Archive for the ‘#CarmeloAnthony’ Category

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Oklahoma City’s vision of a Super Team was a flop and now the Thunder are looking at a tumultuous summer after being eliminated in six games by the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.

Russell Westbrook’s five-year, $205 million extension is ready to kick in and the 2016-17 MVP likely is not going anywhere. But the same cannot be said about any of the Thunder’s other stars, and even coach Billy Donovan, whose job could be in jeopardy.

Paul George is entering free agency and his future in OKC is uncertain. But whether George stays or ends up in Los Angeles, the Thunder are stuck with the aging Carmelo Anthony. OKC would like nothing more than for Anthony to decline his player option but someone who turns 34 in a month and is coming off the worst season of his career is not going to turn down $27.9 million.

So then what?

If Anthony remains expect the Thunder to attempt to buy out his deal, similar to what the Bulls did with Dwyane Wade last summer. But, first, OKC may try to get something in return and this is where the Miami Heat could come in.

Miami has its issues with the cap and could be a trade partner for the Thunder. The Heat, though, likely would have to shed long term money to make it worth paying nearly $30 million for one year of a fading star.

With center Steven Adams under contract for three more years and $77.5 million, unless this turns into a blockbuster, including Hassan Whiteside ($25.4 million next season, $27.1 million in 2019-20) in a deal could be difficult.

More realistic would be Miami packaging two contracts, say James Johnson ($14.4 million next season, three years total remaining) and Tyler Johnson ($19.2 million each of the next two years) and take back an additional cheaper contract to make the deal work.

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Paul George is set to become one of the most highly coveted free agents this summer. Several teams are expected to be in pursuit of the superstar, and after the way things ended this season with the Thunder, there is reason to believe he could be on the move. 

Here are the four best destinations for George:

Philadelphia 76ers

If Playoff P wants to become Finals P he needs to become a 76er. If George is your best player, the chances of winning a title are slim to none, but as a third option on a team like this, the chances are no longer slim. Even as the C-option, George may turn out to be the one they go to late in games until (if ever) Ben Simmons develops a jump shot.

The 76ers should be one of, if not the favorite, to win the East next season, and with George they can own the conference for years. The Big 3 in Oklahoma City was a failed experiment; George, Simmons, and Joel Embiid could become the most unguardable Big 3 in the NBA.

Los Angeles Lakers 

The Lakers have always felt like the ideal fit for George since he made it clear that he would “love” to play for his hometown team and listed the Lakers as a place he wanted to be traded to last summer.

Whether he would be joined by LeBron James or not, the purple and gold would be a natural fit for George. Without LeBron, it would be the return of the Indiana PG13 as the primary scoring option. With LeBron, George will get the opportunity to compete for championships.

Going home is one thing, playing with a pass-first point guard in Lonzo Ball and a young talented roster is another. Oh, and it is Los Angeles.

San Antonio Spurs

This move will require several moving parts, but with Kawhi Leonard’s relationship with the Spurs severely damaged, this trade scenario could satisfy all sides. If George is willing to commit to a sign-and-trade, a deal that involves the Spurs and Leonard is ideal. The Spurs can provide him with the best coach in the NBA, an unmatched system, and a ticket to be Batman on the River Walk.

Unless Leonard’s injury is career-threating, what better return can the Thunder receive? Even if the Thunder cannot get Leonard to sign an extension on their end, they have shown before they have no problem renting and hoping.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Of course, resigning with the Thunder cannot be ruled out. After all, the Thunder do own George’s Bird Rights and can potentially offer him a five-year deal worth $207.4 million. Along with the most money, familiarity, and minimal pressure, the Thunder’s GM Sam Presti has proven to be one of the best in the business. If Presti has both George and Russell Westbrook locked up, the smart money is on him providing them with a more than reasonable supporting cast.

The issue, however, is that Westbrook is difficult to play with on the court and the Thunder cannot even think about a championship as long as Carmelo Anthony is around.

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He’s the reigning NBA MVP. He’s the first player in Association history to average a triple-double in consecutive seasons. Russell Westbrook’s personal accomplishments stand among the game’s greatest.

The Oklahoma City Thunder should still seriously consider trading the guard this summer after yet another postseason letdown for the squad. You read that right. An organization that Russ helped put on the NBA map following its move from Seattle should relieve itself of the future Hall of Famer.

