Raymond Felton, Oklahoma City Thunder Reportedly Agree to 1-Year Contract

Posted by admin on July 8, 2017 with Comments Closed

The Oklahoma City Thunder and free-agent point guard Raymond Felton agreed to terms Friday on a one-year deal, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes.

Felton, 33, averaged 6.7 points and 2.4 assists last season with the Los Angeles Clippers.

A 12-year veteran, Felton should immediately slot in as Russell Westbrook’s backup and provide supplementary scoring along with solid pick-and-roll defense.

In 80 games last season, Felton surrendered just 0.76 points per possession to opposing pick-and-roll ball-handlers, a mark that ranked in the 73rd percentile.

"I love to play defense, and with this team that’s what I have to do every night," Felton said last December with the Clippers, per the Los Angeles Times’ Jesse Dougherty. "I don’t have to worry about trying to come in and score."

Felton’s job description with the Thunder should be similar.

OKC has a gaudy one-two scoring punch with Westbrook and Paul George in the fold, and Enes Kanter, Steven Adams and Patrick Patterson should be solid sources of secondary scoring who allow Felton to hunker down and do the dirty work on both ends.

While his numbers likely won’t be anything special, Felton represents an upgrade behind Westbrook after they rolled with Cameron Payne and Norris Cole at that spot last year.

Stats courtesy of NBA.com.

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Rudy Gay Leaves Oklahoma City Thunder Without Deal Despite Enes Kanter Tweet

Posted by admin on July 3, 2017 with Comments Closed

Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay (L) goes to the basket as Detroit Pistons forward Marcus Morris (C) and Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris (R) defend on January 10 at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif. Photo by John G. Mabanglo/EPA

July 2 (UPI) — Despite an Enes Kanter tweet featuring Rudy Gay’s name next to Russell Westbrook’s locker, Gay left his Oklahoma City Thunder meeting without a contract, according to league sources.

ESPN reported Sunday that the Sacramento Kings and Thunder are searching for a "financial path" for the deal, which could include a difficult sign and trade.

"League sources tell Enes Kanter," Kanter tweeted Saturday night as the caption for a photo of Westbrook’s nameplate alongside Gay’s in the Integris Thunder Development Center.

Kanter’s tweet has more than 14,000 retweets and 26,000 likes.

Gay, 30, averaged 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game in 30 contests last season for the Sacramento Kings. The No. 8 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft played his first seven seasons for the Memphis Grizzlies before joining the Toronto Raptors as part of a 3-team trade during the 2012 season. He joined the Kings in 2013 in another trade.

Gay made $13.3 million in 2016. He had surgery in January on his ruptured left Achilles’ tendon. He opted out of the final year of his contract with the Kings in June.

Gay was due to make $14.2 million next season, had he not opted out.

He also hosted free agent meetings this weekend in Austin, Texas, {link:according to The Vertical. : "https://twitter.com/wojespn/status/880419815428681728" target="_blank" title="Vertical on Gay"} League sources told The Vertical last season that the Thunder attempted to get Gay in a trade with the Kings, but talks stalled.

So far, Gay has been linked to the San Antonio Spurs, Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

ESPN reported that the Clippers plan to meet free agents Danilo Gallinari and Gay sometime in the next two days.

Kanter, 25, is due $17.8 million this season and has an $18.6 million player option in 2018.

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Oklahoma City Rejoices in the Arrival of Paul George

Posted by admin on July 3, 2017 with Comments Closed

Oklahoma City is currently rejoicing in the arrival of Paul George. The NBA franchise here, the Oklahoma City Thunder, is a team that once soared to serious heights, only to be brought down to Earth. The city rejoiced when the New Orleans Hornets temporarily called OKC home as their home city recovered from Katrina. The fan base was enthusiastic enough and the city had grown and recovered enough from the Timothy McVeigh bombing that put the city on the national map that the NBA decided to allow the Seattle Supersonics franchise to move here.

