Monthly Archives: June 2023

Monday Morning Coffee

June 26, 2023

The Lakers had an interesting but uneventful draft night last week.  I think Jessie and Joey Buss have earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt on their picks because they have been so good for years.  I never want to hear the names Myles Turner and Buddy Hield again.  If the Pacers haven’t traded them to LA yet they aren’t going to.  I think the Lakers should strongly consider picking up the option for Malik Beasley.  They need his shooting, and he’s an expiring contract that could still have value later.  The Lakers should have a good chance at retaining most of their team from last season once free agency starts, but any upgrades from last season aren’t likely to come in free agency.  Brook Lopez would be a great fit next to AD, but he will probably be out of their price range, especially when you consider what Naz Reid got.

As for the Clippers, I was somewhat shocked to hear that they were shopping Paul George around the league to gauge his value.  Not because Steve Ballmer hasn’t been bold before, but because of the timing.  The Clippers are going into a new arena after next season, and selling seats is what matters.  They can’t risk putting anything on the floor that suggests they aren’t trying to compete for titles.  This tells you though that the Clippers front office is getting tired of the “we’re a championship team if Kawhi and Paul stay healthy” narrative.   It also explains the rumors of Ty Lue being uninterested in an extension.  Unfortunately for them, as they probably learned last week, Paul George isn’t going to get them Pascal Siakam, Damian Lillard, or even the #3 pick in this years draft.  What will be more interesting through is how the Clippers handle potential extension talks later this summer with Kawhi and PG because they may play hard ball and include incentive clauses based on number of games played.  For the time being though, my expectation is they will keep the Kawhi and PG duo together, because it seems like their best alternative.

If there’s one dude I feel bad for it’s Chris Paul.  He’s gets traded to Washington in a salary dump, then instead of getting bought out to choose his own team, he gets traded to the Warriors in another salary dump.   The good news for him is that he’s closer to his family and he’s going to be guaranteed nearly $30 million this season.  The bad news is his fit with the Warriors is like a square peg in a round hole.  They play fast and he plays slow.  They need size, depth, and youth.  He’s small, eats up their depth with his contract and old.  This also goes to show you how crazy the new CBA is.  Paying more than two stars is going to be very difficult.  If you’re one of those two, you better be producing at an elite level.  If not, you will always be trade bait.  Just ask Marcus Smart who is one of the best defenders in the NBA, and he got traded to Memphis, with Kristaps Porzingas going to Boston.  I thought the Wizards committed basketball malpractice when they traded Bradley Beal, but now it’s even worse after this trade.  They’ve traded their two best players and not a single first round pick to show for it.

It was a very big week for UCLA basketball players, so congratulations to all of them, and to the Bruins program for having three players drafted and two more signed as free agents.  Jaime Jaquez was drafted in the 1st round, #18 overall by the Houston Rockets.  Amari Bailey was drafted at #41 by the Charlotte Hornets in the 2nd round.  Jaylen Clark was drafted at #53 by the Timberwolves, not just in the 2nd round, but during a commercial about shaving your pubes.   Then Tyger Campbell was signed by the Magic as an undrafted free agent summer league deal, and David Singleton was signed by the Atlanta Hawks.   That’s some massive turnover for the Bruins basketball team, but something tells me Mick Cronin will find a way to re-tool in another year.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. greets NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

In baseball, I know everybody wants to talk about Shohei Ohtani and the Dodgers after they played the Angels last week, but I’m more focused on how the team is playing now.  The Dodgers have slid down the standings quite a bit the last few weeks, but in the past 7 days they’ve found the win column more frequently.  They took 2 of 3 from the Astros over the weekend.  I hope they beat the Astros on a controversial call every time they play each other for the rest of time, which would at least be some justice.  They are also creeping back up the NL West standings and getting healthier.  Julio Urias and Max Muncy should be back from the IL this week.  In about 5 weeks from now, I expect this team to look closer to one of the best in the NL like they did a few weeks ago.  I don’t expect their bullpen issues to be fixed by then, so that is what I’m expecting Andrew Friedman to fix at the deadline, including having a real closer by then too.

