We always expect the dawn of NBA free agency to be on the bonkers side, and yet are always surprised with how bonkers it gets. With the offseason once again crunched as the league desperately claws back an 82-game season from players who will barely be able to stand at the end of it, teams are probably even more desperate to lock things in early. So we got the usual feeding frenzy on Monday. We’ll spin it around, the prism that I have which is that of a bleary-eyed observer that isn’t really attached to any of this.
If you’re over 30 and have played for the Lakers before, or possibly just spent more than six months in Los Angeles, the Lakers might call you. After bringing Russell Westbrook home last week, the Lakers signed former players Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, and Kent Bazemore (combined age: Quaker Oats spokesman). While I’ll still be looking forward to the possible on-court fistfight Westbrook and LeBron could get into somewhere around February, I also will be curious about the legion of candidates the Lakers now have that can say into a camera, “I’m getting too old for this shit.” LeBron is still the favorite on that one, but Howard is a solid second choice.
For the first time in years, the Chicago Bulls might actually be relevant. They acquired Lonzo Ball in a sign-and-trade, which will either take some ball-handling off of Zach Lavine’s plate or give him another wing to provide more options. The Bulls are also rumored to be hot after Demar DeRozan, which Bulls fans will pretend to get really excited about, go to one game, and then realize they don’t recognize anyone but the Jordan and Pippen statues outside and go back to complaining that the Bulls can never land free agents thanks to Jerry Krause. It’s a tradition around here.
The Bulls also signed steady guard Alex Caruso, the best and most athletic player who also looks like a substitute chemistry teacher in the history of the NBA.
If L.A. isn’t becoming a retirement home, then of course it has to be Miami, where the Heat brought in Kyle Lowry. It’s a Canadian tradition to move to South Florida when you get up there in age, though usually it’s the Quebecois that head down there to look confused while doddering around Hollywood. Lowry will be farther south.
Pat Riley, who is 76 and feeling the cold hand of death about to rap on his office door (he shouldn’t, no one with that hair ever dies before 112), isn’t going to have much patience for anything less than going for it. There’s even talk of handing a extension to Jimmy Butler, which will make Marky Mark very happy but unlikely to make Heat fans happy after four straight playoff exits where Butler makes it clear it’s everyone’s fault but his and starts showing up to practice at 11 p.m. two nights before to prove to gullible sportswriters how much he wants it.
Chris Paul turned down his option for something of a pay cut this year for the security of getting a four-year deal from the Suns for $120 million total. The greater flexibility should allow the Suns to buttress the roster around Paul, but there’s nothing in the contract about whatever witch’s potion they had that saw every Western Conference playoff opponent lose their most important player to injury just in time to play the Suns. Maybe State Farm pays for that.
Trae Young is now awfully rich thanks to becoming the latest Madison Square Garden legend who never played for the Knicks. That’s all there is now.
I wouldn’t claim to know much about track and field, but even I know it’s a big thing when a record is set by nearly a second. Karsten Warholm of Norway won the 400m hurdles, and also became the first person to do it in under 46 seconds, breaking his own record by 0.76 seconds. To put this in some perspective, the 400m hurdles is the same event Edwin Moses dominated for a decade, yet never ran sub 47. This tweet gives a pretty clear indication of just how dominant Warholm was:
Sometimes seeing the time is hard to translate or picture. Seeing the open lengths makes Warholm’s accomplishment pretty vivid.