Friday Bolts – 4.28.17

Tom Ley of Deadspin: “I’ve grown somewhat tired of the ways in which people choose to describe Westbrook, reaching into a bag of clumsy metaphors in an effort to get across a simple idea: This guy is out of control. It’s a way of disguising a curmudgeon’s complaint in a literary voice, and the complaint isn’t even correct. It’s far too reductive to see Westbrook’s season as the result of his basketball id being set loose on the court every night, and it ignores just how much control it takes to play like he does.”

Erik Horne: “They were the words of an expectant father, a man tired from 86 games of gas-pedal-to-the-floor intensity and historical feats seemingly by the night. A day removed from the Thunder’s dismissal by Houston in the first round of the postseason, Westbrook said he didn’t have his future with the Thunder on his mind. Between now and the start of next season, others will. While Westbrook may not be thinking about the lucrative contract that will be waiting for him this summer when the new Collective Bargaining Agreement goes into effect, his decision is the key to the franchise’s future. Here’s what to know about Westbrook and the Designated Player Exception.”

Have you checked out OKC’s hotel aliases yet?

Berry Tramel: “In this series, the Bulls have used three starting point guards – Rondo in Games 1 and 2, Jerian Grant in Games 3 and 4, and Isaiah Canaan in Game 5. Plus, Michael Carter-Williams has played in four games. Canaan, who didn’t even play in the first three games, has played 70 minutes. Rondo played 67 minutes. Grant has played 47 minutes in four games. Carter-Williams has played 39 minutes. Payne has played four minutes. I’ve never heard of a fifth-team point guard in the league where rosters are capped at 15 and only 13 can suit up for a particular game. Great trade by the Thunder.”

Brett Dawson: “Roberson made about $2.2 million this season and stands to command a significant raise. He’s a restricted free agent, so the Thunder has the right to match any other team’s offer sheet, but the Thunder has a decision to make about how much money it wants to commit to Roberson. In an ESPN Insider feature on Wednesday, a panel of five NBA experts debated whether the Thunder should be willing to pay Roberson $15 million a season, and three of them said it should. Gibson, an unrestricted free agent, made $8.9 million this season. It’s unclear what price he might command on the open market, but Gibson said he had a “long talk” with Thunder general manager Sam Presti and coach Billy Donovan to express his interest in remaining with the organization.”

Chris Almeida of The Ringer: “The reality may be that the Thunder don’t have a player on the roster who can propel the offense through shot creation. It might be a better idea to surround Westbrook with shooters and have him drive and kick, instead of watching him attempt to do everything on his own. The Thunder acquired Doug McDermott for a reason. He’ll never be a secondary option on a contender, but he could be a knockdown shooter (or at least one more effective than Alex Abrines) if he’s given more open looks and time on court. McDermott played under 20 minutes a game for OKC during the regular season and averaged fewer than 14 during the playoffs. If Oklahoma City is looking to retool its offense, Donovan would be well-served to give players like McDermott more floor time when it looks like Kanter and OKC’s clunkier forwards are struggling to produce.”

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer: “Philosophical changes need to be made, though it might be hard for Westbrook to go back to sharing after being given the go-ahead to do whatever he wants. They need to stockpile shooters to increase floor-spacing, and (hopefully) encourage better ball movement. They won’t have cap space this summer, but they could always look to flip Enes Kanter. They also have their first-round pick (no. 21), which I’d used to target quality shooters who can double as secondary ball handlers, like Luke Kennard, Jawun Evans, Derrick White, and Josh Hart. The Thunder can’t let Westbrook do it all by himself, otherwise each season will end on the same sour note.”

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