Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are, once again, all in the semifinals of a Grand Slam (along for the ride this time is Roberto Bautista Agut). It should be fun!
We’re down to the semifinals at Wimbledon and, wouldn’t you know it, all of the Big Three are still in action. That includes top seed Novak Djokovic, second seed Roger Federer and third seed Rafael Nadal. You won’t want to miss the semifinals on Friday, given it will be yet another chapter in the Nadal vs. Federer rivalry, while Djokovic will try and maintain his top form against No. 23 Roberto Bautista Agut.
The action is set for Friday at 1 p.m. local time, which means 8 a.m. ET. Djokovic and Agut will be up first on Centre Court, followed by Nadal and Federer. ESPN will have live television and streaming coverage, either through your cable/satellite provider or through a subscription to ESPN+.
Djokovic vs. Agut
Djokovic’s path to the semifinals included wins over Philipp Kohlschreiber (6-3, 7-5, 6-3), Denis Kudla (6-3, 6-2, 6-2), Hubert Hurkacz (7-5, 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4), Ugo Humbert (6-3, 6-2, 6-4), and most recently, No. 21 David Goffin. Djokovic was projected to face NO. 19 Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round, but Humbert scored the upset.
Looking at the list of names, Djokovic has had a pretty lucky draw thus far, though he did drop a set to Hurkacz.
Agut’s path included wins over Peter Gojowczyk (6-3, 6-3, 6-3), Steve Darcis (6-3, 6-2, 4-2 ret.), No. 10 Karen Khachanov (6-3, 7-6(3), 6-1), No. 28 Benoît Paire (6-3, 7-5, 6-2) and, most recently, Guido Pella, the 26th seed (7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3).
Neither have run into particularly heavy hitters thus far, though Agut dispatching Khachanov in straight sets is an impressive feat. Still, it’s going to be hard for him to overcome Djokovic,
Agut is currently the No. 13 player in the world, which ties his highest career ranking in men’s singles play. This semifinal appearance comes on the heels of making it to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open earlier in the year, having previously never made it past the fourth round.
Djokovic, on the other hand, has 15 Grand Slam titles, including four at Wimbledon, one of which came last year. He’s playing extremely well, is the top-ranked player in the world, and is surely the favorite to win it all again this year.
Our Pick: Agut is playing some great tennis, but we cannot pick against Djokovic.
Nadal vs. Federer
The Nadal-Federer rivalry doesn’t need much introduction — it’s spanned over a decade and has included some of the greatest tennis matches in history. Most notably, the 2008 Wimbledon final — also the last time the two played each other at Wimbledon — is widely considered the best tennis match of all time.
Nadal leads Federer, 24-15, though 12 of those Nadal wins came on clay courts, his specialty. Federer holds a 2-3 edge at Wimbledon. Federer has 20 Grand Slam singles titles, including eight at Wimbledon, while Nadal has 18, including 12 at the French Open (and two at Wimbledon). Yeah, it doesn’t get much bigger than this.
Federer made it to the semifinals by beating Lloyd Harris (3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2), Jay Clarke (6-1, 7-6(3), 6-2), No. 27 Lucas Pouille (7-5, 6-2, 7-6(4), No. 17 Matteo Berrettini (6-1, 6-2, 6-2), and No. 8 Kei Nishikori (4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4).
On his way to the semifinals, Nadal bested Yūichi Sugita (6-3, 6-1, 6-3), Nick Kyrgios (6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3)), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6-2, 6-3, 6-2), João Sousa (6-2, 6-2, 6-2), and Sam Querrey (7-5, 6-2, 6-2).
While Nadal’s path did not include any seeded opponents, it did include two very strong servers, which are always more dangerous on the grass courts of Wimbledon, in Querrey and Kyrgios. He dropped a set to Kyrgios, but handled Querrey with ease.
With all the big names gone, who’s left? There aren’t many.
The opening eight hours of NBA free agency answered most of the questions we had about the future of the NBA, and the stunning Kawhi Leonard decision to join the Clippers with Paul George answered the rest.
So who’s left on the board? Not too many people, now that the rest of the dominos are falling. Here are the best free agents left.
Last update: July 11, 10:23 p.m. ET
1. Kenneth Faried
He hasn’t adjusted to the offensive or defensive ways of modern bigs, but his physicality and interior presence is still effective in spot minutes. He revived his career a bit in Houston last year, scoring 13 points with eight rebounds in 24 minutes.
Gasol’s season ended early after he had surgery on his foot to repair a stress fracture. And he’s 36 years old. But when healthy, he was still fine last season, averaging four points and four rebounds in 12 minutes.
Once Paul George asked out and was dealt to the Clippers, Russell Westbrook reportedly wanted to go to the Houston Rockets. In situations like these, given Westbrook’s huge contract and preferred destination, teams don’t usually get a lot in return.
Not Sam Presti. He secured two lightly-protected first-round picks and two pick swaps from Houston as the cost of swapping Westbrook for Chris Paul. Both players are declining, prickly, and with huge contracts. You’d probably take Westbrook given his age, but it’s not an obvious choice. And yet, Presti secured control of four draft picks for the right to swap them.
Combined with the incredible haul he received for George, and Presti turned his two biggest stars asking out into a declining superstar (Chris Paul), a near All-Star (Danilo Gallinari), a top prospect (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander), seven first-round picks, and four pick swaps. THAT’S how you create leverage.
WINNERs: Russell Westbrook and James Harden
They get to play with their best buddy again, instead of Chris Paul or a team of kids.
LOSER: Daryl Morey
This didn’t age well.
A thoroughly exasperated Daryl Morey said Chris Paul and his reps have never asked to trade him and he will be on Rockets next season. Said he and Harden do not have issues with one another and that he has spoken to both often this off-season about free agency evaluations, plans.
There’s no way he stays with the Thunder, right? I know he began his career in Oklahoma City when the Hornets were displaced due to Hurricane Katrina, but he wants to win a title, doesn’t he?
