Tag - contract

Carmelo Anthony waiving No Trade Clause

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Oklahoma City made trade talks with Houston and Miami during Summer League about trading Carmelo Anthony.

Within those trade talks, Anthony has told Oklahoma City he will waive the No Trade Clause to give Oklahoma City a better opportunity to trade his $27.9 million contract he opted into in June.

Anthony’s contract, while massive in just dollar amount, is even more so when you factor in the tax that comes with it for Oklahoma City. Since Oklahoma City is a repeat payer of the luxury tax, they must pay a “repeater” fee. They’re paying $4.75 per dollar over the luxury tax line. All of this has pushed their tax bill to $150 million, which is more than their actual salary totals.

Anthony’s contract, with salary and tax is holding $132.5 million for the Thunder. If Oklahoma City waived Melo and stretched out his contract over the life of three seasons, it would save them over $100 in luxury tax alone for the upcoming season. They would still have to pay $9.3 million per season over the next three.

Houston has not been shy in their courting of Oklahoma City and Anthony. With Luc A Mbah Moute going to the Clippers and Trevor Ariza going to the Suns, their very thin bench is already lacking at the three spot, which would be an immediate fit for Anthony.

Miami has been looking to unload some players who aren’t in their future. The first that comes to mind is Dion Wiaters and James Johnson. They’re cheaper and they provide a long term stability for the Thunder at the two and four positions. I’m sure Oklahoma City would have to provide some assets to off load Anthony’s contract.

Houston is another team mentioned by Woj. It’s unknown what the Thunder would get in return as the Rockets only have 11 players on their roster at this moment.

While they haven’t been mentioned, the Cleveland Cavaliers could be a real target if Anthony wanted to waive the NTC to anyone. The money works and the Thunder are probably more inclined with eating that money for a player who’s actually a fit for the fast paced offense they would want to play this season. It’s unknown if Anthony waive it for every team or if he’s being selective on which teams are available for trade.

Wojnarowski said said the Thunder are looking to move him within the next 7-10 days.

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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 Summer League roster announced

There will be a few recognizable names for Oklahoma City but for the most part, they’ll be bunch of players just trying to get action and noticed by other NBA teams. There are some previous players who’ve gone on to big things with other NBA teams such as Dwight Buycks and Garrett Temple.

Oklahoma City will play three games in Vegas, here they are:

Date Opponent Time/Channel Location
Friday, July 6 vs. Charlotte 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU) Thomas & Mack Center
Saturday, July 7 vs. Brooklyn 6 p.m. (NBATV) T-Mobile Arena
Monday, July 9 vs. Toronto 2:30 p.m. (NBA TV) Thomas & Mack Center

Roster

Terrance Ferguson

T-Ferg started a handful of games and was the 21st pick overall last season. He didn’t play in last year’s summer league due to FIBA clearance and he hadn’t agreed to a contract because of the clearance. Ferguson averaged 3.1 points on 41.4 percent shooting in 61 games. He stated 12 games as well. He averaged 14.7 points on 47.2 percent shooting in 3 G League games last season.

Dakari Johnson

Dakari was a surprising signing last season. Not even a two-way deal, it was a full on contract. He performed admirably in back up duty and even started a couple of games with Steven Adams out. However, the big man out of Kentucky is still a step too slow and looks overweight. It’s unknown if he’ll stick in this league but at least he has his shot.

Daniel Hamilton

Hamilton, the G League triple-double machine, gets his shot with the Summer League team again. He starred in Orlando last season Hea veraged 11.7 points, 6.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds in only 30 minutes per game in the summer league. For the Thunder last season, Hamilton appeared in six games, averaging less than five minutes and averaging only 2.0 points per game.

PJ Dozier

The other two-way contract, Dozier was a surprise pick up by the Thunder. Out of South Carolina, Dozier played well in the G League. He appeared in He played for the Lakers in Summer League last year, only scoring two points in two games. In Thunder games, Dozier appeared in two games. He averaged a point on 50 percent shooting. So, two shots and he hit one. There we go. As for the G League, Dozier averaged 13 points on 47 percent shooting in 38 starts.

