Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell, right, shoots as Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez, left, and guard Donald Sloan defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

NBA moves

And this keeps spinning.

The NBA has fully embraced the hot stove approach of what used to be the super fun baseball offseason. Teams wheelin' and  dealin' with moves being done and even more being whispered.

Heck, Paul George is a top 12 or 15 player in this league and Vegas has set the following prop odds for his jersey for next year:

  • Indiana Pacers — 2/3
  • Los Angeles Lakers — 13/4
  • Cleveland Cavaliers — 7/1
  • Los Angeles Clippers — 9/1
  • Washington Wizards — 12/1
  • Phoenix Suns — 16/1
  • Any other team — 4/1

That's nuts.

Side note: The reports that Jerry West was hired by Steve Balmer for the specific purpose of finding a way to make LeBron James a Clipper is cool. And while all the GOAT talk has died down — thankfully — if James finds a way to bring championships to Cleveland and the Clippers — the two worst franchises in NBA history through the years, well, that would be a major feather in his cap.

George may be the biggest name being bandied about but he's far from the only one.

Dwight Howard got shipped from Atlanta to Charlotte. Side note, part II: It was not that long ago that Howard was the best center in the NBA, right? We saw an amazing stat that is quite telling about the players and the changes in the game. Dwight Howard and Shaq are the only two guys to make at least five All-NBA teams and play for five franchises. Wow.

The Lakers dealt DeAngelo Russell and Timofy Mozgov to the Nets for Brook Lopez and a first-round pick (No. 27). That move does two things. It clears the point guard of the future spot for Lonzo Ball and it adds pieces and ammunition for a chance to land George.

Leading into tomorrow's draft — we love the draft; you know this — teams are lining up and positioning with one of two goals in mind:

How can Eastern Conference teams beat the Cavs; How can any contender match-up with the Warriors?

And that's the rub. It also is the crazy part for the Celtics and everyone in the East, considering Dan Gilbert's craziness may very well end the Cavs' run.


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San Diego Padres' Wil Myers circles the bases after a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood in a baseball game Monday, April 10, 2017, in Denver. The Padres won 5-3. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Unwritten rules still confusing

OK, we have railed against the antiquated 'unwritten rules' of baseball.

If you watch a home run for three seconds, the next time up you get one in the back. If you flip your bat, you get one in the ribs. Uh, oh that home run trot took 28 seconds rather than 24 seconds, now take one in the hip.


The simple rule should be, if you don't want a dude to flip his bat, then don't give up a home run. Easy. Right?

Now comes the news from Padres manager Andy Green. (And yes, the fact that a major league team is managed by someone named Andy Green who I could not pick out of a photo is news in and of itself.)

Green was hot about Anthony Rizzo running over his catcher earlier this week. There was a thought and buzz that Rizzo was going to get a heater in the back. He was not. When asked about it, here was Green's statement:

This is what I've always asked: What do you accomplish by hitting somebody? You accomplish nothing. You put a man on first base, and you give them an opportunity to win a baseball game. ... You don't, all of a sudden, gain the high, moral ground because you chose to retaliate. You don't, all of a sudden, get to pound your chest because you were man enough to throw a ball at somebody's back. I think it's absolutely asinine to even take that approach.    


Friends that's progress, because if there's anything that should warrant a physical response it would be running over the catcher — which is now illegal — or an illegal/dirty slide.

While that makes a ton of sense, we're not holding our breath that that will be the view across the game sooner rather than later.

Joe Maddon, the Cubs manager, when asked about it said, "I have no issue with what (Green) said. I disagree with it." 

It's going to take a superstar — a Trout, a Seager, et al. — to get seriously injured for this to get changed, and that change will have to come from the top down. 

Hope for the future

You know, we have spoken at times about the indifference and the snowflake culture of the high school and college students with great promise.

Whether its the hyper-sensitive concern of feelings that officials believe valedictorians create undo pressure and stress. (Uh, gang, competitiveness is never a bad thing. The world is a competitive place and the urge to protect kids and young adults from that is not doing anyone a service, especially the kids.) Or even the worries of chalk messages on sidewalks.

Well, here's a kid that got his shot and made the most of it and looked to turn the tables on an oppressive high school administration.

Meet Peter Butera, the valedictorian at his Pennsylvania high school. He challenged the administration to empower students and allow the student government to do more than organize dances and paint banners for sporting events.

His speech was not the one he originally submitted because he believed they would not have allowed it. He was correct. The school administrators pulled the power on his microphones and walked him off the stage mid-speech to a standing O from his classmates. 

Well, late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel invited Butera on his show Tuesday night and let him finish.

On national TV.

His speech was fine and he did not call anyone out by name. In fact, the worst parts of his speech were heard during the ceremony and the final few sentences he shared with Kimmel and his nation-wide audience were rather benign.

But the school system looks way worse and should be ashamed for its censorship and dictatorial reactions.

Yes, the kid deviated from protocol and changed his speech. Heck, I can remember days when that was the least of the concerns of graduation hijinks.  But look around and everyone — from Colin Kaepernick to every protester this side of the Moon — gets to have their say under the freedom of speech.

And the place where we are trying to teach is going to curb that only allow one directed thought?

That's way more damaging than a whether a back-up quarterback has a job or not. 

This and that

* As Stewwie correctly predicted on Tuesday, Karen Handel won the Georgia special election for the Congressional seat held by the GOP for roughly four decades. It was close with Republican Handel getting 52 percent of the vote in what is the most expensive congressional race ever. 

* Interesting story here. When he returns, the Braves are interested in exploring the option of Freddie Freeman at third — easily the biggest hole of their eight everyday spots — to keep Matt Adams and his red-hot bat in the lineup.

* Phil Mickelson and Jim Mackay, his caddie for the last 25 years, are parting ways. Side note: Did you know that Mickelson's middle name is Alfred? Not a lot of famous sports stars named Alfred.

Today's question

Let's do a little one-word Wednesday.

Paul George will be a _________ next season.

The person who pulled the microphone on the graduation speech should be _________.

Baseball's unwritten rules will change _________.

Let's keep two Rushmores pretty simple today.

Happy summer, this being the Solstice and all. Rushmore of 'summer' would be?

On this day in 1939, the Yankees announce that Lou Gehrig must retire because he has ALS. Other than Gehrig, who makes the Rushmore of Lou?

Go and remember the mailbag.