LOSER: Moreyball as an analytics philosophy
Are the Rockets winners or losers? I’d lean losers, because I can’t see Westbrook adjusting his game well enough to justify the cost of taking him on. But this could work — Westbrook could be a different player with the Rockets’ spacing, and Harden may be more willing to dial back his usage to help his superstar teammate if it’s one of his old friend instead of a guy he reportedly can’t stand.
But one thing is clear: Moreyball is about something a lot simpler than it seems.
You couldn’t find a player more antithetical to the Rockets’ analytically driven approach than Westbrook, and yet Daryl Morey just gave up a ton to acquire him. That could mean that Morey has lost his ability to determine the ideal fits for the Rockets’ style of play, one that’s revolutionized the league. Maybe Morey has lost his touch.
Or, perhaps Moreyball was about exactly the argument Charles Barkley famously used to criticize analytics: nothing matters without stars. In Morey’s mind, Russell Westbrook is a star and the job of a general manager is to collect as many as possible, fit be damned. It’s why Morey traded for Paul, after all, despite the potential awkward fit with Harden. It’s why he pursued Jimmy Butler with trade pieces that didn’t exist. It’s why he brought Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady together all those years ago. It’s why he build odd rosters stocked with trade assets for two years to put himself in position to land Harden in 2013.
Moreyball is about acquiring stars and figuring out the rest later. Trading for Westbrook, a star who spits in the face of the utopian threes-and-layups shot chart Morey seemingly craved, only drives that point home.
LOSER: Mike D’Antoni
This will be a … difficult team to coach.
WINNER: West desperation
Does this trade happen if the Warriors don’t split up? If the Lakers don’t get Anthony Davis? If the Clippers don’t pull off the Leonard-George heist? If the Jazz don’t trade for Mike Conley? If the Warriors don’t react to Kevin Durant’s departure by landing D’Angelo Russell? Hell, if the Blazers don’t shake things up after making the West Finals?
The West arms race snared the Rockets and made them feel like they needed to take this huge gamble simply to keep up. This is what the Win-Now Era leads to.
KAWHI LEONARD TO THE CLIPPERS … WITH PAUL GEORGE??
After all that, Kawhi chose a Clippers that has long been linked with him, but with a co-star nobody expected. For a more complete list of winners and losers from this transaction, click here.
WINNER: Los Angeles Clippers
To beat out their big brothers for Kawhi Leonard and steal Paul George, the guy who seemed destined to be a Laker? Los Angeles may never be the same. This is a seismic moment in league history — nay, sports history.
WINNER: Los Angeles Clippers
It must be said again.
WINNER: Los Angeles Clippers
Look at this damn squad:
Guards: Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Jerome Robinson Wings: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Landry Shamet, Rodney McGruder, Mo Harkless, Sindarius Thornwell Bigs: Ivica Zubac, Montrezl Harrell, JaMychal Green
What beautiful balance. They can start George, Leonard, Beverley and whoever up front, then come in with Harrell and Williams on the second unit with the shooting of Shamet and the perimeter defense of either Harkless or McGruder. They’re a little short on rim protection (unless Zubac steps up) and a tad short on passing, but that is a vicious, deep team.
They have to be the early West favorites at this point.
LOSER: Los Angeles Lakers
You hate to see it.
Lakers contingent is upset Kawhi Leonard chose the Clippers obviously but more shocked the Thunder paved the way with the Paul George trade. Completely blindsided by that.
All is not lost, of course, not by a longshot. The Lakers still are overall offseason winners because they landed Anthony Davis. Considering the slim pickings after losing out on Leonard, they did a decent job building the roster up, too. Danny Green is a nice signing, DeMarcus Cousins on a one-year deal is found money, and retaining Rajon Rondo and Kentavios Caldwell-Pope is sensible. They are right up there in the West pecking order.
But the Lakers lost something else when Leonard spurned them: their stranglehold on the city of Los Angeles. Two hometown superstars — one they pursued in free agency in the past, one they pursued in free agency this year — decided they wanted to go to the city’s onetime B team in the L.A. Clippers. That is a testament to what the Clippers have built, but it’s also an indictment on the last several years of Lakers dysfunction.
WINNER: Oklahoma City Thunder
It sucks that Paul George left one season after re-signing, but the Thunder were stuck with no way out. Now, they have more draft picks than they can possibly use, plus a solid young point guard in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a quality scorer in Danilo Gallinari that could stick around or get flipped for more assets.
NEUTRAL: Toronto Raptors
They are still the defending champions, at least.
Everyone has yearned for an NBA where any collection of teams could win the championship. League haters have constantly held this anvil over our collective heads.
If they don’t pay attention this year, then there’s no hope for them. Between the Clippers, Lakers, Bucks, 76ers, Jazz, Nuggets, Rockets, Celtics, Warriors, Blazers, and Nets, this is shaping up to. be the most wide open year in NBA history.
— Mike Prada
KEVIN DURANT AND KYRIE IRVING GO TO BROOKLYN
In the end, there wasn’t much suspense. The long-rumored union of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant with the Nets became official before free agency even began.
WINNER: The Brooklyn effin Nets
Kevin Durant. Kyrie Irving. They did it. Regardless of what happens now, what an incredible accomplishment for Brooklyn.
Think back to the disastrous 2013 trade in which Brooklyn handed the Celtics their future for aging stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Could you have imagined that, six years later, TWO top-15 superstars in their prime would voluntarily choose Brooklyn, one of which came from the Celtics?
That’s a testament to the hard, long work general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson did patiently rebuilding the Nets into a team on the rise with a thriving culture.
Now comes the hard part: making it all pay off on the court.
But then again, it kind of is a disaster. The Knicks traded away their most promising young player in years to create enough room for two max contracts, then hinted many times publicly that their grand plans would result in success. Instead, they’re watching their crosstown rivals get the dual prize that seemed destined to head their way.
If this is indeed true, scratch everything I just wrote above.
The Knicks and owner Jim Dolan were not prepared to offer Kevin Durant a full max contract due to concerns over his recovery from the Achilles injury, league sources tell me and @wojespn. Knicks officials are in Los Angeles tonight, meeting with free agents such as Julius Randle.
