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02/23/2017

Just A Little Hoops

[Posted early Wed. a.m. ...very slow week in the sports world.]

Daytona 500 Quiz: An easy one I have to do every now and then.  Name the two Indy 500 winners who also won the Daytona 500 in their careers. Answer below.

College Basketball...AP Poll (Feb. 20)

1. Gonzaga 28-0 (59)
2. Villanova 26-2 (5)
3. Kansas 24-3 (1)
4. Arizona 25-3
5. UCLA 24-3
6. Oregon 24-4
7. Louisville 22-5
8. North Carolina 23-5
9. Baylor 22-5
10. Duke 22-5
11. Kentucky 22-5
17. SMU 24-4
18. Virginia 18-8
19. Florida State 21-6
25. Wichita State 25-4...Gregg Marshall’s boys on a roll, including a 109-83 win over Evansville, Tuesday, to get to 26-4.

In games Monday....

Virginia lost its fourth straight, at home, to Miami 54-48 in overtime as the Cavaliers (18-9, 8-7) shot 16 of 51 from the field (31.4%) and have scored 55, 41 and 48 points their last three games.  Time to jettison them out of the top 25 for sure, and insert Miami (19-8, 9-6), which is tourney bound.

Florida State (22-6, 10-5) blasted Boston College (9-19, 2-13) 104-72.

And 12 West Virginia (22-6, 10-5) beat Texas (10-18, 4-11) in Morgantown, 77-62, behind guard Jevon Carter’s 24 points and 10 rebounds.

But the story was Coach Bob Huggins, who dropped to his knees while clutching his chest during a timeout at the end of the first half.  Huggins eventually recovered and coached the rest of the game.

Huggins told ESPN at the half that his “defibrillator went off,” but that he was fine.

Huggins has a history of heart problems, stemming from a 2002 heart attack, and he was fitted for a defibrillator.

I love this guy, and you know this is the only thing he wants to do with his life so you aren’t about to stop him.

--In Tuesday’s games....no upsets.

--I do have to note that my “Pick to Click” (cough cough) San Diego State Aztecs have been playing a little better of late, owing to Malik Pope finally beginning to fulfill some of his potential, and after a 77-64 win the other day against UNLV (10-17, 3-11), SDSU is 16-10 and 8-6 in Mountain West play.  They are still capable of winning the conference tournament and getting a bid.

--I was thinking about how there are four former Wake Forest Demon Deacons from the 2008-09 team that went 24-7 that are still in the NBA.

Al-Farouq Aminu was a freshman, James Johnson and Jeff Teague were sophomores, and Ish Smith a junior.

Johnson and Teague left for the NBA after the season, Aminu and Smith the following year.

Johnson and Teague are now in their eighth seasons in the NBA, Smith and Aminu their seventh.

I mean that is remarkable.  These weren’t guys who lasted just a year or two.  Name another school with a team that accomplished this; four guys, one team, minimum seven years.  [I have no clue, so this is your homework assignment.  Obviously start with North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky.]

The problem for Wake Forest fans, however, is that ’08-’09 squad, with four future NBAers, was a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, having lost its first-round ACC Tourney game, and then promptly lost to #13 Cleveland State in the first round of the tournament, 84-69!  We were watching in astonishment that night.  Incredibly depressing.

--While I was musing about the past, I saw former Princeton coach Pete Carril’s name in an article and I had to look up some of his outstanding teams of the 1960s, in particular, which was when I was beginning to follow college basketball in a big way, and while the 1968-69 team wasn’t the best, finishing 19-7, it was 14-0 in the Ivy League, defeating a very good Columbia team with Jim McMillian and Heyward Dotson, twice.

Princeton would then lose its first-round NCAA Tournament game to St. John’s 72-63.

But that team, which had future NBA players Geoff Petrie (six years, 21.8 ppg average with Portland) and John Hummer (6 years), played a brutal out-of-conference schedule that included North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, UCLA, Villanova and Davidson, which had a terrific team that season, coached by Lefty Driesell...remember Mike Maloy?

By the way, when you look up this Princeton team on sportsreference.com, Petrie was listed as ‘Jeff.’  I also have to mention another member of that squad who was an excellent college player, Chris Thomforde.

And that’s enough musing about the past for a while.

NBA

--In a stunning trade, Sacramento sent All-Star DeMarcus Cousins (along with journeyman Omri Casspi) to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield (8.6 ppg), Tyreke Evans (9.5 ppg) and Langston Galloway (8.6 ppg), a 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 second-rounder, with the Kings still having a first-round pick of their own.

The draft is going to be a strong one, and Hield has some potential as a scorer, plus Evans had a solid first four seasons of his career in Sacramento, so depending on the team’s draft selections, the trade might work out for the Kings, long term, though I seem to be the only person on the planet who feels this way.  [Note to John Collins...if you don’t want to go to Sacramento, then hang out with the Deacs one more year! the editor typed mischievously.]

