Go West, James Harden …

Big news from last night; the Sixers found a way to rid themselves of that thorn they had under their fingernail – – James Harden.  Daryl Morey – – Sixers’ GM – – may or may not be a man of his word when you hear Harden tell the tale, but he got “value received” in the swap PLUS he added to the team harmony by moving Harden three time zones to the west.  If you have not read about the intricacies of this deal, here is how ESPN.com explained it:

“The 76ers traded Harden, P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrusev to the Clippers for Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum, KJ Martin, a 2028 unprotected first-round pick, two second-round picks, a 2029 pick swap and an additional first-round pick that will be routed from a third team, sources told ESPN.”

Got that?  I don’t know if the Sixers “won the trade” because Harden – when he is in the mood to play his best game – is far and away the best player involved here.  And the Sixers will also have to be without the services of PJ Tucker as a result of the trade and Tucker is a “for real” NBA player.  Having said all that, this trade might be all that is needed to name Daryl Morey as the NBA Executive of the Year.

Harden was not going to be a constructive member of the Sixers; he was in “get me outta here mode”, which is a role he has perfected having used it to exit Houston and Brooklyn in recent years.  When the Nets unloaded Harden – – to the Sixers – – all the Nets got in return was the headcase known as Ben Simmons who has added precious little to the Nets fortunes.  In this deal, Morey has actually acquired some NBA assets.  None will surpass a happy James Harden, but Marcus Morris and Robert Covington will play hard and play well every night for the Sixers and that haul of draft picks has trade value should Morey choose to use it that way.

The Clippers got a third “Top-Shelf Player” in Harden to go with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George; that makes for a potent offensive trio, but Harden adds nothing in terms of defense either individually or as a team.  Leonard is still a quality defender and George is better than average, but the Clippers might be vulnerable in terms of 3-point defense on the wings.

For the Clippers, this trade puts them squarely in “Win Now Mode”.

  • James Harden is 34 years old.
  • Paul George is 33 years old.
  • Kawhi Leonard is 32 years old.

And do not forget that the Clippers also have Russell Westbrook on the roster which might be extremely interesting to watch.  Westbrook is another offensive asset; there is no denying that.  Westbrook and Harden used to be teammates and then they weren’t.  The two of them did not pair well on the court and by some reporting, the same situation obtained in the locker room.  This story is far from over.

Switching gears …  Yesterday, I said that I assumed things were percolating in the background to finalize the move of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas.  Then, I got a note from a reader who lives in Arizona telling me there is a potential roadblock for the deal which I was totally unaware of.  Here is the substance of his note to me:

“… the State Education Association created a petition that got enough signatures so that the money approved by the Nevada Legislature for the stadium will be on the ballot next week as a referendum.  If the voters support the State Education Association position, the money for the stadium will not be available.”

The Legislature approved spending $380M on the new ballpark; just as the stadium for the NFL’s Raiders has been a plus for the economy in Las Vegas, voters in places like Reno could easily ask themselves, “How does another stadium ‘down there’ make my life any better?”  This referendum – should it be successful for the State Education Association – could be important for two reasons:

  1. It could thwart – at least in the immediate term – a move of the A’s from Oakland to Las Vegas.
  2. It could provide a new way for stadium opponents to fight against public money appropriations for such things.

Democracy in action at the ballot box next week…

Moving on …  After the Spanish Women’s National Soccer Team won the Women’s World Cup in August, the head of the Royal Spanish Football federation, Luis Rubiales, kissed one of the Spanish players, Jennifer Hermoso.  She said it was uninvited and unwanted and filed a grievance; Rubiales was adamantly unrepentant.  Yesterday, FIFA barred Luis Rubiales “from all football-related activities for three years.”

Rubiales has declared that he will appeal this punishment – – meaning this story is not over yet.  From his perspective, the appeal will assure “that justice is served and the truth shines.”  Here is my position on this matter:

What Rubiales did was wrong.  Period.

  1. On a 1-to-10 scale of “wrong behaviors” where “1” is farting in an oxygen tent and “10” is genocide, what Rubiales did is a “1”.  I am sorry; but given the emotion of the moment and the nature of the wrong behavior, this is not something that has societal implications for the ages.
  2. He should have apologized – – sincerely – – at the time of the incident and then again about 30 seconds after Ms. Hermoso filed her grievance.  That time has passed…
  3. Three years seems like an overly harsh penalty here; it seems to me there is a measure of “virtue signaling” included in the penalty.

Finally, since I mentioned what may become the “Kiss Heard Round the World”, let me close with this observation by my favorite curmudgeon, H. L. Mencken:

“When women kiss, it always reminds one of prize fighters shaking hands.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………