Devon Hall

Oklahoma City’s first pick in the second round. The kid out of Virginia was highly praised at the NBA Draft Combine. It’s unknown what he can do offensively as he played in an offense that was super limited and they primarily stuck to defense. The defense is nice but if he can duplicate that 42 percent three-point shooting at the NBA level, Hall will become the steal of the draft.

Kevin Hervey

Hervey might’ve blown out both ACLs but he can still ball. During his senior year at UT-Arlington, Hervey averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game last season, while shooting 33.9 percent from three-point range last season. That 33.9 percent was up from 28 percent. He continued to get better with the long ball. He was a first round talent before blowing his ACLs. Can he stay healthy? His pick at 57th overall was an easy low risk high reward pick for Oklahoma City.

Deonte Burton

Burton is no real stranger to Oklahoma City. Sort of. He starred at Iowa State. However, not catching on in the NBA, Burton went over to the Korean Basketball League. He averaged 24 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists as he was named the MVP last season. During his senior year at Iowa State, Burton averaged 15.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The 6-5 guard shot over 40 percent his senior year at Iowa State.

Awudu Abass

You may have not heard of Abass. He played last season for Olimpia Milano in Italy. He’s never had a real shot at the NBA Dream but he really hasn’t done anything to really wow you in Italy, stats wise. He averaged only 2.8 points in 11.8 minutes per game. He appeared in 45 games for Olimpia Milano throughout all levels of play last season.

Rashawn Thomas

Thomas is a big man out of Southeast High in Oklahoma City. He played with Team USA last season as they had some friendly games on the West coast and he was a large reason why the Oklahoma City Blue would go on and win the Midwest Conference. Thomas averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds in 46 games for the Oklahoma City Blue, including 35 starts. He played in five games for the Thunder in last year’s summer league, averaging 4.8 points on 45.5 percent shooting in five games.

Michael Carrera

He’s a South Carolina player, much like PJ Dozier. They both were on the team during their run to the Elite 8. He played for the Blue last season and did okay. He averaged 7.0 points per game in 11 games. Before that, he played in Russia, which is pretty gnarly. He’s no stranger to summer league as he played the Miami HEAT last year in Orlando and Vegas.

Justin Leon

Leon is a feisty guard out of Florida. He’s doesn’t seem 6-8 but he definitely plays like it. He played with the Oklahoma City Blue last season He averaged 7.0 points per game in 11 games. Before that, he played in Russia, which is pretty gnarly. He’s no stranger to summer league as he played the Miami HEAT last year in Orlando and Vegas.

Phil Pressey

Pressey was actually an NBA Player at one point! He’s played almost 150 games with four teams. He even started 11 games as an undrafted rookie in Boston! He’s not a stranger to the Summer league as he’s played with Boston and Detroit in the Orlando Summer leagues. Last season, Pressey spent training camp with the Golden State Warriors and then with their G League affiliate, Santa Cruz, during the season. Before the NBA, Pressey played at Missouri for three seasons.

Richard Solomon

Solomon used to be a member of the Oklahoma City Blue a few years ago before going overseas. Solomon’s current team is Uşak Sportif, a Turkish club. After leaving the Blue, Solomon played in Tokyo and in France. He spent the training camp in 2014 with the Thunder before being cut. That’s when he went to the Blue, their first season in Oklahoma City. Last season for Usak Sportlif, Solomon appeared in 19 games, and averaged 10 points per game on 59 percent shooting.

Also:

Hamidou Diallo

The surprise of the draft, taken 45th overall by Charlotte from the pick they received from Brooklyn. I know, it’s confusing. However, what’s confusing is Diallo’s availability for Summer league. Diallo might be available for Summer League. The trade in which Diallo was acquired cannot be completed until July 6. So, if we see him, it’ll be the later games. If we see him at all. He’s athletic and can score in bunches. It just is unclear if we’ll see him.

Full roster:

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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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Always bet on yourself

It takes a lot of gumption to walk away from a guaranteed $70 million. For Nerlens Noel, that’s exactly what he did.

Last season the Mavericks reportedly offered Noel four years, $70 million but turned it down. He signed his offer sheet of $4.1 million and his issues in Dallas just continue to compound. A player never really found the footing him and the Mavericks hoped would’ve happened. Some of that has to do with Dallas and their losing ways. Why start a quality player when you’re trying to lose?

The contract issue was so wild last offseason, Noel ended up firing his agent, Happy Walters and signing with LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul.