Then there’s the conundrum that is the Angels.  Is the glass half empty or half full?  They got swept by the Dodgers, then lost 2 of 3 to the Rockies.  There’s nothing like scoring 25 runs on one night, then the next day, not being able to hit a pitcher with an era of 7.  Good thing they played Luis Rengifo over red hot newly acquired Mike Moustakas.  Rengifo couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat right now.  Other than Saturday, the offense was abysmal all week.  Is this a playoff team? Well they are certainly in the hunt, but it’s weeks like last week that make you think you are really just watching the same poorly run Angels baseball team.

Finally, Memo to Kings GM Rob Blake.  There is still time to pull out of this stupid trade you are about to make! You do not need to another forward that can score.  You need goaltending, grit, and defense.  If the Kings end up acquiring Pierre-Luc Dubois, it’s going to cost you two very good young forwards, one of whom is younger, arguably better, and probably cheaper for the next 3 years than Dubois.  This is about to be one massive mistake that is going to take years to overcome, and will cost you the resources you need to get the improvements you really need.  When this happens, and Wikipedia already jumped the gun and said it has, it will be like buying a Ferrari when you need to fix the leak in your kitchen sink and the roof over your head.

Monday Morning Coffee

June 19, 2023

Don’t freak out Laker fans.  The Suns didn’t build a super team.  Bradley Beal, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker can score, but they defend as well as a parked car.  The Suns will also have nothing but Uber drivers to fill out the rest of their team.  The three star model is outdated.  It no longer works in today’s NBA where players are less durable, and depth is important with a more restrictive CBA.  The point is, don’t over think this.  The Lakers should just try to re-sign as many dudes as possible and try to run it back.  If they can add CP3 for the minimum along with all that then even better. You can’t overestimate the value of having continuity, and as long as the Lakers think that way, they will be in good shape heading into next year.

You’ve gotta feel bad for the Wizards and their new front office. They weren’t the ones that gave Bradley Beal that no-trade clause and that horrible contract. You can argue that Beal is expensive, injury-prone, and in decline somewhat, but the return was still awful. Were it not for the no-trade clause the Department of Justice would probably be filing a suit for Basketball Malpractice against the Wizards. When you really think about it though, the return was so bad, what was the point of really trading him now? Maybe further down the road he might have further expanded his list of teams or increased his trade value.

As for the Clippers, there’s more news around Ty Lue that broke last week. Lue and the Clippers will reportedly be unlikely to agree on a contract extension before the season. That means he is likely to be a free agent coach next off-season. This tells you that Lue wants to see if his stars are going to be committed to playing more games and not load managing games like they are 1099 employees. He may also not want to get stuck in a rebuilding situation if Kawhi or PG leave the Clippers next off-season. The Athletic is also reporting that the Clippers are trying acquire Raptors forward Pascal Siakam. While they don’t have much draft capital to give up, it did make me wonder if the Clippers would be willing to deal Paul George for Siakam, since he may be a slightly better fit and miss fewer games.

To baseball, where it’s been nothing but trouble for the Dodgers the past two weeks, especially after getting swept by the Giants at home. The pitching is stunningly 25th out of 30 teams in the MLB this season, owning a 4.66 mark that would be the highest in franchise history since 1944. The rotation has struggled with injuries and depth, and the bullpen is a complete tire fire. That’s not the only problem either. They need a productive middle infielder and more consistency from their outfield outside of Mookie. There’s no way all of this can be fixed by the trade deadline. Their best hope is that the starting rotation gets healthier come July, they find a reliver or two for cheap at the deadline, and they convert either Dustin May or Julio Urias to a high leverage or closer for the remainder of the season. The latter seems like the most unlikely, with Urias ticketed for free agency, and May with health concerns that could prevent him from making a transition. Everyone wants to talk about Ohtani and all this isn’t a big deal if the Dodgers get him. However, do you really want to spend $600 million or more on one guy? How has that approach worked for the Angels the past decade? That’s 2-4 really good players you could get for that price, and in baseball, one guy can only move the needle so far.

