Ray Ratto

By shockingly agreeing to terms with DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors steal the show in free agency

By shockingly agreeing to terms with DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors steal the show in free agency

DeMarcus Cousins. Yes, THAT DeMarcus Cousins. The only DeMarcus Cousins there is.
In the least conceivable idea in the history of the National Basketball Association, the Golden State Warriors have used their mid-level exception on His Boogieness to be all of the team’s centers in the coming season. In other words, The Boogster and his still idling Achilles tendon will make $5.3 million this coming season, and the deal will cost the Warriors an additional $16 million in luxury tax fees.
The deal makes sense as a basketball matter. It may even make sense as a chemistry matter, though Cousins’ well-documented volatility will pout the Warriors’ general happiness. It will certainly cement the team’s technical foul crown of a year ago.
But on a day when Rajon Rondo became a Laker and joined LeBron James, Lance Stephenson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to make a funhouse mirror in Los Angeles, the Warriors trumped the entire market – well, okay, after James, of course – with a signing so beyond the pale that it was never even suggested in the over-active rumor mill as a potential glint in Bob Myers’ eye.
Cousins’ leg, which was injured in late January, remains questionable for the moment, though most experts believe an injury like his takes a good 10 months to heal, with some leeway about how complete the recovery will be. 
But even allowing that Cousins reportedly will not return until December or January, the Warriors have still taken the free agent season and given it its first genuinely unexpected twist. For all those who thought the West was becoming even more top-heavy with talent, it has now become spectacularly laden down with...well, character, in that “Oh good Lord, what fresh madness is this?” kind of way.
In any event, the Warriors, who had been about even money to win the 2019 NBA title when James went to Los Angeles, are now 6-5 favorites again, and the Lakers went from 7-2 to 4-1. The NBA is the drunkest, loopiest, best thing there is – especially when the games don’t get in the way of the real fun.

As Kerr nears extension, Warriors entrusting beginning of their inevitable future

As Kerr nears extension, Warriors entrusting beginning of their inevitable future

Steve Kerr has been re-signed to a contract extension by the Golden State Warriors.
I will now wait whole you pretend that this is news.
Go on, run some errands. Take a nap. Whatever.
Since everyone involved in the matter of retaining Kerr as the coach of champions had said for weeks, even months, that a new deal was coming, its arrival is the one thing worse than fake news. It is no news.
But for the voyeur in all of us, it ostensibly takes him through Year Two of the Post-Oakland Era, and almost certainly makes him the third-highest-paid coach in the NBA after Doc Rivers (yes, that Doc Rivers) and Gregg Popovich.
Now let’s see if he can win four championships in the next three years (assuming this was a normal extension and not a short-term one) to make up for the one the Warriors didn’t get in 2016, or the one they did get in 2017 when he only worked one-third the time.
More interestingly than the obvious reward for services rendered, Joe Lacob has entrusted what may very well be the beginning of the Warrior rebuild that must inevitably come. After all, even if Lacob decides to become the all-time leader in luxury taxes paid and sign the Golden State nucleus to fat new deals, it will be a team in its 30s, and even with modern medical and conditioning advancements, only LeBron James is made of adamantium and all others entering their 31-or-32 years can begin to see obvious signs of wear and tear on the bodies they have utilized so well to date.
And at that point, Kerr will begin to learn how the other 331 NBA coaches have lived.
Kerr’s life has been largely a charmed one, even after you allow for the back surgery that has turned into a spinal cord issue that refuses to go away, and even after deducting style points for last year’s ongoing struggle with team-wide ennui. And whether you regard him as the coach with the highest winning percentage ever of .808 or the highest winning percentage ever of .786 (depending on how you view his two absences for medical reasons), he has been gifted with one of the best teams ever.
On the other hand, coaching very good teams to be great is in some ways more difficult than coaching a mediocre team to be decent, and the longer that is demanded the harder it gets. That was evident last year when the Warriors found self-motivation to be more difficult than in Years One through Three of The Good Old Days, and navigating the exciting world of massive contracts for more players than can be logically afforded will only make the task thornier.
But at least he can’t say he didn’t get what he had coming to him, In a just world, Kerr would get a dollar less than Popovich just out of respect, and have to buy the next 120 dinners out of gratitude – which he would cheerily do.
And if Kerr tries harder, maybe he can make some of that Doc money with his next deal.

We deserve Draymond Green's analysis on FIFA's Fair Play Regulations


We deserve Draymond Green's analysis on FIFA's Fair Play Regulations

What we need in perilous times like these is Draymond Green’s impassioned explanation defending FIFA’s fair play rule.

Or, more specifically, what he thinks of the fair play rule as it pertains to the Group G standings in the World Cup.

As you may have been alerted, England and Belgium are tied atop Group G and play each other Thursday with records so identical that, should they draw that match, the winner of the group and the apparently advantageous matchup in the start of the knockout stage will be decided by fair play points, which are numbers assigned to cards issued for misbehavior. A yellow card is valued at one point, a red card caused by two yellows is three, a straight red is four, and then a yellow followed by a straight red is five. The more points you get, the less fair your play is judged to be.

Right now, Belgium has three yellows (Kevin DeBruyne, Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Meunier, all against Panama) to England’s two (Kyle Walker against Tunisia and Ruben Loftus-Cheek against Panama), which means that at the moment, England would win the group. The knee in the nethers, of course being, that depending on the other results, the winner could end up in the bracket with Brazil and Germany, the two pre-tournament favorites, thus making winning less desirable after all.

In other words, England and Belgium could conceivably see themselves in a battle Thursday to see who can kick the hell out of each other to avoid the Germans or Brazilians. And if they still can’t break the tie after breaking each others’ ankles, there would be a drawing of lots to determine the winner.

Now there’s fair play for you.

Now imagine the Warriors having a similar conundrum, in which amassing technical fouls would be to their benefit. As they led the NBA in the regular season and playoffs with 62, they would hold an almost insurmountable edge on nearly every other team (Cleveland, for example, finished with a mere 21, San Antonio 18, New Orleans 34, and Houston 40, just to line up the playoff opponents). Indeed, Green, with 20 by himself last year, would surely attempt to get more than the maximum of two, and could quite likely manage it.

And yet, if the Warriors needed the fair play points for a better matchup, Green could almost as surely manage to curb his impulses just as adeptly, because that is part of his diabolical genius.

But it would be hilarious to get his analysis on the fair play concept, if only to get him on the record asking the musical question, “Wait, you mean I HAVE to be nice to Tony Brothers for the good of the team? What the $%&?@!#! is THAT about?”

Hey, you have your concept of fun, and I have mine.