It’s clear Sacramento was concerned about the mercurial Cousins, who can be a primo jerk, to say the least, especially in dealing with authority (read referees), plus he would have been eligible to sign a five-year, $209 million extension this summer and had spoken recently of his desire to stay in Sacramento.

“That’s home,” he said in an interview with ESPN Radio earlier this week.  “I’m loyal to the city, I’m loyal to the fans and I’m loyal to the organization.  This is part of my legacy and I want to bring us back to the promised land.”

But now he is taking his 27.8 points per game (4th in the league) and 10.6 rebounds (11th) to New Orleans to team with fellow Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis (27.5 ppg, 5th; 11.9 reb. 6th) to form the greatest two-headed monster in the post since Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

The potential is enormous, and, coupled with solid point guard Jrue Holliday, the Pelicans are destined for elite status in the West.

[Cousins technically has one more season left on his current contract and can become a free agent summer of 2018, but it’s expected he would sign an extension with the Pelicans.  Holliday is a free agent this summer, but now you’d think he’d want to stay.]

Matt Moore / CBSSports.com

Cousins has an unbelievable opportunity here. He gets to start over – in a city that will embrace him in a way that few will. You want a redemption story?  New Orleans is a great place to find it.  You want somewhere that wants its guys a little less than squeaky clean?  Try the Big Easy.  He joins a good friend and fellow Wildcat in Anthony Davis, who also happens to be  a top-10 player.

He gets to change everything about his career. If he keeps his emotions in check (unlikely) and embraces the defensive end, he’s going to have a chance to do real damage in this league. Davis can play forward next to him, and their combination of scoring, rebounding and passing is going to be a nightmare for opponents.”

The Lakers, by the way, were also said to be in talks with the Kings, but didn’t want to part with rookie Brandon Ingram.

But that was with Mitch Kupchak (GM) and Jim Buss (EVP of basketball operations) in charge.  Tuesday afternoon came the sudden announcement that Magic Johnson is the new president of basketball operations, with Kupchak and Buss both fired.

Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss, Jim’s Sister, said in a statement: “Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect.  Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me.”

There will be a new GM, Rob Pelinka (Kobe Bryant’s agent), who will work with Magic and Coach Luke Walton.  Magic, in his first hour, then traded Lou Williams to the Rockets for Corey Brewer and a first-round draft pick.

Johnson had just returned in an advisory role, but everyone knew he was taking control.  It’s the perfect role for him.

Kupchak was in his 17th season as the team’s general manager.

Jim Buss remains a co-owner, and he had said he would step down after a few years if the team didn’t make a deep playoff run.

This also means Phil Jackson is officially left out in the cold, if he ever thought he’d be able to return to Los Angeles.  Recall, he and Jeanie Buss recently broke up after a long relationship.

--No, I didn’t watch a second of the All-Star Game, which ended up 192-182 for the West, Anthony Davis with a record 52 points, while Russell Westbrook had 41 points in 20 minutes.  Otherwise, literally zero to say about this exhibition, layup line...whatever.

--One note on the WNBA.  A story hit on Tuesday regarding Candice Wiggins, a college star out of Stanford who was the third pick of the 2008 WNBA draft and a 2011 champion.  She has come out to say there is a “very, very harmful” culture running throughout the WNBA, which saw her get bullied her eight-year career because she is heterosexual.

Wiggins last played in the league in 2015.

In a story in the San Diego Tribune on Monday, Wiggins said, “I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state.  It was a depressing state in the WNBA....I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. ...My spirit was being broken.”

Wiggins claimed “98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women,” which seems virtually impossible, but you have to take her at her word when she said, “I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season.  I’d never been thrown to the ground so much.  The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’”

MLB

--Mets fans can’t be happy the Washington Nationals signed free agent catcher Matt Wieters to a two-year deal for a reported $10 million this season and $11 million in 2018, should Wieters exercise the option. [Another report has it $10.5m each season.  $5m of the $21m is deferred.]

Wieters, 30, had been a perennial All-Star with Baltimore, with 20-homer power, but then he had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and played in just 101 games between 2014 and 2015.  Last year, in his first full season back, he played in 124 games for the Orioles and hit .243 with 17 homers.  He threw out 35% of baserunners attempting to steal.

The Nationals had already acquired catcher Derek Norris from San Diego in the offseason, Washington forced to act after All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos signed a free-agent deal with Tampa Bay.

--Dan Szymborski of ESPN.com puts together an annual list of the worst contracts in baseball.

10. Jayson Heyward, Cubs, $169 million remaining guarantee
9. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals, $58m remaining
8. Matt Kemp, Braves, $54m
7. Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks, $182.5m
6. David Wright, Mets, $77.5m...but the Mets get 75% of his pay back between the moment he misses 60 days and his return to the active roster.  Ergo, sets up interesting incentives for management.
5. Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox, $61m
4. Homer Bailey, Reds, $68m
3. Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers, $82m
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, $220m
1. Albert Pujols, Angels, $140m

Mr. Szymborski had far more details in his analysis, but he’s saying Pujols doesn’t have more than a year or two left of halfway productive ball (and these days, we know it’s far more than just hitting home runs...ask new Yankee Chris Carter).  And Greinke, while he at least has a chance to string together a bunch of 17-8, 2.70 ERA seasons for, let’s say, 3-4 years, is still receiving an outrageous sum.

