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Hump Day Hot Takes: 6.20.2018

Kawhi Leonard Dunk by Jose Garcia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hump Day Hot Takes: 6.20.2018

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

What The Hell Is Going On In San Antonio?

When the NBA Offseason started a little less than 2 weeks ago, everyone buckled in for what was going to be a summer of LeBron Watch on the LeBron James Network, regionally known as ESPN. Or so it seemed. In the last week the only story anyone seems to be able to talk about is Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs. Recent reports have him asking to be traded, with his native LA being his preferred destination. This has led to a bunch of Laker Superteam predictions (being LeBron, PG13, and the Claw), but everything is currently revolving around Leonard and specifically what the Spurs do with him. Do the Spurs really want to trade him? If they do, would they trade him to a team in the West? How much can they get for him?

Now, that last question could be surprising to some. Kawhi is generally thought of as one of the best players in the game. Top 5, if not Top 3 currently. But he also hasn’t played in a year, and no one really knows what has been going on behind the scenes to cause this drama. Is it really that the Spurs mismanaged his injury or is something more sinister been going on behind the scenes? Is there someone in Kawhi’s ear pulling the strings because they think he should be playing for a bigger market team?

Here’s what we know.

Up until this season, the San Antonio Spurs were considered the Gold Standard for how to run a sports franchise. They have the best coach in the game calling the shots, are constantly good, and have an apparent Fountain of Youth somewhere in their training facility. On top of all that, there was never any drama to speak of. Everything was professional and players never had anything bad to say about Pop or the Spurs organization as a whole. That all changed this past season.

No one knows what has or hasn’t been said between the two camps. But if Kawhi is seriously asking to be traded and is willing to turn down a SuperMax contract to do so, that’s huge. (In case you don’t know, the current SuperMax is $219Mil over 5 years). Leonard, who himself is known as a reserved and easy-going type of guy, is so hurt by what has transpired he is willing to leave almost EIGHTY MILLION DOLLARS on the table. I don’t care how much money you make, that’s an extreme amount of money.

There have also been reports that Pop and the Spurs are willing to take less in a trade than they would probably deserve in order to keep Kawhi out of the Western Conference. Now, this may be true or it may be a ploy to keep teams who might want in on trade talks interested, since Kawhi has already expressed he wants to play in his hometown of LA and only has one year left on the contract any trade partner would be picking up. No team is going to want to mortgage their future on a one year rental of a player no one has seen play in over a year, no matter how good that player might be.

What it all means and what happens next.

The only thing is certain is that the Spurs dynasty of being seemingly immune to drama is over. Welcome back to the NBA San Antonio. For my money, Kawhi is going to end up in one of two places: Boston or LA. The Celtics have the best GM in the game and more assets than the rest of the league. LA also has some good young talent that could entice the Spurs, and by landing Kawhi they make it that much more appealing for PG-13 and LeBron to come to the Lakers. But they’re going to have to give up multiple young stars and the question then becomes which one. If it were me? Keep Kuzma, give up everyone else and go for it. We’ll see how it all plays about, but it certainly is nice to have something other than LeBron to focus on for a few days/weeks/however long ESPN can contractually go without making him the center of the known sports universe.


No, not the large cat. Sportswear brand Puma has made some major news early this week by going all in on trying to reclaim a spot in the sportswear conversation, especially as it concerns to basketball and the NBA. On Monday it was reported in various outlets that the brand had named Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, Hov, Mr. Beyonce, etc. President of their Basketball division. Since those initial reports, it seems they are going to be announcing him as a Creative Consultant instead of the initially reported President of Basketball, probably due to a major legal issue if they were to actually give him that title. You see, Jay-Z is still the president of Roc Nation Sports Agency, and to also be the president of a sportswear division would be a massive conflict of interest. It’s the same reason he had to vacate his shares of the Brooklyn Nets before opening Roc Nation.

On top of the Jay-Z news, Puma announced that is was signing Walt “Clyde” Frazier to a lifetime deal, as well as signing prospects DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, and Zhaire Smith to the brand. Of those three, Ayton is the favorite number 1 pick, Bagley is quickly becoming a household name, and Smith is signed to Roc Nation. The Frazier deal also makes sense, since the “Clyde” suede show is Puma’s most iconic shoe ever. It’ll be interesting to see if Puma can steal some of the stranglehold Nike and Adidas have on the NBA, but they are certainly going for it. It’ll take more than just signing big names, because if the shoes look like crap, no one’s buying them. It’s that simple. The biggest thing Puma has had recently is their Fenty line for the ladies (designed by Rhianna), so athletes and sneaker heads alike will be continuing to watch this story as the summer and next season progress.

World Cup Madness

In the words of our leader Justin Colombo: This World Cup is lit. Some quick bullet points.

  • Does anyone else think we are days away from a doping scandal out of the Russian Men’s team? They have never been as good as they are right now and well… Russia…
  • Up until Tuesday’s match between Poland and Senegal, the refs have mostly stayed out of controversy. This is a welcome change from the norm.
  • Nigeria’s Home Kits are the most dope things I think I’ve ever seen on a pitch and if anyone wants to send me one I will rock it every day for the rest of the tourney.
  • What is going on with the teams from the Americas? Only Mexico has won thus far and perennial powerhouses have struggled.
  • Speaking of perennial powerhouses and Mexico, El Tri’s victory over Germany marks the third straight World Cup where the defending champs have lost their first match of the group stage.
  • Since the 2026 World Cup has been announced for USA, Canada, and Mexico combined, which, if any, of those countries, will get an automatic bid, especially since the number of teams will be increasing that year.
  • The Spain v. Portugal match may end up being the match of the tourney and that’s okay because it was an absolute barnstormer. The only real loser of that game was Lionel Messi.
  • Poor Messi should’ve never been put in the position he was to miss that PK. He’s been struggling with those as of late, going 5 for his last 10 for club and country. Also, Argentina has one of the best PK takers in the sport in Sergio Aguero.
  • What the fuck are you doing Landon Donovan?

Andrew Mark Wilhelm is a professional Sound Engineer/Designer, and amateur photographer, writer, musician who recently relocated from California to Rochester, NY. Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit has made Andrew an avid fan of all things Detroit but nothing more so than his beloved Detroit Tigers. Every year he tells himself he won't drink the Lions Kool-Aid, and every year winds up heartbroken come January. A Spartan by heart, and a Golden Grizzly by degree, you can catch his (almost) weekly Hot Takes every Hump Day here at The Turf.

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