Manny Machado is a Dodger, so Giants must be better at being the Giants

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USATSI

Manny Machado is a Dodger, so Giants must be better at being the Giants

As Comrade Pavlovic explains here, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ acquisition of Manny Machado is a gaudy rental that only slightly narrows the San Francisco Giants’ path to a surprise postseason berth.
 
In short, the rich got richer, and the Giants continue to mind the tax line.
 
There is, of course, no fun in that position. The A’s aren’t selling for a change, which makes the Giants seem weirdly conservative in comparison to the noisy neighbors they never seem to notice. The Warriors, who move in down the street in a couple of years, are burning money like it’s a college football pregame bonfire, which also makes the Giants look uncharacteristically thrifty.
 
But Machado is the only real jewel in the trade deadline crown (the Mets have pitcher Jacob deGrom, but nobody expects the Mets to do anything other than standard Met-ism), and not only would he find a way to beg out of any trade to San Francisco on religious grounds (he does not worship in a power-restrictive park), the Giants already have a shortstop in which they are exceedingly proud.
 
In short, the Giants weren’t in the Machado race, and they don’t look like they will be in many others, either. This is their year of stasis, in which they will either win as they are or lose as they are.
 
Indeed, the Giants are operating outside their usual shopping norms. They would need to shave salary to acquire salary, which means there will be no 2010 Summer Of Love (Cody Ross, Pat Burrell, Javier Lopez, Jose Guillen). And their prospect bin is running pretty low, so they can’t toss young’uns into the wind to see what veteran difference-makers they can attract.
 
Thus, the Dodgers improving their lot is of little consequence to the Giants, save that corner of the fan base that believes the Dodgers always must be monitored. The Giants need to be more concerned about what the Diamondbacks and Rockies and Phillies and Nationals and Braves and Brewers and Cardinals do, which means there probably are too many teams to keep track of down the stretch.
 
Indeed, the simplicity of the task before the Giants is clear. Their path to salvation is through a rehabilitated Evan Longoria, and a revitalized Johnny Cueto, and a transformed Jeff Samardzija, and an offense that doesn’t regard seeing its own players on base as evidence of plague. The Giants have to be better at being the Giants, and there is no guarantee of that based on the evidence of not just the past 98 games but the 230-some-odd before that.
 
But if it helps, someone will enjoy the trade deadline. It just isn’t going to be the Giants. They are, for one of the rare times since they moved from Candlestick Park, a team likely to do almost nothing of consequence this July.
 
But maybe they can get DeMarcus Cousins to throw out the first pitch at one of the Pirates games in August. I mean, if you can’t be in the market, you might as well enjoy someone who is.

Kawhi Leonard trade widens gap between Warriors and teams chasing them

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AP

Kawhi Leonard trade widens gap between Warriors and teams chasing them

Wouldn’t it be odd if the Golden State Warriors actually became the last “super team” of this generation?
 
Kawhi Leonard, who was ticketed to the Los Angeles LeBrons as a sure thing by NBA fabulists across the nation, has been traded as far from Los Angeles as the NBA allows -- Toronto. And Paul George, the third peg of this super team, decided to stay in Oklahoma City, which is as far from Los Angeles culturally as the NBA can offer.
 
And no, that is not some left-handed swipe at Oklahoma City. If it’s good enough for Paul George, it ought to be good enough for you.
 
The point is, Leonard and Danny Green now are Raptors, at the price of DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round draft pick. And while Leonard still is a rental who might end up in Los Angeles, it's still a sign that super teams don’t just happen at one person’s whim.
 
And it also means that the Warriors, who introduce DeMarcus Cousins on Thursday in one of those weeks-after-the-fact press conferences that never make much sense, remain untroubled by the field.
 
It should be mentioned here that the Warriors, while fitting the rough definition of a super team, were a championship winner before Kevin Durant, and as such gained his love as someone who could dramatically lengthen the title odds for all the other teams in the league. And Cousins is a Warrior to rehabilitate his own career rather than Golden State’s.
 
