5 min read

Wednesday Bolts: 7.11.18

Adrian Wojnarowski (ESPN) on Carmelo Anthony agreeing to wave his no-trade clause: “In advance of an inevitable — if not imminent — parting, the Oklahoma City Thunder granted Carmelo Anthony permission to meet with prospective teams, including the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat, league sources told ESPN. Anthony and his representatives met with Rockets and Heat officials at the site of the NBA Summer League in recent days, league sources told ESPN. Thunder general manager Sam Presti and Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose of CAA Sports, have been working cooperatively to expedite a separation from the Thunder… The Thunder are working on trade scenarios in which Anthony, 34, would be moved as an expiring contract and waived, becoming a free agent once his $27.9 million 2017-18 salary clears waivers. Oklahoma City needs Anthony to waive his no-trade clause, which he has done to facilitate his exit, league sources said.”

Berry Tramel on what the Melo trade ended up costing the Thunder: “So the truth is, the Carmelo trade was decent basketball-wise. It didn’t make or break the Thunder. The Carmelo trade was harmful financial-wise. The Thunder paid more in salary last season and will pay more in luxury tax next season, because of the trade. Too early to know how the numbers will shake out. But something along the lines of $10-15 million, depending on the details. In the modern NBA of monopoly money, that doesn’t seem like a lot. But it is. It’s the cost of doing business. Take a gamble that paying Carmelo Anthony could help lift the Thunder back into championship contention. It didn’t work. Now Thunder ownership is a little lighter in the wallet and Carmelo is about to be a free agent.”

Dan Devine (Yahoo) on if Melo could actually make the Rockets better: “From the Rockets’ perspective, Anthony represented a third bankable scoring option, one who had just averaged 22.4 points in 34.3 minutes per game in his last season in New York. With two other All-Stars occupying attention, ‘Melo could roast opponents’ second- and third-best defenders and help ease the point-producing burden on Harden (who had just gassed out in a major way in the second round of the playoffs against San Antonio) and Paul.  And, like Paul, he’d add another dimension to Houston’s offense by virtue of being one of the best midrange scorers in the sport. Anthony posted the NBA’s seventh-highest shooting percentage among high-volume midrange shooters in 2016-17 — CP3 ranked first — which could help diversify a Houston attack that had torched defenses during the regular season, but struggled to generate good scoring chances in the playoffs against opponents who knew the Rockets were really only looking to shoot from three inches or 30 feet. Playing as a small-ball power forward, as he had for years during his celebrated runs with the U.S. men’s national team, would theoretically allow Anthony to feast off the attention Harden and Paul drew.”

Zach Lowe (ESPN) on the Thunder being one of this summer’s winners: “The most tired trope of the offseason: “Oh, the Thunder re-signed Paul George? How cute. Enjoy losing in the first round!” What were they supposed to do? Let George walk because they aren’t as good as the Warriors and Rockets, and re-enter single-star purgatory until the inevitable Russell Westbrook trade? Those were the stakes. Retaining George through his prime is a massive organizational victory — vindication of Sam Presti’s gamble, of the strong culture that emboldened him to make it, and of the superstar who stayed. Turns out, there is a co-star cool with Westbrook jacking 43 shots in an elimination game. Also: They have a chance to be really good. The Thunder hit a winter groove after a rocky start, and might have continued apace had Andre Roberson not ruptured his left patellar tendon. The Westbrook/George/Roberson/Steven Adams foursome was among the nastiest and best four-man groups in the league, per NBA.com. They get more time to gel now. They are short on shooting but that’s not a new problem.”

Robbie Stratakos (Sir Charles in Charge) on why the Thunder is a dark horse team in the West: “Shooting guard Andre Roberson will be returning from a season-ending knee injury which will significantly help the Thunder’s perimeter defense, and forward Jerami Grant will come back on a three-year deal – retaining athleticism and perimeter defense in their rotation. Alex Abrines gives the Thunder an outside shooting threat while Raymond Felton gives them a scoring threat off the bench. The Thunder also went out and nabbed athletic and defensive-savvy center Nerlens Noel who will likely come off the bench alongside Patrick Patterson to relieve the team’s frontline. The Thunder were considered an NBA Finals threat before they went out and acquired Anthony hours before Training Camp began last season. General manager Sam Presti decided to pull the trigger on a trade for Anthony to create a big three that the Thunder could call their own to potentially challenge the Golden State Warriors and the best of the West; it didn’t work out well. Anthony has always been a player who needs the ball in his hands to be productive.”

Adam Fromal (B/R) on why Nerlens Noel-to-OKC is one of the biggest moves of the offseason: “This big man isn’t going to slot into the starting five. He won’t displace Steven Adams anytime soon (or ever), and his shooting limitations should prevent head coach Billy Donovan from deploying him at the 4 in a dual-center lineup. But the Thunder desperately needed a reliable rim-protector off the pine, and that’s exactly what Noel gives them—along with wide-ranging defensive skills that allowed him to post a career-best 4.5 defensive box plus/minus in 2017-18 even while struggling to find a rhythm in his minimal run. ESPN.com’s defensive real plus/minus told a similar story. Noel’s 2.36 DRPM allowed him to slot in at No. 29 throughout the league, leaving him behind only Andre Roberson (4.34) on the Oklahoma City roster. Up next from last year’s crew? Dakari Johnson (2.1 in minimal time), Nick Collison (1.59 in 75 minutes) and Russell Westbrook (1.2). Thoughts of Noel protecting the interior and switching onto pesky perimeter presences while surrounded by Roberson, Paul George and Westbrook (a shaky defender because of his gambles, but beneficial enough because of his remarkable athleticism) should be tantalizing.”

Brett Dawson on Terrance Ferguson’s Summer League struggles: “Ferguson struggled during pool play at Summer League, where tournament play begins on Wednesday. Through three games, Ferguson is averaging 5.7 points, four rebounds and 1.3 assists in 28.7 minutes per game. He’s shooting 6 for 26 (23 percent) from the floor and 2 for 14 (14.2 percent) from 3-point range. None of that matters much to the Thunder. “I think for Terrance, there’s a growth to him,” said OKC coach Billy Donovan, who’s watched the past two games from courtside seats. “He’s defended very, very well. He’s gotten an opportunity to do some things differently than he had a chance to last year. He hasn’t shot the ball particularly well, but he’s making the right basketball plays.” And that’s important for the Thunder, which has a vision for how Ferguson will play moving forward after a rookie season spent in a relatively simple role.”

Ben Felderstein (Sneaker News) on the “Light Smoke” colorway of the Jordan Why Not Zer0.1 Low: “Most signature basketball athletes tend to release their footwear in both a low and a high top version, where the lower constructed pair borrows design elements from its higher predecessor. However, with the Jordan Why Now Zer0.1, the Jordan Brand made a carbon copy of the original sneaker and slightly decreased its height to create a low-top option. Next up for the Why Not Zer0.1 Low, is a “Light Smoker” iteration that uses a tonally constructed upper that ushers in black and white speckled detailing throughout its entirety. Much like the original, its rear spine sports the phrase “Engineered For Flight” that clearly points toward the radical playstyle of the former MVP, Russell Westbrook.”

Around the League: Adam Silver says the Warriors’ dominance isn’t bad for the NBA…. Silver also said free agency probably won’t start at midnight next summer…. The NBA’s one-and-done rule could be eliminated soon…. Behind the scenes stories of how LeBron landed in LA…. The latest on what’s going on with Marcus Smart…. Kevin Knox is a Summer League superstar for the Knicks…. Trae Young caught fire yesterday in Vegas.