The franchise drafted well, and maybe even too well. It wound up with a team that had Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and James Harden all at the same time. This squad was able to win the Western Conference and get to the Finals, which many assumed was the beginning of what would turn into multiple titles. However, having three potentially MVP-level players on the same roster prompted salary fears, leading to a trade that sent James Harden to the Houston Rockets for pieces and players that didn’t quite equate.

After that, Kevin Durant did win an MVP award, but he and Russell Westbrook were not able to get back to the Finals, much less win a championship. The city was devastated when Durant left in free agency for the Golden State Warriors. He did win his first championship, and Russell Westbrook was left alone where he won the season’s MVP award for himself.

The Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Indiana Pacers All-Star Paul George. While he only has a single season before hitting free agency himself, it sends a clear signal to fans and Russell Westbrook that despite the players they have lost, they intend to do what they can to win and possibly even contend.

The work is just beginning for Oklahoma City and its MVP

Posted by admin on June 28, 2017 with Comments Closed

NEW YORK — The last nominee to show up, Russell Westbrook turned the corner with his wife Nina and rolled his eyes at the bank of waiting cameras and reporters.

With a simple white shirt, a gray tie, purple shades and jacket slung over his shoulder — Westbrook’s understated outfit was the biggest upset of the night — he glanced at the red carpet, and shook his head. The man of the night skipped the cameras, the posing and questions and headed inside.

Russell Westbrook, after winning his second scoring title and becoming the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 to average a triple-double, was awarded the NBA’s MVP award.

Westbrook didn’t have an MVP moment or two. He filled an entire portfolio with jaw-dropping plays that kept OKC and the NBA world on the edge of their seats. And triple-doubles — lots and lots of triple-doubles.

For the first time, the league will announce the winner of the MVP and its other major awards during a live show. Read about the 2017 NBA awards and see who will go home with the hardware on Monday.

Despite the style and the flash on the floor, Westbrook isn’t one for crowds, or the spotlight. But he couldn’t completely escape it as about two hours later he walked on stage at the first ever NBA Awards show at Basketball City to accept the trophy for Most Valuable Player. Westbrook grinned, and breaking the standard, he was actually a little long-winded.

He thanked God, he thanked Thunder owner Clay Bennett, GM Sam Presti and coach Billy Donovan. He thanked the film guys, the trainers, the support staff. He called his teammates that were in attendance — Enes Kanter, Andre Roberson, Taj Gibson, Victor Oladipo and Nick Collision — on stage.

Westbrook thanked the fans, his agent, and finally, his family.

"Without you guys, I don’t know where I would be," Westbrook said. "I can’t be standing here without your support, your sacrifice. Starting with my parents."

He fought back tears and pulled off the shades.

"I told myself I wasn’t going to cry," he said. Then more tears came when he talked about his wife, Nina.

It was an emotional moment for Westbrook, a true achievement for one of the great underdog stories ever, and the cherry on top and a proper coronation for one of the most remarkable seasons in NBA history.

It was a plan enacted and executed. It started last August, with Westbrook signing an extension in the wake of Kevin Durant’s departure. He became the unofficial people’s champ, a player that went from polarizing to being cheered in road arenas across the league.

Before the season, Westbrook eyed the MVP. A plan was developed to aid his campaign — magazine cover stories, interviews. The kinds of things Westbrook had always resisted. That was part new role, taking on the sole front-facing franchise responsibility, but also to help build and keep momentum.

But for any of it to work, Westbrook had to make himself an actual candidate. He did that by making history, and capping it all off by a final two week flurry of MVP moment after MVP moment.

It was a goal to win, and while Westbrook’s focus of course remained on the Thunder winning games, as he closed in on the MVP, he wanted it. In year one without Kevin Durant, Westbrook produced something memorable, something that will stand the test of sport history. It was a season that transcended the game. It was a total eclipse, something probably only seen once in a lifetime. Westbrook didn’t erase the pain and heartbreak of Durant leaving, but he did somehow make it seem less important. Which was maybe his greatest achievement of them all.

But with all of that done, and the book finally closed on his 2016-17 season, hardware in hand, it’s the same two words Westbrook asked following the departure of his All-Star teammate: What’s next?

