5 min read

Thursday Bolts: 2.7.19

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s game against the Grizzlies: “An advanced scout has taken in recent Grizzlies games and relayed pertinent information to Thunder coaches, who in turn are distilling and delivering that to the players so they have a sense not just of who this Memphis team is from a personnel standpoint, but what they’ll try to do regardless of which five players are out there… While the Thunder will be ready for what the Grizzlies throw out there schematically, it will also have to be prepared to win the tempo battle in this game. Donovan and the coaching staff have been urging the Thunder to play as fast as possible at every opportunity, ranking 2nd in the NBA in pace (possessions per 48 minutes). Memphis, meanwhile, is trying to slow the game down, playing at the slowest pace in the league. Both teams have had some success defensively with that style, as the Thunder ranks third in defensive rating with the Grizzlies a few slots behind in sixth.”

Dan Favale (B/R) with a trade deadline cheat sheet for the Thunder: “Untouchable Players: Steven Adams; Paul George; Russell Westbrook. Notable Trade Assets: Terrance Ferguson; Jerami Grant (two years, $18.7 million); Nerlens Noel (expiring at $1.8 million); Hamidou Diallo. Notable Inbound Draft Picks: None. Notable Outbound Draft Picks: 2019 second-round draft pick to Charlotte; 2020 first-round pick to Orlando (top-20 protection); 2022 first-round pick to Atlanta (lottery protection). Best Salary-Matching Assets: Alex Abrines (expiring at $5.4 million; RFA this summer); Raymond Felton (expiring at $1.5 million; implicit no-trade clause); Abdel Nader (non-guaranteed salary for 2019-20); Patrick Patterson ($5.7 million player option for 2019-20); Andre Roberson (injured; one year, $10.7 million).”

Andy Bailey (B/R) on the Thunder’s rumored interest in landing Taurean Prince or Wayne Ellington: “Not much typically comes out from the Thunder during trading season, but league sources say they’re still looking at adding wing depth,” Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported Wednesday. “Taurean Prince has come up often, and they’ll monitor what Phoenix does with Wayne Ellington.” Ellington would make a ton of sense on the buyout market, boosting the OKC offense with his spot-up shooting—something he’d use frequently when Westbrook goes careening toward the hoop while remaining ready to throw a kick-out feed. Prince is another intriguing option, but his production is more hypothetical at this stage of his career. Plus, the Atlanta Hawks might be reluctant to deal him barring a significant return. Either way, the Thunder have one glaring issue: They don’t have many assets with which they can play.”

Kicking the tires on Anthony Tolliver?:

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on if the Thunder can find help in the robust buyout market: “The Thunder’s flexibility in trades is limited. Players at positions it would like to upgrade — Patrick Patterson, Alex Abrines, even Andre Roberson — have low value based on either underwhelming performance (Patterson), injury (Roberson) or a combination of elements (Abrines). Its earliest available first-round pick to trade is 2024. Terrance Ferguson’s progress should keep him off limits in trade talks involving rental players. So, the buyout market looms, where relationships become arguably as important as fit. “If you know somebody on that team, and you played with them on a team prior to that, that helps …,” Felton said. “When you can call them and (ask) ‘How’s that organization? How are the guys on the team? Are they looking to win? What’s the morale in the locker room?’” If a player like Matthews, or Ellington — who will reportedly be bought out of his contract when traded from Miami to Phoenix — becomes a free agent via buyout, the race begins to sell the now-free agent. What can the Thunder sell players Golden State and Houston can’t, and vice versa?”

Darnell Mayberry & Brett Dawson (Athletic) on the odds of Sam Presti dealing Andre Roberson: “I think it’s unlikely they’d trade Roberson, but with Sam Presti, nothing seems impossible. Ideally, the Thunder would like Roberson back this season and providing something close to his typical excellence defensively. That seems less realistic with each passing week, but in a playoff series against the Rockets or the Warriors, it helps to have an extra elite defensive wing. That said, Roberson is owed $10.7 million next season in the final year of his contract. Terrance Ferguson, still on his rookie-scale contract is set to make less than $2.5, and the Thunder can have him locked in through 2020-21. It’s certainly not out of the question that OKC would move on from him before the end of next season… His recovery is — like a lot of things with the Thunder — a bit of a mystery. Because he’s had two setbacks during this process, they won’t rush him. But there’s also no need to definitively shut him down at this point. Eventually they’ll almost certainly reach a date after which it’s unrealistic to have him back for the playoffs, but it doesn’t seem like they’re there yet. On the other hand, Billy Donovan’s answers about him haven’t made it seem like he’s close to getting back on the court.”

Maddie Lee (Oklahoman) on Dennis Schroder’s scoring punch off the Thunder bench: “In each of the Thunder’s past five games, Schroder has gone through scoring sprees of 10-plus points in 12 minutes or less. Orlando suffered two of those runs. First, Schroder scored 18 points in the fourth quarter of the Thunder’s 126-117 win last week at Orlando. Then on Tuesday, Schroder scored seven baskets in a span of seven minutes. “That’s what great players do,” Thunder guard Hamidou Diallo said Wednesday after practice. “Dennis is a great player, and he’s playing his role really well. And then he gets going, not a lot of people can stop him.” Schroder’s second-half burst in the Thunder’s 132-122 win over the Magic Tuesday didn’t match the volume of his 24-point second quarter in Miami. Its timing was what made it impressive. When Schroder re-entered the game with four and a half minutes left in the third quarter Tuesday, the Thunder trailed the Magic 87-83. By the time he subbed out halfway through the fourth quarter, OKC had a 10-point lead.”

Brett Dawson (Athletic) on the Thunder losing their way defensively: “In the second half as a whole, the Thunder held Orlando to 35.6 percent from the floor and 4-of-22 3-point shooting. And OKC needed that sort of performance to beat a Magic team that ended the night 10 games under .500 with four games and three teams separating it from a playoff spot in the top-heavy Eastern Conference. “We were getting busted in the first half,” guard Terrance Ferguson said. He’s not wrong. The Magic hit 57.8 percent from the floor before halftime, including 7 of 15 from 3-point range. By early in the third quarter, they’d jumped up to an even 60 percent, leading by as many as 12 points. But then the Thunder found an offensive groove and flipped a switch defensively. It’s the way they need to play to be at their best. The trick now is pairing their newly electric offense with their old disruptive D, not just in short spurts but longer bursts.”

Hamidou Diallo is the Slam Dunk Contest underdog according to Vegas:

Around the League: The Mavs traded Harrison Barnes to Sacramento during a game…. Otto Porto is headed to Chicago for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker…. Iman Shumpert is a Rocket…. Markieff Morris is a Pelican…. KD is really tired of the media…. The Lakers are losing hope on a deal for Anthony Davis…. The AD drama epitomizes what the NBA has become…. Five potential deadline steals…. All the NBA trade deadline buzz.