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There's a huge sports card boom happening right now, and the ringer has it covered on our new podcast, Sports Card Nonsense for doing it twice a week with host Joe and Jesse. I went on this week. I'm on the Friday episode. You get to hear me talk about cards for 80 minutes.


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This episode of the businessman's podcast is brought to you by McDonald's right now. McDonald's, you can get any size fountain drink for one dollar for that price. You don't really need a reason any time of day whenever you're feeling it. I mean, when you're not feeling fountain drinks. You know what's interesting about found drinks in McDonald's, they always taste just a little bit better. I mean, I'll be honest, I've had found drinks at a few different places McDonald's has mastered.


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Again, any size packaging for one dollar order ahead on the app, we're also brought to you by the Ringer Dotcom, as well as the Ringer podcast network, where we have a bunch of shows that have gone up over the last few days. We're really we're really flying right now. One big note, though, binge mode finally finished the Marvel Seas and they went through all the Marvel movies. So congratulations to Matt Reuben and Jessica Simpson for finishing that project.


Very enjoyable coming up. Zach Lowe and I are going to talk about a sport that we both like that's played with a round orange ball, it is called basketball. That is next. First, our friends from Pearl Jam.


All right, Jack Lewis here, he used to work with me on a place called Grantland. We've known each other for a long time. We always have fun and we do this right. Now is a great time to have Zack on. There's a lot of stuff going on. Your favorite topic when people get snubbed from the All-Star Game. I know you spent a lot of time just bemoaning snubs. Oh, wait, no, you hate it just as much as I do.


There's only twenty four spots at the all star game. Why do we get so bent out of shape every year? This really annoys me.


Yeah. You know, it's, it's not advanced stats. You get 12 spots. That's all you get. So when LeBron tweets, Devin Booker's the most disrespected player in the league. I love Devin Booker. I've been a Devin Booker stockholder for many, many years. There's only 12 spots. So LeBron should be required to the real act of disrespect would be LeBron naming who has to come off the team for Devin Booker to come on the team now it ended up being Anthony Davis.


Everyone gets off scot free. But yeah, there's only there's only twelve if your guy doesn't make it. It's not because we hate your guy or it's the coach's blame the coaches.


There are some specific arguments. I don't want to spend too much time on this because it's annoying. But it was basically like Mitchell or Connely, Devin Booker or Chris Paul, Khris Middleton or Julius Randle. Like, you just go down the line. It's like it was an either or situation. I think the one that I probably flipped on at the tail end even after I gave my picks was Levine, who I just didn't want to buy into. He's a good team, good stats, bad team guy.


But every time I watch the Bulls, it just feels like he can go toe to toe offensively against whoever the best guy is on the other team. And he kind of warm me down. So I think he ended up pulling my twelfth spot away from me, probably over like Bam or whoever. Were you OK with Zach Lavine? Get it.


He was on my fake ballot. I still. There's part of me that's still skeptical about me, too. Zach Levine is, but but part of it is context, right? Like if you were on Miami with Jimmy and Bam is like a second option kind of guy, he would look who didn't have to have guys that can cover for him on defense. He would look incredible. So I'm a little skeptical. Still just the turne, it's the turnovers and indeed the turnovers are so lethal.


Those live ball turnovers that just turn into pick six for the other team are just lethal. The defense is fine. I think people are exaggerating how much better he's gotten on defense. Part of this argument to build Zach Levine up until like a martyr, but he's putting off like the shooting. It's it's just ridiculous how effortless it is for him to just just get to the rim like it's like nobody's there as a perimeter offensive player.


He's probably like an eight and a half or nine out of ten on the wow factor with some of the shots he makes especially late and how effortless he makes it. Look where you just like there's a guy draped all over him and he still makes it. Twenty five foot the hand, his face. And you're like, wow, nothing you can do about that one. I think Tatum is another example of somebody who occasionally just makes these shots. We're like, wow, that was amazing.


So yeah, I'm OK with I'm OK with Zach Levine. And you think about who is the team that had the the restricted free agent offer to him. Who that Sacramento. Sacramento. How many times does that happen to them where they've had the restricted free what do we call it, not restrictive regime.


I know that he was restricted. Free agent was an offer sheet. How many Sacramento guys have they gotten boned on one way or the other because Bogdanovic was one the other way.


I don't know if it was, if it if they were restricted. I don't think many of them were, but for a while they were like the stalking horse for everybody who wanted fake leverage like Monta Ellis I think goes off for Andre Iguodala had a nice little dalliance with the Kings. They were like everybody's like Oh yeah, Vivec is very cool for me for years. Fifty five. You've got to come higher.


Yeah, that would be my move. If I was a terrible franchise, I would be all in on the restricted guys on July 1st or whatever the date is, because at the very least competitively you're screwing up somebody else. Right. And who knows? You might get one of them.


Well, they have the nets where the kings of that with Otto Porter, Allen Crabbe and Tyler Johnson, they were just like, hey, sign these horrible things that I don't Porter has when words. It's like he gets half his salary immediately, like the first paycheck of the season or so. They're like crazy clauses that it might not be exactly that, but it's like half his salary is comes much earlier than is normally scheduled. Yeah, they screwed up a lot of teams.


Allen Crabbe, I feel like he has a bad PR agent. When we talk about the the famous summer of twenty sixteen, I don't feel like he gets magic people.


People default to Joakim Noah and Evan Turner and Bismack Biyombo and they just skip over wasn't he that summer too.


I think we saw him before and the plot was, I think it was that summer in the plot which is the next stencil still acquired him later in the game.


It's like got very excited about it all star the most fun argument out of it which we litigated here already and you did too. But just to have two starting spots for Curry and Luca and Dame.


And having to pick between where did you land, I forget who did you pick for those two curry curry made it for you, but where did you go with the other one? Curry and then. I mean, like, look, a damn thing went back and forth and then Loukia, he beat Curry when they had the Saturday night game, Luka won that one and it's like it's just a great battle. Good rock, paper, scissors.


You can't you can't go wrong. They're all amazing. It's no act of disrespect to any of the three of them. One of them's got to come off the bench. I just think, damn, now the Blazers are on this losing streak now. But that happened after we all had to make our picks or whatever. But I think Daim had just hit so many ridiculous clutch shots. Of course, Loukia just killed your team with two ridiculous clutch shots.


But again, that was after the after the picks had to be made. So I went, damn, they're all amazing. These guys are amazing. Chris Heinz was the one who killed them season because he's he talked about how he was a stealth MVP candidate a week ago. And it just felt like it sent Portland season tailspin. By the way, I agree with Chris Heinz like Dame what he was doing. They were eighteen and ten when he said it.


Now they're in a tailspin. I don't want to spend too much time speaking of tailspin on the Celtics, but, you know, everyone's hitting me up what's going on with this team. And I do feel like there were just some bad luck moments that now they have added up. But when you think, like every time they feel like they're about to get momentum again, you know, the New Orleans game was an amazing loss. I don't know if you watch that there was nineteen different times they could have won the game.


The refereeing was just abysmal. It was just a really stupid loss. It was one of those where, like that's one of the worst losses of the year. And then it's compounded by the Dallas game two nights later where I actually thought they played well. They had a heroic comeback. At the end, Luca hit two amazing shots and the first three he hit their defense was the best defense they played all season. They they for twenty seconds did everything perfectly.


And it ended up with Luka having to hit like a step back. Twenty seven footer with a hand in his face and he made it. And then the defense fell apart a little bit the second time. But it was one of those things where it's like, man, that's a tough loss, but maybe there's some signs of promise and then they get murdered the next night by Atlanta and now Boston's in a complete panic. Can I can I just be the boring guy for a second?


Be the boring guy, do the thing where you say, hey, it's a long season. Well, it is a long season, but OK, so they have had the talent drain has now caught up to them. Right. Like Kyrie obviously gone replaced with Kemba who's a Chello himself and has half the season. Al Horford People forget because it's now two teams that go like they could use his IQ and playmaking. They have zero playmaking on the floor other than the two star players.


And then now Kemba is back to himself. Heyward left for nothing. You don't think they could use Gordon Hayward's secondary play? Making some shooting left for enough trade exception. Doesn't play any games, hasn't played any games. Remember, Kevin McHale had that great that great quote about cap space. He was like a cap space, good old cap, put his name back on the jersey. Gronk hasn't played Kevin McHale the best, and that's what they got.


They got cap space and smarts hurt. Like they just don't have a lot of good players right now. And I think if I looked at their schedule earlier today, they've played a ridiculous amount of games in the last twenty five days, which is like fourteen games in twenty four days. So they're probably out of gas. They'll be OK. Don't get rolling, they'll get in a groove when they get everybody back. But I do think now you have to recalibrate.


Like this team doesn't look like a team that's going to get in the Brooklyn, Milwaukee, maybe Philly conversation. Agree. Even if they hit their stride now, maybe we're underestimating them. But like, something's just not right in the water right now.


Yeah, because we know Philly's better. We know Brooklyn's much better. And Milwaukee is either about the same or worse. It's just Philly in Brooklyn got better and Boston is worse. And from a scoring standpoint, even we'll get to my favorite team in the NBA, Charlotte, in a second. But you watch Charlotte at the end of games and they have all these dudes who can create a shot for themselves or somebody else you watch at the end of the game and then two guys who can create a shot.


And then when Marcus comes back, you have a third guy who can create a shot, but you're not always sure you want him take a shot. Yeah, it's like, uh, I'm not sure I want Marcus Smart deciding my game. We've got to the point where I actually miss Marcus Smart. You talked about the people they lost. And this is a point I made last year with Forcillo and he was taken aback. But I think he came around to it where I was like I felt like the Celtics missed their window last year.


And it's weird to say that about a team that has two great young stars like they have, but that was such an awesome spot for them to be in. In the Hayward injury, I feel like if he doesn't get hurt, I think they absolutely make the finals and I think they almost made the finals anyway. You go back to that Miami series and you think like that Tyler Herot game was such an aberration, not just for the playoffs, but for every moment of his career.


He's never had a game like that before or since, along with the Jimmy Butler game, too. And you just look back at that series and you're like, man, how did they not make the finals? And same thing for twenty eighteen with all the injuries. And maybe maybe that was a three year window and maybe you have to start thinking it that though it's depressing, but it's a fact that's a little dark.


I think that dark, dark place they have these two and they lost the first game of that, that heat game in overtime.


The Heat came back at the end of regulation in that game call, or they should split one of those first two. And they did. I mean, look. A lot has gone wrong for the Celtics, part of it, again, is that Kemba, just like all of this is, Kemba has got to be Kemba for them to have any chance of where they get where they want to go. And he's the Chiri replacement, right. He's the, he's the guy who minimizes that talent drain.


But as long as you have those two young wings like you're in an OK spot, it's not awesome that all the extra draft picks are now gone. And some of them didn't turn into exactly what the Celtics had hoped. But, you know, a lot of teams would trade places with the Celtics if they were asked that theoretical.


I don't even want Kemba to be Kyrie. Can he be Terry Rozier for dark minutes. The Trojans making shots.


He's not twenty points a game. He's not a playmaker but he's making he's shooting like forty five percent from three or something crazy.


Do you think there's any lessons to be taken from the last five years with the Celtics where they basically stockpiled all these picks. They banked on that Sacramento picking that Memphis pick to basically strike gold again like they did with Tatum and Brown? And they kind of their plan was we're just going to keep taking swings, but we're never going to go all in on a move or we're never going to leverage this potential of the future pick for a player right now, any of that stuff.


And now they're just kind of stuck with all these down lottery picks. Do you think anyone else in the league is looking at that, like, for example, Golden State considers this awesome Minnesota pick top three protected this year, unprotected next year. Golden State's pretty good. Golden State's getting an unbelievable curry season.


You could argue maybe they're catching that Minnesota pick right now because maybe it ends up in the top three this year. They don't get it. Maybe Minnesota's better next year. And you're in the same situation the Celtics ran where it's like, oh, shit, we thought this pick was going to be awesome. Now we're picking 14th. Maybe we should have cash that in. Do you think the league even looks at that and wonders if the South should have moved?


I mean, there are four guys that you're talking about when you talk about this with Boston, right? Paul George, who they came. So I don't know what it doesn't matter. Jimmy Butler, another guy didn't get and Kawhi, who's the third guy they didn't get.


And and we and we both agreed with Kawhi that they should not have given up Jaylen Brown for one year. Well, that's the thing.


I mean, that's those are people when Toronto was winning the championship, everybody was laughing at the Celtics for you. Didn't give up Jaylen Brown for just one day with the fake.


And so you can't you can't just look at what's happening in front of you and spin backwards and rationalize it that way. Like Jaylen Brown turned out to be amazing and the most likely outcome from the Celtics trading Jaylen Brown for Kawhi Leonard is you don't win the championship and Kawhi Leonard leaves and then you have nothing. Maybe Jimmy Butler would have been a guy that stayed. I don't know. Maybe Paul George would have been a guy that stayed. But all of those are going to cost you something big.


And then the fourth guy and I think this is if there's a lesson, maybe it's. Don't put too many of your eggs in one superstar basket, but you know better than I do. They were they were eyeing Anthony Davis for three years. And Kyrie when with Grousbeck came out today or whenever he did that radio interview and said, you know, Kyrie leaving really changed our plans. It had a whole domino effect. I don't know if he meant to imply it, but I what I implied myself is Kyrie was supposed to be the reason that Anthony Davis would resign in Boston if they went all in for him.


Right. Like Kyrie resigns, you throw all the chips it's necessary to get Anthony Davis. Anthony Davis sees this other superstar that the other superstars revere in the NBA for his ball handling. So, Soraida, this is a place I want to be now. And all of those things went completely haywire. Yeah.


And if we're playing the what if game. Day four, I don't know, you know, teams always love to say after the fact when they didn't get anybody or get the guy, they went, well, we could have, but we don't know what happened. They they flipped on us. You never know what to believe. They thought they had Paul George that night. I think they did. And I think they were surprised by the OKC thing, whether they thought they had the exact trade or they thought they were going to have they I think they were really blindsided by the OKC, the old depot and Sabonis straight.


And you think about it. That leads to the Chiri trade, right? Right, because they don't get Paul George, but they end up getting Chiri to me, the biggest, what if out of all of this is what if Kyrie just stays with LeBron one more year and the Celtics can't trade for him? Because then they have that number, a pick from Brooklyn that turns out to be Collin Sexton, but they're going through that season. They would have no Kyrie, but they would add Rogier play more but they would have also had this carrot of the number eight plus the future Memphis pick, you know, plus the Sacramento pick.


And maybe that's when they would have made a move at some point. So you could drive yourself crazy with this stuff. I think they had really bad luck. I really do. And I think, you know, when people hold changes draft record against them, they seem to conveniently forget the rogier part, that Rogier was not a lottery pick who turned out to be a good player, you know?


Well, how about how about like Caitlin Brown wasn't a consensus number three pick and Tatum for Foltz, like that was not that was far from a consensus. Like, that's the smart thing to do. Everybody was head over heels from our culture. People tend to focus on like, well, he got James Young with seventeen and Kelly Olynyk was sixteen when Yoni's was available and Jared Sullinger on and on and on with these picks in the fifties and twenties, just because a top three pick really hits, it seems obvious in retrospect, of course.


Jayson Tatum top three pick. But at the time that was like a bold move. It was, it was a little bit against the grain even.


I think the last two drafts are the ones you can hang them on because and I've said it before, not not trying to trade up for Halliburton, who I know you love. Now, I was telling you that the draft has come in so much, I feel like they could have overpaid to try to move up to the Phoenix spot and then the year before, even getting somebody like Hero or whatever, it's just they had a lot of swings at the pinata and somehow none of the candy fell out.


And, you know, I like Payton Pritchard, but if that's if that's the best you did out of all those picks and you think like even had they ended up with Dyball, not not traded whatever weird trade they did to get the Carsen Edwards, you know, they gave away Desmond Bane. Some of that stuff's really weird. All right. We're not talking about the Celtics anymore. We take a break. We're going to come back. We're going to do lipase rankings, which we used to do on Graylin.


This episode of the Bill Simmons podcast is presented by Uber, it's select from a range of your favorite neighborhood restaurants with Uber eats.


Tonight, I'll be eating local, specifically Italian, because I'm half Italian. You know, it travels great on Uber. It's chicken parmesan, one of my favorite entrees. It's something I get all the time because again, I'm half Italian. Eat local with Uber eats tonight. All right, we're back, so we used to do this together, we used the right combo columns once, it seems like a million years ago, right?


It was fun. It was a frenetic twenty four hour process. The back and forth, it's it's kind of amazing that we actually finish them.


I don't need my fingers don't even work anymore. It was more amazing when we would do the after the trade deadline back and forth because that was like a sprint. But the league past, we used to really put time in. We came up with a whole awesome scoring system and and then you have carried it on in ESPN. But that doesn't mean we can't do it right now. League past rankings. I will let you have the first pick. And if our picks double, we will we I'll just I'll chime in and say that we did it.


But here here the criteria for people that say, you know, we haven't heard this league past rankings, most reliably entertaining team team, that if there's 14 games on it, once you're flipping channels and you just kind of gravitate toward the team team, you just can't believe you haven't gotten tired of watching team that seems to be in the most fun games and bring the most fun out of the other team, just the most reliable entertainment team. Who is it for you?


If I were doing top five, what are we doing, we're doing top five, so this is your number one choice right now. It hurts me, it hurts me to make this pic a little bit, and I you never know what to do because a lot of these teams are on national TV. A lot do they count as league teams. But I think right now you have to take Brooklyn number one. I think you have to. I don't want to because there's a team that I would otherwise take.


No one with my single favorite player to watch the entire NBA. But right now, when they get KD back, I'm already watching them a fair bit. When they get KD back, I want to watch every single minute of their first ten games just to see what that looks like and how incredible it is. So I have to end. You throw in Iron Eagle, Ryan Rukia. I got to give him I got to give my friend Syracuse stock a shot out.


The best broadcast experience. Michael Grady I think top down in the NBA, so I'll go Brooklyn. It's an obvious answer. I feel bad making that pick, but how can you not right now.


They're the shiny new toy of the season. And sometimes we have seasons where we don't have a shiny new toy. Right. And we just have to kind of play with the toys that we got a year ago. You have kids, you know, it's like, hey, go play with that thing we got you last Christmas and the kid just wants to buy my my daughter's remote control car.


That's it. Don't just sit just sits and gathers dust. No.


