I still need to do an NIL post, and now that things finally seem to have calmed down a little on that front, I’ll move that up in the mental queue.
KU’s roster appears to be locked in for next year, so a few thoughts on how that has shaken out.
In general I think the transfer portal is a good thing, as it gives players more control of their careers. But I think it also gets misused as players bail on situations that are simply less-than-ideal instead of truly bad or jump at any opportunity to trade up in prestige of program. For fans, I think we expect too much from players who are transferring-in, expecting them to replicate what made them stars at their previous school while playing in different systems, with different teammates, often with very different roles.
I think the best move for KU this off-season would have been to keep the roster completely intact and not add any players. Even had some guys at the back end of the roster left, I would have been fine going forward with 11–12 scholarship players instead of trying to fill a bench player’s spot with a transfer who had started elsewhere.
There are just a whole lot of guys who will be fighting for playing time this year, and clearing out a spot wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
That said, replacing Christian Braun with Kevin McCullar, Jr was about the best move KU could have. They are different players, but since McCullar is complementary on offense and position-less on defense, he can slide right in and not be disruptive. I don’t think he will struggle to find his role the way pretty much every transfer last year did. While he adds to the roster crunch in the wings rotation, his presence also means that neither Gradey Dick nor MJ Rice will be expected to have an immediate impact for the team to win games in November and December.
Jalen Wilson coming back was the right move for him and potentially a huge move for KU. It’s unrealistic to expect him to take the jump Ochai Agbaji did last year, but after a solid NBA combine, it’s not unreasonable to see a leap in his game. I can see him having a tremendous statistical year, in the range of 15–16 ppg and 10+ rebounds per game.
Right now I think there are three players locked into starting roles: Wilson, McCullar, and DaJuan Harris. I would guess Zach Clemence is most likely to be the starting big man today. And then someone from the pool of Bobby Pettiford, Joe Yesufu, Dick, or Rice fill the remaining spot, depending whether Bill Self wants two small guards or a larger wing to join the other five. One of the freshmen bigs – Ernest Udeh or Zuby Ejiofor – should play a lot. I think Bill Self loves KJ Adams, so he will play.
I just named 11 players. Both Cam Martin and Kyle Cuffe are on scholarship, and most people think that Cuffe has a bright future. It’s hard to see either of them getting minutes, and I’m a little surprised Cuffe didn’t decide to jump somewhere that would give him a better opportunity to play.
Bottom line, the roster is deep, loaded with options, and seems pretty good here in June. They should be elite defensively if a big man can become a shot blocker. Offense may be a struggle at times, so I expect more games in the 60s than last year.
It’s a long way until practice begins, let alone the first games in early November. The defending national champs may not be in the true list of betting favorites (they are actually rated pretty high by Vegas at the moment, but that seems irrational) but they are going to run back a pretty good squad in ’22–23.
I don’t know that it’s been on many of my reader’s radars, but men’s professional golf is in the midst of one of the most important weeks in its modern history. For a year or so there have been rumors of a league to rival the PGA, with rumors of multiple competing leagues at various times. The option that seemed the most serious and likely is backed by the government of Saudi Arabia, as part of their “sports washing” efforts to use their massive piles of cash to distract the world from the regime’s awful record on human rights. The LIV Golf tour begins this week and several notable PGA players have renounced their PGA Tour status and made the jump. Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson are rumored to be receiving between $100 and $200 million for joining the new tour. Others have received less but still more than they can make in many years on the PGA Tour. The weekly purses are also far beyond the already crazy money players are earning on the PGA Tour.
For obvious reasons, there has been a kerfuffle about all this. There is the fact these players are turning their backs on the tour than made them rich. The fact they are taking blood money from an oppressive government that had an American citizen murdered and chopped into pieces because he was publishing articles they didn’t like. The fact most of these golfers are trying to act like they are doing this for the “good of the game,” or in belief that golf can change the world. The idea that golf will somehow turn Saudi Arabia into a Jeffersonian Democracy with equal rights for all citizens is one of the dumbest things about this whole enterprise.
It’s all a little ridiculous. I think Dustin Johnson is the only person who has pretty much said he’s doing this for the money. Good for him. Be honest, take the heat, and know that it will fade. I disagree with his decision, but respect the fact he’s not hiding behind the BS most of his fellow LIV jumpers are spouting.
I’ve been more interested in the media/public reaction. Granted, my view is heavily skewed by the side of Golf Twitter that I follow, which is unusually progressive for golf in general and, likely, much more aware of all the details than the wider golf public. What has stuck me most is the heat these people are taking. A lot of the public is jumping on the side of the players, usually defending their taking the life-changing money. Which, again, I get.
I wondered how many people making this argument defend other professional athletes who chase money. Do they say, “Well, the Yankees offered him more, I don’t blame him,” when their favorite baseball player leaves their team for a bigger market? Or when the wide receiver their NFL team drafted and developed goes elsewhere when he is a free agent, are they as understanding? I can hazard a guess. I imagine terms like “greedy” and “disloyal” get thrown around.
What makes that question fascinating to me is that you can make a legitimate economic argument for why NFL/NBA/MLB players chase money. You may think that team X overpaid for your shooting guard, but his new contract was determined by market conditions, often based on offers from multiple teams. Nothing about what these golfers are getting paid makes sense from an economic standpoint. They weren’t sifting through a stack of offers similar to what the Saudis had on the table. Saudi Arabia is paying far beyond the true economic value of these golfers in an effort to legitimize their new league. Several golf writers have pointed out that these contracts make even less sense because LIV hasn’t offered any kind of business plan for how to grow and maintain their league. That won’t matter to the Mickelsons and Johnsons who are set for life based on their initial contracts and have PGA Tour status basically for life based on winning majors. But that’s a legit question for the lesser-known players who have joined LIV, and could have their careers wrecked if the league falls apart and they are banned from the PGA Tour.
This whole thing is just Saudi Arabia doing what they do: lighting cash on fire at a moment when oil is as expensive as it’s been in ages to try to get people to forget beyond their flashy architecture and lavish spending, most of country, from its leadership down, live lie it is still the 16th century.
Splitting sports leagues is pretty much never a good thing. The big names jumping to LIV are getting money that can literally set up their families for generations. While they have the right to make those decisions, I don’t think they realize the long-term damage this split is going to do to professional golf. In a decade or so, if TV contracts and exposure have shrunk and golf is even more niche than it is now, I’m not sure the next generation of players will be thanking the players who took the Saudi money and ran.
Good Lord the Royals suck. As of this morning, they are two games worse than Oakland and Cincinnati, two franchises that are trying to lose. I’m still not watching, listening, or paying much attention. But I still have several Royals commentators in my feeds and get enough of texts from friends who are still on board to have a sense of what a disaster this season has been.
For a long time it felt like the Royals were handling their post-title rebuild the right way and were poised to break back to respectability this year and possible contention next year. Especially with the new, expanded playoffs this year.
At the moment, it sure seems like they’ve bungled it all. And it seems like it’s time for new owner John Sherman to clear out the front office and coaching staff and start anew. Still won’t get me to re-up my MLB subscription this year.