Monday Morning Coffee

July 1, 2024

NBA free agency is underway, and all eyes are on the Lakers once again. Let’s start with the most under reported story. The Lakers drafted Dalton Knecht with their 17th pick, who should have been a top 5 pick, if NBA GM’s weren’t so stupid and didn’t like older players ready to contribute. That is huge, and not talked about enough. That kid might actually start for the Lakers next year, and should certainly be a rotation piece with his shooting ability. Instead, most of these idiots want to talk about the fact they took Bronny James with the 55th pick, and that is shows how much nepotism is involved in organization. Oh really? If you think nepotism doesn’t exist in the NBA, and in tons of other organizations in this world, you are as naïve as they come. It’s not Bronny’s fault he’s Lebron’s kid, and nothing wrong with him getting the opportunity he is getting. It’s up to him though to put the work in to take advantage of it. Also, it’s pretty cool for both Lebron and him that they get to play together in the same organization. As for free agency, I know there is a lot of talk about Klay Thompson, and it’s a nice story, but he’s really not that effective anymore. However, the best way the Lakers can improve is through trade. Brook Lopez and Robert Williams are probably the best front court fits next to Anthony Davis, and just letting Max Christie and Dalton Knecht play will be far more effective than most people envision It’s a nice gesture for Lebron to be willing to take a paycut, but not sure that type of player is out there to put the Lakers over the top compared to what they already have.

Then there’s the Clippers and the Paul George drama. After PG-13 opted out, he’s going to be signing with the Sixers. I understand why the Clips were forced to do this, but still hard for me to imagine them swallowing this decision since they are moving into a new building without him. They also gave up a boat load of assets for him, so they are essentially giving up on the era by not re-signing him. I think in a perfect world, PG would have rather stayed in SoCal, where he’s from, and have less pressure on him than in Philadelphia. Now that the Clips are giving shots to Josh Primo, Kai Jones, and Kevin Porter Jr., I find that very interesting. They are betting on young talent that has yet to prove it in this league, in hopes some of them coming through. Now they are also looking to trade Russell Westbrook after he opted in to his minimum contract. Where are all the stories about how bad the Clips are treating Russ for not keeping him like the Lakers faced when they traded him? Also, giving James Harden $35 million a year is quite generous for a guy with absolutely no market. Did the Clips think the year was 2018? They probably felt they had no choice with PG’s departure to retain some talent, even if it is way past it’s prime. DeMar Derozan could be a reasonable plan B for them.

The NBA free agency period always got off to such a bang when these teams were tampering more than they are now. Instead we’re just being fed with not very exciting re-signings from role players. The Nuggets are now apparently interested in Russell Westbrook. Please let this happen, and nobody tell them! You gotta hand it to KCP. He just cashed in on another $66 million from the Magic for the next 3 years. When that’s done he’ll have made $170 million over 3 years, and be 34 years old with two titles. Zach Lavine’s stock has fallen so much, he can’t even be traded without the Bulls attaching a couple of 1st round picks to him. You know the new CBA rules are very real when Steve Ballmer, the richest owner in the NBA, can’t even stomach going to the 2nd tax apron. What’s taking PG so long to officially announce he’s going to the Sixers? It’s like he’s just waiting for someone to take him to Nobu first.

In the NHL, the Kings are in the thick of the off-season. I’m not really a fan of Rob Blake as is well documented here on JTLA, but I appreciate him recognizing his mistake and trading Pierre Luc-Dubois before his no-trade clause kicked in. PLD was talented, but lazy. The Kings have cap space, but what they truly need is a goaltender, and to play their young players. I’m keeping an eye on the Arthur Kaliyev situation, which needs to be studied. The Kings obviously know he’s talented, which is why they won’t just let him go, and they want something for him in a trade. However, teams know the Kings don’t want him because of his off-ice issues. The smart thing to do is to bring him to camp, let him play, be disciplined with him, and let him rectify his game. He is the type of young player the Kings need to develop in their lineup. Unfortunately, there is not an elite goaltender out there for them to acquire.

