Category - Thunder News

Thunder, Melo work on parting ways

In one of the most understood moves of the summer, Oklahoma City and Carmelo Anthony’s reps are working to get Carmelo Anthony out of Oklahoma City before the season starts.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the talks have begun to buy out and/or trade Anthony. The move will save the Thunder just over $105 million in total salary and tax. Anthony’s agent, Leon Rose of CAA Sports, has a strong relationship and history with Thunder general manager Sam Presti, and they’ll work together on Anthony’s exit through trade, the NBA’s stretch provision or a combined buyout and stretch.

Any trade that happens will have to go through Anthony. He owns a no trade clause and therefore can control wherever he wants to go. That said, it’s highly expected any move the Thunder make will be a salaried dump for both teams. Whoever takes on Anthony’s contract will agree to waive him immediately.

Oklahoma City can use the stretch provision on Anthony’s $27.9 million contract to eliminate a staggering $107 million off the team’s 2018-19 payroll and tax bill, but the Thunder first plan to pursue trade possibilities with teams looking to acquire a massive expiring deal to free up salary cap space for July 2019 free agency.

When you stretch a contract, you can stretch it double the length of the remaining years plus one. So, Anthony’s contract is one year long, so you double it: two years of stretching and then plus one. So, you can stretch it over three years.

Houston is the first team that is interested in Anthony’s ability if and when he’s bought out or traded.

Anthony arrived from New York after waiving his no trade clause, sending Enes Kanter to the Knicks and bringing what everyone thought would be the “Big Three.” After injuries and inconsistencies eliminated the “Big Three” monicker, Oklahoma City made comments at exit interviews, the Thunder’s core would be Russ, PG and Steven.

Anthony did give it 100 percent. Despite some obviously flare ups on the bench in the playoffs about playing time. Oklahoma City and Anthony experiment didn’t work out for either side, despite both giving everything to it.

“I think for me, my focus would be on kind of figuring out what I want out of the rest of my career, what I want in my future, what am I willing to accept, if I’m willing to accept that at all,” Anthony said in his exit interview. “I think everybody knows that I’ve sacrificed kind of damned near everything — family, moving here by myself, sacrificed my game — for the sake of the team, and was willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order for this situation to work out.

Any trade the Thunder made would be a salary dump as well. Even if it was to Chicago for let’s say Robin Lopez, who makes $14 million this upcoming season, it would save Oklahoma City an extra $15 million in salary and taxes.

Oklahoma City has until August 31 to part ways with Anthony or be liable for his entire salary on the year’s cap.

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Thunder re-sign Raymond Felton

The backup point guard position in Oklahoma City became a little clearer on Tuesday night. Raymond Felton agreed to a one-year deal at the veteran’s minimum.

According to ESPN, Felton will sign a one-year, $2.4 million deal on July 6. Players cannot officially sign until the moratorium is lifted on Friday, July 6.

Felton, 34, averaged 6.9 points on 40.6 percent shooting from the field. His 35.2 percent three-point shooting was one of the best in almost a decade for the former point guard out of North Carolina.

His age is going to be a factor but he provided stability over the season which Oklahoma City seem to lack over last season with Semaj Christon and others trying to fill the void. January and February were the most productive months for Felton, he shot over 38 percent from three including averaging 7.6 points per game over those 26 games.

With the addition of Felton to Oklahoma City’s cap and tax skyrocketed once again. They now have a combined $318 million on the books. His contract alone adds about $11 million to Oklahoma City’s financials.

At this point, Oklahoma City has 13 players on the books. The NBA requires a minimum of 13 players. However, you can expect the Thunder to add a few more players to the roster. It’s not expected Carmelo Anthony is going to return as his contract alone is holding down $132.5 million alone.

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Nerlens Noel agrees to two-year deal with Thunder

According to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, unrestricted free agent Nerlens Noel has selected Oklahoma City Thunder in his free agency sweepstakes on Monday afternoon.

Noel, 24, never has lived up to the potential of a top 10 pick. Drafted sixth overall in the 2013 draft, he was traded immediately to Philadelphia where he fell out of favor due to injury. Noel missed his entire first season due to knee surgery recovery.

Noel’s will sign a veteran’s minimum to join the Thunder. For his sixth year of service, Noel will get paid $1,841,849. He’s also agreed to a two-year deal. The second year is a player option. Which makes sense. So many teams are preparing for the cap spike of 2019. Noel, if he performs well in Oklahoma City could garner some real interest next summer.

While in Dallas, the Mavericks weren’t interested in winning. They say Noel fell out of favor but the consensus is Dallas didn’t want to win. They benched Noel and didn’t let him help other teams because they know there is talent there. So, he sat at the end of the Mavs bench and barely played.

