based on NBA salary cap projections. Most importantly, the Thunder saves more than $20 million in luxury taxes this season by waving Singler now and cutting the salary it pays him this season from $4.9 million to $999,200… So, the stretch provision existed as an option for the Thunder to help itself financially now while it continues to be limited in what incentives it can offer other teams. The Thunder lost on the Singler deal, and Thursday was its attempt to rectify, primarily in luxury tax savings which can potentially be reinvested into the team.”

Bobby Marks (ESPN) updates the luxury tax situation around the league: “The current standings for the 8 teams in the luxury tax: 1) OKC-$73.75M 2) GSW- $44.70M 3) TOR- $34.50M 4) HOU- $20.44M 5) WAS- $18.32M 6) POR- $12.58M 7) BOS- $6.03M and 8) MIA- $4.86M. The 22 teams below the tax currently project to receive $4.88M in distribution money. That number is a projection and will increase or decrease by the end of the regular season. Last season, 26 teams received $2.21M.”

Joseph Nation (The Step Back) on Kevin Hervey’s opportunity with Singler out of the picture: “On Thursday, the Thunder waived Kyle Singler, with intent to use the stretch provision on him and escape $23.4 million in salary and tax obligations for a player who, realistically, wasn’t going to see much playing time. It’s entirely possible they, like other tax or near tax teams, may choose to only carry 14 players under contract into the season rather than pay a premium for a minimum salary player. But Kevin Hervey, one of their three second round picks from this year, should aim to justify taking that spot. Hervey, drafted out of small school Texas-Arlington, is an extremely talented player. At 6-foot-8 he possesses a 7-foot-3.5 inch wingspan, the fluidity to move with wings, and a projectable jump shot. He also performed well in the combine scrimmages, and practically speaking, is a lot more talented than you would expect the 57th overall pick to be.”

Ben Stinar (Amico Hoops) spoke with Anthony Morrow about Westbrook, Durant, the Thunder, and more: “I feel like they outgrew each other,” Morrow said of Westbrook and Durant. “They tried it for 10 years; they went to the Finals. I tell them all the time after the fact. … I think they just outgrew each other in terms of their personalities and their games.” He added that Durant and Westbrook are back to being friends again, and the whole thing was never personal. “You see how they communicate and interact now,” Morrow said. “It was never anything personal or some life stuff, and the media spun it to make it like this big beef.” A lot has been made of the ultra-competitive Western Conference this season, and no one has been giving the current Thunder team a shot. But Morrow sees Westbrook as having the capability to take the Thunder far this season. “I think they’ll go further in the playoffs than they went last season,” Morrow said. “They got a chance to make the Western Conference Finals. He’s got Paul, he’s got Steven Adams, I swear I really think that he definitely has a chance. It’s going to come down to if they can get past Golden State, or will Golden State break up. This year may be his best year to get back to the Finals.”

Paolo Uggetti (Ringer) on whether or not we’ve seen the best of the Thunder: “After two tumultuous years, OKC heads into this season with a roster that’s more complete than either of the past two iterations. Their 11 highest-paid players are all in between 24 and 29 years old. Since they traded Melo, there’s no longer a prideful elder statesman they have to appease. It’s addition by subtraction, and with low-risk, high-upside reserve acquisitions like Dennis Schröder and Nerlens Noel, the Thunder might be one of the deepest teams in the league. And at perhaps the perfect time too. In the West, the Lakers have LeBron but also a plethora of unknowns. The Jazz are, at the end of the day, still relying on a 21-year-old in Donovan Mitchell, and the Rockets didn’t improve much on paper this summer, trading consistent role players for wild cards that could backfire. No one is going to match the Warriors’ offensive talent, but if everything clicks, OKC’s defense should be stout enough to present a tough roadblock on their way to another Finals.”

Gerald Bourguet (Hoops Habit) ranks Steven Adams as the eighth-best center in the NBA: “In his fifth NBA season, Adams put up 13.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game on 62.9 percent shooting. With the exception of blocks, those were all career bests. With Melo gone, the ball should move a bit more in Paul George‘s second season with the team. Adams will never be a go-to option on offense as long as Russell Westbrook and PG-13 are around, but with Russ and Dennis Schroder feeding him, Adam’s offensive impact could blossom. Even if that doesn’t happen, his spine-shattering screens, hard-nosed defense and underrated passing will be as noteworthy as ever.”

Andrew Joseph (For The Win) on the Lakers’ Josh Hart throwing away his Nike PG sneakers: “Hart posted a video to his Instagram Story on Thursday, showing him toss a bunch of Nike sneakers into a trash can. George’s Nike PG sneakers were included in the pile of discarded footwear. It may have seemed a bit wasteful, but the Lakers guard had a solid reason for it all. He said that he’s too competitive to wear the signature shoes of an opponent. The caption read, “Too competitive to wear people shoes I compete against.”

Around the League: The Rockets and Suns completed an interesting trade late last night…. An ex-Kings exec is suspected of embezzling $13 million…. Chris Bosh is still considering an NBA comeback…. Aaron Rodgers said NFL players lack the contract leverage NBA players enjoy…. The most overrated/underrated players in NBA 2K19…. YouTube TV detailed its NBA League Pass pricing.