Brooklyn, which is a team that I'm just philosophically opposed to for just reasons like what Kyrie did to the Celtics. And now there's been this whole revisionist history. No, no, everybody loved them. OK, and then what Harden did to Houston, which he half assed apologized for two weeks ago. Sorry about that. Sorry for quitting on everybody, but thanks for the memories. So and then Durant, who you know was wasn't happy playing on an all star team and Golden State, but now is on the same All-Star team in Brooklyn and has to be basically the Stretch five center unless they can get him help in the playoffs, because that's where this is headed.


But he's happier because at least he put this together. And with all of that said, I really like watching them. Oh, and and the what it is. It's pulled out a couple of things, right? So I had them number two on my rankings and I'll give you my number one after we finish talking about broken. I pulled out two things for me that I really enjoy. One is. Kind of the realization of something we knew four years ago with Kyrie.


That he's actually not a point guard, that it's more fun when he's off the ball, when he kind of can drift in and out of the game at his leisure and all of a sudden just take over for, you know, 10 points in two minutes or, oh, this play broke down. Give it to Kyrie. Oh, that's right. He's the most coordinated guard we've ever had in the history of basketball though.


What it's done for him compared to I think maybe with the Celtics it was too much pressure of this is your team, you have the ball all the time and I don't know if that's how he's at his best. He's at his best here with two other playmakers when he can float in and out. So this is the most fun I've had watching Kyrie. Second, the hardest thing and how he has basically changed his game again, how many versions of James Harden ran for because you think like, OK, James, then first few years of Houston with Dwight Howard, James, ten point guard James.


And now Brooklyn jams, this is hard and for point out maybe, I mean, he's throwing, you know, the first few games there, he was so deferential that it was a little bit alarming. And he also didn't look as explosive as I remembered. Or maybe he was just out of shape. He's starting to look more like you just can't stay in front of him anymore. And he's going through people who start to look more like Harden.


Yeah, but he's he's totally bought into I can average 12 assists a game on this team, and I'm cool doing that, creating baskets for himself and others at a ludicrous level.


And it's as frustrating as he is. And we did we've done a lot of hard and playoff stuff over the years. You wrote a long, long piece about it. I know we've talked about it on podcast over the years and it's going to be the scar on his resume until they until he wins the title. With that said, he has to be one of the three or four best offensive perimeter guys ever and has continues to add stuff to his game.


This version of him we just kind of haven't seen yet. And he doesn't need to shoot that much. His efficiency is actually up. All his numbers are up, and he just seems like he'd be really fun to play with. And it's such a switch from the last two years where I didn't think he was fun to play with. And I thought he was getting his stats, sometimes at the expense of the happiness of his teammates. This version of James Harden, wouldn't you agree it's fun to play with?




I mean, when you spray the ball around like this, he's actually having guys come set picks for him, which gets the defense moving into distributable dribble. And by the way, the best player on the team is Kevin Durant, who's name, but he's still the best guy on the whole team. When you consider defense and just size rebounding, all of it. I mean, the guy can do literally everything there is to do on a basketball court.


Kevin Durant can do it at a high level.


Yeah. And what's weird is I think he's the most important player in the team. Think hard in second, most important, and then Kyrie is the luxury guy, and it's an insane luxury guy to have, right? We've never seen a luxury guys as the third best player on a team who's as talented as Kyrie is. We've seen great third guys. We've seen, you know, Chris Bosh. Robert Parrish, James, where they gone down the line, but nobody with the ability, like if it was you're down three two in a series in the Eastern Finals, you're down eight points with four minutes left.


And your third guy could carry you to the to the, you know, to a game seven, whatever. It might be the most overqualified for that role. It's been great for Joe Harris. I was worried about Joe Harris. I was worried about him with teams, hunt him defensively, stuff like that, then the hard and chiri stuff defensively. What have you seen so far? Because it's gotten better. It's not great, but at least it seems like in crunch time they can at least put together five decent minutes.


Yet when they try, it's it's OK. I mean, it's OK. It's see, there's that there's a lot of times when the effort is and and there are communication mishaps on the switches and all of that. And those guys are never going to be like, good, good. But they're counting on the surrounding guys to to lift them up. But what they're really counting on is nobody can guard us like like you just mentioned, all these other big threes.


We have never seen a big three of guys who can from the three point line, create their own shot. And at an elite level, three guys like this like off the dribble, so create their own shot, get into the lane, pass other people. We just haven't seen three guys like Steph Draymond, KD, Klay. I mean, that's a big four. But Klay and Draymond don't quite qualify as the kind of player that we're talking about.


Bosh, you know, was as a big guy could create his own shot, but not in the way we're talking about, not in the way of. Just get out of my way. I'm clearing out. No matter you put your two best defenders on, those two guys will give the ball to third guy. We just haven't seen that. And I think what the Nets are betting on more than anything else is like no one is going to be able to stop us or really even slow us down.


There I mean, the 217 words is the best offensive team I've ever seen since the eighty six Celltex, which didn't have a three point line, ultimately that turns 17 words and there's like seven seconds left in the shot clock and something happened.


You had to reset. Whatever Durant was, was the guy that would go to Gap and he was as good as anyone ever is, probably the best offensive scoring forward we've ever had.


The Nets have three of those guys in the last seven seconds who can save a play and you know, we see this in the playoffs, especially when it gets to the crunch time. And everything slows down a little and you can feel the pressure and some guys can come and go and you end up taking a lot of bad shots. Think of that Celltex Heat series last year, how many times it ended with the Jayson Tatum? Twenty six foot step back because they couldn't get a better shot in.


This Brooklyn team has three guys that can turn a wasted possession into an awesome shot. And that's the thing that struck me watching them. It's like, fuck, you can play good defense against them for 15, 16 seconds and then they still get a layup or a wide open three and you're like, damn, what just happened? And you can see these defenses sometimes kind of lose hope a little bit. Right. Like it's a little bit like you get like an uppercut.


You're like, Oh. The Suk's can't stop these guys, you know, which I think is a really special trait and they're going to turn because of all the attention that they draw, they're going to turn these role players into just the looks they're going to get are just like Bruce Brown the other night. I don't even I have an item in my column tomorrow. Like, I don't even know what position Bruce Brown is playing. Does it look like he's like a center fielder?


But on offense, you just kind of moving around like, hey, nobody's paying attention to me. Here I am. Look at me now. All them are here now. I'm over here. Pass me the ball and then the ball goes in the basket. It's crazy. Joe Harris is going to I think Joe Harris is shooting like fifty percent on threes or something. It's good.


And that's going to sustain the Bruce Brown thing. I think he's a playoff guy. And you need luck with this stuff, right? You need like your seventh, eighth night guy to be that random dude who is just like. He's he's been underestimated his whole life, he has a chip on his shoulder, he has a chance to play for a better contract and he will literally die in the court for this team.


And he's the guy, right? You need these playoff teams. You need a guy like that. And he's that guy for this team.


I never I tweeted it at the time and I don't tweet much anymore, but I was so perplexed that I had to tweet like I don't I never understood what Detroit was doing in that trade other than like, are they so afraid of what Bruce Brown's next contract is going to be that they're like, we just got to get up Bruce Brown for Mousseau, who I don't even know where Moossa is anymore. And I think it's a Raptors second round pick or some useless segment like Bruce Brown's good.


And these guys that you drafted him in the second round. Now it's not you, you it's the previous front office. So you don't have sort of the same investment in him. But he's he's you drafted him. He played well for you. It's like a good Detroit success story. He kind of fits the ethos of what you want the Pistons to be. What you envision the Pistons is to stand for is dumping the nets. Most of them.


Like what for what now? And by the way, where were the ten other teams with the better offer? It's like when when Brooklyn gave way, Jarrett Allen, because they needed an extra pick. Where was everybody else is like we're having a fire sale for Jarrett Allen. He's eighty percent off. And any takers.


And I love I love Jared Allen. You know why I love Jared Allen? We will never see Jared Allen make a business decision at the rim. He tries to play. It doesn't matter if it's honest, it doesn't matter if it's LeBron. He is trying to block every dunk and he does not care if you get him. He's coming the next time and the next time and the next time. I love that about him.


Well, he's exactly what Brooklyn needs. And as I look at them and maybe it won't matter because we might be in a world in crunch time where it's it's the three guys, it's Joe Harris and it's Bruce Brown. And that's just they say that's where we're wrong. And we'll play Durant as small ball five and, you know, if they're going against Philly. Jordan will have to play his twenty five minutes, I'm sure they'll get some Bayaka like a Jubayl, that they'll get the extra 6000.


But to me, this is not a team that needs Andre Drummond. And I don't even know if Andre Drummond necessarily even makes this team better. I know. I know he puts up stats, but. I don't know, have we ever seen a winning situation for Andre Drummond, I know he puts up the stats, but on this team, is he going to be happy just doing the dirty work and that's it. Rebound being the right spots.


And we don't want to hear from you. I don't know if he wants to do that. I'm surprised, I'm saying this is the sort of Andre Drummond skeptic, I think Andre Drummond has become a little bit underrated, like, OK, when you can put up rebounding numbers, like he can put up and if you have him setting screens and rolling for Kyrie Irving and James Harden instead of Brandon Jennings, Reggie Jackson and Killian Hayes Delon Wright, he's going to look pretty good and he's going to look more now defensively like he's got to dial the motor was always the question, right.


