Analysis it however you want, Manny Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman is a classic old-school vs new-school battle. A fighter trying to beat “father time” vs a fighter trying to maximize “his time”. The 40-year old, 8 weight division champion Pacquiao is trying to prove his is still the class of the welterweight division. Thurman, a 30-year old undefeated and current Welterweight Champion, is trying to prove he is the star of the division, despite this being only his second fight in the last 2 years.
Here’s how I see the fight going, and how each fighter can end the night with their hand raised.
Pac-man has the pedigree and the resume to back up why Vegas sees him as the slight favorite heading into this fight. Even at 40, he’s still a very sold fighter with above-average hand speed and power. As the case with most of his fights in this weight class, he comes in as the smaller fighter. I don’t expect that to be a deciding factor in the outcome. He’s going to have to rely on his speed and quickness to get on the inside of Thurman’s reach and work at his body. Which he’s shown a commitment to in his last two fights. He must also push the pace and tempo of this fight. As I mentioned, Thurman has only fought twice in the last 2+ years. He’s still dealing with ring rust, so forcing him into a faster pace early in the fight as opposed to allowing him a chance to gain a rhythm, could play a big part in the outcome.
The gameplan for Keith “One Time” Thurman is simple: Pace and distance. Yes, Keith is a very smart fighter who posses the one-punch power that can end your night ASAP. This isn’t the fight he wants to rely on that. No fighter is better suited for a fast paced, chaotic style of fight than Manny Pacquiao. Thurman knows this, and just like he did against Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, he will look to keep the pace of this fight at a much slower tempo than Manny would like it to be. In those fights he was very cautious and made sure to keep his distance at all times. With all the ring rust he is still dealing with, he has to bring that same mindset into this fight. In his previous fight he looked gassed after the 5th round, this is why the pace of this fight will be so important. He’s got to take advantage of his reach and maintain distance throughout the fight. If he’s forced into an action-packed fight for 12 rounds, expect Thurman to take his first loss by knockout!
Pac-man by unanimous decision. He’s faced and beaten better boxers. I expect Thurman to try and look busy late in rounds to sway the judges. A la Sugar Ray Leonard against Marvin Hagler. But, he won’t have enough in his attack to slow down Pacquiao. Look for Manny to land a big left hand early in this fight to establish he is the bigger puncher. Size won’t matter, as Manny has been the smaller fighter in most of his marquee fights anyway. And, I don’t think Thurman is slick enough to stay on the outside and box Manny the way Floyd Mayweather did for 12 rounds. The pressure will come early and force him to fight from behind on the scorecards. We may even get a late round knockdown.
Pac-man wins another belt and shakes up the welterweight division, again. And, maybe, he’ll finally respond to another young Welterweight who’s been calling his name for a few years now…… Errol Spence Jr.Jul 17, 2019
Well, that didn’t take long! Less than 48 hours after the NBA season officially ended, the announcement of Anthony Davis being traded to the Lakers, and his linking up with LeBron James damn near caused a social media melt down! Though speculation about this potential trade had been a major talking point for the past 5 months, we’ve never been quite sure what it would take for the Lakers to land Davis.
Apparently, the firing of one GM (Dell Demps) and resignation of a President of Basketball Operations (Magic Johnson) was all it took. Who knew?? For it to all come together, though, it also took the Lakers taking a long hard look in the mirror and realizing…..”We’re not landing any of the key Free Agents this Summer”. The truth is a hard pill to swallow and with two of the marquee Free agents set to miss most, if not all of next season, the Lakers had to be honest with themselves. Who was really going to sign with them come July 1st?
The Lakers knew they couldn’t strike out this Summer, right? I mean, aside from landing ‘Bron, they’ve missed out on every other big name target they’ve been linked to over the past several Summers. This trade had to happen, this Summer had to be different. No way the Lakers could expect to keep James’ trust if they couldn’t find a way to land Anthony Davis, or any other All-Star caliber player, for that matter. Not after ‘Bron and super-agent Rich Paul did everything in their power to make sure the world knew Davis would only approve of a trade to, and re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
On the surface, the Lakers look like winners. They end up with a 26-year old star, entering his prime. Pairing him with Bron, who possibly has 2 MVP-caliber seasons left in him, making them the immediate favorites going into the 2019-2020 season. Peel back the layers though, and I wonder…..did the Pelicans just rob the Lakers, without a gun or mask??? They just landed 2 former lottery picks (Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram), this year’s 4th overall pick, and they either outright own or can swap 1st round picks with the Lakers through 2025. Just as a point of reference, LeBron is signed through 2022. Meaning, the Pelicans could possible reap the benefits of this trade 3 years after ‘Bron is out of LA!!
