Always good to get away for a bit, and the summer is usually the best time to do it. Sports slow down, less happens. Well, except for the week I was gone.
Glad to be back. Happy to comment on a few things of note …
Paul George: Huge signing for the Thunder. Absolutely the best one the organization has made. It’s worth a risk, even if George doesn’t stay a full year, and despite what he said (hinting he wouldn’t leave if the Thunder make a deep playoff run), it’s probably not good to hold him to that. Keep in mind, George told the Pacers, the team he was traded from, he wanted to stay in Indiana, too. Until four days before the NBA draft in late June, Indy was planning on George being back. George never told general manager Kevin Pritchard he wanted to leave and then leaked the information out saying he wasn’t going to stay with the Pacers past the 2018 season.
Well, that pretty much seals that. The Pacers were leveraged to their jockstrap on this deal. George torpedoed any sort of real value the Pacers could have gotten and Indy turned down draft picks and a few starters from the Celtics and opted for two starters from the Thunder – neither deal was a win for Indy. Some say the team had a year to try and convince George to stay or try and work a better deal. Wrong. Indy had to hurry up on this thing. Bringing George back and dealing with the question day after day for an entire season would have been hoop suicide, and bad for business.
Thunder fans were quick to welcome George, and rightfully so. He’s a top-10 kind of player in the league and will pair nicely with any team, especially one with a superstar like Russell Westbrook. But there is a bit of irony to have arms wide open for George when Kevin Durant did a similar thing when he left the team. No one, and certainly not me, is saying George isn’t a good deal for the Thunder or he shouldn’t be cheered, but George did sink an organization with the way he treated the Pacers on the way out.
Russell Westbrook: Still hasn’t signed as of Wednesday night. Is it time to panic? Perhaps the Thunder are working on some sort of extravagant show to announce Westbrook will be signing a long-term deal. Or perhaps Westbrook hasn’t made up his mind. If it’s the latter and this thing drags out until the regular season, all of the good will general manager Sam Presti has earned, and he has earned it with a great offseason, will go bye-bye. The Thunder will have George, Westbrook and a remade team, but they’ll also have a circus if Westbrook isn’t re-signed soon. Pretty sure no one wants to go into the season having to answer Westbrook questions on a daily basis. If Kevin Durant was a distraction last season, wait till this year if Westbrook’s situation is still undecided.
Big 12 Media Days: Oklahoma is the team to beat, no one cares about Iowa State and Texas coach Tom Herman came off as cocky. Sounds about like there are no holes in any of those story lines that came out of the DFW area earlier this week. We’re about six weeks away from the start of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State’s season. Speaking of which, an idea for …
Oklahoma State: Fully realizing OSU has one of the best punters in the country in Zach Sinor, Oklahoma State could do something (successfully, too) really bold this year. Coach Mike Gundy should be a trailblazer and announce the Cowboys aren’t planning on punting the ball. Yes, announce it, and then go through with it.
OSU has one of the best offenses in the country, which includes receiver James Washington and quarterback Mason Rudolph. Can you imagine what this team could do with four downs instead of three? Meanwhile, this would certainly put more pressure opposing teams’ defenses. It would allow OSU to hold onto the ball longer and also keep its defense off the field longer, too. The Big 12 is full of good offensive teams. There will be lots of points scored. Knowing that, and knowing punting the ball away is a wasted possession, why not hold on to it and go for more field goals and touchdowns? Fourth-and-two shouldn’t be a problem for this team. Be aggressive. Empower your guys at the beginning of the season that you trust them. Give the offense the opportunity to do something different.
It’s a bold idea and no college coach has ever tried it, but it will be the norm at some point. Gundy is established enough and daring enough to do it. He probably won’t, but he should.