On Dec. 6, 2017, Noel underwent many call a faux surgery. He reportedly tore a ligament in his thumb and would miss six weeks. Another setback for the big man out of Kentucky. Once revered as the No. 1 high school recruit, he tore his ACL at Kentucky, missing most of his freshman year and his first year in Philadelphia. Injuries have seemed to plague him.

On April 3, 2018, Noel was suspended five games for basically smoking weed, effectively ending his season and tenure in Dallas.

So, everything against man. Everything has gone wrong that has gone wrong. So, what can you do? You bet on yourself.

Noel’s decision to take the veteran’s minimum ($1.7 million approx.), is doing just that. While it’s a two-year deal. It provides two things for Noel: 1) provides security for another season if he plays poorly. 2) It provides an out to a huge contract if he comes in and just goes gangbusters.

It’s a big risk for the 23-year old. Going to Oklahoma City, a perennial power in the NBA, to redeem your chance at NBA stardom. It’s been done before in Oklahoma City. See: Dion Waiters.

Waiters’ time in Cleveland is easily marked by saying it was not fun for both sides. Waiters, though, would come to Oklahoma City and show that he is in fact a good teammate and the dude could actually play. He would eventually get a sizable contract in Miami.

Noel hopes that could be him. Spend a year in Oklahoma City showing his ability and get ready for all of the NBA money about to unload in 2019. It’s expect 18 of the 30 NBA teams will have at least $20 million in cap space next summer.

For once in his career, Noel will get to experience what winning is like. Throughout his career, he’s been on losing rosters. The most wins he’s experienced was 33 with the Mavericks in 2016-17 and he wasn’t even on the roster for half of those wins. Dallas tanked in the most obvious ways last season.

All it takes is one good season and you’re set for your life. Noel is still looking for that security. Get that elusive contract and then get that elusive ring.

If you do all of that, you can do what Tom Haverford says and “Treat yo’ self!”

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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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Summer League roster taking shape

The Oklahoma City Thunder are set to play in the Las Vegas Summer League for the first time in a decade. Last time the Thunder set foot in Vegas, they were the Sonics and Kevin Durant was involved.

There will be a few recognizable names for Oklahoma City but for the most part, they’ll be bunch of players just trying to get action and noticed by other NBA teams. There are some previous players who’ve gone on to big things with other NBA teams such as Dwight Buycks and Garrett Temple.

Oklahoma City will play three games in Vegas, here they are:

 

Date Opponent Time/Channel Location
Friday, July 6 vs. Charlotte 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU) Thomas & Mack Center
Saturday, July 7 vs. Brooklyn 6 p.m. (NBATV) T-Mobile Arena
Monday, July 9 vs. Toronto 2:30 p.m. (NBA TV) Thomas & Mack Center

Here’s the known roster so far:

Terrance Ferguson

T-Ferg started a handful of games and was the 21st pick overall last season. He didn’t play in last year’s summer league due to FIBA clearance and he hadn’t agreed to a contract because of the clearance. Ferguson averaged 3.1 points on 41.4 percent shooting in 61 games. He stated 12 games as well. He averaged 14.7 points on 47.2 percent shooting in 3 G League games last season.

Dakari Johnson

Dakari was a surprising signing last season. Not even a two-way deal, it was a full on contract. He performed admirably in back up duty and even started a couple of games with Steven Adams out. However, the big man out of Kentucky is still a step too slow and looks overweight. It’s unknown if he’ll stick in this league but at least he has his shot.

Daniel Hamilton

Hamilton, the G League triple-double machine, gets his shot with the Summer League team again. He starred in Orlando last season Hea veraged 11.7 points, 6.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds in only 30 minutes per game in the summer league. For the Thunder last season, Hamilton appeared in six games, averaging less than five minutes and averaging only 2.0 points per game.

PJ Dozier

The other two-way contract, Dozier was a surprise pick up by the Thunder. Out of South Carolina, Dozier played well in the G League. He appeared in He played for the Lakers in Summer League last year, only scoring two points in two games. In Thunder games, Dozier appeared in two games. He averaged a point on 50 percent shooting. So, two shots and he hit one. There we go. As for the G League, Dozier averaged 13 points on 47 percent shooting in 38 starts.

