Most eyes were on Brooklyn again last night, as the Clippers, the hottest team in the league, were the guests of the NBA’s latest and most vibrant science experiment in the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets came out on top 124-120, with Kyrie Irving going for 39, James Harden merely “settling” for a triple-double and Kevin Durant shooting 84 percent from the floor for 26. Those waiting for this all to blow up look like they might be waiting awhile.
While Irving took the wheel for most of the game, once again in the fourth quarter the Nets could simply rotate the responsibility around their Hydra, with each of Harden, Durant, and Irving taking and making big shots. There are too many leaks for any team to plug all at once, and there are barely a handful who can just go to the fireworks factory with them and hope to outscore them. And they have a coach in Steve Nash, while inexperienced as a coach, knows enough to stay out of the way. In the East, the Sixers and Bucks should only be so lucky.
The Clippers were supposed to be the example of how you can’t just throw a couple of stars together and simply wait for the trophies to roll in, given how they turned into mush in last year’s second round and then the stories that came out after on just how miserable everyone was. And maybe that’s what awaits the Nets, but it doesn’t feel like it. That Clippers team was also guided by Doc Rivers, whose coaching rep has always been horribly inflated by being a genuinely good guy, and really good with the media, and winning one title with Tom Thibodeau’s defense, but not Thibodeau’s need to turn his players into aggravated dust as he has as a head coach. We don’t know what Nash will do when the chips are down, but if he realizes he doesn’t have to do much and is happy to do so, that might be all it takes.
The Rockies hierarchy faced the music finally after trading franchise cornerstone (get it?) Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals for ear wax and dryer lint, and paying all of Arenado’s salary this year for the right to do it. None of it is going to make any Rockies fan feel better.
The Athletic’s Marc Carig sums it up best here, but GM Jeff Bridich sounded as if this all just happened to him, as if the winds simply turned Arenado’s heart cold. I guess you can be philosophical when you realize that your boss has no idea that you’re a complete idiot and might never fire you, because Bridich is unquestionably one of the worst GMs in baseball.
To review: The 2017 and 2018 teams that made the postseason were built around a homegrown core that Bridich didn’t draft — Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story, Jon Gray and Kyle Freeland. He did bring in German Marquez, but he’s also the guy who traded Troy Tulowitzki to a place and at a time he told Tulo he wouldn’t. So angering a team linchpin is old hat for Bridich.
Bridich tried to bolster that core that simply landed on him by signing some of the worst free-agent deals in baseball, such as Ian Desmond, Wade Davis and Daniel Murphy, and flooding the Rockies with relievers that you’re not supposed to pay for, and then letting D.J. LeMahieu walk when the money ran out.
Bridich went on to claim that this isn’t a teardown, but that’s only because Bridich built a roster that basically fell in on itself. There aren’t any more pieces to strip other than Story, and why he’d want to stick around no one’s been able to answer, including Bridich himself. One day he’ll write a book about falling upwards.
Let’s end the night with Cale Makar of the Avalanche seeing Minnesota’s Ryan Hartman to the land of wind and ghosts.