Tuesday Bolts: 9.11.18

Erik Horne on the Thunder’s new Native American-themed “City” uniforms: “Based on the response to a leaked photo of the Thunder’s potential new “City” uniforms for the 2018-19 season, the new Native American-centric theme will be wildly popular. On Monday, Red Earth — a nonprofit which promotes the traditions of American Indian arts and cultures — posted photos of the new uniforms on its Twitter page. Those photos are accurate, The Oklahoman learned. The uniform photos contain block lettering, patterns and coloring which reflect Oklahoma’s rich Native American culture.”

Have a look:

Kevin Pelton & Bobby Marks (ESPN+) have the Thunder seventh on their next-three-seasons power rankings: “Uncertainty surrounding Paul George was the main reason why the Thunder were outside of the top 10 in March despite having two-All Stars on the team. Now with George under contract for a minimum of three seasons (with a player option in Year 4) and Russell Westbrook committed for at least four, Oklahoma City has two franchise players on the roster long term. More reasons for OKC’s bump: the return of Jerami Grant, the addition of Dennis Schroder and the Carmelo Anthony trade. Despite reducing payroll from $308 million in mid-July to $219 million now, Oklahoma City ranks last in money and projects to be a luxury-tax team in 2019-20 and 2020-21.”

Ben Golliver & Rob Mahoney (SI) have Dennis Schroder at number 80 on their top 100 players of 2019: “Schröder’s 2017-18 season was a cry for structure. The only thing standing in the way of his using possessions like a superstar was common sense—a luxury, as it turns out, reserved for teams with better alternatives than Atlanta. Absent those, Schröder did as he pleased. The results were predictably fruitless. Schröder (19.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 6.2 APG) put up some of the emptiest numbers in the league last season, considering how little they did for Atlanta’s bottom line. This is emblematic of larger concerns. We know Schröder can beat his man off the dribble and score, but can he bring an offense to balance? Does his passing make his teammates better? Can his length and quickness translate to real defensive benefit? The jury is still out, even within the league. It means something that Schröder is capable of producing at this level, though that “something” varies wildly depending on case and circumstance.”

Cody Taylor (Thunder Wire) on the Thunder signing Richard Solomon to a training camp deal: “The Thunder are reportedly signing Richard Solomon to a training camp deal, according to Keith Smith of Real GM. The 6-foot-11 forward most recently played for Uşak Sportif of the Turkish Basketball Super League last season where he averaged 10 points and 4.8 rebounds in 19 games. Solomon has had a couple of stints with the Thunder after going undrafted out of Cal during the 2014 draft. He played Summer League with the Thunder in 2015 and 2016. Before he was waived in 2014, Solomon appeared in three games during the preseason for the Thunder and totaled 14 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and two blocks. Solomon played with the OKC Blue of the G League during the 2014-15 season. He averaged 8.5 points and 6.9 rebounds in 28 games for the Blue that season.”

RealGM is reporting that Sasha Vujacic will work out for the Thunder today: “Sasha Vujacic worked out for the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday and will have a workout on Tuesday with the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to a source. Vujacic last played in the NBA for the New York Knicks in 16-17. Last season, Vujacic played in Italy.”

Mark your calendars:

John Rammas (EuroHoops) breaks down the NBA’s most expensive contracts: “#7. PAUL GEORGE (Oklahoma City Thunder). Born in Palmdale, California, he has repeatedly stated that playing for the Lakers has been a lifelong dream. Even though he was a free agent, the new season will find him playing in the colors of the Thunder as the second highest paid player on the team. For every second he plays or thinks about whether and when he will finally join the Lakers, he will be $144.9 richer… #1. RUSSELL WESTBROOK (Oklahoma City Thunder). Mr. Triple-Double (first in the history of the NBA with back-to-back seasons) will start the new season with the fourth highest earnings until 2019. But that amount is just a sliver of the most expensive contract – in terms of total value – in the history of the league ($205.030.000). With an average value at $41.006.000, the amount of $173.6 per second calls for another triple-double season.”

Dan Clayton (Salt City Hoops) takes a look at the budding Thunder/Jazz rivalry: “OKC also has reason to believe that its point of departure is something better than a 48-win outfit. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar. They expect to get a full healthy season from their defensive game changer, Andre Roberson, who missed a half of his team’s games. They moved on from maybe the worst player in last year’s NBA in terms of macro value. And they have a talented core that includes a guy who has already been MVP and another who has made the All-NBA team four times. Those two guys are 29 and 28 years old, respectively, so they have at least a few years left at or near their peak. Which is why the final chapter in this rivalry is far from written. So no, it’s not really that obvious who’s going to be better next season, and if the two teams face each other again next postseason, it will be another battle, one that could end with a number of different outcomes. That’s because playoff victories aren’t like merit badges that you pass off once and then you forever have that patch crudely sewn to your puke green sash while you move on to the next challenge. And if you don’t believe me, let’s consult with previous generations of Jazz players, who checked off opponent one year only to find themselves facing — and sometimes failing — the same test within a couple of years.”

China.org on Dakari Johnson joining the Qingdao Eagles: “Dakari Johnson, former NBA player of Oklahoma City Thunder, will play for Qingdao Eagles in the coming Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) season, the Chinese club announced on Tuesday… The 2.13-meter-high Johnson, born in 1995, joined Oklahoma City Thunder in 2015. He contributed 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds in 5.2 minutes per game in last NBA season.”

Around the League: Luol Deng signed a one-year deal with Minnesota…. Teams that will fall below expectations in 2018-19…. Top 10 candidates for Rookie of the Year…. Complete review of NBA 2K19…. Carmelo Anthony failed to make SI’s Top 100…. Monta Ellis is trying to make it back to the NBA…. Looking ahead at the next three Hall-of-Fame classes.

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