Paul George is back. Now what for the Oklahoma City Thunder?

George’s return, considered a huge long shot when the Thunder acquired him from the Indiana Pacers this time a year ago, creates what can safely be categorized as good problems for Oklahoma City. Maxing out George and re-signing key reserve Jerami Grant will push the Thunder far over the luxury-tax line. Worse yet, Oklahoma City would be paying the tax for the fourth time in five years, meaning it would join the more punitive category of repeat taxpayers.
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There are few easy options for the Thunder to cut payroll. The one exception would be waiving Kyle Singler and stretching the remaining $5 Aaron Lynch Jersey million guaranteed on his contract over the next five seasons, reducing his cap hit to a little less than $1 million. Doing so and filling Singler’s roster spot with a player signed for the veteran’s minimum would shave nearly $15 million off the Oklahoma City tax bill and save the team about $17 million overall.

Beyond that, the Thunder would likely have to trade rotation players to save money next season. Alex Abrines ($5.5 million in the final season of his contract) and Patrick Patterson ($5.5 million, with a $5.7 million player option for 2019-20) could be replaced more cheaply in free agency, but both played regular minutes last season and Patterson in particular may be difficult to trade without giving up draft-pick compensation.

Red Sox: Right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg is expected back this week after rehabbing from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome last June.

Yankees: Higashioka started at catcher for Austin Romine, who exited Saturday’s game with tightness in his left hamstring. A Jonnu Smith Jersey precautionary MRI was negative, and Romine was available off the bench. He could return to the lineup Monday night against Atlanta. Romine has been filling in for All-Star backstop Gary Sanchez (groin), who might be able to come off the disabled list right after the All-Star break July 20-22 against the Mets. … GM Brian Cashman said if everything goes well, RHP Masahiro Tanaka (two strained hamstrings) will make a minor league rehab start this week and rejoin the Yankees early next week in Baltimore — perhaps in time to pitch in a July 9 doubleheader.

Red Sox: Three interleague games at Washington, where RHP Rick Porcello (9-3, 3.60 ERA) faces former Detroit teammate Max Scherzer (10-4, 2.04) in a matchup of the 2016 Cy Young Award winners Monday night. With no DH in the National League park, Cora said slugger J.D. Martinez will probably start two games in the outfield. Same for CF Jackie Bradley Jr. and LF Andrew Benintendi as they rotate.