Technically part of Brooklyn’s new Big 3, and with a four-year, $40 million deal to boot.
LOSER: Golden State Warriors
Even if we kind of knew Durant was a goner, it has to sting knowing the circumstances that led to his departure. It’d be one thing if Durant led the Warriors to another title and then decided he wanted a new challenge. It’s another for him to rush back from one injury, only to suffer the worst ailment a hooper can get, thanks in part to medical guidance that may or may not have endangered him unnecessarily.
The end result is the worst of all worlds. Not only do the Warriors lose Durant, but they do so having demonstrated they actually need him to win titles.
The Warriors also did … something else. More on that below.
JIMMY BUTLER TO … THE HEAT?
Jimmy Butler apparently always wanted to go to the Heat, and Miami made the move happen with a series of complicated sign-and-trade transactions that cost them Josh Richardson, Hassan Whiteside, and another first-round pick.
WINNER: Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler, for whatever reason, wanted to go to the Miami Heat. He probably wanted to go to the Miami Heat back in November, when he was trying to leave Minnesota. He didn’t get there then, because the Heat didn’t have many trade assets and were protective of Josh Richardson, the one they did have. The book appeared to be closed.
It’s hard to see how the Heat can be a real factor in the East with Butler and a bunch of spare parts, but at least Butler got to the place he wanted.
LOSER: Houston Rockets
The Rockets aimed at another star player this summer, reportedly trying to lure Butler back to his hometown. It didn’t work out either because the Sixers didn’t want what Houston was offering up in the necessary sign and trade, or because Butler wanted to go to the Miami Heat regardless. Butler ended up in South Beach, and the Rockets aren’t left with many other good options on the market as talent gets snapped up.
With the Warriors wounded up and the Lakers still working to build a rotation around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Rockets had a shot to take the Western mantle and fell short. Now what?
Ben Simmons. Josh Richardson. Tobias Harris. Al Horford. Joel Embiid. That’s an … interesting basketball team. I’m gonna need some time to process this.
HOLD UP D’ANGELO RUSSELL WENT WHERE??
With Kyrie Irving heading to Brooklyn, D’Angelo Russell was free to find another team. The one he chose, though, caught EVERYONE off guard.
LOSER: Golden State Warriors
This might be the most bizarre free-agent transaction in years. Of all the possible ways the Warriors could have rebounded from losing Kevin Durant, who would have ever thought a sign-and-trade to give Russell a four-year, $117 million contract would be their move? This wasn’t in the same universe as even the weirdest possible next transaction. #Lightyears, indeed.
Thing is, there’s a reason nobody saw this coming. Russell, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson will combine to make nearly $100 million per season all by themselves over the next three seasons. Can they play together? Unclear. Can they fill out the roster around them? Also unclear.
He won’t get to stay with the Brooklyn Nets team he helped build into one of the best young groups in the league, but getting a chance to play with Stephen Curry and the Warriors is as good a consolation as he could’ve wanted. Russell won’t be a natural fit next to Curry, but with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson (when he returns from injury), Golden State could still have an electric offense. Golden State could be a better team than Brooklyn next season with KD sidelined.
— Matt Ellentuck
LOSER: Andre Iguodala
Iguodala was collateral damage after Kevin Durant opted to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. Desperate to make some sort of free agency splash with Klay Thompson sidelined for most of the year, Golden State and Brooklyn agreed to a sign-and-trade for D’Angelo Russell, leaving Iguodala’s contract needing to be moved salary cap-wise.
The Memphis Grizzlies took on Iguodala’s $17 million contract in exchange for draft compensation, which is wonderful for them, but bad news for a once-key member of a dynasty. The Grizzlies are in for a full rebuild, and 35-year-old Iguodala should want nothing to do with that. Look for Andre to ask for a buyout.
At the very least, Iguodala made fantastic content out of his very bad day:
Walker won’t be getting the supermax, but for the first time in his eight-year career, he’ll have a chance to compete in the playoffs after committing to a four-year maximum contract with Boston. With the Celtics, Kemba can take control over an offense that doesn’t live and die solely on his efforts. It’s as good of a landing spot as he could’ve hoped for after Charlotte declined to pay him his worth.
The issue is the lack of foresight the Hornets showed throughout this process. If they weren’t going to offer Walker everything he wanted, why didn’t they get in front of the situation and trade Walker before losing him for nothing?
They had to know their team was going nowhere. They had to know Walker could potentially make himself eligible for the supermax and put them in this pickle. They had to know he’d want a normal max contract regardless, and that multiple teams would have four-year offers ready for him should he hit the open market. Did the Hornets care more about a doomed playoff push and/or having one of their own in the All-Star Game they hosted? That’d be foolish if so.
The big question for the league’s best regular-season team: how would they navigate a tricky summer in which several key players were free agents? The answer: they retained most of them, but one was too rich to keep.
WINNER: Khris Middleton
When Middleton was last a free agent, he took far less than his market value at five years and $70 million. Nothing to sneeze at, of course, but he could have looked for a larger offer sheet or tried to get a shorter-term deal to hit free agency again sooner. That below-market contract helped Milwaukee build the 60-win juggernaut it built last season.
This time, Middleton secured the absolute best contract he could: five years, $178 million, with a player option. He had the Bucks over a barrel due to his low cap hold and their lack of cap space to replace him, and he used that leverage to secure the bag. Given the way he gave them a break last time, this was well deserved payback.
WINNER: Brook Lopez
Lopez took a chance on the Bucks last year, signing a one-year, $3.3 million contract that could have been seen as an insult given his All-Star pedigree. Instead, he happily played the perfect role for a great team, rebuilt his value, and locked in a four-year, $52 million deal that’ll earn him security through his age-35 season.
