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Steve Kerr is squinting into the future, and he doesn’t like what he sees.

Steve Kerr fears the Lakers.

Another in-depth, read-between-the-lines NBA Hot Take

This morning, ESPN ran a story with the headline:

Kerr: Forced trade by Davis ‘bad for the league’

Reporting on what Kerr said during an interview on the Warriors Insider Podcast, ESPN wrote

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is not happy with the events that transpired to expedite the departure of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Los Angeles Lakers, saying it was “bad for the league.”

Then they quoted him about what players owe their team and city once they sign a contract, yada, yada, yada (how’s that for journalistic standards?), and how they are now holding teams hostage.

Let’s summarize this “news” article and provide some real context:

On July 24th, 2019, Kerr is still talking about a situation that happened FIVE MONTHS AGO where a player with two years left on his contract forced a trade after SEVEN YEARS of PLAYING FOR A LOSING TEAM with NO FAN SUPPORT and an INCOMPETENT FRONT OFFICE.

Perhaps Kerr just woke out of a coma, or had spent the month of July in a sensory deprivation tank. Maybe he just came back from a one month vacation in an Amish village. Did he take advantage of a one month free membership in a cult located in some remote Amazonian jungle? No, that’s too ridiculous. The smart phone coverage in the Amazon is way to good for him not to get the news.

Because this happened:

TWO WEEKS AGO, a free agent superstar holds THREE FRANCHISES HOSTAGE as they wait for him to decide where he will sign. He asks two of teams hoping to sign him to wait five additional days after free agency started, costing them the opportunity to sign other top free agents, while allowing him more time to recruit a second superstar to join him on the third team.

Leonard met the Lakers on July 2nd, and asked them to change meeting locations so he could meet and recruit Paul George in secret.

According to the Clippers, Kawhi didn’t recruit Paul George to demand a trade:

But on July 3, the Clippers received word that George wanted out of Oklahoma City and Leonard had been recruiting George to ask for a trade to team up with him and the Clippers. There are conflicting accounts on Leonard’s involvement in recruiting George. For the record, it should be stated that a source told Charania that it is “not accurate” that Leonard recruited George to demand a trade and come to the Clippers.

Because there was absolutely no correlation between meeting Kawhi Leonard secretly in a Westlake Village hotel on July 2nd, and the trade demand.

According to my “sources,” the hotel’s resident astrologer did a reading for George and told him (this is an exact quote), “Mercury is in retrograde in Oklahoma City. That’ll be fifty dollars, please… but for another hundred, you can have a happy ending… Yes, I can accept Venmo, Thank you. Okay, according to your chart Jupiter is on the ascent in Los Angeles. You need to move there. ”

Getting back to reality and my in-depth meta analysis of the events…

The second superstar is a player with THREE YEARS LEFT ON HIS CONTRACT, after TWO YEARS of PLAYING FOR A PLAYOFF TEAM with INCREDIBLE FAN SUPPORT and ONE OF THE BEST GMs in the NBA.

Why would Steve Kerr ignore a situation where two players hold multiple teams hostage?

How is the Davis trade bad, but there isn’t a single word about Paul George forcing a trade only a year after he made a three part video series to celebrate his decision to stay with the Thunder and proclaim “I’M HERE TO STAY!”

Let’s look at the reasons Kerr would do the equivalent of focusing on how much taxpayer money was wasted by Obama playing golf during his eight years in office, while ignoring the fact that Trump has spent almost as much in 2 1/2 years, while playing at his own golf clubs so that much of the money goes into his pocket.*

Reason #1: Fear of Kawhi’s wrath.

Considering the Warriors could have forced a Game 7 against Toronto without Durant, Looney with a broken collar bone, Iguodala struggling with a calf injury that happened during Game 1, and Cousins recovering from two different injuries (they just couldn’t survive losing Klay Thompson), I’m going to say Kerr has absolutely no fear of Kawhi Leonard.

Estimated probability: 0/100

Reason #2: Lakers schadenfreud.

Of course, why wouldn’t people focus on the team everyone wants to hate? The Clippers’ front office was tampering with Kawhi for an entire year, stalking him at every NBA area.