Does this guy want to dial in every single game, every single possession maybe. I just think he's become a little under it. I agree with you that I don't that this idea that he's an all star and all this like I kind of I mean, he has been an all star, but I've never really conceived of him that way. But I think he would help Brooklyn. But I agree with you. I think their plan is we're closing games with the Ranit Center or Jeff Green at center.


And that's why the Philly matchup is so much fun, because I think they would look at Embiid. Yeah I think you're right. They play Jordan his X amount of minutes but I would think Steve Nash. I like the way he thinks and I think he would look at that is let's not rejigger our rotation in fear of Joel Embiid. Let's make him guard us in space and see if he can do it and if he can. If or if it's not working then we'll be.


I think they would attack him first by just let's play Kevin at center and see be guards. Maybe your guards. Bruce Brown. All right, let's take Chris Brown off the first foot, Landry Schmidt on the floor and just put a bunch of shooting out there and see what he does. Well, the scary thing for Philly in that scenario is Brooklyn basically conceding and beats thirty eight points a game in the series or doing well, Coulters.


I mean, the Raptors the other night, the last two times they played Philly this week, they just threw like three guys at Embiid every single time he got the ball and just said, You're passing, we're not letting you shoot, we're not letting you even back it down in. The Raptors have a bunch of long fast defenders who can rotate and fly around the nets don't quite have that but it would Embiid might get like fifty in some of those you had a lot of it would be a lot of fun.


I'm not anti them picking up Drummond, I just want to, I want to just put a little caution and it reminds me a little of when the Warriors got cousins, if we were like oh five all stars.


Yeah well this is the thing we were talking on the jump about bio guys and I said, you know, I hate to be the proverbial proverbial turd in the punch bowl, but like I remember when we all lost our minds that the Cavs got Deron Williams. You know, it's like seldom not means by not this PJ Browns, the exceptional. Right. PJ Brown in twenty eight was nearby. OK for the Celtics. PJ Brown in the playoffs.


Yeah, he's the poster boy of the best case version of the the Byeok. Well, on the German thing, if he was a bio guy, which I don't think he's going to be, you could not knock Brooklyn on the price for that. But I think he's going to get traded and I think he's going to get traded to my number one favorite pastime, which I'm going to reveal right after this break.


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All right. Who's my number one favorite pastime? You could probably guess. There's been a couple of texts about them between us over the last two months. It's not, oh, I know who it is, I think it's Charlotte. You're goddamn right it's Charlotte. Yeah, I know. I love Charlotte. So, yes, you know, the Celltex season is turning into a dumpster fire Joe House and Sal and I bet on Charlotte to win the division.


They were like eight to one odds. And so I feel like now I bought my my seat on the Charlotte bandwagon. I just enjoy the hell out of them. I'm just going to go through the things I love, first of all, I have them. I usually feel like I'm pretty good at nailing this guy is going to be good heading into the draft, I would say. I bet my batting average is good even with Halliburton. That was a win for me.


I missed on the lamella thing and I missed as badly as I've missed in a long time. I just between the YouTube highlights, which I completely overrated of him not giving a shit. Take it. Thirty five footers. I underestimated his rebounding in traffic. I hearing about his crappy interviews, which I know you heard the same stuff. It's clear now that he was tanking to get to Charlotte. He is so much fun to watch. I love everything he does.


I apologize to Dave Jacoby, who was telling me from day one that I was going to regret my words. LaBella's last thirteen is twenty six and six last night against the Suns, which is another team that's going to pop up my list, which a game I enjoyed the hell out of. Basically, they gave the car keys to Lobello at the end of the game, he got the switches and then just blew by him off the dribble and did these crazy one handed layups.


And it was like, wow, you couldn't do this a month ago. Seems like he'd be incredibly fun to play with. And I think he's going to be a real star. And he's the main reason I love watching that team. Were you surprised by lamella?


I mean, I'm surprised by any rookie who comes in as polished as this and as they. Is this the thirty five percent from three on high volume, like second five threes a game? I don't think even the optimists expected that kind of shooting from him. His finishings gotten better. His passing, I expected because I saw enough. First I got this guy. This guy has it. Whatever it is, he's got the vision. But I didn't.


Yeah, I thought there would be much more of a learning curve and sort of NBA growing pains. And he just comes in. He's like, totally changed their team, changed their franchise. I'm happy for Charlotte since I said it the day after the draft on the podcast, I said, look, if if the people that I talk to about the draft, if the liberal optimists are right, Charlotte finally has something really good going for them.


And and what has it gotten to the point where the Warriors front office guys are kind of looking at each other? I don't think so. I think they like Weizman. I still I still have wisemen as my number one, but he's now 1A and LaBella's won't be heading into the draft. I had wisemen, Halliburton. Lamella, or probably his or Edwards, I don't remember, but I had been Hauber went to. I think now I'd have Lobello over Halliburton as much as I love Halliburton because there's superstar his for for where Charlotte was as a team these last 20 years for what they've been as a franchise, for their lack of star power to have this guy who for like my son's generation is going to be, I think, one of the most identifiable NBA superstars on top of the fact that it's fun to watch.


Like, that's that's the piece Halliburton that could be able to match. Like, this guy is a put put him on your posters, put him in your local commercials and his teammates really like them. I think they really like playing with them, which is no small thing.


Look, if I just want to say, if I owned a used car dealership in Sacramento, I would put Tyree's Halliburton in my car. Me too. I would put them in their front and center, a grocery store, whatever it is. I would be trying to get Tyree's Halliburton to be on my commercials.


Well, we love Tyree's Halliburton. And that was an amazing stroke of luck that all these teams passed on him and he fell to 12 for a franchise that has been a mess. And sometimes you need luck. So lamella. I think a big reason this team is fourth in assists per game. Their eighth and made threes, their eighth and three point field goal percentage, but all the stuff is getting better because they actually have their full team right now, their 14th in pace.


Is this a team that should play faster?


And if they were super slow, I believe, as I recall, I think they were like twenty eighth last year. So they're they're speeding up. They don't have Devonta Graham right now and they're still winning anyway. And you haven't mentioned while there's some other things I want to mention mentioned, I'm not going to steal your Charlotte Hornets thunder.


Well Rozier twenty points a game. Forty nine forty five eighty two splits.


No all star buzz. I thought he might get a little. I thought he surpassed Gordon Hayward is their best all star candidate by the very end. Very close. Very close.


He might be our weirdest last minute of the game. They're clearing out for him and I'm OK with that guy who made some big shots. Yeah he makes big and he kind of did this with the Celtics in twenty eighteen. And then people, because he sucked in game seven against the Cavs, people kind of forgot all the big moments he had.


Anyway, he's very, very scary, Terry. That was the thing that was scary.


Terry was the thing, the Heyward Renaissance season. It hurts because it was going to happen last year and he broke up.


But it was it was completely predictable. Like, it's none of this. Gordon Hayward would last year, even last year was like eighteen five and five or something like that. Like it was very clear he was still a very, very good NBA player. I think the bubble and now hurt, he was just kind of tainted the memory of when he broke his hand. He was playing like this last year and now he's twenty two a game. Forty nine.


Forty one eighty seven splits. Grandy had a great tweet about minutes by year where Hayward was, and each year he was like seventh, eighth, thirteenth, ninth in Utah. And then it was like in Boston, you know, five hundred and fifty six, one twelfth. And now this year it's like thirteen. So Boston, just for whatever reason, had the worst luck they ever could have possibly had with them. Myles Bridges, where does he rank for you on random off the bench, entertaining, exciting guys, that guy.


God bless him, just wants to kill people on every dunk and murder in his heart, I don't know if he's been in the dunk contest before I because you'd be shocked to know that I do watch the dunk contest and enjoy it. But its history is not embedded in my brain the same way. I mean, he is just a vicious, vicious dunker and the chemistry he has with lamella. I don't know if I can really quite endorse the Airbnb nickname that people are trying to make happen for them.


How about this? Can people stop trying to make nicknames happen? The whole putting nicknames, is that kind of organically happen? If you're forcing them down our throats, they don't work.


It's not bad. I just think I think we can workshop. There are some other ideas that should be workshop. But he's fun. He's a good passer, too. I really I really enjoy it. I've really enjoyed watching him. And he's fun.


He's a momentum swinger along with this next guy, a guy that I've never quit on in my life, Malik Monk. I never gave up. I was wondering why the Celtics weren't trying to trade semiannually for him a month and a half ago, who's exactly what they needed, a heat check guy who made some threes.


You were the only person on planet Earth who know who, even even me. I can't imagine sitting there and having the thought of. The Celtics really urgently need to trade semi Osili from the league and to my brain, that's a that's a sign, if that's a problem, that your trade machine and we actually had to throw in one more guy.


It wasn't a straight up like man, whatever it was like. Carsen Edwards also. I can picture you sitting there.


Yeah. Like your wife talking to you at dinner. And I'm ignoring. Yeah. I liked you, Malik Monk. I think we can make that work.


Well, Billy fucks last 12 games, fifteen point seven points, three point one made threes per game, forty seven point four from three. And the reason I bring up him and Miles Bridges together, and it's one of the many things that makes the Charlotte team so much goddamn fun, their momentum changers. You know, it's like we're down forty eight. Thirty eight. We don't yeah. We're kind of dead. And then our son Mark makes three threes in a row or bridges dunks over three guys at once and they can flip the game and you know, not to go back to the Celtics, but that's the biggest thing the Celtics team doesn't have.


