Kevin Durant Should Go to the Wizards, But Not Because It’s Home

What I’m going to say will not be popular. And I will probably be derided as a deluded homer, just rationalizing fake reasons as to why Kevin Durant should sign with the Wizards in two years. But I’ll say it anyway: Kevin Durant should sign with the Wizards in a couple of years, and not because he is from Washington D.C. Of course, that it is home adds to the allure, but plenty of basketball reasons are more responsible for why Durant should come to D.C.

The Wizards will make a strong push to sign the hometown hero Durant.

The Wizards will make a strong push to sign the hometown hero Durant.

Mind you this could all change relatively quickly if the Thunder win a championship this upcoming season. Before explaining why Durant should sign with the Wiz in a few years, let’s first remember how unlikely that is, and how many things would have to go right (or wrong, for Thunder fans) for KD to end up in Washington. With LeBron out of South Beach, the pecking in the NBA looks like this: 1) Spurs, 2) Thunder, 3) Everyone else: Clippers, Warriors, Grizzlies, Mavericks, Blazers, etc. The Thunder may even be 1B, ever so slightly trailing the Spurs. During the regular season, the Thunder were 4-0 against the Spurs, and if not for Serge Ibaka’s injury, the Thunder may have ended up hoisting the Finals trophy instead. Which is all to say, there is a very good chance that the Thunder win the title this season. And if that happens, there is just about a zero percent chance Durant leaves. Just for the sake of argument though, what if Russell Westbrook gets hurt again. Then what? Supremely talented as he is–easily one of the ten best players in the NBA–Westbrook has undergone three knee surgeries already at the tender age of 25. Each time, Westbrook has returned from injury just as effective as before, but how many more blows can he take?  Even if Westbrook does stay healthy, that’s no guarantee that the Thunder are going to win a title. It’s not like Westbrook and Durant are natural fits next to each other. There’s the constant subplot of whether they can coexist, always present just below the surface, adding tension after failed fourth quarters. Continue reading

The Best Offer the Timberwolves Will Receive for Kevin Love

With Andrew Wiggins signing his rookie contract with the Cavaliers four days ago, he is now unable to be traded for 30 days (26 now, as the signing took place four days ago). With that, speculation regarding a possible Kevin Love trade has ramped up in the past few days. There seem to be three teams with a semi-legitimate chance at acquiring Love: the Cavs, who remain the frontrunner, the Warriors, who are hellbent on keeping Klay Thompson, and the Bulls, who are probably the long shot destination for Love.

Trading Kevin Love is not ideal. That much is clear. Love is a superstar and the NBA is a league whose fate hinges on where the superstars play. Basketball–unlike sports like football, baseball, or soccer–is a sport where one player really can make the difference in a team. With only five players on the floor at a time, one player can make a big difference. Basketball is not a sport with teams of twenty players like soccer, or fifty-ish players like football. There are only usually 10-12 guys on an NBA team, eight or nine of which will consistently play. Trading a superstar in the NBA almost never yields equal or even close to equal return. Often, teams trading the superstar will get three quarters on the dollar back, if they’re lucky. Lately in the NBA, when superstars have been traded, it has been for a package of assets, sort of a mystery box. Some young players here, picks there, and maybe some cap space too. The deals have looked like those you see in MLB, where a star player is traded for a handful of prospects. It’s almost always impossible to accurately grade the deal when it’s made. You’ve got to wait and see how good (or bad) the prospects end up being, and that can take years. That is precisely the type of deal the Cavaliers are offering the Timberwolves right now. They’re offering Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, as well as several first round picks for Kevin Love. In other words, their two brightest prospects and future prospects for Love. Continue reading

Here’s How You Actually Address Golf’s Problems

Yesterday, I wrote about the recent efforts to save golf. It has a growth problem right now, and it is a sport for the old and/or those who can afford it. The proposal gaining the most traction is a 15-inch cup, nearly quadrupling the current 4.25 inch cup. Widening the cup would certainly speed the game up and make it easier. And two of the biggest gripes of beginner and/or casual golfers is that the game is too hard and too slow. The bigger hole is a bit gimmicky, but there’s something to be said for instituting different forms of golf. PGA of America President Ted Bishop makes a good point:

“Call it whatever you want, but we’ve got to get past this notion that unless you’re playing nine or 18 holes, with 4¼-inch holes, it’s not golf. This is a form of the sport, just like playing H-O-R-S-E on the backyard hoop is a form of basketball.”

Golf purists, myself one of them, fret over the 15-inch cup as the future of golf. But it makes sense if you think about it as an easier, more fun alternative for those who don’t play frequently. Playing on the bigger cups with some friends who have hardly ever played golf makes sense. Or if you simply don’t have time to slog through a four or five hour round. That way, there is a happy medium between tedious time spent on the driving range and spending a couple hours playing nine or eighteen holes. With the bigger cups as a possibility, you could get out on the course and practice swing thoughts, without the demoralizing ‘one step forward, three steps back’ feeling that often accompanies swing changes. Continue reading

Is This Really The Way to ‘Save’ Golf?

