Alec Nathan (B/R) on Jerami Grant’s comments about his future: “Jerami Grant believes he has a good chance of returning to the Oklahoma City Thunder next season as he prepares to enter free agency this summer. “I definitely think it’s a possibility,” Grant told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Friday at the NBA combine in Chicago. “I know it’s a lot of moving pieces but I definitely think it’s a great possibility me being there. There’s a lot of things they have to figure out but I think it’s a good chance.” Grant, 24, joined the Thunder in November 2016 following a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.”
Berry Tramel on Sam Presti not being ready for a rebuild: “Those who call for Thunder rebuilding have no appreciation for what the NBA wilderness is like. And no reason they should. We’ve never had to go through it. We have no idea how dreary the existence in Orlando or Charlotte or Phoenix or Chicago, where one bad season becomes five, where losing becomes ingrained in the culture, where “Wait ‘til next decade” replaces “Wait ‘til next year.” Eventually, we’ll experience it. Compounded dismal seasons, where hope has caught the last train for the coast and great expectations are longing for an eighth seed and a taste of the playoffs. But for now, the Thunder should keep swinging away. And Presti intends to. Presti’s post-season verbiage was telling. He did not sugarcoat the disappointment. Didn’t propose the guillotine for usual suspects Billy Donovan or Carmelo Anthony or even himself. But Presti did admit that the 2017-18 season was not up to Thunder standards.”
Brett Dawson on the Thunder’s options regarding Kyle Singler: “The 2018-19 season is the final guaranteed year of the contact Singler signed in July 2015. It will pay him $5.3 million next season. As Singler moves into the final guaranteed year of the deal — the 2019-20 season is not guaranteed — the Thunder has more realistic options with that contract than in the past. A trade is more viable this summer, given that a new team would be on the hook for only one season of Singler’s salary. A team looking to open cap space in the summer of 2020 could consider taking Singler in a deal. And though the Thunder was reluctant to waive Singler with multiple years left on his contract, a release or buyout makes more sense with one guaranteed season remaining. If OKC chose to, it could employ the stretch provision, paying the remaining $5.3 million of Singler’s salary over the next five years.”
Grant Hughes (B/R) lists Trevor Ariza as a realistic free agency option for OKC: “OKC is in danger of paying the repeater tax in 2018-19 if it keeps most of this core together. George’s return would be particularly costly, boosting payroll to $150 million with an astronomical tax bill of $123 million on top, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Suffice it to say, every dollar the Thunder spend to address their wing depth counts. It’s a long shot, but maybe the mini mid-level exception would be enough to land unrestricted free agent Trevor Ariza. He could hit a standstill three, defend a couple of positions and give OKC some veteran experience at the position. It seems likely Ariza, 32, will stick with the Houston Rockets. They could pay him more and will offer a better chance to win as he enters the final few years of his career. Still, he’s the type of talent the Thunder should pursue.”
Brad Rowland (DIME Mag) with five prospects the Thunder should target in the NBA Draft: “Rawle Alkins – SG, Arizona – Alkins will billed as a 3-and-D prospect that nearly remained in the draft a year ago but, after a brutal season at Arizona (for almost everyone), he has slipped on some draft boards. It is conceivable that a team falls in love within the top 40 picks but, if teams weigh Alkins’ tape from his most recent season, the Thunder may have a chance to nab him.”
Erik Horne on what needs to change for Billy Donovan: “Donovan, who has two years at a reported total of $12 million left on his contract, could stand to diversify the Thunder’s offense. The Thunder’s offense ground to a sluggish 100.7 points per 100 possessions, 15th out of 16 teams, in the playoffs. It was predictable and lacking variety, looking closer to the version of the Thunder which started 8-12 in the regular season than a finished product. The Thunder did show improvement after that stretch. By the end of the season, OKC was one of just four teams in the NBA (Houston, Golden State, Toronto, Oklahoma City) ranked in the Top 10 in defensive and offensive efficiency. Yet, as good as Utah’s defense was against the Thunder, it was battered for 109 points per 100 possessions against Houston in the second round.”
Dave Schilling (B/R) on the hell of being heckled in the NBA: “But again, like Hood or Westbrook, sometimes you snap. Westbrook wasn’t fined for shoving the Nuggets fan away or telling the Jazz fan to “back the f–k up” when he went into the tunnel for halftime. The key difference is, as Westbrook said after the Game 6 incident in Utah, he did not confront the fans. The fans confronted him. “Here in Utah, man, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players here with these fans,” Westbrook said. “It’s truly disrespectful—about your families, your kids. It’s truly disrespectful to the game, man. I think it’s something that needs to be brought up. “I’m tired of just going out and playing; then the fans saying whatever the hell they want to say. I’m not with that. If I was on the street, they wouldn’t just come up to me and say anything crazy, because I don’t play that s–t. So, to disrespect me and do whatever they want to do needs to be put to a stop, especially here in Utah.”
Around the League: The Warriors returned to form to take a 2-1 lead in the WCF…. Mike D’Antoni said the Rockets played soft…. The Cavs blew out the Celtics over the weekend…. Luka Doncic won the Euroleague title/MVP and will soon make a decision about the NBA…. Charles Barkley had more provoking comments about Draymond Green…. Are the T-Wolves and Karl-Anthony Towns headed for a breakup?…. The Suns are open to trading the No. 1 pick in the draft.