The notion that James was going to Los Angeles to build a super team of his own was predicated, though, on other great players joining him, and none have. George wouldn’t even talk to the Lakers, and Leonard couldn’t because he didn’t own his employment freedom -- and might not have been interested in any event.
 
In short, the Warriors now are further from their closest pursuers than ever, and the most interesting part of this NBA season will be to see who comes closest to them without actually thinking anything can be done about it.
 
There is an extraordinary level of hubris here, as though the Warriors shall be invulnerable forever. They won’t, of course, for something will separate them eventually, most likely either time or money.
 
But the NBA’s most interesting developments have been at the fringes of the Warriors empire, and the most notable thing is that the super team to challenge them was not built this year, or even approached. The Raptors took a huge gamble with Leonard but one they are willing to undertake. The Rockets got worse. The rest of the West is sort of milling around playoff spots three through eight, with the Lakers making the biggest leap despite getting only one-third of the things on their shopping list.
 
But there is no super team to challenge the super team, and another narrative dies a hideous death. That’s OK, though. The concept of the narrative never is as much fun as the surprise ending anyway. Maybe someone will knock off Golden State this coming season, and the fascination will come not in the planning but the shock value. That’s not the way to bet, mind you, but the NBA arms race has stopped with only one clear winner.
 
At least for awhile. Given that LeBron couldn't make a super team in one summer, maybe for a longer while than we think.

Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap

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AP

Raiders' exit feels much more imminent after reported broadcaster swap

If Mark Davis really has decided to end Greg Papa’s tenure as the radio voice of the Oakland Raiders, then one of the last links between Oakland and the Raiders now is broken.
 
Rumors have spun for the better part of a month that Davis was looking to plant another flag in Las Vegas soil, and within the past few days, veteran network broadcaster Brent Musburger’s name has been linked to the job. Musburger is the main voice at gambling radio station VSiN and lives in Las Vegas, and as such is as recognizable a voice for the town as there is. The news of Musberger's hire by the Raiders was reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal late Tuesday.
 
The news picked up speed earlier Tuesday, first when tweeted out by “FakeRudyMartzke,” a largely credible voice on broadcasting gossip, and then picked up by AwfulAnnouncing.com and The Athletic. 
 
This would just be another inside-broadcasting story, though, if not for the fact that Papa, who's also a host for NBC Sports Bay Area, represents the second incarnation of the Oakland Raiders as Bill King represented the first, and breaking with that two years before the team’s actual departure from the Bay is another stark reminder of that departure.
 
The Raiders have not yet faced a real fan backlash over the decision to leave for Las Vegas, in large part because the process has gone so slowly and involved so many other cities. People have not only had a chance to face the fact that their team is leaving again, but the departure is not yet imminent.
 
Imminent arrives soon enough, though, and with it all the substantive and peripheral changes that will make the Raiders Nevada’s team. That Davis’ decision involves one of his father Al’s most trusted confidants also makes this another break with the old days, thus reinforcing Mark’s control of how the Raiders present themselves to the outside world.
 
The details on why Musburger has signed on for 2018 rather than 2020, when the Raiders are scheduled to relocate, still are to be ferreted out, but a team’s broadcaster, especially one with Papa’s tenure (21 years), is among the most enduring links between that team and its fan base, and change is jarring, especially as a harbinger of even bigger changes.
 
It is a change, though, that Davis is willing to undertake pre-emptively, either out of eagerness to begin the Las Vegas portion of his ownership or some professional/personal dissatisfaction with Papa. It breaks one of the last enduring bonds of this quarter-century of Oakland Raiders football, and with the minimal likelihood that there will ever be a third, this decision borders on the epochal.
 
In other words, Mark Davis now is making the Raiders' departure that much more real, and he's apparently ready to begin facing the belated reaction of a city scorned.