Week of October 21, 2022

My god, man.

The Warriors’ Future

Whew, the Warriors. What a ride. A quick recap of where thing stood a couple weeks ago: 

Draymond Green is 32. He has one year left on his contract after this year, but he can opt out and become a free agent at 33, or play that final year for $27.5M and then become a free agent at 34. Almost everyone expects him to opt out to hit free agency a year younger and to get a raise in that first year. He is the heartbeat of the team and the anchor of the defense.

Andrew Wiggins is 27. He is in the last year of his deal and will be paid $33.6M this year. He disappeared for long stretches last year, but came up big during the playoffs. He is an essential two-way player for the Warriors.

Jordan Poole is 22. This is the last year on his rookie deal. He was eligible for an extension of up to 25% of the salary cap, beginning next year. Or, if he didn’t sign an extension, he’d become a restricted free agent next year (the Warriors would have the opportunity to match any deal he signed). He is a young, talented and proven offensive talent.

Steph Curry is Steph Curry. He is 34. He is signed through 2025-26, with his contract reaching just shy of $60M (sixty. million.) in the last year of his deal. He is the face of the franchise and IMO, a top ten all time player. Everything the Warriors do offensively revolves around his skills.

Klay Thompson is 32. He is signed through 23-24. He will be paid $84M over the next two seasons. He does not yet appear to have be 100% back to his pre-achilles/ACL injuries self. 

Two weeks ago, the Warriors had some tough decisions to make – both in the short-term and the medium term. Their cap number and luxury tax bill are both extremely high. Here’s their salary cap situation, as broken down by the Chronicle’s Connor Letournau:

If the team stayed its current course and kept Green on the roster beyond this season, it would stare down a 2023-24 total payroll — salaries and luxury taxes — of around $500 million. That’s simply not feasible. The Warriors might be one of the NBA’s most profitable franchises, but even they aren’t willing to spend a half-billion dollars on a basketball team.

Myers has said that majority owner Joe Lacob would have to fire him if Golden State had a roster costing north of $400 million and didn’t win a championship. Even after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years this past June with a total payroll of around $362 million, Myers showed just how serious he remains about keeping costs manageable when he declined to match Portland’s three-year, $28 million offer sheet for Gary Payton II.

The problem for the Warriors is they don’t have any easy ways to push that projected 2023-24 payroll down around $400 million. Aside from Poole, Wiggins and Stephen Curry, Golden State’s only major contracts next season are Green at $27.6 million — assuming he exercises his player option — and Klay Thompson at $43.2 million.

If Myers keeps both Green and Thompson around, he might have no choice other than to cut costs through the rest of the rotation. That would mean jettisoning Kevon Looney ($8.5 million in 2023-24), Donte DiVincenzo ($4.7 million player option) and perhaps even James Wiseman ($12.1 million team option) or Kuminga ($6 million team option). Doing that would crater the Warriors’ depth, disbanding the young core they’ve worked so hard to develop, and set the team back for years to come.

That’s not really an option.

So, two weeks ago – the question was who would the Warriors hang onto assuming 1 or 2 of these 4 must leave over the next two seasons? 

It would be hard for me to let Draymond go as long as Curry is still an elite player. He brings so much to the table and allows Curry to do what Curry does. At the same time, with his body type and style of play, most expect a quick drop-off once he is past his peak. He’s also going to want a very big raise, and it feels like the Warriors would be paying for past performance. 

Poole was an interesting one to me. The youngest and the highest ceiling at this point. You can squint and see Poole becoming the next Curry (or maybe just the next Nick Young). He disappeared a bit during the playoffs, but also had big moments. 

Klay is old and still recovering from two devastating injuries. His offensive game has never relied on athleticism, although his previously excellent defense did. He could certainly become a spot-up shooter, but what are the Warriors willing to pay for that? 

Wiggins to me was the easiest release. Not a homegrown guy like Poole, and older, too. Not a face of the franchise like Draymond and Klay. A history of being a little soft. But a good defender and talented offensive player. 

