4 min read

Wednesday Bolts: 1.31.18

Wednesday Bolts: 1.31.18

Nick Gallo recaps last night’s loss to the Wizards: “On the third game in four nights of a challenging Detroit-Oklahoma City-Washington, D.C. sequence of games, the Thunder turned the ball over 21 times, including a critical one by Josh Huestis with the game tied with 39.4 seconds remaining. On the ensuing Thunder possession Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony rushed to get a two-for-one, and Anthony’s mid-range jumper missed. After both possessions, the Thunder committed unfortunate fouls in the backcourt, resulting in four free throws as a part of an 8-0 Wizards run to end a 102-96 Thunder loss.”

Eric Pincus (B/R) asks if OKC will break the bank to keep Paul George: “The Thunder can avoid the uncertainty if George takes an extension, but the most the team can pay him for the 2019-20 season is a below-market-value $23.4 million. That $30.3 million starting figure may be a luxury-tax back-breaker. For their current roster, the Thunder will pay roughly $24.5 million in tax on their $132.6 million in team salary. They also paid $2.8 million in taxes for the 2014-15 season and $14.5 million for 2015-16. With three of the four prior seasons as a taxpayer, the Thunder will be a repeat tax offender for the 2018-19 season, facing a dollar-for-dollar tax in addition to the league’s punitive, progressive tax rate.”

Royce Young on why Paul George being an All-Star is a win for the Thunder: “But with DeMarcus Cousins’ Achilles injury paving a way for George into the game, the Thunder somehow wound up with the best of both worlds — Westbrook made another impression on George, and now George is in the game after all. They’ll head to L.A. together as All-Stars, with a stronger knot tied between them. They’ll both be on Team LeBron, and it will be a week of bus rides to events, posing for pictures, trash-talking sessions in the locker room and showing off their sprouting chemistry. The Thunder have been playing two simultaneous games this season: embracing a potential one-year opportunity to build a contender capable of unseating the Golden State Warriors, while also not-so-subtly taking advantage of a running head start with George’s recruitment.”

Brett Dawson on expecting Alex Abrines to see more playing time: “It’s been hard for Abrines to do much of anything lately. Entering Tuesday, he’d played in four of the Thunder’s past six games but had averaged just 4.7 minutes per game. He played six minutes last Saturday in Detroit. He logged three on Sunday against Philadelphia. He logged 12 against the Wizards on Tuesday, and made 1 of 4 shots shots, including a 3-pointer with 6:39 to play that tied the game at 86-86. But with Roberson sidelined for the season with a ruptured left patellar tendon, the Thunder could use something more from the sharpshooting Spaniard. Coach Billy Donovan said before Tuesday’s game that he “definitely” wants to find more minutes for Abrines.”

The Thunder and all other NBA teams will play in the 2018 Vegas Summer League: “For the first time ever, all 30 NBA teams are headed to Las Vegas Summer League. The NBA announced the change Tuesday, saying Vegas summer league will be held from July 6-17 at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on UNLV’s campus. The expansion will add six teams and an additional 15 games to the schedule. Each team will play at least five games, and teams can play up to eight in a 12-day stretch.”

Peter Schmuck (Baltimore Sun) on the evolving Carmelo Anthony: “Totally different feeling … mentally … physically … emotionally,’’ Anthony said late Tuesday night after scoring 19 points on 7-for-21 from the field. “To have an opportunity to be a part of a winning team and getting that feeling back. The confidence that grows from that is unprecedented. I think everybody knows that. Our mindset and our goals is not just to make the playoffs. We have an opportunity to do something special here. That’s also some good confidence right there.”

Bruce Jenkins (San Francisco Chronicle) on why the Thunder pose a threat to the Warriors: “The Warriors and OKC operate on separate paths, but they each have three All-Star-caliber shooters at their disposal. Westbrook takes the big shots. He sets a tone of maniacal intensity not seen since the vintage Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, storming into the lane and just humbling people with suddenly soft layups or wicked dunks. George and Anthony, each given to dreadful shooting nights this season, have become far more consistent. They see where this is heading, and they’re fully engaged.”

Mitch Lawrence (Sporting News) on Tyreke Evans as a fit in OKC: “Evans is seen as the perfect fit in Oklahoma City. The Thunder’s bench is, to put it nicely, just this side of feeble, with only Raymond Felton presenting a threat to score. So Evans, who was compared to Dwyane Wade by former Heat assistant and Grizzlies head coach Dave Fizdale, would be a boost for Russell Westbrook and the Thunder’s Big Three…. The Grizzlies don’t expect to get much more than a first-round pick for Evans. But with Mike Conley out for the season with a heel injury and the Grizzlies refusing to discuss Marc Gasol in potential deals, at least Evans will get them the kind of asset they need going forward.”

Around the League: Kevin Love is likely out 6-8 weeks after breaking his hand…. James Harden had a 60-point triple-double last night…. The Jazz beat the Warriors by 30….. LeBron sounded off on the Blake Griffin trade…. John Wall is out 6-8 weeks with a knee injury…. Andre Drummond will replace Wall in the All-Star Game.