6 min read

Monday Bolts: 7.23.18

Tim Bontemps (WaPo) on how the Melo-in-OKC experiment wasn’t a mistake: “In the aftermath of Carmelo Anthony’s brief but eventful tenure in Oklahoma City, which ended last week when he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks, it was easy to dismiss his time there as nothing short of a disaster. That point of view is understandable. Anthony’s production this past season dipped to its lowest point since his rookie year, and he proved unable to replicate his “Olympic Melo” persona from his highly successful stints with Team USA. He openly chafed at the thought of coming off the bench despite the fact that, had he done so, the Thunder likely would have been better off. In fact, his presence was damaging enough, at least from an on-court standpoint, that trading him could be viewed as a positive in the Thunder’s hopes for improvement. Still, even with that laundry list of issues, Oklahoma City is unquestionably better off for having had Anthony than never acquiring him from the New York Knicks in the first place. Why? Because of what Anthony is leaving behind.”

Marc Stein (NY Times) on Melo being set to sign with the Rockets: “Carmelo Anthony is planning to sign with the Houston Rockets upon clearing waivers in coming days, according to two people with knowledge of his plans. Anthony is unlikely to become a free agent before next week at the earliest because his pending trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Atlanta Hawks could take several days before it is officially completed, according to the people, who insisted on anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the trade publicly. But the three-way deal that also features the Philadelphia 76ers has been agreed to and is lined up to be executed after Philadelphia makes another roster move. The sharpshooter Kyle Korver of the Cleveland Cavaliers is among the players Philadelphia is known to be pursuing via trade before completing the three-way deal with Oklahoma City and Atlanta.”

Erik Horne on Dennis Schroder’s fit with the Thunder: “Two point guard lineups were en vogue last season. Houston won 65 games with James Harden and Chris Paul. New Orleans thoroughly dominated Portland in the first round of the playoffs with Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo. The difference in those pairings, however, is Paul and Holiday were operating at elite levels defensively to make up for any shortcomings from Harden or Rondo. Holiday and Paul have each been All-Defensive team selections in the last two seasons. Westbrook and Schroder have to prove they can be consistent and focused enough defensively to merit extended minutes together. Defensively, Westbrook can play bigger than his 6-foot-3 frame, able to switch onto forwards and even body them in the post. Schroder is less stout (6-2, 175) but has a 6-7 wingspan that can disrupt passing lanes.”

Scott Rafferty (Sporting News) on whether or not Schroder is worth the gamble for OKC: “The issue with Schröder is that his weaknesses on offense require him to have the ball in his hands to be effective. The fact that he had the same usage rate as Irving and Lillard last season won’t be much of a problem when he’s leading the second unit in Oklahoma City, but he’ll have to prove that he can play alongside Westbrook and Paul George for the three years and $46.5 million remaining on his contract to be worth it for the Thunder. Based on what we know about Schröder to this point of his career, he will struggle to share the court with the Thunder’s All-Stars. He’s had two encouraging seasons as a long-range shooter, the first coming in 2015-16, when he made 38.3 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts, and the second coming in 2016-17, when he made 39.6 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts. In his three other seasons with the Hawks, however, he made 30.3 percent of his catch-and-shoot 3-point attempts. Schröder took 125 3-point attempts in those situations last season, only to knock down 35 of them (28.0 percent). The majority of those were wide open, too. If he can’t develop into a more reliable threat from the perimeter, Schröder’s inability to space the floor will make it easier for teams to slow Westbrook and George down by clogging the paint.”

Dan Favale (B/R) has Schroder as one of his most untradeable contracts in the NBA: “Contract Details: 3 years, $46.5 million. Calling Schroder a starting-quality point guard is a tad too generous. He has a decent offensive motor, but his shot selection can be atrocious, and he’s a wild card from both beyond the arc and around the rim. He showed little to zero ability to improve the play of those around him when Atlanta stripped its roster of All-Stars. Other teams won’t look at Schroder’s contract wearing Oklahoma City’s goggles. The Suns need a starting point guard and were never mentioned as strong Schroder admirers. The Orlando Magic were in the same boat and traded for Jerian Grant. And then we have the Hawks themselves. Their non-Mike Budenholzer regime drafted Trae Young and traded for Jeremy Lin with Schroder under lock and key.”

