5 min read

Tuesday Bolts: 10.16.18

Tuesday Bolts: 10.16.18

Nick Gallo (okcthunder.com) previews tonight’s season opener versus the Warriors: “Paul George has the sure footing of a leader, a man who is secure in his future. Newcomer Dennis Schröder has a new gold and Thunder-blue streak in his hair. Head Coach Billy Donovan has the confidence of a man with experience under his belt and a hard-working group in his huddle. The Thunder may not have a totally healthy roster or clarity on who will be in the lineup or rotation for opening night against the defending champion Golden State Warriors, but it has equal parts joy and determination to start the 2018-19 campaign on Tuesday night. Possibly without a pair of starters in Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson, the Thunder could be shorthanded in the backcourt against one of the NBA’s most potent shooting groups, but Donovan’s club will compete at a high level and learn more about itself. “With their shooting and their offensive firepower and then their overall skill level, everything certainly gets heightened,” Donovan said. “(Against) a team like them – having discipline, having communication, not having breakdowns, those things are critical.”

Kurt Helin (Yahoo) on tonight’s injury report: “No Russell Westbrook. No Andre Roberson. Maybe no Steven Adams. This is not what the NBA had in mind when they sent Oklahoma City to Golden State for the second game of the NBA’s opening night doubleheader on national television. But, that’s the reality due to injury. Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on right knee back on Sept. 12 and it was expected to be re-evaluated around the start of the season. However, with the marathon of the NBA season about to start no way the Thunder were never going to rush him back, national television and the Warriors or not. While it’s less than ideal, getting it dealt with and missing training camp and a few games is better than to risk something worse during the season.”

Erik Horne (Oklahoman) on Westbrook being the question and the difference against the Warriors: “The Thunder opens the regular season on Tuesday in Oakland. And even with indications that Westbrook won’t be available nearly five weeks removed from arthroscopic knee surgery, the curiosity around his status for Thunder-Warriors won’t cease until game time. Nor will the questions for coach Billy Donovan. He gets the same ones every day, and it won’t change until his star points guard is back. Since Westbrook’s re-evaluation benchmark of four weeks passed Oct. 10, Donovan has run out of ways to relay the daily updates he’s being told by the Thunder’s medical staff and Westbrook. “You guys are just doing your job,” Donovan said when asked if he’s eager for Westbrook’s return, not just to have one of the NBA’s best players back, but so the questions can stop. “I respect and understand that. I get it. He’s obviously an important piece to our team.” Arguably no piece was as important at toppling the Warriors last season, when Westbrook helped orchestrate a 2-2 split with the two-time defending champions while averaging 31.8 points and shooting 47.9 percent from the field.”

Mark Gallant (Action Network) on the betting lines for tonight: “Oklahoma City Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook is nursing a knee injury and is looking more and more doubtful to play against the Golden State Warriors (10:30 p.m. ET on TNT). The Warriors opened as 11.5-point favorites on Sunday with Westbrook listed as questionable, but had moved to -12 by Monday afternoon. Then on Monday night, the line moved even further to -12.5. Westbrook’s potential absence is also causing the over/under to drop.  After opening at 223.5 and rising to 224, the total has since dropped to 221.5.”

Rob Mahoney (SI) on the rebirth of Thunder basketball: “George needed to see firsthand what his arrival meant to the organization. He had to get in a room with Westbrook to understand that there was more to his new teammate than high-strung play and seething vendettas. “If you’re playing against him, he’s not friendly,” George says. “He’s not gonna come up and talk to you. He’s not gonna say, ‘How was your night?’ He’s not gonna shake your hand after the game. That’s not Russ.” For Westbrook, the team is a sacred construct. There is a bright line between those who wear a Thunder uniform and those who do not; crossing it is the difference between Westbrook’s unconditional support and his refusal to acknowledge your existence. It would have been easy, in light of recent defections, for Westbrook to close himself off. The Thunder staked their future on the idea that he wouldn’t. Westbrook, after all, never was one for change.”

The accompanying SI cover:

Joel Beall (Golf Digest?) on Steven Adams’ comments on PG re-signing: “The NBA has turned into a soap opera, with unending trade requests, staged practice fights, burner accounts and and players leaving the locker room to pick up food in media dining. Perhaps that explains why, with the new campaign tipping off Tuesday night, the league already feels like it’s in mid-season form, and not in a good way. Certainly all the drama can lead to burn out. Which is why Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams avoids all NBA-related news. To the point that the New Zealand big man entered training camp not knowing who was on his team. “I don’t keep up with that s—, mate,” Adams told Sports Illustrated. “I’m f—— terrible. I just show up and whoever’s on the team, cool.”

Dennis Schroder’s funky hair is back in time for the regular season:

Jenni Carlson (Oklahoman) on the Thunder hoping to be a disrupter this season: “Much has been made of the Thunder not only re-signing but also extending George. It’s a big deal, no doubt. But in many ways, it has overshadowed all the other roster moves. Thunder general manager Sam Presti and his front-office team have made this bunch more youthful, more agile, more athletic. Jerami Grant was re-signed. Dennis Schroder, Nerlens Noel, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Abdul Nader were acquired. Hamidou Diallo was signed. It’s not only that those guys are in but also that these guys are out: Carmelo Anthony, Corey Brewer, Josh Huestis, Dakari Johnson and Kyle Singler. Having more guys like Grant and Schroder and less like Melo can help you win more in today’s NBA. This roster now has as many turbo-charged athletes as any in the league.”

Brett Dawson (The Athletic) sat down for a Q-&-A with Terrance Ferguson: “You throw any assignment at me, I’m gonna take it on as best I can. I’m not gonna complain about it. I feel like I’m a coachable player. Whatever Coach needs me to do at that point in time, that’s what I’m gonna do to the best of my ability. I respect the coaches throwing more at me, testing how good I am, the player I am. I’m gonna take on any challenge.”

It’s time:

Around the League: Like the Thunder before them, the Warriors must now wait on KD’s future…. Paul Allen dies at age 65…. The Knicks will not extend Kristaps Porzingis before the season…. Myles Turner signed an extension with the Pacers…. Larry Nance signed an extension with the Cavs…. Jayson Tatum was built for this…. 10 storylines to watch this season…. Zach Lowe’s crazy predictions.