Good morning. Let's basketball.
GAME 6, 9 P.M. ET, ABC, GOLDEN STATE UP 3-2, THIS MIGHT BE THE END OF BASKETBALL FOR LIKE 4 WEEKS OR EVEN LESS IF YOU COUNT ORLANDO SUMMER LEAGUE (DOES ANYONE REALLY COUNT ORLANDO SUMMER LEAGUE?)
WE HAVE A TRADE! And like this trade isn't an Ersan Ilyasova salary dump like that other trade we had this week. It's a real basketball trade! First reported by Woj (who else?), the deal sends Lance Stephenson to the Clippers for Spencer Hawes and Matt Barnes. Lance gives Doc Rivers another ball-handler and creator but also means that the Clippers' insurance against DeAndre Jordan's free agency is the Ekpe Udoh Book Club. So, uh, I guess the Clippers are giving DAJ the max. Reports suggest the Hornets will waive Barnes (only $1 million guaranteed), making this a sweet Ctrl-Z on that Lance contract we all adored a year ago. Basketball!
AGREED: Barring something crazy happening in Game 6 and potentially Game 7, I fully agree with Rodger Sherman here: LeBron should win the Finals MVP. The argument that a member of the losing team can't win MVP is silly because value isn't binary. We are rational humans capable of acknowledging that even those on the losing end of the stick are superior than victorious peers due to other factors, right?
WHEN EVERYTHING ELSE MATTERS: An intoxicating read from Bethlehem Shoals on the irrelevance of victory and defeat.
LET'S TALK ABOUT THOSE THREES: Rubes and Naan talk about Steph Curry's absurd fourth quarter.
WHEN STEPH IS COOKING DELLY ... Seth Curry knows that pain, having been Steph's victim for years and years.
WELL THIS IS AWKWARD: The Nuggets have elected to reunite new executive Pete D'Alessandro (late of the Kings) with Michael Malone (late of the Kings). There had been credible reports D'Alessandro (until last week the Kings' GM) and Malone (until December the Kings' coach) had a bad relationship and didn't speak for months. But reports also suggested that Vivek Ranadive -- not Pete D. -- made the call to can Malone. (It was a bad call.) These are both true. So why are the Nuggets hiring Malone?
To me, that says that D'Alessandro is absolutely not calling the basketball shots here. The Nuggets insisted he worked for franchisee Josh Kroenke advising on both pro franchises he runs. That seems legit now. Tough break for Melvin Hunt nonetheless. I'm not convinced Malone is going to be appreciably better than Hunt was with this group down the stretch.
AMAZING: A woman named Amy tells the story of how when she was 10 she gave Kobe Bryant terrible advice about whether he should go pro. Thank God he ignored it. (Just kidding, Amy. Great story!)
THE VIEW FROM EUROPE: European basketball fans have seen a lot more than a workout tape from Kristaps Porzingis. Ball In Europe shares the perspective on the Latvian from across the pond.
NEAT: Alvin Gentry can dunk! He's 60 and never played in the NBA.
AWKWARD: Wells Fargo has naming rights on the Comcast-owned arena in Philadelphia through 2024. But the Sixers (no longer owned by Comcast) have decided to refer to it as The Center because Wells Fargo is not a Sixers sponsor. I feel like there should probably be legal provisions preventing the Sixers from doing that!
Happy Tuesday. Enjoy Game 6. See you next time.