Welcome to the Tuesday edition of The Cooler, where the pieces aren’t in place but at least we can see them. Let’s get to it:
*Almost as soon as Golden State swooped in to nab D’Angelo Russell out from under the rest of the NBA (and most notably the Timberwolves), reports started emerging that Russell’s stay with the Warriors might not last very long.
A year from now, Golden State will already be paying Steph Curry $43 million and Klay Thompson $35 million. If they want to keep Draymond Green — which you would think they would considering how essential he is to what they do — his salary figures to escalate far beyond the $18 million he’s making this year.
So the theory goes: Golden State signed Russell to a four-year, $117 million deal with the intention of keeping him just one year while Thompson recovers from a torn ACL, then swapping him next summer when Thompson is healthy so they aren’t approximately $1 billion over the luxury tax threshold (or thereabouts) after paying Green.
A lot can happen in a year, of course, but that possible sequence of events, combined with the way the Wolves have conducted their offseason so far after missing out on Russell, leads one to believe Minnesota could be gearing up for another run at the point guard next summer when it will have the cap space to absorb his contract and possibly assets to entice the Warriors.
Adding fuel to all this: Russell, in meeting with the media Monday, basically acknowledged his time in Golden State might be short.
Per ESPN: “That’s the business of it,” Russell said when asked whether he has been given any indication from the Warriors that they want to keep him long term. “It is what it is. You put yourself in a position to go somewhere for a long period of time, and it may not be what it is a year later. And that’s the business. I’ve come to a realization of that, and I understand that, so whatever situation I’m in, I know the business side of it, so we’ll just see. I can’t predict it.”
Again, a lot can happen in a year. But Russell acknowledging this feels significant.
*Speaking of high-octane point guards switching teams, it sure looks like OKC’s Russell Westbrook could be traded now that the Thunder is regrouping from the Paul George trade. An online betting site released odds on where Westbrook will start the 2019-20 season and included six teams. Guess who is on the list?
New York Knicks 2/1
Oklahoma City Thunder 2/1
Miami Heat 4/1
Detroit Pistons 6/1
Houston Rockets 6/1
Minnesota Timberwolves 7/1.
That said, it seems unlikely that the Wolves would be in position to grab Westbrook, and I’m not sure he fits Gersson Rosas’ stated goal of building around players who are on the same timeline as Karl-Anthony Towns since Westbrook will turn 31 in November.
*The Women’s World Cup final Sunday between the U.S. and the Netherlands was watched by more people in the U.S. than the 2018 men’s final between France and Croatia.
*Women’s National Team star Rose Lavelle dreamed of this in grade school.