LeBron haunts history, the WNBA super team, and trade talks

Three things to know is NBC’s five-day-a-week wrap-up the night before the NBA. paying off NBCSports.com Every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumours, drama and dunks that make the NBA a must watch.

1) Breanna Stewart is headed to New York, and the WNBA must seize the moment

The greatest free agent in the history of the WNBA has chosen to form perhaps the first superteam in the history of the league – and this is a real opportunity for everyone.

Former MVP and two-time WNBA Champion Brenna Stewart He was elected to leave Seattle and play for the New York Liberty.

Just a few weeks ago, Liberty was traded for 2021 WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones to pair with Sabrina Ionescu, forming one of the best threats in the league. Now add Stewart and her make to a list full of high-profile players — Michaela Owenor, Dede Richards, Jocelyn Willoughby, and Kayla Thornton — and that’s a team that’s a legitimate threat to win the WNBA title next season. This is a super team.

New York’s move comes just days after former NBA MVP and two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker He chose to join the defending WBNA champion Las Vegas Ice With the best player in the world Aja Wilson and the superstar players around her like Kelsey Bloom, Jackie Young and Chelsea Gray. This is also a super team.

It’s no coincidence that Stewart and Parker chose to go on to team with new WNBA owners willing to spend to win, Joe Tsai in New York (also owner of the NBA’s Nets) and Mark Davis in Las Vegas (owner of the NFL’s Raiders). Two of the owners who joined the WNBA want to spend to pay players but also improve their experience — a new training facility in Las Vegas, for example — and grow the sport that way. Owners with the vision to know they have to spend money to make money – increase the league and its popularity and franchise values ​​will skyrocket.

Stewart is in her free agency Charter flights have pushed players to the top of the list One of the ways to improve the league. Currently, the WNBA CBA requires teams to fly commercially. It’s part of a fickle mentality from some quarters that sometimes feels like it will stifle the growing league. Each team’s charter flights to every game—a common occurrence in professional sports and top-level college sports, including women’s college basketball—would cost the league about $30 million.

There’s a chasm between the WNBA owners, not all of whom want to pay the cost of the extra charter flight out of pocket, but the league has to find a way. As NBC Sports’ Corey Robinson notes in the video above, this is a lot like when his father – Hall of Famer David Robinson – wrote an open letter in 1991 to San Antonio Spurs owner Red McCombs asking for air travel to games because of a competitive advantage (McCombs agreed after Public pressure, now only charter flights are expected in the NBA).

Other than just the flights, this is an inflection point for the WNBA — it must ramp up its marketing, its outreach, and do whatever it takes to grow the league.

Stewart, a recognizable face and name to any sports fan in America (even those who know only of its efforts at the Olympics) has just put together a super team in the largest media market in the country. They have a natural high profile competitor in Las Vegas with their stars and big names. If you can’t sell this, you’re doing it wrong – that’s going to be great basketball (and that’s not even mentioning Brittney Grinier and the Phoenix Mercury, other good teams out there).

New York vs. Las Vegas could be the Lakers vs. Celtics moment of the 1980s for the WNBA. Stewart vs. . It seems like a moment for the WNBA, but will WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert be able to seize the opportunity the way David Stern did? Can she get her owners to buy out the way she bought Stern? Should you spend the WNBA, you should take advantage of this opportunity. Opportunities and players like these don’t come around often.

2) The Timberwolves beat the Warriors in clutch, winning quality

Currently, this Warriors team does not have the aura of its championship teams of yesteryear. Even last year’s team didn’t make it into the playoffs as the West’s favorite (that was the Suns’ 64-win win), but we’ve seen enough to know they can be a win-it-all threat with a few breaks. which they obtained.

Team of the Year… The Warriors took a 13-point lead over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night with less than 11 minutes left in the game and then held the lead the rest of the way. While Angelo Russell It drains the three main indicators, Stephen CurryAnd Donte Divincenzo And Andrew Wiggins They miss them, and Jonathan Cuminga He was committing illegal screens. The result was that the Warriors took the lead and the Timberwolves took advantage – with some crucial plays by Nas Reed.

“I thought we had control of the game and then I thought we were playing it as a gift, kind of,” said Kerr. across the NBC Sports Bay Area. And not taking anything away from Minnesota, I thought they were great. They took advantage of our mistakes and lack of execution. [D’Angelo Russell] We got excited and the guys took big shots, but we missed the knockouts, we threw the ball wide, we hit really hard shots.

“So whatever we had done up to that point to control the game, we stopped doing. We got what we deserved.”

This year’s Warriors are 13-14 in clutch (games within five points in the final five minutes), with a net rating of -1.8. Make this game within three points in the final three minutes and the Warriors are 10-12 this season.

The Warriors have won 4 out of 5 before this and it feels like they might flip the switch, but then games like this happen and they give you pause. These warriors are not there yet.

3) The Celtics made a show, skipping shorthanded nets

Boston has cooled off after their sizzling start to the season, but there are nights when they get more focused, turn the stove back on high, feel the heat and remind everyone why they’re such a favorite this season.

The Nets clashed with the Celtics on Wednesday — Boston outscored Brooklyn 46-16 in the first quarter, hitting eight consecutive three-pointers to open the game.

From there, the Celtics cruised to a 139-96 win. Boston stayed hot from deep and hit 48.1% from 3 for the game (26-of-54). Jason Tatum scored 31 points, Jaylen Brown He added 26, and both of them will sit in the fourth quarter and watch.

The Celtics needed a win like this.

Curling… life is sometimes hard without it Kevin Durant. This is a game where Brooklyn can gulp and get ahead, even with a KD he wouldn’t have helped as much as the Celtics were shooting.

Something extra to know (or see): Give Tari Eason Credit, he didn’t give up. This is insistence.

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