Saturday, July 06, 2013

7/6 (Howard the Rocket) Quickie

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey is not just the NBA executive of the year - you can put that one in the bank - but he is the Exec of the Year in all of sports. 

It's not just about getting Dwight Howard, who immediately helps position Houston as one of only a handful (4?) of teams who have a realistic shot at the NBA title next year (or the near future).

It is the idea - and this is my favortite data point I have seen in the last 24 hiurs - that as of just one year ago, the Rockets had only two current players on their roster. 

Morey tried to land Dwight in a trade. Then, having failed, he pulled off the Harden heist (getting Lin and Asik too) while still maintaining the cap flexibility to make a run at Dwight as a free agent, now with a way more compelling case for landing him.

Now, Morey has not one but two "franchise" players, plus Asik (who could be flipped) plus Lin plus Parsons, who is like a better/younger/cheaper version of Ryan Anderson, who teamed with Dwight on that Magic team that made the Finals on the strength of Howard and 3s. The Rockets already had the shooting; now, they have the center.

In short: Daryl Morey wins. What has YOUR favorite team's GM done lately?

Finally: Congrats to my USA Today Sports colleague Sam Amick on being first with the news. Great scoop.

- DS

Friday, July 05, 2013

7/5 (Dwight Decision) Quickie

If I was Dwight Howard, I would pick the Rockets.

The more intriguing thing is how the Lakers would recover from losing a presumptive core piece of their future (he was totally worth trading for, even as a year-long rental). 

Without Kobe for most of the season (and who knows how well he will be able to play), the Lakers could be awful, with few pieces to trade away (Gasol?) and an even worse situation on the court after that - it even begs the question if it is something Kobe would even want to be a part of. A Lottery pick next June would help - but not THAT much (or certainly that quickly).

Meanwhile, Houston joins a very short list of teams that should/could consider themselves actual title contenders, along with the Spurs, Thunder and Heat. That's it. 

Howard in Houston is - ok: would be -  the most intriguing storyline of the 2013-2014 NBA season. 

- DS

Thursday, July 04, 2013

July 4 (Brad Stevens Independence) Quickie

Love this move. 

Love it for the Celtics, who get the best coach in the country, college or pro (with a little "Doc Who?" For good measure).

Love it for Stevens, who joins a rebuilding team with low/no expectations and even if things go sideways, he will be the most sought-after college hire. 

(In fact, you could consider this a very well-paid, reputation-burnishing sabbatical until Stevens takes Coach K's spot at Duke. Let's be honest: That's the end-game here.)

Love it for Celtics fans and NBA fans and fans of big-A analytics in major sports and even college hoops fans. 

(For the latter, it's not like Stevens had a ton more to prove. Yes, yes: Winning big at Duke. Again, we will inevitably see that. In the meantime, how about seeing the best young coaching mind tanking on the highest level if the sport - not unlike Chip Kelly going from Oregon to Philly.)

The best part: No one saw it coming. No leaks. No drawn-out drama. All business. 

- DS

Monday, July 01, 2013

7/1 (Bucs, D12, O's, Puig) Quickie

Welcome to July. The story of the summer is that the Pittsburgh Pirates -- who won their 9th straight yesterday, on a walk-off no less -- have the best record in baseball...

NBA free agency starts today. Chris Paul is going to re-sign with the Clippers, making THE story that it sure seems like Dwight Howard is going to jump to the Rockets. Daryl Morey wins...

The Orioles aren't too shabby themselves, coming off a weekend sweep of the Yankees in Baltimore and currently in the AL playoff mix...

By the way, Chris Davis now has 31 HR, and if you were smart enough to draft him in your fantasy league, you are probably in the mid-season playoff mix yourself...

As he has been since literally his first day in the majors, 100 at-bats ago, Yasiel Puig is the most must-see player in all of sports right now...

Was the pressure from Brooklyn the reasons the Knicks are going to take on Andrea Bargnani's contract from Toronto? He's a 7-footer who can shoot 3s, but he can't rebound or defend. Besides the tens of millions in salary difference, is that so much different from Steve Novak?

The other intriguing NBA FA situation: Is Detroit going to break the bank to land Josh Smith?

Mostly because he is 36 but also because he has been doing the X Games since they started, I always root for Bob Burnquist in the Skateboard Big Air comp. He won his fifth straight gold in the event yesterday at X Games Munich.

Yup, Brazil is ready for next year's World Cup...

-- D.S.