Oklahoma City Thunder

Paul George Aggressive In Pursuit Of Dwyane Wade

Thunder GM Sam Presti is a little more reserved in his pursuit of Wade, but he would definitely like to have him as part of a Big Four with George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. OKC finalized its camp roster earlier today with the signing of Markel Brown, but a move would certainly be made to accommodate Wade. “He’ll go through the process and we’ll be in touch,” said Presti, who adds Wade may have already decided where he will sign next (Twitter link).

  • The Cavaliers, Thunder and Heat were consider the early favorites to sign Wade, but the competition may be more intense than originally believed, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link), who adds that “many more teams” are pursuing him.

Knicks Notes: Porzingis, Hornacek, Anthony

The Knicks haven’t seen Kristaps Porzingis since he skipped an exit meeting in April, but the Latvian star was trying to smooth things over this afternoon at media day. Porzingis said he has no lingering bitterness toward the organization regarding the events of last spring or the offseason roster changes, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. “No I’m coming into this season with a fresh mind,” Porzingis said. “It’s a new season.”

Porzingis is also in a new role as team leader after the trade of Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City. Porzingis denied reports that he clashed last season with coach Jeff Hornacek, insisting he has a “great relationship” with the coach and saying he doesn’t “know where it’s coming from,” tweets Marc Berman of The New York Post.

There’s more today from New York:

  • Porzingis got bigger and stronger over the summer, which will come in handy as he tries to carry the team, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Anthony is gone, along with former team president Phil Jackson and his triangle offense, leaving the organization to rebuild around its 7’3″ center. “Moving forward in this league, he’s going to get a lot of opportunities to grow into that lead position,” Hornacek said of Porzingis. “We’re just excited to get back to coaching and moving forward with him and trying to develop him into that great player that we think he can become.” 
  • With his trade to the Thunder becoming official today, Anthony penned a farewell note to New York fans on his website. He thanked owner Jim Dolan and the Knicks organization, along with everyone who supported him during his six and a half years with the team. “New York equipped me to make it in any other place in the world,” he wrote. “It taught me how to Be Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable. Saying Goodbye is the hardest thing to do. I never thought I would, especially to you. No one will ever take your place. It’s hard to find someone like you, so know you will always be missed. You helped me laugh. You dried my tears. Because of you, I have no fears. You came into my life and I was blessed. It’s time to raise my hand and say goodbye. It’s not the end, because like I’ve always said, NYC ‘til the end.”
  • Despite his fond memories, Anthony’s time in New York was a disappointment, contends Neil Best of Newsday. Best gives Anthony credit for the classy way he handled the feud with Jackson, but says he never delivered the playoff success the team expected when it acquired him from Denver.
  • Once Anthony expanded his list of possible destinations to three teams, the Knicks took the best deal they could find, writes Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Although neither Enes Kanter or Doug McDermott may have a long future in New York, Isola says they are a better alternative than taking on Ryan Anderson‘s huge contract.

Thunder Sign Markel Brown, Finalize Camp Roster

The Thunder have announced their 20-man roster for training camp, confirming a few previously-reported agreements and announcing one new deal. The following players are now members of the Oklahoma City roster, according to the team:

Brown, the 44th overall pick in the 2014 draft, spent two seasons with the Nets from 2014 to 2016, averaging 5.3 PPG on an unimpressive .382/.297/.781 shooting line. Unable to find an NBA job last season, Brown signed with Russian club Khimki for the 2016/17 campaign. Now, he’ll get a chance to head to camp with the Thunder.

The signing of Brown signals that the Thunder won’t bring center Yannis Morin to camp at this point. Multiple outlets reported in July that Morin had reached an agreement with OKC, but the French big man isn’t listed on the team’s training camp roster.

Latest On Dwyane Wade

The Bulls reached a buyout agreement with Dwyane Wade on Sunday, and while that transaction hasn’t yet been made official, the future Hall-of-Famer is expected to be waived and reached the free agent market very soon.

We heard on Sunday night that the Cavaliers are the early frontrunners for Wade’s services, and that hasn’t changed today — Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype notes (via Twitter) that LeBron James and other Cavs are recruiting the veteran guard, and TNT’s David Aldridge tweets that there’s a “strong belief” Wade will end up in Cleveland.

Still, the Cavs will hardly be the only team in the running for Wade. Let’s dive in and round up all the latest on the situation…

  • Carmelo Anthony and Paul George have started recruiting Wade on behalf of the Thunder, sources tell Kennedy (Twitter link). The Lakers are also among the teams that have reached out to Wade, Kennedy adds (via Twitter).
  • The Heat would welcome back Wade with open arms, with one player suggesting that the locker room is “100% hoping it happens,” tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. However, Miami hadn’t formally reached out as of Sunday night, per Kennedy (Twitter link).
  • Speaking to Reynolds, Wade indicated on Sunday night that he’s looking to find a new NBA home quickly. “I’m going to take tonight and some of tomorrow and speak to the teams or players that are on my list and go from there,” Wade said on Sunday night. “My decision is a pure basketball decision and I’ll make the one that fits me best at this point in my career, and with what I feel I have to offer a team that needs what I have to offer.”
  • In a conversation with K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune, Wade praised the Bulls and said he had no complaints about the way the franchise dealt with him, though he questioned the club’s decision to trade Jimmy Butler and embark on a full-fledged rebuild. “You’ve got one of the top five or six players in the game [in Butler],” Wade said. “That’s what you want and you were able to build that in-house. I was a little disappointed because being up 2-0 versus Boston on the road, Rondo goes down. If that doesn’t happen, we’re having a different conversation.”