It was a similar situation in Philadelphia where he was never given a fair shake. Always behind other players. At least in Oklahoma City, Noel will be given real minutes to relieve Steven Adams and Co.

Noel was reached out to by Russell Westbrook and Paul George. The narrative no one wants to play with Westbrook may be slowly fading away.

Noel played in 171 games over 2½ seasons for the Sixers before being traded to Dallas in the middle of the 2016-17 season. In Dallas, Noel’s plummet out of the rotation was worse than Nate Robinson in Oklahoma City. Rather than trade him, Dallas let him sit on the bench and rot. He played in 52 games over two seasons, averaging 6.1 points on 55.2 percent shooting. For his career, Noel is a 51.2 percent shooter, averaging 9.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in about 26 minutes per game.

Oklahoma City’s back up center position just became the strongest it’s been defensively since Kendrick Perkins’ days. Noel averaged 1.4 blocks per game last year. He’s long and super athletic.

There’s a slim bit of irony of a former Kentucky Wildcat big man replacing another Kentucky Wildcat big man in the lineup.

Noel is also considered the Los Angeles Lakers and the Washington Wizards. Lakers agreed to terms with JaVale McGee and then the Wizards General Manager Ernie Grumsfield said they were happy with Ian Mahinmi as their starting center. Which just led to Noel coming to Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City cap room is outrageous at this moment. However, as Sam Presti said: Scared Money don’t make none.

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Nerlens Noel narrows list to Thunder and two other teams

According to Shams Charania of Yahoo! Sports, unrestricted free agent Nerlens Noel has narrowed his free agency hunt down to three teams and the Oklahoma City Thunder are in the mix.

Noel, 24, never has lived up to the potential of a top 10 pick. Drafted sixth overall in the 2013 draft, he was traded immediately to Philadelphia where he fell out of favor due to injury. Noel missed his entire first season due to knee surgery recovery.

Noel played in 171 games over 2 1/2 seasons for the Sixers before being traded to Dallas in the middle of the 2016-17 season. In Dallas, Noel’s plummet out of the rotation was worse than Nate Robinson in Oklahoma City. Rather than trade him, Dallas let him sit on the bench and rot. He played in 52 games over two seasons, averaging 6.1 points on 55.2 percent shooting. For his career, Noel is a 51.2 percent shooter, averaging 9.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in about 26 minutes per game.

Oklahoma City could use a back up center. Dakari Johnson was serviceable but often unplayable for a majority of the season last year. He was a dominate player in the G League but the jump from the NBA from the G League proved to be quite stark for an immobile player like Johnson.

There’s a slim bit of irony of a former Kentucky Wildcat big man potentially replacing another Kentucky Wildcat big man in the lineup.

Noel is also considering the Los Angeles Lakers and the Washington Wizards. The Lakers are probably out in the Noel sweepstakes since they’ve just signed JaVale McGee and it is expected big man Brook Lopez is going to return to the Lakers. That only leaves the Thunder and the Wizards. While Washington can offer Noel a chance a starting since they’ve traded away Marcin Gortat, a real chance a title and best team success sits in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City doesn’t have a lot of money but they do have a $5.337 million tax mid-level exception to use. It still goes against the cap but allows Oklahoma City to get a decent player instead of a player at a complete veteran’s minimum.

You should expect Noel’s decision in the next day or two.

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Jerami Grant re-signs with Oklahoma City

A question in so many minds was: What will Oklahoma City do with Jerami Grant?

The question didn’t take long to be answered. Oklahoma City re-signed Jerami Grant for three-year, $22 million at the beginning of free agency. Grant’s third year comes with a player option.

Oklahoma City acquired Jerami Grant two seasons ago from Philadelphia. He was a relative unkonwn and, I’ll be the first one to admit, I was wrong about him. I figured Oklahoma City made the wrong choice by training Ersan Elyasova for him. Presti stays winning.

Grant averaged 8.4 points last season on 53.5 percent shooting. While not the greatest three-point shooter, his numbers are solid across the boar dand provides a decent plus/minus.

Keeping Grant on a $9 million annual salary could cost the Thunder an additional $40 million in luxury tax. His re-signing is a clear message to George and All-Star guard Russell Westbrook about ownership’s willingness to possibly host the largest payroll in NBA history, which with George and Grant is north of $300 million at this point with only 11 players.

Grant was the 39th overall pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Grant’s iconic moment came in the Western Conference playoffs when he was a real piece in Oklahoma City’s historic comeback against Utah while Carmelo Anthony was on the bench. Anthony would eventually re-enter the game, but it was Grant who provided the spark.

 

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Paul George commits to re-sign with Oklahoma City

Free Agent Paul George has verbally committed to re-signing with the Oklahoma City.

