5 min read

Thursday Bolts: 6.28.18

Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) on Paul George informing the Thunder that he is opting-out of his contract: “Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George has informed franchise officials that he will not be opting in for the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent, league sources told ESPN. George has an 11:59 p.m. ET Friday deadline to formally decline to opt in. George, who will decline a $20.7 million salary for the 2018-19 season, remains seriously interested in returning to the Thunder in free agency, league sources said. The Los Angeles Lakers will receive serious consideration too, sources said. Several teams, including Philadelphia and Houston, are interested in pursuing George too, league sources said.”

Woj discusses Paul George’s “comfort” in OKC on last night’s SportsCenter:

Adam Fromal (B/R) discusses the best potential landing spots for Paul George: “Lineups featuring Russell Westbrook, Roberson, George and Steven Adams outscored opponents by a whopping 14.2 points per 100 possessions, per PBPStats.com. That would make for the No. 1 net rating throughout the league, easily outpacing those of the Rockets (8.5) and Warriors (8.0). George and Westbrook can coexist. When surrounded by stellar defenders on the wings and in the painted area, they make for a dominant duo that keeps adversaries off balance on both ends. Those two alone even posted a 6.4 net rating while playing more minutes than all but two tandems throughout the league: Anthony/Westbrook (4.1 net rating) and Taj Gibson/Andrew Wiggins (4.6). If this 28-year-old winds up leaving the Thunder behind, it won’t be because the experiment failed. Quite the contrary. He’d simply be seeking greener pastures than the already lush ones he experienced in the Sooner State.”

Erik Horne on Desmond Mason & other OKC artists creating art to convince Paul George to stay with the Thunder: “Paul George is getting the hard push in Los Angeles, as wealthy power players have bought billboards across the city to convince him to come home and play for the Lakers. From Philadelphia to L.A., fan bases are making their best case via billboard art to get free agents to their teams. The Oklahoman asked some Oklahoma City artists to do the same for George.”

Jenni Carlson on why LeBron is the key to Paul George’s decision: “For starters, if LeBron stays in Cleveland, it increases the chances that PG will stay in OK. It doesn’t rule out a move, but it sure helps the Thunder. If LeBron stays in Cleveland — a big “if” considering the current roster has serious deficiencies, but still — the Cavs could make a play for George. Cleveland tried to do a trade with Indiana to get George last summer, so maybe the Cavs make another run at him via trade with the Thunder (unlikely to work) or via free agency (more likely but still a difficult sell). Additionally, if LeBron stays in Cleveland, that is one less super-team option for George to pair with in Los Angeles. Clearly, the Lakers want LeBron in purple and gold, but according to an ESPN report Wednesday, LeBron is hesitant to be the first superstar to sign with L.A. Can’t really blame him. The storied franchise has been a train wreck for the past five years. A revolving door of coaches. A hodgepodge of decision makers. A bevy of losses. It’s not the type of situation that the greatest player in the game wants to face solo.”

Erik Horne on the Thunder’s luxury tax scenarios ahead of free agency: “Unless it wants to hit rock bottom and head back into the lottery, the Thunder faces some luxury tax trials. The bottom might not be a bad idea if Paul George doesn’t re-sign when free agency opens July 1. While George is reportedly not a lock to sign with the Lakers, his departure would be the second crushing blow to the Thunder’s chances at contention and a gamble-and-loss in this Warriors Era of the NBA. The aftermath would be a team with Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Carmelo Anthony, Andre Roberson, and Alex Abrines as the top five players in salary making a combined $102.8 million next season. In order to contend, NBA teams have to be top-heavy in salary, but that salary has to be allocated to pieces that will assure championship contention or progression toward that goal. Otherwise, you’re overpaying for middling results when a rebuild is necessary. What will be the cost of the Thunder next season? Barring a radical trade of Westbrook or Adams, much of that comes down to the futures of George, Anthony and Grant.”

Kevin O’Connor (Ringer) lists Jerami Grant among the NBA’s best free-agent bargains: “The “five-position defender” cliché is tossed around too freely, but it legitimately applies to Grant, who was used last season by Thunder head coach Billy Donovan as a small-ball center, a floor-spacing forward, and as a man-to-man defender against guards. Grant isn’t an elite defender, but he’s effective. Factor in Grant’s versatility on offense — he’s a below-average 3-point shooter (30.1 percent career from 3), a ball-handler who can attack closeouts, and an explosive finisher inside — then suddenly he becomes an intriguing piece in the age of positionless basketball.”

Brian Boake (Raptors Rapture) pitches a Melo-to-Toronto trade idea: “Raptors Get: Carmelo Anthony, Thunder Gets: Serge Ibaka, CJ Miles. A reminder – in the NBA players aren’t traded, contracts are. This transaction would provide our team with a one-year rental of Carmelo Anthony. If a mutual admiration society was created between player and team, great. Masai Ujiri could consider re-signing him. If not (a scenario I consider much more likely), our team would be out from under nearly $28 Million of guaranteed money and able to make some serious moves next off-season… As for surrendering Serge and C.J., I do so with no pleasure. However, Serge underperformed last season and in the playoffs, and I’m skeptical he’ll make a turnaround. We have to add C.J. to make the money work, and that’s a shame. He’s a quality player and human being, but trades hurt.”

Go ahead and rip my heart out:

Adam Wells (B/R) on Andre Roberson’s new relationship with NBA 2K’s Rachel Demita: “NBA 2KTV host Rachel Demita appears to have confirmed being in a relationship with Oklahoma City Thunder guard Andre Roberson. The Sports Quotient captured this image from Demita’s Instagram story that features a number of heart emojis floating around her and Roberson’s head. The couple has been rumored to be dating ever since Demita tagged Roberson’s Instagram handle in a post on June 13.”

Around the League: The Lakers and Spurs have re-opened talks surrounding Kawhi Leonard…. The Cavs have picked up Kendrick Perkin’s option for 2018-19…. The Spurs promoted Becky Hammon…. The Rockets picked up the final year of Mike D’Antoni’s contract…. Adam Silver received an extension with the NBA through the 2023-24 season…. Kyrie says LeBron was the NBA’s MVP.