There is actually a Thunder game tonight. Woo-hoo!!!!!!
Paul George is now willing to seriously consider OKC during free agency next summer: “The source says George has been impressed by the culture of the Thunder and how meticulous general manager Sam Presti and the organization are in building the roster and the franchise. George was impressed that the front office “had the (guts),” in the source’s words, to put everything on the line in getting him, and followed it up by getting Anthony without giving up any of the team’s core group.”
David Aldridge (NBA.com) on Westbrook’s loyalty to Oklahoma City: “But then came Westbrook, last Friday, finally signing the $205 million extension that the Thunder had had on the table for weeks. The impact reverberated well beyond the 405. Westbrook didn’t, as everyone seemed to accept as a fait accompli the last year and a half, play out his contract after collecting an extra $28 million in extension money from OKC last season, and bolt to the Lakers, Tom Joad with a 401(K) and options, in the summer of 2018. The scuttlebutt was that Westbrook would go back to his hometown and be united with LeBron James and/or Carmelo Anthony and/or Idris Elba and/or Shonda Rimes.”
Ball Don’t Lie previews the Thunder.
Nick Gallo (OKCThunder.com) with his training camp report focusing on Raymond Felton’s impact on the younger guards: “Some other memories have cropped up for Felton so far in camp. While the Thunder clearly are in win-now mode with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony lining up with Westbrook’s commitment, the future is also bright. Felton has been working closely with the young guards on the Thunder’s roster and Head Coach Billy Donovan has noted the impact his veteran leadership has already made on the group. From Semaj Christon to Terrance Ferguson and Alex Abrines to Daniel Hamilton, Felton has tried to help usher along the development of the Thunder’s young guards, who he believes have the talent to be contributors this season and in the years to come.”
Tony Heim (Thunderous Intentions) on Clay Bennett’s impact on this season: “Sam Presti did a great job working opposing General Manager’s but without Clay Bennett’s approval, none of this would be possible. Why is Bennett so willing to risk this much money for a championship? Because he cares. Bennett didn’t bring the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City to make money – he bought/brought them for Oklahoma City to have a professional team in his home state. Clay Bennett may be the true owner of this team, but in reality it’s OKC’s team first.”
Danny Leroux (Sporting News) on the impact the Westbrook signing had around the league: “Westbrook retains his place as the central figure and guiding light for the franchise, who will largely rise or fall with him despite the presence of significant surrounding talent. With him and Steven Adams locked in on long-term contracts, the Thunder should not expect to have significant cap space until at least 2020, regardless of whether new acquisitions Paul George and Carmelo Anthony choose to stay. Some will interpret that lack of flexibility as dangerous for the Thunder, but their committed core provides them with a better opportunity than most NBA franchises, especially those in smaller markets. Westbrook gives them an identity and persistent relevance around the basketball world.”
Eric Pincus (Bleacher Report) on how the Westbrook signing affects the Lakers moving forward: “Some in the Lakers front office expected Westbrook to extend, but until he did, the chance of him becoming a free agent next summer remained, and so, too, remained the chance the the Lakers could fill a max slot with Westbrook. That hope is now extinguished, raising internal fears that Johnson and Pelinka may repeat the mistakes made by Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak.”
Westbrook, Alex Abrines, and Patrick Patterson will all miss the Thunder’s first preseason game against the Houston Rockets in Tulsa.
Marc Berman (New York Post) on the Knicks throwing a bit of shade at Carmelo Anthony: “Brandishing a slew of new faces and a roster bereft of All-Stars, the Knicks will host the Nets in the preseason opener at the Garden. That’s the way new president Steve Mills and new general manager Scott Perry want it for now — a defense-first, high-tempo, pass-happy club built around a young corps with three starting slots up for grabs. “We want to do it the right way,’’ Perry said during Sunday’s open Garden practice.”