The Thunder released its 2018-19 preseason schedule: “The Thunder’s preseason will tipoff on Oct. 3 versus the Detroit Pistons at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The team will then head north to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 5 before returning to Oklahoma to face the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 7 for a matinee game in Tulsa at the BOK Center. Oklahoma City’s preseason wraps up on Oct. 9 versus the Milwaukee Bucks at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The Sunday afternoon matchup against the Hawks will mark the Thunder’s 10th preseason game at the BOK Center and the first time Oklahoma City and Atlanta face off in Tulsa. All preseason games can be heard on the Thunder Radio Network, led by flagship WWLS-The Sports Animal (98.1 FM) in Oklahoma City. The Oct. 7 game versus Atlanta will be televised on FOX Sports Oklahoma, while the other three games will be streamed live on the Thunder App and okcthunder.com.”
Adam Fromal (B/R) with one post-free agency trade idea for every team: Oklahoma City Thunder Get: Jordan Clarkson / Cleveland Cavaliers Get: Patrick Patterson, Kyle Singler, 2020 second-round pick. First, a disclosure: The Oklahoma City Thunder are one of the hardest teams for this exercise after clearing the books of Carmelo Anthony’s salary and bringing Dennis Schroder into the picture. They simply don’t have many players who are A) expendable and B) capable of drawing interest from other organizations, which leaves them building packages around filler and marginally useful draft picks. Even that last part is tough, because OKC owes its 2020 and 2022 first-rounders to different franchises and no longer has access to its 2019 second-rounder. Including a 2020 second-rounder is about as good as it gets, which is why we’re limited to a minor target like Jordan Clarkson, who’s fresh off an immensely disappointing individual postseason with the Cleveland Cavaliers.”
Andrew Hussey (Indy Star) with LeBron James’ comments on Paul Georg staying in OKC: “The former Pacers star was rumored to want to play out West for years, but after the Pacers traded him to Oklahoma City, he decided to stay with the Thunder long-term. This move surprised some, especially given the fact that LeBron James joined the Lakers and needed a sidekick. James, who opened his foundation’s I Promise School in Akron Monday, sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols for his first interview since joining the Lakers. Nichols asked James if he had any talks with George about teaming up. “I didn’t have many conversations with Paul, and I think Paul did what was best for him,” James said. “And I think that’s what everybody should do as players, they should do what’s best for them and their family. You shouldn’t get too pressured by anybody. If there’s somebody they want to play with, and they have the opportunity to do it, then go for it. I think we all see that he made the best decision for himself and his family.”
Clay Horning (Norman Transcript) with five things to look for on the Thunder’s horizon: “What about Nader: Abdel Nader arrived in Oklahoma City from Boston in a trade for Rodney Purvis, who had come to the Thunder only days earlier from Orlando in a trade for Dakari Johnson. Purvis has since been waived by Boston yet Nader remains the 14th or 15th player on the Thunder roster (depending upon where you place Singler). His contract guarantees him $450,000 and almost $1.4 million if he’s still on a roster on Aug. 1 … today. Barring a very late Tuesday night transaction, the Thunder appears inclined to keep Nader, the G-League rookie of the year in 2016-17, when he averaged 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists, but who averaged just 3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 48 games with Boston last season.”
Robby Kalland (Dime Mag) on Dennis Schroder’s potential impact: “The answer to the question “what kind of impact can Schröder have on the Thunder?” is entirely dependent on Schröder. He thinks very highly of himself, so getting him to accept the role of backup to Russell Westbrook will be a larger task for Billy Donovan than I think most would expect, given Westbrook is a year removed from being the league’s MVP. If Dennis buys in completely, to his role and to the team’s identity as a defense-first squad, and takes a step offensively, it could be a tremendous match and he may very well become a key rotation piece for the Thunder. However, as we’ve learned in recent years in Atlanta, those are all big ifs and fans in OKC and around the league should likely temper expectations for Year 1 of this new marriage.”
Bryan Kalbrosky (HoopsHype) on the chances of Kevin Durant returning to OKC: “This idea is nothing but a pipe dream and one that feels pretty unlikely. It’s absurdly rare for a player of Durant’s caliber to make such a decision. It’s worth mentioning that some stars have returned to a former team, like LeBron James(who returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers), Steve Nash(who returned to the Phoenix Suns) and Jason Kidd(who returned to the Dallas Mavericks). However, most players who make a move like this do so as their career is nearing an end. Kevin Garnett(Minnesota Timberwolves), Scottie Pippen(Chicago Bulls), Chris Webber (Golden State Warriors), Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers) and Elvin Hayes(Houston Rockets) retired with the teams that drafted them despite leaving earlier in their careers.”
Nathaniel Friedman (GQ) on why Houston is the perfect landing spot for Melo: “The move to Houston could not come at a better time for Anthony, who is at a crucial juncture in his career. The 34-year-old forward badly wants to prove that he’s not washed, that he can still be one of the deadliest scorers in the league. At the same time, he knows things are winding down and is focused on burnishing his legacy. NBA Twitter’s impromptu debate over Anthony’s Hall of Fame credentials (a no-brainer, especially when you factor in college and international play) was a good dry run for how history will ultimately view the ten–time All-Star. Going to the Rockets could be Anthony’s ideal situation. Playing in a heavily orchestrated, dynamic system with two elite distributors suits him far better than chasing around Russell Westbrook. One of the many knocks on Anthony is that he needs the ball in his hands all the time, which isn’t quite right. He needs to get to what feels like the right spot to him before really going to work. That has generally meant finding it himself, but there’s every reason to believe that Chris Paul (who, via their long tenure on Team USA, knows Anthony’s game inside and out) and James Harden can get him quality touches. At the very least, it’s a role they’re both better suited for than Westbrook was.”
Around the League: The NBA is the first U.S. league with a betting sponsor…. Inside Puma’s unpredictable NBA comeback…. The Lakers evoke Showtime with their latest jersey updates…. The improbable, yet predictable stardom of Victor Oladipo…. Deandre Ayton is at a fork in the road…. The math behind a good transition defense…. Why RPM is a little less real when players change teams.