THURSDAY NIGHT was the NBA’s annual night to shine.
Instead, it was the league’s annual night to shoot itself in the collective foot.
Or, as it annually becomes because of a weird set of rules, the five-hour/two-round festivities turned into “guess the draftees’ new team.”
Because it doesn’t allow trades to be made before the new salary cap is set, we, the viewers, are forced to sit and watch guys drafted by teams that have already agreed to trade them to another team.
The pick is announced. The kid walks up to the stage, accepts a hat of the team that drafted him for another team, and the charade continues when the player is interviewed without a single question about the team he is going to play FOR.
Wouldn’t it be great for the kid to comment about the team he’s going to play for?
The charade then continued the next day when the Celtics sent out a release introducing their “picks.” It was an accurate depiction of their real choices, even though trades hadn’t been completed.
Simply put, this has to be fixed. Yes, five hours for two rounds is way too long. But at least it would be watchable if we didn’t have to try to keep track of who was going where. Heck, DeAndre Hunter, the No. 4 pick, was “drafted” by the Lakers, had been “traded” to the Pelicans, but is going to play for the Hawks. We THINK.
It’s June. Summer just started. The baseball season is well underway. That means it’s time for people to start screaming about the All-Star balloting.
“Take it away from the fans – they don’t know what they’re doing.” And, “let the players pick the best of their lot.”
Way back before the world of social media and cell phones, I did some stringing work for USAToday (remember those lists they used to run – so and so’s five favorites this or that, etc?) In addition to gathering lists from Red Sox players, I would get a package of ballots in the mail so players could take part in an anonymous poll.
Inevitably, players would ask the guys next to them, or across the room, shouting, “Hey, who’s playing shortstop for Oakland” and stuff like that. In other words, they had no idea what was going on outside THEIR clubhouse.
Let the fans vote. Sure, there are mistakes. Sure, it’s a popularity contest. So what? As that football guy in Foxborough loves to say, “it is what it is.” Leave it alone.
A trip around
Now, for our look at what’s going on here and there:
…With Kyrie “I don’t like living in Boston” Irving and Al Horford apparently gone, the Celtics are said to be zeroing in on Orlando seven-footer Nikola Vucevic. That guy can play! About to turn 29, he averaged 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists last season and it at 15.7/ 10.1/2.4 for his career. He has also nailed 435 3-pointers over the last two years. “We have a very attractive franchise to play for, and there’s a lot of people who would be dying to come play here,” says Team President Danny Ainge.
…At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, John Beecher, the Bruins’ first-round pick, brings size and strength to Boston from Elmira, N.Y. “I’m a big power forward. I used my size and speed to my advantage,” he said. “I think my game really translates well to Boston. So I am a guy who gains a lot of momentum for my team . . . it’s exciting.”
…Folks seem excited about the players who will indeed wind up with the Celtics. Old pal Kendrick Perkins on Twitter about pick Grant Williams: “Great pick up by celtics last with Grant Williams!!! Coached him at the Combine and he got that Celtic Blood running through his veins!!!” And know this: Carsen Edwards can SHOOT. This team needs shooting and will also get it from top pick Romeo Langford.
…The playoffs just ended, but we already have the Bruins’ 2019-20 preseason schedule and that the B’s will open their home season against the Devils –- and probably No. 1 draft pick Jack Hughes — Oct. 12.
…Last week, Dave O’Brien and his NESN sidekick that day – forget if it was Dennis Eckersley or Jerry Remy – proclaimed Chris Sale should be an All-Star even though he only had three wins. Whether it was his fault or not, did they forget the horrible start by the skinny lefty? He’s 3-7 and should have been 3-8 but was bailed out by the big comeback Friday night.
…Zion Williamson “celebrated” being taken as the top pick of the NBA draft by getting sued for $100 million by his previous representation.
…The Yankees got Aaron Judge back Friday night and the big fella, who always seems to have a 3-2 count, batted leadoff.
…Irving’s future seemed more up in the air with reports the Nets were getting less excited about bringing him in if Kevin Durant wasn’t part of a package. Lakers? Dare we say … Celtics?
…Kudos to Islanders goalie Robin Lehner, who won the Masterton Trophy after battling through mental problems to have a big year. “I’m not afraid to say I’m mentally ill, but that doesn’t mean I’m mentally weak,” he says.
…With the Knicks having $70.5 million to spend, the Celtics have the sixth-highest amount of available funds to spend — $34.1 million after dealing Aron Baynes and his $5.4 million to Phoenix.
…The Bruins have a salary cap crunch situation to deal with and Friday the NHL said the cap fell short –- by $1 million –- of what was projected for next season.
…Big news: “Space Jam 2” is on the way. It stars LeBron James. The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted: “feature key roles for Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis and Klay Thompson and WNBA stars Diana Taurasi and Nneka Ogwumike. Several more NBA and WNBA players, including Chiney Ogwumike, are expected to play roles in film.” This is huge!
…The Mets have an 82-year-old pitching coach as Phil Regan came up from his minor-league role to work with the troubled staff. He’s 82, but trots off the field after talking to pitchers. Regan, of course, was known as “The Vulture,” a name given to him by the great Sandy Koufax when Regan went 14-1 with 21 saves and a 1.62 ERA for the 1966 Dodgers.
…Rule changes for the NHL increase the use of replay and punish teams for failed challenges. One cool thing: after a penalty call or an icing, the team will have a choice of which side it wants for the ensuing offensive zone faceoff.
