Andre Roberson

Westbrook Notes: Thunder, Knicks, Rockets, Heat, CP3

After reaching deals to send Paul George to the Clippers and Russell Westbrook to the Rockets – with a Jerami Grant trade thrown in the middle for good measure – the Thunder have completed one of the speediest tear-downs in NBA history, writes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Given the club’s lack of playoff success in recent years, that fresh start was needed, according to Mannix, who adds that it’s hard to imagine that Oklahoma City could have gotten more in return for its two stars.

While the Thunder – who haven’t gone through a rebuilding process since moving to Oklahoma City – didn’t necessarily want to start that process now, some members of the organization think it was “necessary, if not overdue,” per ESPN’s Royce Young, who notes that the team privately viewed the 2019/20 season as its “last, best chance at winning a title.”

As Young details, George’s trade request came as a shock, but it could also be viewed as a gift, since the circumstances surrounding it gave the Thunder tremendous leverage in their negotiations with the Clippers. Westbrook didn’t try to change George’s mind, sources tell Young, and less than a week later, Oklahoma City was able to accommodate an exit path for the former MVP as well.

The Rockets were Westbrook’s clear-cut favorite choice, a league source tells Brett Dawson and Michael Lee of The Athletic, and the longtime Thunder point guard had a significant voice in where he landed. While he also appeared open to being traded to the Heat, trade talks between Oklahoma City and Miami had quieted by Thursday, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

We already rounded up several Rockets-related notes on Thursday’s blockbuster trade agreement that will land Westbrook in Houston and Chris Paul in Oklahoma City, but here are a few more details worth passing along:

  • Although the Thunder likely wouldn’t have sent Westbrook to a lottery team anyway, rebuilding clubs with a hole at point guard (or a general need for star talent) expressed little interest in giving up any real assets of value for him, sources tell Zach Lowe.
  • In the immediate aftermath of the George trade, Westbrook viewed the Knicks as a potential landing spot, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. It’s not known whether New York was on the list of preferred destinations that Westbrook ultimately provided the Thunder, but if OKC was focused on making a move sooner rather than later, it’s a moot point — the Knicks couldn’t have made a deal until December 15. It’s also not clear if New York had more than “lukewarm” interest in the triple-double machine, Begley adds.
  • An individual with knowledge of the talks tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that Westbrook first broached the topic of a possible trade not long after the Thunder were eliminated from the playoffs in the spring. Presumably, if George hadn’t made his own trade request, Westbrook wouldn’t have pushed to be dealt either.
  • Westbrook is intrigued by the possibilities that Mike D’Antoni‘s floor-spreading offense could create for him with the Rockets, a source tells Brett Dawson and Michael Lee.
  • Having previously reported that the Heat‘s unwillingness to include multiple young players in their offer for Westbrook was a roadblock, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald says the Thunder’s desire to include Andre Roberson‘s unwanted expiring contract in a deal with Miami was another obstacle. While Chris Paul has been mentioned as a possible alternative for the Heat, Jackson sounds skeptical that Miami would do such a deal without getting back at least one draft pick and dumping unwanted contracts, since acquiring Paul’s huge contract would compromise the team’s ability to pursue star players in future offseasons.

Northwest Notes: Russell, George, Porter, Adams, Nuggets

Could the Timberwolves figure out a way to sign D’Angelo Russell? ESPN’s Zach Lowe hears that Minnesota will try to make a run at the Nets guard, who will be a restricted free agent unless Brooklyn renounces his rights (hat tip to RealGM). “There has been a lot of Minnesota (signing) D’Angelo Russell noise,” Lowe said. “And it’s not all Karl Towns commenting on Instagram because they’re friends. Minnesota has communicated to the league, not the NBA league, just the league at large that they believe they have a pathway to get D’Angelo Russell.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder will get a better read on Paul George‘s status in late September, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman reports. He’s expected to miss most of the preseason after undergoing offseason surgeries to his right rotator cuff and left labrum. “He’s doing well,” GM Sam Presti said. “He’s going to make a full recovery.” Shooting guard Andre Roberson, who hasn’t played since January 2018 after suffering a serious knee injury, has been training in Texas, Horne adds.
  • Forward Michael Porter Jr. will make his Nuggets debut in the Las Vegas Summer League next month and he’s ready to go, Parth Upadhyaya of Denver Post relays. After being selected at the end of the lottery last season, Porter sat out last season to rehab from back surgery. “He’s been in the gym twice a day for a long time,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. “He’s been fully cleared for several months.”
  • Thunder center Steven Adams won’t play for New Zealand in the FIBA World Cup this summer, according to Sportando.
  • The Nuggets did not retain assistants Mark Price and Bob Weiss, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets.

