Thunder in the news: George rumored return, NBA Finals deja vu

Paul George, OKC Thunder, (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Paul George, OKC Thunder, (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder in the news features Paul George’s rumored return and the NBA hitting the hot tub time machine reset as the finals serve up the sequel – Part IV.

It took 2,460 regular season games and another 154 playoff games to end up right back where the NBA ended June 12th, 2017. Every pundit, analyst and NBA fan could reasonably feel a little duped. If it weren’t for the drama of the Game 7 Conference Finals some might think this was all just a big scripted ploy.

Are Celtics the Warriors East?

An injury riddled Boston Celtics group finally succumbed to being the underdogs oddsmakers  expected entering the postseason. It will be said Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown played outside their abilities. Yet, the truth is the young Celtics played to their culture of defensive toughness. Moreover, the inevitability of Tatum becoming a star is a certainty.

Perhaps they outperformed the ‘better on paper’ 76ers, but fully healthy these Celtics are much like the moniker of their second year guard Rozier – SCARY. Suffice to say baring LeBron James forming a Warriors East  the future in the Conference will run through Boston. Moreover, with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back the Celtics might already be the Dubs East.

While the NBA concentrates on pace and space the Celtics might be way ahead of the next trend. With a roster chock full of lengthy, athletic wings the potential for defense to return to center stage is palpable.

But for the best player in the NBA coolly delivering a full 48 minute demonstration of perfection the Celtics might still be active. Don’t discount the fear dynamic of the King as a contributing factor. Just ask the Toronto Raptors who know all too well, what repeated humiliation can do to a psyche.

Disappearing Three and Structured ‘D’ decides the West:

Meanwhile, the teams who pushed the current trend of space and pace served up seven teeter totter matches with defense ruling the series outcome. The added delight (or angst depending on your position) of witnessing former OKC Thunder players James Harden and Kevin Durant facing one another was a nice consolation prize. TI writer and passionate OKC fan Stephen Dolan offered up his preference for Monday’s outcome. Like many in Thunder Nation any final’s outcome offering KD another title was unpalatable.

Loyal readers of this column know I was in the opposite camp, albeit with a preference for a quick Rockets oust. Don’t misconstrue, I’m not secretly harboring Golden Fever. Rather, it simply plays into my long shot of the Morey to Presti offseason phone call for a certain hooded man. With the Warriors win, this option remains plausible. Especially since James Harden again had issues in ‘the big game’.

My pregame prediction bore out although Curry caused some initial angst (3 of 10 by the half). In the third quarter, Curry was the spark which ignited the comeback engine. In the frame he collected six rebounds, dished three assists and scored 14 points on 5 of 6 field goals (4 of 5 from deep). Despite playing 44 minutes Curry got stronger as the game progressed. His three point efficiency offers evidence as he began 1 of 6 from deep, but finished 6 of 9 (7-15).

Conversely, the Rockets bread and perimeter butter failed them as the team shot 7 of 44 (15.9%). Harden (2 of 13) and Gordon (2 of 12) had a particularly difficult evening behind the arc. Harden hit his second triple 3:39 seconds into the game and missed his next 11 attempts. PJ Tucker was the lone Rocket to connect on a trey in the second half as the team went 1 for 21.

Part IV:

And so the finals will tip off with  installment four of the Cavaliers versus the Warriors. This time the Cavaliers roster is significantly different than a season ago. The key constant of course being LeBron James. The undisputed best player of the League is playing at a level unseen perhaps ever, even for him and specifically offensively. Conversely, the Warriors return with their core intact.

More from Thunderous Intentions

Golden State has registered consecutive playoff victories, but they’ve yet to string together consecutive games featuring their best. The question entering the rematch is whether they’ll be challenged enough given Cleveland’s defensive issues and lack of offensive options. LeBron will be LeBron, but the Warriors are a completely different beast than any of the Cav’s previous playoff foes.

Golden State are the early favorites (by a wide margin of  -1100). Yet, If these playoffs provided any insight, it’s not to assume anything. Still, barring major injuries or blatant whistles it should be a safe bet to select the Dubs.

Once again, a quick ugly oust of the Cavaliers could end up paying dividends for the OKC Thunder. Firstly, James will be more likely to depart for a team with cap space. This, in order to allow for  additional recruitment or enable a sign and trade. Second, he’ll want to align with a team who has existing stars and is a serious contender. If James is sincere about wanting to assemble the banana boat buddies for a title run this also behooves OKC in terms of shedding Melo.

Paul George’s agent drops a bomb to the delight of Thunder Nation:

Continuing down the path of player options, free agency and the offseason, the most recent rumor has Paul George re-signing with OKC. Unlike the typical “unnamed sources” this intel comes courtesy of George’s agent.

TI scribe Jordan Buckamneer details why the current rumors offered up by PG’s agent himself ( Aaron Mintz) make logical sense.

But, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports dishes fans will believe what they want to believe.

"But throughout the season, George seemingly went out of his way to profess his affection for Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder. That only raised expectations in Oklahoma City of George staying, and if he leaves after doing that, he’d be inviting even more backlash. I think he’s smart enough to understand that, which is why I thought he made those especially strong pro-Thunder comments only after deciding he’d likely stay."

It’s logical. OKC Thunder want him to return, so positive statements or signs can be used to form a self serving argument. Being in this camp of course OKC want to believe Paul George learned from his previous and other stars mistakes. Plus, the combination of PG having the OKC Thunder medical team on hand for his procedures, his unsolicited positive OKC statements and his seeming burgeoning relationship with Westbrook all are practical arguments to make.

Next: Jaren Jackson Jr. prospect profile – Quintessential modern big

For the moment however, OKC Thunder fans will have to bide their time until the moratorium.