Before the season, after Westbrook had signed his extension with the Thunder to become the unofficial People’s Champ of the NBA, a PR plan was developed by the Oklahoma City Thunder to help his MVP campaign.

Magazine cover stories, interviews and everything else. But for any of it to work, Westbrook had to make himself an actual MVP candidate. He did that by engineering one of the most historic seasons in NBA history, capped off by a final two-week flurry of MVP moment after MVP moment.

It was a goal to win, and while Westbrook’s singular focus remained on the Thunder winning games, as he closed in on the MVP, he wanted it.

In year one without Kevin Durant, Westbrook produced something memorable, something that will stand the test of sports history. It was a season that transcended the game. It was a total eclipse, something probably seen only once in a lifetime. Westbrook didn’t erase the pain and heartbreak of Durant’s leaving, but he did somehow make it seem less important; maybe that was his greatest achievement of them all.

But with all of that done and the book finally closed on his 2016-17 season, hardware in hand, what’s next?

The irony for Westbrook is for the Thunder to get to where they want to go, he can’t ever have another season like this one.

For all the exhilarating one-man-banding and iconoclastic hero-balling — the things that won him his MVP — there’s ground to be gained. Westbrook needs to socialize the Thunder’s offense more. There has to be more diversity. There has to be less reliance on him, and a more distributed, balanced attack.

But this season was a process for Westbrook and the Thunder. It was born out of unexpected circumstances, and Westbrook spent the season adjusting, and learning.

Westbrook also suffocated his own roster at times. Some of the young players, Domantas Sabonis namely, didn’t progress throughout the season as anticipated. The Thunder are invested in their youth, both to develop internally to improve the team on the floor and also for potential external use, as in flipping them as assets in a blockbuster trade.

The Thunder have eyes on adding a second star to help Westbrook, whether that could be Westbrook’s former college roommate at UCLA, Kevin Love, or even a potential one-year rental of Paul George. Armed with sign-and-trade options, they will hope to schedule free-agency meetings with hometown guy Blake Griffin and/or Gordon Hayward, knowing they’re long shots.

Westbrook has never been an active recruiter in past offseasons — that was a role Durant took on for the Thunder — but is said to be excited about it this summer.

If the Thunder come up empty on best-laid plans, though, it will be on Westbrook, and the pieces around him, to takes steps forward.

Russell Westbrook might not be able to raise his statistics higher, but he could still elevate his game. Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Westbrook’s season and the development of the roster was a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg debate within the team this past season: Did his teammates stall because his domineering wasn’t allowing them to improve, or did he take over out of necessity because of a flawed roster?

The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Westbrook admitted throughout the season he needed to involve his teammates more, but also had a hard time letting go when games started to slip away. Westbrook has long fought the battle of trying to do too much versus finding trust in those around him. In that context, those within the team foresee a new and improved Westbrook coming next season.

"Russ is going to be so much better next year," assistant general manager Troy Weaver said during the season. "He’s been good — well, been great — but he’s going to be so much more comfortable. This is the first year, he’s had to try this shoe on. Next year, he’s going to be so much more comfortable in these situations.

"What’s funny is he’s playing phenomenal this year, but I don’t know if the numbers or the season are going to be as good, but I expect him to take a pretty big jump next year."

Thunder GM Sam Presti has always envisioned an intelligent, high-minded basketball team, one that functions on efficiency and tactics. That’s a hard thing to merge with a player like Westbrook, who, make no mistake, is as intelligent as they come, but also a swashbuckling basketball renegade who will go rogue on offense at the first glimpse of daylight.

But that’s a developmental focus for the Thunder and Westbrook going into next season: shot redistribution into higher-efficiency places. Westbrook can get any shot he wants at any time he wants. And he can usually get his teammates the same.

It’s not that the Thunder were lacking in talent — there’s quite a lot on the roster — but it’s up to Westbrook to engineer his own help. Rising tides lifts all offenses, if you will.

Westbrook just averaged a triple-double for the season, accomplishing one of the greatest basketball feats ever, and there’s plenty of room for him to get better.

Every season, Westbrook has improved, but this most recent one was an outlier. It was a season of survival, and Westbrook took on the challenge headstrong. He willed his team to 47 wins. He pushed himself as far as he could. He packed his 34 minutes a game with as much intensity and competitive spirit as he possibly could. He embodied seemingly every interpretation of the "V" in "most valuable player."

But there’s more to give, and that might come from giving something up.

But before all of that "what’s next?" talk, there’s a far more pressing matter for Westbrook. The Thunder will offer him a brand-new, five-year extension — Westbrook is locked in for 2017-18 — when the clock strikes midnight on July 1, making him one of the highest-paid players in NBA history, should he take it. It would signal a complete commitment to the Thunder, with Westbrook shucking any thoughts of joining a super-team elsewhere to take on the Golden State Warriors juggernaut, as he embarks on a mission to slay the giant on his own terms.

Russell Westbrook’s next challenge will be getting the most out of his teammates. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Those close to Westbrook fully expect him to take the Thunder’s offer, quite possibly at 12:01 a.m., and stabilize the franchise and present a clear road map. Westbrook signed an extension last summer and invoked the word "loyalty" for a reason. He wanted to make a statement — a public declaration — and take on the burden of leading the franchise forward.

He likes the existing roster and has a close relationship and confidence in Presti and Weaver. He has built a strong bond with head coach Billy Donovan. He knew what he signed for and, with the Thunder coming off a successful first post-Durant season and with pieces in place to improve the team, there are a lot of reasons to commit again.

But what if Westbrook says no?

Should he reject the offer, the Thunder will be facing the same question as last summer: Do you risk letting your star walk for nothing in return? Or do the Thunder do the unthinkable and trade the reigning MVP?

This is something the Thunder are aware of but, according to sources, aren’t actively entertaining. That’s a bridge they’ll cross if and when they get there.

For now, they are celebrating their MVP and the historic season he had, and painting a pretty picture of their the future together.

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Why the Oklahoma City Thunder Is Facing an Enes Kanter Conundrum

Posted by admin on June 23, 2017 with Comments Closed

Enes Kanter’s elite offensive skills have been an asset to the Thunder, but now, the franchise needs to acquire assets to better build around Russell Westbrook. NATE BILLINGS/The Oklahoman

OKLAHOMA CITY – The NBA Draft tips off Thursday night, but the action has already been fast and furious.

Player trades. Trade rumors. False rumors. We’ve had it all, and it seems every team has been linked to a player or a trade or a move of some ilk.

All’s quiet on the Thunder front — which means Sam Presti is probably about to do something colossal.

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Oklahoma City Instagram Account Jabs at Kevin Durant

Posted by admin on June 18, 2017 with Comments Closed

The official Instagram account of Oklahoma City is still a bit cranky over Kevin Durant’s departure.

The city’s official account wanted to remind its residents how easy it is to recycle their old magazines — and to offer an example, via BroBible, they posted a picture of Kevin Durant’s most recent Sports Illustrated cover celebrating his NBA title with the Golden State Warriors.

It’s safe to say Oklahoma City is still salty. We know the Thunder organization is, but you can understand why even the city as a whole would have a deep antipathy toward Durant and the Warriors after the events of the last year. It’s a pretty funny way to make light of it, though.

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2017 Offseason Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder

Posted by admin on June 13, 2017 with Comments Closed

Only five years ago it seemed like the Oklahoma City Thunder would have the run of the NBA for years. They made an earlier than expected NBA Finals run in 2012 around a team full of young talent. Injuries and trades took the team from title contender to mere playoff team, before they rebounded to push the Warriors to the brink in the 2016 Western Conference Finals.

But things change quickly in the NBA and the Thunder weren’t exempt. It wasn’t just Kevin Durant leaving, but Serge Ibaka being traded, like James Harden before him. All of a sudden, Russell Westbrook was all that remained from a team many thought might own the Western Conference for years.

