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Tuesday Bolts: 7.3.18

Royce Young on Nerlens Noel joining the Thunder: “Free-agent center Nerlens Noel has agreed to a two-year minimum deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, league sources tell ESPN. The second year is a player option. The agreement was first reported Yahoo! Sports. Noel, 24, was drafted sixth overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in 2013 and then traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. He appeared in 30 games last season for the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. Noel dealt with a thumb injury that caused him to miss a lot of time last season, and was suspended five games in early April for violating the league’s anti-drug program.”

Rohan Nadkarni (SI) on the Thunder boosting the frontcourt with Noel and Jerami Grant: “Noel is coming in at basically no risk to the Thunder, with a minimal impact on their salary cap. I think it’s a good sign Noel wanted to rebuild his career with a contender instead of seeking a payday with any other club. Sure, teams probably weren’t lining up to hand Noel big money, but it’s a positive for OKC that he seemingly values winning and culture to help get his career back on track. Noel can provide a lot of what Grant does at center at a fraction of the price. He’s athletic enough to hang with small-ball lineups, and he should provide a good roll option for OKC ball-handlers. Noel is far from a perfect player. And the concerns about his attitude are fair. He has no more time for halftime hot dogs. But if the Thunder can coax a committed performance from someone determined to rebuild his career, it’s a no-brainer to bring in Noel to be a backup for Adams.”

Kevin Pelton (ESPN) discusses the Thunder adding Noel: “Noel likely found himself picking among minimum deals. Oklahoma City is an interesting choice. Unless the Thunder plan to play Noel with starting center Steven Adams, he’ll probably be limited to backup minutes behind Adams, who averaged 32.7 minutes per game last season. This might not be an ideal opportunity for Noel to rebuild his value. From Oklahoma City’s standpoint, Noel isn’t a perfect fit. He’ll push Grant out of the backup center role he played last season, and Grant-Noel frontcourts will be shooting-challenged. On the plus side, Noel should help the Thunder on the defensive glass, a major weakness when Grant played center. Moreover, Oklahoma City couldn’t deny the value, particularly with money tight for a team paying the repeater tax.”

Erik Horne on the Thunder’s interest in Tyreke Evans: “The Thunder met with free agent guard Tyreke Evans on Sunday night in Los Angeles, according to multiple reports. The Evans-OKC meeting was first reported by Travis Singleton. With the Thunder looking to bolster wing depth, Evans is an intriguing option who has also reportedly received interest from the Warriors and Lakers. Per ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes, Evans was scheduled to meet with the Lakers on Monday. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound combo guard had a bounce-back year with Memphis last season after battling injury the previous two seasons in New Orleans and Sacramento. For the Grizzlies, Evans started 32 of 52 games, averaging 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 30.9 minutes per game, including 39.9 percent from 3-point range (114-of-286).”

An inside look at the party Paul George announced his return to OKC at:

Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) on OKC proving to be a hard place to leave: “Here’s what Oklahoma City really proved last Saturday night. It’s just better at this than everybody else. It’s better in the draft, where in successive seasons, with the Nos. 2, 4 and 3 picks, general manager Sam Presti selected Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, three future Hall of Famers, one reigning MVP and two previous ones. That’s not to mention Serge Ibaka with the 24th pick in the 2008 draft, Steven Adams with the 12th pick in 2013, even Reggie Jackson, chosen in 2011, has had a terrific career as a 24th pick. OKC drafts value as well or better than any front office in the league. Still, that’s not really breaking new ground. Many league observers might cop to that. More stunning is what happened Saturday night, when George committed without even giving the Los Angeles Lakers, the team of his youth, a meeting. More stunning was locking up Westbrook, another Southern California native, in the long term prior to last season. More stunning is ownership’s willingness to write the checks that must be written.”

Brett Dawson on the Thunder looking for consistency moving forward: “The Thunder has a core of George, Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams locked up for at least three more seasons together; forward Jerami Grant agreed to a three-year deal on Saturday night; and general manager Sam Presti can go about the business of building around that foundation. But naysayers will point to the Warriors’ dynasty, to the Thunder’s uneven regular season and its first-round exit at the hands of an up-and-coming Utah team and wonder: Can a team built around George, Westbrook and Adams make any real postseason noise? So what’s next for the Thunder? How does it go from 48-win playoff team to title contender while its power trio is in its prime? We can start to answer that question by asking a few more.”

Jonathan Wasserman (B/R) has Terrance Ferguson as the 41st best player at NBA Summer League: “An athletic shooter, Ferguson figures to play more this season. This will be an important summer league for him to boost his confidence heading into training camp. He’ll always be valued for his jump shot over his dribble, but improving on the ball as a creator should be a priority as well.”

OKCThunder.com counts the 10 defining moments from a decade of Thunder basketball: “Despite a 95-94 loss in Game 6 of its first-round series to the defending and eventual back-to-back NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, Thunder fans stayed in their seats several minutes after the final buzzer to applaud the team as it left the court. “We fought so hard as a team,” Russell Westbrook said after the loss. “All of us. We feel we can take that next step.” Two seasons later, the Thunder would defeat the Lakers in the second round en route to the 2012 NBA Finals.”

Around the League: DeMarcus Cousins is signing with the Warriors…. Are the Warriors completely unstoppable now?…. Twitter reacts to the Boogie news…. Don’t hate the Warriors — hate the system that allowed it to happen…. Rajon Rondo is headed to the Lakers…. Julius Randle will be a Pelican…. Avery Bradley is returning to the Clippers…. Kobe discusses LeBron on the Lakers…. Previewing the Western Conference playoff race…. What does the East look like after LeBron’s exit?