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Monday Bolts: 6.25.18

Royce Young on Carmelo Anthony opting into the final year of his contract: “With the deadline passing Saturday, Carmelo Anthony did not exercise the early termination option on the final year of his contract to join the 2018 free-agent class. Anthony, officially a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder again next season, will earn $27.9 million in 2018-19 to complete the five-year, $120 million contract he signed with the New York Knicks in 2014. With Anthony back and the desire to re-sign Paul George to a max-level contract once free agency opens, the Thunder would have one of the largest payrolls in NBA history. ESPN’s Bobby Marks projects the Thunder’s salary to be close to $150 million, with a luxury tax hit of more than $120 million if George re-signs. Although the tax implications are jarring, the Thunder have positioned themselves financially to absorb the penalty.”

Chris Cwik (Yahoo Sports) on Melo taking shots at his critics on social media: “Carmelo Anthony is staying with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Anthony made that decision Saturday, which left some fans disappointed. Instead of taking their criticisms lying down, Anthony decided to respond with a photo on Instagram telling them to evaluate what’s important in life. Anthony posted a picture with the caption, “Oh, you mad, huh? Take a step back, evaluate what is important and enjoy life.” #STAYME7O” It’s pretty self-explanatory. He’s telling fans not to get mad about something that has no impact on them. He wants them to think about the things that are important to them and then try to enjoy those things.”

Sam Amick (USA Today) on Paul George and the future of LeBron James: “Remember when George was so hell-bent on joining the Lakers? Well, that was before he found his way out of Indiana and into an Oklahoma City situation that might suit him well after all. Even with the Thunder coming just two losses away from missing the playoffs, and then falling to Utah in six games during their first-round matchup, there is all sorts of optimism in Oklahoma City that George will re-sign. Conversely, there’s pessimism in James’ camp that George would leave Oklahoma City. George has raved about the Thunder since the beginning, making it clear to USA TODAY Sports in September that the organization had earned his confidence from the start.”

Brett Dawson on the Thunder’s free agency decisions outside of Paul George: “Carmelo Anthony never was much of a question. Paul George remains the big one. But with the start of NBA free agency less than a week away — the frenzy begins on Sunday — the Thunder has other uncertainties on its roster. Late Saturday night, the deadline passed for Anthony to terminate the final year of his contract. As expected, he remained in the final year, for which he’s owed $27.9 million. If he’s not with the Thunder when the season opens, it’ll likely be because he and the team decide he’d be a better fit elsewhere. The team is expected to have continuing conversations with Anthony about his role, but those conversations are hard to have until the Thunder knows what its roster will look like. The key question there is what George decides to do. Assuming he opts out of the final year of his contract, he’ll become a free agent, and whether he remains in Oklahoma City will go a long way in determining the Thunder’s makeup. But there are other moving parts, including these four free agents.”

Zach Buckley (B/R) with post-NBA Draft power rankings: “9. Oklahoma City Thunder. Focusing solely on the surface fails to reflect the impact of Andre Roberson’s season-ending ruptured patellar tendon. His shooting struggles have warped public perception of his importance. He had the club’s second-widest on/off split (plus-10.1 with him, plus-0.5 without), and the Thunder dominated when he played with Westbrook, George, Anthony and Steven Adams (plus-14.2 points per 100 possessions). Depth is a concern, but not a hopeless one. Alex Abrines and Terrance Ferguson are still early in their developmental stages, and the draft might have yielded at least one rotation member between second-rounders Hamidou Diallo (trade), Devon Hall (53rd) and Kevin Hervey (57). This all hinges on George’s decision. If he sticks around, OKC has a chance to be special.”

Jenni Carlson (NewsOK) on what the Thunder needs in its next play-by-play announcer: “The nature of the job produced fans and haters of Davis. The former may say the team will never find someone better than him to be on the local broadcast while the latter say it can’t do any worse. At this point, there’s been absolutely no hint about who the Thunder might hire. Then again, we’re talking about the NBA’s version of the Death Star. This franchise is secretive to the point of outrage once upon a time when one of our reporters tweeted a picture of a “pee-color scale” in a practice facility bathroom. If this bunch doesn’t want anyone to know what’s considered to be the healthiest color of pee — the lighter yellow, the better hydrated you are; anyone with Google can find that in about 3 seconds — it’s unlikely they’ll tell us who they’re thinking about hiring as the voice of the franchise.”

Mark Gilbert (Welcome to Loud City) on why the Thunder should trade Russell Westbrook: “As human beings, we have the proclivity of often holding on to people and things that aren’t necessarily good for us. This sentiment goes both ways, because in the next two years, the one powerful attribute that Westbrook has will inevitably and unforgivably diminish and likely with no championship to show for it, and it’s not fair to either party. Westbrook is a phenomenal, loyal player, and deserves a great coach and an actual system that he can fit in, instead of forcing every malleable thing to assimilate around his tendencies. It actually makes sense to trade him now while his value is still extremely high so that OKC can get back some really nice pieces to build around. Given the current state of the Thunder, do you honestly give Russ much of a chance to lead OKC to a championship? You know the answer to that. It’s time to move on.”

Kicks on Fire reviews the new Air Jordan 10 Russell Westbrook: “The Air Jordan 10 Russell Westbrook Class Of 2006 takes cues from Russell Westbrook’s Leuzinger High School, and it’s also covered in a perfect patriotic-inspired colorway with white, red, hyper royal mixed on the leather upper with nylon details. The shoe marks the first use of a split color design on the Air Jordan 10, while finishing details include “Class of 2006” printed on the left insole and the RW logo is featured on the right insole. Topping it all off is a black outsole with a split red and blue accents to match the pairs. Look for this Air Jordan 10 at select Jordan Brand stores and online on June 30 for $130.”

Around the League: LeBron doesn’t want elaborate recruiting pitches this summer…. Everything you need to know about tonight’s NBA Awards Show…. The Mavs think Luka Doncic could be a Nowitski-esque franchise cornerstone…. Dwyane Wade wants to bring an NBA team back to Seattle…. Bruce Bowen has strong words for Kawhi Leonard…. Free agency news/buzz tracker…. The three most intriguing teams of the 2018 NBA Draft.