LOSER: Milwaukee Bucks
They didn’t keep the full band together, because they lost Malcolm Brogdon to the Pacers on a contract they clearly weren’t able to match. They didn’t preserve a ton of long-term flexibility, because they still gave Middleton and Lopez fat four-year contracts while taking the leftover money saved on Brogdon to give 33-year-old George Hill a three-year, $29 million deal to stay. Re-signing Eric Bledsoe during the year doesn’t seem like the best call either, given his postseason struggles. (Wes Matthews was a nice addition at the minimum, and Robin Lopez at least unites the Lopez brothers).
So the only thing they really accomplished appears to be ducking the luxury tax, which is not ideal given Giannis Antetokounmpo’s future. The Bucks had a tricky task this summer, but it’s hard to see how this outcome puts them on any sort of defined path forward.
ALL THE OTHER STUFF
The other winners and losers of free agency.
WINNER: David Griffin
When David Griffin took over as President of Basketball Operations with the Pelicans, he had the remnants of a disjointed, disappointing roster and an unhappy superstar in Anthony Davis. After dealing AD to the Lakers for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Josh Hart, drafting Zion Williamson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and finding a taker for Solomon Hill’s bad deal, Griff could have called this offseason a smashing success.
This is what it looks like for a small-market team to get serious. No longer are the Jazz content with being a nice regular-season team without enough offense to get it done when the going gets tough.
Now, they have a clutch floor general in Mike Conley, and one of the league’s best spot-up shooters in Bojan Bogdanovic on a four-year, $73 million contract. A starting lineup of Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Bogdanovic, and Rudy Gobert provides a ton of shooting and playmaking, with the Defensive Player of the Year back there to clean up any messes. Look for Mitchell to have a huge third season now that he actually has some real shooting on the floor. (Ed Davis for two years, $10 million was also nice).
The move fills a long-time devastating hole on Phoenix’s roster with a pass-first point guard who will help everyone else fall into their natural place. That applies more to Devin Booker — who will run more action off the ball — than anyone else.
It’s unclear how much of Igor Kokoskov’s offensive system will be scrapped now that Monty Williams is Phoenix’s head coach, but much of it came from Rubio’s former team, the Utah Jazz, where Kokoskov spent three years teaching Quin Snyder’s dribble hand-off, side-to-side, slow-and-steady-wins-the-race approach. The fit is splendid from that perspective.
For the sake of Deandre Ayton’s development, few attainable ball-handlers make more sense than Rubio, who can help turn last year’s No. 1 pick into a destructive roll man. Neither Phoenix nor Rubio will have to worry about his flawed shooting in the playoffs, either, because Phoenix isn’t getting there anytime soon.
For now, putting young talent in roles where they can learn and thrive should be a priority. Rubio seamlessly helps that happen, and, for his trouble, he’ll somehow make more money next season than he did in 2018-19. It’s a win-win all the way around.
There’s only one year left on his deal, so this isn’t a huge risk. But it’s tough to see how Portland looks better without Harkless and Seth Curry, who will sign with the Mavs, and with someone whose skillset isn’t made to play defense in the playoffs.
With Indy losing Bojan Bogdanovic to a four-year, $73 million deal to Utah, this was an elite backup plan. Brogdon is one of the league’s most underrated guards who’ll compliment Oladipo well when he returns from injury. Brogdon doesn’t need to take possessions away from Oladipo to be successful.
The Kings had a totally rational, sane free agency plan: replace restricted free agent Willie Cauley-Stein at center, retain Harrison Barnes, add a couple of veterans who won’t block the young rising stars. Check, check, check.
Decisions — like an extension for Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic’s future on the team — still loom. And it’s still weird that the Kings fired Dave Joerger after a strong season. But the Kings just might be on the right track. What a world.
WINNER: Chicago Bulls
Since the 2019 trade deadline, the Chicago Bulls have added Otto Porter, Thaddeus Young, Tomas Satoransky, and Coby White while giving up Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, and two second-round picks. In doing so, they’ve transformed their team from an archaic relic of the past into a young, dynamic, defensive-minded, and versatile crew.
All four of those acquisitions have positional flexibility, which means they can slot in a lot of different places around the young core of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, and Wendell Carter Jr. Satoransky could start at point guard next to LaVine, or play off the ball if White develops. Porter is a solid starting small forward, but he can also play the 4. Young can play with either Markkanen or Carter.
If Jim Boylan can actually coach — the jury’s still out — this is a nice young core that’ll grow organically.
LOSER: San Antonio Spurs
Thinking they had a commitment from Marcus Morris on a two-year, $20 million deal, the Spurs traded Davis Bertans to the Washington Wizards and agreed to turn their DeMarre Carroll signing into a sign-and-trade, yielding him more money and subjecting San Antonio to the hard cap.
The Wizards made two questionable trades in pursuit of the No. 8 seed in the East ahead of the trade deadline last season. First, they moved Kelly Oubre Jr., a restricted free agent-to be anyway, for Trevor Ariza in December. Ariza was a desired win-now piece on the market, but the Wizards refused to move him once making the playoffs seemed extremely unlikely. Then, in February, they moved Otto Porter Jr. for Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, and a protected 2023 second-round pick.
The Magic were clearly caught in the high of their first playoff appearance in six seasons, opting to sign and re-sign contributors rather than take the long rebuilding route. Orlando kept Nikola Vucevic, the team’s All-Star, for four years and $100 million, Terrence Ross for four years and $54 million and signed free agent Al-Farouq Aminu for three years and $29 million.
Though keeping Vucevic on a value deal was a strong move, signing two in-their-prime role players for a steep price is a questionable choice. Orlando is years away from truly competing with Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and (hopefully) Markelle Fultz. Those guys will only take minutes and spotlight from the franchise’s future.
— Matt Ellentuck
WINNER: Isaiah Thomas
IT might’ve only gotten the veteran minimum, but on the Wizards, he’ll be gifted what he wasn’t before — playing time! John Wall is out for the forseeable future and the team traded Tomas Satoransky on the second day of free agency. Thomas couldn’t have asked for a better chance to revive his career.
The whole point of Cousins signing a one-year deal with the Warriors last year was to rebuild his value, bask in a championship halo, and cash in this summer. None of that went according to plan, and now, Cousins is stuck taking another one-year deal, this time for even less money with the Lakers.