Golf is frustrating. Probably the most frustrating sport to play. All you have to do is hit that tiny white ball a couple hundred yards into a tiny little hole. It’s a mental sport, sure to test your composure and perseverance. Have a bad day on the golf course and things can seem hopeless. Players will resort to anything to change their fortune on the course. They might try swinging with their eyes closed. Others will flip through Golf Digest pages, hoping to find a hidden swing thought that will save them strokes. And others, myself included, will come to believe that practicing isn’t helping, and that time away from the course is needed to improve.

Part of golf’s allure is its difficulty. It is a sport for an entire lifetime, in the sense that you can play it until you’re 80 or 90 years old. You may only shave off five strokes over the course of five or ten years, if you’re lucky. It is a sport of patience and calmness, two virtues lacking in younger people. It is also a sport that usually takes at least four hours to play at any given time. And if you’re playing with three friends, it can easily come closer to five hours.

So golf has a problem. Young people aren’t particularly enamored with an exceedingly difficult sport, with extensive and sometimes archaic rules, that takes up so much time. A sport for one’s lifetime? More like a sport that takes a lifetime to become good at. A sport of patience and calmness? Morel like a painfully slow waste of one’s time and resolve. These are some of the criticisms of golf by the younger generations. The sport seems too stuffy, elitist, and pretentious to the outsider. What’s fun about walking off the course demoralized after a bad round in which you hit half the balls you bought into the water or woods? Continue reading

Rory Eases His Way Through a Star-Studded British Open

The other day, Rory McIlroy won the first British Open, and third major of his illustrious career. Rory dominated from start to finish, never really leaving the outcome in doubt. McIlroy joins Tiger and Jack as just the third player in the history of golf to win three majors before the age of 26.

McIlroy may not have had to outlast a vintage Tiger Woods, but the leaderboard was loaded on Sunday. Rickie Fowler finished second yesterday, after just finishing the U.S. Open tied for second, and the Masters tied for fifth. Also at the top of the leaderboard were Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk, and Dustin Johnson among others. Sure, there are only two majors between those four players, but those players are ranked 1st, 5th, 10th, and 15th respectively in the world right now. And yet, the championship was never in question. Rory had it in his grasp for the entire tournament.

Rory has shown the ability, when he has it going, to blow by the field in a manner reminiscent of Tiger. He’s had an up-and-down season marred by poor second rounds, but at Hoylake he put it all together, for all four rounds. His relationship with Caroline Wozniacki was fun on social media, but ultimately seemed to compromise his focus away from the game. With McIlroy focused solely on golf, he is the heavy favorite in the world. Continue reading

The Best Player Left in Free Agency Is Delusional

Everyone expected the post-Steve Nash Suns to struggle. Last year, most people safely assumed the Suns would tank to get a top pick and land Wiggins or Parker. Little did anyone know Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe would form one of the league’s best backcourts, and that Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee would be real contributors. The Suns raked in 48 wins though, finishing just a game out of the Western Conference playoffs. The Suns have become one of the more attractive teams in the league, with a good, young nucleus and tons of cap space. But for some reason, they haven’t been able to lure top-tier free agents Phoenix. Aside from the Isaiah Thomas signing, the Suns have remained relatively quiet this offseason.

Their top priority heading into the offseason was to re-sign Eric Bledsoe, the 24-year old point guard, who in his first year as a starter, displayed borderline All-Star ability. Playing behind Chris Paul for the past few years in LA, Bledsoe was unable to show the wide range of his ability. But last year in Phoenix, Bledsoe had a very successful year. The only minor concern regarding Bledsoe was that he needed knee surgery last season. When healthy though, he was very productive, averaging a line of 18-6-5 on a nightly basis. Those are good, but not great numbers, even for a 24 year old.

The Suns offered Bledsoe a 4 year/$48 million deal, a very fair deal, identical to what Kyle Lowry got a few weeks ago. Lowry is definitely a better player at this stage, but Bledsoe is a few years younger. The Suns’ offer for Bledsoe is a bigger deal than what Steph Curry got a few years ago. Of course, it must be noted that Curry had some ankle problems at the time, and that is why the offer wasn’t a max. But still. Bledsoe is not the player Curry is. Continue reading

Why the Timberwolves Should Trade Kevin Love For Andrew Wiggins

It’s understandable that the Timberwolves are reluctant to trade All-Star power forward Kevin Love. He’s only 25 years old and averaged 26 points and nearly 13 rebounds per game, making him the NBA’s third leading scorer and fourth leading rebounder. Love gets killed by the media for having never made the playoffs, but he’s never had a teammate who made the All-Star game. Not even once. Right now, with one year left on Love’s deal–thanks to David Kahn, who decided three years ago to save Minnesota’s max deal for Ricky Rubio–the Timberwolves don’t have much leverage. If the Wolves hold onto Love, he will surely leave the team in free agency in the summer. The only thing Minnesota can really do is try to drive up Love’s price, pitting the Cavaliers and Warriors, who are firm in their refusal to part ways with Klay Thompson, against each other and creating a bidding war.

