I started a new, mysterious day job last week, so I missed Week 2 of my supposed weekly Friday column where I answer emails from people who definitely do not exist. It happens. I’ve had a lot going on, and I just couldn’t make it happen. In fact, this whole week has revolved around making adjustments to this fancy new schedule where I’ll be forced -- tragic, I know -- to be even more organized and focused if I want to accomplish everything I need to week in and week out. Squirrel!
But here I am, sitting in a very uncomfortable, wooden chair at a coffee shop that has more people wearing sweatpants than I can stand to answer emails from those that do not actually exist. Don’t call me a hero, but I won’t argue with you if you do.
Speaking of heroes, one NBA head coach, Tom Thibodeau, is living long enough to see himself to become the villain. Jimmy Butler has played roughly 963 minutes this week for the Timberwolves, Karl Anthony-Towns hasn’t become the plus-defender most expected when the former Chicago Bulls head coach took the job in Minnesota. During his year away from the League, Thibodeau Watch was a real thing -- there’d be reports he was visiting this team and that team, that he’d be different wherever he went next, and most NBA fans were chomping at the bit to have the defensive mastermind roam their sidelines at whatever the cost.
It’s Year 2 in Minnesota, and although the team is winning, currently boasting a 17-12 record that is good for fourth place in the Western Conference, nobody is happy. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor wrote a piece this week that included a paragraph in which he talked about the T’Wolves falling into the Good Team, Bad Chemistry category. They haven’t even played thirty games with their three tantalizing young pieces and these tidbits are already popping up. It’s weird.
A lot is weird in the Twin Cities. The Minnesota Twins are back to being good again, Case Keenum could be this year’s Trent Dilfer and the Timberwolves are winning games because of their offensive prowess. Before his arrival, Basketball Twitter, including me, expected the one thing we could count on with Thibs’ arrival was they’d be an elite defensive team. And then they added Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler? And yet, they’re 26th in defensive efficiency through thirty games.
I don’t get any of this.
Maybe things change, though. Maybe Thibs decides to play Tyus Jones and Jeff Teague together at some point this season. Maybe Shabazz Muhammad reemerges. Maybe somebody besides Gibson and Butler improves defensively to get this disastrous defense into the top-20 in defensive efficiency by season’s end? Any of this could happen and if you don’t believe me you should see take a gander at the insanity that is the 2017-18 Indiana Pacers. That’s what makes sports fun, storylines like this, where things just don’t go according to plan and we don’t know what to think anymore.
We do know, though, that Butler might be growing tired of playing all these minutes, man.
Q: Should the Pelicans trade DeMarcus Cousins and punt on capturing the eighth seed?
- Derek, Decatur, Georgia
CT: No, they shouldn’t. The right guy to move has always been Anthony Davis, but they’re not going to do it. That front office and ownership situation is a mess -- serious question, is Danny Ferry still involved behind-the-scenes? Is Micky Loomis back to focusing on the Saints now that they’re good again? Does anyone know what’s going on there? ANYONE?
I’m also not sure Cousins has a lot of trade value even with how dominant he’s been this year. The Pelicans got him for Buddy Hield and scraps a few months ago. Why are we sure he’d bring in more for Dell Demps at the Trade Deadline? I don’t buy it. I’d either trade Davis for a king’s ransom, or ride out the Cousins-Brow combination until season’s end.
Q: Any chance Jinder Mahal wins back the WWE title at Clash of Champions on Sunday?
- John, Birmingham, Alabama
CT: Now you’ve got me worried. There’s always a chance, and I could see it for a couple of reasons: 1) This match isn’t going on last, so a quiet, morose crowd looking on with anguish as Mahal celebrates reclaiming the title as the show fades to black wouldn’t happen and they could stomach it at 9:30 EST. 2) Triple H went over him in India, which probably means nothing, or it means he took the loss for the Hunter to return the favor by granting him another title win. 3) They’re still feuding when this story was finished weeks ago.
Still, I don’t expect it to happen. Styles as champion just looks right, and Smackdown Live has been especially bad as of late and they need at least one major reason to tune in every Tuesday night.
Q: Who do you think is the next coach fired in the NFL?
- Darryl, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
CT: It has to be Dirk Koetter in Tampa, right? There is too much talent for this team to have four wins in December. This will be Coach 3 for Jameis, and I’m starting to wonder if we’re reaching the point where it may be time to move on from Winston and go in a different direction. (Hello Eli Manning and Jon Gruden in 2018!)
A dark horse pick for me, not that you asked, is Jay Gruden in Washington. This team has been decimated by injuries, sure, but they should be better than 5-8. I loved the Greg Manusky promotion to defensive coordinator this offseason and their staff as a whole is still an impressive one. They just frustrate me and it’s only going to drive me more nuts in 2018 when Andy Dalton is under-center for this team.
Q: Where should Manny Machado end up? Should the Orioles trade him?
- Mallory, Queens, New York
CT: It’s amazing how quickly things have changed for Machado. Maybe it’s just that Baltimore is trending in the wrong direction, but he’s still just 24-years-old. The guy hit 100 home runs faster than any Oriole before him. His 2016 season had ESPN wondering if he was the best young player in baseball, but now somebody like the Philadelphia Phillies or Chicago White Sox trading for him feels like it won’t be treated as a huge thing.
I don’t get it.
Machado is fun and young and you could see an MVP or two in his future. Plus, adding him to a team like the Phillies or White Sox will be far more interesting than whatever Giancarlo Stanton does for the Yankees.
Personally, I want him in Atlanta and not Philadelphia, but Chicago has the pieces and he fits the timeline on the South Side perfectly.
Either way, the Orioles are screwed.
Chase Thomas is a freelance writer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Follow him on Twitter @chase__thomas or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.