As weeks remain before tipoff 17-18, these headline items sit atop Oklahoma City Thunder Nation.
In another installment of his month-long series, veteran NBA analyst Shaun Powell forecasts Oklahoma City’s upcoming season. Powell opens by declaring OKC the “Paul George lottery” winner but casually dismisses the impact a quick George exit could have on an uncertain Thunder roster.
“The (George) trade surprised many observers given what it cost OKC, and even if George turns out to be a one-year rental, it’s no big deal.”
Powell theorizes that if George walks, this internally-built franchise, not noted for free-agency attraction, may simply use Victor Oladipo’s cap-space next summer to coax another A-list talent to play alongside and encourage Westbrook to remain a Thunder.
Westbrook has yet to sign a tendered five-year $200 M extension.
Powell transitions from this elephant-in-room Westbrook/George stalemate by adding “...that’s a story for another summer.”
Indeed...a major one.
The scribe of 25-plus years then predicts PG13 will become an ideal on-court compliment to the reigning NBA MVP. Powell lists George’s off-ball prowess as essential to succeeding in a Westbrook-led lineup.
Finally, before hailing Presti’s low-dollar, high-value offseason moves, Powell re-asserts that OKC ceded little —and perhaps scored big by dumping Oladipo’s albatross salary— to garner an exclusive one-year courtship of two-way standout George.
While Powell’s overview is mostly accurate, his short-sighted dismissal of future possibilities (I.e., George’s potential loss being “no big deal.”) is cause for healthy assessment. More than one WTLC regular believes the season ahead will be the most pivotal in franchise history— largely due to the tenuous Russ/George alliance.
Time will tell if this situation creates brotherhood or 82-plus games of stress-induced miscues.
Let’s pull for the former.
During Enes Kanter’s recent appearance on Timeout With Taylor Rooks, the gregarious 6’11 offensive bruiser shared these words concerning his pickup-game avoidance of a certain former teammate: (full soundcloud audio can be found by clicking hyperlink)
“I told my coaches make sure I am on LeBron’s team because, I’m not going to tell who, but one of my teammates a couple weeks before that scrimmage said ‘If I see one picture with you and KD,’ because he knows that KD lives in the same apartment with me, don’t come back to OKC.”
One can only imagine who said what.
Speaking of pickup games:
Russ is already in mid-season form.