Sometimes the Diggity Doc and the Wildcard talk to each other...
Diggity Doc - Oi Wildcard, you alright mate? I've been worried about your wellbeing since DeAndre Jordan's backflip became official. What's the go? As Schoolboy Q once said "whether it's some money, or some weed or putting in work, fuck it then, I'm ridin'". That's how I feel, whatever you need bro...
Wildcard - Appreciate the words there Doc, but it ain't my wellbeing ya gotta be worried about. I started a new tradition on Thursday night, one I picked up from Arya on Game of Thrones. Before I went to sleep, I repeated these names to myself over and over: "Doc Rivers, Chris Paul, Steve Ballmer, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan". I'm sorry to bring Blake into this coz he's the only Clipper I still sorta like, but retribution is retribution and he has crossed a line that he can never uncross. Liked his twitter game though, quality stuff. But yeah, me and the rest of the Mavs Army will offer no mercy in our quest for vengeance. I'm curious how you're feeling about this as a neutral. The dude backflipped at the last minute, with a verbal agreement in place, leaving the team he'd committed to with no time or opportunity to recover and he did so while shamelessly refusing to talk to them (or his agent!) at all. Like, at least Daly Cherry-Evans called Neil Henry up to tell him his decision personally first. DeAndre didn't do anything illegal, but do you see it as immoral or do you see it as him just getting his?
DD - It doesn't sound like you need help, just some protection from yourself. That's why this is so weird - was it his choice to flip and then block the Mavs out? Or did the Clippers just pull off an almighty heist? Don't trust me because I didn't think that DCE did anything immoral or naughty, he just played the game to his advantage. If only Manly had locked him in a room until he signed...
WC - Haha yeah, well... the way it was all reported was like it was a hostage situation, the Clips trapping him in his own house until he signed, stalling and keeping him from making contact with the Mavericks. But it seems like the reality was that he had pretty much made his decision already and the meeting with Clippers was basically a foregone conclusion. Then all the other Clippers did was keep him company, playing cards and video games, as he iced out the Mavericks. Which is the slimiest thing of the whole situation, that he didn't even have the guts to tell the Mavs what he was doing. He never told them he was having second thoughts, in fact Mark Cuban said he hadn't been able to speak with him since the start of the week. But it was his choice ultimately, the Clippers just facilitated it. Which is scummy too, and there's another interesting fallout possibility where maybe the Clippers have upset a lot of people (esp. teams and agents) and that might affect how other free agents see them now. Sadly, I can't really see that happening but it's a nice thought.
That's one of the main differences between DAJ and DCE, that Cherry-Evans' backflip possibility was already acknowledged as a legitimate (if dishonourable) option. Like, he was perfectly allowed to do so. Just the way the rules are and the precedents for it meant it was easier in the NRL. But the tattered mess he left behind him was just as real.
DD - So I guess a key takeaway from that is that DAJ willingly shut out the Mavs after agreeing to a deal? Yikes mate. In both cases it is a huge bonus for the Clippers and Sea Eagles as they are both key men. Explain DAJ's importance to the Clips will ya?
WC - Yes. He willingly shut out the team he'd committed to.
Umm, his importance, that's a major factor here, because probably the main reason the Mavs got him in the first place was because they promised to make him a number one option, running plays for him and expanding his game. On the Clips he's always been the third guy, catching lobs, getting rebounds and playing defence. He said he wanted a bigger role then he changed his mind and went back to where he was. They'll have made him promises too about more usage, etc. but he'll still be the third wheel, and that's more or less what Chandler Parsons said to ESPN today: "[DeAndre] wasn’t ready for being a franchise player. He was scared. He was scared to take the next step in his career. There was no other reason other than that he was comfortable and he has friendships there." --> Strong words from the bloke who basically recruited him in the first place.
DD - Ooh yeah ouchies, that hurts from Parsons. So are we all just rooting against the Clippers?
I've been sleeping on the performance from New South Wales in game three, and it's puzzling. Let's fast forward to nek year and put yourself in Laurie Daley's shoes - do you go for youth and rebuild or what?
WC - I know I'm certainly rooting against them. My personal vision has the Mavericks going Hack-A-Jordan from the first play of their next game and making him shoot *at least* 100 free throws. I hope there's some NBA solidarity and that the boy Steven Adams drops a few elbows when OKC visit too. Mark Cuban's made some big gambles as owner of the Mavs and the last few have backfired bad and that's left the team in a mess, but I think they were worth it on the surface. It's just a tough break when it all goes bad. Dirk Nowitzki's the biggest loser here, he took drastically less money last year so they could make a play at guys like DeAndre now and it's gonna end with him playing out his career on a lottery team. Dirk is champion, he deserves so much better.
That's a weird narrative that's coming through for NSW, because this is a rep team, why should this even be a decision to make? But the Queenslanders have revolutionised this thing with continuity of selection and a united team culture that NSW has never been able to match. I think the young core is already there in guys like Woods, Klemmer, Dugan, Jennings, etc. What they oughta get back to is picking the best players available and going from there. The halves are a weakness, players like Gallen and Bird (who didn't play) might not (and maybe shouldn't) be back, the likes of Ennis and Scott definitely won't be back. Hopoate was disastrous, Josh Morris got exposed over and over... there are problems there in that team. My question to you is who is there to replace them? Barring an unknown breaking out in the next 11 months, who'd you pick?
DD - Speaking about Stevie and OKC, how do you think the move of Enes Kanter is going to impact positively or negatively on Stevie?
