Welcome to the Monday edition of The Cooler, which certainly doesn’t describe the weather in Minnesota this summer. Am I right? AMIRITE? Anyway, let’s get this going:
*LeBron James signed with the Lakers on Sunday, which as I wrote a few weeks back was the worst-case scenario for the Timberwolves for a couple of reasons.
First, and quite obviously, it creates another almost guaranteed playoff team (and title contender) in an already loaded Western Conference.
The Wolves, who slipped into the postseason as the No. 8 seed (albeit with an impressive 47 wins) on the last day of the season, would not have made it had the Lakers — not a playoff team a year ago — finished above them. So it will be harder to flat-out make the playoffs next year, and it will certainly be harder to conceive of competing in a more meaningful way with the Lakers figuring to join Golden State and Houston as big-time contenders.
Second, the Lakers already had a salary slot for LeBron. It would have potentially been better for the Wolves had he gone someplace where they needed to create cap room by dealing away potentially enticing players. There could still be a trickle-down effect as teams who hoped to land LeBron turn to other options — particularly in a year where the salary cap is only increasing by $2 million — but more volatility could have helped the Wolves make deals and sign players at discounted rates.
Maybe the only sort of good news, at least for fans, is that LeBron could make two visits to Target Center instead of just one a year now that he’s with the Lakers.
And at least the news is inspiring some good tweets.
*When the Lynx were 3-6 earlier this year, an unnamed person in the office challenged my assertion that the Lynx would rebound to win at least 18 and probably at least 20 games this season. It never reached the stage of a full bet, and now that the Lynx have won seven games in a row to put their record at 10-6 one game before the season’s midpoint I sort of regret it.
*Speaking of being one game shy of the season’s midpoint, the Twins were swept by the Cubs and now sit at 35-45. That means even if they win Monday at Milwaukee, they will reach the halfway point of the season on a pace to lose 90 games or more for the sixth time in the last eight years.
*A follow-up on the free-swinging Willians Astudillo, the Twins call-up I wrote about Friday. In his first seven MLB at bats over the weekend, Astudillo saw a total of 17 pitches. He had three hits, including a two-run triple, and had neither a walk nor a strikeout.