Thunder Notes: Roberson, George, Abrines

A top-five ranked defense took a major hit Saturday evening when Thunder swingman and 2017 NBA All-Defensive Second Team member Andre Roberson had his season end abruptly after rupturing his left patellar tendon. Erik Horne of The Oklahoman opines that the team has two good options: make a trade, or seek a difference maker on the buyout market later this month.

A trade may be difficult, as the Thunder don’t have a first-round pick to trade until 2024, and not many attractive assets with whom the team would be willing to part. The Thunder do have two trade exceptions acquired in the Paul George trade, but the larger of the two exceptions is only worth $2.5MM – an amount unlikely to fit a salary equal to Roberson’s value.

Should the team test the buyout market, Horne mentions Andrew Bogut as a potential option to maintain the team’s defensive prowess, with more names to materialize after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • George initially being omitted as an All-Star ending up working out in the Thunder’s favor, writes Royce Young of ESPN. George, who will make his fifth All-Star Game appearance in his hometown of Los Angeles on Feb. 18, received an outpouring of support from teammate Russell Westbrook after being overlooked for this year’s event, and George clearly noticed. Now, the two L.A. natives will be teammates on Team LeBron, and it stands to reason that the closer the two become, the more likely it is that George will remain in Oklahoma City.
  • If the Thunder are unable and/or opt not to replace Roberson via trade or free agent acquisition, look for second-year player Alex Abrines to step up his role for the team, reports Brett Dawson of the The Oklahoman. Head coach Billy Donovan stated before yesterday’s game that he “definitely” wants to find more minutes for Abrines, saying of the Spaniard, “I’ve got to find ways to get him on the floor and help him because I think he can help our team.”
  • In his latest piece for Bleacher Report, NBA Capologist Eric Pincus analyzes whether the Thunder will dole out the cash necessary to keep George in Oklahoma City should he wish to stay. Facing the repeater tax and Carmelo Anthony‘s all-but-assured decision to opt in next season, the Thunder could be faced with a roster costing somewhere between $250MM and $300MM.

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