Mitch McGary

Portland Trail Blazers v Oklahoma City Thunder

It’s official: Thunder match offer sheet, keep Enes Kanter

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In the end, Oklahoma City didn’t have a choice.

If they didn’t match Portland’s four-year, $70 million offer sheet for Enes Kanter they would essentially be telling Kevin Durant “we aren’t willing to go into the luxury tax to get you closer to a title,” which would be a foolish with KD becoming a free agent next summer.

No team may have ever been in a more win-now place than OKC this year.

So the Thunder have matched the offer sheet and will keep Kanter, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti informed Portland of his decision to retain Kanter on Sunday night, league sources told Yahoo. Enes’ deal includes a player option on the fourth year and a 15 percent trade kicker bonus….

Oklahoma City feels immense pressure to show star Kevin Durant a strong commitment to winning in the final year of his contract, and Kanter is an important part of the Thunder’s nucleus. The possibility of losing a young player of Kanter’s talent for no assets was extremely remote for the Thunder. Presti had planned his payroll and roster for the possibility of a maximum offer sheet, sources said.

The team has since confirmed it.

“We traded for Enes last season with the intention of keeping him as a member of the Thunder for several years to come, and we are excited that he will continue with us,” said Thunder GM Sam Presti in a statement. “He adds valuable depth to our roster, diversity to our frontcourt and the dimension that he brings offensively will positively impact our team.”

Marc Stein of ESPN breaks down the numbers.

Even if Durant re-signs for the max, the Thunder will be under the tax line in 2016-17.

The Thunder need Kanter to bring them some offense in the paint and a five who can help space the floor and create driving lanes for Russell Westbrook and Durant (Oklahoma City’s offense was 3.5 points per 100 better when he was on the court for them last season). The Thunder have Serge Ibaka as their starting four with Nick Collison behind him. At the five there would be Kanter and Steven Adams in rotation — they can play for offense or defense — plus they have Mitch McGary behind them. That’s a quality rotation.

We need to note Kanter is a defensive liability — OKC’s defense was 6.5 points per 100 possessions worse when he was on the floor than when he was sitting. And they still had a terrible defensive rating of 107.5 per 100 when Kanter and Ibaka were paired.

But this was the only move the Thunder could make.

Thunder GM Sam Presti says he plans to match max offer for Enes Kanter

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers
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Portland giving Enes Kanter a $70 million max offer sheet seemed a move done in part to make the Thunder pay. The Trail Blazers already have Meyers Leonard under contract, then they traded for Mason Plumlee and signed Ed Davis to a free agent deal. Do they need another center? One that doesn’t play much defense?

But the Thunder need scoring inside, and Kanter gives them that. He is a gifted offensive player. Plus, with Kevin Durant’s looming free agency you will not find a team in more of a win-now mode than OKC and they see Kanter as part of that now.

The Thunder have three days to match (until Sunday) and they likely will, GM Sam Presti told Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman.

The Thunder have Serge Ibaka as their starting four with Nick Collison behind him. At the five there would be Kanter and Steven Adams in rotation — they can play for offense or defense — plus they have Mitch McGary.

Kanter is a defensive liability — their defense was 6.5 points per 100 possessions worse when he was on the floor than when he was sitting. The Thunder offense was 3.5 points per 100 better when he was on the court. Overall, OKC was -0.7 points per 100 when Kanter was on the floor — and by the way they still had a terrible defensive rating of 107.5 per 100 when Kanter and Ibaka were paired.

But expect the Thunder to keep Kanter.

This is a market max deal — it’s overpaying under the current salary cap, but as the cap spikes by more than $40 million over the next two years due to the new television deals, that contract will not be so bad.

And in a worst case scenario where Durant (and likely Russell Westbrook behind him) leave OKC, under the new contract will not be as burdensome under the expanded salary cap, meaning it could be traded fairly easily.

