The Oklahoma City Thunder head into the March 1st buy-out deadline with an empty roster spot and several needs. Before we head any further into this article, there are a few things you might need to know about the buy-out market. First off, no team is acquiring a superstar via the buy-out market. In fact, it’s always questionable whether the player being obtained will even be that much of a difference maker. Buy-out signings are usually veterans the acquiring team hopes will make a small incremental difference in the positive direction for and during a playoff run.
For the Thunder, their recent buy-out signings over the past few seasons have been Norris Cole, Nazr Mohammed, Caron Butler, and Derek Fisher. These were veterans that weren’t necessarily useless, but also weren’t game changers moving forward. Fisher filled a role as a back-up point guard during the Finals run of 2012. Butler was important in the first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies in 2014, but his importance decreased with each successive series. Mohammed was more of a locker room/veteran presence during Durant’s final season in Oklahoma City. And last season, Cole was brought in be a better option at back-up point guard than Semaj Christon, but neither totally worked out. Continue reading Sales Rack Shopping: The Thunder and the buy-out market→
Tim Keown (ESPN) on the evolution of Carmelo Anthony’s game: “The world has moved on, and he’s trying to move with it. Lord knows he’s trying. But for 15 years, Carmelo Anthony has tied his worth to what he can create from this one spot. It has given him 10 All-Star appearances and a scoring title and a cosmopolitan lifestyle that comes with nearly $250 million in career earnings. He drinks only the best wine and smokes only the best cigars and is close enough with Barack Obama that the two of them are in the process of finalizing Anthony’s future role in the Obama Foundation. It has also created divisions on teams, serial conflicts with coaches and none of the postseason success that his talent seemed to portend when he left Syracuse in 2003 after one championship season.”
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Line: OKC -7.5 | O/U – 214
The Set-Up: Rest. Relaxation. Reset. When you look at the Oklahoma City Thunder roster, names like Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, and Raymond Felton jump out at you. These names are known because those guys are all veterans. They’ve been through past wars and know what it takes to get through a grueling 82-game season. Continue reading Thunder vs. Kings Preview (Game 60 of 82)→
Brett Dawson (NewsOK) on Carmelo Anthony using the All-Star break to unwind and disconnect: “Anthony hadn’t had a chance to “decompress,” he said, since that whirlwind weekend in September. The All-Star break afforded him the opportunity. Oklahoma City hasn’t played a game since last Wednesday. “I haven’t really got a chance to sit down and kind of breathe a little bit and relax,” Anthony said. “Everything’s happened so fast. So this past week was very helpful for me.”
With the All-Star weekend in Los Angeles ending, I think it’s quite apropos to look at the Western Conference standings as we head into the unofficial second half of the season and see a giant traffic jam. Eight teams are within 4.5 games of each other, with the bottom two teams in that mix likely ending up as lottery teams instead of playoff teams.
This has always been the major difference between the Western Conference and Eastern Conference over the past decade. The East is top heavy (usually just one or two teams – many of those teams usually involving some guy named LeBron James), while the West has a lot more depth, team-wise. It hasn’t been rare over the past decade for the eighth seed in the East to be at or below .500, while the West eighth seed has to win at least 45 games to get in. While that disparity seems to be improving, there is still a visible gap between the two conferences. Continue reading Scoreboard Watching: The Traffic Jam→
Erik Horne (NewsOK) on Russell Westbrook being the instigator to many of the Thunder’s rivalries: “Joel Embiid knows now. He probably doesn’t care, but as Westbrook said “Oklahoma City, two to zero.” Embiid was guilty of waving Steven Adams off the floor when the Thunder center fouled out during a triple-overtime thriller in December. Then in January, Embiid dunked and gave Westbrook a stare down as the MVP was sprawled out on the floor. Mistake. Westbrook is already one of the most intense competitors in the NBA.”