Monthly Archives: January 2023

Monday Morning Coffee

January 23, 2023

It’s entirely possible that multiple things can be true at the same time. For instance, the Lakers are a poorly constructed team, that’s old and brittle. However, it’s also true that the West Conference stinks right now, and that some good health and a trade can put the Lakers in the mix to be more than competitive this season. That’s been very evident in the Lakers last two wins against the Grizzlies and Blazers. Regardless of which truth you are more focused on, it’s highly likely that the Laker front office and ownership way of thinking is in the wrong place right now. They’ve been behaving as though they have no intention of doing anything to improve this team by trading future 1st round picks. That may be because they want to get under the repeater tax this summer, or because they foolishly think a star will become available they can trade picks for, or maybe they are just punishing Lebron James for wanting to play with Russell Westbrook. Whatever the case is, it’s simply a foolish way of thinking when you have Lebron James and Anthony Davis on your team. This is not how an organization with a Championship pedigree should be behaving. At this point, Shannon Sharpe has done more for the Lakers this season than Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss. I expect much better from both of them, especially Jeanie.

Meanwhile, despite winning yesterday, the Clippers are hovering around .500 themselves, and are trying to figure out how to establish some consistency. One of the biggest pieces of this inconsistency that hasn’t been talked about much is their defense. The Clippers have collapsed to the 4th worst defense in the NBA in the last two months, largely unable to force turnovers and using lineups with smaller and smaller guards. That’s also made them one of the worst teams at defending the rim, with opponents shooting 70% within 6 feet in the last month. This was supposed to be a team with an enormous amount of depth, plenty of switchable wings, and two of the most elite wing defenders in the game. Instead, their two elite wings aren’t able to even practice, and their roster construction has actually created a hole in their front court. This team is supposedly playing for the playoffs, but at this point they may not even be there, and when they do, it’s hard to imagine them suddenly being prepared to play at a high level for them.

To college hoops where is was bound to happen sometime. UCLA finally lost a game, after winning 14 in a row. The Bruins lost to Arizona on the road, despite putting up a fierce rally in the final minutes. The good news though is that this team is still in 1st place in the Pac-12, and still has a shot at a #1 seed in the tournament if things break right for them. They still have their issues to work through, and most of these are offensive. They could use another shot creator, and once Amari Bailey comes back that will help enormously. It will also allow David Singleton to return to his role of 6th man, and one of the best in the nation at the role, giving the team much more firepower of the bench.

To the NFL playoffs, where we learned this weekend that Patrick Mahomes is better on one leg that 90% of NFL quarterbacks are on two legs. The Jags were no match for the Chiefs, but they do have a good one in Trevor Lawrence that they can feel good about building around. We also learned that Daniel Jones wears contacts, and that somebody in his circle must hate him for not telling him about Lasik. That looked like a hell of a problem when the Giants took a beating from the Eagles on Saturday night. I have no idea how Joe Burrow was able to play as well as he did in the Bengals win over the Bills. It’s amazing he could be that good with Tony Romo swinging from his nuts for four quarters. After losing to the 49ers, Dak Prescott threw his helmet in disgust, but it was intercepted. Tough loss for the Cowboys, and the nice play at the end of the game to get your receiver anihilated  in the middle of the field when you needed a Hail Mary.

We’ve waited an entire week and sure enough, Brandon Staley is still employed by the Chargers. He’s not going anywhere folks. The players have also said that they support him. However, what else would you expect them to say? You think if you ask Justin Herbert what he thinks of Sean Payton, he wouldn’t be thrilled to have him as his next coach? This is typical Dean Spanos. They don’t have the stomach to pay two coaches, and they don’t have the guts to be bold and make such a big move. How many years are we going to say “The Charger have arguably the best roster in the NFL”, only to underachieve for various reasons. Brandon Staley is a huge reason why they can’t fulfill that potential.

Finally, the LA Kings rollercoaster ride of a season continued yesterday in Chicago, picking up a win and jumping back into 3rd place in the Pacific Division. It’s clear that the Kings biggest weakness right now is on defense and in goal. They seem to still be riding Phoenix Copley, although he had a couple of rough outings last week. He’s had a nice start, but it’s very hard for me to believe his elite play is sustainable. Jonathan Quick is currently the Kings backup goalie, he hasn’t played great so far this season, and the team seems to play even worse with him in net. Then there’s Cal Petersen who has been awful, on an awful contract, and currently in the minors. Petersen was supposed to be the goalie of the future. Acquiring a goaltender at the trade deadline will be difficult given the investments the Kings have in the goaltender position, so their best chance to improve is by acquiring a big and physical defenseman, that can play in different situations.

