Sean Beckwith: NBA copy desk correspondence free agency fireworks
July 3, 2018
Fourth of July came early this year with fireworks in NBA free agency. LeBron James going to the LA Lakers was upstaged in less than 24 hours with DeMarcus Cousins taking $5 million to play one year for the Golden State Warriors. Hello darkness, my old friend, and production manager to the stars, Ben Welch.
However, we'll start with the Denver Nuggets because, well, we're in Colorado. They threw their name in the LeBron sweepstakes with about as much of a chance as me making myself available for Scar-Jo when she announced her divorce. (I'm taken now, Scarlett, don't @ me.) Dashed dreams aside, they're going to sign Nikola Jokic to a max deal after giving Will Barton $54 million and snagging Michael Porter Jr. after he fell to 14 in the draft.
Ben, rate their offseason thus far, and try to give me a reason to not protest the NBA like an offensive Donald Trump policy.
BW: Right now I'd claim the Nuggets are looking to strike gold by spending a load on players they already have after LeBron gave them the shaft instead of blowing up the roster.
Denver got a potential franchise player in Porter Jr., if he ever suits up. Luckily for him, Colorado doctors have specialized in treating "back pain" for years, so maybe we will see a speedy recovery. Sticking with promising younger players is a good strategy for the Nuggets right now, as the competition in the Western Conference is tougher than for City Market roast beef sandwiches at noon. The best strategy for teams that don't have it right now is hope that one day Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James will be starring as themselves in "Uncle Drew: Big 3 League."
I'm always ready for a boycott. I gave up Starbucks for their plain red Christmas cups, Target for its restroom free-for-all, Chik-fil-a because they hate gays or something, Hobby Lobby for no free condoms, etc. This basketball travesty that has been levied upon us is at least as bad as the sum of these.
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Now that the Nuggets have been given their due diligence, let us rain our wrath upon the villainous LeBron and Boogie.
SB: Almost forgot, we haven't talked since the playoffs began, so a quick recap. The playoffs started, Golden State won and then added another All-NBA player. And that's probably how next year will go, and the year after that and so on and so forth until Paul Allen clones Bill Walton and the Blazers finally have a sure-fire center.
The only consolation in LeBron going to the Western Conference is there will be a different team for Bob Myers and Golden State to sacrifice to Hades, Satan and the basketball devil — which is Bill Laimbier mixed with the Miami Heat's "Not five, not six, not seven" pep rally — in the finals.
I don't blame Boogie for signing with the Warriors. He's going to win a title while playing himself into shape then get a massive contract. And when I say I don't blame him, I'm not talking about the playoff hori-kiri I'm going to pull before the Portland gets swept again next season because he's definitely to blame for that.
I'll open up your LeBron hatred soliloquy with some spice; as currently constructed with Rajon Rondo, Lance Stevenson, Javale McGee and the Baby Lakers, screw the finals, LeBron ain't making the playoffs.
BW: DeMarcus Cousins sold out faster than Deadpool in that obnoxious Devour microwaveables commercial. Those advertisements aren't just tailored to me, right? Other people see those, too? I feel like Macaulay Culkin or whoever in "Sixth Sense."
I knew there was only a glimmer of hope that my Washington Wizards would be able to pull off a sign and trade for Cousins. The last smart trade the Wizards made was Kwame Brown for Caron Butler in 2005.
His re-signing with the Pelicans and playing with Anthony Davis would have been cool, but any more "Twin Tower" references may seem inappropriate on Independence Day.
Kevin Durant became my least favorite player after he broke the NBA by joining the Golden State Warriors and winning two championships. And now Cousins had to flop to a team already considered nearly unbeatable? I thumb my nose. I wish I could riff on his nickname, but again, it would be discourteous in this town (on Independence Day). You ever take a swig of something and say to yourself, "Whoa, I'm going to check the expiration date on this before swallowing"? That's the kind of cautiousness the Warriors are taking with this cheap, one-year deal.
A factor has yet to be determined in if LeBron will have the supporting cast to compete: a "Kawhild card," if you will. At this point, I hope the San Antonio Spurs trade Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers out of spite, and give King James ammunition against the current regime (that sounded pretty patriotic).
Let's try to think about something positive. I'll make us an inspirational thumbnail to go on the social medias and dark webs. Who are some of the up-and-coming stars in the rookie class this year? Will any other teams find a missing piece or get it together and make a jump in the standings?
