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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.

Somehow, Ja Morant highlights keep getting better (video)

Ja Morant
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Ja Morant is special.

He has already produced a few amazing plays during his rookie year. He has even taken over full games with his flashy play.

But the performance he put on during the Grizzlies’ win over the Cavaliers last night was something else.

Thrice, Morant elevated for show-stopping dunks. He scored only once. But each time, something incredible happened.

First, Morant way up to catch a lob from Jae Crowder, adjusted mid-air and found Jaren Jackson Jr. for a dunk:

Then, less than a minute later, Morant finished a lob from Crowder with a beautiful one-handed slam:

Finally, Morant leaped to posterize Larry Nance Jr., realized that wouldn’t work then threw a spinning behind-the-back pass to Jackson. Though Alfonzo McKinnie blocked Jackson, Morant’s move was dazzling:

If Morant is going to keep putting on shows like this during games, maybe we can forgive him for skipping the dunk contest.

Trae Young gets ankles absolutely destroyed by Dejounte Murray (video)

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The Hawks got Trae Young his desired help, trading for Jeff Teague.

Maybe Young will do his part and step up on defense.

That didn’t happen on this possession against Spurs guard Dejounte Murry.

At least Young continued his breakout season on the other end, scoring 31 points and dishing nine assists in Atlanta’s rare victory in San Antonio.

Tristan Thompson slaps Jae Crowder’s rear end, gets ejected (video)

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What is it about Cleveland athletes slapping butts and getting in trouble?

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faces a simple battery charge for slapping a police officer’s backside in LSU’s locker room after the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Last night, Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson got ejected for slapping Grizzlies forward Jae Crowder‘s behind.

Thompson and Crowder got double technical fouls earlier in the game. So, Thompson got ejected with a tech for this incident between free throws.

Though the two are former Cleveland teammates, Crowder didn’t look amused. Crowder doesn’t play.

The Cavs rallied without Thompson, but Memphis won, 113-109.

Kyle Lowry flings in wild 3-pointer (video)

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Kyle Lowry had the ball in his left hand when he felt contact. Not only did he try to sell a foul by flailing his arms, the right-hander tried to draw a shooting foul by hurling an off-balance 31-footer toward the basket.

No continuation. No whistle at all.

But Lowry made the shot, anyway.

Lowry and the Raptors will take it, but they didn’t need a break like that against the Wizards’ dismal defense last night. Toronto won, 140-111.