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Steven Adams wrote Kevin Durant didn’t like Thunder drafting him, Durant remembers differently

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Steven Adams has become an anchor in Oklahoma City, one of the best centers in the game, a defensive force in the paint, a beast on the boards, and a guy who sets a strong pick and can roll hard. Plus, he brings an attitude to the court that is part of who the Thunder are.

Durant loved Adams as a teammate… but did it start out that way? In his biography that’s not how Adams remembers it (hat tip ESPN).

The rumor that KD was not happy about the Adams pick has been around since that draft, and he has vehemently (in a NSFW way) denied that was the case.

Who was still on the board when the Thunder took Adams? Looking back, the best player by far is Giannis Antetokounmpo, but he was so raw it was considered a roll-of-the-dice pick at the time at 15. There also was Shabazz Muhammad, Tim Hardaway, Rudy Gobert, Tony Snell, and Kelly Olynyk. Looking back, outside of the Greek Freak the Thunder wouldn’t trade Adams for any of those other picks.

Thunder’s Steven Adams says he whips gross sweaty hair at opponents during games

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Steven Adams delights in making life miserable for opponents.

But I’m not sure we realized how far the Thunder center has gone to do that.

He took questions from kids at his camp, and it proved very informative.

Hamish McNeilly of Stuff:

One had asked Adams how sweaty his hair got during NBA games. The Oklahoma City Thunder player confirmed it got very sweaty and “it is real gross”.

However, when it was tied in a ponytail he used it to his own advantage, flicking the sweat-soaked hair at defenders.

“It whips them in the eye and they get really mad,” he said.

I bet they get really mad!

It’s not understood enough how gross it gets on NBA courts. Players are mostly used to it, but then here comes Adams pushing the envelope even further.

Going against him must be miserable, which is the point.

Report: Thunder trading Carmelo Anthony, first-rounder to Hawks for Dennis Schroder

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The Thunder were going to cut loose Carmelo Anthony.

The Hawks were determined to trade Dennis Schroder.

The 76ers needed a stretch four after Nemanja Bjelica backed out of his deal.

Hence…

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Royce Young of ESPN:

The Thunder save money in this trade next year by going from Anthony to Schroder. But they could have saved far more simply by stretching Anthony themselves.

Stretching Anthony would have meant a cap hit of $9,309,380 each of the next three seasons. Instead, Oklahoma City will pay Schroder $15.5 million each of the next three seasons.

Why increase that financial burden?

Schroder is an intriguing backup to Russell Westbrook and just 24. Even if he’s overpaid and facing the prospect of felony battery charge, he can play. Anthony’s stretched cap hit can’t. Raymond Felton provided steady backup-point guard minutes last season and re-signed, but he’s 34. Oklahoma City can’t rely on him forever.

The Thunder might have viewed Schroder as worth the difference between his salary and Anthony’s stretched cap hit, and there’s some logic to that. But if Oklahoma City tries to flip Schroder down the road, potential trade partners will evaluate his full salary.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot isn’t nothing, either. The 23-year-old former first-rounder is a project with 3-and-D potential.

On the other hand, the Thunder also surrender a potential first-round pick in the deal. And with Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams locked into lucrative contracts, the upcoming season isn’t the only one Oklahoma City must worry about the repeater luxury tax. Schroder’s future salary could become extremely burdensome.

In a pure basketball sense, this trade could make sense for the Thunder. Anthony didn’t fit, and Schroder brings more talent and has a clearer role. Luwawu-Cabarrot has upside. A lottery-protected pick could warrant going from Anthony to Schroder and Luwawu-Cabarrot, though that’s far from certainly worth it.

But I especially wonder about the long-term financial cost. Will Schroder’s salary the following couple years eventually lead ownership to cut costs and shed better players? If Clay Bennett’s willingness to pay extends beyond the following season, more power to him.

And more power to Anthony, who gets all his money and free agency. Expect him to sign with the Rockets once Atlanta waives him.

The Hawks – nowhere near the luxury tax, let alone the repeater tax – could handle waiving Anthony more easily than the Thunder could have. They get a nice draft pick for their trouble – and to unload Schroder.

Schroder was a leftover from the previous Atlanta regime, and Travis Schlenk is ready to build around Trae Young at point guard. Jeremy Lin is the stopgap veteran backup. There was no place for Schroder.