But Magic Johnson saying stupid things on Jimmy Kimmel, or tweeting about innocent things like Ben Simmons wanting to get advice from him, those are things to focus on.

Estimated probability: 3/100

Believe that nonsense at your own peril, because there is something big and bad on the horizon, and it looks angry, even when it’s smiling.

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Reason #3: Kerr is terrified of what the combination of Anthony Davis and LeBron James could do.

Let’s be honest, here. Steve Kerr has never shown fear about any team. But what were the reasons his historic 73-win team lost to the Cavs in the Finals?

  1. Vulnerability on the boards. Tristan Thompson ate the small ball Warriors alive. Davis averaged 12 rebounds per game last year.
  2. Good interior defense. When Harrison Barnes went cold in the 2016 NBA Finals, Cleveland’s defense could sag off him to shore up the interior, or rotate onto Curry and Thompson. Davis was a DPOY candidate two years ago, made All-Defense NBA three times and led the league in blocks three times.
  3. Bigs who can switch onto Curry and survive. Thompson did it in 2016, but Curry admittedly was slowed by a knee injury. Davis is known as a very good switch defender.
  4. Bigs who are vertical threats. Tristan Thompson shot 25 of 41 (almost all alley oops and put backs) against the Warriors. Davis is one of the best alley oop threats in the league — get ready for a lot of this.

Oh yeah, there was one other ingredient that kept things competitive, even during the Warriors run of three titles. This guy.

Estimated probability: 97/100

Teams with dominant big men who can defend and rebound have posed the biggest problems for the Warriors (Cleveland, Oklahoma City, and Toronto, plus the 2017 San Antonio Spurs, who won 2 of 3 games against the Warriors during the regular season and led by 23 points for the 28:06 of the WCF Game 1, before Leonard got injured).

What is the one area where the Clippers are really weak?

The answer is in the post. Zubac is a good reclamation project, but he was pretty bad for the Lakers for most of his three years with the team. He looked like a champ against the Warriors (+9.0 Net On/Off rating in their playoff series), but he’s going to have nightmares guarding Davis. On the other hand, Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers’ 6–8 undersized center become unplayable against the Warriors (-28.9 Net On/Off rating in their playoff series).

Would a Raptor team with Zubac and Harrell substituted for Gasol and Ibaka have even beaten the Warriors, in spite of all the injuries?

Do Paul George and Lou Williams actually outweigh the combination of Siakam, Ibaka, Gasol, Lowry, and VanVleet?

I’m not convinced the Clippers are better than last year’s NBA Champions on a position by position basis:

George is definitely a better second option than Siakam, but the rest of the roster is either even or favors the Raptors:

(Lowry + Green) = (Beverly+Williams)

If you want to argue that Williams is better than Green, it’s possible. But then I would argue that Lowry is better than Beverly, and Green’s defense means there are no holes for Toronto, while the Clippers have a major weakness with Williams.

After that, it’s not even close.

Gasol > Zubac, Ibaka > Harrell, VanVleet > Shamet.

Of the 5 starters, Toronto has a definite edge. On the bench, the Clippers have the edge, but in the playoffs, the rosters get much shorter, and a lot of the bench strength is wasted.

JaMychal Green and Wilson Chandler will be non-factors in the playoffs, because every minute they play is one less minute that Leonard and George will be on the floor. They will only be valuable during the regular season, allowing the top two players to take off games for load management, and at the beginning of the season, while George rehabs his injuries.

I am NOT predicting the Lakers will win the championship.

I am only reporting what seems to be Steve Kerr unconsciously soiling his pants at the thought of having to deal with LeBron, AD, and even a rehabbed Boogie next season.

This season is going to be totally wide open. There are so many unknowns and unforeseen circumstances that can happen, and maybe any of nine teams could win a title this year.

On paper, the Clippers do look like the best team, so they could very well win the title. And if they do, I hope in response that the NBA completely discards all the rules on tampering.

Enjoy the summer. Only three more months until basketball starts again.

*Obama’s played golf at locations where he did not generate personal profit. I just read this stupid little factoid, and still can’t comprehend the willful ignorance and cognitive dissonance of 35% of the American people — what an embarrassment to our public education system.

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Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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