6 min read

Monday Bolts: 7.9.18

Sam Amick (USA Today) on Carmelo Anthony’s potential suitors: Lakers, Rockets, Knicks, Heat / “The revelation that Carmelo Anthony won’t spend next season in Oklahoma City is hardly a surprise. Before you even get to the basketball debate, there’s an economics element that’s impossible to ignore. If the Thunder use the NBA’s stretch provision to waive Anthony by Aug. 31, they could save approximately $94 million off their payroll that skyrocketed when Paul George decided to return on a four-year, $137 million deal. The Thunder are also exploring trades for Anthony that would lead to massive savings, but he has a no-trade clause and thus would have to approve any such deal. Considering the 34-year-old Anthony is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, and that his role in Oklahoma City was clearly going to be reduced next season, this is a no-brainer for all involved. So, where will ‘Melo land?”

Jeff Balke (Houston Press) on another annoying Summer of Melo: “Anthony, who was parting ways with the Knicks, was determined to land in Houston, but the Rockets couldn’t put together a package of players to satisfy New York’s new GM Scott Perry. Ultimately, Anthony agreed to open up his no-trade clause (a rarity in the NBA) to include the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he wound up. Obviously, it worked out much better for the Rockets than the Thunder and Melo had a relatively disappointing season in OKC. The Thunder, after re-signing Paul George, are heavily burdened with salary cap restraints and want to part ways with Anthony, and it appears the Rockets are once again going to make a play for the forward.

Jon Hamm (B/R) on if the Thunder is better off without Melo: “The bigger question is how the Thunder will replace Anthony’s production, spotty as it was. Ideally, Melo was supposed to be a catch-and-shoot floor-spacer for the Thunder. While he was at times, Anthony grounded possessions to a glacial halt too often, going into isolation mode nearly 18.1 percent of the time. He scored 16.2 points per game on the season but had a woeful effective field-goal percentage of 47.6. Yet he was a luxury scorer who took some of the offensive burden away from Westbrook and George. Before Melo, that luxury scorer was center Enes Kanter, part of the trade to get Anthony in a Thunder uniform. Now Oklahoma City could enter next season without that extra option. That’s a dicey proposition in a perpetually loaded Western Conference. OKC still has its taxpayer mid-level exception available worth $5.3 million. However, the list of players on the market worth that price are rapidly evaporating.”

Brett Dawson on the Thunder’s Summer Leaguers aiming for a roster spot: “Sure there’s a chip on Hamidou Diallo’s shoulder. Of course landing 45th in last month’s NBA Draft is a motivator for the 6-foot-5 rookie, selected by Brooklyn and traded to Oklahoma City via Charlotte. Naturally he wants to prove he’s better than that. But when Diallo poured in 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds Friday in his second Summer League game, the rookie wasn’t thinking about draft night. “You’ve seen it happen multiple times where the 1 pick doesn’t pan out and the 60th pick does,” Diallo said. “So you just got to go out there and work hard and always know it’s not about your pick. It’s all about fit and it’s all about how bad do you want it.” Diallo is hoping he’s found a fit with the Thunder, and he’s not the only one who wants it.”

Hamidou Diallo’s highlights from Saturday’s Summer League win over Brooklyn:

Nick Gallo on the Thunder’s latest two-way contract holder, Deonte Burton: “Burton’s road to the NBA has been a real challenge. The Milwaukee kid played at Harold S. Vincent high school during his freshman year, transferred to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, then returned home to Vincent to finish out his high school career. College was no less hectic, considering he had four different coaches over his four-year career. At his hometown Marquette University he never averaged more than 16.1 minutes per game in his first two seasons, then transferred to Iowa State for his junior year and exploded during his senior season, averaging 15.1 points and 6.2 rebounds in 29.5 minutes per game. As a Cyclone he was named second-team All-Big 12, but never latched on to an NBA team after going undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft. He signed with Wonju DB Promy in South Korea’s Korean Basketball League, and ended up winning the Foreign Player MVP of the KBL after starting in all 63 games and averaging 23.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Living in South Korea was a challenging experience but a valuable one, but Burton is happy to be back stateside.”

The new guys have their numbers:

Kelly Scaletta (B/R) on why Jerami Grant won’t live up to his new contract: “The Oklahoma City Thunder didn’t exactly splurge on Jerami Grant’s contract of three years and $27 million, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. However, that’s not how much he’s going to cost the Thunder, according to Woj: “Keeping Grant on a $9 million annual salary could cost the Thunder an additional $40 million in luxury tax. His re-signing is a clear message to [Paul] George and All-Star guard Russell Westbrook about ownership’s willingness to possibly host the largest payroll in NBA history.” So that $27 million will become $67 million. And that’s only part of the problem. OKC doubled down when it didn’t need to. It’s already paying Andre Roberson—another defender who can’t shoot—$10 million in 2018-19.”

Nick Gallo on the Thunder’s party continuing in OKC: “Behind the diligent, industrious work of the Thunder’s architect, General Manager and Executive Vice President and his staff, the organization recruited George all season long during his first campaign in Oklahoma City. The first pitch was the moment George was acquired by trade in June of 2017, with no guarantees that he’d be in Thunder blue for more than a season. The confidence of that move alone, along with the reception he got at Will Rogers World Airport upon his arrival in Oklahoma City, was etched in George’s mind from the very start.The amenities at the practice facility, the resources, the coaching, the brotherhood in the locker room and the one-of-a-kind support from the fan base all coalesced into what ultimately seemed to be a straightforward decision for George. The uncomplicated nature of his free agency was surprising to some, but George said it himself when the 2018 season concluded, whether or not people chose to listen: “(The Thunder) honestly check the boxes where I needed those boxes to be checked from what a player wants and needs out of a front office, out of a medical group, out of teammates, out of coaching staff,” George said. “They checked the boxes on what needs to be checked.”

Erik Horne on Enes Kanter’s OKC summer camp and his continued love affair with the Sooner State: “In the past year, Kanter has settled in as a New Yorker, but he’ll always be an Oklahoman. For a few days, he was back where he’s arguably most beloved, returning to Oklahoma City for a stop on his nationwide basketball camp tour. More than 550 campers packed into The Hive Sports Complex in Edmond to get a chance to meet the center. Last summer, Kanter and Doug McDermott were traded to the Knicks for Carmelo Anthony. Since then, Kanter has opted into the final year of his contract for $18.6 million to stay with the Knicks. McDermott was traded to Dallas, then signed with Indiana in free agency. Anthony looks to be on the way out of Oklahoma City this summer. It could be awkward for Kanter coming back. But he remains as close as any former Thunder to the state, the place he found his basketball center after a tumultuous start to his NBA career in Utah.”

Around the League: Damian Lillard says he’s happy in Portland…. Devin Booker got the max to stay in Phoneix…. Kyle Anderson is a member of the Grizzlies…. Brook Lopez is headed to Milwaukee…. Zaza Pachulia is going to Detroit…. Tony Parker is a Hornet?…. Zach Lavine is ready to silence his critics…. Every new contract and extension handed out in free agency…. Who will be the new king of the East?…. Trae Young broke out of his Summer League slump.