Dodgers reliever Alex Vesia walks to the dugout during a loss to the Washington Nationals on May 31.

Speaking of Ohtani and the Angels, they took 2 of 3 from the Royals over the weekend, and are right in the thick of the AL playoff race. Ohtani has been spectacular, and Mike Trout even came out of his slump over the weekend, going back-to-back with Ohtani yesterday. It’s actually somewhat remarkable the Angels are where they are because Trout has struggled a bit, Anthony Rendon stinks, and the starting pitching has been middle of the road. However, the bullpen has been a strong point, and the Halos have gotten hot the past few weeks. They’ve got 17 games before the All-Star Break. If they can just go 11-6 before the break and get to 50-52 wins by then, they’ll be sitting pretty. I still think the responsible thing to do if Ohtani doesn’t commit to coming back next season is to trade him, but we know Arte Moreno will never do this.

Last week USC announced long-awaited plans to build a three-level, football-only performance center that includes a second, full-length practice field alongside its current practice field, a new locker room, new weight and training rooms, multiple player lounges and a rooftop hospitality deck, among other amenities meant to garner the attention of recruits and set USC apart from other blue blood programs. Lincoln Riley is correct, you can’t underestimate the value of these type of facilities in College Football recruiting today. This was actually brought up by a former Notre Dame assistant coach that is now at LSU, who said the facilities at LSU and the SEC are on another level compared to others, and that matters to kids selecting schools today.

A conceptual artist sketch of the planned USC football performance center.

Memo to Rams Executive Kevim Demoff: chill out on the Nuggets gear. I get that your boss, Stan Kronke owns the NBA Champion Denver Nuggets, but you know this is a Laker town. The public doesn’t need to see you in Nuggets gear, especially after they beat the Lakers, and you know the fan bases overlap. You can wear your Nuggets gear when you go to your bosses house, not in public!

Finally, the Chargers schedule is a problem. They have the earliest bye week, week 5. For a team that has been hit with the injury bug annually, it would have been far better for them to have the bye much later in the season. The Bolts will also have to play 6 games in primetime, but oddly enough none of them are against Kansas City. Since Justin Herbert took over as the starter, his five games against Patrick Mahomes have been decided by three, six, six, three and three points. The Chargers are 1-4 in those contests. That is literally the difference between the Bolts getting much better playoff positioning than previous years, or even winning the division.

Monday Morning Coffee

June 12, 2023

Can we just get to the off-season already? The NBA rumors are heating up.  The latest of course is around Chris Paul, and him signing with the Lakers if the Suns waive him.  I like CP3 personally, and having him on the team would be fun, but I don’t want to rely on him given his age and health.  If he wants to sign for the minimum and be a guard in a rotation with D-Lo, Austin, and Dennis, then he could be a nice veteran presence with upside.  However, if I’m signing him to for more money than that, and asking him to play 30 minutes a game, I’m asking for trouble. I know he’s friends with Lebron and I know his dream has always been to play for the Lakers, but this isn’t Disneyland; the Lakers aren’t in the business of making dreams comes true. If it’s not on the Lakers terms, move on. Keep it simple Rob Pelinka.  Bring back as many pieces of the team from last season as you can.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to envision the Clippers off-season being very eventful.  Trent Redon is now their new GM, which nobody knows anything about or cares, because it’s the Clippers.  The core of their team is under contract next year, so for better or worse they don’t have many questions.  Only whether or not they will bring back Russell Westbrook.  He looks like a guy who doesn’t want to leave LA because of his family, and I think the Clips would be willing to keep him at a reasonable price.  I personally would not bring back the Kawhi-PG duo if there was a way to move on, but I think the Clips are too afraid to do so. They are afraid all 6 of their fans won’t pay any attention to them anymore.

