5 min read

Thursday Bolts: 6.14.18

TMZ asked Paul George about the possibility of playing with LeBron: “First a little context … rumors in NBA circles say LeBron joining the Lakers depends on him luring another big name star to Hollywood, and most people think George — an L.A. native — is that star. In order for that to happen, George would have to want to play with LeBron and, when we got him at the Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am in L.A. and asked him … he seemed like he was down. “Yeah, I’m with LeBron every All-Star. Every one of my All-Stars I’ve been teamed with LeBron … I like playing with him.” We continued decoding as we asked George if he even likes Los Angeles … and once again, he gave us more positive feedback than an eastern Tinder swipe. “I’m from L.A., I can say I love L.A. because I’m from L.A.”

Paolo Ugetti (Ringer) on the future of Paul George: “It feels far-fetched to think that George will actually go somewhere other than L.A., but what if LeBron signs a one-year deal in Cleveland again? George could delay his departure by another year and re-sign with the Thunder for a short stint. He has the leverage. Then, there’s the extremely speculative side of things, the one that is based on appearances like, say, George showing up with Lakers rookie Josh Hart to a Fortnite event in Los Angeles and being asked about joining Hart on the Lakers this summer. “Ha!” George said with a smile. “Next question.” Hart was asked too, and gave a different response. “It’s gonna be amazing. It’d be a great addition to our talented core. He’s a great player, we’ll see what happens,” Hart said, and then when asked about his recruiting efforts: “We definitely talked a little bit about it. I was letting him know where he should live. We’ll see what happens soon.”

Kevin Pelton (ESPN) on how the Lakers can land LeBron, PG13, and Kawhi Leonard: “The Lakers signing George and James, both of whom can become unrestricted free agents if they decline 2018-19 player options, is easy enough. They can create sufficient cap room merely by waiving forward Luol Deng and stretching his contract, then renouncing the rights to their free agents. Adding Leonard to the mix makes the math trickier — even before we account for the fact that he’s still under contract to the San Antonio Spurs, who would have to sign off on a trade. (More on that in a bit.) Though Leonard is making substantially less than the current max salary at $20.1 million for 2018-19, combining his salary with max ones for LeBron (an estimated $35.4 million) and George (estimated $30.3 million because he’s two years shy of the experience necessary for the largest max bracket for players with 10-plus years in the league) puts the Lakers over $85 million in salary without considering any other players or the remaining amount of Deng’s stretched salary. That tight math makes it all but imperative the Lakers send Deng to San Antonio in a Leonard trade before signing George and James.”

Abhinav Kini (Intnl Business Times) on Kobe Bryant not helping the Lakers recruit LeBron & Paul George: “Bryant however, will not play any part in trying to recruit the pair if Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson asked him to sit in on any potential free agent meetings. “Well, no. I mean, I’ll call, but I’m not going to be in the meeting,” Bryant said, as quoted on 247Sports. “Listen, I’m not part of the organization in any kind of professional way, right? If the players themselves have questions, [I’ll talk to them]. Or if the Lakers want me to reach out and call a player or something like that – if they want me to talk to the player and give my two cents on what it was like to play here and what this market is like – I’ll certainly do that. But in terms of being part of the meeting in any official way? The answer is no.”

ESPN had artists create LeBron recruitment billboards for every NBA team: “ANOTHER MVP IN OKC? Kevin Durant couldn’t bring a title to Oklahoma City. Could LeBron? A dynamic duo of Russ and Bron would be frightening for opponents. Not to mention a daily nightmare for referees on block-charge calls.”

Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) on why the Thunder won’t get much help out of the Draft: “Since moving to Oklahoma City, the Thunder have selected five players with picks no higher than No. 45. Three in 2008: Trent Plasted out of BYU-Hawaii (yeah, that’s a school) at No. 46; DeVon Harden at No. 50 out of Cal; Sasha Kaun at No. 56 out of Kansas. One in 2010: Magnum Rolle from Louisiana Tech at No. 51. One in 2015: Dakari Johnson from Kentucky at No. 48. If Johnson sounds familiar, it’s probably because you saw him play for Oklahoma City as recently as April 23, when he logged 88 seconds in Game 4 against Utah. Here’s the thing about that: Though Johnson was drafted in 2015, he didn’t play in the NBA until opening night of the 2017-18 season after spending two years with the Oklahoma City Blue of the developmental G-League. And despite that and despite his very limited role with the Thunder last season, given where he was drafted, he is nonetheless an absolute success story.”

Ben Alamar (ESPN) on the teams that lead the NBA in draft analytics: “4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Sam Presti, a Buford disciple, helped the Spurs hire their first analyst and hired his own as soon as he became general manager of the then-Seattle SuperSonics. (Full disclosure: That analyst was me.) The team has utilized analytics in its draft process ever since.”

Christopher Reive (NZ Herald) on why it’s alright that Steven Adams won’t play for the New Zealand national team: “I’ll say this nice and early because I know not everyone will read this through – Steven Adams doesn’t owe New Zealand anything. We are not entitled to be confused by his decision.  For one thing, Paul Henare’s Tall Blacks should at worst go 1-1 in their upcoming games against Hong Kong and China. They beat Hong Kong by 59 points in November, won in China in February, and have already qualified for the second round of the World Cup qualification process. But let’s look past that. The Oklahoma City Thunder centre is currently on holiday in New Zealand after the long grind of the NBA season. While he’s here, he’ll be running coaching clinics across the country to help develop the young talent and will be on hand to open a new basketball court in Palmerston North in August. How unpatriotic of him to give back to the community like that. How dare he.”

Kicks on Fire reviews the newest colorway of Russell Westbrook’s Why Not Zer0.1: “Set to drop this weekend, here’s an official look at the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1 Fashion King. This new colorway on Russell Westbrook’s signature model is said to be inspired by Brodie’s unique sense of style. Opting for a bold finish, the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1 Fashion King comes dressed in a Tech Grey, Black, White, Orange Peel and Melon Tint color scheme. What really makes the shoe stand out of the 3M Reflective detailing placed all over the upper. Adding to the aesthetics of the shoe are the branded insoles, Why Not? banding on the tongues, Westbrook logos on the strap and an icy translucent outsole. Get a good look at the shoe above and look for the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1 Fashion King to drop on June 16th for $125.”

Around the League: Where does Golden State land among the NBA’s 50 greatest teams?…. The Lakers want Kyle Kuzma & Lonzo Ball to tone down the social media barbs…. How would playoff performance change the NBA Awards ballots?…. A Cleveland Brown tore into KD for ruining the NBA…. Kyrie Irving discussed the possibility of LeBron joining him in Boston…. Robert Pera thinks the Grizzlies can win 50 games next season…. Is Marvin Bagley III the most NBA-ready player in the draft?…. The Ringer’s latest mock draft.