Friday Bolts – 3.17.17

Zach Lowe of ESPN Insider: “I’m not sure I would say the Utah Jazz are getting punished because there’s nothing in the rules stopping them from re-signing anyone who wants to re-sign; their issue, much like the Oklahoma City Thunder when they traded James Harden, is much more about willingness to pay the luxury tax over an extended period. In general, I think a rule like this makes sense. The idea of some sort of designated-player spot making it easier to re-sign long-tenured veterans like Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade has been mooted in the past; this is probably a more logical version of that.”

Kevin Arnovitz talking with NPR: “And Westbrook could not be more different. He is the ultimate showman. I mean Robertson is an interesting character because he’s what we call today a basketball unicorn. You know, one of the things that makes the triple-double really unusual is it demands in some ways a skill of a big man with the finesse and distribution powers of a point guard. And Westbrook is this guy who embodies it all.”

The King of the Prairie!

Brett Dawson: “During Oklahoma City’s four-game winning streak, which includes wins against playoff-bound San Antonio, Utah and Toronto, Westbrook is averaging 26.2 points, 11.5 rebounds and 15.5 assists. But he’s put up big numbers all season. Lately, he’s getting strong backcourt support from Oladipo, who’s averaging 21.5 points over the past four games and shooting 56.7 percent from the floor. He’s made 12 of 17 3-pointers in that stretch, unsustainable success from long range. But Oladipo also has attacked the basket. Thursday was the second time in three games that he’s driven for a spectacular dunk.”

“Who is he?”

Billy Donovan says he’s “totally happy” in OKC.

Rohan Nadkarni of SI.com: “Whether it’s in transition or in the halfcourt, it feels as if Westbrook is in his own world. There are nine basketball players on the court, and then there’s Russ, the conductor. He moves around pieces at his own will, and he bends and breaks the game until he gets what he wants. In the first quarter against Brooklyn, Russ decided he wanted to rack up assists, and there was simply nothing the Nets defense could do to stop him. His athleticism is such a threat that taking your eyes of Russ for one second could be the reason you end up on a poster. A handful of NBA players are capable of dominating a game and forcing the defense to acquiesce to their every whim. But none of them have the ball in their hands as often as Westbrook, who makes defenders nervous simply by surveying the court from the top of the key.”