But if Jayson Heyward doesn’t do anything of substance this season, his contract will easily be the worst.

Golf Balls

--Golfers aren’t happy about the disruption in the normal four-week Florida Swing, what with no tournament at Doral for the first time since 1962, and a trip to Mexico instead for the WGC event that Doral had hosted.

The new sponsor of the WGC tourney, Grupo Salinas, a collection of companies in Mexico City, signed a seven-year deal, so it’s thought that the logical thing to do next year would be to hold the Mexico City/WGC event the week after the Genesis/Riviera tournament and then move on to Florida uninterrupted for the Honda (PGA National), Valspar (Innisbrook) and Arnold Palmer Invitational (Bay Hill).

--What the Tour needs today is some drama.  There hasn’t been a lot thus far. Five of the seven events in 2017 have been decided by three or more strokes.

Tournament of Champions – Justin Thomas by 3
Sony Open – Justin Thomas by 7
Career Builder Challenge – Hudson Swafford by 1
Farmers Insurance Open – Jon Rahm by 3
Waste Management Phoenix Open – Hideki Matsuyama wins a playoff with Webb Simpson...but this was Super Bowl Sunday so many weren’t watching.
Pebble Beach – Jordan Spieth by 4
Genesis Open – Dustin Johnson by 5

--Forgot to note that Dustin Johnson became just the fourth player with a win in each of his first 10 seasons on tour, the others being Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Division I College Hockey Poll

1. Denver
2. Minnesota-Duluth
3. Harvard
4. Minnesota
5. Massachusetts-Lowell
6. Boston University
7. Union
8. Western Michigan
9. Cornell
10. Providence
14. Boston College
20. St. Lawrence

[I’m really only doing this for all the folks who went to St. Lawrence, including old friend Trader George, who really isn’t a trader these days, but it’s complicated.]

--Meanwhile, in the NHL, I forgot to mention the strange move the Montreal Canadiens made last week, firing coach Michel Therrien after the team got off to a 13-1-1 start but had played .500 since, 31-19-8, overall, 2-6-1 in their last nine when Therrien was let go, replaced by Claude Julien, who about a week before had been fired himself by the Boston Bruins (who have now won four in a row under his replacement, ol’ whathisname), Julien having guided Boston to the 2010-11 Stanley Cup. 

Julien then lost his first game behind the bench for Montreal, so they were 30-20-8 as they headed to Madison Square Garden to face the hot New York Rangers, winners of 7 of their last 8, on Tuesday night.

Well, I had to catch some of this one, knowing the background, and the Rangers lost a shootout, 3-2, with an incredibly exciting last 30 seconds of overtime.

The Rangers are a strange team, but as I’m sorry to keep repeating, they only go as far as King Henrik can take them.

FA Cup Matchups

The quarterfinals are set for the weekend of March 11.

Chelsea v Manchester United
Middlesbrough v Huddersfield/Manchester City winner, Feb. 28
Tottenham v Millwall
Arsenal v Lincoln [Arsenal having defeated Sutton of the National League, 2-0, Monday.  I did see the mini-scandal involving bets placed on Sutton’s backup goalkeeper and whether he would eat a meat sandwich during the game.  No time to get into it now, but just so you know I was paying attention, yes, he had to leave the team.]

--One note from Serbia’s SuperLeague, a game between Partizan Belgrade and Rad.  Partizan’s star midfielder, Brazilian Everton Luiz, left the field in tears on Sunday after racist remarks from Rad’s supporters.  Every time he touched the ball, Luiz was being monkey-screamed from some of the Rad fans.  Shortly before the end, the match was briefly interrupted when Rad supporters also waved a banner with an insulting message against Luiz.

Luiz, having had enough, showed his middle finger to the crowd, which ignited a brawl between the two sides.

Once that was broken up, he left the pitch in tears, though he was defiant after, refusing to let the racist fans win.

“I’ve been suffering racist abuse during the entire 90 minutes and also was upset by the home players, who supported that.  They were all attacking me.  I want to forget this as soon as possible.  I love Serbia and the people here, that is why I cried.  But please say no to racism.”

Rad fans go in the December file as candidates for “Dirtball(s) of the Year.”

Daytona 500

Bring it on...time for a new season of NASCAR.  Aside from the focus on Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his return, some of us will be looking to see how 25-year-old Mexican Danny Suarez does.  He is driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, replacing the retired Carl Edwards.  He won three races last year in the Xfinity Series on the way to becoming the first Latin American to claim a NASCAR championship.

How will NASCAR’s rather conservative (cough cough), and white, fan base warm up to Suarez? He’s supposed to have a terrific personality, a sponsor’s dream.  He also says he’s staying out of politics.