With the team his for the first time, Westbrook had a historic year. He averaged the NBA’s first triple-double for an entire season since Oscar Robertson back in 1962. But the Thunder had their season end in a disappointing five-game series loss to the Houston Rockets in the first round. Westbrook was brilliant, but it ended all too quickly, as have too many Thunder seasons.

Oklahoma City’s rebuilding of the roster around Westbrook started even before Durant announced he would join the Warriors. At the 2016 NBA Draft, the Thunder traded Ibaka to the Orlando Magic for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the draft rights to Domantas Sabonis. After years of searching for another scorer to complement Durant and Westbrook, Oklahoma City added Oladipo to be that player. Ilyasova was set to be the short term Ibaka replacement, before giving way to Sabonis as the long term power forward. Instead, Sabonis won the starting job right away and remained there for the majority of the season at the 4.

In the summer, Durant signed with the Warriors and the Thunder pivoted quickly in their approach to the offseason. They renounced their other free agents and withdrew a qualifying offer for Dion Waiters, which allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent. Alex Abrines, who Oklahoma City had drafted in 2013, came over from Spain on a three year deal and was the lone addition to the rotation during the free agency period.

After adding Abrines, the Thunder chose to focus their resources internally. With Westbrook’s future in Oklahoma City in question, the team put an end to that by using their cap space to renegotiate and extend his contract. Westbrook received a healthy raise for the 2017 season and signed through 2019, with that final year being a player option. This gave the Thunder peace of mind that Westbrook would be unable to become a free agent until 2018 at the earliest.

Oklahoma City filled out the roster with small additions of players like Semaj Christon and Joffrey Lauvergne. And the last big moves made were to give a four-year, slightly below max contract extension to Steven Adams, and a four-year, $82 million extension to Oladipo. Both extensions kick in for the 17-18 season and run through 20-21 with no options.

In season, Sam Presti continued to tinker with the roster. With Sabonis starting at power forward and OKC looking to add some athleticism and to save some money, Presti dealt Ilyasova to Philadelphia for Jerami Grant. Grant proceeded to provide energy off the Thunder bench. But it was at the trade deadline that Presti made his big move.

Oklahoma City traded Cameron Payne, who had struggled as the backup point guard behind Westbrook, Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow to the Chicago Bulls for Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott. Sabonis had hit the rookie wall and Gibson was added to give the team a veteran presence up front. McDermott was added in the seemingly never ending quest to add shooting around Westbrook. Gibson took the starting role from Sabonis and gave the Thunder solid production at power forward. McDermott went through some ups and downs, but shot well enough that Oklahoma City has a keeper at the forward spot long term.

With Westbrook, Oladipo and Adams signed to extensions, the Thunder have three players who all make at least $21 million for next season. Add back up big man Enes Kanter and his $17 million to the mix and you have a very expensive roster for just four players. McDermott, Abrines and Sabonis are all in the fold and the team holds an inexpensive team option on Grant. That means the bulk of the roster is in place, but there are still decisions to be made this summer.

Gibson is a free agent and is looking at what is likely his final big payday in the NBA as he turns 32 prior to next season. While the Thunder would like to re-sign Gibson, he overlaps somewhat with Adams and Kanter at center, as well as Sabonis and McDermott as options at power forward. Given their already bloated payroll, it is no lock Gibson will be back. If he can find a bigger offer elsewhere, he will likely move on.

Oklahoma City also has to consider saving money for another starter who is a free agent in Andre Roberson. Roberson was extension eligible last year, but was allowed to reach restricted free agency this summer. He has turned into one of the top wing defenders in the NBA. He’s also a plus rebounder for his position, but still struggles on offense. He shot 24.5 percent from behind the arc and a paltry 42.3 percent from the free throw line. His free agency is a fascinating test case, as we are about to find out just how far teams will extend to pay a defensive specialist that isn’t a rim protecting big man.

Their other free agents are Norris Cole and Nick Collison. Cole was added late in the year and couldn’t beat out weak competition for backup minutes behind Westbrook. He could return but it would be on a veteran minimum deal.