Poor guy. Injuries suck.
At least he gets to play with Anthony Davis again.
LOSER: The NBA’s best friendship – Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic
Tobias is staying in Philly, but Boban is going to Dallas.
I’m gonna need a minute.
— Matt Ellentuck
LOSER: Tampering purists
So much for NBA teams respecting the sanctity of the moratorium. By the time the official free-agent negotiating period opened, two of the top five free agents (Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving) were on their way to new teams, and multiple Al Horford mystery suitors were floated anddebunked.
Theoretically, that sort of maneuvering shouldn’t start until after 6:01 p.m. on June 30. In reality, it’s always started earlier, and the only difference now is that nobody cares to pretend otherwise.
This could all be avoided if the NBA moved free agency to immediately after the draft and ended the league year after the Finals, rather than on June 30. Then again, given the interest free-agent rumors generate, perhaps this is a problem that doesn’t need to be solved.
The Thunder have been in rebuild mode since getting blindsided by Paul George’s trade request to the Clippers to team up with Kawhi Leonard. That deal brought Oklahoma City a wealth of future draft picks and signaled the end of the Westbrook era. It only took GM Sam Presti six days to find a package for the former MVP.
There have been rumors all summer of a rift between Paul and Rockets star James Harden. Now Harden and Westbrook — former teammates for three years in Oklahoma City — are set to share the court again.
This already may have been the wildest NBA summer ever even before this trade went down. Here are seven different ways this trade is breaking our brains.
So much has changed since Westbrook and Harden last shared the court together in Oklahoma City. Harden blew up in to a superstar upon being traded to Houston, winning MVP in 2018 and finishing as runner-up for the award three other times. Westbrook won his own MVP by edging Harden in 2017, when he became the first player since Oscar Robertson to average a triple-double for the season. Westbrook has now averaged a triple-double for three seasons in a row.
Can these two stars co-exist again? Both are ball dominant lead guards who are used to being in charge. Westbrook is a shaky shooter who won’t space the floor around Harden’s drives to the basket the way Paul did. Harden may also have to adjust his typical diet of isolations and pick-and-rolls with a teammate as assertive as Westbrook around.
The Rockets paid a hefty price for Westbrook, but this pairing is far from a perfect fit. Can Westbrook and Harden thrive together again or will this be a disaster? Houston is going all-in to win a championship this season with the move.
The Thunder now have a war chest of draft picks now
Oklahoma City is fully committed to rebuilding for the future. Just look at all these picks the Thunder own:
I left out Thunder’s Jerami Grant deal with Denver: OKC has acquired EIGHT first-round picks since draft night: 2020: Denver (1-10), 2021: Miami; 2022: LAC; 2023: Miami (1-14), 2024: LAC; 2024: Houston (1-14); 2026: LAC; 2026: Houston (1-4).
It would appear the Thunder have no reason to keep Paul. The roster is almost completely devoid of veteran talent right now, save for long-time center Steven Adams. Oklahoma City will likely try to move both players.
Paul is still owed $124 million for the next three seasons. He is still a quality player at 34 years old, but teams likely won’t be lining up to take him with that contract. Dealing Paul is next on Presti’s agenda. He can still help a veteran team win in the right situation.
The Thunder looked so promising just one year ago
When Paul George decided to re-up with the Thunder last summer, it looked like Oklahoma City would be a contender for the immediate future. Westbrook again averaged a triple-double and George had a brilliant season that put him in the MVP conversation, but the Thunder still felt like they underachieved with 49 wins and the No. 6 seed in the West playoffs.
George’s late season shoulder injury meant the Thunder never got the chance to be the best version of themselves in the postseason. The Blazers beat OKC in five games, with Damian Lillard’s epic buzzer-beater ending the series.
Little did anyone know at the time that Oklahoma City would blow it up like this.
The Thunder might have had the most successful run in the history of the NBA draft at the end of the last decade. Oklahoma City took Kevin Durant at No. 2 overall in 2007, picked Westbrook at No. 4 in 2008, and selected Harden at No. 3 in 2009.
All three players would go to win MVPs. All three players are now gone.
It seems like only yesterday that the Thunder took Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals away from LeBron James and the Miami Heat. At the time, it seemed like OKC was poised to become the league’s next great dynasty.
Thunder fans will have to live with their memories for the next few seasons. It’s going to be a long road back to contention.
Whether zipping up to the top of the Space Needle, flipping around acrobatically with Seattle Cheer, lounging in the shade of the trees, or venturing into the nearby MoPop museum, pride 2019 kept everyone happy all day long and well into the night.
Australia are the Cricket World Cup’s final boss. They don’t always win — they’ve triumphed in a mere four of the last five tournaments — but they have made the final more often than not, and are particularly fearsome in the semifinals. Their record there, before Thursday, was six appearances with six wins. They’d managed to reach every single final since 1992 except for 2011, when India hosted. Australia are a frighteningly competent cricket team.
England are not, in general, a frighteningly competent cricket team. After relative success in the early years of the competition (this being England, that success included zero trophies), since the mid-90s, they’ve produced a cascade of embarrassment. This culminated in the 2015 tournament, when they failed to beat anyone except Scotland and Afghanistan and were eliminated in the group stages.
So when England faced Australia with a place in the 2019 final at stake, despite being the host nation it’s fair to say history was not on their side. If there’s a national tradition associated with English cricket, it threads the needle between comical underperformance and just being flat-out bad. Australia, meanwhile, are cool, calm and collected. They eat, and have eaten, Englands for breakfast. When these two sides met in the group stages, the Aussies won so heavily that Eoin Morgan’s team looked at real risk of spiraling out of the tournament entirely.
Australia won the toss and batted first, expecting England to have a difficult time in the run chase. Plot twist: England did not have a difficult time in the run chase, because Australia promptly and implausibly blew themselves up. Aussie captain Aaron Finch contrived to both get out on the first ball he faced and use up Australia’s precious umpire review. The rot continued with an Englandesque top order collapse; with seven of their 50 overs done the visitors had scored 15 runs for the loss of three wickets*.
