Thunder Notebook: Tuesday, May 22
Paul George Chatter
Last night, Dean Blevins of News 9 in Oklahoma City dropped a “Blevins Bomb” of sorts — saying he’s heard from multiple sources that Paul George plans to remain with the Thunder.
“Allegedly, apparently, Paul George plans to stay with the Thunder. I know it’s not what people believe but, in separate conversations, I’m told PG’s agent has told people associated with the NBA that PG believes the injury loss of Andre Roberson was huge and he’s staying.
Disclaimer, though: Believing everything that agents allegedly say can be dangerous to your health.”
While I’d love to jump on board with this and go buy a PG13 jersey in confidence, I must pump the brakes and say, for the sake of clarity, that no one knows what’s going on here. There are 40 days between now and the start of the free agency period and, until George or someone directly from his camp tips their hand, it’s alllll speculation.
Things happen. Minds change. Sometimes “sources” are bad. Blevins likely heard exactly what he reported, but something tells me PG13 won’t begin making such decisions until he’s sat down with multiple interested parties in the first part of July. I also wouldn’t bank on the deciding factor being a guy who will be trying to bounce back from a ruptured patellar tendon. I love Andre Roberson but a return to form is no sure thing.
Let’s keep it moving and resume holding our breath. This has only just begun.
More Pre-Draft Meetings
The Thunder has met with lottery-bound players like Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr., but, unless Sam Presti finds a way to get in the top 10, landing a player of that caliber in the draft is a pipe dream.
However, OKC has reportedly met with a number of players that figure to be around when the Thunder gets on the clock in the second round. Those players and links to their ESPN profile/statistics:
James Palmer Jr., SG, Nebraska | Yoeli Childs, PF, BYU
Carsen Edwards, PG, Purdue | Ethan Happ, PF, Wisconsin
Wenyen Gabrial, SF/PF, Kentucky | Ky Bowman, PG, Boston College
Nick Ward, PF/C, Michigan State | Luke Maye, PF, North Carolina
Admiral Schofield, SF, Tennessee | Jordan Caroline, SF, Nevada
Cody Martin, PG/SG, Nevada | Caleb Martin, SG/SF, Nevada
We’ll dive into the specifics as the draft draws closer (June 21). For now, it’s interesting to keep up with the list of prospects on the Thunder’s radar.
Continued Cowherd Lunacy
While understanding people like Colin Cowherd exist so that people like myself will spread his filth, I’ve taken the bait and have to share some thoughts on a bit he dropped yesterday. In it, he listed his top 10 players in the NBA.
Alright. So. To recap, his list (in order) consists of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Steph Curry, Ben Simmons, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson.
Something isn’t right.
Look — Ben Simmons is fantastic. I love his game, think he’s great, all that. However, he’s not even the best player on his own team, let alone better than the names behind him on Cowherd’s list. When you factor in that guys like Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Boogie Cousins, Draymond Green, Jimmy Butler, etc., are missing, the inclusion of Simmons becomes even more puzzling. I mean, the argument can be made that he isn’t the best rookie in his class. Donovan Mitchell says hello.
Obviously, the list is inflammatory to Thunder fans because of Westbrook’s snub, but it would have been more shocking had Cowherd actually included him. I’m not going to get up on a soapbox and campaign for Russ — that’s predictable behavior and feeds into the ploy. However, what I will do is ask a simple question:
How long will this continue before we all join hands across America?
ESPN released its list of the Top 100 most-popular athletes in the world, with Russell Westbrook (34) and Carmelo Anthony (43) both making the cut. While I’m happy for them, I’m more curious about Paul George’s feelings on the matter.
Lists are generally useless (see above) but this one uses some real-world data to formulate the rankings. Endorsement money, search traffic, social following, etc. — all of this stuff is extremely important to athletes. With LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Dwyane Wade, Russ, Melo, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Isaiah Thomas all making an appearance, it’s not difficult to imagine PG13 believing he belongs.
The question is: How much does all this matter?
Westbrook at number 34 disproves the notion that popularity/earning potential is capped in a small market, but George spent seven seasons in Indiana before spending one in Oklahoma City — there’s no question that heading home to Los Angeles would immediately boost his profile. Like it or not, playing for the Lakers, in the second-largest city in the United States, comes with certain advantages.
George isn’t hurting for cash — he has sponsorships with Nike, Gatorade, 2K Games, Bass Pro Shops, and more. And in the end, the Thunder can pay him more than anyone else when free agency begins on July 1. However, I believe stuff like this list matters to him. I also don’t think he was thrilled with making the All-Star team as an injury replacement and he’d probably like to get his jersey back among the league’s best-sellers. If he ultimately leaves OKC, I wouldn’t be shocked if thrusting himself into the limelight and building his brand had a hand in it.
Or maybe I’m overthinking everything. It’s the offseason.