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#pounditSaturday, April 10, 2021

Articles tagged: Oklahoma City Thunder

Meyers Leonard waived by Thunder week after trade

Meyers Leonard

Meyers Leonard will soon be looking for a new team.

The 29-year-old big man was waived by the Thunder on Thursday.

The move comes a week after Leonard was traded to Oklahoma City as part of the Trevor Ariza deal. OKC also received a second-round pick as part of the trade.

Leonard was never expected to report to the Thunder, so this outcome was anticipated. The big man is under a suspension from the NBA for using an anti-Semitic slur during a livestream of a video game.

Perhaps Leonard will catch on with another team as time passes. He averaged 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in under 10 minutes per game for the Heat this season.

George Hill traded to 76ers in three-team deal

George Hill

The Philadelphia 76ers were at one point viewed as the favorite to land Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline, but it appears they are settling for George Hill instead.

Hill has been traded to the Sixers from the Oklahoma City Thunder as part of a three-way deal involving the New York Knicks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Austin Rivers is headed to OKC as part of the deal. Here are the full details:

The Sixers were said to be one of three finalists for Kyle Lowry along with the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. Hill is a less expensive option and was likely a backup plan when Philly was unable to work out a deal for Lowry with the Toronto Raptors.

Hill has averaged 11.8 points in just 14 games this season. However, the 34-year-old has valuable postseason experience. His teams have been to the conference finals numerous times, and he was part of the 2018 Cleveland Cavaliers team that reached the NBA Finals.

At least one other team was reportedly interested in acquiring Hill.

Trevor Ariza traded from Thunder to Heat for Meyers Leonard

Trevor Ariza

The Miami Heat are adding some help for the stretch run, and they’ve parted with a notable name to do so.

As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Heat have acquired forward Trevor Ariza from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder will receive a second-round pick in 2027, as well as suspended center Meyers Leonard. Leonard is not expected to join the Thunder after being dealt.

Ariza has not played a game in over a year, having opted out of the Orlando bubble as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Thunder acquired him in the offseason, and he did not report to the rebuilding organization. The Heat will probably have to get him back in game shape, but the veteran could be a valuable contributor down the stretch.

Leonard is currently suspended after using an anti-Semitic slur on a video game stream. It’s not clear what his NBA future holds, but it does not appear it will be with Oklahoma City.

Look: Thunder change uniforms at halftime after total disaster

Thunder Hawks uniform

The Oklahoma City Thunder had to change uniforms at halftime of their game on Friday night after their opponents wore the wrong jerseys.

The Thunder were facing the Atlanta Hawks. OKC wore their orange jerseys. The Hawks were wearing their red jerseys. The result was a lot of uniform confusion on the court.

Typically only one team wears their color uniforms and the other wears white to avoid such confusion.

According to the Thunder, the Hawks were in the wrong uniforms but could not switch because they didn’t have alternatives. So that’s why the Thunder changed.

“The Hawks are wearing the incorrect uniform color for the game. The league process of inputting uniform colors should have caught the orange/red combo, but because the Hawks only have red uniforms on the trip, the Thunder will switch to white,” a spokesperson said.

We’d like to say that this sort of thing isn’t common, but unfortunately we’ve seen plenty of errors like this, including one just two months ago.

Damian Lillard trolls Thunder with his new shoe

Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard’s playoff buzzer-beater against the Oklahoma City Thunder was one of the coldest shots in NBA history. Now the moment is being further immortalized.

The Portland Trail Blazers star released a new shoe with Adidas this week. The sneaker comes in Thunder colors of orange and blue in reference to his series-winning shot against them in the 2019 playoffs. The insole also notes his stat line from that game of 50 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

Lillard’s shot was the most memorable moment of a deep playoff run for the Blazers that year. They made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. That is the furthest that Lillard has ever been in the postseason as well as the furthest that Portland has gone since 2000.

Some may say that Lillard is lame for continuing to celebrate what amounts to a first-round victory. But the shot completely splintered the Thunder as we know them. Only Hamidou Diallo, who was not even active during the series, is still on the team from that year. Lillard still very much enjoys trolling other former members of that OKC squad as well.

Grading the Lakers’ trade for Dennis Schroder from the Thunder

Dennis Schroder

The Los Angeles Lakers took a massive stride forward in their quest to repeat as NBA champions after agreeing to acquire Dennis Schroder from the Oklahoma City Thunder. A lightning-quick point-guard with the ability to stop on a dime and effortlessly elevate into his vastly improved jumper, Schroder has become one of the premier sparkplug scoring options in the NBA.

As Sam Presti and the Thunder look to stockpile future first-round picks, the return package of the 28th pick in this year’s notoriously weak draft class (Jaden McDaniels) plus the shell of Danny Green could be considered light for one of the best sixth men in the NBA. For Oklahoma City, the trade represents the seemingly long-overdue start to the rebuild many felt was inevitable after trading Russell Westbrook and Paul George last offseason. With just one year remaining on his contract, Green is an obvious candidate to be a part of a future deal as the Thunder continue to amass future assets.

Biggest Winner: Dennis Schroder

After playing the best basketball of his life this season with the Thunder, Schroder now has the chance to continue to redefine his narrative while playing on the biggest stage of his career. Once perceived as a player capable of putting up gaudy individual statistics without enhancing his team’s chance at winning, Schroder rounded out his game and became a far more balanced player this year. This improvement was due to his commitment to the defensive end of the court, while also exercising better judgment on his shot selection offensively.