Monday Morning Coffee

January 16, 2023

I’m sure you’re all wondering whether or not Brandon Staley should be executed or fired after Saturday nights playoff collapse. The sad part is, once the Chargers went up 27-0, you knew it was a possibility given that we’re talking about the Chargers here. Justin Herbert deserves so much better than this. Of course if Cameron Dicker makes that easy field goal, we aren’t talking about any of this. However, it never should have come down to that. Also, Joey Bosa has the IQ of a donkey for throwing his helmet and getting that unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. When you’re up 27-0, it’s simply about game management, and that’s all on Staley. Now the Chargers have no choice but to hire Sean Payton if they want to keep any sense of credibility in LA. He wants them, but the Spanos family usually keep a tight wallet with these kinds of things. We’ll see if that changes.

Elsewhere around Wild Card Weekend, Mike McDaniel was ripping vapes on the sideline, which might explain why the Dolphins couldn’t get plays in on time in their loss to the Bills. Brock Purdy is now the NFL’s version of Linsanity, as the 49ers took down the Seahawks. If I told you Kirk Cousins and the Vikings were going to Cancun instead of the divisional round, you would have said that’s as predictable as the sun rising. Congrats to the Giants on a remarkable turnaround. The Bengals need a miracle defensive play To beat the Ravens, but Joe Burrow wasn’t worried because either way he gets to show off his cool wardrobe after the game. The Cowboys have to nervous as hell tonight against Tom Brady since they’ve never beaten him.

The Rams got some good news over the weekend. Sean McVay is coming back. He’s also in the process of revamping his coaching staff. You can be sure that he is going to get Matt Stafford and Aaron Donald back. Keep in mind, the NFC is weak. Les Snead can get creative to open some cap space to get some help on the o-line, and a little better health and they could easily be back in the mix.

To the NBA where the Lakers frustration continues. They suffered another pair of tough late game losses to the Mavs and Sixers the past few weeks. It’s ok though, at least they had fun right? Well at least Russ thinks so. I’m Sorry if you weren’t familiar with this team’s game. They are actually frauds. Last night is just another example of why Russ is a terrible fit. He plays hard, but his late-game decision making is horrible. I also blame Darwin Ham for not realizing this, and the same goes for Rob Pelinka for still keeping him on the roster. Unfortunately, it’s sad the none of them seem to see it this way, and won’t before it’s too late. This isn’t just an Anthony Davis health issue.

Speaking of health, the Clippers may have won yesterday, but they still have their issues. Ty Lue has no idea who is going to be available to him everyday. It’s hard to build a winner when that happens. I also can’t understand why a player can be available on Saturday but not on Friday. If I were Ty Lue i would want answers or I would want to resign.

UCLA got another couple of nice wins over the weekend. This time they took down Utah and Colorado. They have been rallying against such motivated competition, and not necessarily at the top of their game. However, the way they won on Saturday makes you wonder if they can keep this streak going for a lot longer. The biggest game changer has been Adam Bona, who has been a beast in the paint. When the season started he was just raw athleticism, but now he’s a more polished force at both ends f the floor.

The LA Kings are pretty good again, but their goaltending is raising questions. Jonathan Quick isn’t the same Quick that won’t two Stanley Cups, and right now the guy is Phoenix Copley is the man in net for now. The problem is Copley is 30 years old, and he’s just the hot goalie now. How long that lasts is seriously in question. Still, while some of you want to write off Quick and send him to a desert island, he is still better than you think. He looks like a guy who isn’t playing well due to rust and lack of confidence, rather than a deteriorating skill set. You haven’t heard the last of Quick with the Kings. He’s too competitive and too proud for that to happen.

Finally, stop freaking out about the Dodgers people. They are going to be fine. I know you’re all used to having a stacked lineup that costs about $300 mill. However, they have real talent in their farm system, that will make an impact. Their success will be dependent on their flexibility and approach in the postseason. It’s that part you should be concerned about. Not the talent.

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.

Tuesday Morning Coffee

January 3, 2023

Welcome to a special New Years Edition of Tuesday Morning Coffee! That was a Hindenburg like collapse by the Trojans against Tulane yesterday in the Cotton Bowl. They had a 15-point lead with 4 minutes to play, yet managed to give it away like a 501C3 charity. That game really just reinforces the idea that Caleb Williams was so spectacular, he nearly lifted USC into the CFP by himself. However, Williams made up for a defense that cannot tackle and has a poor scheme, as well as a leaky offensive line. That’s very problematic for the future. If anything, next season Lincoln Riley owes it to his star quarterback to come up with a defense that gives up less than 45 points a game, and an offensive line that can keep his star healthy. Those really shouldn’t be terribly big asks heading into 2023.

