Erik Horne & Brett Dawson on the Thunder offseason hinging on Paul George: “If Paul George signs with the Thunder — The good: You’re building around the core of Steven Adams, Russell Westbrook and George for at least the next three years. Adams would in theory be the shortest of the mega contracts left, expiring after the 2020-21 season. The bad: The Thunder would be on the books for $89.8 million for Adams, Westbrook, and George alone in 2018-19. That’s just next season with a projected salary cap of $101 million. Add Andre Roberson’s $10 million and the Thunder will be bumping up against the salary cap with just four players. That doesn’t count a potential Carmelo Anthony buyout. But the Thunder would be more than willing to pay a major tax bill for one season if it means George returns and it can make a run at the Western Conference with a healthy team and better cohesion.”
Dane Carbaugh (NBC Sports) on Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard saying they’d only sign Paul George if he fit the new team: “So would the team want to have George back? Here’s how Pritchard answered that question to the Indy Star: “I would want to know first that he would fit us. We’re different now, Dan. One of the things we’re about, we don’t care about big names, we don’t care about big personalities we don’t care about big brands. What we care about is being humble. Anybody that fits in, yeah we’re interested … I can’t talk on specific players. But if they don’t fit that, I’m not interested. It’s that simple.”
Fred Katz on Dwight Howard’s interesting Thunder commentary: “The Thunder buzzword of the season has reached Charlotte. Hornets center Dwight Howard referenced “sacrifice” when discussing the Thunder’s season Tuesday on ESPN’s morning show “Get Up!” And only a week after Carmelo Anthony said he wouldn’t be sacrificing enough to take a bench role, Howard mentioned someone else who could have given back more during the Thunder’s let-down 2017-18, which ended with 48 wins and a first-round playoff exit. “I would say [Russell Westbrook], cause Russ has the ball more times in his hands,” Howard, a transcendent post-up aficionado who carried the 2015-16 Rockets on the low block, said. “And I watched Carmelo and Paul George at times, and they were just standing there watching. Late in the games, I think the ball should have been more in Carmelo’s hands because he’s more of a closer. He’s more of a closer.”
Austin Kent (Hoops Rumors) with the Thunder’s 2018 free agent stock watch: “Jerami Grant, PF, 24 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $4MM deal in 2014. Grant was a solid and intriguing depth piece for the Thunder this season, but may be one of the players most impacted by the team’s tight finances. The former second-round pick will see interest from other teams this summer and while OKC could go over the cap to retain him, doing so would have serious luxury tax implications. / Josh Huestis, PF, 26 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4MM deal in 2015. Despite world-class athleticism, Huestis hasn’t firmly established himself with the Thunder in three seasons. That being said, he saw consistent action for OKC in 2017/18 in limited minutes. Given that the team will have so much of its payroll tied up in a handful of players in 2018/19 and beyond, the unrestricted free agent could have some appeal as a dirt-cheap option already familiar with the system.”
Cody Taylor (USA Today) on the Thunder already holding pre-draft workouts: “Some teams do not publicly share information regarding pre-draft workouts, while other teams do share that information. The Thunder have been among the teams in the past that typically don’t share that sort of information so we may not know each prospect the team hosts for a workout. So far, the team has reportedly worked out Michigan State forward Nick Ward, Nebraska guard James Palmer Jr. and Wisconsin forward Ethan Happ. Each of these prospects have formally declared for the draft, but have not yet hired an agent and are still eligible to return to school. They have until May 30 to withdraw from the draft and maintain their college eligibility.”
Mario Briguglio (Sneaker Bar) on Russell Westbrook’s new son-inspired Why Not Zer0.1: “Jordan Brand continues to pay homage to Russell Westbrook’s accomplishments and personal life with his signature shoe, the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1. This colorway is inspired by Westbrook’s son, Noah. It features an Emerald colorway as a nod to Noah’s birthstone with his birthday on the inside strap. Look for the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1 “Noah” to release on May 12th at select retailers and Nike.com. The retail price tag is set at $125.”
Jimmy Do (okcthunder.com) on the Thunder donating its 19th basketball court in the state of Oklahoma: “For years, the outdoor court at Fraley Park served as the go-to spot for Ardmore resident Larry Wright to spend time with his grandchildren. His grandson is a Russell Westbrook devotee while Steven Adams’ rim-jarring exploits won Wright’s favorite player status. While neighborhood hoopers relied on the park for play and practice, their beloved concrete haven has seen better days. Successful jumpers were not rewarded with the satisfying experience of an affirming swish because the rusty rims did not have nets. Monday afternoon changed all of that once the snipped ceremonial blue ribbon flew into the breeze to celebrate the month-long transformation made possible through a partnership between the Thunder Cares Foundation and Enable Midstream Partners.”
Around the League: The Rockets and Warriors are set for the Western Conference Finals…. CP3 finally made it out of the second round…. Draymond Green says the Dubs are focused on the Finals, not Houston…. Looking at the bright future of the Utah Jazz…. Is Donovan Mitchell the next Allen Iverson?…. Kobe Bryant won an Emmy…. Tiger Woods weighs-in on the Lebron/MJ debate…. Clyde Frazier doesn’t think Kristaps Porzingis will play next season.