They don't have anybody that can come in off the bench and swing a game for five minutes. And Charlotte has Myles Bridges that mock freaking Biyombo can come in and block three shots in two minutes you know and can I, can I tell you the only guy on the Celtics who kind of comes close and if the Celtics continue to sputter.


I almost hope they use it as an excuse to just take the kid gloves off Robert Williams and just play them thirty five minutes a game and see what happens. I just want to see what happened.


I understand there's some miscues defensively. He's a little over the place, but the stuff that guy can do is special. He's a good passer, which people don't really realize. There are a lot of people don't realize. I just I feel like we're just perpetually stuck in this. The Celtics have a lot of veteran bigs. They don't trust. Robert Williams, 12 minutes here, 18 minutes. They're nine minutes. I just want to I want to see it.


I want to see the full experience. When you say miscues defensively. That's like saying my new puppy is had only a couple of miscues in the house. The miscues are constant defensively because anybody who's who switches him on the perimeter, he doesn't know where the three point line is. How many three pointers has he given up where he's a step late because he didn't realize that shot was worth three points instead of two? That's I think that's why he doesn't play.


I think it drives Brad Stevens crazy. It he to figure out where the three point line is last thing with Charlotte, because I think this is an important point that the coaches are expiring contract. They could package some stuff together to get to Drummond, I personally wouldn't do it. There is a Cody Zeller and a first for Myles Turner trade kind of sitting there, oh no, come on. No, no, no, no. Four Indian is the Indian is not doing that, so so they went from last year trying to get off Myles Turner to Hayward for Gordon Hayward.


And draft picks that were pretty high. I thought it was Myles Turner and and Mick Buckets for for Hayward, basically. Right. Gordon Hayward, they viewed as will pay him, so you're a good guy, Turner and Sabonis. Until a better alternative comes along, I think they're OK with it, I don't I think it's they've made the best of it.


I know you would want a first round pick from Charlotte. I mean, Charlotte's going to fight to protect it in such a way is it's not going to be as enticing as you say it appears to be when it comes out of your mouth. Is the Charlotte Hornets first round pick it, Charlotte Hornets top 10 protected first round pick. Does that your five.


I'm giving unprotected pick for Myles Turner. Well, they're in this draft. They won't if you're Charlotte.


No, nobody gives up unprotected picks anymore.


Except I would do it if I'm sure. I think Charlotte could be like the four seed with one more guy. I will I will say this, though. I do think they are going to sniff around some trade names that usually would be outside their stratosphere just to see just that's why I picked this up.


They gave a pick. Yeah. They can even put in PJ Washington if somebody wanted to go. No, I want to hear it. No, this is why on the podcast, tell me if you were them. And I just want to make clear. I'm just speaking theoretically. No reporting, no nothing. Listen, we're in a safe space. Even if you shot down my Myles Turner trade in two seconds, we're in space.


Why would you not? Why would you not call? Bradley, Beal's agent, and say, hey, oh, just look at this, does he would he like it here? Because if he would like if he'd resigned here, we'd be prepared to give up a whole lot of stuff for him. Or I'm just saying as an example, why wouldn't you where else are you going? I mean, you have Romello Ball, you have all your picks.


Like, I would at least placed the call again. This is no reporting. This is just my regular reclose.


You're so afraid of the aggregators. So you're saying they call and they say Rogier, Zellar and everything, gave you everything for everything.


But for first four swaps, which will try to keep Miles Bridges and a couple other young guys. But like, let's let's let's see what we can do.


That's a lot more fun than Miles. Myles Turner. I was trying to figure out how they could get because the Zellar Biyombo combo is what keeps them from being actually interesting in a playoff series.


I feel like Cody Zeller. I have a ten things item about this that I'll never write because it's Cody Zeller and not enough people care. I feel like he's three inches off on every layup, like every layup just rolls around the rim and falls off. It's just these three inches away from averaging like seventeen points a game and they all miss.


Well it seems like this team has great chemistry and it does seem like he's a part of that. It seems like everybody likes to. Anyway, that was my no.


James Ray was a good coach, by the way. James Farago, if that team ends up actually went in their division, I mean, Utah's coach is probably putting away coach of the year. But if they are, I don't. Bergesen on the list. All right.


Who do you have who you don't even need? I don't even need to think about it. I don't need to think about Denver. Denver is my pick now. Now he's just Jokic is Jokic That's it. I got nothing. I mean the guy have you. He's actually like sneaky fast with the ball this year. He'll look he's not the he's not permanently fast but if he needs to get fast for like a baseline spin or he catches the ball in transition he's got to gear now that he didn't used to have.


And you can see teams defenses react like what what that dude can like get by me a little bit now. And he just he still does things every game, not every game, maybe every other game. You'll see a defense that just he does some fake or some pass where the defense just reacts as if they've never seen a human being try this before. It's so foreign to them that they don't understand what's just happened. And it's just it's just so I don't even care who plays.


Gary Harris never plays any more. Will Barton ever plays any more. Michael Green disappears somewhere. It doesn't even matter to me. Play Zeke Naji, Bulbul Yokich. I don't even care if Murray plays. They're my pick. This was the first to to your point about how he seems a little faster, this was the first season that he actually started to remind me of Dirk, which is so weird, where they you just think like, well, those two guys have nothing in common.


But some of the stuff he's been doing offensively is darkish. And I do feel like Dirk is a one of one. But Yokich is pulling now from three different iconic players, Bill Walton, Sabonis Dirk. And but also is like his own version at the same time, but I'm with you, I'm just so disappointed in that team. I had them lower in my rankings just because I. I think that's if you had to say what would be the most shocking, abrupt coaching fire.


Coming out of the all star break, I think Denver would have to be one of them. I don't I'm not saying he's going to get fired, but if you're just every year, there's always one shocking. Oh, my God, what that happened here to be alone.


It was Mike Malone in Sacramento when they got off to a good start. Then Boogie got sick. I think you got mono or something and had to sit out for a while and they fired Mike Malone. Everyone's like, what I'm like, I'm unhappy with how they're playing. I think they're going to have a run in them when they get everybody back. Porter was out for a while. Now he's back. But all those other guys, I think they're going to have a run in them when they get intact.


So I'm I'm and I think Mike Malone. You know, X's and O's wives, we might disagree here and there, but you don't do what they did in the playoffs last year and you don't do what they did the year they did make the playoffs, where they had to win like eight out of nine against good teams just to force the winner take all game. You don't do stuff like that if your culture is in pretty rock solid. I think they've had some clearly some of their players have verbalised, notably Will Barton, about, you know, I'm a starter.


I don't care what anyone tells me. I'm a starter. They've got to navigate the thing that happens to every team that gets a lot of good players, which is people get put in roles that they're unaccustomed to. But you don't do what they did without a rock solid culture that that comes together when it counts. And Mike Malone has to be given at least partial credit for that. Do you think they regret not going after hard? No, no, I don't.


Murray for Hardin would have been a fun one. I actually did Murray's extension kicked in. I think it might have actually even been impossible for them to do it.


And I think it's kicked in here as a as a thought. I would have been like, oh, we can't do that. Yokich give him dribbling. James Harden. But then watching James Harden on this Brooklyn team made me think like, oh, man, that would have been amazing. I kind of wish they had been able to do that. We're going to take a break and then I'm going to go to my second league to.


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We looked at over, looked it up over the break. They could have traded Yamamori for for James Harden. I think it would have been inconceivable two months ago now, I would say, you know. I'd rather have James Harden, what do I know, my number two favorite league past team is Golden State, which is number two, but it's number four on our list, right off Golden State.


Penn State was on my list to so off. I had Charlotte, one Golden State to the Curry Renaissance season just single handedly has and also like. You just don't know what you're going to get from night tonight from anyone on that team, including Draymond from Draymond, at least you know you're going to get rebounds, assists, defense, but he might score two points. The swing guys. I don't know if any of them are going to make a shot.


The bench guys, I don't know if any of them make a shot. And Curry has navigated this and the leadership and in this league where everybody Baltar's unhappy if they don't have enough help and he just doesn't give a shit and he's just carrying them and he's been as good as he was into that 16, he's averaging five threes a game, which would put him on pace to crack. Four hundred. We're not going to have an eighty two game season.


He's thirty five and five, just like he was in his second MVP. And I just love watching him. I really missed him. He's he's a show, you're right, he and Yokich are among the half dozen guys who by themselves get their teams into this into this conversation and yeah, you know, look, Curry, he's invested in the Warriors. He wants to stay there. He wants to make it work. That's easier to do when you've won three titles.


Right. He doesn't he's not facing this endless chatter of he's never done it. He's never done it. He's got somewhere else to get. He's got that under his belt. So it's a little easier for him than it is for others. But, yeah, they're I mean, he's just he's unbelievable. This is a big year for Steph Curry because there was a lot of, you know, can he carry a team from from idiots?


By the way, you're an idiot. If you made that point. And he's doing pretty well with this one.


One hundred and thirty games and back to back in two seasons combined.


I mean, I don't need to tell you this, that Durant one hundred and forty to Durant, moved to Golden State, changed just everything. It worked everything about the NBA, including how we talk, including how we do it. Right. Yeah. Yeah. They were 140. In twenty four in the two seasons before Durant got there, and people like Curry can't carry his own team, you guys are morons. If you said that the twenty seventeen finals between the Warriors without Durant and the Cavs as they existed are one of the great theoretical matchups.