To baseball where the Dodgers dropped 2 of 3 to the Giants over the weekend. It’s not a disaster, given where the Dodgers are in the standings but there’s a few things that need to be addressed. James Paxton and Tyler Glasnow look worn out. Cavan Biggio is a total disaster in the lineup. He’s made 3 errors in 10 games, and he’s hitting .208 on the season. If anything, he is the biggest nepotism story in LA, given that his dad is Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio! I think now is as good of a time as ever to go back to trying Miguel Vargas in the infield. There is some bright side though. Shohei Ohtani is chasing the NL Triple Crown, and at this point looks as dangerous at the plate as prime Barry Bonds. Then there’s Chris Taylor who has suddenly remembered how to play baseball. He’s now 9/20 with 2 homers, a triple and a double, since June 14th. He also only has 2 strikeouts in that stretch. Miguel Rojas has shown he’s not only a capable defensive infielder, but he can be productive at the plate too. I think it’s fair to say Taylor should be playing 3rd base until Max Muncy gets back. Between Muncy, Mookie Betts, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, the Dodgers have at least a month before they might be healthy. More than anything though before the trade deadline, they still need a solid defensive infielder that can hold their own at the plate, which will allow Mookie to go back to the outfield. That should solve multiple problems at once.

As for the Angels, perhaps the worst thing has happened to them this season. They had won 6 in a row heading into yesterday, and they are inching closer to the 3rd place Texas Rangers in the AL West. Knowing Arte Moreno, he could actually convince himself that the Halos might be decent when Mike Trout comes back in a month from his injury, and that they should be buyers at the trade deadline. However, the sad reality is the Halos are the 5th worst team in baseball, with the 4th worst ERA in the entire league. If they decided not to be sellers at the deadline, it would be complete baseball malpractice. Then again, not trading Shohei Ohtani at the deadline last year was also complete malpractice as well, so nothing should surprise us with Arte Moreno. Also, don’t look now, but Anthony Rendon could be back before the all-star break as well. Don’t you just miss all the stupid things he has to say?

I absolutely love the Olympics, and especially the Summer Olympics. In fact, I have the privilege of going to Paris next month for the 2024 games. These athletes prepare like crazy for a shot to go to the games, they may only get once in life, since the games happen only every 4 years. The Olympic trials have already been fun to watch, from Simone Biles dominating the women’s gymnastics, to Katy Ledecky dominating in all her swimming events. However, what I really love is how much more likable the Team USA Track and Field team is this year. Noah Lyles and Kenny Bednarek are two talented sprinters I can get behind, that don’t seem overly showy and unlikeable like other arrogant sprinters we’ve had in the past decade. I can say the same for Sha’Carri Richardson, Gabby Thomas, and Sydney McLaughlin, who broke the world record in the 400 hurdles last night. It definitely feels like a new wave of talent, and I’m here for it!

I’m sure many of you watched the Debate on Thursday night between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. I’m not sure why it wasn’t aired on Comedy Central, because it was nothing but pure laughs for all of us. I’m sure it was also pure laughs for the rest of the world, who surely thinks our country is, and will be run by one of these two buffoons for the next four years. At this point, Biden’s lack of cognitive abilities is well documented, but Trump’s approach is a complete embarrassment as well. It’s amazing that when you go back to 2012 and you watch a debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, you get a completely civilized a polished debate, with highly sophisticated answers, where both candidates respected each other. Now you get two guys that are acting like 8 year olds, and also felt the need to talk about their golf games.

I’m very excited that House of The Dragon is finally back on HBO, the prequel to Game of Thrones. The show is good, but I’m not expecting Game of Thrones level quality here. That took a while to unfold but we’ll see where this goes. With Game of Thrones, for much of the show you understand that loyalty gets you killed, and in general, those who utilize under-handed tactics often come out on top. However, with House of the Dragon that part isn’t clear yet. We have two powerful queens that deep down have questioned the existing line of succession, but are also trying to avoid war. Well, after last night, it seems that one is trying to avoid it, and we’re not sure about Alicent. The final scene in last night’s episode made Rhaenyra sound like the whole thing is just one giant misunderstanding, based off of what Viserys said while dying. After that scene, it seems like Alicent is all-in on the carnage no matter what. Who knows why Alicent didn’t have her guards seize Rhaenyra at the end and have her killed, but this show is already full of stupid decisions from the characters, so one bad one deserves another!

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