Yeah NSW are in a spot because the next tier of guys are all very young - Matt Moylan, Dylan Walker etc but I would be looking to wipe the slate clean and start over. I just don't really know how because there are still Josh Dugan etc who aren't very old. Tariq Sims should be a lock for next year and I'd love to see Walker on the bench. They just need another guy with x-factor who can take the game by the balls. Maybe a more dynamic half?
WC - I don't think the move of Kanter will affect Steve at all coz at this stage I expect the Thunder to match the offer that Portland have thrown at him. Re-signing Kanter was their only real priority this off-season so I expect they were prepared for this eventuality. It might mean trading away some fringe salary but they'll be fine with that. They'll have to pay plenty of tax though, something they've notoriously avoided in the past, however Kevin Durant is a free agent next year so this is the season to go all out on. OKC are pretty confident that with their guys all healthy, they can compete for the title and I agree. Portland are trolling by offering a max deal, the rest of the NBA is loving it too I'd bet. Also, the Trailblazers have lost 60% of their starting line-up, so a desperate measure ain't beyond them at this stage.
New South Wales could do with dynamism on a lot of fronts. Moylan is certainly an option, I wonder if he could play a Michael Morgan-esque role off the bench? Chuck James Roberts, Adam Reynolds and Andrew Fifita into the framework that they already have and they could be a lot better. And anyway, game three was a massacring of epic proportions but if they'd been able to hit a field goal in game one then this series was already over before they got to Brisbane. They weren't as far away as people say, it's just distorted by that last, embarrassing game.
DD - Ooh yeah I jumped the gun a bit there and OKC don't have much else on their plate so it should be gravy. Aah the fragility of a sporting franchise - in the mix one year, mediocre the next huh? Yeah the best names you mentioned there were Reynolds and Roberts. Imagine Walker and Roberts as your centres!? Reynolds just has to play every week because he appears to be a fragile being now after he didn't miss a game in yonks.
WC - Yeah honestly, Reynolds mighta been there already if he weren't so injured all the time. And call me sentimental, but I don't think the Jamie Soward Origin Campaign should be dead either. The Panthers are a vastly different team when Sowie plays. He's spent time hurt too but I'd sooner see him and Pearce there than a half with so few options that he's signing with the Knights for next season. Walker and Roberts would destroy. The fragility of the Blues, man it's not even year to year it's week to week. No wonder they crumble in deciding games all the time with the outside pressure they get.
DD - I think Sowie's only chance is a freak accident and they need to find a semi long term solution. Pearce and Hodkinson just didn't offer much of a threat did they?
We're a few days into this first Ashes Test - could England do something cray cray?
WC - I'm not holding out too much hope for a Sowie return to Origin, I'll say that much. But he'd be a better-than-expected stopgap until the likes of Luke Brooks, Jack Bird and Luke Keary are considered ready. Or maybe they oughta be thrown in the deep end straight away, who knows? In the interest of fairness, the Maroons just said an emotional farewell to Justin Hodges, can we expect too many other changes next season? They're coming off arguably their greatest ever performance but that core isn't getting any younger and the last thing Mel Maninga would ever do is rest on his laurels...
Two days into a 25 day series, the Aussies won't be panicking yet. England are on top but not by too much. Heck, if Brad Haddin could catch then this might be a drastically different game already. Shout out to Moeen Ali, I like that bloke. Far too good to bat at 8, far too poor to be a frontline spinner (though he's battling away very well). My worry is that Australia use this test to figure things out then wreak havoc for the next four. If England don't take their chances and win in Cardiff then I can't see them claiming the urn. Though I'd love to be proven wrong.
DD - Well Queensland do a great job of slowly integrating their new guys into their system so I'm sure Mal Meninga has things sussed. I reckon he has a whole line up already figured out which features the likes of Morgan, Gagai, Papalii, McGuire, Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford, DCE, Dylan Napa and a bunch more.
I'm talking just about this first Test which I think is beautifully poised for a gritty last few days. Your man Rooooootay went well is he in you top 3 batsmen in the world right now? Rooootay, Smith and Williamson?
WC - Ah, Virat Kolhi might have a word or two to say about that. It's a fair trio though. Gotta agree about this Test too. Beautifully poised. And even more so given how imperative it is for England to get off to a good start in the series. But you don't get there all at once. One session at a time and all that, let's sit back and enjoy the grind. What do you reckon England have to do to seal the deal in Cardiff? Keys to success or whatever.
Jeez, Queensland might be in for another eight in a row looking at that group.
Ooh, who ya got for Wimbledon too? I'm backing the history makers, gimme Roger and Serena.
DD - You stole my Wimbledon picks so no arguments there and I'm definitely missing a few young Queensland forwards off the top of the dome. England have to be able to match the Aussies in the 'quiet' moments of the Test where there's not many chances being created or runs aren't flowing. Then Ali needs to keep an end tight and pose a threat while the pace bowlers attack from the other end.
WC - Those quiet moments are the ones where a game can get away from you, aren't they? They've got runs on the board so they'll be in contention either way going into the second innings, and Ali's had a solid game so far. That's what they need to do, will they do it though?
DD - Ah that's where the peptides come in and unfortunately for England, Australia have me on a retainer so they have all my cricket-designed peptides. That reminds me that I've gotta smuggle them into the Aussies, hence they are a bit behind. See ya soon matey.
WC - Will do, Doc. Sounds like the English might not have too much of a chance anyway if that's the case, supposing you squeeze those bad boys through customs. I'm sure you have your methods. Oh, by the way, I'm heading to LA for a bit, gonna organise a torch and pitchfork rally at the Staples Centre, gonna burn a few Clippers effigies and whatnot. You can come if you want, I'll try not to damage the Lakers' championship banners. I'll be back next week anyway and we can do this all again.