Tuesday Bolts: 7.17.18
Erik Horne on where the Thunder stands with Carmelo Anthony: “August 31. The date to remember in regard to the future of Carmelo Anthony in Oklahoma City. That future won’t be for much longer. Anthony and the Thunder have mutually agreed to part ways, with a few teams like Houston and Miami circling should Anthony become available. This week, Marc Stein of the New York Times and Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports both cited Houston as the frontrunner to land Anthony once he clears waivers. What’s key to remember in the Thunder-Anthony split is that OKC has time. While the Thunder would like to find a workable trade for Anthony sooner rather than later, it also has until Aug. 31 until the option expires to stretch his remaining $27.9 million in salary over three seasons starting this season. After Aug. 31, Anthony could still be traded or bought out. But that deadline is the key to the last luxury tax saving move completely under the Thunder’s control, savings amounting to close to $100 million this season.”
Sean Highkin (B/R) on the Thunder being capable of testing Golden State in 2018-19: “Paul George’s decision to re-sign with the Thunder keeps them relevant in the playoff picture next season. But the more impactful development for Oklahoma City will be the health of defensive ace Andre Roberson, who suffered a season-ending patellar tendon rupture in January. It can’t be overstated how transformative Roberson was on the Thunder’s defense. With him on the court last season, Oklahoma City allowed opponents to score only 95.3 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com. With him out, the Thunder’s defensive rating skyrocketed to 106.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. With George and Roberson together, the Thunder have the defensive wings to hang with Curry, Thompson and Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook always gets up to play against his former teammate. Outside of a matchup with the Lakers, a Warriors-Thunder playoff series would be the best theater the Western Conference has to offer. Oklahoma City’s personnel could make things interesting.”
Nick Gallo on Terrance Ferguson’s quest to become well-rounded: “It takes a great amount of willpower and courage for a youngster of Ferguson’s ilk, with prodigious athletic talents, to deny the opportunity to show out on a national stage like Summer League. Rather than gunning for points, Ferguson accepted the Thunder coaching staff’s challenge of heaping a ton of material on his plate. “That kid is doing a hell of a job of staying within himself. I think there’s a lot of external pressure on these guys to come out and show out and be on some highlight tape,” Thunder Summer League and OKC Blue Head Coach Mark Daigneault said. “To his credit, he’s done a really good job of staying within himself, playing the right way, playing for the team and not forcing.”… Most guards come back and want these big numbers,” Ferguson said. “That’s one thing I’m definitely not worried about. I’m worried about getting better, adding to my game, becoming the best player I can become.”
Brett Dawson on the collected wisdom of OKC Blue coach, Mark Daigneault: “Growing up in Leominster, Mass. — about an hour from Boston and 20 minutes from Sam Presti’s hometown of Concord — Daigneault yearned to teach but learned early to coach. His mother, a special-education teacher and program coordinator, was an influence. So were a host of coaches whose names he can reel off even now: youth baseball coach Sid Rafuse; high school basketball coach Steve Dubzinski; and the late Mark Osowski, an NBA assistant and Leominster native who returned every summer for a camp Daigneault attended, then worked and eventually ran as a memorial. He learned basketball from Jim Calhoun, for whom he worked as a student manager at UConn, and Ralph Willard, who hired him as an assistant at Holy Cross, and from Billy Donovan, who brought him on at Florida as a graduate assistant and ultimately followed him to Oklahoma City. Last week at NBA Summer League, where Daigneault coached the Thunder’s team, he sat poolside at the Four Seasons for a chat about his coaching philosophy and influences.”
Russell Westbrook made Sports Illustrated’s list of the 50 most stylish athletes: “After being named NBA MVP in 2017, the self-proclaimed Fashion King showed no signs of slowing down this past season, averaging a triple double for the second straight year while arriving for every one of the Thunder’s 92 preseason, regular season and playoff games in a fresh look. The 29-year-old also continued his surge in the style world, launching his own fashion label called Honor the Gift, a collection of unisex streetwear inspired by the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hawthorne that helped shape him growing up. What’s next for the NBA’s sartorial sovereign? After storming the streets of Paris for Fashion Week in June, Westbrook heads back to training for another season with OKC—and yet another daily display of his unorthodox, unmatched style.”
OKCThunder.com looks back at some of the funny moments from the Thunder’s first decade in OKC: “A mascot should never rile up an opposing player, definitely not a player of Russell Westbrook’s caliber. But that’s what happened – twice! – on Jan. 20, 2013, and Nuggets fans paid the price. Westbrook blocked the backwards half-court shot attempt of Rocky during a fourth-quarter timeout. If the Nuggets’ popular mascot makes such a shot, fans get free queso. The final attempt appeared to be going in … before Westbrook snared it mid-air, prompting an eruption of boos. He wasn’t done. Rocky made one more attempt during a subsequent timeout and again Westbrook interrupted the ball’s flight, this time heaving it into the stands and inciting even louder boos. Westbrook’s final line: 36 points, eight rebounds, nine assists … and, unofficially, two blocks.”
Around the League: The Sixers tried to hire Daryl Morey out of Houston…. Can Summer League predict surprise stars and busts?…. Summer League’s winners and losers…. Inside Jabari Parker’s Chicago homecoming…. The five best unrestricted free agents left on the market…. Kemba Walker wants to stay in Charlotte…. Dante Cunningham is signing with the Spurs…. Lavar Ball says, in his prime, he would beat LeBron…. Are referees biased toward the home team?…. Making sense of the salary cap.