Cody Taylor (Thunder Wire) on why Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot should not be overlooked: “Luwawu-Cabarrot figures to bring an immense amount of athleticism to the Thunder and projects to play well in their system. He also gives the team another sound defender in the second unit. He averaged 6.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 69 games for the 76ers two years ago, but his production dropped a bit down to 5.8 points in 52 games last season. The dip in production is likely a result of his various knee injuries that lingered throughout the season and he just wasn’t able to get anything consistent going. Many that watched Luwawu-Cabarrot play last season noticed his explosiveness was missing and that was likely due to the knee injury he battled so we should see some of that explosiveness return now that he’s apparently healthy again.”

Brett Dawson on Dakari Johnson being traded to Orlando: “On Friday, the team took another step that could create some savings, agreeing to trade center Dakari Johnson to the Orlando Magic for guard Rodney Purvis. Johnson likely will be waived in Orlando, making him a free agent. The Thunder also could waive Purvis, whose salary is not guaranteed, to cut into its salary and tax bill. If the Thunder waives Purvis’ non-guaranteed contract, it would save about $6.5 million off its tax bill. Assuming it fills that roster spot with one of its second-round picks, the savings still would be about $2.7 million.”

Jonathan Abrams (B/R) on the relentless Russell Westbrook: “Now, after two triple-double seasons, seven All-Star selections, two All-Star Game MVPs, a league MVP and a host of other honors, Westbrook has proved relentlessness pays off. What’s more, he has never accepted the idea of a ceiling. Which is why he seems to think he can always improve. On everything. “I always like to put my game into perspective and try to figure out what I can do to be better,” Westbrook said. “I say everything all the time because that’s truly what I mean, and that’s what I have to do because I believe that I’m able to do that. I put pressure on myself every summer to make sure I come back better at something, whether it’s leadership—whatever it is, just be better and keep expanding and each year getting better and better.”

Adam Fromal (B/R) on every fanbase’s most depressing number heading into next season: “Oklahoma City Thunder: 31.6. The Number: Andre Roberson only shot 31.6 percent from the free-throw line in 2017-18. The Andre Roberson situation is a tricky one. Had he remained healthy rather than experiencing a patellar rupture that prematurely ended his campaign, he might have been enough to push the Oklahoma City Thunder beyond their first-round matchup with the Utah Jazz and into a position where they could at least challenge the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors. He was that impactful with his DPOY-caliber work on the preventing end, and the Thunder saw their net rating skyrocket by 7.5 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor. We can dive deeper. Per PBPStats.com, the Thunder posted a 3.5 net rating when Paul George and Russell Westbrook operated without Roberson. That number swelled to 13.8 when all three were operating in harmony. Unfortunately, Roberson’s missing shooting stroke makes him such an offensive liability that it’s still tough to justify playing him in key situations.”

ESPN has the Thunder at sixth in its NBA power rankings: “It’s not technically an addition, but re-signing Paul George really should count as one. The Thunder keeping George is their biggest moment ever in free agency, and it provides the franchise some much-needed stability. Sam Presti and the front office can finally evaluate the team on a long-term path, instead of rolling year into year with an eye on an unknown future. There might be an element of addition by subtraction with Melo, but Dennis Schroder fills a lot of needs. The Thunder have had an extremely successful summer, though we’ve said that about them before. Now, they’ve got to win some games.”

Around the League: Isaiah Thomas on his injury and how it impacted his future…. Alex Len is headed to Atlanta…. Michael Beasley is a Laker…. Another LeBron mural was vandalized in LA…. The best-case scenario for Kawhi and the Raptors…. Yes, Melo is a Hall of Famer.