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Thursday Bolts: 6.21.18

Nick Gallo on what Thunder fans need to know about tonight’s NBA Draft: “Last season, the Thunder had the 21st overall pick and selected guard Terrance Ferguson, who displayed his prodigious athletic gifts and a competitive streak in his rookie year. This season, the Thunder does not have a first round pick, but has two second round selections at #53 and #57. Regardless of where the Thunder picks in the draft, General Manager and Executive Vice President Sam Presti and his staff are hyper vigilant in their scouting and assessment process throughout the year in order to be prepared for the unpredictability of draft night. The Draft has always been a vital component of the Thunder’s team-building efforts, and Thursday’s event will be no different. Ultimately, the Thunder’s front office aims to make the best decisions possible for the betterment of the team, capitalizing on the yearly opportunity to improve the club with the addition of young talent.”

Brett Dawson on a few possibilities for OKC in this draft: “Oklahoma City doesn’t own a first-round pick, but when the Thunder drafts at No. 53, there’s a chance Arizona’s Allonzo Trier could be available. The ex-Wildcat’s nomadic high school career included stints playing for the Oklahoma City Storm, a homeschool program, and for Tulsa’s Northeast Oklahoma Association of Homeschools squad before he transferred to Montrose Christian School in Rockville, Md… Though Trier averaged 18.1 points per game this season as a junior, Vecenie didn’t have the Thunder — or anyone else — taking him in the mock draft The Athletic released on Tuesday. But the 6-foot-4 guard is among a wide range of players who could be available at No. 53 and 57, the two second-round picks OKC owns entering Thursday.”

Alec McChesney (Tulsa World) with three prospects to Thunder should target tonight: “There’s reason to believe Presti can improve the roster with picks No. 53 and 57. He will look to find players with a chance of making the team out of training camp. OKC needs those capable of playing off the ball with Russell Westbrook but who are able to get their own baskets, too. So, who should be on the Thunder’s big board for their two picks and to potentially sign as an undrafted free agent for the summer league? Let’s take a look at who fits the bill. Devonte Graham, PG, Kansas / Trevon Duval, PG, Duke / Trevon Bluiett, SF, Xavier

Jonathan Wasserman (B/R) with a final two-round mock draft: 53. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chimezie Metu (USC, PF/C, Junior). Metu would offer intriguing value at No. 53 based on his NBA body, efficient production and skill level. His challenge will be fitting in as a post big who isn’t a rim protector or a three-point shooter… 57. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Celtics): Isaac Bonga (Germany, SF/PF, 1999). An 18-year-old point forward, Bonga is interesting for his long-term potential, as he’s a big who can handle the ball and facilitate. He just won’t be ready anytime soon.”

This was strange:

Anthony Riccobono (Intl Business Times) on what Paul George returning to OKC would mean for LeBron & the Lakers: “George has a player option for $20.7 million next season that he’s expected to decline, though that doesn’t mean he’s going to sign a long-term deal. He could agree to a shorter contract with Oklahoma City and explore the market again next season if the Thunder don’t experience much success. The team was bounced in the first round of the playoffs in George’s only season with Oklahoma City. The Pacers traded George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis last summer because the forward informed Indiana that he would leave in free agency this offseason. It’s long been expected that he’d join his hometown Lakers, but George’s year playing alongside Russell Westbrook might have changed things. What does that mean for the Lakers’ chances of landing LeBron James? It certainly doesn’t seem to help them, considering Los Angeles’ current roster. It’s hard to believe that James would leave Cleveland for Los Angeles if the Lakers don’t make any other key additions.”

Anthony Irwin (Silver Screen & Roll) on the latest Paul George chatter: “Brad Turner of the L.A. Times went on the radio with Marcellus Wiley and Travis Rodgers of ESPN on their “Afternoons with ESPNLA” show, and offered up what he’s heard thus far about LeBron James, George and how their decisions are tied to each other. “I’ve heard conflicting stories about Paul George for example, that he is conflicted about where he wants to go. That he wants to stay in Oklahoma City…” That matches with other reports, and when asked about the timing of all this, Turner expanded a little (emphasis mine): “If he doesn’t come, then there’s just no way that LeBron James is going to come,” said Turner. “The one guy I would say that doesn’t have to wait is Paul George. If he decides that he wants to come to the Lakers, then he can sign there, because that’s where he has always wanted to go. He wanted to play for his hometown team.”

Daniel Hardee (Golden State of Mind) with an oddly aggressive take on why the Warriors are the Thunder’s dreams realized: “The Warriors are the living, breathing incarnation of the dream the Thunder had six years ago. They have surrounded the once-in-a-lifetime talents of Durant with an MVP point guard, an elite shooting guard, and a versatile defensive anchor. The difference is, the current Warriors’ ownership doesn’t seem short-sighted enough to break it up over a few million dollars. They also ensure that team chemistry is of the highest priority, something Durant detected and envied as an opponent. The best the Thunder as currently constructed can do to get revenge is to maybe steal a game or two from the champs during the boring slog of the regular season. The Warriors won’t allow anything more than that for these bitter jabronis. I can empathize with OKC’s fanbase to a degree. Both of our franchises came from relative obscurity to wrestle for the crown; it was either them or us. I wonder, is it worse to be a has-been… or a never-was?”

Riley Jones (Sole Collector) takes a look at the Nike PG 2.5: “Paul George’s signature line will flourish in the off-season thanks to the Nike PG 2.5. First seen in a vibrant royal blue-based colorway, the model is set to debut later this month in a nearly all-black make up. New images shared by @gc911 give a detailed look at some of the sneaker’s finer points and changes from the standard PG 2. The most obvious update is of course the PG 2.5’s midfoot strap, an element which was also seen on his first Nike shoe. It remains to be seen if the PG 2.5 will share the same $110 retail price as the PG 2. The “Black/Pure Platinum-Anthracite” PG 2.5 will drop Saturday, June 30 and mark the first release for this new incarnation of George’s second Nike model.”

Around the League: The Cavs want to keep Kevin Love regardless of what LeBron does…. The Lakers have warned employees about tampering ahead of free agency…. The Grizzlies are shopping the No. 4 pick in tonight’s draft…. Why Trae Young is the most fascinating player in the draft…. Why don’t top prospects want to play in Memphis?…. Adam Silver understands the KD-to-GSW backlash…. Kyle O’Quinn declined his final season in New York…. Should the Celtics include Jaylen Brown in a potential deal to land Kawhi Leonard?…. Don’t bet on Kawhi being traded during the draft…. Kawhi’s drama is the NBA’s new reality…. The endless spiral of Dwight Howard.