3 min read

Wednesday Bolts: 6.20.18

Marc Stein (New York Times) on the growing likelihood of Paul George returning to OKC: “Since last week’s newsletter item about the Thunder’s better-than-expected chances of retaining the All-Star forward Paul George in free agency, I’ve heard even more support around the league for the idea that Oklahoma City can really convince George to stay. No deal is done until it’s done, as they say, so there will be no tangible relief in O.K.C. until George officially spurns his hometown Los Angeles Lakers this summer to stay put alongside Russell Westbrook. Kevin Durant’s departure in 2016 is still too fresh — as is George’s well-chronicled interest to play in L.A. — for any premature celebrations. But it has reached the point that potential contract scenarios are starting to circulate. More than one rival team has suggested to me that they expect George to strongly consider a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and $32.7 million in 2019-20 that includes a player option to return to free agency next summer.”

Gabe Zaldivar (Forbes) on the possibility of the Lakers having to settle for just LeBron: “Getting James while missing out on George and Leonard at least seems to be where things are headed and would still make the Lakers the biggest winners of the offseason. To reiterate a previous article, the Lakers would have to seriously bungle this offseason to come off as losers. Even coming away empty-handed would, presumably, leave them with an exciting young roster ready to make a playoff push and a ton of cash for next year’s free agent market. The NBA landscape, rather than the rumors that paint it, will shift and move tremendously over the coming weeks. We are left to speculate a lot on whispers or, in the case of a recent Stephen A. Smith radio broadcast, very loud musings.”

Erik Horne on the Thunder needing to recapture past NBA Draft sleeper success: “So, when that young talent becomes costly on second contracts, it’s those developmental prospects deeper in the draft that becomes integral. Getting Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka at No. 24 overall. Snagging Steven Adams at No. 12 and Andre Roberson at 26 in the same draft. But since the Thunder drafted Adams and Roberson in the first round in 2013, it’s struggled to latch onto and develop that inexpensive help that’s so critical to rosters with big payrolls. Can it get back on track with two second-round picks in Thursday’s draft?”

Jeremy Woo (SI) on the draft needs for every team: “Oklahoma City Thunder — Draft Picks: 53, 57 / Needs: Depth, Shooting / Key Free Agents: Paul George (player option), Carmelo Anthony (early termination option), Corey Brewer, Jerami Grant / / With two late second-round selections, the Thunder have some flexibility to gamble on upside types without taking on much risk. Maintaining roster flexibility is key, with Russell Westbrook’s max contract kicking in and a need to keep cap space open to try and re-sign Paul George. OKC is generally unafraid to throw darts, and in terms of immediate help, it could use frontcourt depth and a backup guard. It’s possible they use these picks to draft players for two-way deals or stash opportunities.”

Dan Wolken (USA Today) chooses the best and worst top 10 picks in draft history: “No. 4 / Best: Russell Westbrook, 2008, Oklahoma City Thunder / Worst: Bill Garnett, 1982, Dallas Mavericks. When Sam Presti took Westbrook at No. 4, many analysts considered it a reach. Instead, his partnership with Durant turned OKC into a premier franchise, and Westbrook gets the nod here over Chris Paul by virtue of his league MVP award. Garnett, a forward who led Wyoming to two NCAA tournaments, was mostly a bench player during his four NBA seasons before going to Italy.”

Sneaker News reviews the new Why Not Zer0.1 Low: “Much like Westbrook himself, the shoe provoked strong opinions from hoops fans the world over and now an updated low-top take on the silhouette is set to release early this July. The Why Not Zer0.1 Low features the same forefoot shroud, toggle-centric lacing system and unique heel design as the original high-top version, but with a slightly lower collar—more a mid than a true low top— and no ankle strap for extra flexibility and range of motion. The shoe has arrived in a simple black on black color scheme, with a white underlay on the forefoot shroud poking through for a small pop of contrast. Wesbrook branding arrives on the tongue, and Jordan logo hits adorn the forefoot, heel, and lateral side of the collar. The shoes are set to officially release July 1st, but are available now at Reinarts for $115.”

Around the League: The Hornets have agreed to trade Dwight Howard to Brooklyn…. Gregg Popovich met with Kawhi Leonard in California…. Chris Paul is a lock to return to Houston…. Stephen A. Smith says LeBron is headed to LA…. How LeBron mastered the media…. Sterling Brown is suing Milwaukee Police…. The Hawks are leaning toward Luka Doncic at No. 3 in the draft…. Mo Bamba refuses to work out for the Grizzlies…. Inside Bamba’s quest to be the next great big man…. Will the Kings risk taking Michael Porter Jr. at No. 2?…. Ranking the past 10 NBA Drafts.