It’s far believed within the Thunder’s organization George was committed to staying at Oklahoma City beyond the 2017-18 season. This gave Oklahoma City the ability to ride out an injury and understanding Carmelo Anthony’s contract would have to be moved. There’s a reason why Presti spoke about the Big Three (Adams, Russ, PG) when talking in his exit interview.

About 11 p.m. local time, George got on stage with Russell Westbrook as his hype man and told everyone he was staying.

Paul George fits Oklahoma City like a glove, from personality to play. George might not be KD. What he is though, is a quality person and player that will help the Thunder finally get out of the first round and hopefully back to the finals.

George is hitting the prime of his career. He’s 28 and him and Westbrook are one of the NBA’s best 1-2 punches in the NBA.

Last season, George averaged 21.9 points on 43.0 percent shooting plus 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists. George’s percentages were up across the board, including a career high of 40.1 percent from deep.

George joined the Oklahoma City Thunder last season after seven years with the Indiana Pacers before Oklahoma City traded for him one year ago today. Oklahoma City traded for George a year ago, knowing full well that he could opt out and head to Los Angeles. The big risk, big reward of Presti’s decision has paid off George has committed to staying at Oklahoma City.

Adrian Wojnarwoski reported George will sign for a four-year $137 million. The fourth year will be a player option.

George gets the security he wanted. Sure, playing in LA would’ve been fun. However, when you have the type of injury he did. Security means something. Now, he has to go out and prove he’s worth every penny the Thunder just paid him.

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Paul George opts out of contract, will be free agent

Paul George has told the Oklahoma City Thunder he intends to opt out of his upcoming $20.7 million contract and will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.

We probably knew this was happening. Why only take $21 million when you can get $26 million per year? It really makes the most sense, financially for him to opt out. George has until 11:59 p.m EST to officially opt out. There’s always a chance he could opt in. However, that’s not going to happen.

George, who was traded this time last year from the Indiana Pacers, openly spoke about his interest to join the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Russell Westbrook and Sam Presti have done a fantastic job of selling Oklahoma City’s potential to the five-time all-star. Woj is reporting George is more and more comfortable with the Thunder. With a healthy lineup, the Thunder were one of the best teams in the NBA. Injuries derailed a promising season.

What makes the most financial sense is to sign with the Thunder. If George does that, he’s eligible for a five-year, $176 million contract extension on July 1. It’s easily the most money any team can offer him.

It’s highly expected George will sign a 1+1 deal, controlling his own freedom in case things go south. LeBron James started this and it’s becoming a huge trend. It gives players control and the ability to move on if they’re not comfortable.

If George signs with another team, the most he could sign for is four years, $169 million. So, what’s really $7 million in the grand scheme of things.

If it was truly about just winning, George would take a huge pay cut. Go come off the bench and win a ring like the snake did in Golden State. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense… unless LeBron James goes to Los Angles. Even then it’s questionable whether or not they’d be able to beat the Warriors and the Rockets.

George averaged 21.9 points and 5.7 rebounds while being chosen as an All-star by the coaching staff this season. He shot 40.1 percent from three, second best of his career.

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Paul George free agency to be featured on ESPN

This isn’t the best news. Paul George’s flight into free agency is going to be broadcasted all over the World Wide Leader for everyone to see. Last time we saw something like this, LeBron James bolted for Miami.

George and SportsCenter will do a three-part series on his free agency journey, beginning to air on June 26 at 5 p.m. on SportsCenter.

The first part will dive into the George’s rise to stardom. This will be mainly a lot of Indiana Pacers highlights and US Basketball.

Part 2 will air on June 28 and will follow him in his off court journeys as he prepares to build the next phase of his career.

Part 3 will air after George makes his announcement. It’ll be approximately six minutes long and will talk about the next step after he’s announced to the world whether or not he’ll stay in Oklahoma City and what led him to that decision.

George joined the Oklahoma City Thunder last season after seven years with the Indiana Pacers. As the series documents an important point in his career, the Los Angeles-area native will be shown speaking with trusted advisors and friends, including 12-time NBA All-Star Dwyane Wade.

It’s unknown what this means. If you’re a Thunder fan, it’s almost like hearing “Hey, we need to talk” from your significant other. We all know what it means. However, he could be propping up his return to Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison have gone on ESPN and spoke fondly about their times in Oklahoma City, so why not George, too?

George can still opt out of his player option and still re-sign with Oklahoma City. We expect him to do exactly that. George could opt out and then re-sign with Oklahoma City for a max contract, paying him a lot more than $20 million.

Friday is the day we’ll find out what happens and hopefully, it’ll be good news. If not, Sam Presti will find a way to keep Oklahoma City in a the title chase.

In Presti we trust, right?

Official Press release: https://espnmediazone.com/us/press-releases/2018/06/paul-georges-offseason-to-be-featured-in-three-part-sportscenter-series/

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Carmelo Anthony to opt-in

Well, what we knew would happened, finally happened. Carmelo Anthony opted in on his $27.9 million contract. While many understood this was going to happen.

