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Tuesday Bolts: 9.18.18

Erik Horne on the OKC Blue signing KJ McDaniels: “The Oklahoma City Blue announced it retained the returning player rights of K.J. McDaniels from the Grant Rapids Drive on Monday in exchange for the returning player rights of Daniel Hamilton and its first-round draft pick. McDaniels, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound guard, averaged 16.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 27.4 minutes per game for the Drive last season. McDaniels has played in 148 career NBA games with Philadelphia, Houston and Brooklyn, averaging 5.3 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. McDaniels last played in the NBA in 2016-17 with Brooklyn, but made $100,000 with Toronto last season.”

ESPN has Steven Adams has the 47th best player in the NBA in 2018-19: “In the ever-evolving NBA, Adams doesn’t fit the mold for a big man. He’s a brute, setting vicious screens and playing with a raw physicality. But he doesn’t shoot anything outside of eight feet and doesn’t handle the ball unless he’s giving it right back to a playmaker. He is probably the best offensive rebounder in the game, a top-level pick-and-roll finisher and about as unselfish and self-deprecating as they come, making him a near perfect teammate for Russell Westbrook.”

David Aldridge (NBA.com) on Andre Roberson preparing for a fresh start after injury: “The 26-year-old Roberson will be with the team when camp begins. He has been with the Thunder all summer and been on the floor doing drill work and shooting, though he is not yet cleared for either contact work or five on five play. The Thunder will obviously be conservative with him as he nears his return to play. But the important part is that Roberson is progressing toward a return. It’s simple: OKC craters defensively when he isn’t on the court. When Roberson was on the court last season, the Thunder’s Defensive Rating was 96.4. When he was off the floor, that number soared to 107.6.”

Nick Gallo on the growth and importance of Steven Adams: “If Adams takes another step forward this offseason, the Thunder will feel quite confident in its ability to make a charge at the top of the Western Conference. Much like Collison in years past, part of Adams’ duty is to be the quarterback of the defense, talking out coverages to his four teammates on the floor throughout the possession. Last season, there were bouts of inconsistency that struck the team in injurious ways – preventing the group from getting enough stops to win. “It just comes down to our chemistry,” Adams said. “Obviously, if you play long enough with a player, you understand their tendencies and whatnot – all those small different things, especially on the defensive end.” Adams’ focus in 2018-19 is to help build a defensive cohesion within the system that is lasting and can be replicated on a night to night basis through energy and effort. At the heart of everything on both ends, Adams’ presence and his natural energy can keep everyone on the same page to get the job done – possession by possession.”

Robby Kalland (Dime Magazine) on the Thunder’s falling projected win total: “Not too much has changed over the last month in terms of who is on the 30 rosters, but heavy action, injury updates, and more have caused some numbers to rise and fall over the past month. The biggest risers from Aug. 5 to now at Westgate are the Bulls, up 2.5 games from 27.5 to 30, and the Rockets, Spurs, and Celtics, each up 1.5 games from open. The biggest drops have come for the Thunder, down 2 games from 50.5 to 48.5, the Grizzlies, down 1.5 games, and the Knicks, down 1 game. Many teams have stayed pat or moved slightly, with most movements going towards the Over, unsurprisingly as most fans bet optimistically about their team.”

Jeff Siegel (Forbes) on the NBA’s updated projections for future salary caps: “The NBA has released new salary cap projections to their teams, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Monday night. The latest projections don’t move the cap for the 2019-20 season, but both the cap and luxury tax threshold were raised by $2 million for the 2020-21 season over the last projections, which were reportedly released to teams at the end of June, when the 2018-19 numbers were finalized. Every change in the projected salary cap updates maximum contracts, the various over-the-cap exceptions, and a host of other details teams have to know inside and out to navigate the unpredictable world of free agency. It has to be noted at the beginning of any conversation about the 2020 salary cap that the league office has been notoriously inaccurate in their financial projections more than one year in advance. As one can imagine, predicting how all thirty teams will spend their available money over the next two years is nearly impossible, to say nothing of projecting Basketball Related Income between now and July 2020.”

Around the League: The Clippers have hired SI writer Lee Jenkins…. Kevin Durant wants to play in Los Angeles — for the Rams…. Marcus Smart pays tribute to his mom after losing her battle with cancer…. The Spurs have hired Brent Barry to a front office position…. NBA players react to Dwyane Wade returning…. Five teams that could target a Jimmy Butler trade…. Does Daryl Morey have one more trick up his sleeve?