Monday Morning Coffee

January 9, 2023

So which is it guys? Are the Lakers actually a good team that is poised to make a run, or are they an aging poorly constructed team? Well the truth is usually somewhere in between.  The Lakers have won 5 in a row and are looking confident.  However, they still aren’t optimally constructed, which limits their ability to go deep into the playoffs (if they’re fortunate enough to be there).  It is safe to say though that Thomas Bryant has been awesome, while Dennis Schroeder, Lonnie Walker, and Austin Reaves are outplaying their contracts.  Even Russ, Pat Beverley, and Kendrick Nunn are now finding ways to positively impact the game.  However in this day and age, you have to have more shooting to succeed.  The Lakers don’t have a lot of it for having their two best players as post players.  What’s more concerning for me though is this idea that Jeanie Buss has told Rob Pelinka he needs to get under the cap this summer to avoid the repeater tax.  That would be upsetting if true and would mean a trade won’t happen in the next month.  It would also be upsetting because in reality, the Lakers won’t improve enough via free agency.  Plus when you have Lebron and he’s still this good, you owe it to yourself to try and compete to win now. Besides, the rest of the West is a train wreck. No team can seem to get out of their own way, including the Clippers.

Speaking of the Clippers , suddenly they have lost 6 in a row.  They’ve slipped to 7th in the West, and Ty Lue has to be wondering about the continuity of this team.  When are his stars going to consistently be available to practice and perform on a nightly basis.  The idea of the Clippers always sounded great, but it’s never come together, and you have to wonder if it ever will. At some point Ty Lue, or the Clipper front office needs to sit down with Kawhi and Paul George and be frank with them. If we’re going to compete and build some level of continuity, we need you on the floor. If Kawhi is hurt, then sit out. If he’s not, he should be on the floor, and the same with Paul George. Part-time players equal part time chemistry for the Clippers, and that’s what they are getting from their entire roster.

To the NFL, where the Rams wrapped up their season with a loss to the Seahawks yesterday. However, the big concern for them is that Sean McVay is rumored to be stepping down as their head coach. This would be a huge blow to the franchise if true. In fact, it could have a disastrous ripple effect that could result in Aaron Donald retiring, and maybe even Matt Stafford walking away. This would be disappointing if true. The Rams still have enough star power when healthy to be a great team. They simply need to fix their offensive line, and get everybody else healthy. However, if McVay is just burnt out because he works like a crazy man, then that’s going to trigger a massive and lengthy rebuild. I never expected McVay to coach for 10 more years, but I certainly did not expect him to leave the Rams this soon either. This could be rough.

As for the Chargers, they lost to the Broncos, but they are headed to Jacksonville for a first round matchup with the Jags. Brandon Staley of course managed to screw things up by playing his starters too long and getting Mike Williams and Joey Bosa banged up. Nevertheless, this is probably the best first round matchup the Bolts could have asked for, despite the fact they have to go on the road. Yes, the Chargers got dismantled in week 3 vs the Jags, but Justin Herbert was ailing, Keenan Allen and Joey Bosa were out of the lineup, and Staley was……..ok well he was just as bad as he usually is, but you get the point.

Elsewhere around the NFL, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were eliminated from the playoffs last night by Lions. These aren’t your fathers Detroit Lions! The Cowboys forgot how to play football against the Commanders, and will be relegated to a matchup with Tom Brady next week. The 49ers clinched the #2 seed and I know everybody thinks they win the Super Bowl every win they get, but the Seahawks are a dangerous team that can upset them. Then there’s the Chiefs who were playing “ring-around-the-rosey” in their huddles, and beating up on the Raiders. The Texans are complete idiots and found a way to lose the #1 pick after beating the Colts.

To College Hoops where you can’t help but be impressed with what UCLA is doing. The Bruins are now 5-0 in PAC-12 play, and in 1st place after beating USC at home last week. They should also be climbing well into the `10 of the AP and coaches poll as we head into this week, and especially after #5 Arizona lost over the weekend. Some of you may be asking yourselves if this is really a top 5 or top 10 team after the last two games. I would argue that it is because they defeated two highly motivated teams, and did so when they weren’t necessarily at their best. You won’t be at your best on every night, but if you can win those games, that is the sign of a really good team. `

Finally, the Dodgers made it official by designating Trevor Bauer for assignment on Friday. That means they have 10 days to either trade him or release him, and you can be sure they will release him. Judging from the way this played out, it seems as though Andrew Friedman wanted Bauer to pitch for the team, but Dodger ownership did not. Bauer himself said in recent days, he was told by the Dodgers they wanted him to pitch for them. The bottom line is this simply isn’t a good decision. If you think it was, it’s just because you don’t like Trevor Bauer. That’s fine, I’m not saying you need to like him, and I’m not even saying he isn’t a total douchebag. What I am saying though is that he served his suspension, and wasn’t even convicted, let alone charged with a crime. He’s served his punishment, and deserves the right to work again. Otherwise, you are subscribing to cancel culture at it’s finest. Unfortunately, Bauer has been cancelled. Even worse, the Dodgers actually need the pitching, and either way, he’s going to cost them $22 million this year.

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