Image Credit: USA Today High School Sports
Welcome to June, everyone. In last week’s edition of Footenotes, we previewed the NBA Finals, touched on the Kansas Jayhawks’ newly-gifted eligibility for Silvio De Sousa, then gave what felt like a bit of a eulogy on the Kansas City Royals’ 2019 season about 50 games in. This week, there are a few pieces of news to take a closer look at. Without further ado, let’s jump in.
Kawhi’s New Property?
There was a lot of buzz going around on Monday that Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard has purchased a new property. This news is especially relevant with free agency looming as the NBA Finals begins to heat up. Leonard has full control over his destiny this summer with the Los Angeles, Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers and the aforementioned Raptors being the three main teams rumored to be potential destinations for the near-MVP candidate.
Back in January, it was reported that Leonard purchased a $13.3 million home in the San Diego area. Going to college at San Diego State, this makes good sense. Leonard often spends long stretches of time there during the summer. Being this home is a few hours away from where the Clippers or Lakers would practice, it’s a bit foolish to conclude Leonard having this home means he’s LA bound. Don’t put too much stock into the initial report resurfacing.
Monday’s conversation was a lot more interesting. Michael Landsberg, a sports radio host in the Toronto area, talked about Leonard recently purchasing a home in the same city. Landsberg’s guest on the show “corroborated” the story, per SportingNews.
If this is true, it could turn into a pretty big deal. Leonard is one of the most quiet superstars in NBA history and doesn’t often show emotion. He isn’t one to rant and rave about where he’s at or make statements such as “I love it here, I couldn’t imagine ever being anywhere else!” Of course, the real estate market will still be there in July when the New Balance athlete makes his free agency decision.
Another thing worth noting: the timing of this report. Assuming the home was purchased in the last couple months, that’d be pretty close to or directly in the middle of the NBA Playoffs. Most players either get their home shopping done during the offseason, or they do it at some point during the regular season. Just something to think about. Keep an eye on this situation.
Golden State: Finally an Underdog?
I never thought I’d find myself typing out this section of my column. With Klay Thompson dealing with a strained hamstring, Kevin Durant still recovering from a calf injury and now Kevon Looney suffering a fracture in his collarbone, the Golden State Warriors are banged up at the worst possible time.
Although the series is headed back to the Bay Area for the next two games — with the Dubs having tied the series at 1-1 after Sunday’s dramatic win — Steve Kerr’s squad winning 2/2 games at home is far from a lock. Kawhi Leonard hasn’t had a very good series so far and Pascal Siakam struggled immensely in Game 2 after having a historic Game 1. The law of averages itself should help Toronto play a little bit better in the third and fourth games of the series.
A lot of this comes down to when Durant and Thompson can return. Looney’s absence will be felt but with DeMarcus Cousins back to soak up some of his minutes, GS can manufacture some production there. It’s not possible to replace exactly what a Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson can give you in an NBA Finals game.
Stephen Curry’s efficiency has been lackluster through two games and many will say he disappeared in the fourth quarter of Game 2, but that simply isn’t true. Yes, he failed to score in the final frame. With that said, his four screen assists led to 8 points for the Warriors. Toronto’s “box-and-one” defense essentially set out with one mission in mind to close the game: Don’t let Curry score. It worked, but at the expense of letting him work off the ball and set his teammates up for success. There’s a tradeoff.
Royals Select SS Bobby Witt Jr.
Pretty much the only positive aspect about the Kansas City Royals’ 2019 season being a dumpster fire is that they received the No. 2 overall pick in the MLB Draft. With that selection, they took SS Bobby Witt Jr. from Colleyville Heritage high school in Texas.
The Gatorade National Player of the Year, Witt hit .519 this season and also doubled as a pitcher. He’ll be a position player in the Royals’ system, but it’s good to see more athletes being diverse in their game and making the most of their talents. Witt is a potential five-tool star with no glaring weaknesses.
His age is a bit of a question (he’ll turn 19 very soon) but other than that, he should begin his professional career in Low-A rookie ball and will work his way through the system within the next three years or so. Providing positional versatility and a well-rounded game, Witt was the best player available at pick 2, which is what the Royals decided to go with.
In case you were wondering (I was to at the time of the selection), this shouldn’t interfere with Adalberto Mondesí nor Nicky Lopez’s development. Selecting Witt also should not bear any indication that the organization plans on trading one of the aforementioned middle infielders. This move is simply what was stated above: A team taking the best player available. The future got quite a bit brighter for the Royals after Monday night.
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