Separately, as the announcers on Fox will remind us a zillion times, NASCAR changed things up to divide each race into three heats, with points awarded for each segment, which frankly is going to be fascinating to watch.

Stuff

--The Atlantic Monthly asked readers “What was the most influential film in history?” and Tim Cox, Chicago, Ill., said “Jaws”....“the first summer blockbuster – changed the business of filmmaking, gave us an iconic score, and continues to make us fearful of ocean swimming even though we know better.”

Mr. Cox seems to believe the numbers in the International Shark Attack File out of the Univ. of Florida, which are grossly underreported because of the influence of the International Tourism Board. 

--And wouldn’t you know I wrote this up and then saw that last weekend, in the waters off Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland, Australia, 25-year-old Glenn Dickson was attacked/mauled by what is believed to be a tiger or bull shark, shortly after jumping into the water to go spear-fishing.

Dickson’s “quick-thinking friends were credited with saving his life after dragging him from the water and applying a tourniquet to his savaged leg.”

He was choppered to Cairns Hospital and Channel Seven footage showed him yelling “I will survive” as he was wheeled in.

Dickson lost the leg and last I saw remains in critical but stable condition. 

This guy has a lot of friends who have been raising money for him and his pregnant partner.  On a Facebook page dedicated to the effort, the Sydney Morning Herald notes you have comments such as “Stay strong Glenn you’re a f---ing inspiration!”  “Seeing this stuff on the news breaks my heart but knowing the person involved is way too close to home,” another friend said.

So good luck, Glenn.

--I was watching BBC America’s “Planet Earth II” (outstanding) and it really is incredible that Komodo dragons have been around 4 million years...just sayin’.

--Brad K. passed along the following from the Daily Mail’s Cheyenne Roundtree:

“A surgeon received the fright of his life when he fled his office in terror after a growling coyote followed him into a building then chased after him.

“Dr. Steve Poletti was walking into work at Southeastern Spine Institute in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, when a teeth-baring coyote ran him down on Wednesday morning.

“The spinal surgeon was filmed on surveillance video as the animal followed him through an employee-only door and then chased after the doctor as he fled in panic.

“Poletti said at first he thought the animal was just a wandering dog but quickly discovered otherwise when the coyote growled and bared its teeth.

“He said to WSCS-TV: ‘When it brushed by my leg and turned around you could see clearly it was a coyote or a wolf....

“The video shows the doctor calmly walking towards the building’s door, with a cup of coffee in hand.

“As he used his pass to open up the door, the coyote swiftly comes up from behind an unsuspecting Poletti.

“The two enter the office and before the door swings shut, Poletti is seen running away from the building with the animal hot on his heels.

“He told the news outlet: ‘I kind of put my hands up and jingled my keys and the coyote took a step back and basically I came back here and pushed the exit button and took a run for it.’”

Well, even after calling the police, they said Dr. Poletti would have to privately hire a trapper to catch the killer.  I imagine he isn’t sleeping well this week.

Brad K. reminds us this never would have happened if the facility had been part of the ACME Spine Institute chain.

--We note the passing of Walter Morrison, the singer, keyboardist, producer and funk mastermind who recorded as Junie Morrison and other names.  He was 62.

Morrison was an architect of hits by the Ohio Players and Parliament-Funkadelic, with his music later on sampled by everyone from Jay Z to Kanye West to the Roots and A Tribe Called Quest.

--Finally, we offer our prayers to David Cassidy, who announced Monday that he’s suffering from dementia.  “I was in denial,” the 66-year-old pop singer told People, “but a part of me always knew this was coming.”

Cassidy said his mother and grandfather also suffered from the disease, and he’s had substance abuse problems.

Top 3 songs for the week 2/26/83:  #1 “Baby, Come To Me” (Patti Austin w/James Ingram)  #2 “Shame On The Moon” (Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band)  #3 “Stray Cat Strut” (Stray Cats)...and...#4 “Billie Jean” (Michael Jackson)  #5 “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” (Culture Club...perhaps the most depressing song of all time...the sound, his look, everything about it...)  #6 “Hungry Like The Wolf” (Duran Duran)  #7 “You And I” (Eddie Rabbit w/Crystal Gayle)  #8 “Down Under” (Men At Work)  #9 “We’ve Got Tonight” (Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton)  #10 “Pass The Dutchie” (Musical Youth...I have to get out of this era...too many bad memories...)

Daytona 500 Quiz Answer: A.J. Foyt won at Daytona in 1972, and won four Indy 500s (1961, 64, 67, 77); Mario Andretti won Daytona in 1967 and the Indy 500 in 1969.

Next Bar Chat, Monday.

*Looks like we survived our tech situation here at StocksandNews.



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Bar Chat

02/23/2017

Just A Little Hoops

[Posted early Wed. a.m. ...very slow week in the sports world.]