Thunder Increasing Efforts To Shed Salary

The Thunder have increased their efforts to reduce team salary for the 2019/20 season, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). According to Fischer, Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder, and Andre Roberson are all “very available,” as is the No. 21 overall pick in Thursday’s draft.

After being on the hook for a league-high luxury tax bill in 2018/19 (reportedly $61.6MM), the Thunder project to be well over the tax line again next season. Currently, the team has committed approximately $144.5MM in guaranteed money to nine players for ’19/20, per Basketball Insiders. The tax threshold is projected to come in at about $132MM.

As I pointed out when I previewed the Thunder’s offseason, team ownership may not be on board with paying another big tax bill for a roster that has been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for three consecutive years.

Attaching the No. 21 pick to the expiring contracts of Roberson ($10.7MM) and/or Patrick Patterson ($5.7MM) would be one way to shed salary. Moving a key rotation player like Adams ($25.8MM) or Schroder ($15.5MM) – both of whom have two years left on their deals – would represent a more drastic cost-cutting measure.

Head of basketball operations Sam Presti has some experience finding creative ways to trim team salary without sacrificing Oklahoma City’s on-court upside. Last summer, he moved Carmelo Anthony‘s $27MM expiring salary for Schroder, substantially reducing the Thunder’s projected tax bill while securing a veteran in Schroder who would play a more significant role than Anthony.

We’ll have to wait to see whether Presti has a mandate to reduce team salary again this summer, and if he can figure out another creative way to do so.

Thunder Notes: Roberson, George, Morris, Noel

Thunder swingman Andre Roberson, who has missed the last season and a half due to knee problems, is on track to be ready for training camp this fall, he told reporters, including Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman, during his end-of-season presser on Thursday. Roberson, who initially suffered a patellar tendon tear, estimates that he was about 85-95% recovered when he suffered a major setback in the form of an avulsion fracture.

“By me rupturing my patellar tendon it kind of shut off the blood supply to the patellar bone, which causes it to be weaker,” Roberson said. “And then when I was coming back I was working harder than the revascularizing of the tendon was happening, so you kind of see where the problem was there, and we did not know that at the time, unfortunately.”

Before his injury, Roberson was one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. If he returns to anywhere near that form, the Thunder will have happy to get him back in their lineup for the final year of his contract in 2019/20. He’ll earn $10.74MM before reaching free agency in 2020.

Here’s more out of Oklahoma City:

  • As Lee details in another story for The Oklahoman, Paul George hinted today that he may undergo surgery on his troublesome right shoulder during the offseason. “I will address it soon,” George said. “Try to get it fixed and get back out there come this next season.”
  • Markieff Morris was extremely complimentary of the Thunder today, calling it the best stop of his career from an organizational standpoint, tweets Brett Dawson of The Athletic. However, Morris didn’t express much interest in returning to play the same role he had down the stretch this season. The veteran forward averaged a career-low 16.1 MPG in 24 regular season games with the Thunder, then just 11.8 MPG in five postseason contests.
  • Nerlens Noel‘s minimum salary contract with Oklahoma City features a 2019/20 player option, but he’s not ready to commit one way or the other on it. As Dawson tweets, Noel said today that he’ll let his agent figure that out. I’d be a little surprised if Noel doesn’t seek at least a modest raise on the open market after a solid season as Steven Adams‘ backup.
  • With the Thunder’s offseason underway, Sean Deveney of Sporting News examines the major decisions facing the franchise, while ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) previews their summer from a cap perspective. Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer, meanwhile, explored the challenges of building a roster around Russell Westbrook.
  • We opened up our own discussion on the Thunder’s offseason on Wednesday.

Andre Roberson Unlikely To Return This Season

After a series of setbacks due to injury, and the regular season nearing its conclusion, it seems unlikely the Thunder will get Andre Roberson back this year, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes.