Collison is a different story. He just completed his 13th NBA season and is the franchise’s last link to their Seattle days. Collison has never played for any NBA team but the SuperSonics/Thunder. He’s now a locker room veteran voice type, and has no real impact on the court. Similar to Udonis Haslem in Miami, Collison could be back, but it would be on a small deal to provide leadership.

Given the reluctance of ownership to go deep into the luxury tax in the past, it is a bit hard to see the Thunder making any big moves this summer. They need to add a quality backup to Westbrook, but may need to do so at the draft. Most veterans know there is no shot at the job being more than a 15 minute a night backup. That can be a hard sell to free agents, especially when the team is shy of being a true contender.

Outside of possibly re-signing Gibson and Roberson, Oklahoma City is likely to add veterans on minimum deals and will look similar to how they looked at the end of last season. Presti will continue to search for upgrades and isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a big deal. Unfortunately, we might have already seen the Thunder at their apex with the 2012 and 2016 playoff runs and might be left to ponder what could have been.

Offseason Details

Guaranteed Contracts (9): Alex Abrines, Steven Adams, Josh Huestis, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis, Kyle Singler, Russell Westbook

Partial/Non-Guaranteed Contracts (1): Semaj Christon

Potential Free Agents (5): Norris Cole (UFA), Nick Collison (UFA), Taj Gibson (UFA), Jerami Grant (Team Option – RFA), Andre Roberson (RFA)

"Dead" Money on Cap (1): $2,442,455 (Ronnie Price)

First Round Draft Pick(s): Pick #21

Maximum Cap Space: None. $11,483,871 over

Projected Cap Space: None. $41,137,992 over

This article first appeared on RealGM and was syndicated with permission.

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30 Teams in 30 Days: Oklahoma City Thunder Offseason Preview

Posted by admin on June 8, 2017 with Comments Closed

Like the majority of small-market teams, this offseason will be defined by the luxury tax for the Thunder. Riding Russell Westbrook’s immense clutch performance, the Thunder won 47 games but had the statistical profile of a 43-win team, putting them in the middle-of-the-pack of the Western Conference without a true shot at representing the West in the NBA Finals. While ownership has shown the willingness to spend into the tax when they had a true championship contender — they were a tax team in 2014-15 and 2015-16 — it’s hard to imagine paying the punitive luxury tax penalties for a middling playoff team.

The Thunder currently sit just $8.1 million from the luxury tax, with key free agents Taj Gibson and Andre Roberson still to be paid. Massive extensions for Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo, signed last October, kick in next season, pushing their incumbent salary to north of $110 million.

It’s really ugly for Oklahoma City, who will either have to go into the tax to retain this team or take a large step backwards and risk losing Westbrook, who has a player option next summer. He’s said all the right things and signed an extension last year to reignite his commitment to the Thunder, but in reality this could once again be his final season in Oklahoma City. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which goes into effect on July 1, Sam Presti and Thunder management can sit down with Westbrook and discuss a super-max extension, a behemoth five-year, $207.1 million contract, which would solidify his status but would almost certainly push the Thunder into the tax for the next few years. If Westbrook isn’t open to signing the Designated Veteran Extension, then he should immediately be on the trading block.

Gibson brings an element to the Thunder that they desperately need — he can play the 4 with either Adams or Kanter at the 5 or Oklahoma City can go small and play him at the 5. However, he’ll be looking to cash in on his final large contract at age 32, and the Thunder aren’t going to go deep into the tax to bring him back. They’ll instead go out on the market and try to find a cheaper guy to try to fill out the team. Roberson is a restricted free agent and should command an offer sheet in the $10-12 million range, though there’s always the chance a team with cap space will fall in love with his defensive ability and roll the dice that they can fix his offensive woes, pushing his price into the $15 million range to try to scare the Thunder off of matching.

If Westbrook does extend, re-signing Roberson to a four-year, $53.8 million contract would push the Thunder into the tax both this year and next year, with a strong possibility of being in the tax through 2021.

