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Monday Bolts: 6.18.18

Corey Hansford (Lakers Nation) on the latest Paul George rumors: “Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania appeared on the Yahoo NBA Podcast with Chris Mannix and explained the possibility of George re-signing with the Thunder could very well come down to a strong relationship he has with Westbrook: “LeBron James is probably the biggest domino that is gonna to drop. Until the league gets ahold of what his aspirations are, Paul George could very well decide I’m staying in Oklahoma City and I’m not even going to wait for what LeBron James is going to do. But that’s gonna be a conversation that’s probably going to need to be had privately among both parties. But, listen, Paul George has become really close with Russell Westbrook, and I think that’s a relationship you can’t quantify. That means a lot for the Thunder franchise. They might be bonding better than KD and Russell Westbrook did during Kevin Durant’s free agency. They’re spending a lot of time just doing what friends do, and I think that could go a long way for Oklahoma City as it goes into July 1.”

Brett Dawson on the Thunder hoping to find value in the second round of the Draft: “Nine of the past 10 drafts has produced at least one second-round pick who, as of this offseason, has a career double-digit scoring average. The lone exception is the 2013 draft, and even that one is close. Allen Crabbe is averaging 9.5 points per game in his career. The Thunder isn’t likely to find an MVP on Thursday, but there could be some value in the two bottom-10 picks it holds — either as developmental players or the means to get future picks. “There’s a lot of different ways you can use them,” said Bobby Marks, ESPN’s NBA front-office analyst. “You can keep it. You can trade out for something for next year. You can trade it for cash if that’s what you want to do.” Or you can try to find a player worth developing. And there’s a new way to develop them.”

Adam Fromal (B/R) has West Virginia’s Jevon Carter as the Thunder’s dream target in Thursday’s Draft: “The Oklahoma City Thunder must find a capable backup for Russell Westbrook as they seek to keep him fresh for the inevitable playoff push, which means they’re not just looking for the highest-upside talent at the 1. They also need to unearth someone who can contribute from day one, because Raymond Felton is about to turn 34 years old, isn’t as impactful as he once was and is preparing to enter free agency. Fortunately for OKC, that type of prospect exists. During the 2017-18 NCAA season, not a single player earned higher marks in NBA Math’s TPA metric than Jevon Carter. The West Virginia floor general was a bona fide two-way stud, playing pesky defense that should translate to the NBA when he wasn’t calmly spearheading the Mountaineers’ attack. Even if he struggles to finish on the inside against bigger defenders, the 6’5″ Carter has the spot-up acumen necessary to avoid becoming a complete offensive liability as he moves toward functioning as one of the NBA’s best defensive guards.”

Brett Dawson on Brian Davis not returning as the Thunder’s play-by-play announcer: “For 10 seasons, Brian Davis has been the play-by-play voice of the Thunder on local TV. He won’t fill that role for an 11th. The team informed Davis on Friday that his contract won’t be renewed for the 2018-19 season and announced that, in conjunction with Fox Sports Oklahoma, it will “now begin the search for a new play-by-play announcer.” Davis just completed the final season on a four-year contract. The Thunder offered no comment beyond a team-issued statement saying the club “has made a decision to go in a different direction.” “We greatly appreciate Brian’s contributions to the Thunder organization over the past 10 years and we wish him well in the future,” the statement read. Davis did not return a text message from The Oklahoman seeking comment but posted on his Facebook page that coming to Oklahoma City was “the best thing that ever happened to me” and that he’ll be “forever grateful, especially to (owner) Clay Bennett for asking me to be a part of” Thunder basketball.”

Dan Favale (B/R) has OKC on his list of teams that could be surprise contenders next season: “Signing with the Los Angeles Lakers will tug at George’s heartstrings, but the Thunder can offer him an extra year and higher annual raises. That financial security could play heavily with someone who isn’t four years removed from a devastating leg injury.  Landing in Hollywood also doesn’t guarantee him a crack at the reigning champs. Even if he makes the move in tandem with LeBron James, even if the Lakers flip some of their kiddies for a third star, the Warriors remain out of reach. The resulting Lakers wouldn’t have the depth to tout more than an outside chance at taking home the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Oklahoma City is a safer bet in that sense. The Carmelo Anthony situation is less than ideal ($27.9 million early termination option), but Andre Roberson’s return changes everything. The starting five pummeled opponents by 14.2 points per 100 possessions with him in it—third-best mark among 29 lineups to total at least 300 minutes.”

Adam Wells (B/R) on the LeBron James billboards in Oklahoma City: “Per Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman, Oklahoma City Thunder fan Jason Reince, who is also the national sales coordinator for Lamar Advertising, set up a billboard in the city that reads “#LeBron2OKC” and includes a crown over the C. While Reince settled on the idea to pitch James on the Thunder, it wasn’t his first concept for a billboard. “I really wanted to do ‘LeBron2AnywhereButTheWarriors,'” Reince told Dawson. “As long as he doesn’t go there, that’s fine.”

Nick Gallo on the Thunder moving forward with positivity and belief: “There’s belief that this group can get it together with the benefit of a full summer together, health heading into September’s training camp and a season’s worth of experience together under its belt. But more than anything the bullishness comes from the attitude that surrounded the team through the thick and thin of a grueling and challenging regular season and playoffs. The interpersonal relationships, chemistry and commitment to the team over the individual on the court and off of it was sensational from the moment training camp started through the final whistle of Round 1, Game 6 in Salt Lake City when the Thunder fell to the Utah Jazz. Westbrook opened up the locker room, the team, his game and himself as a human being to George and Anthony. The duo of perennial All-Star forwards responded in kind. Communication was high. Any issues were addressed appropriately, and strong bonds were built.”

Jon Hamm (B/R) on whether or not Thunder fans would ever welcome Kevin Durant back to OKC: “KD may need a new challenge one day. If he does, his next chapter could happen somewhere with a little less cushion. The NBA would be his buffet if he ever did. If he follows James’ career arc, that would logically lead him back to Oklahoma City. A reunion between Durant and the Thunder isn’t realistic, at least any time soon. The two-time NBA champion has already stated his intention to return to Golden State, and Oklahoma City’s focus is on re-signing star forward Paul George. Fans have since rallied behind All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, who has re-upped his commitment to OKC twice since his former co-star’s departure. Durant has given a number of reasons—on purpose and accidentally—to explain his decision to leave Oklahoma City. Most recently, he described a need for validation from his peers. He may have earned it from some, but others have voiced differing opinions.”

Around the League: Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio…. How the Celtics can land Kawhi…. Will Kawhi help the Lakers land LeBron James?…. The Suns won’t offer San Antonio the No. 1 pick for Kawhi…. Two decades later, the Spurs may have to rebuild…. Shaq believes LeBron doesn’t need more rings to cement his legacy…. Second-Round sleepers in the NBA Draft…. Latest LA Times Mock Draft…. Final top 100 draft prospect rankings.