Wednesday Bolts: 7.12.17

Fred Katz on Russell Westbrook’s contract negotiations: “The Oklahoma City Thunder have made it clear to Russell Westbrook they want him for the long haul. But they’re still waiting for official reciprocation. The Thunder offered Westbrook a five-year extension the moment free agency began July 1. “I wouldn’t say that one’s a negotiation,” OKC general manager Sam Presti joked.”

Jenni Carlson on why OKC is willing to go into the luxury tax: “The Thunder has gone into the luxury tax twice in its first nine seasons, $2.8 million in 2014-15, then again $14.5 million in 2015-16. That’s already a pretty significant percentage of seasons in the tax, especially for a small-market franchise, but it gets even more marked when you consider that in the 14 seasons with the luxury tax, the average team has gone into the tax 3.4 times. Thunder, two times in nine seasons. Average NBA team, 3.4 times in 14 seasons.”

Patrick Patterson and Raymond Felton were introduced yesterday: Here’s a link to the full press conference.

Brett Dawson on Patrick Patterson and Billy Donovan reconnecting: “And so 10 years ago, when Patterson — then a senior at Huntington (W.Va.) High School — chose to take his talents to Kentucky, he wasn’t sure how to break the news to Billy Donovan, whose Florida Gators had been the runner-up. So he didn’t.”

Raymond Felton addressed his 2012 comments on Westbrook: “I think at the time you were just talking about two guys who were just strong competitors,” Felton said Tuesday. “Two guys who battled it out at the time. I was young, you know.”

Thunder fans greeted Paul George at the airport yesterday: “After an MVP season from Russell Westbrook, the Thunder welcomed another superstar to OKC (who will probably break their hearts again in a year). Fans were absolutely thrilled on Tuesday to greet Paul George at the Oklahoma City airport as hundreds of fans turned out for a first look at the new Thunder star.”

We sent our Wade Pierce to Will Rogers World Airport to chat with fans: There were a lot of very excited/warm Oklahomans out there.

Rohan Nadkarni listed the Paul George trade as the offseason’s biggest move: “Oklahoma City will probably finish behind Houston next season, but the George trade is massive for this franchise. The Russ Show was always unsustainable, and now the Thunder have a diet version of the team they had when Kevin Durant was still around.”

Paul George will be introduced this evening at 6PM: Carson Cunningham of KOCO 5 described the event as “very unorthodox, not a typical press conference: Q&A, reception, then media interviews at separate locale.”