Archive - May 2017

Turkey issues arrest warrant for Enes Kanter

Pro-government Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah is reporting that Turkey has issued an arrest warrant for Enes Kanter, according to AFP. Turkey is accusing Kanter, an Oklahoma City Thunder center, of being apart of a “terror” group.

A Turkish judge issued the warrant after prosecutors opened investigation into Kanter’s loyalty to Fthullah Gulen, who led the coup last July. It was in hopes of outsting current President Recep Tayypi Erdogan.

Turkey accuses Gulen of ordering the failed coup and refers to the movement as the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation” (FETO). Gulen denies the claims.

In the warrant, it says Kanter allegedely used an encrypted app called Bylock, which was allegedely created for Gulen supporters. It says Kanter has praise of a terror organization in messages on his social media.

It is unclear at his moment if the United States government will cooperate with the Turkish arrest warrant.

Kanter took to twitter as he always does to respond

It says, “You can’t catch me. Don’t waste your breath. I will come on my own will anyway, to spit on your ugly, hateful faces.”

The Sabah daily added that the prosecutor would apply for an Interpol red notice, to inform Interpol’s 190 members that someone’s arrest is sought and thus ensure their deportation.

Kanter, who’s played the last 2½ seasons in Oklahoma City,  compared Erdogan to Adolf Hitler on multiple occasions. This week, Kanter was detained in Romania after being told his Turkish passport was canceled. He eventually made his way to London, then to the United States.

During a news conference this week, Kanter said the cancellation was linked to his criticism of Erdogan’s government and told reporters on Monday he would seek American citizenship.

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Westbrook’s UCLA professor reflects on history season

Russell Westbrook’s former UCLA professor and current Barrett, the Honors College professor at Arizona State University (where the author attends school), Dr. Mathew Sandoval discussed Westbrook’s season.

Sandoval sat down and talked about Westbrook after the regular season and before the playoffs matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The interview covers a wide variety of subjects including Westbrook’s personality, work ethic and historic NBA season.

To listen to the whole interview, click on the video below.

Westbrook in class

“He wasn’t (extremely fashionable in college). I don’t really remember him being like that way. He was like a lot of other student athletes in the sense that they kind of just show up in their Adidas UCLA gear.”

“I do recall him being present everyday, which is more than a lot of his teammates or fellow student-athletes can say. By and large he participated in class discussions. He seemed like a pretty legit student athlete. Somebody who was actually a student-athlete opposed to athlete-student. I really got the sense that he was there to try and learn.”

“It could be the fact that he developed so late that he did have a concentration on class, much more so than a lot of people.”

“He was very quiet, he did all the work, he participated group discussions and stuff like that but he didn’t have a large personality I would say. He seemed very much to keep to himself.

College Career

“I certainly didn’t think (in college) that he would be where he is at now. There was no telling that he had that potential. I didn’t see it, but certainly NBA scouts did.”

“The thing that stuck out to me about his game was that he was such an athlete. His dunks in warm-ups, even in college, were just sick. He had so much bounce.”

Personality

“He has kind of developed a personality in the NBA.”

“His first couple of years he was quiet and timid, and that was certainly the way he was in class. He wasn’t a stand out in class, that’s why it’s kind of so funny to talk about him as a student because there wasn’t anything that really stood out about him.”

“That’s really a rare talent, someone who wants to excel in literally every field that they’re attached to, even with fashion. He’s trying to be as fashion forward in the NBA as anybody else. He’s trying to be the best basketball player in the NBA, not just be good, not just be the best on his team.”

“Also in regards to the triple doubles he is that multifaceted. Like it is an extension of his strength to try and pursue the best in every realm.”

Cultural Impact

“He’s also most valuable in the sense of cultural impact, again thinking of the people who are watching basketball now just to watch him play, to watch him try and break (the triple double record).”

“I have a girlfriend whose whole family is from OKC, and they are not basketball fans at all. … But this year, they’re all of a sudden following every single game because of Russell Westbrook and it’s because he literally has put the team and the city on his back.”

Historic NBA season

“I’m a pretty big basketball head and there are certain records that you just think are never going to fall. Wilt Chamberlin’s 100 points is certainly up there, it’s just hard to fathom anybody coming close. Oscar Robertson’s record was probably number two behind Wilt. I never thought anyone would even come close.”