To baseball, where the Dodger pitching has been falling apart.  The Boys in Blue have lost 6 of their last 8, and what is usually the strength of their team is far from it this year.  Clayton Kershaw and rookie Bobby Miller are the only reliable starters, but after that it’s just a bunch of dudes with baseball gloves.  Julio Urias, Dustin May, and Walker Buehler are injured, Tony Gonsolin is a shell of last years version, and Noah Syndergaard is a total disaster and at this point needs to be DFA’d. The bullpen is also a complete dumpster fire, and not having a true closer has caught up with them in the past week. There’s probably not just one trade that can fix all this at the deadline, but their starting pitching will probably get healthier, and their offense is good enough. Andrew Friedman and his computer should do what they can to try and re-tool their bullpen and even find a closer. Only three teams have a worse bullpen than the Dodgers in all of baseball, which is a sure fire recipe for post season disaster.

As for the Angels, they are staying afloat, winners of 6 of the last 7 games. Shohei Ohtani has been on fire lately, and Zach Neto hit a pair of homers yesterday. In the bigger picture though, every success with this team has been offset by a disappointment. Ohtani’s brilliance is offset by Mike Trout’s inability to hit with runners in scoring position. Zach Neto’s emergence as a solid shortstop is offset by the loss of Logan O’Hoppe to injury. Their bullpen has been solid, but Anthony Rendon still isn’t earning his paycheck, and making stupid statements. Yes Anthony, we know the Angels haven’t been very good and neither have you, but sometimes you have to have the self awareness to know it’s not you that should be saying this. I still think if the Halos really think they have a shot at keeping Ohtani, they need to be buyers at the deadline and do everything to make the playoffs. Otherwise, it would be foolish not to trade him and get something for him.

Has anyone looked at the UCLA and USC Football Big Ten schedule in 2024? UCLA and USC will each travel more than 15,000 miles roundtrip in conference play during their inaugural Big Ten season. In 2024 alone, the Bruins will travel to Rutgers, which is more than 4,800 miles roundtrip, while USC travels to Maryland and Penn State, each of which are more than 4,400 miles roundtrip.  If having to adjust to a cross-country schedule for conference play wasn’t bad enough, UCLA also plays nonconference road games at Hawaii and LSU. USC has a brutal travel schedule, having to go visit the East Coast twice for matchups with Penn State and Maryland. All this travel better earn them lots of frequent flier miles with whatever crummy domestic airline they choose. It’s insanity, but all they can hope for is that there are more teams that make a super conference shortly that will reduce the travel over time. Otherwise, they will be at a significant disadvantage in all their sports, not just football.

Also notable in College Football is the news that Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbick is going to be retiring in 2024, and that he will be replaced by NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua. Bevacqua’s background is very interesting that he’s a TV executive, which tells you how important sports media rights are for Notre Dame. The timing is also very interesting, given all the talk about Notre Dame joining a conference. Swarbick has always insisted that it’s been important for the Irish to maintain their Independence from both a competitive and media perspective. I can only assume before Swarbick steps down, Bevacqua will be aligned, especially if he’s coming from NBC.

The LA Kings are making moves. The just traded goalie Cal Peterson, opening up $5 million of cap space, which gives them $13 million to spend. Moving Cal was important because anyone named “Cal” should be running an auto dealership rather than playing goaltender in the NHL. Of course after re-signing some of their own free agents, they badly need a solid goaltender. The most sensible thing for them to do would be to do this through the trade market, because the free agent market doesn’t have any elite goalies. Actually, Connor Hellebucyck is available, and is one of the best goalies in hockey. The Kings need goaltending and defense badly. They got so used to Jonathan Quick being dominant for a decade, they didn’t have to worry about the position. Now they do, and it’s time to address it in a meaningful way if they intend to compete for Stanley Cups again, and Hellebuyck would be the guy to get them there.

Finally, the LIV Tour announced it will be merging with the PGA last week. That lasted shorter than the career of Vanilla Ice. I can’t begrudge any of those golfers that took those fat paydays from the Saudi’s. Money is money, and most of us would take it if we had the chance. With that being said, it’s probably a good idea that all these golfers who took the money shut their mouth and don’t try to explain anything related to 9/11 or justify it. It was the worst day in American history and always will be. There’s overwhelming evidence that the Saudi’s were involved in funding 9/11 and that fact can’t take away how some Americans feel about them, especially those families directly affected. I’m mostly talking to you Bryson DeChambeau, since you are completely insensitive and have no idea what you are talking about to just tell people to “move on”. Just say you don’t know much about it to comment and move on.