Even though David Kahn isn’t the Wolves’ GM anymore, it’s still hard to see them making the right decision here. Rumor is that they’re more interested in Thompson than Wiggins because they view Thompson as more ready to help them now. It might just be a rumor, but if it’s true, the Warriors are thinking about this all wrong. They aren’t winning now, period. And they sure aren’t winning with Klay Thompson as their best player. The T’Wolves need to realize that they are not going to win now, but they can still set themselves up very nicely for the future.andrew-wiggins-vertical Continue reading

Cavs Make Right Decision and Are Now Willing To Trade Wiggins For Love

The Cavs have finally stopped lowballing the Timberwolves in their pursuit of Kevin Love. No longer are the Cavs only offering Dion Waiters, Anthony Bennett, and a first round picks for Love. The Timberwolves have held out, with the hope of getting Andrew Wiggins in return, and it looks to have paid off. Despite having little leverage, as Love only has a year left on his current deal, the Wolves may get their guy Wiggins. This being after Cavs rookie head coach David Blatt recently shot down the chance of a potential trade involving Wiggins, saying:

“There’s no reason or cause for worry on his part because Andrew’s not going anywhere, as far as I know and as far as the club has expressed”

Apparently the Cavs changed their mind on Wiggins, and then LeBron reached out to Kevin Love on the possibility of playing together. Or maybe, LeBron reached out to Love, and then the Cavs changed their mind. That makes a little more sense. LeBron gets what he wants. His two year deal, with the player option after year one, may be a way of maximizing the money LeBron earns, but it’s also his way of keeping leverage over Dan Gilbert and the Cavs. It’s a way of putting pressure on management to be proactive and improve the team. Continue reading

Ernie Els Hits Fan With First Shot Of British Open, Melts Down On Putting Green

Ernie Els, one of the world’s best players, winner of four majors, had a meltdown on the putting green familiar to most amateurs. Els began his opening round of the British Open with a sharp hook into the gallery. And that was only the beginning of the trouble. Els’ ball hit a fan in the jaw, leaving the fan bloodied and sent to the hospital. The whole scene was jarring and left Els in pieces, mentally. Anyone who’s ever played golf knows how important it is to be focused only on the shot at hand, and that having any recurring non-golf thoughts can be enough to unravel your game. Els admitted that the scene left him in a tough spot mentally:

“I was kind of finished, and then started missing short putts. It was a nightmare. So I’d like to put it behind me. I just hope the gentleman feels better, because he looked really bad when I left him there.”

For Els, the image never left his mind–the image of the spectator he sent to the hospital. Els went on to triple-bogey the hole. Or what casual golfers know as “just gimme a seven for that hole.” More shocking was how Els tripled the hole. On the green, Els had a tap-in for bogey, but somehow managed to miss a one-foot putt, and then miss another one-footer that he putted backhanded. Judging from the backhanded putt, as well as Ernie’s facial expression after the hole, it didn’t seem like Ernie was caught up with his score too much. He looked shaken at what had just transpired.  Continue reading

The NBA May Have Finally Found a Cure To Tanking

Tanking is the biggest problem right now in the NBA, and it may be cured sooner rather than later. Per Grantland’s NBA robot Zach Lowe, the NBA has officially submitted a proposal that may be the solution to tanking. It boils down to this: evening out the odds of winning the lottery for all 14 lottery teams. Basically, why try to lose as many games as possible, if you will only have a minimally better chance at winning the top pick? Right now, here are the odds of winning the lottery for the four worst teams in the league, in order from worst team to fourth-worst: 25.0%, 19.90%, 13.80%, and  13.70%. The current lottery odds for each of the 14 teams is below. (Click to enlarge.)

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The new proposal would decrease the incentive to tank. Each of the bottom four teams would have an 11% chance at winning the lottery. And the team with the worst odds of winning the lottery would have a 2% chance under the new proposal, rather than a 0.5% chance. This evening out of the odds should decrease the likelihood of a race to the bottom by tanking teams. What’s the timetable for such a change to the lottery process? From Lowe:

The league could implement lottery reform as early as next season, though there are many hurdles to overcome before then. And it’s important to note that the league has kicked around several different proposals with varying weights; the 11 percent figure for the first teams is not universal among those proposals, sources say.

Continue reading