5 min read

Wednesday Bolts: 6.13.18

Joseph Zucker (B/R) on the growing belief that OKC has a chance to re-sign Paul George: “According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, however, the Thunder may have a realistic shot at keeping George around. Stein reported that OKC “has a far better chance to retain the free agent-to-be [George] than many believed when the Thunder crashed out of the first round of the playoffs.” Adrian Wojnarowski reported for Yahoo Sports last offseason that George informed the Indiana Pacers he wasn’t re-signing with the team and preferred to go to the Los Angeles Lakers. George is a native of Palmdale, California, and the Lakers have roughly $61.8 million in practical salary-cap space, according to Spotrac, which is more than enough to sign George and another marquee free agent.”

Andrew Sharp & Ben Golliver (SI) on why Paul George is the most important free agent domino on the board: “My takeaway from his extended fever dream here: Is it weird to maybe think of Paul George as sort of the biggest X-factor this offseason rather than LeBron? If LeBron stays in Cleveland, the only way he is going to get back to the Finals in my eyes is if somehow Paul George goes there. Paul George will be the single best player outside of LeBron to add to Houston. You can make the argument that Paul George would be the cleaner fit with him playing more of a supporting role and him not needing the ball quite as much. And if he went to Boston or Philly, if they strike out on LeBron and they decided to turn their attention to Paul George, those teams become really intriguing Finals candidates.”

Scott Rafferty (Sporting News) on Paul George’s best options in free agency: “That team won 48 games this season, which was a disappointment considering the Thunder won 47 games without George and Anthony in 2016-17. Even so, the trio of Westbrook, George, and Adams alone gives the Thunder the star power to make the playoffs in the Western Conference. If Roberson can make a full recovery from his knee injury, perhaps Oklahoma City goes back to being a top-5 defensive team, not the average one they were in the second half of the season. They can only hope for a bounce-back season from Anthony as well after he averaged a career-low 16.2 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting from the field. Fueled by another season of George and Westbrook firing on all cylinders, the combination might be enough for the Thunder to be the playoff spoiler they were supposed to be this season. The Thunder can also offer George more guaranteed money than any other team in the league. Playing for a contender with $200 million in his pocket certainly isn’t a bad outcome for George in free agency.”

Paolo Ugetti (Ringer) on what every Western Conference team needs this summer: “Biggest Need: Shooting that isn’t Carmelo Anthony. Andre Roberson’s defense and Steven Adams’s rebounding aside, the Thunder have to start building around Russell Westbrook like a team would LeBron and surround him with as much shooting as possible. Keeping George would go a long way toward assuring that goal, but the Thunder also need a stretch 4 who can consistently hit shots. Essentially, someone not named Carmelo Anthony (or Patrick Patterson, for that matter). Aaron Gordon would be perfect on this team, but the restricted free agent is likely too expensive. Ersan Ilyasova would also be a solid option. Oh, and the Thunder also have to figure out a way to get out from underneath Anthony’s contract. The $28 million owed to him next season will limit any flexibility they could have. It’s time for a buyout!”

Brett Dawson on the Thunder’s summer league tip-off: “The Thunder’s return to Las Vegas for NBA Summer League will tip off on July 6. Oklahoma City will open play at the Thomas & Mack Center with a game against the Charlotte Hornets, the league announced on Tuesday. Oklahoma City’s opener will tip off at 4:30 p.m. central and air on ESPNU. The Thunder will play the Brooklyn Nets on July 7 at 6 p.m. and the Toronto Raptors on July 9 at 2:30 p.m. to close out pool play. Tournament play begins at Summer League on July 11. The Thunder’s only previous appearance at the Las Vegas Summer League came in 2009, the summer between the franchise’s last season in Seattle and its first in Oklahoma City. Since 2010, OKC has taken part in the Orlando Summer League, but the Magic opted not to host a league this offseason.”

Rob Goldberg (B/R) with the full Vegas Summer League schedule: “NBA fans will get a chance to see the full future of the league this summer during the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2018 in Las Vegas. The league will feature all 30 teams for the first time, including an early battle between the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings, who currently own the first two picks of the June 21 NBA draft. The action will run from July 6-17, featuring three preliminary games for each team followed by a tournament to determine a champion.”

Cody Taylor (USA Today) on the unlikely way the Thunder could make room for LeBron: “In order for the salaries to match in a potential trade, it would require the Thunder to include Steven Adams. According to ESPN’s trade machine tool, a successful trade would also need to include one of Andre Roberson, Alex Abrines or Patrick Patterson. By rule, teams that are over the cap and executing trades need to take in a commensurate amount of money in a trade as they send out. With respect to the Cavs and LeBron’s $35.6 million salary, they’d need to get some combination of players back from Oklahoma City whose combined salaries were in the same ballpark. Without trading Westbrook, Anthony or George in such a hypothetical deal, they’d almost certainly have to sacrifice Adams.”

Marc Hinton (Stuff NZ) on Steven Adams not being expected to play for New Zealand’s national team: “Do not expect to see Steven Adams’ name among the prospective Tall Blacks who will prepare for the upcoming round of world cup qualifying games. Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare will announce his initial training squad of 20 on Thursday, and Stuff understands Adams will not be among them. Sources close to the national setup have indicated the Kiwi NBA star looks set to once again make himself unavailable to represent his country this year on the international stage. And if that is what plays out ahead of the Tall Blacks’ games against Hong Kong in Rotorua on June 28 and China in Auckland on July 1, then Kiwi hoops fans, and even the wider New Zealand sporting community, are entitled to feel a little disenchanted. Adams has never played for the Tall Blacks during his transcendent hoops career, despite his strong identity in the NBA as a “proud New Zealander.”

Around the League: The latest in the Kawhi Leonard saga…. The seven best Kawhi trades ESPN would like to see…. Kyrie Irving doesn’t think an extension in Boston makes sense…. What does Kevin Durant want?…. KD was casually roasted at the Warriors’ championship parade…. Why are teams overthinking Trae Young?…. The Warriors’ financial hangover is coming.