I would love to see because that Cavs team was awesome. Anyway, so the Warriors are 18 and 15 as retape in this. They should be 19 and 14, they lost the dumbest game of the year to Charlotte, which was good for my Charlotte bit, but there is a point earlier in the season when I was wondering if.


And say it was going to make the playoffs. I think they're definitely going to be one of the eight teams that drayman season. I know I've talked about on my podcast before, so I'll give you the four on this for 10 seconds. Give any explanation for why he just can't score in a basketball game anymore? I don't know.


But I remember the three point shooting. There's clearly one outlier here that was just a random deer that won seventy three games. It was just a random like this is just crazy.


But I remember writing and saying probably when I was still in Grantland, about like he could be one of these guys who, when he loses 10 percent of his athleticism, like all of these layups and floaters, that he barely gets over the hands of shot blockers like those. All could elude him if he just loses a little bit of athleticism. But that hasn't impacted his defense, his passing, his playmaking. So he's still he's he's one of a kind player.


And there's just I can't really think of a lot of guys that have ever been like him.


And you and I both love Weismann the potential of him. I like the potential.


I'm excited to start watching again. Like these guys go away for two, three weeks. You forget about them. But I do. I think I was I was actually surprised by how much Warriors fans or segment of them seemed to be dispirited with his early season play. His mind was fine as a rookie, a rookie center, learning to fly rookie big man.


How about essentially he didn't play college at all?


Yeah, ridiculous. Who do the number three league passing? Um, I have a few candidates. I think I'm going to go with the Pelicans, Zion, Zion specific, just Zion. I mean, I just he's making it's like you look at the boxer as I go tzion 13 of 17, you just glossed right over it. You don't even stop anywhere like 13 of 17. That's seems unusual. Someone someone missed four shots out of like 20 in an NBA game.


He's just doing it every night. He jumps four times. I would like to see how many times I could jump in the span that Tzion jumps like four times. And the point Zion thing is super fun. It's turned Lonzo into different kind of player. It's got Brandon Ingram being a different guy. I think they're really, really fun to watch and mostly because there are deep there, you know seven eight guys deep. That's it. But my other candidates were Utah.


I find I've been like one of these nerdy best men. I love you Joe Ingles pass fake.


It's like OK, fine Philly. I'm a little bored with Philly, so I think I'll go to New Orleans and the other team is guaranteed to have a great offensive game against the Pelicans. That's the other thing. So I had them for. I would not have had them in the top 10 until two weeks ago when Stan was in a coma, was I on and then finally realized I go, what do I have here and now? I thought some of the stuff he's done the last couple of weeks and how they're using him on specific plays that just take advantage of nobody can stay in front of this guy.


And if he has a head of steam, it's over, so now it seems like it's almost like watching, you know, that guy when the chiefs how they don't watch football that much. But Tirico, who's the fastest guy in the league, and the chiefs will get him in motion sometimes and then they'll just run these plays where he's in motion and just runs a slant at full speed. And he could just get to this four yard spot. And it's basically unguardable.


And with Tzion when he's moving, which is why the point forward thing's been so much fun when he has like a little little wind in his back. It just seems like he can go wherever he want and how and wherever he wants, and how many guys in the history of the league could you have said that about? Nobody wants to take a charge from him. If you body him up, you just fall backwards anyway, like like you would with LeBron.


And he's going left every time in the team knows it, but he still gets the shot he wants. And I just don't know how to stop him when he's got the wind on his back.


He had a dunk against Portland the other day from the from the left wing. I think Covington was on him. And he blew by Covington's so easily, and then there was someone waiting at the rim who took off. I remember that, cocked it back with two hands and dunked it. And this guy didn't even get near. Whoever was supposed to rotate had no shot. And it happened so fast that I rewound it. And it's like I have to see what happened to Robert Covic does.


But he just vanished. He was gone. And it's he has 10 plays like that. Every game where you just say to yourself. It's it's it's alarming, he's an alarming player, I'm alarmed by how athletic he is. Yeah, and it's weird because I still feel like he's not at peak powers yet. It still seems like he could lose five or six more pounds, but maybe he doesn't need to. I thought Stan did a bad job coaching that team.


And the last two weeks, you know, you think about that Celtics game on Sunday. Might have been it might have been an incredible fork in the road moment for both teams and you get Russell and I talked about it and you can kind of feel it when they started coming back. There was a moment during that game and we were texting back and forth with talk about and we're going to lead with, like the pelicans. This is a disaster.


What's going on? And now it feels like it's flipped in 72 hours or just part of the problem with podcasts. And then on the flip side, for the Celtics to lose that game seems to have sent them in a tailspin, too. But Zion. He's a one on one and it's all been said, so I had them as far as so go again. I got to go again. Yeah, I want to pick it out of the box here.


Well, I can go then you want me to go? Yeah, you go, I'll just go. I had I have Phoenix. Like watching Phoenix that much, I'm interested to hear your case, so my case is I'm on the West Coast. There aren't a lot and my choices are basically if I can get a taco going with the words game and a Suns game, I'm pretty happy, I think, with the Suns. I like watching the the potential of the team I think about as I watch them.


And is this a team that we might see in round two, round three? Because I've talked about this round three.


That's that's space. Well, it's a weird season.


There's going to be some injury that we're not expecting.


And there's a guy like Phoenix. But round three means you beat Utah, one of the eight teams from. Listen, I'm ready for to see a weird team. And one of the two conferences I'm with you. They're probably not going to make round three, but it's a team that really knows who they are and the last five minutes of a game. And I think that's a really important trait they to see. They have an awesome score and they have an awesome leader and CP and Booker can get his own shot.


And, you know, really that Ayton thing is going to be the piece, right. Because you saw what Charlotte was doing yesterday with two just getting him in switches and he, I don't feel like he can guard people twenty five feet away and I thought a lot of centers can but it does feel like a team you can attack. On the defensive end, what have you seen from that end? Well, I'll go one further on it. Ayten to me is one of the most interesting players in the league in the next two or three years, a guy who could potentially swing the balance of power in the league if he hits his ceiling or or versus not coming close to the ceiling.


You know, McKale Bridge is going to get paid a lot of money, a lot of money. I think people need to start preparing themselves for like the four year. Eighty five dollars million extension. Oh, I think so. One hundred. And I wasn't going to blink or whatever it is. If you said four for one hundred, I was just going to stare at you and book is going to get what book he's already got his big deal.


Cam Johnson will get a decent deal. Do they want to resign? Chris Paul in tears? Maybe not. I don't know. Like, I think it's I think the money is going to start adding up fast. Like, if you give a max date and and, you know, you can laugh at DeAndre and getting a max number one picks who put up numbers like he does typically get the max after their rookie extensions or something close to it.


The bill gets pretty, pretty big, pretty fast for Robert Sarver.


Zach, are you insinuating that Robert might have a history of maybe not paying for expensive teams?


I'm just saying it gets expensive. You start coming up on the that's the thing about being a young, exciting team. You blink an eye and it's like, oh, my God, we're over the tax. We just paid all these guys. It's like the dinner bell for the for the eight person dinner for. Yeah. Twelve hundred dollars.


But I, I do think it is really interesting. He's been on balance I think, disappointing this year. I've already made a big jump last year. It hasn't sustained in his defense, you know, he's trying to find himself with those two guards and where he fits in bridges is making a little bit of a leap. Now they're starting Kominsky at the four which they've landed on. This is their stopgap solution. I don't particularly like it, but it's working.


OK, he's trying to find his place and he's got he has one out of every three games. We're like, OK, just put up twenty three and fifteen or whatever it is. And so I'm but I am interested in him. I do think they're really good. I think they're legit.


One thing I like about them is the better the team, the more kind of fun the game is like they had. I'm looking at their schedule. They had that game. They beat Milwaukee by one point, they beat Philly by nine. But that was a really fun game. They had the Brooklyn game where they lost by four, where it was basically just harden against the whole team. But that game was really fun. They had. Two straight, they ended hottie and a double duty game against Denver, so factor that into my league past rankings.


It seems like when they go against somebody else who's good, the game is or should get the game. Last night against Charlotte was really entertaining. But I like that when I watch them. I like thinking of the potential of can this happen? What about Soraj? And there's always like subplots with them. And then I just like watching Chris at this stage of his career, where it's just like watching an actor who just knows exactly who he is as an actor and he just comes into these parts, you know, and it's just like, all right, oh, that's that guy.


It's like Gene Hackman. It's Gene Hackman. I know what he's going to do in this movie. That's Chris, especially in the end of these games. It's like, oh, I know he's going to do he's going to go to the paint. He's going to do that hop step back on the right block, that little 12 foot footer. And the other team for some reason is going to do this. I just enjoy it.


He's got to he's got to step back an extra six inches now just to just to get a little more space. There's a little more space. But he is one of the greatest clutch players of all time. And as soon as Chris Paul's on your team, you have an identity. You're going to see how he plays.


And the ceiling for them is going to be Booker, who the reason he make the All-Star team is the way he played the first, I would say, four or five weeks. But he's also a guy that could in the month of March, if you told me he's going to average thirty two points a game and be the player of the month, I would be surprised then when I talk about round three potential for them. For me, it's Ken Booker.