Andrew Wiggins only unanimous All-Rookie first-teamer, Jordan Clarkson tops Marcus Smart for final first-team spot

Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Clarkson
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Andrew Wiggins (who won Rookie of the Year), Nikola Mirotic, Nerlens Noel and Elfrid Payton were presumed All-Rookie first-team locks.

It seemed the final spot would come down to Jordan Clarkson and Marcus Smart – and the Lakers guard won out.

All-Rookie first team (first votes-second votes-points)

  • Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota (130-0-260)
  • Nikola Mirotic, Chicago (128-2-258)
  • Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia (125-2-252)
  • Elfrid Payton, Orlando (121-8-250)
  • Jordan Clarkson, L.A. Lakers (74-52-200)

All-Rookie second team (first votes-second votes-points)

  • Marcus Smart, Boston (28-86-142)
  • Zach LaVine, Minnesota (22-91-135)
  • Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn (7-93-107)
  • Jusuf Nurkic, Denver (3-91-97)
  • Langston Galloway, New York (7-58-72)

Other players receiving votes, with point totals (first-place votes in parentheses):

Rodney Hood, Utah, 54 (1); Tarik Black, L.A. Lakers, 28; K.J. McDaniels, Houston, 20; Dante Exum, Utah, 17 (3); Jabari Parker, Milwaukee, 13; Mitch McGary, Oklahoma City, 9; Aaron Gordon, Orlando, 5 (1); Spencer Dinwiddie, Detroit, 4; Jerami Grant, Philadelphia, 4; Kostas Papanikolaou, Houston, 4; T.J. Warren, Phoenix, 4; Damjan Rudez, Indiana, 3; Tyler Ennis, Milwaukee, 2; Joe Ingles, Utah, 2; JaKarr Sampson, Philadelphia, 2; James Ennis, Miami, 1; Cory Jefferson, Brooklyn, 1; Tyler Johnson, Miami, 1; Shabazz Napier, Miami, 1; Nik Stauskas, Sacramento, 1; James Young, Boston, 1

Overall, the teams are pretty spot on, and the top vote-getters after the second team are deserving of strong consideration.

But get further down the list of players who got votes? Someone has to explain to me how anyone could consider many of these players a top-10 rookie. Strangely, a quick glance of the voting breakdown shows few examples of homerism in these outliers.

Rajon Rondo very cleverly steals jump ball against big man (video)

Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder
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The 6-foot-1 Rajon Rondo forced a jump ball against 6-foot-10 Mitch McGary, a tough proposition for the Mavericks point guard.

So Rondo got clever, not jumping with McGary and instead peeling off to snag McGary’s tip.

How many Mavericks were in on this play?

Amar’e Stoudemire and Charlie Villanueva both lined up next to Enes Kanter, leaving Dion Waiters open. That all but assured the tip would go to Waiters, so Rondo knew where to go.

Mark Cuban calls trading for Lamar Odom, not letting Steve Nash walk, his biggest mistake

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers
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Mark Cuban once called letting Steve Nash leave in free agency his biggest mistake as Mavericks owner.

Cuban, reflecting on Nash in light of the point guard’s retirement, apparently changed his mind.

Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:

Cuban said letting Nash go was not the worst personnel decision of his ownership.

That would be Lamar Odom, he said.

The Mavericks traded a first-round pick (which ultimately became Mitch McGary) to the Lakers for Odom in 2012. Odom was disastrous in his lone season with the Mavericks, feuding with Cuban before just being sent home. Odom was reportedly dealing with drug issues, and he later apologized to Cuban.

Unquestionably, the move didn’t work for the Mavericks. But how predictable was Odom’s downward spiral? And how costly was it to Dallas?

The Mavericks might have had sound reasons for letting Nash leave for the Suns, but hindsight suggests they overreacted to injury concerns. Nash became a two-time MVP in Phoenix, and it’s not difficult to think he and Dirk Nowitzki could have gotten the Mavericks another championship besides 2011. They certainly would have had a better chance. Those are much higher stakes than swapping Mitch McGary for Odom in a season that wasn’t going anywhere, anyway.

I think Cuban had this right the first time.