Aside from limited stretches in practice, Roberson has not done much physical activity recently. With Oklahoma City preparing for the postseason, the timetable to get the defensive specialist back healthy has all but dwindled.

“I always hate throwing things out there that could potentially clarify something to be, ‘That’s it,’ but he’s not even doing anything in practice,” head coach Billy Donovan said earlier this week. “He is running. I’ve got nothing medically from anybody that says, ‘Hey listen this guy is nearing or approaching being able to play.'” 

Roberson, 27, has not played in a game this season as he has attempted to return from knee surgery. He originally ruptured his patella tendon in Jan. 2018 and since then has undergone arthroscopic surgery to alleviate pressure and suffered a pair of setbacks, including a small avulsion fracture in his knee in late November.

While his defensive prowess has been missed, the Thunder clinched a playoff spot behind an MVP-caliber season from Paul George and another statistically dominant year from Russell Westbrook.

Since the Thunder signed Roberson to a three-year, $30MM pact in July 2017, he has appeared in just 39 games.

Thunder Notes: Ferguson, Felton, Abrines

Despite Andre Roberson missing the entire season to this point, the Thunder have continued to thrive as Paul George has developed into a serious MVP candidate and other role players have stepped up in their respective roles. The main example of such improvement is Terrance Ferguson, who has maintained his hold on a starting role past the halfway point of the season.

As Maddie Lee details for The Oklahoman, the Thunder put the ball in Ferguson’s hands more during Summer League, which he believes has translated to his improvement and confidence so far this season.

While his statistics suffered during the Summer League experiment, Ferguson is finding open teammates more often and is playing with a confidence that has unlocked more components of his game.

There’s more for the Thunder:

Western Notes: Capela, Brunson, Kings, Roberson

Clint Capela‘s thumb injury could cost him a $2MM bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. The Rockets center has a 2,000-minute criteria tied into the team reaching the Western Conference Finals and for a defensive rebounding percentage above 30%. He has another bonus for attempting 150 or more free throws and a free throw percentage above 65%. He is currently shooting 62.6% from the line. Through 42 games, Capela has played 1,436 minutes. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks rookie Jalen Brunson and veteran Devin Harris will pick up the minutes vacated by backup point guard J.J. Barea, who suffered a torn Achilles on Friday, according to Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. Brunson played 30 minutes against the Warriors on Sunday but Harris will see his role expand as well. “He’s going to be ready and he’s going to be there for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Harris.
  • Kings assistant coaches under Dave Joerger are having their options for next season picked up by the front office, Sam Amick of USA Today tweets. That group includes Bryan Gates, Elston Turner, Bob Thornton, Jason March, Duane Ticknor, Larry Lewis, Bobby Jackson, Phil Ricci and Dan Hartfield. It’s a way of aligning the contracts of the staff with Joerger’s deal. The surprising Kings are currently a game above .500.
  • Kings GM Vlade Divac warned members of the executive board to stop meddling in the team’s affairs, Sam Amick of USA Today reports. Divac made the pronouncement during a conference call with 13 members of the  executive board, along with lead owner Vivek Ranadive. Divac has been frustrated by internal complaints and used the forum to demand respect, Amick adds.
  • Thunder shooting guard Andre Roberson remains sidelined indefinitely, coach Billy Donovan told Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman and other media members. “He’s worked hard, he’s doing all he needs to do but he’s still in the rehab process.”  Roberson suffered a season-ending left knee injury last January and suffered a setback in late November when an MRI revealed an avulsion fracture in the knee.

Northwest Notes: Roberson, Teague, Adams

While the Thunder have gotten off to a strong start, they would surely love to have Andre Roberson back in the lineup. Roberson has had several setbacks in his recovery from the ruptured left patellar tendon he suffered nearly a year ago. However, as Erik Horne reveals for The Oklahoman, Roberson has stayed active during his recovery and has led some defensive film sessions with the team’s young wing players.

Most notably, Terrance Ferguson has benefited the most from these film sessions, as he has stepped up to a bigger role in the starting lineup as a result of his much-improved defense. Led by quality defenders such as Paul George and Steven Adams, the Thunder have length and versatility throughout their number-one ranked defense.

