Royce Young on Billy Donovan coming back as head coach next season: “Despite an admittedly disappointing season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, general manager Sam Presti said Wednesday that head coach Billy Donovan will be back next season, emphasizing the importance of continuity within the organization. “We’re disappointed, and we should be,” Presti said. “We expected more out of the team.” Since Donovan took over as head coach in 2015-16, he has experienced Kevin Durant’s departure and the arrival of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to join reigning MVP Russell Westbrook.”
Nick Gallo recaps Sam Presti’s end-of-season press conference: “Take enough cracks at competing with the other 29 teams in the NBA, and there are bound to be wonderful surprises, expected results and some disappointments too. Over the 10-year period the Thunder has been in Oklahoma City, there hasn’t been much for General Manager and Executive Vice President Sam Presti to complain about in his end of season remarks. Long postseason runs, teams that have out-performed expectations and seasons derailed by a major injury have characterized the first decade of basketball in Oklahoma City. This past year was the first time Presti has felt that the team had truly missed an opportunity because of its own doing.”
Erik Horne & Brett Dawson with key takeaways from Presti’s press conference: “In the days following the Thunder’s early playoff exit, Presti had driven some three hours northeast of Oklahoma City to Commerce, OK, less than 15 minutes south of the Kansas-Oklahoma border. Presti wanted to see the statue of Commerce native Mickey Mantle, but he was also reflecting on a season of underachievement. On Wednesday, six times Presti referenced the Thunder having to “own” or take “ownership” of its poor season. “When seasons don’t go well, I tend to take these long drives,” Presti said, elongating the “O” in “long.” The 2017-18 Thunder season was one of disappointment. Presti acknowledged that Wednesday while hitting on some key points going into another pivotal offseason.”
Ben Rohrback (Yahoo) on Presti wanting Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to buy in: “Presti urged everyone concerned George will walk as Durant did two years ago that that “people are different,” pointing to the different paths Durant and Westbrook took to the Golden State Warriors and in signing long-term with OKC, respectively. But as much as Presti suggested, “We’ll be prepared for everything,” whether George stays or goes, he sounded fearful of losing George, too. And he should be. Sorry for the cynicism. Anthony’s situation is equally unstable. The soon-to-be 34-year-old forward has a $28 million player option for 2018-19, and it’s hard to imagine him not picking that up this summer. Yet, Anthony spent his exit interview informing us, “I don’t think I can be effective as that type of player” the Thunder are asking him to be — a stretch forward who plays off the ball in a more limited role than he’s used to.”
Aaron Mansfield (Complex) on a report that states the Thunder wants to get rid of Carmelo Anthony: “It appears both sides are unhappy with the relationship, as a new report from Sean Deveney of Sporting News indicates the Thunder are ready to move on from Melo. “While the Thunder want to keep (Paul) George long-term, they’d very much like to find a way to rid themselves of Anthony, who could not find a role with the team and did not inspire confidence with his unwillingness to sacrifice, highlighted by his insistence that he would not come off the bench,” Deveney writes. The Thunder owe Melo $28 million for next season, but it’s possible the two sides could reach a buyout (for, say, half of that amount) so the Thunder could move on and Melo could play in a situation that was more to his liking.”
Hannah Withiam (NY Post) on the Paul George tug-of-war getting started: “The Lakers won’t have to worry about NBA tampering rules in a couple of months, and it sounds as if Paul George will be willing to listen. The five-time All-Star likely will enter free agency on July 1 upon opting out of his deal with the Thunder, where he played this past season after getting traded from the Pacers in the offseason. George, who grew up right outside Los Angeles, renewed the homegrown-star-to-Lakers rumors when speaking to reporters over the weekend, a day after the Thunder were eliminated in the playoffs. “I would say almost everybody in this league would love to play at home,” George said during his Thunder press conference on Saturday. “I won’t say that’s a lie. Everybody would love to play for their home in one way or another, but that won’t be the only option for why I want to go somewhere is because it’s home. Not at all.”
Austin Boykins (HypeBeast) takes a look at the latest (somewhat Thunder-themed) Nike PG2 release: “A new colorway of Nike’s PG2 has surfaced. Following the first round exit of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Paul George‘s second signature sneaker pays homage to one of his favorite hobbies, fishing. The forthcoming colorway is dubbed “The Bait II” and holds a white upper with light blue and orange accents.”
Around the League: The Jazz have stolen home-court advantage from the Rockets…. Steph Curry will return to Golden State’s starting lineup…. The Phoenix Suns hired the first European-born head coach…. Charles Barkley backed down from wanting to punch Draymond Green in the face…. Kawhi Leonard was offered free pizza and beer for life if he remains a Spur…. Exploring the NBA’s looming money crunch.