Wednesday Bolts: 8.23.17

OKC exec Michael Winger has agreed to become the Clippers’ new GM: “Oklahoma City Thunder executive Michael Winger has reached an agreement in principle to become the general manager of the LA Clippers, league sources told ESPN on Wednesday. The Clippers offered Winger the job late last week, and the sides have agreed on terms for a multiyear contract. Winger, an assistant general manager/team counsel for the Thunder, will report to Lawrence Frank, the Clippers’ new president of basketball operations.”

The story of how Enes Kanter played pickup with LeBron, KD, Melo, and more: “And so as Kanter picked up his phone last week to check his latest text from Brickley, he expected to see the same names flash across his screen. Then he opened Brickley’s message. LeBron James and Kevin Durant would be joining them, it read. Giddy, Kanter punched in a response. “I told Chris, ‘Just make sure you put me on LeBron’s team,'” he says.”

Russell Westbrook was voted second favorite NBA player in the 2017-18 rookie survey: “NBA.com sat down with 39 rookies at the annual Rookie Photo Shoot at the Knicks’ practice facility earlier this month. They answered seven questions about their class, as well as a few about the current player they most admire and what they’re expecting as they make the jump to the NBA.”

Terrance Ferguson got love from his peers in two categories on the rookie survey: “His fellow first-years don’t see the Thunder’s Terrance Ferguson as a factor in this year’s Rookie of the Year race. But a poll of NBA rookies shows some admiration for Ferguson’s skills. In the annual NBA.com rookie survey, the Thunder’s 19-year-old wing was voted the third-best shooter in this year’s rookie class and the second-best athlete.”

Eric Pincus on how a wink could cost the Lakers a shot at Paul George: “Johnson gave an exaggerated wink, laughed and shook hands with Kimmel, saying, “You know what that means, right?” So while he never quite said it outright and was responding to Kimmel’s scenario, Johnson all but spelled out on national television the Lakers want George rather than declining to comment on the player who was under contract with the Indiana Pacers at the time.”

Nat Newell (Indy Star) on potential punishments for the Lakers: “According to Peter Vecsey’s report on the Pacers-Lakers tampering case, the NBA is seeking phone records and emails between the Lakers and George’s agent, Aaron Mintz. Mintz, however, also represents Laker Julius Randle; and D’Angelo Russell, who was traded by the Lakers this offseason; and draft-eligible players — all of which would almost certainly have resulted in phone conversations with the Lakers. If emails exist, more serious penalties could result.”

Rohad Nadkarni (SI) on the six new lineups built to challenge Golden State: “THUNDER: RUSSELL WESTBROOK, ALEX ABRINES, ANDRE ROBERSON, PAUL GEORGE, PATRICK PATTERSON. The Thunder made arguably the most game-changing move of the offseason by trading for Paul George, but they still have the same problem that’s plagued the franchise this entire decade: Finding a fifth player that makes sense on the floor. The lineup above is probably OKC’s best from a shooting standpoint, but it leaves one of its better players—Steven Adams—on the bench. Playing two non-shooters against the Warriors puts teams at a serious handicap, which is why Adams is split from Andre Roberson here. What this lineup does have is way more shooting than anything the Thunder deployed last season. ”

Russell Westbrook’s upcoming book explained: “This book is a collection of stylish and inspiring images and text that provide a rare glimpse into Westbrook’s world, revealing how he uses style as a psychological weapon on and off the court and how he has redefined the role of a contemporary athlete turned cultural figure. From photographs documenting his bold and cutting-edge outfits worn during the playoffs to images of his collaborations with global style brands and original quotes and interviews with fellow athletes, designers, and creative figures that inspire Westbrook, this book explores how to be fearless and confident in fashion and in life, what it means to be stylish, and the importance of authenticity in everything from style and music to art and business.”

Tim Wood (Forbes) picks winners and losers from yesterday’s blockbuster deal between the Celtics and Cavs: “In a jaw-dropping deal, the Cleveland Cavaliers have sent All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for rising star guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, big man Ante Zizic and a 2018 first-round protected pick the Celtics acquired from the Brooklyn Nets. It is the type of in-conference megadeal that is becoming rarer and rarer as the contracts get larger and the salary caps get more intricate. Who wins and who loses as the top two teams in the Eastern Conference pull off this deal?”

Nick Greene (Slate) says yesterday’s trade changes nothing: “There’s also the elephant in the room, and that elephant just drained a three-pointer in your face. Nothing about this trade puts either team in a position to beat the Golden State Warriors in the finals next season. Sure, injuries and other unforeseen events could unseat the defending champs, but barring a cataclysmic turn of events, the balance of power in the NBA isn’t shifting any time soon. This trade may affect who represents the Eastern Conference in the 2018 Finals, but when it comes to that team’s chances in June, the Titanic is merely trading deck chairs with the Hindenburg.”