Berry Tramel on OKC’s inconsistency: “But it’s as if the Thunder let Westbrook ride a rollercoaster — though his play this season was more and more consistently fantastic — and let Kevin Durant play phenomenally and everyone else rowed the boat. Now, you don’t know what you’re going to get, except mostly greatness from Durant. The Thunder is 6-4 without Westbrook. That’s still a .600 winning percentage. Still playoff-level success. It’s just not what the Thunder is accustomed to. But it look like that is what OKC is going to have to live with until Westbrook’s return.”
Rob Mahoney of SI.com on old friend Daniel Orton: “This might at first seem a curious choice considering the Sixers’ circumstances and Orton’s size, not to mention the concurrent decisions to maintain players like Williams and Brown. Yet Orton doesn’t have much to offer beyond the most immediate benefits of being a very large human being. In that alone a select group of players have been able to find consistent NBA employ, but I see little reason to lament the release of a player who hasn’t shown a single NBA-caliber skill. Orton is just 23 years old, and essentially doubled his NBA experience through 22 games and 251 minutes with the Sixers. He’ll have his opportunities going forward, but he has a ways to go in terms of claiming steadier footing on an NBA roster.”
J.R. Smith is available. The answer is no.
Darnell Mayberry on Serge Ibaka’s defensive value: “His shot-blocking has been consistent, but he’s come under fire for not being an adequate low-post man defender. He’s improved his rebounding numbers but draws more attention for an inability to defend the perimeter. It’s unclear whether Ibaka will be available for Thursday’s game at Denver. But if it wasn’t before, it’s obvious now how much the Thunder needs him, especially against the Nuggets. Denver is one of the best teams at scoring at the rim, averaging 44.9 points in the paint and 48 in its past three contests. If Ibaka can’t go, the Nuggets could make what happened Tuesday night in Utah look pedestrian.”
Mahoney on Andrew Bynum’s potential suitors: “This one’s a complete long shot because it’s unlikely that the culture-conscious Thunder would seriously consider bringing in a player who was cut loose for bad behavior. Still, at the very least it’s interesting that Oklahoma City skirted roughly $2.3 million under the luxury-tax line by finding a taker for Ryan Gomes while still having the $2 million biannual exception and full mid-level exception ($5.2 million) in its back pocket. Some move might be coming for the Thunder, and acquiring Bynum could help the team transition away from its self-imposed dependence on Kendrick Perkins.”