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Thursday Bolts: 7.12.18

Kyle Newport (B/R) on the rumored Melo/Jeremy Lin trade: “The Oklahoma City Thunder are exploring options as they look to move on from Carmelo Anthony, and the Brooklyn Nets could be a potential trade partner. Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News reported Wednesday that one possible deal would send Anthony and draft picks to Brooklyn while bringing Jeremy Lin to OKC. The Nets would then buy out Anthony, per Lawrence. ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that the Thunder were looking to move on from Anthony this summer, as it could save the team more than $100 million. Both a trade and a buyout are reportedly on the table. Between Anthony’s $27.9 million salary and his no-trade clause, dealing him could be complicated. However, he could be incentivized to approve a trade if the receiving team agreed to waive him, allowing him to become a free agent.”

Luke Adams (Hoops Rumors) looks at the financial roadblocks of the Melo/Lin swap: “While it may be true that the Thunder and Nets have explored a potential trade, it’s hard to see how it would work with Lin as the primary outgoing piece. After buying out Dwight Howard, the Nets reportedly have a little less than $11MM in cap room available, so they wouldn’t necessarily have to match Anthony’s $27.93MM salary, since salary-matching rules only apply to over-the-cap teams. Still, they’d have to send out more than Lin’s $12.5MM expiring contract in order to remain under the cap after completing a deal. The Nets could create a little extra space by waiving Isaiah Whitehead, who has a non-guaranteed $1.54MM salary, but they’d still be about $4MM short of having enough outgoing salary to complete a Lin-for-Anthony swap while remaining under the cap. The Nets players who earn less than Lin are youngsters with positive value, so the team wouldn’t simply throw them into an offer to make the money work. Adding a highly-paid vet like Allen Crabbe or DeMarre Carroll wouldn’t make much sense from the Thunder’s perspective, since their goal is to cut costs.”

Michael Walton (Yahoo) proposes a Melo-to-Chicago trade: “It has been extremely difficult for the Thunder to find suitors for Anthony’s contract because of the massive $27.9 million left on his deal. Any contending team that wants him would not be able to afford that, and that is why they are anticipating a buyout. A buyout frees a team of his salary, but they would pay Anthony whatever amount is negotiated in the buyout, and as we’ve seen with Dwyane Wade, that can be costly. But the Bulls are operating as one of the few teams with salary cap space, even after re-signing Zach LaVine. And if they want they could attempt to undo one of their more curious signings by getting involved in facilitating Anthony’s move to a new team. Here is a trade that would work: Bulls trade Cristiano Felicio and Robin Lopez to the Thunder for Carmelo Anthony.”

Erik Horne on the Thunder facing the Grizzlies today in the first round of the Summer League tournament: “The Thunder’s NBA Summer League team will play the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the knockout tournament on Thursday at 2 p.m. central. The single-elimination tournament starts Wednesday in Las Vegas, with the championship set for July 17 on ESPN. The Thunder went 2-1 in open play, its only loss coming by one point in its opening game to Charlotte on July 6. The Thunder earned the sixth overall seed in the tournament behind the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland, Phoenix, Denver and Houston. The winner will play the winner of Thursday’s Utah-Orlando game on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. If the Thunder loses Thursday, it will play a consolation game Friday against the Utah-Orlando loser at 4:30 p.m.”

Nick Gallo on Kevin Hervey’s transition to the NBA: “Most impressive to the Thunder was how Hervey played against upper echelon competition. He’ll be seeing a lot of that in the NBA, not to mention practices with the Thunder. Against Alabama, Hervey notched 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Against Creighton, another 24 points to go with 11 rebounds. If not for his injuries, Hervey may have been playing for one of those power programs, and the Thunder believes that with some natural growth and improvement, he can compete with the big boys at the NBA level too. In Vegas, Hervey’s three-point shooting off the catch and as a trail-man in transition has jumped out the most. The coaches and he himself have noted that he must stay confident on that side of the floor and be aggressive, while on defense he’s shown growth as a communicator of defensive coverages. That will be an ongoing work in progress, as defense always is in the NBA, but Hervey is up for the challenge.”

Brett Dawson on Billy Donovan having a foundation in returning stars: “From the time the season ended, every conversation I had with Paul, everything with him was forward-thinking…,” Donovan said. “He was talking to me about things later in the summer, later in training camp. It was all very open, optimistic and forward-thinking. It was never any, like, ‘I’m not sure. I may want to go through looking at some other teams.’ There was none of that at all.” So maybe George’s decision wasn’t shocking. But it’s stabilizing. Donovan is entering his fourth season with the Thunder. With Russell Westbrook and George joining him, it’ll be the first time he’s returned his top two scorers from the year before.”

Cody Taylor (Thunder Wire) on Nerlens  Noel’s “easy decision” to join the Thunder: “Russell Westbrook and Paul George are among the reasons why Nerlens Noel agreed to sign with the Thunder last week. Noel and the team agreed to a two-year contract worth the veteran minimum once free agency began last week. In addition to Westbrook and George recruiting Noel, head coach Billy Donovan played a role, as well. For Noel, it became an easy decision to sign with the Thunder once Westbrook and George reached out to him. “They called the night of free agency when I was meeting with Coach Billy,” Noel said. “They told me, ‘Let’s get it done,’ and, ‘We want to do some special things this year.’ I definitely felt where they were coming from and I gave it a little thought and as much love as they showed it became an easy decision.”

Daniel Massop (Nylon Calculus) on if Russell Westbrook’s ball-dominance hurts the Thunder: “While Westbrook is on the upper echelons’ of both offensive rating and usage, his offensive rating is not below average compared to what would be expected of a player of his usage, though it does lag behind Lebron James and James Harden, the two players on each side of him. This observation feels like both a positive and a negative, in that while there is no shame not being able to match the offensive efficiency of two of the best players in the league, it would suggest that since Westbrook isn’t able to, he probably shouldn’t have the ball in his hands as much as them. Offensive rating at a player level is fundamentally how much offense a player generates per possession, given that there are basically two ways to generate offense, as a scorer and as a passer, we will evaluate how Westbrook does compared to his peers in each of these categories. The following two graphs show Westbrook’s usage as compared to the assists that he generates amongst his high usage peers.”

Around the League: Rob Pelinka says the Lakers are designed to combat the Warriors…. Jerry West said LeBron-to-LA “was not a tough free-agent signing”…. James Ennis is headed to Houston…. Danny Ainge resents the idea that the Eastern Conference is a cakewalk…. Bill Russell is a true fan of the middle finger…. LeBron James has his eye on a second movie role…. Kevin Knox is starting a new era for the Knicks.