Knicks Trade Carmelo Anthony To Thunder

SEPTEMBER 25: The Knicks have officially traded Anthony to the Thunder for the package detailed below, the team announced today in a press release. In a separate announcement, the Knicks also confirmed they’ve waived Chasson Randleas expected – in order to create room on their roster to accommodate the incoming players from Oklahoma City.CarmeloAnthony vertical

SEPTEMBER 23: The Knicks have reached an agreement with the Thunder that will send Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City, reports Adrian Wojanrowski of ESPN (Twitter links). According to Wojnarowski, New York will receive Doug McDermott and Enes Kanter in the deal, along with a draft pick. Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link) indicates that pick will be the Bulls’ 2018 second-rounder.

The trade call will officially take place Monday, Wojnarowski adds, as Russell Westbrook and Paul George were successful in their lobbying efforts to get Anthony to waive his no-trade clause for the Thunder (Twitter link). Carmelo also has a relationship with top Thunder executive Troy Weaver, who recruited him to Syracuse a decade and a half ago.

Anthony has agreed to waive his $8.1MM trade kicker, since the deal wouldn’t have worked otherwise, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Anthony will retain his no-trade clause with the Thunder (Twitter link). Taking on his $26,243,760 salary will increase OKC’s projected luxury tax payment by $12.4MM, up to a total of $27.8MM (Twitter link).

The Knicks were at the maximum of 20 players before the trade, so a roster move will have to be made by Monday in order to make room for the extra incoming player. New York has five non-guaranteed players coming to camp, so one of them will likely be waived.

The Knicks will incur Kanter’s 15% trade bonus of $2.68MM, which pushes his cap hit for this season to $20.56MM (Twitter link). Kanter also has an $18.6MM player option for 2018/19 — his kicker doesn’t apply to that salary since trade bonuses don’t affect team or player option years. As for McDermott, he’s making $3.3MM in the final year of his rookie contract and is eligible to receive an extension until October 16. He’ll be on track to become a restricted free agent next summer if no agreement can be reached this year.

The Thunder obviously made the move with an eye toward winning this season, but it creates a fascinating scenario for the future of the franchise. Anthony, Westbrook and George are all currently eligible to become unrestricted free agents next summer, so this could be a one-year experiment.

Of course, the Thunder currently have an extension offer on the table for Westbrook, and Anthony has a lucrative player option for 2018/19, so there’s no guarantee there will be a mass exodus out of OKC after this season. Still, it would be difficult financially to retain all three players — Marks estimates the cost of keeping all three would bring the Oklahoma City payroll to $157MM with an additional $143MM in taxes (Twitter link).

For the Knicks, it closes a long chapter in their troubled relationship with Anthony, who was hailed as a franchise savior when he was acquired from the Nuggets in 2011. He never delivered the playoff success that was expected and became the target of public criticism from former team president Phil Jackson. Having expressed a desire to go to the Rockets for most of the 2017 offseason, Anthony expanded his list of preferred teams this week, adding Cleveland and Oklahoma City, which allowed the Knicks to get something done.

New York has now fully committed to the rebuilding project that the new management team outlined when it took over. The Knicks were reluctant to trade Anthony to the Cavaliers because they wanted him out of the Eastern Conference, according to TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link), although it’s hard to understand why, giving the team’s remote playoff chances. Even though Jackson was dismissed this summer, hard feelings with Carmelo remained and the organization wanted a fresh start (Twitter link).

The trade of Anthony represents the culmination of an eventful offseason that saw many of the East’s best players join new clubs. Anthony is the sixth player from 2017’s Eastern Conference All-Star squad to change teams, following in the footsteps of George, Jimmy Butler, Paul Millsap, Isaiah Thomas, and Kyrie Irving. Anthony, George, Butler, and Millsap all moved over to the Western Conference.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Northwest Notes: Anthony, Wolves, Nurkic, Nuggets

Agreeing on a trade to acquire Carmelo Anthony on Saturday took the Thunder roster from formidable to elite. Joining the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, Russell Westbrook, and fellow offseason acquisition, Paul George, gives Anthony the winning culture he craved in New York the last four seasons. Despite the upgrade, the Thunder are still far from the Western Conference’s best team, Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes.

Several rival executives explained to Kerber that the defending champion Warriors are still the best team in the West. While the Thunder can give Golden State a challenge, and possibly fend up the Spurs and Rockets for second place, one scout said the underwhelming package the Knicks received for Anthony is also alarming.

“Are the Thunder a better team than they were yesterday? Yes. Are the Knicks a worse team than they were yesterday? Yes. The fact they got a second-round pick says they really wanted Carmelo gone. And they needed another center? Unless they’re going to buy [Joakim] Noah out. Kanter is a horrible defender,” the scout said to Kerber.