You don’t walk away from $28 million, it’s still also understandable for people’s frustrations. Anthony wants a ring and maybe thinks he can do it here but we’ve seen in reality that’s probably not happening. However, we cannot hate or even really be mad at someone for not passing up that type of money.

All of a sudden, Anthony is the 10th highest player in the NBA. TENTH. ONE-ZERO.

Anthony, 34, had come to Oklahoma City in hopes of becoming a trio that helped dethrone the Warriors and added that elusive championship to his already hall of fame resume. However, injuries happened and it exposed Anthony defensively and his role as the power forward position, playing a very stretched version of it, had worn thin with him and in all honesty hadn’t really worked too well.

It was apparent from the first time he interviewed with the media he wouldn’t be accepting anything less than a starting position. You also don’t trade for a player like Anthony, with his accolades and financial burden, to bring him off the bench. There were issues in which we saw other players stepping up when Anthony couldn’t. In Game 5 as Oklahoma City made their historic comeback, it was Jerami Grant who made the push, not Anthony.

Then, the open criticism of the experiment at the exit interviews. Anthony detested playing the four and once again reiterated he would not be coming off the bench.

Anthony spoke the right things throughout the season. However, it’s understood the experiment didn’t work. We can say Anthony tried. Thunder General Manager Sam Presti saw that, too.

“I give him an enormous amount of credit for the fact that he put both feet in,” Presti said. “I personally think he did an excellent job in his first year transitioning his game, working to becoming more of an off-the-ballplayer, being more reliant on other people to generate his offense, and sacrificing a lot.”

Anthony averaged 16.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this season, both some of his career worsts. Scoring was the lowest of his illustrious career. His shooting numbers weren’t any better. His 40.4 percent field goal percentage was the worst of his career.

There are options for Oklahoma City. They could trade the 10-time all-star or they could buy him out. They could just make him come off the bench, too. However, it’s more likely Anthony will not be a member of the Thunder next season. Anthony does retain his no-trade clause in his contract.

If Oklahoma City buys out Anthony, the money they negotiate, whether it’s smaller or the whole $27.9 million, will still count agains the Thunder’s salary cap. However, if Anthony signs with another team within 48 hours, it’s completely free of the any responsibility. It’s more likely Anthony isn’t signed within 48 hours and a portion of the money would still count against the Thunder’s cap.

There’s also the wild factor of LeBron James’ decision. Cleveland could try to make a move for Anthony. It would give James another proven scorer around him, it would also provide some depth for Oklahoma City as they would probably get one or two players back in the trade.

For now, Anthony remains a member of the Thunder. Who knows if the Andre Roberson injury changed the entire course of the franchise, exposing Anthony’s liabilities to this point. We’ll never know.

What we do know is Anthony is making a lot of money now.

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Nick Collison retires

We knew this day was coming. Nick Collison has officially announced his retirement from the the Thunder and the NBA.

“I got to stay here a long time, but now it’s time to go.” Collison said via ESPN.

A staple within the Oklahoma City organization throughout his time here. Collison is one of two players who have spent their entire careers with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was given the nickname “Mr. Thunder.”

Sometimes, in the early phases of an organization’s life cycle, the right player ‎comes around at the right time to help define their vision,” Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager, Sam Presti said.

Collison, 37, a hard nosed worker who never complained about playing time or the transition of the team as players came and went. He was the epitome of those who lived in this great state.

Collison retires after 14 seasons, playing for six different head coaches and two different teams but really one franchise. In 910 games, Collison averaged 5.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He’ll go down in the top 10 lists throughout the franchise: third in games played; ninth in minutes played; third in offensive rebounds; sixth in defensive rebounds; fourth in total rebounds; second in personal fouls; sixth in blocks and fifth in field goal shooting.

He’ll go down playing with tons of Hall of Famers from Ray Allen to Russell Westbrook. He’s played in 54 playoff games. He’s bled his literal blood all over the court. He’s a large reason why players like Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison helped develop into the studs they are today.

While Collison only appeared in a handful of games over the last two seasons, his presence was felt through the vibrations he sent from the bench.

There’s really two faces who will go on the Oklahoma City Mount Rushmore. Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison. While Westbrook’s is more of on court accolades, what Collison did off the court goes beyond numbers. For that, all of Oklahoma City is thankful for having the pure luck and ability to see this man give it 100 percent for 10 years.

“I won’t get to feel that fire or that rush anymore, but I do get to keep the memories, the stories and the relationships. That’s what I will cherish the most.” Collison said. “Things worked out for me.”

The fanbase will cherish Collison as much as he cherished his time in the NBA. Many feel he deserves the No. 4 to hang from the rafters.

For now, go enjoy retirement, Mr. Thunder.

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