“Everyone should be talking about this, whether or not you’re basketball fan. That’s how significant that record is.”

“In the modern NBA you just cant really put up numbers like that.”

“That’s what’s so fascinating about it that during Oscar’s day, Wilt’s day, the Celtic days you had a number of premier players but then really like a bunch of nobodies. The NBA now is so full of talent, it’s full of so many good teams and they’re all primarily in the West. That’s the other thing, not just that he did it in the NBA, he did it in the Western Conference and I mean that has special meaning to it to – that’s the toughest conference in the NBA.”

MVP

“It might be a close vote but I think (Westbrook will win MVP). I don’t know how anyone would not vote for him.”

“Whatever metric you use to measure the MVP, I think he’s got it tied up. If it’s just the numbers, his numbers are better than anybody’s. If it’s who’s the most valuable to your team in particular, I think it’s still him.”

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Enes Kanter speaks out about being detained in Romania

Enes Kanter has already had a big media day Monday after he was held in a Romanian airport Saturday.

Kanter returned from Europe on Sunday and then started Monday morning with an interview on CBS This Morning and he spoke about his unusual situation.

 https://twitter.com/Enes_Kanter/status/866626287229693952

After that he held a press conference and then later showed up on Outside The Lines on ESPN where he took more questions and spoke out even more on the topic.

The situation started in Indonesia when he was sleeping according to Kanter. His manager woke him up at 2:30 and said authorities were looking for him.

According to Kanter in his interview with CBS This Morning, the Turkish Government told the Indonesia government that he is a “dangerous man.” After this situation Kanter began his journey to try and escape the country.

“It was maybe the craziest moments in my whole life,” Kanter said on Outside The Lines. “It’s like the (Indonesian) secret service and army are looking for me.”

Kanter then tried to get out of the country. However, in his journey he was stranded in Romania because his home country Turkey revoked his passport. Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and he says his passport has been rescinded because of his political views.

“It was a really strong statement, calling (Erdogan) the Hitler of our generation,” Kanter said at his press conference. “I hope the world will do something about that.”

According to CBS This Morning, Turkey has “canceled tens of thousands of passports for Turkish citizens living abroad.”

Kanter worked with his lawyers, Oklahoma City Thunder lawyers, the NBPA and Homeland Security to get back to the United States.

“It was scary, because there was a chance that they might send me back to Turkey,” Kanter said.

Kanter claims that he has received death threats “almost everyday” for his political stance against Erdogan.

“But you know what?” Kanter asked in his interview with CBS This Morning. “I stand up for what I believe.”

Teammates, trainers and Sam Presti were all texting Kanter asking him if there was anything they could do to help him.

Kanter went on to explain that he has not spoken to his family in Turkey in over a year. He said that his parents would be jailed the second they made contact with him.

“I’m trying to be the voice of all these innocent people,” Kanter said.

Kanter doesn’t believe he will return to Turkey anytime soon because he and his family would be in danger. Kanter is now going to apply for U.S. citizenship.

“I feel like Oklahoma City is my home now,” Kanter said.

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Enes Kanter detained by Romania border officials

Enes Kanter has been released by Romanian officials on Saturday according to Romanian officials. Kanter posted on twitter on Saturday morning saying he had been detained.

Kanter has yet to say whether or not he’s been released.

Kanter, who’s been at the opposition of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan since the coup, says Erdogan is the reason why he was detained at the border in Romania. Kanter claims he cancelled Kanter’s passport.

The New York Times contacted the Oklahoma City Thunder and they said they were working with NBA officials to gather information but had no further information.

“Today at around 1 p.m. local time an individual arrived from Frankfurt,” Fabian Badila, a spokesman for the Romanian border police, said to the New York Times. “My colleagues established that his travel documents weren’t valid, that they had been canceled by his home country, so he wasn’t allowed to enter the country.

“At around 5 p.m., he left the airport on a flight to London,” Mr. Badila said. “While he was at the airport he wasn’t detained or locked up, he was allowed to wander around, but he couldn’t enter the country.”