 

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It seems pretty ridiculous on the surface. Relevance in the NBA is an important thing, especially for those in a small market. Just ask Milwaukee before Giannis or this year’s version of the Memphis Grizzlies. Having star power is needed to lift up a small market.

That’s the economic situation here. On the court, Russ and his Thunder have failed to do anything of substance during the most important time of the season: The NBA Playoffs.

This year saw OKC go down in six games to a much less-talented Utah Jazz team in the first round. That series was only extended beyond a fifth game due to Westbrook’s own performance. And thus tells us a story of the Thunder under his watch.

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Phil Jackson might not be running the ship in New York anymore, but that doesn’t mean the downtrodden New York Knicks won’t look to move star forward Kristaps Porzingis.

Obviously, said deal would have to bring in an equal star for a Knicks squad that has not earned a playoff spot since the 2012-13 season.

According to Frank Isola of the NY Daily News, said trade could potentially include Kawhi Leonard making his way from San Antonio to the Big Apple for Porzingis.

“ONE PLAUSIBLE OPTION IS TO TRADE LEONARD, WHICH SHOULD BE OF INTEREST TO THE KNICKS,” ISOLA NOTED. “ANY DEAL FOR LEONARD WOULD HAVE TO INCLUDE KRISTAPS PORZINGIS, WHOM THE SPURS ARE SAID TO BE HEAD OVER HEELS WITH, AS WELL AS A FIRST-ROUND PICK. IT’S A STEEP PRICE, BUT THE ADDITION OF LEONARD PLUS AVAILABLE CAP SPACE IN THE SUMMER OF 2019 COULD DRAMATICALLY ALTER THE COURSE OF HISTORY FOR THE STAR-CROSSED FRANCHISE.”

Why would the Knicks even consider trading the face of their franchise for an injured star that just so happens to be years older? First off, Porzingis is coming off a torn ACL himself and has had multiple injury issues in his first three seasons with the Knicks.

Despite missing all but a couple handfuls of games this past regular season, Leonard has a more proven track record. He’s a former MVP candidate.

Discussions surrounding a potential Leonard trade from the Spurs have heated up in recent weeks. There seems to be a rift between the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year and his organization. If Leonard is indeed put on the block, Porzingis would have to be seen as the best possible option in a trade for the Spurs.

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Why the Bulls should draft Deandre Ayton if they win the Lottery

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Something special occurred on the campus of Oregon University in late February. The Arizona Wildcats were in town, 24 hours removed from an ESPN report that claimed head coach Sean Miller had discussed paying $100,000 to land blue-chip prospect Deandre Ayton. The report shook the college basketball world, Miller took a leave of absence from the team and the Wildcats, ranked 14th in the country, became the lead story on sports talk shows for all the wrong reasons.

And the 19-year-old Ayton found himself at the center of the turmoil. Heading into Eugene, a place the Ducks were 31-3 at over the last two seasons, the Oregon student section mercilessly heckled Ayton all night, chanting “wi-re tap” and “hun-dred thou-sand” at the freshman star. The 7-foot-1 Bahamian could have crumbled in the moment. No one would have blamed him if he had.

Instead, Ayton dominated. He took over the game for 44 minutes, resting for 66 seconds in the first half before playing the final 26:37 of the overtime thriller. His final line – 28 points, 18 rebounds, 4 blocks – somehow didn’t do the performance justice. He made 11 of 15 shots, including 17-foot jumpers, offensive rebound put-backs, low-post moves and transition dunks. In a season of extraordinary for the Pac-12’s eventual Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year, that Saturday night may have been his most impressive, all things considered.

And it’s one of many reasons why, if that 5.3 percent chance becomes reality, the Bulls can’t pass on Deandre Ayton with the first pick in June’s NBA Draft.

Let’s begin with the raw stats. Ayton joined Duke’s Marvin Bagley as the only freshmen since 1993 to average 20 points, 11 rebounds and shoot 60 percent from the field. What’s more, only 10 others – regardless of year – had accomplished the feat, last done by Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin in 2009. Four of those 10 were drafted first overall (Michael Olowokandi, Tim Duncan, Andrew Bogut and Griffin). So, spoiler alert, there’s precedent for a dominant big man being selected first overall. Ayton certainly could join that list, which we’ll note has a respectable success rate.

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