SB: I'm not sure what commercials you're referring to. I stream most of what I watch, so lately it's been an endless barrage of World Cup Adidas commercials (creativity is the answer, by the way). As far as rookies that I endlessly want to watch, Luka Doncic is in a perfect situation learning the league from the best international player of my lifetime in Dallas Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki.
He was thrust into the scariest old-man Y-league with Real Madrid and won MVP. He should've been picked first overall. Dallas with Deandre Jordan will be improved, which leads me to my next question, what's up with the Eastern conference? It's essentially a glorified G League at this point. You should be celebrating. The Wizards can actually lose to somebody in the conference finals with a little injury luck.
BW: Given that the Cavaliers only got the fourth seed last season, I don't think the East is as wide open as some suggest. The Detroit Pistons under the tutelage of Coach of the Year Dwane Casey should be improved. Firing someone who just won coaching's top award (as happened to Casey and Nuggets old coach George Karl "Malone" is like firing Dane Cook at the end of "Employee of the Month."
The Wizards better hope John Wall and Bradley Beal are running marathons and sleeping in hyperbaric chambers because they're going to be logging serious minutes with the rest of the roster made up of undrafted players from schools that sound like diploma mills. Here's a hot take for you: Carried by a 300-pound Kevin Love the Cavaliers return to the Finals for round 5 against the Warriors, which they win on a JR Smith halfcourt three in the face of LeBron, who was traded to Golden State for his twin, Andre Iguodala.
Your Trail Blazers are in a similar situation. You keep trying to swap your C.J. McCollum trading card for my Bradley Beal card. What's the best case scenario for Portland this summer and into the season? Have we been talked off the ledge yet or are we skipping buying League Pass?
SB: I thought your Pistons prediction was the hot take, but the Cavs being anything other than that team you never play with on NBA 2K is scorching. I told you, Acid-trip Bayless, the only way the Blazers improve is through gene splicing. They're yet another inconsequential Western conference team like the Jazz, Pelicans and Thunder. I might adopt a team from the East in the chance that Kyrie Irving's knee, Gordon Hayward's ankle, Joel Embiid's body and Ben Simmons' jump shot fall to pieces in the postseason.
I can't wait to feverishly root for the Pacers to not blow a lead to the Warriors in the finals because Boogie broke Draymond Green's jaw over a stripper and got suspended while Draymond is sucking Jell-O through a straw in the hospital.
Oh, we're definitely getting League Pass. I'm about to hate-watch this season like Mike Riley coaching the Huskers. Any other thoughts before I fawn over Anfernee Simons in Summer League? Perhaps a couple offseason diet tips for John Wall?
BW: I'm the last one to be giving anybody offseason diet tips, unless you want to go on a liquid diet: Beer before liquor, never been sicker/Liquor before beer, you're in the clear. If Wall wants to come train with me, we can hike Smuggler once a week and then binge eat after, screaming about how "we earned this" even though that hike probably only burns a few hundred calories.
Anything can happen in the NBA. Maybe Kevin Hervey will have an out-of-nowhere Donovan Mitchell-esque season. Superteam chemistry doesn't always work, like the Nash-Kobe-Howard combination before everyone realized Dwight is a lockerroom cancer. I'll probably have to watch despite my boycott, but I wish NBA TV would declare its independence from not being part of the League Pass package. I think that sentence is probably about as coherent as the rest of this.
Care to wrap it up with a Summer League preview?
SB: My preview for the Summer League is overreaction. Jaren Jackson Jr. hit eight 3s in Monday's action, which means he projects to be a rim-protecting Kristaps-Dirk hybrid for the Memphis Grizzlies. The only meaningful action left is a Kawhi trade, and a timeline full of more insufferable Lakers fans is literal NBA hell, complete with Bill LamBron presiding over the festivities.
But, hey, there's only a little over three months until the season starts. That's plenty of time to talk myself into Jusuf Nurkic taking the next step after Neil Olshey plummets Portland's salary cap deeper into irrecoverable abyss. Happy Fourth, everyone!
Editor's note: Dwight Howard signed with the Wizards after this was written. Ben refused to comment. Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ben Welch doesn't accept fan mail, but follow him on Twitter @bwelch1990.
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