*I recognise that not everyone reading is familiar with cricket terminology. In one-day cricket, both teams are given 50 overs to score as many runs as possible without suffering more than ten outs, with six balls bowled per over. A decent score hovers around 290, or a little less than six runs per over. 15 from seven with three outs is a disaster.
After this initial burst of Englanding, Australia patched themselves up, with Alex Carey battling through a nasty blow to the head to help drag his team into a slightly less calamitous position. But because Australia were England for the day, this was an example of Heroism in Defeat, because all he managed to do was slightly postpone the inevitable. Out-of-form spinner Adil Rashid made an entrance, got Carey caught playing an over-ambitious shot to deep midwicket and then cleaned up Marcus Stoinis LBW* for good measure. The rest was an inevitability. Australia hobbled their way to 223 runs, finally losing their tenth wicket in after 49 overs.
*Leg Before Wicket. If you don’t know what that means it’s probably more fun as a mysterious collection of syllables.
223 is not a difficult chase, but it’s not an entirely trivial one either. Australia had produced an England of a performance, but if any team could better them in that regard, it’s England themselves, the experts eternal in snatching hilarious defeat from the sweet jaws of victory. Was it likely that the hosts would end up all out for 115? No. Was it inevitable anyway? If you’ve been following this team for more than a few years …
But while Australia were dressing up as England the reverse seems to have been happening, because instead of falling on their faces as would have been traditional, England instead beat the absolute snot out of their opponents. Driven by Jason Roy’s majestic innings, they chased down 223 with more than 17 overs to spare for the loss of a mere two wickets. There was an England moment in there, with Roy dismissed to an imaginary catch which was un-reviewable thanks to a silly decision by Jonny Bairstow ten minutes prior. But that was a rogue eddy in England’s semifinal pleasure cruise, with Joe Root and Morgan clobbering their way to 226 runs without breaking much of a sweat.
Why am I writing all this? To be honest, mostly because SB Nation’s James Dator is proud Australian, and as an Englishman I wanted to troll him. Opportunities like this come around about once a generation. But I’m also writing this because this set of World Cup semifinals has been genuinely fascinating. New Zealand beat India earlier in a back-and-forth match which featured an even more hilarious top order collapse than Australia’s and a stunning throw from Martin Guptill to break M.S. Dhoni’s resistance at the death. England’s mauling of Australia was both beautiful and unprecedented. All of that has set us up for a potentially brilliant final, with both New Zealand and the hosts looking to win it for the first time.
So if you’re an American looking for an excuse for bleary-eyed, early-morning sports watching on July 14th, give the final a shot. History says you’ll see England revert to type and embarrass themselves in front of the home support at Lords. If that’s not entertainment, I don’t know what is. And if nothing else, New Zealand’s icy-veined batting terminator Kane Williamson is always worth a watch.
Sure, Grand Slam finals are fun. But there are plenty of reasons to like it when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal meet in the semifinals.
Once again, we’re looking at the semifinals of the Grand Slam, and in the men’s bracket, two familiar foes will meet for the 40th time in Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. It’s a rivalry that has been prominent for well over a decade, and though they haven’t played each other in a Grand Slam final since 2017, the stakes are just as high in the semifinals.
It’s the semifinals where I prefer to see these matches these days. The Big Three (including Novak Djokovic) have been extremely dominant, and many would like to see new players win Slams on the men’s side, and I think that plays into liking these matches in the semifinals. Of course, the opens the door to either Federer or Nadal getting gassed and then annihilated by Djokovic in the final, but it’s still Federer vs. Nadal.
And that’s always a big deal.
Nadal and Federer first faced each other in singles competition in 2004, when Nadal bested Federer on the hard court at the Miami Open. Federer won their next bout at the same tournament a year later. They went on to face each other 39 total times, including 13 times in Grand Slam tournaments.
They’ve faced each other three times at Wimbledon, with Federer winning two of the three matches. The last time they met at Wimbledon was 2008, when Nadal beat Federer in the final to earn his first title on the grass courts of the All England Club.
Overall, Nadal leads Federer in the head-to-head, 24-15, but that includes far more matches on clay courts, Nadal’s specialty, than grass courts, Federer’s specialty. They are far more evenly-matched than the head-to-head implies, but at this stage in their careers, they’re harder to predict than they’ve ever been.
For me, that’s more fun. I’m one of those tennis fans who have always liked both Federer and Nadal, and while I’d love to see someone as legendary as the former win more slams before he calls it a career (he certainly doesn’t play like a 37-year-old!), it’s more about the spectacle and the great rivalry.
The matches aren’t always close. Sometimes one guy comes out and just stomps the other. But there’s nothing like two of the best to ever play the game going head-to-head. It’s like a title unification bout in boxing.
Yes, Djokovic is the No. 1-ranked player in the world and you should also be excited for his semifinal against Roberto Bautista Agut, and Djokovic vs. Federer or Nadal is always worth watching, as well. But there’s something special about Federer vs. Nadal, and it’s something that we may not get to see for much longer as both guys get up there in years.
Buckle up, folks. It should be a fun one on Friday morning.
CALIFORNIA. Lawmakers approve bill to force Trump to release tax returns ahead of the 2020 election to get on the ballot. ‘The proposal dubbed the “Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act” passed both chambers of the Legislature on a party-line vote. Democrats say the measure will serve as a model for providing voters with information about candidate’s finances, while Republicans argue it is unconstitutional. The bill by state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, now heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who released six years of his own tax returns during his 2018 run for governor and is expected to sign it.’
HAUS OF BEAUTY. Lady Gaga is launching a beauty line: “The last thing the world needs is another beauty brand. But that’s too bad. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but at Haus Laboratories, we say beauty is how you see yourself.”
CITIZENSHIP. Trump to cave on census question: “President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive action Thursday directing the Commerce Department to obtain citizenship data through means other than the US census, according to two people with knowledge of the plan.”