The Thunder have been below average offensively this season, which highlights how much of their success is derived by their defense. And even when Roberson can’t play, he is still making his mark on the defense.

There’s more from the Northwest division:

  • Erik Horne also details Steven Adams‘ case for being an All-Star this season, highlighted by the advanced metrics that paint the picture of Adams being one of the best centers in the league. However, as Horne also points out, Adams isn’t focused on being an All-Star.
  • Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, they will continue to be without starting point guard Jeff Teague for another 7-10 days, according to Alan Horton (via Twitter), the radio voice of the Wolves. The Timberwolves have struggled in recent games as they continue to adjust to life without Jimmy Butler.
  • Speaking of the Timberwolves, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes that Derrick Rose has struggled with an ankle injury and could miss some time, which would leave the Wolves short at point guard as they look to bounce back from recent losses.

Andre Roberson Suffers Setback In Rehab

Thunder swingman Andre Roberson has suffered another setback in his recovery from knee surgery, a team spokesperson said today, per Royce Young of ESPN.com (Twitter links). As Young relays, Roberson experienced discomfort after landing from a jump, and an MRI revealed that he had suffered a small avulsion fracture in his knee. He’ll be re-evaluated in six weeks.

While Roberson’s latest setback is discouraging, it doesn’t entirely reset his timetable, Young notes. The 26-year-old had been progressing toward a return, but was still a ways off from making his 2018/19 debut anyway. In six weeks, the Thunder should have a better sense of when exactly he might be ready get back on the court, says Young.

It has been an unfortunate run of bad luck for Roberson, who missed a good chunk of the 2017/18 campaign, including the playoffs, due to the knee injury he initially suffered back in January. Even after he underwent another procedure in May, there was a hope that he’d be ready for the start of this season, but he sustained at least one setback in the fall that pushed back his recovery timetable. Today’s news comes on the heels of a report that his rehab was on “a really good track.”

The Thunder have played well in Roberson’s absence this season, getting off to a 13-7 start. Still, they won’t be at their best until they have their top perimeter defender back in the lineup, so they’ll hope the former first-round pick is able to make it back for the second half of 2018/19.

Northwest Notes: Roberson, Nuggets, Saric, Thunder

Thunder swingman Andre Roberson is on “a really good track” in his rehab from left knee surgery, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes. Roberson underwent the arthroscopic surgery in May to relieve inflammation.

“I’m sure for him there are some days he’s sorer than others,” coach Billy Donovan said on Roberson’s rehab. “But overall, he just continues to progress and get better.

“You guys have seen him out here. He’s cutting, he’s moving. He’s been on a really good track.”

Roberson participated in defensive drills on Thursday, according to Horne, and his conditioning drills have been ramped up in the past month. He’s expected to be re-evaluated in the coming weeks for a potential return.

When healthy, Roberson is a top-tier defensive wing with years of experience playing alongside All-Star Russell Westbrook. The Thunder hold a 13-7 record and the No. 4 seed in the West this season without Roberson, who’s expected to return to the starting lineup at some point this year.

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • The Nuggets have a look of a dangerous team this season, Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes. Denver has a 14-7 record just six weeks into the 2017/18 season, playing solid basketball on both ends of the floor. The team has yet to play with Isaiah Thomas, who was signed to a free-agent contract last summer. “It’s one of the deepest and youngest teams that I’ve ever had, and that’s what I like about our team,” coach Mike Malone said.
  • New Timberwolves forward Dario Saric revealed what it’s like to be traded in the NBA with CBS Sports’ James Herbert, just weeks after he was moved from Philadelphia: “It’s just different,” Saric said. “You don’t have time to prepare, or somebody asks you, like, ‘What do you think?’ Normal people, somebody calls them and says, ‘Do you want to accept the job, yes or no?’ You have maybe two days or one day to decide. But here, they just trade you. You are like a bag, you know? Like some bucket, you know? And they just move you around. But that’s life. What can you do?”
  • The addition of Dennis Schroder and subtraction of Carmelo Anthony has played a role in the Thunder‘s early season success, Brett Dawson of The Athletic writes. Oklahoma City traded for Schroder this past offseason, with the 25-year-old averaging 16.8 points in 20 games so far.