If Westbrook is willing to sign the extension, it would probably come with an implicit promise that the Thunder would do everything they can to put a contending team around him, which would include bringing back Roberson. Finding a quality backup point guard so non-Westbrook lineups don’t hemorrhage points would be the next course of business, as well as a cheap replacement for Gibson to soak up minutes at the 4. The Thunder would still have their taxpayer mid-level exception to find a veteran backup for Westbrook, starting at $5.2 million for next season. They won’t be in the game for a high-quality backup, but anything is better than what they got from Semaj Christon last season. Backup big options will be scarce as well, but a shooter would make sense for them as someone who could space the floor around Westbrook.

One last note on Jerami Grant, whom the Thunder acquired in an early-season trade with Philadelphia: Oklahoma City holds a team option on his minimum salary for 2017-18, but if they were to decline it, he becomes a restricted free agent, whereas if they pick it up, they get him for one more year at the minimum but he would then be unrestricted next summer. Either way, the Thunder would have full Bird rights on him. Pushing him into restricted free agency this summer has its benefits: Oklahoma City could lock him up to a cheaper contract than if they were to wait, both because of his restricted status and the possibility that he breaks out next year and earns a massive contract next summer. However, these benefits come with a heavy cost because pushing his salary past the minimum for this season increases that luxury tax bill.

The Thunder are in a precarious situation that hinges on multiple factors and will either constitute a complete rebuild or a punitive luxury tax bill for the next few years. As with quite a few other teams in the not-quite-contenders-but-solid-playoff-teams tier, Oklahoma City falls into the trap of the heavier luxury tax penalties instituted in the 2011 CBA and retained in the new agreement that effectively put a hard cap on teams that don’t have tangible title hopes but want to build around their respective superstar player, as the Thunder have in Westbrook.

Some owners are willing to stomach the bill and Oklahoma City has paid up in the past, but it’s far different to pay for a 45-50 win team around Westbrook than a 55-60 team built on the foundation of Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

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Women’s College World Series: Live Updates, Scores, Reactions from Day 2 in Oklahoma City

Posted by admin on June 3, 2017 with Comments Closed

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Day 1 of the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City was filled with rekindled conference rivalries and a couple of great pitching matchups.

Now we turn the page to Day 2, where the four victors from Thursday’s action will aim for a spot in the finals of their respective brackets. No. 1 Florida will get the action started against LSU at 7 p.m. ET, followed by Oklahoma vs. Washington at 9:30. Stay posted as NCAA.com brings you everything you need to know live from ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

2017 NCAA Softball Tournament: Schedule, game times for Women’s College World Series
Women’s College World Series Game Time (ET) Team Network Thursday, June 1 Game 1 Noon Florida 8, Texas A&M 0 (5 innings) ESPN Game 2 2:30 p.m. LSU 2, UCLA 1 ESPN Game 3 7 p.m. Washington 3, Oregon 1 ESPN2 Game 4 9:30 p.m. Oklahoma 6, Baylor 3 ESPN2 Friday, June 2 Game 5 7 p.m. Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2 ESPN Game 6 9:30 p.m. Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 ESPN Saturday, June 3 Game 7 Noon Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 ESPN Game 8 2:30 p.m. Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 ESPN Game 9 7 p.m. Winner Game 7 vs. Loser Game 6 ESPN Game 10 9:30 p.m. Winner Game 8 vs. Loser Game 5 ESPN Sunday, June 4 Game 11 1 p.m. Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 9 ESPN Game 12 3:30 p.m. Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4 ESPN Game 13 *7 p.m Winner Game 11 vs. Loser Game 11 ESPN2 Game 14 *9:30 p.m. Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 12 ESPN2 Championship Series – Monday, June 5 Game 1 8 p.m. Winner Game 11 or 13 vs. Winner Game 12 or 14 ESPN Tuesday, June 6 Game 2 8 p.m. Winner Game 11 or 13 vs. Winner Game 12 or 14 ESPN Wednesday, June 7 Game 3 *8 p.m. Winner Game 11 or 13 vs. Winner Game 12 or 14 ESPN
2017 NCAA Softball Tournament: Scores, schedule, live updates for Super Regionals
Gainesville Super Regional

FINAL: Alabama 3, Florida 0 | Box score
FINAL: Florida 2, Alabama 0 | Box score
FINAL : Florida 2, Alabama 1 | Box score
Florida advances to College World Series.