Become a guy who can go toe to toe in a playoff series against the other team's best guy and then is going to get better of these next two months. You have one last look past him. You know, you're my first choice will just be Philly, because I just am endlessly fascinated by Simmons and Embiid and how they fit together and how Dak is trying to solve that puzzle. So I just and Embiid is. You just have to fast forward the free throws, so let the game run for an hour because it is going to take 15 free throws, you're going to want to fast forward.


But he's just such a telegenic presence all goofily.


And Betis at this point and the Yokich is like this two and looka is like this. There's a couple others where you just want to check the box scores during the game if you're not monitoring it like a second quarter and beat us twenty nine, you know. Yeah. And then then it's time like that Bulls game on Friday night. It's like, oh, it's an NBA game. It's time to watch us. All right. We're going to take a break and then we have one more dumb game for you.


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Live sports breaking news and a mountain of entertainment. Paramount plus streaming March 4th. Cindy, one, every times that comes on the part, I like to throw him a topic within a couple hours of the pod that I know will break his brain.


Yeah, 90 minutes before the pod age, you get a text and like, hey, we're last minute. We're going to break the ten best players in NBA history. Just just get ready.


The best left handed power forwards. Just give up. Tap your head. So this is something I thought of the other day during the New Orleans Boston game when. They were inbounding the Board of Zion. And I knew before they even did it what they were going to do, they're going to run, this is about the soberness play that Indiana likes to run. If they're on the left side, they throw the ball to him on the block. He kind of fakes the handoff, turns and goes, and nobody really stops it.


And I knew the I was running, I think the subtext in the play was running, Tristan Thompson knew the play was running and Zion got to the rim, got it, and won. It seemed like an offensive foul, but it wasn't. He's just Superman. And it got me thinking like. All right, 15 seconds left in the game, I'm down one point, I'm coming out of a timeout. What's my list? Of the guys, I if my life depended on it, who's getting me a basket, what does that list look like now?


Can you get can you get a teammate a basket or does this person have to get the basket? He just has to get my team a basket. Yes, to create a basket. OK, create a basket, but I think probably he's going to be creating it would be my guess. So. You know, the default and this is where people get bad is it's one of those things where LeBron has to be first. It has to be LeBron, so I guess my first question is, does it does it have to be LeBron?


And where I landed was it actually does have to be LeBron. And here's why. I think he. Has the ability to get to the rim. Much like we just talked about, Zain, but he's also going to get the call almost every single time, even if the shot doesn't go in, I think the a mattress next to you.


This is a compliment to these grapes or so. I just trust his ability.


To either get a basket or get fouled more than I trust anyone else in the league, so I would I would go LeBron first 15 seconds or less. Get me a basket, LeBron, or he's going to make a great pass and create something for somebody else. I still think he's the best option. Your thoughts on that? I I didn't rank my guys. To me, there are four that stand a little. There was a tier of four that like whoever my five are, I have to have these four.


And he's one of them. And for all the reasons you just said, he's not going to turn the ball over. He's going to make a good pass or create a good shot. He's able to get to the rim. He's able to draw fouls. And that's why, you know, and the Celtics have been guilty of this a lot like those when they end the game.


And it's just like a Tatum ISO three just poured gasoline on it for I understand how you you want to remove the possibility of a turnover, but if it's tied, you just have to put the referees in play. You have to. And I just think it's it's bad coaching to not even give the referees a chance to win you the game, basically.


And I think this is something LeBron realized over the last three or four years. That, well, first of all, it's harder to guard him than ever because they've changed some of the defensive rules, but and he's so strong now and these guys bounce off on. And he just knows, like, if I'm going toward the basket, nobody's going to be able to stop my progress, I'm going to bounce off people and they're probably not calling an offensive foul on me.


So I'm going to put this in the hands of the defender and the refs as much as I possibly can, because nobody's taking the ball for me. I'm not getting stripped. And odds are I'm so strong. Even if I get fouled, I could make it anyway. And it's kind of unstoppable. And I don't really know what you do if you're the other team. How do you plan in a time out for that if you know it's going to happen?


Like, hey, just keep your feet moving. What do you do? Yeah, everyone would just say stay back and let them shoot jump shots, but he's become a good enough jump shooter that these kind of situations and open LeBron 20 footer is a good shot. I mean, you don't get better shots than that in the last five seconds of of a close game.


Yeah. And if you're the other team, you're hoping he does a pull up three. That's my dream scenario. Like, please, LeBron do that, make that one out of every three times, basically. All right. So who did you have? You said you had a list of four. Give me your second name on that list.


I mean, Durant is the obvious one. You just have to have Kevin Durant on any list. Like this seven footer who could shoot like that from all of the floor has a history of big shots, has multiple iconic NBA finals shots. Like, I just I don't I would be blown away if you're a list of five. Did not have the name Kevin Durant on it.


I think he's the shortest two points we've ever had at the four position. I think Kareem's to the US two points ever. I think Michael Jordan was the shortest two points at the Guard position and KDDI at four. Because he can score on any type of shot in any type of way from any distance. So I agree with you, I had a. For my third guy. I was I was really surprised he made this list, and it's kind of ridiculous, and you're going to laugh at me.


I think it would be Zyad. Is that crazy, too, well ahead of schedule for me, OK, but I don't I don't think it's crazy. I mean, Zile lives and we just waxed poetic about him. He's the 70 percent foul shooter. So you're not too too worried about him going to the line if necessary. I just I went with guys that a little bit more of a track record and have that's that's why I feel good about it and have better jump shots.


But I don't I mean, it's a little premature for me. But here's my case. I still haven't seen anyone stop him from going to the basket when he really wants to, and I think he's just tapping into that right now. And I just know rooting against him on that Sunday game, knowing that he was going to get the ball, I was terrified. He's my three my three boys, Luca, who I just I just lost the game to because the problem with Luca.


He has the LeBron thing, too, where he can get to the rim, draw a foul, whatever. But then he also has this crazy save the terrible position that went sideways, step back three that he doesn't make until there's two minutes left. And he also has the past potential. So Luca was on my list of five. And what scares me, it's it's a little ridiculous to say, considering he's made a bunch of big ones, is not to step back.


Three, you nailed it. What scares me is he gets into that weird area where he's like 12 feet from the rim, which is normally as is like a tough dead zone for a lot of guys. He's just in his office down there. He's going to spin and fake and get you up in the air and find a corner shooter that suddenly pops open or someone's going to cut to the Dunker spot. He just gets in an area where it's jail for most guys and he makes plays.


And that's what scares me more than the step back. Three.


That's the piece that reminds me a bird. Yeah. Which is like people, though. OK, compare the to white guys. It's like. The fact that Loukia pay plays at that certain pace that he has, which is what Birdie's to do, right, he would slow the game down, he would slow everybody down to the pace he wanted to be and then he would do his stuff. And I think magic was like that to Magic did the same thing in the late 80s.


He would slow everyone around him down to the pace he wanted to be and then he would do whatever you want to do.


Did you happen to watch Boston, Denver, like a week and a half ago? Yeah. That was the game Yokich had like 30 at the head, no help. Yeah, and Scalabrine, he was just cackling at every single Yokich basket, cackling like just stop broadcasting the game. They just started laughing at it because it was so ridiculous. Then they compared him to Larry Bird. Then I guess people on Twitter got so angry at them for comparing him to Larry Bird Boston fans that they literally apologized on the air.


Like we don't we're sorry. We know Larry Bird. We love it.


And it was just it was a very funny joke, which is another good example of the slow the game down thing. I thought it was funny that the fans expect nothing but reverence for their own players and franchise, that just the act of comparing an opposing player to Larry Bird, they felt the need to walk it back on the air. Well, it was Boston. And the Boston fans are really touchy these days between the Celtics collapse. They traded Mookie Betts, Tom Brady.


It's tough. It's been a flip. So I had I had Tzion three, I had looka three B and then for my five spot, just the way he's playing right now is a bit. The thing that scares me about Embiid is sometimes he settles for the exact shot that the defense is delighted he's settling for. When he has those moments where he's like Oh I'm much bigger and stronger than everybody else. I just feel like he's the most Onestop guy in the league and sometimes he realizes that.


But it's like his curse in a way is that he can make that crazy shot he made to end that Bulls game. Do you see that shot when you made that twenty four foot off one foot wasn't even a three two guys on him and it was just his fuck. You ended the game and it was like. That's going to make him keep taking shots like that when sometimes maybe those aren't the shots he should be taking.


It's a little interesting that we went all size and I think indicative of the power of sort of a big wing kind of player in these situations, like how would the force how is Damian Lillard given all the shots he's made? Not on either of our lists. Adam six and me too. He's, he's right under there. Chris Paul, one of the greatest clutch players of all time. Steph Curry. Neither of them made my list so my five were Durant, LeBron, Luca and then we differ on the last two I had Kawhi still missed a lot of big shots this year, but I think that I think the history speaks for itself.


And you're going to you're going to laugh at me. You're going to laugh at me. You're going to roll your eyes. I just want you to when we get off the podcast, look at the numbers in crunch time line, no further from the last three seasons. Look at them. There's going to be a bunch of these guys, these wings and guards that shoot thirty to forty five percent. Yeah, nice numbers in crunch time to some not nice numbers.


Give me one big guy who shoots like fifty percent and has a ton of clutch baskets as much as every guard in the league. And it's the guy you very rightly compared because of this exact thing to Dirk Nowitzki and it's Yokich. And so Yokich with the other guy on my list, verifier.


