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Wednesday Bolts: 12.13.17

Wednesday Bolts: 12.13.17

Royce Young on if time is running out on the OK3 experiment: “The Thunder put together what most saw as a monster, one with the kind of top-heavy talent that positions them to compete with the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors of the world. But the frustration is becoming real, and the more the baffling losses pile up, the louder the noise becomes. The Thunder have blocked almost all of it out to this point. “For the most part, what I like about it is that guys are trying to figure it out, guys are trying to make it work, guys are trying to be unselfish and figure this thing out,” Anthony said. “We’re sticking with it. There’s nothing at this point that’s so far gone and out of our hands.” Like George said Monday night, at some point, it has to stop. Is game No. 27 in Indianapolis the moment it finally will?”

Ben Golliver & Lee Jenkins (SI) on whether or not Paul George will finish the season in OKC: “I think the one thing they have going for them, is that Paul George said he wanted to go to a team where he could win a championship, and are the Lakers really that team? Are we prepared to say that? Because, to me, the Lakers are kind of the specter over all of this—over the Cavs, over the Thunder. All these teams we talk about are so wildly interrelated. That Paul George could end up going to Cleveland? What does that mean for LeBron? And George and the Lakers? And the Lakers and LeBron? And every game that Lonzo Ball struggles, to me it sort of has to open Paul George’s mind a bit in terms of destinations next year. Clearly, if Oklahoma City continues to go this way they won’t have a realistic chance. I don’t think Paul George would want to run this back again.”

Mitch Lawrence (Forbes) on why the Thunder might need to trade Paul George soon: “Presti is known for his patience. But in this case he can’t be too patient. He might need to flip George if he senses that the chemistry among his Big 3 just won’t improve and he won’t be able to re-sign George this summer. Although he has dreamed of playing for the Lakers, George has stated he wants to compete for championships. At this stage, the Thunder is a borderline playoff team, giving him little reason to stay. The Lakers are even further from becoming a title team, but want George and could re-cast their roster in the off-season to give themselves two max-contract slots for a pair of superstars. How things play out over the next few weeks for the Thunder could determine if they have to move him.”

Erik Horne on Paul George and Carmelo Anthony voicing support for Billy Donovan: “No one’s going against Billy,” George said. “He’s given us an incredible gameplan all season long. There’s a high level of respect for his position and what he’s wanting from us. There’s no line of disrespect at all toward what Coach wants us to do.”

Colin Ward-Henninger (CBS) on Paul George expecting to be booed tonight in Indiana: “Boos. I honestly wouldn’t think it would be any other way,” George said, when asked what to expect in his return. “The Pacers fans outweigh the Paul George fans. That’s what I’m looking forward to. For whatever reason, I’ll be booed, but I’m gonna embrace that. I’m gonna thrive on that. That’s gonna give me the energy to play better.”

The AP on Paul George and Carmelo Anthony visiting old basketball homes that look fine without them: “Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are going back to old homes that are doing just fine without them. Indiana and New York are winning, bolstered by players they acquired for their superstars. While Oklahoma City remains underwhelming, Pacers and Knicks fans are even thinking they also won the trades. George gets the first homecoming when the Thunder travel to Indianapolis on Wednesday, while Anthony makes his first trip back to New York on Saturday.”

Dan Favale (B/R) has updated the Thunder’s projected final record to 47-35: “Heck, maybe we’re overcomplicating things. We’re sitting here, less than halfway through the season, worrying about the offense of a team that houses Anthony, George and Westbrook. Not the defense, but the offense. It doesn’t matter whether these three perfectly complement one another. This much pre-eminent offensive talent should figure things out in time to scratch the surface of its potential.”

Royce Young had a Q&A with Russell Westbrook for this month’s ESPN The Magazine: “I’m a private person, I don’t like everybody in my business. But I also don’t want people to just see me on the court and believe that’s who I am. That’s what happens to me all the time. So they think, ‘Oh, Russell’s an a-hole — I don’t know him but he looks like an a-hole.’ Right? First, I’m not. People that know me, they’d look at you like you were crazy. Like, ‘He’s a what?’ But the problem is, when people see me here, the stuff people hear on TV just from basketball, that’s the only part that I sometimes try to give people.”

Zach Kram (Ringer) looks at the Russell Westbrook Effect: “The sample size of players who have left OKC and played meaningful minutes elsewhere isn’t large, in part because several of the team’s fringier rotation players either retired (Derek Fisher) or fell into obscurity (Eric Maynor) once their Thunder tenures ended. In the case of someone like Maynor, his post-Thunder career made clear that OKC’s system wasn’t holding him back or squandering any untapped potential — but the former Thunder players who have lasted elsewhere in the league have exhibited across-the-board improvement.”

Around the League: Kawhi Leonard made his season-debut last night…. The Lakers asked Lavar Ball to tone it down…. Indiana will host the 2021 All-Star Game…. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar believes the NBA is replacing the NFL as America’s favorite league…. Ranking the top 10 NBA benches.