If you thought for some reason this might be the offseason in the NBA when the playing field became leveled thanks to uncertainty in Golden State and throughout the league, the opposite in fact has happened.
Emboldened by the Warriors’ cracks and injuries and infused with cash to pursue a bumper crop of free agents, the Super Team phenomenon is spreading.
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are teaming up in Brooklyn. Anthony Davis is joining LeBron James with the Lakers. And the latest bombshell: Kawhi Leonard not only picked the Clippers but he finessed a way to get Paul George to go with him.
Now the Thunder might trade Russell Westbrook. Houston is reportedly interested. Sure, why not?
Gazing into the distance of the future NBA, when max players will soon top $50 million in single-season salaries and the best of them figure to be concentrated on a shrinking number of teams, it’s fair to wonder what’s fair.
A player-driven league is empowering in many good ways, but it is starting to feel like the lever has been pulled too far in one direction in terms of competitive balance.
While the Lynx have busied themselves with winning four championships this decade, it remains a tip-of-the-tongue fact that none of the major pro men’s teams in town have delivered a championship since the Twins in 1991.
But it seems more possible to imagine a path to a championship for a Minnesota team — or any Team X for that matter — in the NFL, MLB or NHL than it does right now in the NBA.
The hard salary cap and wide open playoffs of the NHL ... the short season and franchise-changing quarterbacks of the NFL ... the draft-and-develop rewards of MLB ... those are leveling pathways open to everyone.
The Wolves this offseason? They had a legit shot at maybe the 10th-best free agent (D’Angelo Russell) before a team that didn’t really need him and might not keep him very long swooped in (the Warriors). The rich get richer.
The Wolves were left to pivot to plan B, which is to improve from within and wait to get out of salary cap trouble. About the time they get things figured out, fans will start to worry — probably for good reason if history is a guide — that Karl-Anthony Towns will get wandering eyes for a Super Team.
None of this is an indictment of Gersson Rosas, who along with the people he is hiring gives the Wolves more of a fighting chance than they might have otherwise.
It’s about a system that creates different ceilings for different classes of teams, and the feeling that most of them can aspire to be nothing more than conference finalists.
• The Twins didn’t exactly limp into the All-Star break after a strong home series against Texas. But this sure feels like a great time for them to get some time off to get healthy and gear up for what could be a hard second-half charge from suddenly hot Cleveland.
• In what sounds like an even worse-case scenario similar to Joe Mauer, 33-year-old Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said Sunday he is done behind the plate after six concussions in his MLB career.
“This time is different. I can’t live like this,” he reportedly said, and instead will try third base and other infield spots.