Tucson Super Regional

FINAL: Arizona 3, Baylor 2 | Box score
FINAL: Baylor 6, Arizona 4 | Box score
FINAL: Baylor 6, Arizona 5 | Box score
Baylor advances to the College World Series.

Eugene Super Regional

FINAL Oregon 4, Kentucky 0 | Box score
FINAL: Oregon 6, Kentucky 5 | Box score
Oregon advances to College World Series.

Tallahassee Super Regional

FINAL: Florida State 3, LSU 1 | Box score
FINAL: LSU 1, Florida State 0 | Box score
FINAL: LSU 6, Florida State 4 | Box score
LSU advances to the Women’s College World Series.

Los Angeles Super Regional

FINAL: UCLA 8, Ole Miss 7 (11 innings) | Box score
FINAL: UCLA 1, Ole Miss 0 | Box score
UCLA advances to College World Series.

Seattle Super Regional

FINAL: Washington 10, Utah 4 |Box score
FINAL: Utah 9, Washington 8 | Box score
TOP 5: Washington 2, Utah 0 | Box score
Washington advances to College World Series.

Auburn Super Regional

FINAL: Oklahoma 4, Auburn 0 | Box score
FINAL: Oklahoma 5, Auburn 2 | Box score
Oklahoma advances to College World Series.

Knoxville Super Regional

FINAL Tennessee 8, Texas A&M 1 | Box score
FINAL: Texas A&M 6, Tennessee 5 | Box score
FINAL: Texas A&M 5, Tennessee 3 | Box score
Texas A&M advances to the Women’s College World Series.

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Oklahoma City Product Named Midseason Player of the Year

Posted by admin on May 29, 2017 with Comments Closed

DT Israel Antwine out of Oklahoma City visited Ole Miss with his father in April. It didn’t take him long after that trip to realize where he wanted to spend his next four to five years in college.

Israel Antwine and his father visited Ole Miss in April. They left with a good feeling about the Rebels.

"It wasn’t just the football program," Antwine said. "We got a chance to meet all of the coaches, and we just all clicked. It’s an honor to call coach (Hugh) Freeze my future head coach. We sat down with coach (Freddie) Roach. He explained how he runs his defense. We talked about why he came to Ole Miss. When my father and I were driving back home we said that’s the school for me."

Israel and his father decided that it was time to let the Ole Miss coaches know of their decision today.

"I committed around an hour ago. Me and my dad contacted coach Freeze and told him we were ready to make it public. He said it was an honor to not only get a great player; he was getting an even better person that fits into their program. I spoke to coach Roach before I informed coach Freeze. I told him I was ready to make it public. He was really excited too. Coach Roach said he was ready to get me back down there for a visit. I’ll definitely be coming back down to Oxford quite often now."

What gave Ole Miss the edge after collecting offers from Arkansas, Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, TCU and many more?

"It just seemed like to me and my dad after we took that trip that they had the best program to help get me to the NFL one day. We loved their campus. It’s beautiful, and I love their football program. I’ve been watching Ole Miss since I got in high school. I love how they play defense. I love the Landshark mentality."

When asked about the team that came in second place; Antwine couldn’t think of one.

"To be honest, me and my dad didn’t even think about that. We were just focused on Ole Miss after our trip there. We knew which school was best for me. I just wanted to get through spring practice to make it public."

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle feels like he’ll be a big addition to the Ole Miss defensive line.

"I feel like I can blow through the offensive line and cause havoc in the backfield. I’m a whole another person when I get out on the field. My coaches and teammates are always trying to play tricks on me before games. They are trying to get me mad. I bring power and explosiveness to the table. I was named the Oklahoma Mid Season Player of the Year and made 1st Team All-State last season. I think I’m a playmaker on the defensive line. I get to the quarterback a lot."

Yancy Porter is the recruiting analyst for the Ole Miss Spirit and he can be reached at yporter@scout.com

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