It’s not the first time Kanter and Turkey have collided. Last August, Kanter’s father publicly shamed him in a letter to Turkish media. Before that, Kanter had spoke about the coup and his support of it. The coup failed.

Kanter since being acquired by trade has become a fan favorite for Thunder fans. He’s often the source of wit and humor on social media, as he stands up for his team and friends.

UPDATE:

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Russell Westbrook named MVP Finalist

The least surprising thing happened on Friday: Russell Westbrook was named a finalist for MVP.

The MVP will be announced on June 26 in the first ever award show in New York City, hosted by Drake.

Westbrook’s historic season leads everyone to believe he’s the favorite to win the award. He’ll be joined in New York by former teammate, James Harden, and San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard.

Essentially for Westbrook it was no Kevin Durant, no problem. His numbers soared with the now Golden State Warrior gone. He average a career high in points, rebounds and assists. He set the all-time NBA record for triple-doubles with 42. It was a 55 year old record that fell. Oscar Roberston did it in 1961-62.

The season was unique in Westbrook’s chase of 42 triple-doubles almost became a spectacle in itself. In Brooklyn, the MVP chants on the road started. One of the biggest points came on Westbrook’s comeback in Orlando, a 57-point triple-double saw more chants.

The booing for their own team in Phoenix as they intentially fouled other Thunder players to provent Westbrook from getting his 42nd triple-double. It was a sight to be seen.

It could be a historic upset if Westbrook is not named MVP. We’ll find out in a month.

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Player Grades: The Rotation

The Thunder had a relatively good season, getting the sixth seed despite facing a lack of confidence from NBA watchers before the season and dealing with injuries throughout the season.

“I think it was a really good season because when we started the season, nobody was really expecting us to even make the playoffs,” Enes Kanter said in his exit interview. “We just show the haters that we could do that. I think we did our job.”

Even though Oklahoma City did prove these “haters” wrong, the team still needs to see much more improvement to gain an NBA Championship while Russell Westbrook’s title window is still open.

Especially since the departure of their former MVP player Kevin Durant, the Thunder has had plenty of holes that it needs to fill.

The biggest issue the team faced was that it gave up its leads when Russell Westbrook went to the bench to rest. The plus-minus ratings with Westbrook on and off the court in the playoffs and throughout the regular season show that the team melted down without Westbrook.

While players in the Thunder’s rotation seem to have high potential, there were some elements of the game in which they severely lacked throughout the season such as with shooting, defense and the ability to create their own shots.

Here we grade and rank the Thunder’s rotation players of the 2016-17 season based on their minutes, stats and impacts on the team.

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Westbrook named first team All-NBA

One of the most least surprising award this season has been announced. The NBA announced on Thursday, Russell Westbrook has been named to the first team All-NBA squad.

Westbrook, who set an NBA record with 42 triple-doubles in a season, breaking Oscar Roberston’s insane record of 41 triple-doubles.

Westbrook averaged career highs in points (31.6) rebounds (10.7) and assists (10.7). He tied his career-high average in assists (10.4). His totals in all three categories were all career bests.

For Westbrook, this is the sixtth time he’s made an All-NBA team. It is the second time he has been named as a first-team choice. He has been first-team selections in back-to-back seasons. Westbrook was also second-team selection from 2011-13 and in 2015.

Unfortunately for Westbrook, Harden was the only unanimous selection. Westbrook and LeBron James both received 498 votes, second most on the all-NBA teams.

Westbrook should win the NBA’s MVP award, as he’s an early favorite to do so. That will be announced on June 26 in New York City in the NBA’s first ever award show.

Here is the complete voting for all three All-NBA teams

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Noah Russell Westbrook gets first “offer”

It was literally only hours after his birth, but the basketball legacy Noah Russell Westbrook already has his first college “offer.”

The head coach at Stony Brook pinned a tweet to his profile saying “offer.”

Boals probably said it in jest as a congratulations to Nina and Russell. After all, Noah is now a part of the legacy that is the Westbrook clan. Nina and Russell both played basketball at UCLA.

Technically a coach cannot extend a real offer until the player is at least a junior, but it is sure nice to get in on the ground floor level of recruiting player, even if it’s 17 years away before he can commit.

