Shanoff's WUC: LA, LeBron, Wade, Mets, Caps

Today's Calls: Lakers frontcourt vs. Thunder backcourt, LeBron vs. the Celtics, Dwyane Wade vs. Summer Free Agency, Mets vs. Anyone, Francisco Liriano vs. Livan Hernandez, Ryan Howard vs. Albert Pujols, Capitals vs. Canadiens, JaMarcus Russell vs. the Raiders, Jeff Ireland vs. Dez Bryant, Scott Sicko vs. the NFL, Ted Leonsis vs. the Wizards, Mark Emmert vs. the NCAA and More. ↵
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↵TheOpening Pitch: Today is about the short-, mid- and long-term future of the NBA.
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↵ ↵• In the immediate future: It is hard to see the Thunder rebounding from the shellacking they took from the Lakers last night. All that pre-game talk about OKC running was blunted by the Lakers going inside-inside-inside: Bynum and Gasol combined for 46 points on 18-of-26 FG shooting. That said: What a lesson for the Thunder on Game 5 playoff intensity. ↵

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↵• Next month (next week, really): We can look forward to a LeBron-Celtics grudge match, where the King of the league takes on a former champ with a pry-it-from-our-cold-dead-hands mentality about their diminishing place in the NBA hierarchy. Presuming James' elbow is OK, the prying is inevitable. ↵

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↵• And looking ahead two months: Was that Dwyane Wade's last game for the Heat? He may be naturally inclined to re-sign in Miami, but if he wants to win championships, it is unclear that a team getting bounced from the 1st round of the playoffs in 5 games can add anyone who will not just help Wade get out of the 1st round, but win 3 more rounds, too. (His home-town Bulls may be able to make a more compelling case than the home-team Heat.) ↵

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↵We may look back on last night as a pivotal moment in the NBA's future. ↵

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↵Mavs-Spurs: "Now it's a series." That's Caron Butler (35 pts, 11 reb), who brought a level of no-quit toughness that the softie Mavs were looking for when they traded for him. (Fellow Wiz alum Brendan Haywood had a good game in his first playoff start: 8 pts, 8 reb, 4 blocks and a big body to frustrate Tim Duncan.) We Wiz fans will take our playoff success vicariously. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: ↵

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↵• Break up the...Mets! (6 straight Ws). ↵

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↵• Liriano on fire: 23 straight shutout innings pitched. ↵

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↵• Fountain of Youth: Livan Hernandez> ↵

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↵• Strasburg Watch: 5 IP of no-no pitching. ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: Austin Kearns (HR, 5 RBI). ↵

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↵Ryan Howard Deal, Cont'd: Dan Levy has a must-read analysis of the analysis of the Howard deal. Meanwhile, Bobby Cox thinks that Albert Pujols is worth $50 million a year. Pujols would probably settle for -- oh -- 30. ↵

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↵NHL Playoffs: There is nothing in sports like a hockey Game 7 -- especially when it involves the league's best player and the possibility of the East's best team playing at home, at risk of getting bounced out in the 1st round. ↵

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↵JaMarcus Russell Employment Watch: The cut from Oakland could come any minute now. The next question: What team will be willing to bring him in as a backup/development project? ↵

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↵Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland took a ton of heat when it came out that he asked Dez Bryant if his mom was a prostitute -- even by the absurd standards of NFL pre-draft interrogations, it was ridiculous. _Ireland apologized, appropriately. ↵

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↵More pre-Draft info that only comes out now: Was Florida TE Aaron Hernandez's failed drug test in college the reason he slid through the draft? Percy Harvin had pre-draft issues with pot, too; it seems like it turned out OK for the Vikings. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Alan Faneca was the veteran presence that helped the Jets' O-line develop into one of the league's best. A couple years later (and older), can he do the same thing in Arizona? ↵

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↵NBA Awards Season: Tyreke Evans will be Rookie of the Year, and it's hard to argue, given his future-Hall-of-Famer rookie average of 20-5-5. The Kings had the worst record in the league in 2008-09, slipped to 4th in the draft but got the best player anyway. (Hat-tip to Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry, draft-day slides who both deserved consideration.) ↵

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↵Business: Ted Leonsis worked out a deal to become full owner of the Wizards. I liked Abe Pollin, but Leonsis is exactly the kind of "2.0" owner that the Wiz need to regain their sizzle. (Getting John Wall in the Lottery would help, too.) ↵

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↵Tiger Watch: His Quail Hollow pro-am round started at 7:30 this morning. Might get as much attention as most players get at a major. ↵

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↵Coaching Carousel: Fred Hoiberg is the new head coach of Iowa State hoops, for whom he was the most popular player of all time -- "The Mayor." He brings in-state cred and the bonafides of being an NBA talent executive. (If he was around a year ago, I wonder if Hoiberg could have convinced one-and-done Harrison Barnes to stay in Ames?) ↵

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↵Executive Moves: Mark Emmert, the lead Husky at the University of Washington, is the new head honcho of the NCAA. First order of business: So how do you feel about the BCS? And how do you feel about a 96-team basketball tournament? ↵

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↵The Last Word: Scott Sicko changed his mind -- which he was just as entitled to as his original position to tell the NFL that he didn't need them any more than they needed him. He now re-joins the otherwise-anonymous UFAs inevitably getting cut. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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