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Thursday Bolts: 10.11.18

The Thunder waived three players off the training camp roster: “The Oklahoma City Thunder has waived guard Bryce Alford, forward K.J. McDaniels and center Richard Solomon, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. Alford appeared in three preseason games and averaged 2.3 points and 0.7 rebounds in 3.0 minutes per contest.  McDaniels saw action in two preseason matchups and recorded averages of 3.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 8.2 minutes.”

The Thunder signed Donte Grantham, Scotty Hopson, and Dez Wells: “Grantham (6-8, 205) was a four-year starter at Clemson University. In 114 career games (113 starts), he averaged 9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 30.2 minutes per game. The West Virginia native is one of six players in Clemson history to amass 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 assists in a career. Hopson (6-7, 204) played with Galatasaray in Turkey during the 2017-18 season, appearing in 27 games (13 starts) and averaging 11.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 20.9 minutes per game.  The Tennessee product played in 43 games (35 starts) during the 2014-15 season with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA G League and averaged 19.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 32.2 minutes per game. Wells (6-5, 215) spent the 2017-18 season with Sidigas Avellino in Italy, appearing in 52 games (28 starts) and averaging 11.3 points on 54.2 percent shooting from the field, 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 22.4 minutes per game.”

Brett Dawson on what to make of Hamidou Diallo’s strong preseason: “Diallo’s jump shot needs work. He makes rookie decisions. He’s still learning the balance between crashing the offensive glass and rushing back in transition. But his scoring increased in each of the Thunder’s first four preseason games. He’s making strides as a defender. And he’s drawing praise within the organization, including from his veteran teammates. “When I look at Hami, I see a lot of how I used to play and how I approached the game,” Paul George said. “Heck of a talent. He’s got that star power in him. He’s just got to continue to go up the learning curve. That’s on us to help him get to his potential.” The 6-foot-5 Diallo earned a start on Tuesday, lining up alongside George, Steven Adams, Dennis Schröder and Patrick Patterson. Russell Westbrook’s impending return from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee will change the Thunder’s outlook and lineup, but Diallo looks like a contender to absorb the wing minutes made available by Andre Roberson’s prolonged absence in returning from a ruptured left patellar tendon.”

Erik Horne sat down with Deonte Burton: “Burton – the 6-foot-5, 250-pound barrel of Milwaukee-born dynamite – has created a stir among Thunder fans for his unique body type and explosive dunks. But Burton is determined to be more than that on and off the court. Burton is a two-way player, meaning he can spend 45 days with the Thunder this season and not count against its salary cap. He’ll like spend the majority of the season punishing rims for the G League Oklahoma City Blue. His journey is a zig-zag across the basketball map, from Marquette University two seasons, to Iowa State two more, to Wonju Dongbu Promy of South Korea’s KBL last season. But at every destination, Burton carries weight with him, and the spirit of his mother, Barbara Burton-Malone. In November, Burton revealed on his Instagram he has battled depression throughout his life. That depression was tougher to live with when Barbara passed away in 2014 from breast cancer.”

Haley O’Shaugnessy (Ringer) with the 2018-19 Thunder’s best/worst case scenario: “Schröder, who spent the last two seasons as the starting point guard for the Hawks, will be the biggest sixth-man spark OKC has had since a young James Harden, and like Harden, might see time playing alongside Russ, too. Meanwhile, Patterson and Nerlens Noel will be playing to prove they still belong in the league. Patterson, who returned from knee surgery last summer, was a shell of himself, athletically, and was far from the integral role player he was on Toronto’s reserve unit. Noel might be even more far gone: The no. 6 overall pick in 2013 has taken multiple missteps to end up with the Thunder on a minimum contract, and having sat out for most of last season, it isn’t clear what he’s still capable of doing at a high level, let alone how much potential he still has. But in signing a one-and-one deal at the minimum, it’s clear that he’s betting on himself. It’s hard to buy Noel being a total lost cause. He is a special rim-running talent and effective shot blocker, and that ability doesn’t go away just because he had some public disagreements with his coach.”

Bruce Jenkins (San Francisco Chronicle) with a list of the Warriors’ challengers: “Something to know about Westbrook, and the main reason George decided to stay in OKC without even fielding offers from other teams: This is a good man, an exceptional teammate and one of the really high-character people in the game. Perhaps George made a mistake, with the Lakers beckoning, but he showed admirable faith in a team that cannot be counted out. As the Warriors proved time and again, defense wins in this league. That’s hardly a problem here, especially when Andre Roberson (due back from knee surgery in January) and Jerami Grant join Steven Adams, Westbrook and George on the floor. Most everyone thinks Westbrook needs to play a more measured game — he took 43 shots in Utah’s series-clinching win — but we’ll see. The first order of business is his recovery from offseason knee surgery.”

Ross Dwyer (Sneaker News) on the upcoming Nike PG 2.5/Playstation sneaker: “George is set to go another round with his beloved gaming system, as images of a new PlayStation Nike PG 2.5 have surfaced. Opting for a look that harkens back to the earliest days of PlayStation, George’s new kicks call upon white as a base color instead of the dark black that’s usually used for Nike’s video game-themed releases. Retro-inspired colors adorn both the heel and midsole swooshes — one light green and one purple for the former, two soft red for the latter — and a speckled midsole/special co-branded insoles round out the colorful detailing. For a finishing touch, George’s name is then printed on the heel in a black PS-style font. Get a first look at these game-ready kicks below, and expect them to drop later this fall for $110 USD.”

Nick Gallo on the Thunder’s new concession options at home games: “At Wing’n It, located in sections 111 and 315, were a selection of Kick’n Bourbon, Chipotle-Verde, Mango-Habanero and the most intriguing of all, the MVP Wing, which is inspired by the Ghanaian street food kelewele, a version of hot plantain crisps. The kelewele is paired with a mildly spicy but flavorful rub on the wings… At the Gastro Pub in section 207 and 405 Street Tacos in section 215, fans will get to experience Impossible™ meat – a vegan, plant-based meat substitute that is made for meat eaters and uses up only a fraction of the carbon footprint. You’ll get the same aroma and taste as you would with beef with the burger at the Gastro Pub and the tacos from 405 Street Tacos… For sure the largest and most surprising option to have at an NBA game comes in the suites, where you’ll be able to order a 50 oz. Porterhouse steak. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare and can be carved for your suite as the ball is tipped. With a layer of black pepper crackling the exterior, you’ll have steakhouse level taste while looking out at all the action.”

Around the League: So things are going well with Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves…. Butler discussed the drama with Rachel Nichols…. The Lakers and Celtics are drawing the most bets to win the title…. James Harden has a sketchy new move that was just approved by the NBA…. Kyrie Irving’s journey to finding himself…. Inside the strange, politically-charged world of Enes Kanter.