Meanwhile, UCLA suffered their own devastating defeat in the Sun Bowl against Pitt. The Bruins collapsed in the final minutes, and lost on a field goal in the final moments. Dorian Thompson Robinson had his moments where he looked sharp, but others where he did not, ultimately suffering a back injury late in the 4th. Still, there’s two ways to look at this. It was a nice season for the Bruins who did better than you thought. Or, this is the best Chip Kelly is going to do, and it took him 5 years and an easy to schedule just to lose in the Sun Bowl. I tend to lean a little more toward the latter, especially if next year we see much of the same. Dante Moore could change things immediately for UCLA, but the fact Chip Kelly can’t find a defensive coordinator to save his life is also unbelievable. At least the Bruins faithful has the basketball team to look forward to for the time being. More on that in a minute.

Elsewhere around the College Bowl season, death, taxes, and Michigan losing in the College Football Playoff! Meanwhile, Georgia must be the luckiest team in America. They won on a miraculous field goal miss by Ohio State. Can you really cheer for Ohio State though? I mean Jeffrey Dahmer went there. Props to Notre Dame’s Tyler Buchner for combining an excellent performance and a terrible performance all into one Bowl game, in Notre Dame’s victory in the Gator Bowl. The Irish might be a quarterback away from being really elite, but then again, USC just reminded us this year that isn’t everybody?

In the NFL, the Chargers beat up on the Rams over the weekend and I would certainly hope so. The Rams were missing just about all their star players and had Baker Mayfield playing quarterback. The Chargers are also getting even more good news, which is strange for them. Joey Bosa is healthy again, and they will likely play Tennessee or Jacksonville in round 1, which is a great matchup for them in either case. That’s assuming they beat up on those bums from Denver coming in next week. If they don’t beat them though, they’ll be faced with the likes of Buffalo, Kansas City, or Cincinnati on the road, which is instant doom.

As for the Rams, despite the tough season I’ve actually gotta give Sean McVay a lot of credit. He’s really been coaching his ass off the last three weeks, prior to that loss against the Bolts. Top 10 in the NFL in 6 different offensive categories over that stretch. That included 4th quarter scoring, total points, and Red Zone TDs per game. It also appears as though Cam Akers and the Rams have salvaged their relationship, and they can probably move forward together. The Rams aren’t done for the future as long as their stars come back. They do badly need to fix their offensive line so they’ll have to get creative salary cap wise.

Elsewhere around the NFL, my thoughts on prayers go out to Demar Hamlin and his family after he was rushed to the hospital last night and in cardiac arrest. Hopefully he pulls through and is alright. It’s also a little disturbing that it’s really the players who made the NFL call off that game, rather than the NFL themselves. It’s becoming far too common in the last few years to see these athletes collapsing on the field. As NFL athletes get bigger, stronger, and faster, the hits only get harder and more violent. It almost seems inevitable that the results will be more disastrous with these violent hits. I hate to paint such a dim picture, but I’m not sure there is a solution to this if football is going to be continued to be played, and obviously none of us see that stopping anytime soon.

To the NBA, where when was the last time you saw the Lakers this far down in the MMC column? That’s because they are still a walking disaster, despite winning the last two games on the road. We’re nearly halfway through the season, and this team is still 5 games under .500. Lebron James is 38 years old, and last week, he was publicly BEGGING the Lakers to make a trade to help him and Anthony Davis. I can’t blame him. He’s still phenomenal. So is Anthony Davis when he’s healthy. Unfortunately, even if you think this team should rebuild, do you really have the confidence in Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss to be able to do it? They did it once, but that’s also because they landed a once in a generation player in Lebron. If the Lakers fail Lebron, he could easily trash their reputation in the league, preventing them from getting top free agents to come to LA for the next 5 years. Since Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss don’t really know how to build a roster anymore, do you really think they can do it for a second time? I’m skeptical. At some point when you don’t build a basketball organization on and off the floor in a modern way, it catches up with you. In the meantime, I can’t see how this team can survive another month without Anthony Davis on the floor.

To College Hoops where UCLA got a couple of big road wins over the Washington schools over the weekend. The win on Friday night against WSU was especially impressive. On the road, not at the top of your game, yet they grinded it out with a late rally and very tough defense. That’s a confidence building win that will help carry them throughout conference play. I’m also happy to see Adam Bona developing nicely the last few weeks, and making a bigger impact. Now if Amari Bailey’s foot injury can heal and he can do the same, this UCLA team might be poised for something special come March Madness.