There was another NBA trade yesterday involving top-shelf players. The Houston Rockets acquired Russell Westbrook from the OKC Thunder in exchange for Chris Paul, 2 first round picks and the Thunder’s option to switch first round picks in 2 other years. Adding up all the Thunder’s trades this offseason, I believe they now have 7 additional first round picks – over and above the ones they would naturally get every year – between now and 2026. My guess is that if the Thunder scouts and GM know what they are doing, the Thunder ought to be awfully good by 2028.
I also think that the Rockets resolved an internal problem with this trade. Paul and James Harden appeared to have a conflict going on in Houston and if the team was going to have to choose between them, then it was Paul that had to go. Given Paul’s monstrous contract, trading him was not going to be an easy pull; getting a top-shelf player in return is a big plus for the Houston braintrust.
Beyond that, this trade makes little sense to me.
- James Harden and Russell Westbrook both need the ball to be the excellent players that they are. There is only one ball in play in a game.
- Unless the Thunder has a way to trade Chris Paul on to some other team that wants a short-term solution at point guard, I have no idea what the Thunder think he can do with what is left of the squad in OKC.
MLB returns to action after its All-Star break and there are several things to pay attention to for the rest of this MLB season – – in addition to the record of your favorite team:
- When a team loses 100 games in a season, its winning percentage is .383. As the second half of the season begins, there are 5 teams in MLB with winning percentages below .383 for the first half of the season. Four of those five teams are in the AL (Baltimore, Detroit, KC and Toronto).
- Two teams (Baltimore and Detroit) have run differential stats that are frightening. The O’s run differential is minus-165 runs; the Tigers run differential is minus-159 runs. The third worst team (Royals) are only at minus-90 runs. Scary…
MLB will have only one trade deadline this year and that will be on 31 July. There will not be any phony waiver deals in August as there have been in the past. I think this is a good move by MLB; it makes the GMs earn their keep instead of being able to buy their way out of mistakes and misfortunes up until Labor Day.
I don’t want you to get the idea that there are only negative things to pay attention to in MLB for the rest of the season. Here are some very positive things that could happen:
- The division race in the NL Central is great right now. The Cubs are in first place and the Reds are in the basement there. Nonetheless, the separation between first place and last place is only 4.5 games. Is any team here going to make break from the pack or will this one go into September with all 5 teams having a shot?
- Winning a Triple Crown is a rare thing. The last player to do that was Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and before that it was Yaz in 1967. This year, there are 3 players in the NL who are contending for that honor. Cody Bellinger is hitting .336 with 30 HRs and 71 RBIs. Josh Bell is hitting .302 with 27 HRs and 84 RBIs. Christian Yelich is hitting .329 with 31 HRs and 67 RBIs. Keep an eye on all three …
- The Tampa Rays continue to play excellent baseball despite having the lowest total payroll on Opening Day of this year. The Rays are 52-39; they are in the “first wild-card slot” today; they project to win 93 games this year. Notwithstanding their on-field performance, the Rays continue to have difficulty at the gate. They rank 29th in average attendance drawing only an average of 15,484 fans per game. That is a shame; the local fans are missing out on some fine baseball…
Yesterday, I ran across a story that demonstrates that the NCAA continues to have rules that do not make sense in all situations. Here is the start of the AP report:
“Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt committed a minor NCAA violation earlier this year by tweeting out his congratulations when the high school he attended won an Alabama state basketball title.
“Pruitt tweeted ‘Congratulations Robi Coker and Plainview High School on back to back State Championships! #2muchblue #PLV’ on March 1. The tweet was deleted 37 minutes later, after a compliance official noted that it constituted an impermissible endorsement of a high school team and its coach.”
A college football coach congratulating the high school basketball team where he went to high school for winning two consecutive state championships and mentioning the coach of that team in the process of offering the congratulations constitutes a “Level III violation” of NCAA rules. Would it be the same if he congratulated the marching band from his former high school for winning two straight state championships? How dumb is this? It is NCAA-dumb!
Finally, I got this one from a former colleague:
“A golfer walks into the pro shop and asks the golf pro if they sell ball markers. The golf pro says they do, and they cost $1.00. The guy gives the golf pro a dollar.
“The golf pro opens the register, puts the dollar in, and hands him a dime to use as the marker.
“This economic model is also used by governments.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………