Daytona 500 Quiz: An easy one I have to do every now and then.  Name the two Indy 500 winners who also won the Daytona 500 in their careers. Answer below.

College Basketball...AP Poll (Feb. 20)

1. Gonzaga 28-0 (59)
2. Villanova 26-2 (5)
3. Kansas 24-3 (1)
4. Arizona 25-3
5. UCLA 24-3
6. Oregon 24-4
7. Louisville 22-5
8. North Carolina 23-5
9. Baylor 22-5
10. Duke 22-5
11. Kentucky 22-5
17. SMU 24-4
18. Virginia 18-8
19. Florida State 21-6
25. Wichita State 25-4...Gregg Marshall’s boys on a roll, including a 109-83 win over Evansville, Tuesday, to get to 26-4.

In games Monday....

Virginia lost its fourth straight, at home, to Miami 54-48 in overtime as the Cavaliers (18-9, 8-7) shot 16 of 51 from the field (31.4%) and have scored 55, 41 and 48 points their last three games.  Time to jettison them out of the top 25 for sure, and insert Miami (19-8, 9-6), which is tourney bound.

Florida State (22-6, 10-5) blasted Boston College (9-19, 2-13) 104-72.

And 12 West Virginia (22-6, 10-5) beat Texas (10-18, 4-11) in Morgantown, 77-62, behind guard Jevon Carter’s 24 points and 10 rebounds.

But the story was Coach Bob Huggins, who dropped to his knees while clutching his chest during a timeout at the end of the first half.  Huggins eventually recovered and coached the rest of the game.

Huggins told ESPN at the half that his “defibrillator went off,” but that he was fine.

Huggins has a history of heart problems, stemming from a 2002 heart attack, and he was fitted for a defibrillator.

I love this guy, and you know this is the only thing he wants to do with his life so you aren’t about to stop him.

--In Tuesday’s games....no upsets.

--I do have to note that my “Pick to Click” (cough cough) San Diego State Aztecs have been playing a little better of late, owing to Malik Pope finally beginning to fulfill some of his potential, and after a 77-64 win the other day against UNLV (10-17, 3-11), SDSU is 16-10 and 8-6 in Mountain West play.  They are still capable of winning the conference tournament and getting a bid.

--I was thinking about how there are four former Wake Forest Demon Deacons from the 2008-09 team that went 24-7 that are still in the NBA.

Al-Farouq Aminu was a freshman, James Johnson and Jeff Teague were sophomores, and Ish Smith a junior.

Johnson and Teague left for the NBA after the season, Aminu and Smith the following year.

Johnson and Teague are now in their eighth seasons in the NBA, Smith and Aminu their seventh.

I mean that is remarkable.  These weren’t guys who lasted just a year or two.  Name another school with a team that accomplished this; four guys, one team, minimum seven years.  [I have no clue, so this is your homework assignment.  Obviously start with North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky.]

The problem for Wake Forest fans, however, is that ’08-’09 squad, with four future NBAers, was a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament, having lost its first-round ACC Tourney game, and then promptly lost to #13 Cleveland State in the first round of the tournament, 84-69!  We were watching in astonishment that night.  Incredibly depressing.

--While I was musing about the past, I saw former Princeton coach Pete Carril’s name in an article and I had to look up some of his outstanding teams of the 1960s, in particular, which was when I was beginning to follow college basketball in a big way, and while the 1968-69 team wasn’t the best, finishing 19-7, it was 14-0 in the Ivy League, defeating a very good Columbia team with Jim McMillian and Heyward Dotson, twice.

Princeton would then lose its first-round NCAA Tournament game to St. John’s 72-63.

But that team, which had future NBA players Geoff Petrie (six years, 21.8 ppg average with Portland) and John Hummer (6 years), played a brutal out-of-conference schedule that included North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, UCLA, Villanova and Davidson, which had a terrific team that season, coached by Lefty Driesell...remember Mike Maloy?

By the way, when you look up this Princeton team on sportsreference.com, Petrie was listed as ‘Jeff.’  I also have to mention another member of that squad who was an excellent college player, Chris Thomforde.

And that’s enough musing about the past for a while.

NBA

--In a stunning trade, Sacramento sent All-Star DeMarcus Cousins (along with journeyman Omri Casspi) to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield (8.6 ppg), Tyreke Evans (9.5 ppg) and Langston Galloway (8.6 ppg), a 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 second-rounder, with the Kings still having a first-round pick of their own.

The draft is going to be a strong one, and Hield has some potential as a scorer, plus Evans had a solid first four seasons of his career in Sacramento, so depending on the team’s draft selections, the trade might work out for the Kings, long term, though I seem to be the only person on the planet who feels this way.  [Note to John Collins...if you don’t want to go to Sacramento, then hang out with the Deacs one more year! the editor typed mischievously.]

It’s clear Sacramento was concerned about the mercurial Cousins, who can be a primo jerk, to say the least, especially in dealing with authority (read referees), plus he would have been eligible to sign a five-year, $209 million extension this summer and had spoken recently of his desire to stay in Sacramento.