Justin Anderson only adds to the Hawks’ return. It might be getting late quick for the 24-year-old, but he’s strong and athletic. If he improves his shot, he could be a very helpful 3-and-D player. There’s such a premium on wings, it’s well worth betting on developing him – especially for a rebuilding team like Atlanta.

The 76ers have shifted into winning mode, and Mike Muscala should help. He’s a good 3-point shooter for a big and capable of defending inside and out. Philadelphia adds no long-term cost, as Muscala is entering the final year of his contract with a $5 million salary.

The 76ers also clear a roster spot in the 2-for-1 swap, which could lead to last year’s second-rounder, Jonah Bolden, signing.

Report: Carmelo Anthony met with Rockets, Heat as Thunder exit looms

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The Thunder, by stretching him or trading him to another team that will waive him, are dumping Carmelo Anthony.

The Rockets are frontrunners to sign him, but he’ll at least explore the market.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

In advance of an inevitable – if not imminent – parting, the Oklahoma City Thunder granted Carmelo Anthony permission to meet with prospective teams, including the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat, league sources told ESPN.

Anthony and his representatives met with Rockets and Heat officials at the site of the NBA Summer League in recent days, league sources told ESPN.

The Rockets meeting included coach Mike D’Antoni, who had a turbulent relationship with Anthony as New York Knicks coach. D’Antoni made it clear to Anthony that he thinks the circumstances together would be far different in Houston, and welcomed the idea of coaching Anthony again, league sources said.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has been a strong advocate of signing Anthony, who could play a major role for the Heat at power forward.

So, it’s between a coach whom Anthony has resisted before (D’Antoni) and a coach wants to play at Anthony at a position the former star has resisted before (power forward). What a fun battle!

D’Antoni has embraced isolation far more than he did with the Knicks, but that was with James Harden and Chris Paul – not an over-the-hill Anthony. I’m hardly convinced Anthony joining Houston would go well.

Anthony has embraced power forward far more than he did with the Knicks, but that was with Steven Adams doing the dirty work behind him – not Hassan Whiteside as his center. I’m hardly convinced Anthony joining Miami would go well.

But Anthony is convinced staying in Oklahoma City won’t go well, so he’s now exploring other options. Good luck to him finding a good fit.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta says luxury tax not influencing Houston’s offseason

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The Rockets gave Chris Paul a four-year max contract.

But they lost Trevor Ariza (to the Suns on a one-year, $15 million contract) and Luc Mbah a Moute (to the Clippers on a one-year, $4.3 million contract). Houston isn’t rushing to pay restricted free agent Clint Capela, either.

Those departures are major blows to a team trying to compete with the Warriors. Risking Capela signing his qualifying offer, which would make him an unrestricted free agent next summer, could also undermine the Rockets’ long-term future.

These hard-to-swallow decisions all make sense through one lens – money.

Yet…

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

First-year owner Tilman Fertitta adamantly stated that the NBA’s luxury tax is not influencing the Houston Rockets’ offseason decisions.

“We know we’re going to be in the luxury tax, and if you want to compete for a championship, I feel like unless you get real lucky, you’re going to be in the luxury tax,” Fertitta told ESPN before the Rockets’ summer league game Monday against the Clippers. “So it is what it is. … It never even came up in any discussion.”

Sources told ESPN that the Rockets’ initial offer to Capela was in the four-year, $60 million range, with the blossoming star center seeking a deal similar to Oklahoma City Thunder big man Steven Adams‘ four-year, $100 million contract. The Rockets plan to pursue forward Carmelo Anthony after his expected departure from the Thunder via being waived or bought out, league sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

If Tillman’s quote is accurate, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is doing a terrible job. Ariza and Mbah a Moute are far better than any replacements Houston could sign, and with those two proving their willingness to take one-year contracts, there would have been no adverse long-term effects for Houston. Re-signing Ariza and Mbah a Moute would have maximized the Rockets’ performance next season and not at all limited them beyond.

But of course Tillman’s quote is inaccurate. Houston lost Ariza and Mbah Moute and is in greater danger of losing Capela next summer because of the real-dollar costs of assembling such a team.

The Rockets probably won’t escape the luxury tax entirely, though if Capela accepts his qualifying offer, there’s at least a chance. But it’s a matter of degrees, and Fertitta clearly deemed Ariza and Mbah a Moute too expensive to keep. That’s fair. He can run the team as he sees fit, and after sinking so much money into purchasing the franchise, his spending power might be limited.

But it’s silly of him to misrepresent the obvious situation.