And that’s kinda how I thought things might play out. Extend Draymond 3 years, extend Poole, let Klay gracefully retire or take a massive paycut to become a Korver-type player, and let  Wiggins walk (or trade him for picks). But then Draymond went and blew the whole thing up:

Yeeeeesh. That is not a good look, obviously. The team was pissed at Draymond and there was immediate speculation about how this would affect Draymond’s hope for a big extension. Within a week, the news dropped like a 1-2 punch:

And a few hours later:

Had Draymond’s punch changed the landscape that much? Or was this always the plan? It’s hard to know, but the Warriors have made their choice. And now the question is: Draymond or Klay?

The Poole and Wiggins extensions ensured that this choice must be between Green and Thompson. And Green is the far likelier of the two to go.

Even before Green punched Poole in practice two weeks ago, he figured to be the odd man out in any scenario in which Poole and Wiggins had been locked down long-term. In addition to his contract being much more tradeable than Thompson’s, Green only amplified concerns during the Finals that he could be headed for a steep drop-off.

Then there are the temper-control issues that have long gotten Green in trouble. Green’s violent strike of Poole — and the public backlash brought on by a viral video of it — did irreparable harm to his locker-room standing. Though his teammates might move past that incident to contend for another title, they are unlikely to ever forget Green attacked the much-smaller, much-younger Poole.

When making such a seismic decision about the Warriors’ future, Myers must consider Curry’s perspective. It was clear during his news conference the day after Green’s punch that Curry is growing tired of Green’s antics. If Curry were given the option of keeping Thompson — a model teammate fresh off an inspiring comeback — or Green, it doesn’t take a mind-reader to guess who he would choose.

The question is not so much whether a Green divorce looms, but rather how and when it will come.

It’s hard to imagine, honestly. He does so much for that team and if I could have one of them for 2-3 more years, I’d take Draymond. Then again, I don’t have to work with him. -TOB

Source: Fixing the Warriors’ Budget Crunch: Draymond Green Won’t Like This,” Connor Leatourneau, SF Chronicle (10/17/2022)

Headmaster’s Son Gets Hit With Basketball

This is one of the more bizarre sports stories you’ll ever come across, and perhaps one of the more profound ideas that you’ll find in a sports story. At the center of it all: an old clip from America’s Funniest Home Videos.

The clip is from a high school basketball game at Shipley in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. A ¾ court buzzer beater is chucked into the air, and the airball absolutely de-cleats a young child running behind the basket on the other end of the court. 

What makes the story perfect: the kid who gets smacked, Matthew Piltch, is the headmaster’s son.

The clip, which aired on AVF in 1995, was one of the first viral videos on the internet that has been uploaded and re-uploaded so many times that the origins disappeared from its online existence. Back in July, Brian Feldman set out to find its origins.

In July, he wrote, 

By and large, people want the internet to be an inexplicable machine of random stuff, entertaining them with funny videos of basketball games that could have taken place in Anytown, USA.

A seemingly infinite array of no-context funny videos—scraped from archival footage, newscasts, and increasingly, other users—gets recycled online every day for the sake of likes and shares and attention. “Basketball (so funny you’ll pee your pants).avi” could well be the very first one, a watershed moment in the history of the internet.

The lack of additional information elevates the viewing experience. But every so often, if you dig into a piece of internet ephemera, the context—the who, what, when, where, and why—have the potential to dramatically enhance your understanding of the freak accident that you just witnessed.

In the original story, Feldman concluded that the clip must’ve first aired on the show in the spring of 1995, but that’s as close to the origin as he could reliably get. 

After posting the story, people from the Delco community (Delco Christian is the opposing team in the video) reached out to Feldman to give him more info. They told him the video was submitted to AFV by the team’s coach after a kid working with the team recorded the game. 

Then the big break: Feldman found a DVD of an AFV special “Guide To Parenting” DVD. There it was: the original clip, complete with Bob Saget interviewing the kid who got walloped and his mom.  

Turns out, context is pretty important, because the kid getting laughs with Bob Saget is not Matthew Piltch, son of the headmaster. It’s Kris Jackson. Piltch had never seen the full segment – just the clip of a kid getting smacked. He always believed he was that kid. So did his parents, and so did everyone else in town.  

Feldman didn’t even have the right kid in the first story. How?

It’s not that Feldman was outright lazy in the first story. He corroborated the events of the game with several people who told the same story. The bulk of Feldman’s second story has him dissecting how he could’ve possibly had the wrong subject at the center of the original story. The truth is much harder to figure out when everyone remembers the lore. 

Fascinating story. – PAL

Source:The Misremembered History Of The Internet’s Funniest Buzzer-Beater,” Brian Feldman, Defector (10/19/22)

TOB: I loved this story when I read it in July and the update floored me. Memories are such strange things. How is it that dozens of people (hundreds even – an entire community) could collectively misremember something so memorable? How did Pilch’s parents remember that they had to check on their son after he was hit with a basketball, when in fact he didn’t? The last few paragraphs Feldman writes, about memory and about journalism, were really fantastic:

Piltch said that he has no clue how the idea started that it was him in the video, or where it came from. We talked it over together for a long time and came no closer to the truth. “It seems plausible that when the video popped up,” Piltch said, “someone just decided it was me. Like, what other towhead kid was running around Shipley basketball games? It must’ve been Matt.” (Piltch’s hair has darkened, but he did provide an old photo of him from around that age. His hair was indeed very blond, though not quite the level of Kris Jackson’s.) That’s certainly what his father thought.

Over the next hour, as we worked through the possibilities, Piltch came around to the idea that he’d been living with bad info for the majority of his life. “Our memories are not meant to be perfect,” he said. “This is an amazing instance of collective mis-memory.” He later noted that “it makes you wonder how much other stuff is out there like this.”

Later in our conversation, Piltch turned the focus on me. “How does this affect your perception of journalism?” he asked. Largely, I said, it had made me think about precision. I thought that I had done a diligent job buttoning up that first story—at the time, it even felt like I was engaging in a bit of overkill for such a low-stakes story about a funny viral video. Looking back, what I had actually done is uncover evidence of the video’s supposed legacy, rather than evidence of the inciting incident. I assumed that because multiple people independently told me the same thing, that thing was true. Should I have tried harder to find the provenance of the video, which would have alerted me to my glaring error? Possibly, but measuring what I was missing against what I’d already uncovered (along with the resources available to me; I didn’t have the budget to head down to Delco and ask for the yearbooks missing from Classmates.com), I felt there was enough there for a good story.

Kris Jackson might have been knocked into next week by a flying basketball, but I also got to watch Matthew Piltch get knocked senseless by something unexpected. You know, in a figurative sense. In the end, my attitude is fairly similar to his: This giant mistake of mine managed to uncover something even weirder, wilder, funnier, and—to be corny—deeply human. It was worth getting knocked on my ass.

When Does a Team Bat Around/A Round?

Last Saturday night, the Padres scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 7th to take a 5-3 lead against the Dodgers in Game 4 of their division series. The Padres would not give up that lead, and the Dodgers’ 111-win season went up in smoke. It was delightful

During that 7th inning, the Padres sent ten players to the plate. But as usual, a debate raged on twitter: had the Padres batted around when they sent their 9th hitter up, or not until the 10th? I see this debate on Twitter almost every time a team has a big inning in an important game. Here’s one example, of a pretty evenly split poll on the topic:

I googled, and found articles discussing this same debate. The Wall Street Journal tackled this topic in 2015. They asked a handful of players and others around the game where they stand and here’s what they found:

The day that article published, McCarthy expanded on his opinion:

But I am here to finally resolve this debate: it comes down to linguistics. Here’s what I tweeted during the game:

If you say a team “batted around” then they must send at least ten hitters to the plate. That is because the lineup has come back around to the beginning. However, if you say a team has “batted a round” then they need only send nine hitters to the plate. That is because a “round” occurs when each player has a turn (like buying a round of drinks, for example). They are different terms, but I think most people use “around.” Accordingly, it takes ten. 

Let’s all get on the same page here. -TOB

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-Pam Beesly