4 min read

Thursday Bolts: 9.28.17

Thursday Bolts: 9.28.17

Nick Gallo recaps day two of Thunder training camp: “Just two practices into U.S. Cellular Thunder Training Camp, and incoming veterans like Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton are already taking ownership of their roles on the team. Whether it’s working with younger players off to the side like George and Anthony did with Jerami Grant and Terrance Ferguson, and Felton did with Semaj Christon today, or putting everything into building chemistry and continuity right away, the Thunder’s new All-Star talents are working in concert with the team’s leader, Russell Westbrook.”

Scott Rafferty (Sporting News) on Melo bringing elite offense back to OKC: “Anthony’s shooting will open up opportunities for others as well. Whereas the lane was often crowded when Andre Roberson, Oladipo and Sabonis shared the court last season, the combination of George and Anthony will give Steven Adams much more space to roll to the basket. The same goes for when they downsize with Jerami Grant at power forward or center. The spacing will still be cramped at times with Westbrook, Roberson, Adams and/or Grant on the court, but they should now have enough shooting to be an elite offensive team again.”

Former Thunder power forward Lance Thomas wrote a message to Carmelo Anthony in the Players’ Tribune: “I was traded to the Knicks from, of all places, OKC. It was midseason, January 2015, and I was on a 10-day contract. It was a dream, of course, being in New York and being on the same team as you. But I also knew it would probably all be very temporary. I did everything I could — in every minute of practice and every second of floor time I got — in order to stick around. I was vocal, I was physical and I just tried to play my heart out. And you noticed.”

Brett Dawson on Paul George taking early ownership with the Thunder: “The Thunder forward is finding his fishing spots in Oklahoma City and learning Billy Donovan’s coaching terminology and getting comfortable with a new set of teammates. But already, he’s putting down roots on his new roster and a stamp on his new situation. That’s why George – still an OKC short-timer – was so comfortable making a pitch for Carmelo Anthony to waive his no-trade clause and accept a move to the Thunder. It’s why he was politicking for Dwyane Wade to get in on the fun before Wade chose to sign with Cleveland. ‘I mean, I am a Thunder. I’m a Thunder,’ George said Wednesday. ‘My job is to make this team as good as possible, elevate this team as much as possible.‘”

Fred Katz discusses how the Thunder stars will benefit the bench: “Production within the starting lineup won’t just increase because of the infusion of scoring ability. Thunder coach Billy Donovan has the luxury of spreading out the points now, something he used to do when Kevin Durant was still playing next to Westbrook. The bench will improve with the guaranteed presence of at least one of the Thunder’s new big three. ‘I think as much as possible if he can have either one of us or two of us on the court at all times, it only elevates the team,’ George said.”

Cliff Brunt (AP) on the evolution of Sam Presti: “Westbrook said he has respected Presti since the Thunder made him the fourth overall pick in 2008. ‘He’s finding ways to constantly keep making us a better team,” Westbrook said. ‘You definitely are very, very thankful to have somebody like that in charge of making those decisions. He’s done an amazing job with that.’

Billy Donovan spoke on Rick Pitino and the scandal rocking NCAA basketball: “I wouldn’t be standing where I am today without Coach Pitino, the investment he made in my life. I think the values and things that he taught me — I haven’t spoken to him. I don’t know all the things that are going on there, but him being a college coach and then working for him for five years, we’ve always remained very close, and I feel bad for all he’s dealing with and Louisville is dealing with right now.”

Important, very serious questions for every team in the Western Conference: “Who has to say ‘uncle’ here?” At 33, Carmelo Anthony certainly has age and all that comes with it—experience, 10 All-Star selections, a masterful get-off-my-lawn-with-your-Snapchat face. But Paul George—with a player option next season, and as a player who is, y’know, better—needs to be catered to more. Then there’s Russell Westbrook, the reigning MVP. I guess this will be solved in-season, not in training camp, when one of them has to take the final shot.”

Reggie Jackson discusses what he told Paul George about OKC: “I told him everything about the organization. It’s well-run, what to expect, great fans and just go out there and play. Go out there and compete every night and be as great as he can be.”

Nike is set to release shirts featuring shots of NBA stars: “The shirts, which will run for $45 each, have an iconic image of some of the game’s best players. Run through the gallery above to see the threads that feature LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin and Kristaps Porzingis.”