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Thursday Bolts: 6.7.18

Dan Favale (B/R) on every team’s weakness heading into the Draft and free agency: “Oklahoma City Thunder: Power Forward. Anthony grappled with his accessory role, turning in a career-worst true shooting percentage. He mostly said all the right things through the regular season and playoffs, but he began the summer seething at the notion of additional concession. With a $27.9 million early termination option he has no reason to use, Anthony is now a stain on the Thunder’s books. They’ll persevere and perhaps even imitate progress with the return of Paul George and a healthy Andre Roberson. But their glass ceiling will persist so long as Anthony is at the 4, fancying himself anything more than an offensive subsidiary or second-unit hub. At the same time, Oklahoma City is light on impactful pivots. Josh Huestis and Jerami Grant are both free agents, and their defensive activity comes at a spacing cost the offense remains ill-equipped to withstand. Patrick Patterson flopped during his first year on the Thunder. He canned 38.6 percent of his treys, but on negligible volume and as an afterthought in a rotation that so badly needs him to be its backup 5.”

Matt Norlander (CBS Sports) has a two-round mock NBA Draft: OKC Thunder (53): Malik Newman, SG, Kansas — Looks like an NBA player, but worry about his streakiness. Wins the workout… OKC Thunder (57): Karim Jallow, SF, Germany — German combo forward who sizes up well to be a potential rotation player/glue guy on a team with needs in the mid-range and interior.”

Cody Taylor (USA Today) on the Thunder’s interest in Oregon State’s Drew Eubanks: “The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 13.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.1 assists in 32 games last season for the Beavers. He shot a career-high 62.4 percent from the field on 8.2 shot attempts per game. Eubanks projects to fit into the modern NBA game as a big man with a lot of athleticism that can handle the ball and run the floor. A large portion of his game used that athleticism to cut off of the ball. He also became an exceptional offensive rebounder at Oregon State, as well. He ranked 12th in the Pac-12 in offensive rebounds per game with 1.8 per game. In addition, he finished fifth in the Pac-12 in blocks and recorded two games with six total blocks last year. With his athleticism and ability to make hustle plays, Eubanks figures to be a player that can improve with further development in an NBA system. With two late second-round picks, he could be a good pick up and project for the Thunder.”

Gavin Axelrod (Raptors Rapture) with a Thunder/Raptors trade idea featuring OKC’s two second-round picks: “Delon Wright is a budding young point guard stuck in a bit of an awkward situation. All-Star Kyle Lowry sits ahead of him in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, Fred VanVleet, serves as Toronto’s primary floor general off the bench. The Toronto Raptors may strongly consider moving the 26-year-old this summer. Wright will carry a cap hit of $2.5 million in 2018-19 and will have a $3.6 million dollar qualifying offer for 2019-2020. If issued the qualifying offer, Wright will become a restricted free agent… Raptors Get: 53rd, 57th overall picks, Thunder Get: Delon Wright… On the Raptors side, this trade seems a bit suspect. Sure, Toronto would acquire two second-round picks, however, unless there are two players management absolutely loves, selecting from #53 and #57 is never a sure thing.”

Brett Dawson on the Thunder being represented on the Forbes richest athletes list: “According to the ranking, Westbrook is making  $47.6 million this year — $28.6 million in salary, plus $19 million in endorsements. He’s not the only Thunder player to crack the top 100. The Thunder point guard is the 13th highest-paid athlete in 2018, according to Forbes magazine, which ranks the top 100 annually.  According to the ranking, Westbrook is making  $47.6 million this year — $28.6 million in salary, plus $19 million in endorsements. He’s not the only Thunder player to crack the top 100. Carmelo Anthony is No. 38 on the list, earning $33.2 million ($26.2 million in salary and $7 million in endorsements). Paul George is No. 57 at $27.1 million ($19.6 million in salary and $7.5 million in endorsements). Steven Adams ranks 86th, making $23.5 million ($22.5 million in salary and $1 million in endorsements).”

Gabe Zaldivar (Forbes) on the Lakers’ path toward a superteam: “Still, there is being nice and being honest, and this team as constructed, even with Randle coming back, is a threat to make the playoffs not win it all. It will take more than just Paul George too. In that regard, at the very least, there seems to be some momentum building. Adrian Wojnarowski was on ESPN’s “NBA Draft: On the Clock” and reported that the two NBA stars were expected to discuss the potential of a Los Angeles coup in the coming weeks, via The Oklahoman: “That’s gonna be a conversation or conversations (George and James) are gonna have once we get toward July.” Regardless of how immense his talent, it’s hard to see how a tandem of James and George alongside a bunch of kids are going to wade through the gauntlet of the Warriors, Rockets and other up-tempo western conference teams. Presumably, the Lakers would still need more proven talent to entice James to come to the land of a thousand In-n-Outs. That could come in the form of a trade for Kawhi Leonard—although there has been little movement in San Antonio in that regard. And it’s hard to see Gregg Popovich blessing the kind of trade that would usurp the Spurs own stamp on the upper echelon of the conference.”

Sam Amick (USA Today) on KD’s Game 3 putting an end to iso-ball chatter: “In those months leading up to Durant’s controversial decision, the Warriors were well aware that he was drawn to their selfless style of play in which ball movement is king. The your-turn-my-turn approach with Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City had grown tiring over the years, and Curry & Co. offered a unique and special alternative. But this postseason has been a balancing act on that front, with Durant learning more than ever how to blend the best of his old ways with the new. It hasn’t always been this pretty, but Game 3 was the latest proof that this combo works in the kind of way that continues to shape the league at large. Not only was Durant’s magnificent scoring ability on full display, with no shot more iconic than the 33-footer with 49 seconds left that put the Warriors up six. He was a playmaker, a defender, a rebounder. And just like that, the noise about his future and this fit quiets.”

Around the League: KD went for 43 points and put the Dubs up 3-0 in the Finals…. LeBron knows how this movie will end…. The tables have turned on KD & LeBron’s one-sided rivalry…. LeBron passed MJ for most 30-point playoff performances…. The players chose James Harden for MVP…. Chris Paul wants a max contract to stay in Houston…. Alvin Gentry agreed to a contract extension in New Orleans…. DeAndre Ayton believes he’ll go No. 1 in the draft…. Burner Accounts 101.