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The Thunder have won 45% of their games since Shai Gilgeous-Alexander went out with a sprained ankle. Tank Nation is disappointed in both the recent wins and the choice not to trade away veterans helping keep this roster so stubbornly competitive. In Monday’s night’s game, Kenrich Williams played 27 minutes, but the box score only features tank-favorites otherwise. No Dort, no Shai, and plenty of Poku. New York was playing at home, desperately fighting for a playoff return. Oklahoma City was on the road for the second night of a back-to-back. Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, and Darius Bazley punked the Knicks. If OKC’s rawest players are going to outclass teams like New York, we draft pick fiends are going to need to embrace the speed at which Thunder U.2 is developing rather than bemoaning the lottery odds these wins are winnowing.
– Cray Allred
Lu Dort is out with a minor shoulder strain, and is day to day.
Aaron Wiggins was converted from two-way status to a conventional NBA contract.
The newest two-way player in OKC–Lindy Waters III–is going to get some legit playing time, as will Vit Krejci.
Giddey is the best shot creator among rookies, and tied for 10th-best in the league.
Sam Vecenie (The Athletic) geeks out on Giddey’s play of late: “He does things a few times per game that are just mind-blowing. He makes reads that no other teenager on Earth would, and he doesn’t play any differently than he would if Gilgeous-Alexander was there. He’s just making the right play, reading and reacting to what the defense gives him. Giddey is another one of the true joys to watch on a night-to-night basis.”
John Hollinger (The Athletic) chuckles through the ramifications of OKC’s uneventful trade deadline, which left the Thunder $23 million under the salary cap floor. “This is a very hot topic in the agent world right now, where everyone with a free agent is trying to figure out how to get a $23 million deal from the Thunder, while everyone with a Thunder roster player is trying to figure out if they’ll actually cash in this unexpected windfall. I suspect the latter strategy is the one that will win out in their planning. Oklahoma City can take $31 million in cap room into the draft and make deals before July 1; it is the only team that will be under the cap by a meaningful amount before that date (Orlando is $1.5 million under at the moment).”
Kevin O’Connor (The Ringer) sees Derrick Favors as a likely buyout candidate.
Kevin Durant has been pretty gracious about James Harden’s rocky road out of Brooklyn. “I’m sure people make their decision before they get to that mode of being unhappy. I didn’t have any conversations with James up until then. I thought everything was solid. I don’t do any convincing. I’m sure you make those choices and decisions on your own as an individual. Me as a friend, I just have to accept it.”