…Unreal stat of the week: Yu Darvish has recorded 10 straight no-decisions for the Cubs. Oh, and he still hasn’t won a game at Wrigley Field (0-5).
…MLB and the Players Association are already starting talks on a new Basic Agreement, which might not go too smoothly after what has happened to some free agents. One, Dallas Keuchel, lost his return with the Braves on Friday night and Craig Kimbrel isn’t far behind for the Cubbies. Players chief Tony Clark says his side doesn’t like the free agent stuff or the handling of young players, saying, “We’re past the trend. This is how it’s going to look moving forward. In acknowledging and recognizing that, you appreciate that the system — and what I’ll call the grand bargain that was in place going back 40-plus years — is no longer reflective of the realities of today. As a result, the system doesn’t work.”
…Oops: new Jets running back Le’Veon Bell had jewelry ripped off, allegedly by two women he left naked in his bed. Hate when that happens.
…Rick Porcello has turned his season around. He’s a free agent after the season. Think the Red Sox bring him back? He is a dependable innings guy and a righty on a staff loaded with lefties.
…With the Patriots set to open training camp soon, the Patriots still don’t know the status of troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon. There appears to be a chance he could be reinstated in time for camp.
…Yes, the Red Sox had 17 hits and struck out 17 times in 17 innings in Minneapolis the other night. And yes, just as they did after losing in 18 innings to the Dodgers in the World Series, they bounced right back up.
…Aaron Sanchez hit a 481-foot home run Friday night, but Texas’ Nomar Mazara topped that with a 505-footer a bit later on the same night. That tied the longest blast in five years.
…With new A’s ace Frankie Montas suspended Friday for 80 games for PEDs, knuckleballer Steven Wright is set to return to the Red Sox on Tuesday as his suspension ends. Remember, regardless of what Wright might do to get the Sox to the postseason, he cannot pitch in the playoffs or World Series.
…Last year’s Cy Young winners: Jacob deGrom 4-6, 3.26 ERA; Blake Snell 4-6, 4.40 ERA. Snell, by the way, lasted a third of an inning at Yankee Stadium, his house of horrors, the other day. It was the shortest outing ever by a defending Cy Young winner allowing at least six runs.
…Flashback: On June 19, 1942, Joe DiMaggio struck out three times in a game for the only time in his career. Many guys do that once a week now.
…Bruins GM Don Sweeney on David Backes, whose Bruins future is more than up in the air: “I don’t think any of our seasons ended the way we would’ve liked, to be honest with you. You think that we had a tremendous run, he was a big part of that, reinserted in Game 2 against Toronto where we elevated our physical play. You know he was a big part of our hockey club on and off the ice. So where it fits going forward, he’s a part of our hockey club. I have discussions on different players, he may or may not be part of that, but for the most part he’s a part of our hockey club. Where his impact is, is again up to Bruce (Cassidy) and again up to David in terms of a production standpoint if you’re referencing that. Or from a leadership standpoint, we know what he brings. And I think there’s value there.”
…It’s only late June, but through Friday, the Cubs’ 1½-game lead in the NL Central was the only MLB lead lower than 4½ games. The Dodgers led the NL West by 11, the Twins the AL Central by nine. Let’s get these races going!
…Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are the only Red Sox players among the finalists in the AL All-Star vote. Carlos Correa, Jorge Polanco and Gleyber Torres beat Xander Bogaerts out at SS, which may not be fair.
… Buehler … Buehler. Friday night, Walker Buehler became the first Dodgers pitcher to strike out 16 and walk nine in a game. Yes, even Koufax didn’t do it.
…Max Scherzer broke his nose in the batting cage one night, and then pitched seven shutout innings with three different colors around his eye the next.
…Albert Pujols was given a hero’s welcome on his return to St. Louis Friday night. Earlier in the week, asked to sign a kid’s Pujols jersey, took his gamer off right there on the field and signed it before giving it to his fan!
…From theScore.com: Ranking the NFL’s “triplets,” on offense the Pats’ Tom Brady/Julian Edelman/Sony Michel ranked just 13th – with the words, “The Patriots’ offensive machine often eschews star weapons in favor of role players who excel in specific areas. That’s led to multiple Super Bowl wins, but when it comes to comparing top talents, New England falls short. Brady, of course, is still, well, Tom freaking Brady. Edelman reminded the NFL of his skills this past postseason, and he’s still among the league’s best slot weapons. Michel was great running the ball as a rookie, but with James White hoarding targets, the jury is still out on his ability to be a three-down back.” The defense — DL Michael Bennett, LB Dont’a Hightower, DB Stephon Gilmore – was just 15th.
…I don’t know about the claim coming out of the Dominican Republic that David Ortiz, the most famous face on the island, was a victim of mistaken identity. Stay tuned.
…While folks around here love to tout Betts as baseball’s best player, this from Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com the other night: “With his grand slam and RBI single with the bases loaded tonight, Mike Trout is now hitting .420 in 69 at-bats in his career with the bases loaded. He’s 29-for-69 with six homers and 101 RBIs.” Not bad.
…Continuing his offseason of discontent, TE Michael Roberts followed failing his Patriots physical by doing the same in Green Bay.
...UConn is apparently headed back to the Big East for basketball. Its football future is up in the air. Makes all kinds of sense!
…Finally, here’s a good one. Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt hit the second career walk-off homer the other night, making a winner of reliever John Gant. The other one was OFF Gant.
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.