Despite mid-range shots falling out of vogue around the league due to the rise of the analytic movement, Schroder and the Thunder proved there’s still tremendous value to be had in such shots. As a team, Oklahoma City shot the highest percentage on mid-range jumpers this season at 46.9 percent. Their 464 made representing the fifth-highest total in the league. Schroder finished in the 97th percentile for guards on long mid-range jumpers attempted (jump shots taken past the free-throw line but in front of the 3-point line) while converting on a very efficient 46.8 percent of them.

For as good as Schroder was offensively this season, his improvements as a defender were arguably more paramount for his progression as a player. Despite only standing 6-foot-1, Schroder was frequently utilized to guard larger players thanks to his 6-foot-8 wingspan. One of the best plays from Schroder’s season perfectly highlights that newfound defensive intensity.

Schroder started that play on Marcus Smart, but once he saw Kemba Walker turn back towards his own baseline, he immediately brought the double team. In an instant, Walker found himself in a position no ball-handler wants to be in, trapped between Schroder and Chris Paul. Schroder then relied on his long-reach to cleanly swipe the ball from Walker and glide in for the easy game-sealing lay-up.

Oklahoma City displayed an uncanny ability to win seemingly impossible games all season, with Schroder’s fingerprints all over some of the team’s most memorable plays. With a sixth-man extraordinaire capable of delivering moments like the play below, the defending champs are going to be even tougher next season.

Trade Grades:
Los Angeles Lakers: A
Oklahoma City Thunder: C

Here’s how many draft picks Thunder have after Chris Paul trade

Sam Presti

The Oklahoma City Thunder have seen numerous star players leave via free agency and trade in recent years, but it would be an understatement to say they have plenty to show for it.

The Thunder entered an obvious rebuilding phase last year when they traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets and Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers. They acquired Chris Paul in the Westbrook deal, which allowed them to remain competitive while also having their younger players learn from a future Hall of Famer. Now that OKC traded Paul to the Phoenix Suns on Monday, what is left?

Draft picks — so many draft picks. If there were a course on stockpiling first-round NBA Draft picks, Thunder general manager Sam Presti would be the instructor. Once the CP3 deal is complete, Oklahoma City will own the rights to 16 first-round draft picks over the next six years. That’s right, 16. Here’s a breakdown:

Trading star players is never easy to sell to fans. But in an era where NBA superstars basically have the power to force trades whenever they please, Presti has done a masterful job of maximizing the return.

The Thunder should be able to build through the draft, but they also have the flexibility of being able to trade first-round picks for star players if the opportunity arises. Ownership has to be pleased with Presti, and rightfully so.

Chris Paul traded to Suns from Thunder

Chris Paul

NBA teams were allowed to make trades beginning on Monday, and the Oklahoma City Thunder wasted no time moving Chris Paul.

Paul has been traded to the Phoenix Suns in a deal that also involves Ricky Rubio, according to multiple reports. The trade will send Paul and Abdel Nader to Phoenix in exchange for for Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and a 2022 first-round pick.

There were reports last week that the Suns had conversations with the Thunder about Paul, but it was unclear if CP3 would be receptive to playing for Phoenix. The 35-year-old wants to play for a contender, so there was some question about whether he felt the Suns qualify as one. Apparently he does.

The Suns are not considered one of the better teams in the NBA, but they went 8-0 in the NBA Bubble in Orlando and may be turning a corner. A recent report claimed Devin Booker wants out of Phoenix, but the trade for Paul could, and likely will, change that.

Paul, 35, is set to make $85 million over the next two years. He averaged 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game last season, proving he is still capable of producing.

Mark Daigneault promoted to head coach of Thunder

Thunder logo

The Oklahoma City Thunder are promoting from within to fill their head coaching vacancy, as former assistant Mark Daigneault will be named the team’s next head coach.

Daigneault has reached an agreement with the Thunder to replace former head coach Billy Donovan, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Daigneault, 35, has been with the Thunder for six years. He spent five seasons as the OKC Blue’s G-League coach, compiling a winning percentage of .572 and winning three division titles. He was an assistant under Donovan last season when the Thunder earned the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Wojnarowski reports that Thunder general manager Sam Presti is excited over Daigneault’s proven track record with the organization and the connection he has made with players. Oklahoma City could have as many as 15 first-round picks in the next seven drafts, and they are trying to rebuild with a younger roster.

Now that the Thunder have hired a 35-year-old coach with no prior NBA head coaching experience, the next logical move may be to trade Chris Paul. Paul is set to earn $85 million over the next two seasons, and we know of at least one team that has expressed interest in acquiring him.

How Chris Paul and the Oklahoma City Thunder defied all expectations this season

Chris Paul

When the clock struck zero in Game 7 of the Oklahoma City Thunder-Houston Rockets series, no one was in more agony than Chris Paul. Throughout the series, Paul’s leadership was a constant topic of discussion. The discussions all mirrored a similar sentiment about how impressive Paul’s “comeback season” was and how the Thunder defied the infamous preseason projections that gave them just a 0.2 percent chance to make the playoffs. For the NBA community, pushing the Rockets to a nail-biting Game 7 was reason enough to celebrate for the overperforming Thunder. For Paul, however, there was only agony.

Here we will examine how the Thunder went from a team few expected to succeed this season to one that surpasses nearly all expectations.