“That’s home,” he said in an interview with ESPN Radio earlier this week.  “I’m loyal to the city, I’m loyal to the fans and I’m loyal to the organization.  This is part of my legacy and I want to bring us back to the promised land.”

But now he is taking his 27.8 points per game (4th in the league) and 10.6 rebounds (11th) to New Orleans to team with fellow Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis (27.5 ppg, 5th; 11.9 reb. 6th) to form the greatest two-headed monster in the post since Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

The potential is enormous, and, coupled with solid point guard Jrue Holliday, the Pelicans are destined for elite status in the West.

[Cousins technically has one more season left on his current contract and can become a free agent summer of 2018, but it’s expected he would sign an extension with the Pelicans.  Holliday is a free agent this summer, but now you’d think he’d want to stay.]

Matt Moore / CBSSports.com

Cousins has an unbelievable opportunity here. He gets to start over – in a city that will embrace him in a way that few will. You want a redemption story?  New Orleans is a great place to find it.  You want somewhere that wants its guys a little less than squeaky clean?  Try the Big Easy.  He joins a good friend and fellow Wildcat in Anthony Davis, who also happens to be  a top-10 player.

He gets to change everything about his career. If he keeps his emotions in check (unlikely) and embraces the defensive end, he’s going to have a chance to do real damage in this league. Davis can play forward next to him, and their combination of scoring, rebounding and passing is going to be a nightmare for opponents.”

The Lakers, by the way, were also said to be in talks with the Kings, but didn’t want to part with rookie Brandon Ingram.

But that was with Mitch Kupchak (GM) and Jim Buss (EVP of basketball operations) in charge.  Tuesday afternoon came the sudden announcement that Magic Johnson is the new president of basketball operations, with Kupchak and Buss both fired.

Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss, Jim’s Sister, said in a statement: “Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect.  Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me.”

There will be a new GM, Rob Pelinka (Kobe Bryant’s agent), who will work with Magic and Coach Luke Walton.  Magic, in his first hour, then traded Lou Williams to the Rockets for Corey Brewer and a first-round draft pick.

Johnson had just returned in an advisory role, but everyone knew he was taking control.  It’s the perfect role for him.

Kupchak was in his 17th season as the team’s general manager.

Jim Buss remains a co-owner, and he had said he would step down after a few years if the team didn’t make a deep playoff run.

This also means Phil Jackson is officially left out in the cold, if he ever thought he’d be able to return to Los Angeles.  Recall, he and Jeanie Buss recently broke up after a long relationship.

--No, I didn’t watch a second of the All-Star Game, which ended up 192-182 for the West, Anthony Davis with a record 52 points, while Russell Westbrook had 41 points in 20 minutes.  Otherwise, literally zero to say about this exhibition, layup line...whatever.

--One note on the WNBA.  A story hit on Tuesday regarding Candice Wiggins, a college star out of Stanford who was the third pick of the 2008 WNBA draft and a 2011 champion.  She has come out to say there is a “very, very harmful” culture running throughout the WNBA, which saw her get bullied her eight-year career because she is heterosexual.

Wiggins last played in the league in 2015.

In a story in the San Diego Tribune on Monday, Wiggins said, “I wanted to play two more seasons of WNBA, but the experience didn’t lend itself to my mental state.  It was a depressing state in the WNBA....I didn’t like the culture inside the WNBA, and without revealing too much, it was toxic for me. ...My spirit was being broken.”

Wiggins claimed “98 percent of the women in the WNBA are gay women,” which seems virtually impossible, but you have to take her at her word when she said, “I had never been called the B-word so many times in my life than I was in my rookie season.  I’d never been thrown to the ground so much.  The message was: ‘We want you to know we don’t like you.’”

MLB

--Mets fans can’t be happy the Washington Nationals signed free agent catcher Matt Wieters to a two-year deal for a reported $10 million this season and $11 million in 2018, should Wieters exercise the option. [Another report has it $10.5m each season.  $5m of the $21m is deferred.]

Wieters, 30, had been a perennial All-Star with Baltimore, with 20-homer power, but then he had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and played in just 101 games between 2014 and 2015.  Last year, in his first full season back, he played in 124 games for the Orioles and hit .243 with 17 homers.  He threw out 35% of baserunners attempting to steal.

The Nationals had already acquired catcher Derek Norris from San Diego in the offseason, Washington forced to act after All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos signed a free-agent deal with Tampa Bay.

--Dan Szymborski of ESPN.com puts together an annual list of the worst contracts in baseball.

