Paul George sat out yesterday’s practice due to illness: “Considering it’s just an illness, George likely won’t be in line for an extended absence, though it certainly brings his availability into question for Wednesday’s game against the Magic. That said, George still has two days off for additional rest and recovery, so there’s a decent chance he’s able to make substantial progress over that time.”
Cork Gaines (Business Insider) on OKC being 2017’s highest-paid sports team in the world: “The Oklahoma City Thunder are the new highest-paid sports team in the world, with players making an average of $9.3 million during the 2017-18 season. This is according to the annual “Global Sports Salaries Survey,” published by Sporting Intelligence. The study looks at the first-team pay for 348 teams across seven different sports in 18 different leagues around the world.”
Nick Gallo with yesterday’s practice report: “After a day of rest following the Thunder’s home-road, back-to-back down I-35 over the weekend, Head Coach Billy Donovan and the crew got back to work at the INTEGRIS Thunder Development Center to hone in on some of those small details on offense that can trip teams up in the half court. Steven Adams explained that even his footwork and the angle he uses on a screen can be the difference between a wide open three for a teammate, or a busted possession that results in a tough, contested shot. “If you execute the play well and really set up your guy, do all the little things, then that’ll allow for the passes,” Adams explained. “Obviously we need to move the ball more, but setting up your guy to get a nice, open pass – a crisp, easy one – that makes a big difference, too.”
Fred Katz on the Thunder still looking for an extra guy: “Forward Josh Huestis was that guy against the Pistons. Shooting guard Alex Abrines, who did not receive rotation minutes Saturday, has been it before. So have forward Jerami Grant and point guard Raymond Felton. Power forward Patrick Patterson was supposed to play that role coming into the year but hasn’t performed up to expectations… Some teams have a defined sixth man. Some search for it. The Thunder are scrambling for that player early. And it’s led them to indecision late. Come closing time, they don’t yet have a fifth man.”
Brett Dawson on Terrance Ferguson’s expanding role: “Ferguson had season highs in minutes (21) and points (seven) against the Mavericks, his first game with double-digit minutes since Oklahoma City’s season-opening win against the Knicks. “Hopefully, it’s not necessarily a one-time thing,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of Ferguson’s playing time. “Hopefully, we can continue to build upon what he did against Dallas. But I also think finding combinations is important, too. And I think we’re still obviously working to try to figure those things out.”
Erik Horne with Steven Adams’ comments on what’s plaguing the OKC offense: “Adams said it’s the “small things … lazy stuff” that’s hurting the Thunder’s offense. The Thunder currently ranks 22nd in the NBA in points per 100 possessions (102.4), ranking one spot ahead of the 4-12 Atlanta Hawks. “Me for example, I’ll sometimes just cheat the play,” Adams said. “I want to get a really good hit on this guy. Does that make sense? Me not doing that, it doesn’t give him that one step that he needs to actually get a better position like say two or three things down the road in the play. Tiny things and being able to stay disciplined and do that.”
Kenny Ducey (SI) has the Thunder 18th in his latest power rankings: “I know the Thunder continue to slide in these rankings week after week—and they beat the Warriors last week, which is a huge deal—but they’re not nearly as dangerous as they should be right now. Melo just hasn’t clicked with this unit yet, though he and Russ have improved their play together.”
Around the League: Blake Griffin may be down with a serious knee injury…. The Grizzlies fired head coach David Fizdale…. Tony Parker made his season debut last night…. Parker also said Kawhi Leonard is a couple weeks away from returning…. Kevin Durant sounded off on race relations in America…. The Kings beat the Warriors as KD and Steph sat.