TROUBLE IN PARADISE?

Here are some interesting trade scenarios if the Rockets decide to move Westbrook

Rockets Russell Westbrook
It looks like Russ is on his way out. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

After the dismantling of the Houston Rockets in game 5 versus the 2020 NBA champion LA Lakers, the narrative of the offseason was luxury tax. Will Tilman Fertitta explore the luxury tax so the Rockets' front office can build around Russell Westbrook and James Harden? Early Wednesday morning, there were reports of Harden and Westbrook being uncertain about the Rockets' future.

As the day went on, we came to learn that Westbrook wanted out because of the uncertainty of the Rockets' culture and style of play on offense, but Harden remained optimistic about staying in Houston.

Since Westbrook wants out, it makes free agency, trading for players, and possibly receiving draft picks realistic for the Rockets. Getting rid of Westbrook's contract clears up enough cap space for the Rockets to make some moves, which is ideal for the new GM, Rafael Stone.

The Rockets now have a legitimate shot to build around Harden since Westbrook wants out. So, where is the best place for Westbrook to go? Hopefully, when the Rockets trade Westbrook, they are able save money and receive key players. On Tuesday, the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers had the most interest in Westbrook.

The Clippers are attractive because of their six-time All-Star, 2018 Steals Champion, and five-time All-NBA player, Paul George. Even though George seems attractive, he had a decrease in play with the Clippers as he went from averaging near 30 points per game to 22 points per game. George missed the start of the season because of a hampered shoulder. When the NBA furlough was over, the rest of the season took place in Orlando inside the bubble. George struggled in the playoffs by only averaging 20 points per game and shooting 33 percent from the perimeter.

George also struggled with depression as he said after a tough series against the Dallas Mavericks. But keep in mind George was a finalist for MVP in the 2018-2019 season for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Bright lights big city

The Knicks also have a promising future with Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox, including Frank Ntilikina. Those three names have been mentioned with the Rockets this offseason. Robinson could be a tough grab because of his 7'0 ft presence, outstanding reach, and decent handles. In the 2018-2019 season, Robinson made the All-Rookie team by only averaging 7.3 points per game. Robinson could be the traditional big man Stephen Silas is looking for.

Motor City

The Rockets could also trade for former ROY and six-time All-Star, Blake Griffin. Griffin is a quality all-round player but has dealt with several injuries throughout his career. Stone acquiring Griffin could be questioned if injuries occur throughout the season. Griffin's best season with his recent team, the Detroit Pistons, was the 2018-2019 season, as he averaged 25 points per game and shot 36 percent from the perimeter.

Hopefully, the Rockets come up with some answers soon as training camp starts Dec. 1st.

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These uniforms have to go. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Major League Baseball will consider going back to having players wear their team uniforms for the All-Star Game.

Club uniforms were used by the American League from 1933-2019 and by the National League from 1934-2019. When the game resumed in 2021 following the pandemic-related cancellation in 2020, MLB had started a uniform contract with Nike and Fanatics, and All-Stars were outfitted in specially designed league uniforms that drew criticism from traditionalists.

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

This year's AL uniforms had a sandy base with red sleeves and lettering and the NL had a navy base with light blue sleeves and lettering.

“I’m aware of the sentiment on this issue,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "I think where my head is on it, it’s something we’re going to have a conversation about coming out of the All-Star Game. We've got a lot of uniform things going on. And, obviously, the conversations have to involve the players first and foremost but Nike, some of our partners. But I am aware of the sentiment, and I do know why people kind of like that tradition."

MLB and Nike were criticized for club uniforms this year and said in May that 2025 club outfits will have larger lettering on the back of jerseys and individual pant customization. Players complained this year that white pants worn by some teams are see-through enough to show tucked-in jersey tops.

Regional sports networks

Manfred said a national steaming package of local television broadcasts is a future possibility.

“I could see a situation where we grow into a 30-club model. It might start on the digital side, where you have 14 or 15 clubs, and, you start with a digital product there as your first alternative,” he said.

“I was in Sun Valley last week and I did the whole speed-dating thing with everybody who’s ever streamed anything. When you talk to people in the streaming business, they’re not really interested in buying the state of Wisconsin and two counties in Michigan," Manfred added. "They want to be able to stream quite frankly, all over the U.S. and Canada but more broadly internationally. So I think those conversations are a product of owners saying, holy cow, the RSN business is really deteriorating. We know the future’s going to be streaming. What we’re hearing from the streamers is they want a more national product, and we need to be responsive to what people want to buy.”

MLB took over production of Arizona and San Diego local television broadcasts last year following the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports’ Bally networks and said MLB will be available as an option for teams looking for new deals. He said Padres game are approaching 40,000 subscribers, which he called a good figure.

“Having said that, from a revenue perspective it is not generating what the RSNs did," Manfred said. "The RSNs were a great business. Lots of people paid for programing they didn’t necessarily want. And it’s hard to replicate that kind of revenue absent that kind of bundling concept.”

Offense

While offense is near half-century lows, it has picked up from early in the season.

“The decline in offense is something that we’re paying a lot of attention to and we’ll continue to monitor to make a decision as to whether we think we need to do something. You do hear a lot of chatter about the dominance of pitching in the game. That’s absolutely true.”

Birmingham

After the success of the June 20 game between San Francisco and St. Louis at Rickwood Field, Manfred said MLB will return to the ballpark in Birmingham, Alabama, but the “exact form” had not been determined.

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