Devon Hall

Oklahoma City’s first pick in the second round. The kid out of Virginia was highly praised at the NBA Draft Combine. It’s unknown what he can do offensively as he played in an offense that was super limited and they primarily stuck to defense. The defense is nice but if he can duplicate that 42 percent three-point shooting at the NBA level, Hall will become the steal of the draft.

Kevin Hervey

Hervey might’ve blown out both ACLs but he can still ball. During his senior year at UT-Arlington, Hervey averaged 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game last season, while shooting 33.9 percent from three-point range last season. That 33.9 percent was up from 28 percent. He continued to get better with the long ball. He was a first round talent before blowing his ACLs. Can he stay healthy? His pick at 57th overall was an easy low risk high reward pick for Oklahoma City.

Deonte Burton

Burton is no real stranger to Oklahoma City. Sort of. He starred at Iowa State. However, not catching on in the NBA, Burton went over to the Korean Basketball League. He averaged 24 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists as he was named the MVP last season. During his senior year at Iowa State, Burton averaged 15.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The 6-5 guard shot over 40 percent his senior year at Iowa State.

Awudu Abass

You may have not heard of Abass. He played last season for Olimpia Milano in Italy. He’s never had a real shot at the NBA Dream but he really hasn’t done anything to really wow you in Italy, stats wise. He averaged only 2.8 points in 11.8 minutes per game. He appeared in 45 games for Olimpia Milano throughout all levels of play last season.

Hamidou Diallo

The surprise of the draft, taken 45th overall by Charlotte from the pick they received from Brooklyn. I know, it’s confusing. However, what’s confusing is Diallo’s availability for Summer league. Diallo might be available for Summer League. The trade in which Diallo was acquired cannot be completed until July 6. So, if we see him, it’ll be the later games. If we see him at all. He’s athletic and can score in bunches. It just is unclear if we’ll see him.

While Thunder Digest won’t be in Vegas for Summer League, we’ll have your complete coverage with recaps and pointless breakdowns.

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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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Thunder Grades: Josh Huestis

In the 2018 edition of the Thunder Grades, we’re going to break down what we think went well and went poorly for players and coaches. We’re going to avoid players who barely play. So, Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, Daniel Hamilton and PJ Dozier won’t be graded.

We’ll do it in there ways: The Good, the bad and the conclusion. We’ll release two a day, hopefully flying through all of these.

Previous grades: Billy Donovan, Terrance Ferguson

Next up:

Josh Huestis

The Good

Huestis in his first season with quality minutes wasn’t what everyone expected. He has super shining moments where we sat back and were thinking “wow, this guy is going to make another team a good player on a decent contract.”

He appeared in 69 games, started in 10. He only averaged 2.3 points per game and it felt he was underutilized. Ignore his abhorrent shooting splits. It felt as when Huestis was in the game, the Thunder were feeling it. That’s why the eye test and numbers don’t always align with each other.

“It’s not linear,” Huestis said. “It’s going to be ups and downs and all that. Anybody who thinks that it’s always going to be sunshine is kind of crazy.”

Huestis defensive growth is a huge reason why the Thunder see something in the Stanford alumnus. His ability is almost like Andre Roberson but not as elite. He’s growing and you can tell he’s raw. He’s a dominate G League player and trying to move that offensive ability to the NBA game.

The Bad

It’s unknown what real value he brings to the Thunder. When you look at his shooting splits, he has some god awful numbers. To the point, you may not want someone on their team. As we said, difference between eye test and stat lines.

“If you compare this year to the last few years, it’s a huge step forward for me in terms of working my way into the rotation, being a guy that sees minutes in big games,” Huestis said. “That was a huge step forward.”

In his 10 starts, Huestis never scored more than six points in any of the starts. He shot only 31.5 percent from three in those starts. He provided little to no real offensive threat when on the court. It was to the point towards the end of the season, he was left open when he shot a three. Teams really weren’t worried about his deep threat.

The real difference is the 69 games played. HIs minutes per game were about the same as last season but his production was way down. There are numerous reasons why. The difference in minutes. Starting along three lethal scorers takes the ball out of his hands. Shooting inefficiencies are why as well. We’re not even talking about his 30 percent free throw percentage. It was almost more worth to foul him than to let him make a bucket.

