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Monday Bolts: 7.30.18

Timothy Rapp (B/R) on Steven Adams discussing his depression in his autobiography: “In those first few months at Pitt, I thought seriously about chucking it all in, quitting America and going home to New Zealand where I was more comfortable. I would say at least half of what I was feeling was, in fact, homesickness and nothing to do with basketball. It’s not easy being completely alone in a new school as well as a new country. The usual advice to make friends and create a family didn’t work for me. I got through it with sheer determination and the knowledge that it wasn’t forever. If it would get me to a career in basketball, I was willing to put up with some lonely, painful years. The moment I stop enjoying basketball, I’ll quit. Things were heading that way when I was at Pitt, and if there was one thing I knew, it was that I had to leave before it ruined the game for me forever.”

Erik Horne on Kenny McFadden — the man who shaped Steven Adams: “You’d have as much success inventing time travel as getting Adams to talk about himself, but McFadden isn’t afraid to talk about his star pupil, the hardest worker he’s ever had. A few times when Adams was in college, he felt he wasn’t getting enough work in at Pitt (NCAA practice restrictions will do that), and it wasn’t as varied as the multi-positional practices McFadden was putting him through. So, McFadden flew in from New Zealand, often training Adams for an hour or more even he’d just played a Big East game. He lived with Adams in Edmond his first three years in the NBA. When Adams began to emerge under the tutelage of Thunder assistant coach Mark Bryant, McFadden returned to New Zealand confident “he became a man.”

The Thunder officially signed Hamidou Diallo: “The Oklahoma City Thunder has signed guard Hamidou Diallo, it was announced today by Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Diallo (6-5, 198) was acquired by the Thunder earlier this month. Originally selected on June 22 by the Brooklyn Nets with the 45th overall pick, the Kentucky product started all 37 games as a redshirt freshman and averaged 10.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 24.8 minutes per game and scored in double figures in 16 games. A native of Queens, N.Y., Diallo represented the U.S. in the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup where in seven games he averaged 10.9 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 18.2 minutes per contest. He also won gold at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.”

Grant Hughes (B/R) ranks the Thunder front office as seventh-best in the NBA: “The Anthony deal not only netted Schroder and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, but it also trimmed $61 million off Oklahoma City’s tax bill. The Thunder could have saved more by stretching Melo’s salary, but moving on from him via trade underscored the organization’s commitment to winning—even at great financial cost. Presti’s longer track record includes highs and lows. He identified elite talent in the draft—Kevin Durant, Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka—but lost three of the four. And the one remaining, Westbrook, is on a deal that’ll pay him over $46 million in 2022-23. That’s…not ideal. Still, the Thunder always stay aggressive, add talent and maintain a professional environment. Few organizations could weather the loss of so many stars over the years, but the Thunder keep finding ways to compete.”

Pradhan Muthanna (Intnl Business Times) on the rumor that KD will consider OKC next summer: “The 29-year-old has been linked with a number of franchises if and when he becomes a free agent in 2019 with the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers said to be interested. He was spotted with LeBron James in Los Angeles earlier this month leading to talks about a potential union at the Staples Center. However, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Mannix believes Durant could consider returning to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2019 — the franchise he spent nine years with before joining the Warriors. A move that earned him a whole lot of criticism and continues do so.  The move, which occurred in 2016, was seen as soft — as it occurred immediately after the Thunder were beaten by the Warriors 4-3 in the West Finals. He was accused of “joining the Stephen Curry’s bandwagon,” but has proven many of his naysayers wrong by winning the two championships since and with it back-to-back NBA Finals MVPs. Mannix is of the view that he could consider making a sensational return as his relationship with the franchise is still on solid ground and his fallout with Russell Westbrook is on the mend. It remains to be seen what Durant will decide in 2019, but until then he remains favorite to pick up a third straight NBA title with the Warriors next season.”

Berry Tramel on the reception Paul George will get in OKC next season: “Then came the wee hours of June 30. George, against all odds, committed to the Thunder, not just for one year, but for at least three. An immigrant, not a homegrown star, had bought a long voyage upon the prairie schooner. And so I asked. Does George have any idea what adulation awaits when the Thunder public gets a chance to express its gratitude? He laughed. “You know what, I don’t like to look at it that way,” George said Friday after a USA Basketball practice. “If anything, I think it was what I saw, and what I felt could be, that helped the decision, that made me feel confident and comfortable about the decision. “The fact that they embraced me from day one was very special to me and my family, and that definitely weighed on me during my full year, full season being in Oklahoma.”

Dan Favale (B/R) on the biggest hole for every NBA team: Oklahoma City Thunder: Proven Spot-Up Shooting. And now for a look at where every Oklahoma City Thunder wing rated on the spot-up-efficiency scale last season (note: Kyle Singler didn’t burn through enough possessions to qualify): Alex Abrines: 74.9 percentile, Terrance Ferguson: 36.8 percentile, Paul George: 92.7 percentile, Jerami Grant: 34.5 percentile, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot:42.4 percentile, Andre Roberson: 9.9 percentile. Just for kicks: Neither Dennis Schroder (18.4) nor Russell Westbrook (33.6) finished in the 35th percentile of spot-up efficiency last year. They’re not going to be off-ball beacons in smaller lineups. Stir in the complete absence of shooting at the center position beyond Patrick Patterson, and the Thunder face more confined operating room than in 2017-18. Don’t be surprised if they tumble outside the top 10 of points scored per 100 possessions after barely making last year’s cut.”

Jeff Zillgitt & Sam Amick (USA Today) grade the offseason team-by-team: Oklahoma City Thunder: A. Paul George’s decision to stay on a four-year max deal was a major win for GM Sam Presti, who also added Nerlens Noel, re-signed young big man Jerami Grant and inked veteran Raymond Felton. The Thunder also landed 24-year-old Dennis Schroder in a trade with Atlanta.”

Around the League: LeBron has opened a school for at-risk students in Akron…. The complicated legacy for LeBron in Ohio…. Clint Capela signed a long-term extension with the Rockets…. Zach Lowe on how to fix the NBA’s supermax problem…. Jimmer Fredette is playing like it’s 2011 again…. Dirk Nowitzki’s hilarious response to being randomly drug tested…. Is Dwyane Wade’s retirement decision coming soon?