Monday’s NBA: Westbrook wants to be on Thunder
Oklahoma City — Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who has yet to sign an extension, said Monday that Oklahoma City is where he wants to be and he is “happy” about the offseason additions of superstars Carmelo Anthony and Paul George.
“I love it here,” he said. “I like where I’m at, and I like where our team is at.”
George is a four-time All-Star and one of the best defensive wings in the league. Anthony is a 10-time All-Star and remains one of the league’s top scorers. Westbrook, the reigning league MVP, complimented general manager Sam Presti for making the moves.
“He’s done an amazing job and he’s done a great job ever since I’ve been here,” Westbrook said. “He’s constantly doing things to make us better.”
Westbrook said he hasn’t signed because of the birth of his son and a busy travel schedule, and the situation has tempered some of the excitement building around the team. He has until Oct. 16 to ink a contract that would exceed $200 million.
“Just trying to get my family together,” he said. “Having a new son can be a little difficult. Embracing family time before the season starts.”
Westbrook’s relationship with Anthony was critical in the Thunder landing him.
“Me and Russ became closer and closer over the years,” Anthony said. “He was a big part of me coming here. Adding PG (George) was just another reason why I wanted to come here. Just wanted to bring some more energy. Winning a championship in our career is our goal.”
Enes Kanter, who was sent from Oklahoma City to New York as part of the Anthony deal, expects Westbrook to sign.
“He told me how much he loves Oklahoma City and how much he sees Oklahoma City like his family,” Kanter said. “So I think, I feel like he’s going to sign with them. I mean, that’s his legacy. That’s his team and he’s not going to leave his legacy behind.”
George can’t believe the great fortune he has fallen into since being traded from Indiana. He believes his game will work well with Anthony’s.
“Hopefully, Russ and I will both make the game as easy as possible for him,” George said. “We will leave Melo to do what Melo does. It’s to take the pressure off him defensively. I think we will work well together. We are completely different players in my mind, but we both have the same goal and that is to win. He’s ready to win.”
Anthony has averaged 24.8 points in his career. He plans to be a team player, yet still be aggressive.
“I score,” he said. “I can’t take that away from me. I do that very well. I think the team needs that. For the most part I just want to be able to do what I do best.”
Dwyane Wade is about to become a free agent, and he’s hoping that doesn’t last for long.
Wade and the Bulls agreed to terms on a buyout agreement Sunday. Wade is considering several options, including a potential return to Miami or a reunion with longtime friend LeBron James in Cleveland,.
Wade will have other suitors, as well. ESPN reported San Antonio is a possible landing spot.
Wade, speaking to the AP on Sunday night, indicated he wants to get his next deal done quickly.
“I’m going to take tonight and some of tomorrow and speak to the teams or players that are on my list and go from there,” Wade said. “My decision is a pure basketball decision and I’ll make the one that fits me best at this point in my career, and with what I feel I have to offer a team that needs what I have to offer.”
Get to the point
Isaiah Thomas could be running the point for Cleveland by the end of the year.
The All-Star point guard, acquired from Boston this summer in a blockbuster trade, has made progress with his hip injury, and the Cavaliers expect him to be playing games by January.
Thomas has begun running and doing on-court activities as he rehabilitates the injury, which prematurely ended his postseason with the Celtics. Cleveland acquired him in a trade that sent All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to Boston, its biggest challenger in the East.
Thomas doesn’t need surgery. While the Eastern Conference champions have been encouraged by his recovery, they will not rush him back. While he gets healthy, Derrick Rose, another summer acquisition, will start at point guard.
Thomas averaged 28.9 points last season for the Celtics, who sent him along with forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and a 2018 first-round draft to Cleveland.
Thomas is only under contract for the upcoming season and has said in the past he wants a maximum contract.
James speaks out
LeBron James held court as he spoke to the media for ther first time since the NBA Finals.
On former teammate Kyrie Irving, who demanded a trade and was dealt to Boston: “I tried to give him everything and give him as much of the DNA as I could. At some point, when he was ready to take over the keys, I was ready to give them to him.
“So, the only thing I’m upset about is he took a lot of the DNA and a lot of the blueprint to Boston.”
On ex-Miami teammate Wade coming to Cleveland: “I would love to have D-Wade a part of this team. I think he brings another championship pedigree, championship DNA.”