Monday Morning Coffee

June 17, 2024

What a sad day it was last week when we learned about the passing of Lakers great Jerry West. I don’t know if West was a better executive or player, but he was certainly elite in both. His impact on the NBA was so great, and at the same time he was classy, humble, and modest. If there’s one thing that saddens me however, it’s that he could not finish his career within the Laker organization. He left the Lakers to go to Memphis, Golden State, and then with the Clippers. He wanted to come back to the Lakers, but unfortunately, he became estranged from the organization, and they just didn’t see eye-to-eye on any form of a reunion. It almost feels wrong that the end of his life came as a part of the Clippers organization. Even former long-time Lakers trainer Gary Vitti said that what happened makes it hard to root for the Lakers. The Lakers statement on his passing was rather brief too, which certainly won’t help the negative perception about their relationship with West. Nevertheless, we should be celebrating him and his impact on basketball, rather than focusing on the negative. You have to love Jerry West though because the man said he would rather die than witness the Boston Celtics win another title.


Speaking of the Lakers, the negative narratives that emerge about the Lakers organization never ceases to amaze me, especially after they were unable to lure Danny Hurley to coach the team. Apparently offering 6 years and $70 million to Hurley, which would have made him one of the top 5 paid coaches in basketball, suggests that the Lakers are poor and don’t have the financial resources to compete against wealthy new owners. Some of you people who cover the NBA need to take a rudimentary economics course, because the Lakers have the richest local TV deal in the NBA. They have no problem going over the luxury tax year after year. You can accuse them of not placing the proper value on coaches, or even having a very lean staff, but just because they do things differently than the poverty franchises you cover, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Going after Hurley was an interesting out of the box idea you have to give them credit for, but offering him more than they did would have been a mistake for a guy that has never coached in the NBA. There is also very little historic success for big time college coaches transitioning to the NBA. Hurley got more press by turning down the Lakers offer, than he did by winning back-to-back titles at UCONN. However, he had no intention of taking the Lakers offer, unless they blew him away, and for the Lakers, they didn’t really need to. You can criticize the Lakers for a lot of things, but this isn’t one of them. Bring on JJ Redick.

As for the NBA Finals, there’s been more coverage around the Lakers, Caitlin Clark, and Charles Barkley than the Celtics and the Mavericks. It’s a cute little story when the Lakers aren’t in the finals, until you look at the dumpster fire of ratings compared to what they could have gotten with a better matchup. I don’t think anybody would mistake Luka Doncic for being a great defender, but it’s funny how after all the criticism he took in game 3, he turned into prime Dennis Rodman for a couple of quarters in game 4. Nothing would give Laker fans more joy than the Celtics being the first team in NBA history to give up a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven and lose this series. But let’s be honest, you know it’s not going to happen and the Celtics will probably close out the series tonight in Boston.

I was really disappointed to hear Charles Barkley announce his retirement from TV over the weekend, which would take place after next season. You cannot have Inside The NBA without Charles Barkley, or Ernie Johnson, who are reportedly not leaving TNT. With that being said, there is a small part of me that thinks Barkley may have said this publicly to put pressure on both the NBA and TNT to come to a deal to keep the NBA on Turner. It’s a smart move because one can argue that “Inside The NBA” is actually a bigger brand than the NBA on TNT is. If the NBA does in fact move away from Turner (which I expect it to), then I think somebody will offer Charles enough money to make him change his mind. We’ll see how well this leverage play worked right after the NBA Finals, when we expect the league to announce their new TV deal with all their partners.

The Stanley Cup Finals are actually looking very similar to the NBA Finals, with Florida Panthers jumping out to a 3-0 series lead, while the Oilers came back to salvage game 4 of the series. I full expect the Panthers to close out the series tonight. This should be a reminder for the LA Kings. The Panthers roster is constructed exactly like the 2012 and 2014 teams were. No headline grabbing superstars. Just 20 dressed and fully committed guys who didn’t take a second of a shift off. It’s an entire team of warriors who were accountable, and a head coach who was tough as nails and expected a lot. I’m not sure that higher level of accountability exists within the Kings organization currently. However, the worst thing the Kings can do is feel good about themselves losing to the Oilers, just because Edmonton went to the final.

To baseball where the Dodgers got some troubling news over the weekend. Yoshinobu Yamamoto left Saturday’s game with tightness in his triceps and is headed to the 15-Day DL with a strained rotator cuff. Then Mookie Betts went down with a fractured hand after being hit by a pitch. This is not something the Dodgers can mess around with. They need to shut Yamamoto down until he is 100% healthy. More importantly, when he returns, they should go to a 6-man rotation. It makes too much sense. Yamamoto is pitching way more than he did in Japan. Tyler Glasnow has a history of injury. Gavin Stone is pitching more than he ever has. Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and Bobby Miller are all coming off injuries too. Now Mookie going down is going to hurt and offense even more that is just too feast or famine. In their first 10 games, they scored 5+ runs in each of them. Since then they’ve just just 5+ runs 10 times in 29 games. Acquiring .195 hitting Cavan Biggio isn’t the answer. This isn’t about adding a couple of slightly more productive bats before the deadline. Sure that will help, but they need to change their all or nothing approach at the plate. I’m still waiting for Andrew Friedman’s computer to figure that out.

We’re about 6 weeks away from the MLB Trade deadline, and the plan for the Angels is obvious to us, but for some reason it isn’t to Arte Moreno. It makes all the sense in the world for the Angels to trade all their players on expiring contracts. However, it makes even more sense for them to trade players with years of control remaining, and maybe even some of their young players with perceived high values. Since the Angels farm system and player development is complete garbage, it makes more sense to have players with an even higher upside than they currently have, who can overcome the lack of a development system. Of course Arte is dumb enough to believe that we think because the aging and injury prone Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon are on the roster, that the team is really a contender. They haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years, yet he thinks he can fool us into thinking they are good. For the sake of Perry Minasian, Arte should also give him the opportunity to prove he can do his job well, by giving him the green light to sell at the trade deadline. This of course is way too logical to happen though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *