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Wednesday Bolts: 10.2.19

Both Andre Roberson and Billy Donovan say that the shooting guard is practicing without restrictions:

Both Jerami Grant and Patrick Patterson have had their Media Day quotes with their new respective teams tweeted and retweeted ad nauseum, with the former calling the Thunder a “sinking ship” and the latter talking about an organizational-wide failure. I’m inclined to agree with Brandon that these are probably not the pointed barbs some have taken them to be. You also may have noticed a lot of general “ball movement” speak coming from Thunder players, perhaps alluding to some Westbrookian shackles coming off the offense. I think 1) being mildly honest and interesting on the podium is always a good thing and 2) if these players do want to put an ex-teammate or organization on blast, we shouldn’t do much more than tentatively connect the dots. I’d rather they really go for the jugular explicitly if that’s their aim, as opposed to speaking cryptically and counting on Twitter overreactors to do their bidding.

Michael Pina (SB Nation) votes “don’t tank” for the Thunder’s 2019-20 season: Assuming they hang on to their veterans, Oklahoma City can be the type of team that rarely beats itself, with more shooting than its recently had, and emboldened contribution from supporting pieces. Most of them are, to varying degrees, established, confident, proud, and growing. Much of their success will ultimately depend on Paul — who’s 34 and hasn’t made an All-Star team since 2016 — and how the organization adjusts to such a stark stylistic modification at the point guard position. The downshift from Westbrook’s merciless house fire to Paul’s methodical slow burn may do good for a group that’s viewed chaos as a savior over the past few years.”

Zach Kram (The Ringer) puts the Russell Westbrook/Kevin Durant tandem in context for his “One-Two” punch historical rankings: “The Thunder qualified for this list for both 2011-12 and 2012-13, and they would have done so for 2013-14 and 2014-15 had Westbrook and Durant not suffered long-term injuries. No other recent duo comes close to that volume or longevity. The Thunder thrived with Westbrook and Durant dominating the offense.”

I appreciate Ben Golliver (Washington Post) refraining from clowning on Kyrie Irving’s basketball takery long enough to take seriously his very relatable, existential testimony about grief and vocation: “Clearly, Irving has given his loss, and his response to it, a lot of thought. On the podium, he expressed guilt at not communicating with his grandfather in the days before his death and he apologized to the Celtics for internalizing his pain. He also took responsibility for a disappointing season that was at the mercy of his mood swings, one that ended in a second-round exit so ugly that his offseason departure became a foregone conclusion. “I barely got a chance to talk to my grandfather before he passed, from playing basketball,” Irving said. “You tell me if you want to go to work every single day knowing that you just lost somebody close to you. A lot of the battles I thought I could battle through in the team environment, I wasn’t ready for.”

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