Why Thunder probably won’t sign Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo and Andre Roberson to contract extensions

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Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams and Andre Roberson are all eligible for contract extensions.

The Thunder probably won’t extend any of the three.

Russell Westbrook‘s renegotiation-and-extension gives Oklahoma City an extra year persuade Westbrook he should stay, but he’ll still be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. The clock is ticking, and the best course to upgrading the roster involves beginning the 2017 offseason with Oladipo, Adams and Roberson unsigned.

If one of the three fourth-year players were to sign an extension, his cap number on July 1 would be his 2017-18 salary. If they forgo extensions, their cap number will be a percentage of their previous salary. For each, that’d be:

  • Oladipo: $13,105,921
  • Adams: $7,851,293
  • Roberson: $5,457,681

All three are likely to command a salary above their cap hold – maybe even up to their projected max of nearly $24 million for Oladipo and Adams. So Oklahoma City can count those players at their cap holds, use its cap space then exceed the cap to re-sign them using Bird Rights.

But that was always the case. What does Westbrook’s extension change?

Theoretically, Oladipo, Adams or Roberson could’ve accepted less over the course of a long-term extension to outweigh the Thunder’s cap-space reduction in 2017. But with Westbrook still headed toward free agency so soon, 2017 becomes a much bigger priority than 2019 or 2020.

The Thunder must impress Westbrook before he can leave in 2018.

With Oladipo’s, Adams’ and Roberson’s cap holds, Oklahoma City would be an Enes Kanter trade and one other small deal from offering a max contract next summer to someone with fewer than 10 years experience – say Oklahoma native Blake Griffin.

It might not be easy to trade Kanter. It might not be easy to swing a second salary dump without downgrading the roster too greatly. It might not be easy to lure Griffin or anyone else.

The salary cap could change from the latest projection. The entire Collective Bargaining Agreement could change.

But by not extending Oladipo, Adams and Roberson, the Thunder maximize their 2017 flexibility. And Oklahoma City would face only limited risk of losing those players. All three will be restricted free agents.

If the Thunder strike out in 2017, it might be time to trade Westbrook before he hits 2018 free agency.

But, before it comes to that, Oklahoma City can take its best swing next summer by not extending Oladipo, Adams or Roberson now.

Watch Dinwiddie get ejected for elbow to Poole’s face; Mavs still win behind Doncic 41 points


Dallas has gotten in trouble this season because of a lack of secondary shot creation behind Luka Doncic, so when Spencer Dinwiddie got ejected for an elbow to the face of Golden State’s Jordan Poole, it seemed like the Mavericks might be in danger of falling to the Warriors.

Doncic had other plans — and a 41-point triple-double.

The ejection happened early in the fourth quarter, when Dinwiddie drove the lane on Poole and, bringing the ball up, elbowed Poole in the face.

That was reviewed by the referees who ruled it a Flagrant 2. The league has cracked down on blows to the face and head — intentional or not — the past couple of seasons.

Dinwiddie being out just meant more Luka — and that was bad news for the Warriors.

Despite Doncic and his triple-double, the Warriors had a couple of chances in the final seconds. First, Stephen Curry got called for a travel.

The Warriors argued that call but got nowhere with the referees. But they got one more chance on a Klay Thompson 3 to tie, but it was just not their night.

The Mavericks got the 116-113 win. Tim Hardaway Jr. pitched in 25 points, including five 3-pointers for Dallas. Curry led the Warriors with 32.

Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns out 4-6 weeks with calf strain

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
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It’s not good news, but it looked like it could have been much worse.

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns is out for weeks with a right calf strain, the team announced Tuesday following an MRI exam. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports it is likely 4-6 weeks.

The injury occurred midway through the third quarter Monday when Towns started to run back upcourt and went to the ground without contact, grabbing his knee and calf. It looked scary — Achilles scary — and he had to be helped off the court.

Towns has averaged 21.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a game, and while his numbers are down this season — just 32.8% on 3-pointers — the team has struggled at times without him, particularly lineups with Rudy Gobert and Anthony Edwards together, an -11.8 net rating (in non-garbage time minutes, via Cleaning the Glass).

Kevin Durant on chasing MVP: ‘Not really, I’ve been there, done that’

Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets
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Kevin Durant carried the Nets to another win Monday night, scoring 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting, plus seven rebounds and five assists.

If you’re having an MVP conversation a quarter of the way into the NBA season, Durant has to be part of it: 30 points per game on 54.8% shooting (and a ridiculous 65.9 true shooting percentage), 6.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game, plus playing solid defense and being the anchor of the Nets. After his 45-point outing to get Brooklyn a win over Orlando, Durant was asked about MVP chants and the chase for the award and was clearly not interested.

Durant has MVP numbers, but so do Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and others. If Durant is going to move to the front of the conversation, the first thing that has to happen is Brooklyn has to win a lot more games — 11-11 is not going to cut it when Tatum’s Celtics and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have the two best records in the NBA. Winning games and finishing on a top-three team in the conference matters to some voters (and traditionally is one measure of an MVP).

Watch Herb Jones inbound off Pokusevski’s back, seal win for Pelicans

Oklahoma City Thunder v New Orleans Pelicans
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With 2.3 seconds left in the game and the Thunder down 2, they needed to steal the inbounds pass from New Orleans to have a real chance. That’s why when Aleksej Pokusevski walked on the court it looked like he was going to guard the inbounder, Herbert Jones.

Instead, Pokusevski turned his back to Jones, putting himself in position to step in front of anyone cutting to the ball to catch the inbounds. Except, Jones made the clever play to seal the game.

Pokusevski fouled Jones, who sank both free throws and sealed the 105-101 Pelicans win.

The Pelicans got 23-8-8 from Zion Williamson and picked up a win without CJ McCollum or Brandon Ingram in the lineup. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continued his dominant start to the season and scored 31.