Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of Sullivan’s Satchel. For a variety of reasons I’ve decided to take a hiatus from Twitter — it absorbs a ton of time and attention, and as rewarding as it can be to tell the AP or some writer at Vox to take a long walk off of a short pier, I’m not sure it’s the healthiest way to apply my energy. The dividends have been noticeable; I think I’m more productive during my working hours and have more attention for the actual human beings in my proximity. I mention this not as some judgement, but rather as a gentle suggestion that these habits can become corrosive over time and it can be useful to step back and see what the alternatives look like. The early results have been good for me.
With that, Brian the Human asks,
The Blazers are in a weird position of having a certifiable, can-win-the-championship-with-him-as-your-best-player, in his prime, locked-up long-term superstar in Damian Lillard and a bunch of good surrounding pieces that somehow feel like they add up to less than the sum of their parts. My observation as a casual viewer — their two best and highest-paid players next to Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusef Nurkic, are not ideal pairings next to Lillard because they aren’t the best players to run spread pick-and-roll next to him; McCollum because he’s the same size (meaning teams can just switch it, same issue Paul George and Kawhi Leonard faced) and Nurkic because he doesn’t excel at playing away from the basket with the ball in his hands. For as many excellent scorers as the Blazers have, I see them produce a lot fewer mismatches than one would expect.
Any bold upheaval probably involves trading one or both players for a wing that can create a more dynamic, sensical pick-and-roll combination with Lillard. Those players are extremely precious and so it isn’t trivial, but you could bundle McCollum and some picks and nice young players for Bradley Beal? Does something like Trevor Ariza’s expiring contract and Zach Collins get you into the conversation for Julius Randle? These are totally speculative but I think you could upgrade the roster with players who are a cleaner fit next to Dame.
There’s nothing wrong with being a good team, and the Blazers enter the offseason with essentially no cap room if Rodney Hood exercises his player option and they bring Melo back, so the least-risky move is to bring everyone back and hope a draft pick pops or some superstar becomes available for what you have. Dame is locked up forever and seems to love it so there’s no need to rush for its own sake, but the short-term path to championship contender doesn’t exist barring an extraordinary bit of luck. That’s not bad, most teams don’t even have that, and in the meantime you can enjoy Dame 40-footers and CJ’s “old guy at the YMCA” moves. It is more joyful by a margin than watching the Clippers, if nothing else.
I’d say I’ve been addicted to all three at various points in my life. Magic is the most social, and a powerful tool for addiction is sharing the space and a sense of normalcy with other addicts. Cigarettes are the most physically addicting and I’ve described nicotine withdrawal as feeling like someone was scratching the inside of my chest. Twitter is the lowest-friction, easiest, most affirming way to indulge addiction that I’ve encountered. I think I’d give the nod to Twitter since it costs zero dollars and has zero other associated opportunity costs, since I’ve literally never been dunked on or owned once in all of my years on the site and as far as I can tell that’s the only thing that makes anyone log off.
I wouldn’t bet on any single person, but my intuition (informed by nothing) is that they’ll scour the college ranks or even the G League for someone with some more experimental chops. I’d be especially interested in finding someone with some defensive creativity because the Rockets basically don’t run any plays; I think I could coach them down at that end, and the current roster construction gives room for some defensive creativity. I guess I wouldn’t be shocked if they offered the spot to Jeff Van Gundy, but I think it is more likely they try to find the next Nick Nurse over in the Adriatic League or something.
From Matt Sperling:
Matt and I have had a lot of conversations around my anti-electoral positions so this question is an extension of some of that. Baked into this questions are the assumptions that:
- Joe Biden assumes office in 2020.
- Joe Biden decides not to or is unable to run for another term in 2024.
Assuming Joe Biden assumes office, that something other than the austeric hellscape almost certainly ushered in by a Biden/Harris Cabinet would make a sufficiently affirmative case for me to tender a vote for Harris in 2024, assuming she even got the nomination in this theoretical turn of events.
I consider the parlay of all those outcomes to be roughly a rounding-error likelihood, but after the last four years I caution myself against making predictions about such matters too far in advance, so I’ll leave it at a “Who knows?”
Of course it is time! Aaron Forsythe is correct in saying that pro Magic players are a bunch of dorks and no one in their right mind would ever watch a tournament (paraphrasing), and some walkout music would give some much needed pop. I would come out to 4th Chamber by GZA (NSFW):
I’d prefer to walk out to something a little slower, with a sample at the beginning (something to turn the lights down to, build up some expectation, all that). This song is some of my favorites at their absolute peak, a powerful, helter-skelter blend of metaphysics and religious undertones mixed with more pragmatic concerns. Ghost’s bars in particular stick to your bones, and you’ve got to frontload the impact on a walkout; you don’t always get the full four minutes.
If I had to choose something more upbeat and less profane I’d go with either “AFK” or “Prog,” both by Pinback.
For whatever reason I think it would be hilarious if Ryan Overturf came out to Glen Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy.”
From the “American Dream” Stephen Green:
I once had aspirations to build a Zo-Zu the Punisher deck but then someone told me about the starting life totals.
I’m honestly conflicted here. On one hand, I think it’s okay to hate the people you compete against (it’s also okay to not hate them, to be clear) and it can make for good entertainment, and on the other, so many games of Magic could be won by someone with even a cursory understanding of what’s going on, such that talking trash falls a little flat.
Lastly, and the winner of question of the week and $25 in SCG credit, from Jared_Carrier:
In no particular order: cooking, cleaning, shoveling the walkway, chasing my kids around the kitchen, going for a jog, checking in on old friends I haven’t spoken to in a while, going to sleep instead of doom scrolling, sleeping in instead of doom scrolling, and dancing in front of the baby, who seems to find it quite charming.