Royce Young on the unique bond between Russell Westbrook and Mo Cheeks: “For Westbrook, it has always been about controlled chaos, like Pecos Bill trying to rope the cyclone. Cheeks is often the lasso, the intermediary between the method and the madness. Teammates that have known Westbrook for years rave about his growth as a leader. He has gone through a public evolution, with his mistakes amplified on the biggest stages and under playoff spotlights, but as he has aged he’s learned to wrangle his outbursts and channel them into positivity. “He used to get frustrated and go sideways,” Nick Collison said of Westbrook a couple seasons ago, “but he’s able to now sit down, snap out of it, come back, say something to build some confidence and help the team.” And without question, Cheeks’ mentorship and measured advice has been part of that process.”
Andrew Sharp (SI) with a guide to the 2019 MVP race: “Westbrook will probably never win another MVP, and that’s fine. The delirium of 2017 will be powering arguments for another 20 years regardless. But no, Westbrook’s here because you can go three-quarters of the way through the odds, and there just aren’t many real contenders. Guys like John Wall (75/1), Donovan Mitchell (45/1), Karl Towns (50/1), Damian Lillard (35/1)… It’s nice that Vegas is acknowledging them, but it’s probably not happening. Likewise, if Houston takes a small step back and voters get tired of celebrating routine Harden dominance, that removes another contender as well. So isn’t it possible that a few more of the MVP favorites drop out for various reasons? And what if the Thunder take last season’s underachieving talent and finish with the second-best record in the West? Wouldn’t people have to credit Westbrook in that scenario? If nothing else, there’s a real possibility that we get three months of podcasts arguing about this until everyone is miserable.”
Russ and CJ McCollum went at it yesterday in some pickup ball:
Jeff Garcia (Fox29 San Antonio) on Josh Huestis receiving an invite to Spurs training camp: “According to a report from Fred Katz at MassLive.com, NBA forward Josh Huestis has secured a training camp spot with the San Antonio Spurs. Huestis has been seen at the Spurs practice facility already training with the team as training camp nears. Also spotted with the Spurs has been Josh McRoberts and Gerald Henderson. Josh last played in the NBA with the Thunder in the 2017-18 season averaging 2.3 points per game in 69 games played. He also spent time in the G League with the Blue. Huestis is 6-7, 230 lbs. and was drafted 29th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.”
Been Beecken (Dunking With Wolves) on Minnesota’s interest in Corey Brewer: “Brewer is now 32 years old and remains a strangely decent player. He never figured out how to consistently make 3-pointers, although he hit a shocking 38.9 percent of corner threes in 18 games for the Thunder down the stretch last year. That said, he’s still a serviceable wing defender and is potent in the open floor. It’s unclear what role he’d play on this year’s Wolves team, but I think I speak for all Timberwolves fans when I say that the fanbase needs a third tour of Brew.”
Colin Ward-Henninger (CBS Sports) with the Thunder/Sonics all-time starting five: “PG: Gary Payton, SG: Russell Westbrook, SF: Kevin Durant, PF: Shawn Kemp, C: Jack Sikma… Close calls: Lest we forget, the Thunder used to be the Seattle SuperSonics, which gives them a pretty stacked team. Ray Allen had five great seasons in Seattle, but loses out to Westbrook’s MVP season and triple-double wizardry. Players like Spencer Haywood, Rashard Lewis and Detlef Schrempf also come to mind, but there’s just nowhere to put them.”
Russ made an appearance at New York Fashion Week:
Around the League: Udonis Haslem is returning to Miami for his 16th season…. The GOAT at every position…. Superstars most likely to be traded next…. The Celtics’ biggest problem is a good one to have…. Ray Allen was more than a machine…. LeBron is comfortable leading the NBA on social issues…. Beats By Dre is now the NBA’s official headphone.