January 23, 2023
It’s entirely possible that multiple things can be true at the same time. For instance, the Lakers are a poorly constructed team, that’s old and brittle. However, it’s also true that the West Conference stinks right now, and that some good health and a trade can put the Lakers in the mix to be more than competitive this season. That’s been very evident in the Lakers last two wins against the Grizzlies and Blazers. Regardless of which truth you are more focused on, it’s highly likely that the Laker front office and ownership way of thinking is in the wrong place right now. They’ve been behaving as though they have no intention of doing anything to improve this team by trading future 1st round picks. That may be because they want to get under the repeater tax this summer, or because they foolishly think a star will become available they can trade picks for, or maybe they are just punishing Lebron James for wanting to play with Russell Westbrook. Whatever the case is, it’s simply a foolish way of thinking when you have Lebron James and Anthony Davis on your team. This is not how an organization with a Championship pedigree should be behaving. At this point, Shannon Sharpe has done more for the Lakers this season than Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss. I expect much better from both of them, especially Jeanie.
Meanwhile, despite winning yesterday, the Clippers are hovering around .500 themselves, and are trying to figure out how to establish some consistency. One of the biggest pieces of this inconsistency that hasn’t been talked about much is their defense. The Clippers have collapsed to the 4th worst defense in the NBA in the last two months, largely unable to force turnovers and using lineups with smaller and smaller guards. That’s also made them one of the worst teams at defending the rim, with opponents shooting 70% within 6 feet in the last month. This was supposed to be a team with an enormous amount of depth, plenty of switchable wings, and two of the most elite wing defenders in the game. Instead, their two elite wings aren’t able to even practice, and their roster construction has actually created a hole in their front court. This team is supposedly playing for the playoffs, but at this point they may not even be there, and when they do, it’s hard to imagine them suddenly being prepared to play at a high level for them.
To college hoops where is was bound to happen sometime. UCLA finally lost a game, after winning 14 in a row. The Bruins lost to Arizona on the road, despite putting up a fierce rally in the final minutes. The good news though is that this team is still in 1st place in the Pac-12, and still has a shot at a #1 seed in the tournament if things break right for them. They still have their issues to work through, and most of these are offensive. They could use another shot creator, and once Amari Bailey comes back that will help enormously. It will also allow David Singleton to return to his role of 6th man, and one of the best in the nation at the role, giving the team much more firepower of the bench.
To the NFL playoffs, where we learned this weekend that Patrick Mahomes is better on one leg that 90% of NFL quarterbacks are on two legs. The Jags were no match for the Chiefs, but they do have a good one in Trevor Lawrence that they can feel good about building around. We also learned that Daniel Jones wears contacts, and that somebody in his circle must hate him for not telling him about Lasik. That looked like a hell of a problem when the Giants took a beating from the Eagles on Saturday night. I have no idea how Joe Burrow was able to play as well as he did in the Bengals win over the Bills. It’s amazing he could be that good with Tony Romo swinging from his nuts for four quarters. After losing to the 49ers, Dak Prescott threw his helmet in disgust, but it was intercepted. Tough loss for the Cowboys, and the nice play at the end of the game to get your receiver anihilated in the middle of the field when you needed a Hail Mary.
We’ve waited an entire week and sure enough, Brandon Staley is still employed by the Chargers. He’s not going anywhere folks. The players have also said that they support him. However, what else would you expect them to say? You think if you ask Justin Herbert what he thinks of Sean Payton, he wouldn’t be thrilled to have him as his next coach? This is typical Dean Spanos. They don’t have the stomach to pay two coaches, and they don’t have the guts to be bold and make such a big move. How many years are we going to say “The Charger have arguably the best roster in the NFL”, only to underachieve for various reasons. Brandon Staley is a huge reason why they can’t fulfill that potential.
Finally, the LA Kings rollercoaster ride of a season continued yesterday in Chicago, picking up a win and jumping back into 3rd place in the Pacific Division. It’s clear that the Kings biggest weakness right now is on defense and in goal. They seem to still be riding Phoenix Copley, although he had a couple of rough outings last week. He’s had a nice start, but it’s very hard for me to believe his elite play is sustainable. Jonathan Quick is currently the Kings backup goalie, he hasn’t played great so far this season, and the team seems to play even worse with him in net. Then there’s Cal Petersen who has been awful, on an awful contract, and currently in the minors. Petersen was supposed to be the goalie of the future. Acquiring a goaltender at the trade deadline will be difficult given the investments the Kings have in the goaltender position, so their best chance to improve is by acquiring a big and physical defenseman, that can play in different situations.