TRANSGENDER MILITARY BAN. House passes bill to overturn it: “The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would enshrine in law that any person who meets gender-neutral occupational standards can serve in the military regardless of race, color, national origin, religion or sex, including gender identity or sexual orientation.”
20TH REUNION OF THE DAY. American Pie cast.
YEEZY. Kanye cites Leviticus in talking about how he creates his shoes: ‘It [Leviticus] says ‘You should keep my statutes. You should not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.’ I tell my apparel team that the clothes that we’re using are of a single material.’
It will also continue to operate as an independent app, separate from the more popular Scruff app, according to parent company Perry Street Software. “This acquisition will provide Jack’d members with the same combination of technology and active moderation we have developed at Scruff,” Perry Street CEO Eric Silverberg said in a statement, “so that the Jack’d community members will be protected against harassment, spam bots, scammers, and risks while traveling.”
Jack’d will also undergo a massive redesign as part of a reinvention campaign aimed at redeeming the brand. “Jack’d members can expect to see the removal of all programmatic advertising, enhanced controls over privacy and security, and new features such as improved messaging, redesigned Match, richer search, and the ability to include video as part of member private albums or in chat,” Silverberg added.
Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy and actor Matthew Wilkas have split after four years together.
People reports: ‘A rep for the former couple exclusively tells PEOPLE that Kenworthy, 27, and Wilkas, 41, have amicably decided to take a break in their relationship after nearly four years together. “Gus and Matt are taking time apart,” the rep says. “They love and support each other and remain close friends.”’
Creator Ryan Murphy shared a teaser for the ninth season of American HorrorStory featuring John Carroll Lynch, Zach Villa, DeRon Horton, Angelica Ross, Emma Roberts, Gus Kenworthy, and Matthew Morrison. In the clip, set to Dan Hartman’s “I Can Dream About You”, the cast delivers an ’80s fashion parade inside a rustic cabin, and, in Morrison’s case, a bit more than that. (Note: the Instagram post is a slide-show of clips)
12 statistics about the 2019 Women’s World Cup that truly stand out
After a month of breathtaking soccer, the World Cup concluded with the United States lifting the trophy again. The US Women’s National Team won their second consecutive World Cup, beating the Netherlands 2–0. Goals from Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle were enough to top the reigning European champions in the final.
This World Cup had it all: an incredible 146 goals, a number of flashy celebrations, and more than enough VAR drama. Speaking of numbers, let’s take a look at 12 stats that caught our eye.
The last time the United States didn’t win a match in this tournament, it was 2015 and the result was a 0–0 draw against Sweden in the group stage. The USWNT has now won a record 12 consecutive matches in the World Cup, including all seven in this year’s edition.
All the way back in 2011, during the final against Japan, was the last time the side lost a World Cup game.
The USWNT couldn’t stop scoring. The players hit the back of the net 18 times during the group stage, with the majority (13!) coming against Thailand. In the knockout rounds, they tacked on eight goals, the last a lethal left-footed strike by Lavelle. That made 26 for the United States, a World Cup record for goals in a single tournament.
Megan Rapinoe stepped up when the USA needed her the most and, despite the blinding spotlight shining upon her, delivered. Rapinoe scored three goals from the penalty spot, all in the knockout rounds. She put away two against Spain and scored the opener in the final, slotting it past Sari van Veenendaal, who won the World Cup Golden Glove. Rapinoe became the third player in Women’s World Cup history to score three spot kicks in one tournament, per Opta Sports,
The United States dominated the tournament, especially in the first 45 minutes. They never trailed heading into halftime in each of their seven games.
It’s no surprise the USA led in shots on target, with 56. Throughout every game the side peppered the opposing goalkeeper with chances. Any sort of defensive lapse turned into an opportunity on goal for the United States. In their opening match against Thailand, they had a whopping 20 shots on goal.
Lucy Bronze was arguably the best defensive player at the World Cup. The Silver Ball winner, who plays her club football for Lyon, was crucial to England’s backline. Despite the fact that she’s ostensibly a fullback, Bronze bolsters the Lionesses’ offense by cutting inside and assisting the midfield on attack. She isn’t shy to try a shot on goal either.
She’s a brick wall in defense, rarely getting beat in one-on-one situations. Bronze is an extremely intelligent defender and thus is rarely seen making a silly challenge. Her 15 successful tackles saw her tied for 2nd highest in the tournament with Netherlands’ Jackie Groenen. What’s even more impressive is her 88.2 tackle success percentage, the highest of any defender who executed 12 or more tackles.
Statistically, Germany and the United States had the two best defenses in the World Cup. They were first and second respectively in goals allowed. Germany did not allow a goal until the quarterfinal against Sweden. The United States gave up one goal in each of its first three knockout ties for a total tally of three.
Almuth Schult and Alyssa Naeher were solid between the sticks for their respective countries. They led the way with four clean sheets each. Both benefited from superb defenses, meaning they weren’t required to make as many saves as others and therefore not as heralded as keepers who made what appeared to be outstanding blocks. However, when called upon, they made game-saving stops.
Schult’s best save happened in Germany’s final group stage match, when she stopped a one-on-one chance against South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana in the 75th minute.
Naeher’s big moment came against England, saving Steph Houghton’s penalty in the 84th minute to preserve a 2–1 lead in the semifinal.
Alyssa Naeher comes up with a MASSIVE save to preserve the #USA‘s lead
While this World Cup provided plenty of tense moments, not every game was a nail biter. Fans witnessed a number of blowouts, especially in the group stage. Twelve matches ended with the winner having scored three goals (or more) more than their opponents.
Four players scored hat tricks at this World Cup. Cristiane kicked off the festivities in Brazil’s opening match against Jamaica. Alex Morgan scored five against Thailand, recording a super hat trick in the second half alone. Jamaica’s misfortune continued in their next group stage match as Cristiana Girelli bagged three goals for Italy.
Australia’s Sam Kerr, considered the best player appearing at the tournament, delivered the final hat trick (plus one), scoring all four goals in the Matildas’ final group stage game, once again against the suffering Jamaican side.