Again, I know the Lakers HAD to make a move to restore confidence. I’m just not convinced this was the right move to make. Gutting your roster and mortgaging your future very rarely works. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets. Think that’s an isolated or rare comparison….Ask the Minnesota Vikings how trading for Herschel Walker worked out for them. At the time of the trade, Walker was 27 and viewed as the best Running Back in football. Outcome of that trade? The Cowboys ended up getting SIX overall 1st rd picks and jumpstarting a 90’s dynasty that led to 3 Super Bowl Championships. The Vikings on the other hand never came close to going to a Super Bowl, let alone winning one.
So, why would the Lakers give up so much for a shot at short term success? I guess when you’ve convinced an all-time great to sign with you as his career winds down, and watch another all-time great leave your franchise due to dysfunction, you “gotta do what you gotta do” to restore confidence. Let’s just call it a necessary evil of running one of the NBA’s premier franchises.
With the middle of the night trade of Paul George, and news of a potential Russell Westbrook trade, the OKC Thunder are officially into “rebuild mode”. After losing in the 1st round of the playoffs for the 3rd straight season, I openly questioned if they would have to break up their current team. I just never imagined it would happen by trading away their two best players! Now that we know Westbrook’s agent and OKC General Manager Sam Presti are having open discussions about a trade, here are the 5 teams I think make the most sense in trading for the 2016-2017 MVP.
Ranked not only by the best fit for Russ, but would he also give the OK. Since Presti has informed Russ of their plans, we have to assume they’ll get his approval on any potential trade. Keep in mind, Westbrook is still owed 171 million over the next 4 years. Yes, that last season is a player option, but is he really going to opt out of 47 million dollars?? Not all trades suggested would happen before the start of the 2019-2020season, either. One of these trades makes more sense in-season, or at the start of Free Agency next Summer. I also kept these trades simple. There’s a chance it will take a three-team deal to make any of these happen, but let’s keep not complicated things with too many moving parts. With all that out of the way, here we go:
#5 ORLANDO MAGIC
Aaron Gordon, Markelle Fultz, DJ Augustine and a top-5 protected 1st round pick
This trade doesn’t even get past preliminary discussions unless Russ gives the OK, but there definitely would be some potential for both sides. The Magic need a name that can draw a crowd and, coming off a 1st rd playoff exit, it would at least keep them in the playoff hunt in a wide open Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t make them a contender, it would however, make them entertaining. Young bigs Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac would greatly benefit from playing next to Russ. And Nikola Vucevic is better suited to be a complimentary player, than being the focal point of a teams offense. For OKC, it would give them more future draft assets and a borderline All-Star in Gordon, whose still only 23. If Fultz ever finds his confidence, it becomes an even greater trade return. Downside for Russ would be that at 31 he wants to compete for championships. This version of the Magic would only be more entertaining than his current OKC team, but not any closer to the Finals.
#4 CHICAGO BULLS
ZACH LAVINE, KRIS DUNN, CRISTIANO FELICIO, AND 2022 1ST ROUND PICK FOR RUSSELL WESTBROOK AND TONY FERGUSON
Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr are the centerpieces of the Bulls future. Zach LaVine still has great value at only 24 years old, but the Bulls need a vet who’s still an All-Star caliber player to help them take the next step in their development. For Chicago, they get the most intense guard the league has seen since Michael Jordan. Not to say Russ will do the same things for the franchise, but he definitely turns them into an upstart team with a very high ceiling. Markkanen has a game very similar to Kristaps Porzingis, pick-and-rolls with Russ would be difficult to stop. This trade wouldn’t hurt their short or long term plans since Dunn is entering the last year of his deal. Neither he or Felicio factor into their long term plans. I’d also like to think the Bulls would hope their young talent would be good enough to compete by 2022 anyway, so the pick shouldn’t come back to haunt them. For OKC, they add another quality asset in the pick along with LaVine who is on a very resonable contract, and continue’s to improve every season. It helps them get closer to actually getting under the cap, as well, shedding about 7 million this year, and of course, future cap space for their rebuild. There are some question marks on the Bulls side of this, though. Would they be willing to trade for a 30-year old PG with a history of knee injuries and several surgeries? They know that road all too well. They also have an old school coach in Jim Boylen. Would they be able to co-exist, or would it turn ugly if Russ can’t help speed up the development of their young guys?
