In the latest of what has been a long series of huge NBA offseason moves, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder have shaken up the Western Conference. A trade, according to sources, was agreed on Thursday by the two parties and will see point guards Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook switch places. OKC will take Paul and two first round picks (in 2024 and 2026) while the Rockets will bring in Westbrook. The two teams will also be swapping their picks in the 2021 and 2025 drafts. The move is one that smacks of a bit of desperation for Houston, who had already seemed to have been out of options. This is the last one they had, and it’s a desperate one simply due to the fact that Westbrook and James Harden didn’t exactly have the best relationship in their Thunder days. However, they have gotten younger, gotten a player out in Paul that didn’t want to be there, and still have two stone cold killers that can put points. Paul, meanwhile, shows that OKC aren’t throwing in the towel just yet, though it’s hard to see how they plan to remain competitive.
The first game of the second ‘half’ of the MLB season took place on Thursday night, and it was the only action for the night, taking full spotlight. It pitted interstate rivals Houston and Texas against each, and it was the Rangers that came out victors to begin the post All-Star Game portion of the season in fine shape, defeating the Astros 5-0 in Arlington. The Rangers got off to a quick start, roughing up Houston starter Framber Valdez and chasing him in less than an inning having plated four runs. Roughned Odor doubled in two of those four and then scored later in the third to push their advantage to five. Lance Lynn was more than solid on the mound, recording 11 strikeouts and allowing no runs in seven innings. From there, the bullpen did their work and closed out the job. Even with the win, however, the Rangers are still nine games adrift of the Astros in the AL West race. The big worry for the Astros will be that Alex Bregman had to exit the game early due to getting hit with a grounder in the chin. They’ll hope for a quick bounce back for one of their star players, that’s for sure.
The NFL has decided to forgo its full time referee staff in lieu of labor bargaining negotiations, according to sources, and the move is sure to infuriate a few coaches. Now, it looks like referees will once again be placed on ‘part-time’ status, though they are basically considered a full time worker once preseason games begin. This isn’t likely to have an effect on the season coming up, but if the practice remains in place it could end up being detrimental to the league. The coaches won’t like it if their level of accuracy isn’t as high as possible, so that is one such reason they don’t like the program being altered.