Sam Presti doesn’t just wait by the phone. He had antennae implanted in his brain years ago, for convenient and instantaneous connections to each and every GM in the league. Every time the draft broadcast goes 5 minutes without mentioning the Thunder or showing Kevin Durant, he makes a brain call and a subsequent move. Boom, whiz, pow, and the Thunder grabbed the 11th pick in a draft that didn’t feature them as major players — and filled a positional need — while holding on to the 18th pick.
OKC sent two late first rounders (the 21st and 26th picks, which were used on Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter) to New Orleans for Morris Peterson’s $6.2 million contract and the draft rights to Cole Aldrich. Not too shabby.
Aldrich may not pan out as a terrific NBA center, but the Oklahoma City Thunder honestly don’t need all that much. For the moment — and the foreseeable future — the Thunder just need someone to play quality minutes in the middle, and Aldrich can grab rebounds and play solid interior defense while finally giving OKC some depth at the 5. There’s nothing all that attractive about this game, and he won’t go down as the best center in this draft. Not a chance.
That won’t stop him from being a long-time, consistent role player that specializes in defense, which isn’t the easiest thing to find in a center. Aldrich won’t have Chris Paul force-feeding him buckets, but playing with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is a pretty plush gig, too.
The question is whether or not Mo Pete’s immediate effect on the Thunder’s salary total will make the acquisition of Aldrich worthwhile. New Orleans needed to ditch Peterson’s contract to escape the luxury tax, but that same $6.2 million will eat into OKC’s cap room this summer. For now, this trade gets an incomplete. Not only because we need to see Aldridge in NBA action to properly assess his game, but also because the financial implications for the Thunder could be minimal.
With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
You can watch the video of his speech below:
In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.
“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.
“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”
So that settles that.
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Bulls acquired Dinwiddie in a trade with Detroit last month and waived him three weeks ago. He spent two years with the Pistons and appeared in 12 games last season, averaging 4.8 points and 13.3 minutes.
The Bulls announced the move Thursday.