#3 NY KNICKS
(Midseason or next Summer)
Dennis Smith Jr, Frank Ntilikina, Taj Gipson, Reggie Bullock, Dallas’ 2021 1st rd pick and 2025 2nd rd pick This potential trade would either have to wait until mid-December, when free agent signings from this Summer would be eligible to be traded, or next Summer. If done mid-season, the Knicks would have the flexibility in throwing in a bunch of expiring contracts. In the case of waiting till the Summer, the trade would probably only have to include Smith, Ntilikina, and the two draft picks, because the Knicks would have the cap room to absorb Westbrook’s contract without sending out much salary. The Knicks can create plenty of cap space next Summer by simply declining their team option on the vets they signed this Summer. The fit makes sense and would get Russ’ approval. Westbrook would be the alpha, surrounded by a super young, but athletic supporting cast. The ceiling on this partnership would probably be an exciting regular season team who wouldn’t be much more than a 1st or 2nd round playoff team. It would also keep the Westbrook/Durant rivalry going. The downside is, though it wouldn’t effective the Knicks cap space for the 2021 Free Agency class (Giannis and Bradley Beal), it won’t help their case in attracting those type of guys either. Russ plays a style of basketball that doesn’t appeal to everyone, with a high usage rate that may scare off any potential Free Agents from wanting to pair up with him. For OKC, it would provide immediate cap relief and a young asset in Smith along with another 1st round pick. It’s also one of the few locations that they would get a quick approval from Westbrook. Because we’re so late into this current off-season, the chances of this particular trade scenario happening is high. Most teams have their rosters set already, and taking on Westbrook’s contract will require teams to gut their roster in ways they may not feel comfortable doing. I have this trade listed as 3rd because it won’t be the best trade package presented to OKC, along with having to wait a few months to make it work. If no deal can be done before the start of the season, expect Presti to do his best to find a deal by the All-Star break. I also wouldn’t expect the Knicks to include RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, or Mitchell Robinson. They weren’t willing to add any of those guys in a trade for one year of Anthony Davis, so I doubt they would budget in a trade for Westbrook.
#2 DETROIT PISTONS
Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Langston Galloway, Thon Maker, Isaiah Whitehead, 2021 and 2024 unprotected 1st round picks for Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams.
Detroit has to maximize the next 3 years of Blake Griffin. They’re not a premier free agent destination, and rather than battling to be a lower-end playoff team every year, why not go all in! The East is wide open after Philly, Milwaukee, and Brooklyn, and two of those three teams have a star player with recent injury or health concerns. Pairing Griffin, with Westbrook and Adams would give him a role similar to the one he had with the Clippers playing along side Chris Paul and Deandre Jordan. With a veteran coach like Dwane Casey, the Pistons would become a legit top-4 team in the East. For OKC the benefit of this trade would be immediate cap relief and more draft capital. Every player aside from Drummond is in the last year of their deal, and that 2024 pick becomes very appealing when considering Detroit may be in complete rebuild mode by then. The question hanging over this deal is if the Pistons feel an urgency to try and win now. Putting your contention hopes on the surgically repaired knees of Westbrook and Griffin would be very risky, and would get ugly real quick if things don’t work out.
#1 Miami Heat
Justice Winslow, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, and Grogan Dragic for Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams and Terrence Ferguson
On the surface it doesn’t look like much of a return, but as I mentioned at the start of this, OKC will look to get Westbrook’s approval before accepting any trade. And this particular trade would get the quickest yes, along with moving the 50 million dollars owed to Steven Adams. It would pair him with Jimmy Butler and, a front office lead by Pat Riley with a proven track record of success. Without the ability to trade any future draft picks until 2026, Miami offers nothing more than cap relief for OKC. However, Miami could sweeten this deal by removing the lottery protections from their 2023 pick, which OKC owns through the Paul George deal. It speeds up their rebuild by allowing them to shed salary much faster. Winslow is the only player with more than 2 years remaining on his deal. For Miami, it gives them 2 ultra competitive All-Stars on the wrong side of 30 who are desperate to win. How far a team lead by Westbrook and Butler can go would be the biggest concern, but Miami wouldn’t care. As I mentioned, with no immediate help coming through the draft, and Riley doesn’t want his final years I the front office to be remembered as a non-contender. They have to go all in. For Russ, this would be the best case trade situation before the start of the 2019-20 season.
The longer the talks of a Westbrook trade circulate, the harder OKC will push to get this done. They know Westbrook won’t just tank away a season. He won’t stand for that. With the additions of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari, they have enough talent to make a playoff push. But, is that really worth anything at this point. What’s the value of another 1st round exit in the playoffs when your a repeat luxury tax offender? In the short term I think Miami will land Westbrook. It’s a quick fix for both teams, with the likelihood of Russ signing off on the trade the moment it’s presented to him. If not, and we get into the regular season with #0 still in OKC……..then expect the Knicks to sneak in a deal knowing how desperate Sam Presti will be to hit restart on OKC’s future.