That's a good list, the reason I thought of this topic was. And this is the problem with playing Brooklyn in Brooklyn, has one guy we mentioned in Hardin probably should have been when we were talking about Dame Curry, we should have mentioned Hardin as well. It's just the playoff hangover with him and then Kyrie's another one who, if he's feeling it, is unstoppable, just the consistency of it.


But he's made one of the biggest. I mean, that's the top five big shot in NBA history in game seven of the twenty seventeen finals. Top three maybe. I mean, how many shots are bigger than that in the history of the league?


So we just mentioned like 14 or 15 guys. Yeah. None of them play for Milwaukee. It's true, and it's a thing I thought of and I think I talked about it at the time when they played Brooke on that game. And it basically became three and three. And it became clear that their three kids are not as good at scoring at basketball as the other three guys on the Brooklyn team, and you watch came away from that series or that game and you think like in a series, I just don't think they'll be able to match baskets at the end, which has been a problem with the Celtics, too, like you'd think like the Celtics in that Toronto series, Lowry and VanVleet are going toe to toe with their best guys in the Miami series.


It's all these onepoint games and they can't pull these games out. You need these guys and you're right about Jokic Jokic should be on there but Tatum should make a run at one of these spots soon right.


I mean Tatum's made even the other day against Dallas. Tatum made a couple of big shots like he's in the shot selection. Yeah, it's this kind of player. It's the shot selection, the combo of needing to get to the basket a little bit more, my dark horse for this conversation is Sabonis Unended. OK, I do.


I do think he gets really good shots at the end of games, especially in the last twenty seconds with that time.


By now I want to pick a dark horse. Like a random guy that I well, that currently ends with our cursus rogier.


We did we did name Rogier shares, I fear where confident, but he has the ball with like eight seconds left on my on my adopted Charlotte Charlotte Hornets. Kawhi was a good one. I should have thought I didn't mean to me. I just doesn't look like he's at the same level. He was those first couple rounds in twenty nineteen. But I know statistically is, I'm just saying I test.


He's missed a lot of his crunch time numbers this year are bad. He's missed a lot of big I mean big regular season. You can only get so big but he's missed a lot of big hits.


It is an overreaction to say he doesn't have quite the same lift that he had two years ago, because I don't feel like that's an overreaction. I feel like he's like almost like his shoes seem heavier.


I go back and forth on it. I thought earlier in the season he looked heavy and people at the Clippers assured me he was not heavy. And then he started to look more like himself again. And then there are days where I feel the same, the same sensation you just described. So I'm just sort of TBD until maybe there's just it depends how he feels that day or how much he cares about the game or whatever. But there are games where I feel like there are definitely games that I watch even now where I feel like, oh, that mid range jumper was a little little better contested, like not as clean as he usually is.


Before we go, Bill Murray, can we put Jamal Murray, is there no, he's not a he's not a dark horse guy. He's made some of big shots. Definitely not doing that this season. We thought we got Jamal Murray, Jamal Murray puts on the Cape in the playoffs because in the phone booth. Kyle Lowry. A contract for Danny Green, Mike Scott. Teresa Maxey. And a twenty twenty two first. So basically, Maxcy in a first yeah, in a bad first, and then you flip for the great anywhere just of for everybody for the greatest player in the history of the franchise.


Yeah, but, you know, Messi has no loyalty to anybody. I think. I don't think that's a lot for Kyle Lowry. I think the problem is he makes 30 million. They're going to have a really hard. They're going to have trouble.


And all these teams of trade, all these contenders have traded all their picks already. I mean, there's nothing there's nothing to be had. A few of them have young players that are as enticing as Maxey. So that's that's a that's not that's not bad. I mean, a couple of things have to happen. Right? Like one, Toronto has to conclude we don't have a deep run in us this year and the Tampa thing cannot be understated.


I know you've talked about on your overstated I know you talked about your part at such a shitty way to spend a season where you're not even home, you know, and they don't have a center. And I think that there are that talented it's interesting that nurses just decided I'm starting Suhakam or do you want to call in and it will be the center because he guards all of the centers, whatever. Like he's just dispensing with the centers in our starting line up completely.


Yeah, I didn't I didn't think it would take I didn't think you would get there this early or if ever. And he got there pretty early. And we'll also take Kyle saying, hey, I'd like to I'd like to leave and these are three or here's my list of teams if you can accommodate it. The thing is, as you pointed out earlier, in the in the pod, like he won the title, he doesn't have the same urgency to go join a contender.


I was just there was some Lowry buzz today. And and I was just looking at all the teams. And really, that's the Phillies, the only team that makes sense if there's eight, nine contenders, whatever you call it, unless you were going to throw Denver at me, it would be the other one. And Denver Porter's not on the table, obviously. But if you did the, you know, a Gary Harris, RJ Hampton and a pick something like that, you could add up and get to Kyle Range.


Can you cobble? Can you cobble some Miami salary and give me enough in there that I'm interested if I'm Toronto? I can't because the league ruled that illegal for him to play on Miami, because the amount of high culture stories, we'd actually they'd have to shut down the league.


You're not a believer. He goes it the hashtag, you know, and I like the hate culture.


I'm just saying, like, the amount of people talking about Kyle Lowry, he culture, Jimmy Butler was Udonis and just I would be a never ending sort things. So you would say Dragic is in that trade that I'm just I don't have the thing in front of me.


I'm just thinking in my head, what's going to make it worth Miami's while? Are they really going to trade Tyler hero for Kyle Lowry at age thirty five or whatever on expiring contract. I don't think so. Achuar I they have stuff there. They could maybe they are. I believe Bobby Marks has told me probably nine times in the last two years that Miami could free themselves up to trade a first round pick if they change their protections on one of the picks, maybe that they have outgoing or something like that.


So I think they could put something in. I just know Miami at 15 and 17, having just made the finals and having a superstar, whatever you can see. But Jimmy Butler, who's I think thirty, they're not going to just sit on their rest, on their laurels as old people say this. You know, it would be funny. If they traded Dragoljub. Precious. Harkless Lowry, like, you know, Toronto saves six million bucks all the time, but then dropkicks Awesomer Toronto and it's like Oh shit, Toronto's not dead yet.


What happened in Philly acquiring Lowry.


And again, just to make clear, I have no reporting but there was a report out today that the Sixers are interested. That's the only reason we're talking about it was not a report by either of us. It was a discussion about Wieters Lowry to Darrell. His team would be like the poetic end of the like the James Harden trade coming full circle because Lowry for that draft pick was was one of the crown jewels in what became the James Harden entry.


It's a great point. So the thing for me with Lowry. If Philly somehow pulled that off and they had the pics right, they could Maxcy they could add the contracts, they could throw in maybe even two first rounders that they wanted to get super serious. Harris Ben Simmons Embiid. Steph Curry, Kyle Lowry in Crunch Time. Exciting, kind of like that, Kyle Lowry is awesome. I mean, people now give him his respect, but that, guys has been awesome at best man for a long time.


He's a perfect fit for any team that has other guys who need and want the ball because he doesn't care. He'll just make the right play all the time. It's great defensive player. Yeah, they'd be really good. I would put they would vault themselves into true blue championship contention. I still remember Daryl traded for Kalari for like nothing. From Memphis, from Memphis, yeah, and texting, I'm just back, you motherfucker, how the hell did you get Kyle Lowry?


Like, what the hell that was when the late 2000s when players just were given away, that we all knew we were good. And now now I think those trades are much less hard to come by.


Don't you feel like we still don't know the whole story of what happened with Philly and Hardin? Were they just a stalking horse to drive up Brooklyn's Price? Was Houston ever actually interested that Houston asked for too much in addition to Simmons? Like there's just so much so many competing theories. I feel like I don't know if all of them are true. Some of them are true, and no one's going to tell the truth for like five years. There's not theories, there's two versions of the truth, this is a good thing, and then we'll go.


One theory is that the deal was done. Philly thought it was done and then Houston shot the finished deal, basically Brooklyn panicked and did it. The other theory is that Houston was never trading with Philly, dragged them along as a stalking horse, and that there was some some Fertitta Daryle stuff that prohibited Houston from ever actually traded Harding to Philly. But we both have the same intel, and I know Russell does and some other people that there was a point during that day when Philly thought they were going to James Hart.


Delays for the nets now. It's a great what if Zach Lowe I'll be on your podcast in two weeks, the low post. But until then, it was great to see you. I'm sorry I broke your brain a couple of times and I love, like, come on the pod side of the film. Always good to see you.


All right, that's it for this week's Last Best podcast, if you want to hear more from me, you can hear me on the sports cards nonsense. This week, you can hear me twice on ringroad dish talking about Aaron Rodgers and Shailene Woodley on a jam session, as well as breaking down the challenge double agents with Dave Jacoby, which we do every Wednesday on ringroad dish. Also, we did New Rewash this week, neighbors, the Zac Efron Seth Rogen movie.


So that's happening as well. And we have another we watch what's coming up Monday. Stay tuned for that. Be back on Sunday night on his feet and the. We can see that. Simply safe is incredibly easy to customize for your home. Just go to simply save that. You can easily choose the exact sensors you need or get help from one of their experts. They'll get to your house in about a week, which means by this time next week, you and your whole family can go to bed knowing your home is being guarded.


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