Fred Katz (Norman Transcript) evaluates the season that was for Russell Westbrook: “The superstition started back in another era, when Tumbleson would honor a couple of greats with double-circles: Westbrook and Kevin Durant. During the 2016-17 season, only Westbrook received the double-circle. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony entered double-circle territory at the beginning of this past season, but Tumbleson went back to doing just Westbrook after the team’s 8-12 start. He figured becoming too indiscriminate with the double-circle was bad luck.”
Tim Bontempts (Washington Post) looks at the biggest questions facing the Thunder this offseason: “It ended with Russell Westbrook taking 43 shots for the second time in as many years in a playoff game – both Thunder losses – and getting into confrontations with fans at halftime and after the game. It ended with Thunder Coach Billy Donovan going down with the Carmelo Anthony ship, playing the fading star with the season on the line when all evidence suggested the team would be better with Anthony on the bench.”
Brett Dawson (NewsOK) on how the Thunder have prepared for the cost to bring back Paul George: “In 2012, it traded James Harden rather than sign him, a move that’s been widely criticized in hindsight — and no doubt is one reason why skeptics wonder if the Thunder will pay the cost to remain competitive. But it was a younger franchise then, coming off its fourth season and third playoff appearance in OKC. It hadn’t built the equity it has now, and the financial future of the league looks different.”
I’ll be honest with you. These last few days have been refreshing. I haven’t had to worry about the Western Conference standings. I haven’t had to worry about not knowing what Oklahoma City Thunder team was going to show up on a night to night basis. I didn’t have to stress about a Paul George shooting slump. Or worry about Carmelo Anthony aging exponentially before our eyes. Or any other plethora of things I’ve worried about this season.
All season long we’ve heard this would be a work in progress. That this process would take time. And with how this team was pieced together over the summer, that request for patience was not a far-fetched one. Many fans view NBA transactions like they view transactions on NBA 2K. If you put Good Player A together with Good Player B, then both players will be good on the same team. But in reality, that’s not always how it works. The process of putting three alpha dogs together and telling them to play as a team is not something that happens instantly. There’s a chemistry that needs to naturally develop, especially when you think of the other variables on the roster. Continue reading First Round Preview vs. the Utah Jazz→
Nick Gallo (OKCThunder.com) recaps the Thunder’s win over the New Orleans Pelicans: “The Thunder had three previous cracks at this type of game – a scrap-and-claw battle between two Western Conference foes in practically must-win situations to secure playoff berths and positioning. Head Coach Billy Donovan and his squad made sure not to let this fourth one slip away, getting high quality shots on most possessions and making enough defensive stops to seal it. “At this point we gotta start shaping up and playing better towards this final stretch, and I thought we did that to close the game out,” said forward Paul George.”
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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)→
Erik Horne (NewsOK) on the Thunder keeping Andre Roberson involved: “He’s been around in the background,” said Steven Adams, one of Roberson’s best friends on the team. “I know you guys don’t see him and stuff, but when we’re in, say the back of the stadium, he’s around all the time. It’s good, mate. He’s just doing his own thing, a little rehab. It’s a tough situation to be in, but he’s still keeping in happy spirits, good spirits.”
Sam Amick (USA Today) on Paul George’s upcoming free agency decision: “He’s well aware how his choice will affect the lives of others, from his actual family to this Thunder group that wants so badly for him to return alongside Russell Westbrook. So he picks his words wisely, even goes over old interviews to make sure he’s saying what he means and meaning what he says. Yet as the 3 pm EST trade deadline nears on Thursday, and with the Thunder (31-24) set to face the very Lakers team that is widely seen as the No. 1 threat for his services, there’s one thing that is helping him be more at ease: he’s not going anywhere just yet – if ever.”
The trade deadline primers for team blogs are usually released about a week to two before the trade deadline. And I was planning on doing the same, but then I thought to myself, “Hold up. Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti hardly ever makes a trade that isn’t on the day of the deadline. In fact, he’s usually one of those GM’s that’s on the phone making deals until the very last second of the deadline.” With that in mind, I said to myself, “Self, we’re not releasing this article until February 8th (a.k.a. the trade deadline).”
And if you think I spend an inordinate amount of time talking to myself, you may be right. In my defense, I can’t really help it. My internal voice is the “stay thirsty, my friends” Dos Equis guy.
If I had written this article two weeks ago, it would be completely null and void because of the Andre Roberson season-ending injury that occurred 11 days. If I had written this article a week ago, I wouldn’t have seen the general cluster (you know what) the team had become in the five games after the Roberson injury. And if I had written this article before Tuesday night’s thrashing of the Golden State Warriors in their arena, then my judgement could have been clouded by the negativity of the four-game losing streak the Thunder had heading into the Warriors’ game. Continue reading OKC Thunder 2018 Trade Deadline Primer→