10. Jayson Heyward, Cubs, $169 million remaining guarantee
9. Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals, $58m remaining
8. Matt Kemp, Braves, $54m
7. Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks, $182.5m
6. David Wright, Mets, $77.5m...but the Mets get 75% of his pay back between the moment he misses 60 days and his return to the active roster.  Ergo, sets up interesting incentives for management.
5. Pablo Sandoval, Red Sox, $61m
4. Homer Bailey, Reds, $68m
3. Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers, $82m
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers, $220m
1. Albert Pujols, Angels, $140m

Mr. Szymborski had far more details in his analysis, but he’s saying Pujols doesn’t have more than a year or two left of halfway productive ball (and these days, we know it’s far more than just hitting home runs...ask new Yankee Chris Carter).  And Greinke, while he at least has a chance to string together a bunch of 17-8, 2.70 ERA seasons for, let’s say, 3-4 years, is still receiving an outrageous sum.

But if Jayson Heyward doesn’t do anything of substance this season, his contract will easily be the worst.

Golf Balls

--Golfers aren’t happy about the disruption in the normal four-week Florida Swing, what with no tournament at Doral for the first time since 1962, and a trip to Mexico instead for the WGC event that Doral had hosted.

The new sponsor of the WGC tourney, Grupo Salinas, a collection of companies in Mexico City, signed a seven-year deal, so it’s thought that the logical thing to do next year would be to hold the Mexico City/WGC event the week after the Genesis/Riviera tournament and then move on to Florida uninterrupted for the Honda (PGA National), Valspar (Innisbrook) and Arnold Palmer Invitational (Bay Hill).

--What the Tour needs today is some drama.  There hasn’t been a lot thus far. Five of the seven events in 2017 have been decided by three or more strokes.

Tournament of Champions – Justin Thomas by 3
Sony Open – Justin Thomas by 7
Career Builder Challenge – Hudson Swafford by 1
Farmers Insurance Open – Jon Rahm by 3
Waste Management Phoenix Open – Hideki Matsuyama wins a playoff with Webb Simpson...but this was Super Bowl Sunday so many weren’t watching.
Pebble Beach – Jordan Spieth by 4
Genesis Open – Dustin Johnson by 5

--Forgot to note that Dustin Johnson became just the fourth player with a win in each of his first 10 seasons on tour, the others being Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

Division I College Hockey Poll

1. Denver
2. Minnesota-Duluth
3. Harvard
4. Minnesota
5. Massachusetts-Lowell
6. Boston University
7. Union
8. Western Michigan
9. Cornell
10. Providence
14. Boston College
20. St. Lawrence

[I’m really only doing this for all the folks who went to St. Lawrence, including old friend Trader George, who really isn’t a trader these days, but it’s complicated.]

--Meanwhile, in the NHL, I forgot to mention the strange move the Montreal Canadiens made last week, firing coach Michel Therrien after the team got off to a 13-1-1 start but had played .500 since, 31-19-8, overall, 2-6-1 in their last nine when Therrien was let go, replaced by Claude Julien, who about a week before had been fired himself by the Boston Bruins (who have now won four in a row under his replacement, ol’ whathisname), Julien having guided Boston to the 2010-11 Stanley Cup. 

Julien then lost his first game behind the bench for Montreal, so they were 30-20-8 as they headed to Madison Square Garden to face the hot New York Rangers, winners of 7 of their last 8, on Tuesday night.

Well, I had to catch some of this one, knowing the background, and the Rangers lost a shootout, 3-2, with an incredibly exciting last 30 seconds of overtime.

The Rangers are a strange team, but as I’m sorry to keep repeating, they only go as far as King Henrik can take them.

FA Cup Matchups

The quarterfinals are set for the weekend of March 11.

Chelsea v Manchester United
Middlesbrough v Huddersfield/Manchester City winner, Feb. 28
Tottenham v Millwall
Arsenal v Lincoln [Arsenal having defeated Sutton of the National League, 2-0, Monday.  I did see the mini-scandal involving bets placed on Sutton’s backup goalkeeper and whether he would eat a meat sandwich during the game.  No time to get into it now, but just so you know I was paying attention, yes, he had to leave the team.]

--One note from Serbia’s SuperLeague, a game between Partizan Belgrade and Rad.  Partizan’s star midfielder, Brazilian Everton Luiz, left the field in tears on Sunday after racist remarks from Rad’s supporters.  Every time he touched the ball, Luiz was being monkey-screamed from some of the Rad fans.  Shortly before the end, the match was briefly interrupted when Rad supporters also waved a banner with an insulting message against Luiz.

Luiz, having had enough, showed his middle finger to the crowd, which ignited a brawl between the two sides.

Once that was broken up, he left the pitch in tears, though he was defiant after, refusing to let the racist fans win.

“I’ve been suffering racist abuse during the entire 90 minutes and also was upset by the home players, who supported that.  They were all attacking me.  I want to forget this as soon as possible.  I love Serbia and the people here, that is why I cried.  But please say no to racism.”

Rad fans go in the December file as candidates for “Dirtball(s) of the Year.”

Daytona 500

Bring it on...time for a new season of NASCAR.  Aside from the focus on Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his return, some of us will be looking to see how 25-year-old Mexican Danny Suarez does.  He is driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, replacing the retired Carl Edwards.  He won three races last year in the Xfinity Series on the way to becoming the first Latin American to claim a NASCAR championship.

