RealGM on the Thunder likely taking the waive-and-stretch approach with Carmelo Anthony: “With cap space teams like the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls making moves, it appears as though the Oklahoma City Thunder will be unable to trade away the contract of Carmelo Anthony. The Thunder would have to attach multiple assets to Anthony to incentivize a team to take on his $28 million salary. “At some point here, it is expected they’ll do a waive-and-stretch on Carmelo Anthony,” said Adrian Wojnarowski. The Thunder will receive significant luxury tax savings by using the stretch provision on Anthony. Anthony is widely expected to sign with the Houston Rockets when he becomes a free agent.”
Kelly Scaletta (B/R) on why Melo fits better in Houston than he did in OKC: “While Anthony was good in catch-and-shoots last season with a 54.3 effective field-goal percentage, he shot pull-up jumpers on 39.1 percent of his attempts, and he sported a 42.4 percent effective field-goal percentage on such shots. Paul can change that dynamic. The pair is a great fit stylistically. They both prefer to play a measured pace. Paul likes to probe a defense while yo-yoing the ball on his dribble, jab-stepping in and out, directing potential shooters, manipulating defenses and maneuvering chess pieces. The primary difference between Olympic Melo and NBA Melo probably comes down to his willingness to play off the ball instead of holding onto it, which allows defenses to collapse on him. Olympic Melo put himself into positions to get the shot off before he got the ball. That’s where his fit with Paul is perfect.”
Erik Horne reviews the Thunder’s Summer League performances: “Stock up: Hamidou Diallo. Diallo shouldn’t have lasted until the No. 45 pick in the draft. In Las Vegas, the 19-year-old showcased elite athleticism, was efficient (20-of-41 shooting), rebounded well (4.8 per game) for 6-5, and showed the ability to handle the ball on the fast break. Could he make a Thunder roster that wants to play faster? The Thunder minimized Diallo’s responsibility on offense in Las Vegas and he needs to continue to improve his perimeter shot, but purchasing his draft rights from Charlotte was a nice, low-risk play by Sam Presti.”
Dan Favale (B/R) has the Thunder on his list of under-the-radar contenders: “Oklahoma City posted a plus-9.7 net rating in the time George and Westbrook played without him compared to a plus-6.1 when all three took the court together, according to Cleaning The Glass. Replacing Anthony’s minutes may still be hard. The Thunder enjoyed limited success when subbing him out for Jerami Grant or Patrick Patterson, per Cleaning The Glass. But that says more about the teensy-tiny sample sizes than anything else. Grant and Patterson are both superior defensive options at power forward. Grant only needs to shoot something like 33 percent from deep to be a primo asset, and Patterson will look better after an offseason that doesn’t include left knee surgery. Oklahoma City could hit on some Alex Abrines and Terrance Ferguson lineup iterations as well. Bake in the Nerlens Noel addition, and a fully healthy Thunder squad has the defensive switchability to make life hell on the NBA’s elite. If it turns out the Rockets really, really (really) miss Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute, you could be looking at the West’s No. 2 seed. Seriously.”
Brett Dawson on Nerlens Noel looking for a fresh start in OKC: “Nerlens Noel calls it “my dog.” He means a side of his playing personality that comes out when he’s at his most intense, his most energetic. The Thunder’s newest free-agent acquisition has displayed it during his four seasons in the NBA — even on teams that mostly played dead — but by his own admission, not often enough. “I definitely want to bring my dog out,” Noel said last week after watching a Thunder Summer League game from a courtside seat. “It’s been a while. It comes in spurts, the situations I was in. But I want to have it out on a nightly basis, playing with that energy and that joy.”
Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) on it being Russell Westbrook’s time: “Now is his moment. More than it was two seasons ago when he led a team short on star power and averaged a triple-double out of necessity. More than it was last season when he had the star power alongside him, though not enough or the right formula — and he sure didn’t need Andre Roberson going down to injury — when his triple-double average was a late-season afterthought. Now we know who the stars are. It’s Westbrook and Paul George and maybe Steven Adams is a star, too. It may not be the John, Paul, George and Ringo lineup of Golden State, yet might put the Thunder in The Who strata of Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle. Things have settled. Now has to be the first time in a long time, maybe ever, that Westbrook’s stood at the starting line of the rest of his career with a sense of stability and continuity in line with his ambition.”
Zach Buckley (B/R) has the Thunder at no. 5 in his NBA power rankings: “Few offseason winners can approach the riches collected by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their previous gamble on Paul George paid off in a massive way once the five-time All-Star put pen to paper on a new four-year, $137 million pact. They upped their defensive versatility and frontcourt athleticism by bringing back Jerami Grant and adding Nerlens Noel. They kept the sturdy Raymond Felton for the minimum. It still goes down as a wildly pricey summer given their previous expenditures, but the talent pool runs deep behind the George-Russell Westbrook duo. “The Thunder hit a winter groove after a rocky start and might have continued apace had Andre Roberson not ruptured his left patellar tendon,” ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe wrote. “The Westbrook/George/Roberson/Steven Adams foursome was among the nastiest and best four-man groups in the league.”
Around the League: Jabari Parker signed with the Bulls…. Shabazz Napier is headed to Brooklyn…. Jimmy Butler turned down a contract extension with the Timberwolves…. Magic Johnson discusses the Lakers’ 3-year plan…. The best, surprising, and disappointing rookies at Summer League…. Collin Sexton and the young Cavs are ready to run….. Kawhi Leonard is eligible for the supermax in San Antonio…. A new CBA proposal to help cure the NBA.