Brett Dawson on Alex Abrines and his upcoming summer: “Ask the Thunder guard what lies ahead this summer, and he’ll tell you right away what matters most. “The most important thing in my life,” Abrines said. “A wedding.” This summer in his native Spain, Abrines will tie the knot with fiancé Carla Garcia, and though she’s taken the lead in preparations, Abrines is “trying to get involved.” “Sometimes I’ve got to say no because she wants a lot,” Abrines said with a laugh. But, yeah, I try to. I try to give her as much as she wants. I know it’s our day, and it’s going to be the best day of our lives, and I just want her to be happy.” The wedding matters more than anything. But it’s an important offseason on and off the court for Abrines, a 6-foot-6 guard coming off his second season in the NBA. Abrines’ contract runs through next season, and though he’s shown flashes of potential with the Thunder, his health and inconsistency have kept him from thriving stateside. He’ll be 25 when next season starts, and there remains a sense that he can do more in the NBA.”
Fred Katz grades Abrines’ 2017-18 season: “Abrines won’t ever become the Thunder’s top defender. He just needs to get to a place where Donovan doesn’t feel like he’s a detriment. The Thunder’s starters with Abrines at shooting guard allowed a dreadful 113.7 points per 100 possessions this past season. And Oklahoma City’s defense was 2.3 points per 100 worse overall when he was on the floor. But Abrines’ shooting is particularly important on a team that struggled from beyond the arc all season. Westbrook can excel most with 3-point threats around him. Yet, he played most of this year alongside at least two non-shooters, considering how many minutes Adams, Brewer and Andre Roberson received. If the Thunder, however, can find a way to maximize Abrines’ playing time, driving lanes open up. More efficient shots sprout. Westbrook can improve, as can the Thunder offense. Abrines just has to give them reason to play him. And Donovan has to realize when that reason becomes too obvious to ignore.”
Berry Tramel grades Patrick Patterson’s season: “Patterson spread the floor. That was his chief assignment offensively, and he did that. Patterson made 38.6 percent of his 3-point shots, up from the 37.3 percent he made in four Toronto seasons. And Patterson knew his role – 64.3 percent of his shots this season were from behind the arc; only Abrines and Ferguson had a higher percentage. But among rotational players, Patterson ranked only sixth in 3-point attempts per 36 minutes. He needed to shoot more.”
Michael Ginnitti (Spotrac) breaks down the financial futures of the NBA’s biggest free agents: “The Thunder’s attempt at throwing three great players together for a 1-year run bombed out early this postseason, putting the franchise in a bit of question going forward, starting with the future of Paul George. George holds a $20.7M player option for the upcoming season, nearly $10M less than the maximum salary he can obtain by opting-out of this current deal (likely). The good news for OKC? By trading for George last summer, they acquired his Bird Rights, meaning they can offer him a 5 year, $175.7M extension this summer, $45M more than any other team will be able to provide. Should George decide to play elsewhere, the most he can sign on for will be 4 years, $130M. If he chooses to play the 1+1, he’ll be looking at a maximum $30.3M salary for 2018-19, with a slightly higher player option for 2019-20. Rumors about George to the Lakers have been swirling for 2+ years now, and it can finally become a reality this summer should the two sides come together. His financial outcome likely hinges on who goes (or comes) with him. If he’s the lone big dog to sign in LA, look for a maximum contract to come with it.”
Kyle Manthe (Valley of the Suns) pitches a trade idea that lands Steven Adams in Phoenix: “Phoenix Gets: Steven Adams, OKC Gets: Marquese Chriss, Jared Dudley, Picks 16 & 32 / For the Thunder, the opportunity to add three young players on cheap contracts to put around Russell Westbrook for the next few years while also sending out their second biggest contract would be a good haul. They also get Dudley’s expiring contract which can be very valuable for use in a future trade. If nothing else, Dudley is a veteran who is great in the locker room for any team. Getting a proven starting center to build around with in this trade makes it a huge win for the Suns – it also eliminates this risk that they strike out in free agency.”
Joe Wolfond (The Score) on OKC’s role in keeping Giannis Antetokounmpo out of Toronto: “The Raptors didn’t own a first-rounder that year, because they’d traded it to the Houston Rockets a year earlier in exchange for Kyle Lowry. The Rockets wound up trading that pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of the James Harden deal, and the Raptors tried to get it back from the Thunder on the eve of Antetokounmpo’s draft. The Thunder might’ve been amenable to a deal, too, if their prime target hadn’t fallen to them at No. 12. “Masai had a deal in Toronto,” Wojnarowski said Friday on “The Woj Pod.” “I remember Masai was working with Oklahoma City on a possible trade. I think Oklahoma was at 10 that year and they took Steven Adams. Ten or 11 or 12, somewhere in there. And once Adams made it to the Thunder, there was no trade. But I think if Adams had gotten taken ahead of them, Oklahoma City may have traded out of there, and Toronto would’ve gotten (Giannis).”
Miles DeCaro (Sonics Rising) pens a Seattle-oriented farewell to Nick Collison: “We wish you were able to spend your whole career in Seattle. We appreciate your authenticity and willingness to speak about the Sonics moving from Seattle. We’ll look for you in the water at Seafair, at Laredo’s now that you’re too old for Pesos, at Seattle Center and in the parks with your daughter during another beautiful Seattle summer. We can’t wait until the team comes back soon and you are there for some games, too.”
Around the League: The Warriors took a 1-0 lead over Houston in the WCF…. Mike D’Antoni said KD isn’t Houston’s main concern…. Breaking down tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery…. The Bucks and Raptors are interested in hiring Mike Budenholzer…. The Supreme Court has allowed states to legalize sports gambling…. How legal betting will change how you watch sports.