The Warriors have been to the last three NBA Finals, winning two of them. Factoring in a roster that has two-time MVP Stephen Curry, one-time MVP Kevin Durant, and stalwarts Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, the Thunder will have a lot of work to do before claiming dominance over the West.

Below you can read additional news around the Northwest Division:

Thunder To Sign Isaiah Canaan To Camp Deal

Free agent guard Isaiah Canaan will sign a non-guaranteed deal with the Thunder, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical.

Canaan has been searching for a team all summer after being waived by the Bulls at the end of June before his $200K guarantee for the upcoming season kicked in. The 26-year-old guard got into 39 games for Chicago last season, averaging 4.6 points in about 15 minutes per night.

If he earns a roster spot, Oklahoma City will be his fourth NBA team. He has also played for the Rockets and Sixers during his first four years in the league.

Canaan’s signing comes a day after Trey Burke agreed to a deal with the Thunder, then reconsidered and decided to seek a different opportunity. OKC has been looking for a veteran point guard to back up Russell Westbrook.

Thunder Notes: George, Anthony, Westbrook, Kanter

Paul George says the Thunder feel like a “championship team” after Saturday’s blockbuster deal that brought Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City, relays Sam Amick of USA Today. The Thunder now have last season’s scoring champ in Russell Westbrook [31.6 points per game], along with No. 15 in George [23.7] and No. 22 in Anthony [22.4].

“You put us three together, who all have something to prove still, [and] we’re going to be a special team,” said George, who was acquired from Indiana in OKC’s other major offseason move. “We have a young group, a lot of talent here, an unbelievable coach [in Billy Donovan], [and] as you see, a front office that’s willing to do whatever it takes to improve the team. It just has all the makeups to be a great organization and a chance to put championships together.”

There’s more news out of Oklahoma City:

  • Anthony’s college coach, Jim Boeheim of Syracuse, believes he is headed to a much better situation with the Thunder, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Boeheim says the 33-year-old Anthony improved his conditioning this summer and probably has three to four good years left in the league. “Melo had to work so hard in the triangle,” Boeheim added. “It’s a good offense, but not what he does best. He had to work so hard to get his shot, and get a shot at the end of clock, and he’d have seven seconds. He’s much better when he plays with good players, gets open shots, opportunities to post up and do things, post up as well. It’ll just be a lot easier. I think he’s anxious to prove he’s still [a star].”
  • If the Thunder are the NBA’s newest superteam, Westbrook’s decision to accept an extension after Kevin Durant left for Golden State last summer made it possible, writes Royce Young of ESPN. Without that commitment, Oklahoma City may have explored a trade to avoid losing superstars in back-to-back years with no compensation. And without Westbrook, the team never would have dealt for George or Anthony. Westbrook is facing an October 16 deadline to decide on a new extension offer that would pay him $207MM over five years.
  • Anthony will continue to wear No. 7 with the Thunder, Young tweets.
  • Enes Kanter, who was shipped to New York in the trade, was part of the effort to convince Anthony to waive his no-trade clause for Oklahoma City, according to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). This summer, Kanter spoke with a coach who works with Anthony and put in a good word for the Thunder.

Trey Burke Backs Out Of Deal With OKC

Trey Burke and Thunder appeared to be coming close on a deal to add the point guard to OKC, but Burke has decided against joining the club at this time, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. Burke will return to the free agent market and look for another opportunity.

The Michigan product was dealt to the Wizards last offseason and was expected to be the team’s answer at the backup one spot. However, he fell out of the rotation after the team inked Brandon Jennings and the organization opted against extending a qualifying offer to him at year’s end.

As Arthur Hill of Hoops Rumors noted earlier today, Burke previously received interest from the Knicks. The timing of the deal suggests that the Carmelo Anthony trade had something to do with the point guard’s decision, though that is merely my speculation. Perhaps the lure of playing for the Knicks, a team that’s now void of superior offensive talent outside of Kristaps Porzingis, or the fact that another perimeter threat is heading to OKC caused Burke to reconsider his prior commitment.

Since being drafted with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Burke has averaged 10.6 points and 3.6 assists per game. He shot a career-high 44.3% from behind the arc last season, though it was on just 1.2 attempts per game.

Thunder To Sign Trey Burke

[UPDATE: Burke has reportedly backed out of a potential deal with the Thunder. Read the full story here.]

The Thunder are putting the finishing touches on a deal with free agent point guard Trey Burke, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical.

The 24-year-old has been looking for an opportunity since the Wizards refused to extend him a qualifying offer after the end of last season. Burke spent one year in Washington after being acquired in a trade with the Jazz, averaging 5.0 points and 1.8 assists in 57 games. He was the primary backup to John Wall for much of the season, but fell out of the rotation after Washington signed Brandon Jennings in February.

Burke attended a workout for the Timberwolves earlier this month and a free agent mini-camp with the Bucks in late August. He received interest from the Knicks as well.

If Burke makes the Oklahoma City roster, he will compete with newly signed Raymond Felton to be a veteran backup to Russell Westbrook.

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