Bolts are back. In newsletter format as an early Patreon perk, and then on the blog for the rest of our readers.
As Brandon put it yesterday and the bolts demonstrate this morning, the Thunder and Rockets are absolute polar examples of competency or a lack thereof. Houston’s net rating is actually better than Oklahoma City’s, but they just lost twenty-straight including the nailbiter against OKC on Sunday. I have not been so much encouraged as amused by the Thunder’s winning ways this season; as much as I love hustle, savvy coaching, SGA, and the myriad other floor-raising elements propelling OKC, I’m still a firm believer that the team’s ceiling won’t be raised without oodles of premier talent. But I wouldn’t chalk up the team’s place in the standings to the weirdness of the pandemic season: Mark Daigneault has found and developed strengths all throughout the roster, and every year that happens is a success for the team’s future–Cade or no Cade at the end of the journey. – Cray Allred
Aleksej Pokusevski’s celebratory dancing is… something.
John Wall’s celebratory hug for the Rockets’ first win in 21 games is… sad.
Ryen Russillo praises the “incredible” Thunder organization before marveling at the strangeness and volatility of Poku’s game in the latest Bill Simmons podcast (1:27:20 mark).
Daily Thunder OG Tyler Parker does the same at the Ringer. “His 23-point coming-out party this past Sunday in a surprise win over the Grizzlies was a complete and total blast. The flamethrower, the length, the uniquely smooth footwork for his size, all of it was in full effect. I don’t know that 23 points constitutes an “outburst” in the normal basketball world, but out here in Pokuland, after a rough start to his rookie season, 23 points goes beyond an outburst and stretches into eruption territory. This man volcanoed. He was pulling without a care in the world. It was an outflowing of 3s. After the fourth I was roaring. After the fifth I found nirvana. How can you look at this stat and not start cackling with glee?”
The Thunder are #1 in Eric Pincus’s trade asset rankings.
ICYMI: The Thunder were creative with trade exceptions again in the Trevor Ariza/Meyers Leonard deal. They effectively split Danilo Gallinari’s TPE, resulting in two large exceptions to complement the mega exception they rolled out of the Steven Adams trade.
George Hill has shed his cast but is still unlikely to return to action before the trade deadline. In other words, his Thunder playing career is likely complete.
It’s deadline day. The Thunder rumor mill is still relatively quiet for a team that executed roughly 17 trillion trades over the summer. Is the lack of action so far due to OKC’s airtight way of handling its business, or a sign of the patience and very-long-term outlook that won’t force the hand of a team aggressively resting its players rather than chasing more wins? We’ll know more this afternoon. – Cray Allred
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be out for some period of time with plantar fasciitis.
Brandon Rahbar and Ryan Woods speculate that we could have seen the last of Shai for this season.
The only player we can tell is really cooking on the Thunder hot stove is George Hill. At minimum, he should be dealt to one of the several teams interested in the veteran’s services. Jake Fischer (Bleacher Report) lists the Lakers, Clippers, and Sixers as Hill suitors.
Chris Mannix (SI) sets the market for Hill at one or more second round picks.
Mannix also says OKC is open for business regarding Al Horford, but isn’t looking to “just give him away”. (They should.)
There have been mere whimpers about the rest of Oklahoma City’s roster: Kenrich Williams is drawing interest per John Hollinger (The Athletic), which OKC is rebuffing per Keith Smith (Yahoo!).
Moses Brown made first team All-NBA and All-Defense for the 2020-21 G League. He played like a giant man among boys before joining the big club.
OKC’s entire roster stands to receive bonuses if the team doesn’t hit the salary floor. As Hollinger points out, they’re currently about $12 million under the minimum.
Other trade intrigue around the league: Boston wants Aaron Gordon, Kyle Lowry is likely headed out of Toronto…the Knicks might step in to keep Andre Drummond and/or J.J. Redick from buying out their deals to join top-tier contenders…New Orleans might dump Steven Adams…an epic swap of Delon Wright and Cory Joseph between Sacramento and Detroit is already in the books.