The Thunder and their surprising success have been among the NBA’s best stories this season. From the play of veterans Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari to the development of youngsters Luguentz Dort and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, there’s a lot to like about this team.
Speaking of development, head coach Billy Donovan wishes that Dort could practice more with the team and not have his NBA service days affected, writes Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman.
“I think one of the things that would be great,” he said, “is if some of those guys could practice and it not count against them. But I understand that’s not the rule.”
A player such as Dort, who is on a two-way contract, can only spend 45 days with his NBA parent club. When those players are not in the NBA, they are predominately spending time with their NBA G League affiliate.
This season, Dort has played in 29 games (started in 21) with the Thunder. He is averaging 6.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. When his NBA service days run out, the Thunder will have the opportunity to sign the former Arizona State guard to a standard NBA contract. If Oklahoma City does this, he will be a part of the team’s 15-man roster and able to participate in the postseason.
Here’s more from the Northwest:
- In other Thunder news, it seems as they found themselves a defensive playmaker in Abdel Nader. Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman wrote about how the 26-year-old forward, who has a team option for 2020/21, made an impact on both ends of the floor in the Thunder’s 105-104 win on Sunday over the Celtics.
- Chris Hine of The Star Tribune wrote about D’Angelo Russell‘s shooting slump from this past weekend. The recently-acquired Timberwolves point guard shot 8-of-32 from the field against the Magic and Pelicans. Nevertheless, Russell is not worried and understands that it’s a part of the game. “Just got to kind of let it go,” he said. “Don’t dwell too much on it. Never too high. Never too low. It’s a part of the game. Just let it go and I’ll be all right.” On Tuesday night against the Rockets, Russell scored 28 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and 5-of-12 from three-point range in a 117-111 loss.
- The Nuggets will have some tough decisions to make when it comes to their frontcourt this offseason, explains Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. Possible tax concerns may push Denver to decide between bringing back either Jerami Grant or Paul Millsap, who helped them defeat the Bucks on Monday. Grant had 19 points and six rebounds off the bench and is playing well over Denver’s last eight games. The former second-round pick has a $9.3MM player option for next season, while Millsap is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.