Monday Morning Coffee

June 5, 2023

How adorable. Kyrie Irving thinks he can convince Lebron James to join the Mavericks. Even more adorable is the idea that the Mavericks would actually have pieces the Lakers want in a trade. I mean if they want to send the Lakers Luka, I’m sure that would be fine. What a ridiculous story that broke this morning, and even more ridiculous that NBA writers spent time covering and analyzing this nonsense. Had the Nuggets actually won last night, Mike Malone would probably be livid that people were taking attention away from the Nuggets. The more fascinating question is whether or not the Mavericks will offer Kyrie a full max deal. This is really Kyrie saying “Well Lebron, I really want to play with you, but I’m not going to take less money to do so”. Well Kyrie, you might actually not play with Lebron, and take less money as well! This means nothing for the Lakers. They will most likely be bringing back the same team, and maybe even a better one with the assets and options they have.

I don’t know how the Miami Heat are doing it, but they are. They somehow took home court advantage away from the Denver Nuggets and are headed back to Miami tied 1-1. This made way more sense when Jimmy Butler was playing out of his mind. Now Butler looks exhausted, sometimes Bam Adebayo looks like nothing more than Robert Sacre with cajun seasoning, yet their role players are balling. I assure you if Jamal Murray were playing against the Lakers, his final shot to tie the game yesterday probably would have gone down, just because it was against the Lakers.

The Dodgers lost 2 of 3 to the Yankees over the weekend, but that’s not really the big story going on with them. They made the mistake that every big company is making: publicly supporting something that people view as political. The Dodgers invited Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to the Ravine to honor them. Of course by doing this they pissed off Clayton Kershaw, among other MLB players who are conservative Christians, or people of faith. The bottom line is that whenever you engage in anything remotely political these days, you are guaranteed to piss off somebody. It’s also probably best to not piss of your franchise player if you’re going to piss anybody off.

As for the Angels, it’s their fans that should be pissed off. They lost 2 of 3 over the weekend to the Astros, but when you watch that series it was much worse than it seemed. The gap in talent between these two clubs isn’t that wide. In fact, one could argue the Halos have more talent. But when they step on the field, you can see that something is terribly wrong. The Halos did not make sound fundamental baseball players, they did not look like they believed they could win, and their leadership looked non-existent. That’s just a further extension of the lack of scouting and player development we know already exists for them. The problem is their appears to be no end in sight to this as long as Arte Moreno owns the team. It was also such a tease to hear the Warriors ownership say they are interested in buying the Angels. If they end up buying the A’s, you’ll be even more pissed off.

To the College Hoops where UCLA got some good news, which is that Adem Bona is coming back for his Sophomore year. Bona was a beast this season, and will only build upon that next year. It was a smart move. I only wish that Amari Bailey would have stayed, and that might have taken the team to another level. Instead, it’s going to be Bona and a bunch of Euros. I truly have no idea what that means in terms of how good they will be. The only thing I can assure you is that with all the Euros on the UCLA and Arizona basketball teams, they’ll probably need to take smoking breaks at halftime.

Finally, the LA Kings have announced that they are parting ways with TV Play-By-Play Announcer Alex Faust. Faust was the heir apparent to Hall of Famer Bob Miller. He actually did a phenomenal job, and has a very bright future as a National play-by-play announcer. Unfortunately, he is a casualty of two things. The first of which is being a victim of Bally Sports bankruptcy, and some consolidation of broadcasting platforms to control costs. The Kings are now having Jim Fox, Nick Nickson, and Daryl Evans take over with a simulcast. That’s a great team and all, but it is not a reflection on Faust’s skill as a broadcaster. Faust is also victim to the fact that he came after a Hall of Famer. You never want to be that guy, as usually it doesn’t end well. There’s too much to live up to. The same thing happened when Paul Sunderland came after Chick Hearn of the Lakers. Faust will land on his feet because of his talent, but unfortunate the Kings had to lose him.