Monday Morning Coffee

May 6, 2024

The Lakers were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets last week, which shouldn’t surprise anybody, and neither should the firing of Darvin Ham just a few days later. The Laker front office saw what the rest of us did for months. Ham burned half the season screwing with the lineups, and it cost the team playoff positioning. Now what? Unfortunately, if the Lakers truly valued coaches, they would pick up the phone and at least try to get Greg Popovich or Steve Kerr to coach this team, and pony up the $20 million or so to get them. Instead, they will hire some coach that Lebron signs off on, will not cost them a lot, and who will be running to Dick’s Sporting Goods to figure out what equipment he needs for the job. Let’s be real, Ty Lue isn’t leaving the Clippers, especially since they know the Lakers are interested. As for Lebron, he’s not going anywhere, and nor should he. However, do we really need to sign up for a 3-year deal? Can’t we just call it one year with an option? The challenge now for this team is that the West has stars and teams that are ascending, like the Wolves and Thunder. Sure the Lakers can be a playoff team and hope things bounce their way, but unless they get a transcendent 3rd star, it’s unlikely they’ll win another championship in the Lebron era. A third star like that just isn’t out there, despite the names people are suggesting.

As for the Clippers they were also eliminated last week, this time by the Dallas Mavericks. This is everything about Kawhi Leonard. In 5 seasons with the Clips, Kawhi has only been able able to finish a season healthy in 2020, the year they blew a 3-1 to the Nuggets. He’s great when he’s healthy, but he never is when it matters most. The Clippers tried to place a greater emphasis on the regular season this year, but this is just what happens when your franchise player has a degenerative knee condition. However, the Clips have already committed to 4 more years of this. They saw two months of a healthy Kawhi, and apparently that was enough. But since they are moving to the Intuit Dome next season, they can’t go halfway with their commitment. They have to try and re-sign Paul George and James Harden. It’s going to hurt if they are over that 2nd tax apron, but they don’t have much of a choice. The question is whether or not George is going to hold it against them for trying to trade him, and if he cares more about the money he could get in Philly or Orlando, than staying at home with the Clips. My guess is that he will want to stay here for slightly less if Kawhi did. James Harden will probably stay too because he knows the strip clubs in LA are amazing.

Continuing our theme of elimination, the Kings got bounced by the Oilers for the third straight year in the playoffs. We told you this was going to happen back in October. This team needs more talent to get back to real Stanley Cup Contention. The only way they can get it is by playing their young players, and for some reason, Rob Blake, Luc Robitaille, and the million coaches they have gone through don’t want to give them that chance. The real madness though is that Rob Blake is going to be addressing the media today, which makes it seem highly unlikely he is going to be replaced as General Manager. Also madness would be not buying out Pierre Luc Dubois and his ugly contract. If they do, while letting Viktor Arvidsson and Matt Roy go, they might actually have some real money to go get a goalie and also re-sign Quinton Byfield. Of course this plan seems way too sensible, and since Luc Robitaille has a strong relationship with Dubois’s agent, he will likely be back to torment Kings fans next year.

To baseball, where the Dodgers are rolling. They swept the Braves over the weekend, and have now won 4 straight and 8 of 10 overall. That was the first series of the season where both teams were looking across the dugout from each other skeptical that their best was going to be better than their opponents. It sure looks like the Dodgers best is better than the Braves at this point. Although, I’m not sure that matters much until October, because sometimes you’re at your best and sometimes you aren’t in that small window of games. The really exciting news though is that Walker Buehler will make his return to the mound tonight, for the first time in two years. Clayton Kershaw and Bobby Miller threw off a mound as well in their return from injury. With Kershaw, I’d like to see him come back closer to August where he just gives the Dodgers three really good months of healthy pitching. They still need to figure out the bottom of their lineup, but putting Andy Pages there helps solve some of those problems for the time being. Of course when Shohei Ohtani is killing the ball like he did over the weekend, it’s easily to live with Chris Taylor in your lineup.

Meanwhile, the Angels are circling the drain, and it’s only May. They’ve lost 8 of 10 games after losing a series to the Guardians over the weekend. They’ve got the 4th worst record in baseball, and are tied for last place in the American League West. As if that’s not bad enough, Mike Trout is going to be out indefinitely with a meniscus injury he’ll need surgery for. The Halos say his season may not be over, but if it keeps going this way, why the heck would he come back and play again? The real unfortunate part of all this is that this is the 4th straight year Trout has suffered significant injuries. If the Halos tried to trade him now, they would likely get no good prospects in return, due to his massive contract another team would have to pay for. However, if they assumed most of that contract, they might actually get some decent players back. We’re talking about the best player in franchise history people! That’s how bad things are for the Angels. Why can’t this team just admit they are rebuilding and rebuild the right way?

Finally, Rams GM Les Snead was on a podcast with Rich Eisen, and he gave quite a bit of information about Aaron Donald. Snead said he expected Donald to retire, but also suggested that they would welcome him back if he decided around playoff time that he could put the Rams over the top. That would mean the Rams going to need to be pretty good without him, in order for him to want to come back for a short run. But the fact Snead mentioned all of that makes me think there’s a possibility that it could happen. In any case, I do think the Rams are still going to be pretty good next season.

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