Sam Kerr is the 3rd player in #FIFAWWC history to score 4+ goals in 1 game!
If there were a prize for the most yellow cards awarded, Brazil would have brought home at least one trophy. Brazil racked up to eleven cautions, two more than second-place Nigeria.
Kosovare Asllani was Sweden’s most crucial player in attack during the World Cup. She showed no fear whenever her side had the ball and always kept defenses on their toes. Asllani scored three goals and dished out two assists while playing in a more attacking position in the midfield, though she often functioned as the link between offense and defense.
Danielle van de Donk was just as important in attack for Netherlands. Playing in an advanced midfield role meant the majority of the Dutch offense was funneled through her. She didn’t record a goal or an assist, but she still gave her opponents problems thanks to her passing and her ability to create chances.
Given their constant presence near opposing penalty areas, teams consistently roughed up both Asllani and van de Donk, each of whom suffered 18 fouls during the tournament.
Here are the nine pre-All Star break stats that caught my eye.
It’s no secret Pete Alonso is having himself a fantastic year. He won the Home Run Derby and is one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball. In his rookie season, Alonso has been the top slugger for the New York Mets. He’s sixth in the league in OPS, fifth in slugging percentage, fourth in RBI’s, and tied for second in home runs. Alonso’s play at the plate has been one for the record books.
His 30 home runs are tied for second most of all time by a rookie before the All-Star break. He tied Aaron Judge in 2017 and was only three off Mark McGuire’s total in 1987.
The Kansas City Royals are currently in the cellar of the AL Central standings and have the second worst record in all of baseball. It looks like it will be another year of finishing last Ned Yost’s side. KC has not any success when leaving Kauffman Stadium. The Royals have won just one road series so far this season.
It took them until the third week of June to do this, when they took two out of three games from the Seattle Mariners. As expected, the Royals have the worst road record in the league at 14-33.
After finishing 78-84 last season, the Twins are on pace to beat that record by a far margin. They currently lead the AL Central with 56 wins and the home run ball is much to thank for that.
The Twins lead the MLB with 166 home runs before the All-Star break. As noted in the tweet below, they hit that total for all of last season.
.@marwinGF9 just hit our 166th home run of the season.
Four Twins have hit 15 or more home runs with Max Kepler (21) and Eddie Rosario (20) leading the way. Six of them have driven in more than 40 RBI’s.
They are just crushing baseballs.
The Mariners haven’t been careful with the baseball. They currently lead the league with 92 errors, 24 more than second place Baltimore. Obviously this hasn’t helped their pitching, which leads the league in runs allowed with 550.
Eight Mariners who have committed five or more errors. There have been two instances this season where a Mariners player has committed three errors in a single inning.
Having been only implemented in 2014, challenges are a very recent addition to the MLB. Slowly but steadily, managers are getting better at correctly challenging decisions. This season, Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward has had the magic touch when asking for reviews. He currently leads the league with 23 successful replay challenges, four more than second place Gabe Kapler. Woodward also has the highest overturn percentage at 79.3 despite only being number three on replays challenged.
Josh Bell has had a good fourth season in the MLB. The outfielder is on pace to break his career high in RBI’s and hits. Bell has been exceptional in getting extra base hits with a league leading 30 doubles along with three triples. He already set a career high in home runs with 27 which makes it a grand total of 60. This broke a record of XBH (extra base hits) by an NL player before the All-Star break. The record was previously held by Albert Pujols who had 58 in 2003.
After five years with the Detroit Tigers, James McCann decided to join their division rivals in the Chicago White Sox. A new change of scenery has seemed to given him a spark as he already has 73 hits after only recording 94 the year before. He recorded 16 doubles before the All-Star break, equaling his total of last season entirely. McCann also has the highest OPS and on base percentage of his career. In turn his batting average has jumped up from 0.220 to 0.316
As noted by Joe Buck, the 0.96 batting average increase was the highest in the MLB this season. The White Sox have had a nice year so far as they are at least somewhat in the playoff hunt. McCann’s hitting and solid defense from the catcher spot has been a part of their jump.
The last couple of weeks have been jubilation for the Dodgers. LA had a stretch of home games where they walked off five times in a row, three against the Rockies and two against the Diamondbacks. The run was capped off by Cody Bellinger launching a moon shot in the 10th inning against Yoan Lopez.
Sandra Spagnoli became the first female police chief of Beverly Hills in 2016. Since then, she’s been nothing but trouble.
In the past three years, over 20 department employees have filed civil lawsuits or employment complaints against her, accusing Spagnoli of all types of professional misconduct, including making derogatory remarks about people’s religions, sexual orientations, and ethnicities, and denying them opportunities because of their identities.
This week, department employee Dona Norris was awarded $250,000 after a jury determined she had been the target of homophobic and racist abuse from Spagnoli.
It all started when the police chief learned Norris was a lesbian and responded by saying, “Ew! Gross!”
Another time, she told Norris that if she wanted to attend the department holiday party, she would have to “dress Mexican.”
The jury also awarded $250,000 to Beverly Hills Police Lts. Michael Foxen and Shan Davis and $350,000 to Lt. Renato Moreno, who also suffered various forms of workplace abuse at the hands of Spagnoli, costing the city a grand total of $1.1 million.
And that’s just for one lawsuit.
In a separate case this week, the city settled an age discrimination lawsuit against Spagnoli brought by a retired forensic laboratory employee named Clark Fogg, agreeing to pay him $300,000.
And last December, it was ordered to pay $2.3 million to retired Capt. Mark Rosen, who accused Spagnoli of using anti-Semitic slurs and denying him a promotion because of his religion.
“I think the city needs to wake up and smell the coffee, as they say,” attorney Brad Gage, who is representing a number of the nearly two dozen lawsuits brought against Spagnoli, said on Tuesday. “It needs to realize that there is a problem in the 90210 that needs to be corrected.”
At trial, Spagnoli, who insists she’s “not racist,” admitted to making several of the remarks people have accused her of, including expressing disgust towards LGBTQ people, but she claims none of it was meant to be offensive.