Noah already has a hefty size for a newborn. seven pounds and already 20 inches long. He probably already has two or three triple-doubles under his belt. That’ll make him a top recruit in the 2035 recruiting class.

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Player Grades: The bench

The Thunder certainly had a season that they can be proud of after the slap in the face that ruined July 4 for Thunder fans everywhere.

There are several gaps that need to be filled if this team hopes to compete for a title during the Westbrook era, assuming he signs the “super max” deal this July which would be the biggest contract in NBA history. The Thunder made headlines at the trade deadline after acquiring Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson from the Bulls in exchange for Anthony Morrow and Cameron Payne, which was a steal for the organization in terms of what the Thunder were lacking which was a sharp shooter from three to spread the floor and a veteran big man with experience to bring positive energy to the locker room.

Even though the trade was in the Thunder’s favor, they still lack a deep and productive secondary unit to get the weight off Westbrook’s shoulders. Fans who religiously watch Thunder basketball all have that one player that comes to mind that when they are on the court or have the ball in their hands, they make you want to throw the remote at the TV.

Here we rank and grade the Thunder’s bench  players of the 2016-17 season in terms of productivity and minutes played per game.

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The Offseason: Financial Fiasco

While I am not a super financial connoisseur of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, we still need to break open the books and talk about the financial situation with the Oklahoma City Thunder. We’ll do that today. You can read the other installments on the current roster, expiring contracts, percentages to re-sign those contracts, and the NBA Draft.

SALARY CAP

The sudden rise salary cap shifted the entire landscape of the NBA. Suddenly, everyone had the ability to sign big named free agents. Once again, that cap is going to take another jump in the stratosphere. Oklahoma City though, have their hands full. The Salary Cap is expected to rise another $8 million this season, another significant jump. It was set at $94.1 million this season.

When July 1 rolls around, the Thunder will be over the cap. If the cap projections hold steady at $102 million, Oklahoma City will be over the cap by about $8 million and that’s with only 10 players already signed. The Luxury tax line, a point where teams are penalized more for being over the soft cap line, is projected to be $124 million.

CAP HOLDS

What’s a cap hold? It’s a marker of salary, based on the previous year’s salary, onto the cap. Cap holds are “placeholders” for players the team is expected to sign in the future. Such as, Taj Gibson’s cap hold is $13,425,000. That immediately puts the Thunder into the luxury tax with only 11 players signed, if Gibson was to re-signed.

All current cap holds: Taj Gibson ($13,425,000), Nick Collison ($7,125,000), Andre Roberson (RFA, $5,457,680), Jerami Grant (TO, $1,724,305).

That’s $27,479,062 in cap holds. If Oklahoma City were to re-sign everyone at their hold rate, they would be over the luxury tax line by $13 million. We know the franchise is notoriously cheap. We also know that paying that much for a middle level Western Conference team won’t do, so Oklahoma City won’t be able to re-sign everyone. Gibson will probably get what his hold is from another team. Collison could be cheaper than his and Roberson will see his number almost triple. Expect Oklahoma City to extend that team option for Jerami Grant.

RONNIE PRICE

Remember when people were: a) shocked Oklahoma City signed Ronnie Price b) shocked when Semaj Christon made the team over him? Well, this has come back to bite Oklahoma City in the backside a bit. He held a $2.5 million spot this season and that will drop to $2.4 million next season. That’s $2.4 million that could help Oklahoma City in the money lines, stay out of the tax or even just have some movement from being in a hard cap situation.

FAIR DEALS

There aren’t a lot of things Oklahoma City can do to create space. Enes Kanter’s $36.5 million over the next two years, with a player option for his last year, could be one that isn’t here next season. Look at Kyle Singler, too. He’s owed almost $15 million over the next three seasons, with the third season being a team option. Doug McDermott’s $7.8 million if he doesn’t pan out this next season could be a contract that would be movable.

EXPECTATIONS

With the additions of Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo’s contracts, the Thunder’s salary as we said has jumped out big time. With that, Oklahoma City’s expectations for free agents should be slim to none. They have no money and if they use the mid-level exception, they’re going to go way over the luxury cap. Oklahoma City may have to move someone to really stay underneath the luxury line.

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