How will NASCAR’s rather conservative (cough cough), and white, fan base warm up to Suarez? He’s supposed to have a terrific personality, a sponsor’s dream.  He also says he’s staying out of politics.

Separately, as the announcers on Fox will remind us a zillion times, NASCAR changed things up to divide each race into three heats, with points awarded for each segment, which frankly is going to be fascinating to watch.

Stuff

--The Atlantic Monthly asked readers “What was the most influential film in history?” and Tim Cox, Chicago, Ill., said “Jaws”....“the first summer blockbuster – changed the business of filmmaking, gave us an iconic score, and continues to make us fearful of ocean swimming even though we know better.”

Mr. Cox seems to believe the numbers in the International Shark Attack File out of the Univ. of Florida, which are grossly underreported because of the influence of the International Tourism Board. 

--And wouldn’t you know I wrote this up and then saw that last weekend, in the waters off Hinchinbrook Island, Queensland, Australia, 25-year-old Glenn Dickson was attacked/mauled by what is believed to be a tiger or bull shark, shortly after jumping into the water to go spear-fishing.

Dickson’s “quick-thinking friends were credited with saving his life after dragging him from the water and applying a tourniquet to his savaged leg.”

He was choppered to Cairns Hospital and Channel Seven footage showed him yelling “I will survive” as he was wheeled in.

Dickson lost the leg and last I saw remains in critical but stable condition. 

This guy has a lot of friends who have been raising money for him and his pregnant partner.  On a Facebook page dedicated to the effort, the Sydney Morning Herald notes you have comments such as “Stay strong Glenn you’re a f---ing inspiration!”  “Seeing this stuff on the news breaks my heart but knowing the person involved is way too close to home,” another friend said.

So good luck, Glenn.

--I was watching BBC America’s “Planet Earth II” (outstanding) and it really is incredible that Komodo dragons have been around 4 million years...just sayin’.

--Brad K. passed along the following from the Daily Mail’s Cheyenne Roundtree:

“A surgeon received the fright of his life when he fled his office in terror after a growling coyote followed him into a building then chased after him.

“Dr. Steve Poletti was walking into work at Southeastern Spine Institute in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, when a teeth-baring coyote ran him down on Wednesday morning.

“The spinal surgeon was filmed on surveillance video as the animal followed him through an employee-only door and then chased after the doctor as he fled in panic.

“Poletti said at first he thought the animal was just a wandering dog but quickly discovered otherwise when the coyote growled and bared its teeth.

“He said to WSCS-TV: ‘When it brushed by my leg and turned around you could see clearly it was a coyote or a wolf....

“The video shows the doctor calmly walking towards the building’s door, with a cup of coffee in hand.

“As he used his pass to open up the door, the coyote swiftly comes up from behind an unsuspecting Poletti.

“The two enter the office and before the door swings shut, Poletti is seen running away from the building with the animal hot on his heels.

“He told the news outlet: ‘I kind of put my hands up and jingled my keys and the coyote took a step back and basically I came back here and pushed the exit button and took a run for it.’”

Well, even after calling the police, they said Dr. Poletti would have to privately hire a trapper to catch the killer.  I imagine he isn’t sleeping well this week.

Brad K. reminds us this never would have happened if the facility had been part of the ACME Spine Institute chain.

--We note the passing of Walter Morrison, the singer, keyboardist, producer and funk mastermind who recorded as Junie Morrison and other names.  He was 62.

Morrison was an architect of hits by the Ohio Players and Parliament-Funkadelic, with his music later on sampled by everyone from Jay Z to Kanye West to the Roots and A Tribe Called Quest.

--Finally, we offer our prayers to David Cassidy, who announced Monday that he’s suffering from dementia.  “I was in denial,” the 66-year-old pop singer told People, “but a part of me always knew this was coming.”

Cassidy said his mother and grandfather also suffered from the disease, and he’s had substance abuse problems.

Top 3 songs for the week 2/26/83:  #1 “Baby, Come To Me” (Patti Austin w/James Ingram)  #2 “Shame On The Moon” (Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band)  #3 “Stray Cat Strut” (Stray Cats)...and...#4 “Billie Jean” (Michael Jackson)  #5 “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” (Culture Club...perhaps the most depressing song of all time...the sound, his look, everything about it...)  #6 “Hungry Like The Wolf” (Duran Duran)  #7 “You And I” (Eddie Rabbit w/Crystal Gayle)  #8 “Down Under” (Men At Work)  #9 “We’ve Got Tonight” (Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton)  #10 “Pass The Dutchie” (Musical Youth...I have to get out of this era...too many bad memories...)

Daytona 500 Quiz Answer: A.J. Foyt won at Daytona in 1972, and won four Indy 500s (1961, 64, 67, 77); Mario Andretti won Daytona in 1967 and the Indy 500 in 1969.

Next Bar Chat, Monday.

*Looks like we survived our tech situation here at StocksandNews.