The Conclusion

Huestis future probably isn’t in Oklahoma City. If any indication of how this season went, it’s probably for the best. He’s probably going to find the right scenario, like Jeremy Lamb did. Sometimes a change of scenery will be the best for any team and player. For Huestis, that may be what’s best.

“Obviously I’d like to stay in Oklahoma,” Huestis said. “It’s the only place I’ve known. I’ve made a home here, and I love the city, love the team, the organization”

We’ve mentioned a couple of times, numbers don’t tell the story. That’s the same with Huestis. He was able to make an imprint on the game with his movement and defensive play. Despite his offensive woes, he was a solid defender and that led to him finding playoff time against someone like Donovan Mitchell.

For whatever happens with Huestis, he’s a bit of an underachiever and that’s not really all his fault. Donovan’s weird issues with him and finding minutes for him is awkward. It’s like Huestis was forced upon and he just had to plug him in at his own cringing.

We hope Huestis has a solid career wherever he goes. He’s an intelligent player and an even nicer player.

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Thunder Grades: Billy Donovan

In the first edition of the Thunder Grades, we’re going to break down what we think went well and went poorly for players and coaches. We’re going to avoid players who barely play. So, Nick Collison, Kyle Singler, Daniel Hamilton and PJ Dozier won’t be graded.

We’ll do it in there ways: The Good, the bad and the conclusion. We’ll release two a day, hopefully flying through all of these.

First up: Billy Donovan

Billy Donovan

This man here. For the most part, there isn’t really a middle ground on Donovan. You either think Donovan should be fired or you think he’s the right man for the job. However, in reality, it’s in the middle. Oklahoma City’s head man was dealt a weird hand. It started with a bunch of new players and then the loss of Andre Roberson forced him to pivot. He didn’t do that particularly well but many forget how well Oklahoma City was playing when Dre hit the court.

The Good

Donovan had to integrate Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Sure, Anthony said some choice words at his exit interview. However, let’s give both Donovan and Anthony credit, both did their parts in trying their best. It just wasn’t the right fit.

“Every year as a coach you’re always trying to evaluate areas where your team can get better and improve,” Donovan said. “I feel a strong sense of always wanting to improve and get better individually.”

The offense struggled for the first 20 games of the year and that goes on more of Russell Westbrook not doing Westbrook-like things than on Donovan. The defense remained on point until the loss of Roberson.

“We have a great group of guys that want to be successful that want to win and want to do the right things,” Westbrook said. “The biggest thing for us is being more and more consistent throughout the season. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t.”

Like Anthony trying to play the four and not complaining throughout the season, that’s a credit of two things: Donovan trying to appease his players and providing a good locker room chemistry that no one was publicly complaining.

The Bad

Many want to bash the offense but as we’ve covered it wasn’t that bad. The real negative was his rotations. Questionable decisions on keeping Anthony on the court when Jerami Grant was obviously the better choice. We saw him change that up. We did see Anthony baby his way back into the Game 5 where Oklahoma City fought back from down a billion.

There are other times with many thinking Westbrook played too few minutes. When in fact he played the most minutes of his career by almost a full minute more a game. His decision making to maybe let Westbrook sit in certain situation when games may have gotten away from the Thunder is a question mark.

“From start to finish they were constantly trying to work on things to help us be a better team,” Donovan said.

While the Thunder got better as the season progressed, it really was the loss of Roberson who sealed Oklahoma City’s fate. George wasn’t as good. Neither was Anthony. Oklahoma City’s stats slipped considerably across the board. Donovan failed to adjust the identity of this team after that point. It resembled last season’s “let Westbrook, be Westbrook” season. Which is all fine and dandy but with two other really solid offensive players, there could’ve been more variety at times, but it was a revert to bad habits.

The Conclusion

Donovan gets a  

He wasn’t overtly spectacular this season and he didn’t deserve to be fired. I also didn’t think Scott Brooks deserved to be fired. There is a growing sentiment General Manager Sam Presti has his hand in the cookie jar more than the franchise will lead you to believe.

The constant roster changing and injuries are tough. He’s still a growing coach learning from his mistakes. In a state where football is still king and a single loss could be the end of everything, Thunder fans still hold the coach to this weird pedestal.

“I thought Billy did an excellent job,” Presti said.

For the record, Donovan still has two years, $12 million left on his contract.

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