We unlocked the latest “Weekend Edition” for all (typically a Patreon exclusive). Shouts to ThunderChick, Justin, ShootorShootnot, OKCJim, and @Jhickness9 for making “Do Read the Comments” in the newsletter.
Erik Horne and Tony Jones (The Athletic) preview the “if there is a postseason” Thunder/Jazz playoff series: “As good as Utah’s backcourt was, and as good as the Jazz backcourt has the ability to be against OKC in a seven-game series, the Thunder backcourt may be a little better. Why? Because OKC’s biggest strength as a backcourt coincides with Utah’s biggest weakness as a backcourt: The ability to beat people off the dribble, opposed to Utah’s inability to contain people off the dribble as a backcourt. Jazz fans know how good Chris Paul is, and how good he can be in a series. The Jazz try to drop Rudy Gobert into the paint defensively when defending pick-and-roll, inviting the midrange jumper. Paul may be the best midrange shooting point guard in NBA history. That’s how good he is from 15 to 18 feet. Gilgeous-Alexander and Schröder are similarly terrific in the lane. All three can get from point A to point B off the dribble, pretty much at will. All three collapse a defense and wreak havoc once their feet touch the paint.”
Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) reports that NBA teams will be reopening practice facilities where permitted by states with relaxed stay-at-home measures. Players can work out, but not together. Presumably this includes the Thunder, as Oklahoma is one of the states most aggressively reopening after the COVID-19 lockdown.
Whether you’re upset by Oklahoma’s pandemic response or not (as a non-local, I’ll keep my thoughts to myself), here’s a story from Hayley at The Lost Ogle on all of the objectively good things Oklahomans are doing to take care of each other in the crisis.
Wojnarowski also reports that the NBA’s G-Leauge players voted on unionizing Saturday, and that the Bulls hired Marc Eversley as their new GM under Arturas Karnisovas.
Danilo Gallinari told an Italian radio station that he’d love to finish his career in Italy (transcription via Sportando): “Absolutely, it would be great to play a couple of seasons at a high level in the EuroLeague and win with that team. I’d like to finish my career in this way.”
Maddie Lee (The Oklahoman) also passes along some of Donovan’s comments about the Thunder’s crazy coronavirus night and his coaching tree, delivered on a webinar: “I thought(it was just Donnie Strack) helping the officials: ‘Hey, if you need to keep the ball wiped down, if you need to wash your hands during a timeout, here things are available on the sidelines for you guys.’ I just thought he was talking to them because we had had some education on how to do hand-washing, sanitizing, that kind of stuff. Social distancing wasn’t in at that point in time. And then, right after that, while he was talking to the officials, one of our assistant general managers ran out there, and they were huddled up, and then I knew something was going on.”
Anthony Morrow reminisced about his Thunder days with Joe Mussatto (The Oklahoman). “When (Durant) first left, I would see clips of (Westbrook’s) workouts. I’m looking at his body, I see him playing pickup in L.A., and I’m like, ‘He’s locked in.’ He’s gonna come back like a robot or something, and he did. We were watching him at times. It was that amazing how he was playing. But he had a chip on his shoulder. That’s Russ in a nutshell when it comes to basketball. But when I saw him and Kev over time being back cordial, at the All-Star game, still wasn’t the best of friends, but they weren’t the best of friends in OKC either. They’re like brothers though. I think that relationship is definitely far more healed than I think people realize. When you look up one day, Russ is going to be speaking, and they’re going to be retiring Kevin’s jersey. One day.”
Russell Westbrook and James Harden get the “I don’t like” honors in Zach Lowe’s (ESPN) latest 10 Things column: “Westbrook chasing that rebound is fine. When he flies in from nowhere and snares an offensive board, it sucks away some of the opponent’s will. But he lurks too long nipping at Kristaps Porzingis — the NBA version of pestering a goalie. James Harden compounds that by lurching for a steal. Harden might lead the league in this. He is sneaky good at it. Even so, his hit rate — especially against good teams who know his tendencies, and can punish Houston in transition — doesn’t quite justify how frequently he risks it. Westbrook sometimes jogs when a crisis requires urgency. His first step can be shockingly slow.”
Remember when Enes Kanter ended Tim Duncan’s career?
If you like “The Last Dance” and Kobe Bryant, you can look forward to another round of player-steered legacy cinematics. Baxter Holmes (ESPN) reports that Bryant had his own camera crew documenting his last season with the Lakers in 2015-16.
Thunder Broadcast Analyst Michael Cage talked about his experience playing both with and against Michael Jordan: