Good morning and welcome to another edition of Wake up With Whitty. We’re just a couple weeks into that dreaded summer sports lull, but the NHL and NBA have provided us with plenty of excitement to keep us on the edge of our seats. I know nobody wants to have to think for themselves this early in the morning, so let me go ahead and do the thinking for you. Then once you’ve had a chance to wake up a bit, feel free to come back and tell me why I’m wrong.
The days leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft were full of intrigue, with the rumor mill shifting into high gear and several big trades going down (check out DB’s recap of all the events leading up to the draft). Things didn’t stop when the draft got started though.
While the draft itself had few major surprises, there was a major trade that went down early on. The Bulls sent Jimmy Butler and the 16th pick to the Timberwolves for the 7th pick, 2-time slam dunk contest winner Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. Butler will be reunited with former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota, which should benefit him greatly. This trade immediately makes the Timberwolves playoff contenders, but I don’t think it’s enough for them to crack the top 4 seeds in the West. I think they’re still 1-2 more pieces away if they want to compete with that super team out in Oakland, but this is a good start.
The other big NBA news was that LA Clippers superstars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have each opted out of their contracts. This certainly is going to fuel plenty of rumors, but my hunch is that they both stay in LA when all is said and done. They would be leaving way too much money on the table if they decided to leave the Clippers, who can offer each of them $50 million more than any other team. Still, there’s always the possibility that another team is able to lure them away with the promise of a championship. I guess it all depends on where Lebron wants his next not-super team to be.
What Happens in Vegas
The NHL had plenty of excitement to offer this past week as well. With the expansion draft and NHL awards ceremony (check out my recap here) on Wednesday night in Las Vegas and the NHL draft on Friday and Saturday in Chicago. The NHL and adidas also unveiled the new jerseys for all 31 NHL teams now that the league had made the transition from Reebok. I know I mentioned this previously, but the Vegas uniforms look terrible. You would have thought that with as much time as they had to design them that they could have come up with something more aesthetically pleasing. Maybe they’ll grow on me, but I’m not so sure of that.
Like the NBA, they NHL draft itself offered little intrigue. This year did not feature the “can’t miss” superstars like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews that we’ve seen the past couple years, but there were some big draft day trades that made things a little more interesting. The biggest trade was between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Hawks shipped 2016 Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte and their 6th round pick off to Columbus in exchange for Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg and the Jackets’ 2018 5th round pick. Ultimately I think both teams come out ahead with this trade (which is a scary thought considering they both finished in the top 4 in the league in terms of records). As a Blue Jackets fan I was a little torn giving Saad back to Chicago, but in the end I’m happy with the deal. Panarin has posted 30+ goals in each of his first two NHL seasons, so this acquisition gives Columbus an instant boost of offense. I’m excited to see what he can do next season, and I hope that this finally pushes the Jackets over that first round playoff hump.
Pay Day for Carr
Quarterback Derek Carr signed an extension with the Oakland Raiders this week. The 5 year, $125 million deal makes him the highest paid player in the NFL. Carr’s proven that he’s a talented quarterback, but I don’t know if I’d put him up there with the best in the league just yet. I don’t know that this necessarily means that he’s overpaid though, I think it just speaks to how ridiculous NFL contracts are getting, especially for quarterbacks. I have a feelng we’re going to start seeing more of a trend of quarterbacks becoming the highest paid player in the league when they sign their new contracts. It’ll only last until the next guy signs his contract, but that’s the way it goes I guess. Carr better be careful with that big contract of his though. Having all that money could get dangerous in a few years when the Raiders make their move to Vegas. My advice to him is to do what the Raiders did: put it all on 4, black.
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