Erik Horne on Russell Westbrook & Carmelo Anthony being ‘Questionable’ tonight against the Lakers: “Both Anthony and Westbrook are listed as questionable for Thursday’s game against the Lakers with ankle sprains. Anthony sprained his right ankle in the first quarter of the Thunder’s 125-105 win against the Warriors on Tuesday. When Westbrook picked up his his left ankle sprain is unclear.”
Nick Gallo previews tonight’s Thunder/Lakers match-up: “Taking care of business against the NBA’s elite hasn’t been an issue so far this season for the Thunder. It’s been maintaining that same level of play against some of the league’s lesser powers that has been a challenge. This California road trip will be a perfect test to see whether the Thunder can follow up a dominant 20-point road win over the defending champion Golden State Warriors with another strong performance against the rebuilding Los Angeles Lakers. In order to do so, the Thunder will need to replicate its effort on both ends of the floor against Golden State, where it played relentlessly, together and with tenacity for all 48 minutes despite center Steven Adams battling foul trouble and forward Carmelo Anthony suffering an ankle sprain in the first quarter. Despite having to watch the remaining three and a half quarters, Anthony was able to breakdown the reasons for success that must be carried over.”
Sam Amick (USA Today) sat down with Paul George to discuss his future: “I don’t know if whether I’m going to LA, or what I’m going to do this offseason. But I can say I am happy about being here. I’m happy with playing with Russ, happy with playing with Melo, and this organization. This front office has shown what they can do to go get pieces and how active they are about winning.”
Forbes listed the Thunder as the 18th most-valuable NBA franchise: “The Thunder rolled the dice with trades for two expensive All-Stars last summer. The trades for Carmelo Anthony ($26.2 million salary) and Paul George ($19.3 million) pushed OKC’s payroll to the third highest in the NBA at $134 million, behind only the Warriors and Cavaliers. The pricey roster will trigger a tax bill in the $25 million range. The club also locked up its franchise player, Russell Westbrook, in September with a five-year, $205 million extension that kicks in next season. As the only major pro team in town, the Thunder are well supported by fans with season ticket renewal rates typically around 95%.”
Patrick Redford (Deadspin) on Paul George being everything the Thunder needs him to be: “George doesn’t just get by on steals and highlight plays either; he’s playing some of the best defense of his career right now. He pitched a great game against Klay Thompson last night, though Durant did score 33 points on 14 shots. He’s comfortable when switched onto most every player in the NBA and he’s got perhaps the most active hands in the league. He’s not Roberson, a near-perfect wing defender, but George is no slouch.”
Will Gottlieb (B/R) on the Thunder being the Warriors’ kryptonite: “That may be, but the Thunder defense deserves credit for forcing the Warriors into this lackluster performance. That was exactly their goal. Westbrook might headline the show, but no Thunder player has been a more impactful two-way presence than George. He’s a lockdown defender and a monumental help to the reigning MVP as a secondary shot creator. The 7’0″, 255-pound Adams is a powerhouse. He’s too big for anyone in the league, let alone the small-ball Warriors. He made his rim-rolling presence in pick-and-roll situations felt as early as the first play Tuesday night. He’s mobile enough to stick with some guards on perimeter switches, which means OKC doesn’t lose anything against smaller teams. It forces opponents to play Thunder basketball instead of OKC’s having to shape-shift every night to match its opponent.”
Tracy McGrady thinks the Thunder can compete with the Warriors + everybody else:
The Trade Deadline is today at 2:00 PM CT.
ESPN’s complete trade deadline tracker: “The 2018 NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, and our team of reporters is keeping track of all the latest news and rumors around the Association.”
Shea Serrano’s (Ringer) list of good, sad and absurd deadline rumors: “There are already many good potential trade rumors that are circulating around the internet: Do you think the Hornets still want to ship out Kemba Walker? Will the Celtics move Marcus Smart? Are the Lakers really going into hoarder mode until next year to make a run at Kawhi? Who’s going to win the Tyreke Evans sweepstakes? Is the Polish Hammer really on his way to L.A.? And if so, how long before he gets cast in a Bruce Willis movie on Netflix where he plays the villain’s main muscle who never talks? Let’s do the Idea Gauge, which is a thing I just made up right now where we grab some of the potential big trade ideas that are out there and go over exactly what kind of idea it is and why.”
Sam Amick lists the surplus of wings available: “By the time the NBA trade deadline arrives at 3 pm EST on Thursday, at least a few general managers will be relaying the bad news to their owners. “Well sir, we weren’t able to land that first-round pick for our expendable, talented wing player because it turns out there were quite a few of those to go around…” From Tyreke Evans to Jamal Crawford, with plenty of productive options in between, there is an excess of scorers and capable defenders that far exceeds the demand in this year’s market. As if that’s not bad enough, many executives believe Golden State’s dominance is depressing the market even further.”
Around the League: LeBron buzzer-beat the T-Wolves last night…. Isaiah Thomas is “tired of being traded”…. Lou Williams signed a 3-year extension with the Clippers…. Pacers/Pelicans was canceled due to a roof leak…. Managing sleep as an NBA player.