Black Panther Review

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Doubt anyone cares about a random white guy’s take, but it was awesome.

Rating: 🙅🏿‍♂️🙅🏿‍♂️🙅🏿‍♂️🙅🏿‍♂️🙅🏿‍♂️🙅🏿‍♂️🙅🏿‍♂️🙅🏿‍♂️🙅🏿‍♂️

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NBA All Star Saturday Predictions

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Nothing quite like NBA All-Star Weekend. I’m pretty sure I went into this last year, but it’s pretty much always been a huge part of my life, and Saturday Night is the crown jewel. Watching the random specials on TNT starting at like 5 pm bleeding into the actual show at 8 is a time honored tradition in the Brian’s Den. Unfortunately, my All-Star Weekend viewership is taking a bit of a hit this year. For the first time since like, 2005 I had to miss the Celebrity Game (without Tom Cavanagh there’s nothing to miss) and most of the Rising Stars. I’m seeing Black Panther tomorrow, which may turn into an all day affair if the crowds are still absurd. But I’ll always make time for All-Star Saturday. This is a challenging time in my life (nothing bad. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’ll get to it later) and I feel great having the Dunk Contest be my rock in the storm. Anyway, I’m never too busy to lend my prognosticating skills to All-Star Saturday, so let’s dive right in.

Taco Bell Skills Challenge

Field:

Joel Embiid, Buddy Hield, Al Horford, Lou Williams, Andre Drummond, Spencer Dinwiddie, Lauri Markkanen, Jamal Murray

Love me a good corporate sponsorship, especially one with a company as forward thinking as Taco Bell. I may just go out and get some Nacho Fries before the event kicks off. Taco Bell, Live Mas. As far as the actual event goes, got to go Horford, here. Why? Because I’m a Celtics fan, that’s why!

Pick: Al Horford

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JBL Three-Point Contest

Field:

Eric Gordon, Devin Booker, Klay Thompson, Bradley Beal, Paul George, Kyle Lowry, Wayne Ellington, Tobias Harris

I’m old enough to remember when this was the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest. Smh these millennials don’t know how good they have it. This feels like a weak field, even though it’s really not. Probably because Steph Curry isn’t here and Wayne Ellington and Tobias Harris are. Oh, well. Although I’m a big Dunk Contest stan, the three-point is more consistently entertaining. A bad three-point is infinitely better than a bad dunk contest. So, I’m sure this will wind up being pretty good, especially if Klay gets it going. Which he will.

Pick: Klay Thompson

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Verizon Slam Dunk

Field:

Victor Oladipo, Donovan Mitchell, Larry Nance, Jr., Dennis Smith, Jr.

I’m also old enough to remember when it was the Sprite Slam Dunk. R.I.P. old corporate sponsorships. Gone, but not forgotten. Apropos of nothing besides dreams of past Sprite Slam Dunks, the 2005 Dunk Contest might be the most underrated ever, both because of Josh Smith’s seemingly forgotten brilliance and the most “I wish Twitter was around for this” moment of my lifetime, Chris Andersen’s never-ending barrage of misses:

How about Magic declaring the Dunk Contest Back way back in 2005! Crazy that it’s been Back so many times since then. I’m actually pretty hyped for this year’s contest. Lot of freaky athletes here. I think any of the four could win (that’s what you call #analysis) but I’m going Dennis Smith, Jr. because I think he can jump the highest (more #analysis). Has there ever been a Dunk Contest with two juniors?

Pick: Dennis Smith, Jr.

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Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts Say There Was Tension in the Red Sox Clubhouse Last Season

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source– FORT MYERS, Fla. — For a team that won 93 games and a division title, the Boston Red Sox rarely seemed to be having any fun last year. Now, as they prepare for a new season with practically the same roster, two prominent players are admitting there were problems in the clubhouse.

Mookie Betts said Thursday that the 2017 Red Sox felt “tension in the locker room.” Xander Bogaerts took it further, describing “head-butts” and “disagreements” and expressing a need for the team to learn from the experience and go forward.

“I mean, we all know. We all know what was going on,” Bogaerts said. “I don’t think I really want to get into details. The quicker we move on is the better for all of us.”

The Red Sox spent 105 days in first place last season and won the American League East by two games over the surging New York Yankees. But they fell in the first round of the playoffs for a second consecutive year, absorbing a pair of 8-2 blowouts in the first two games against the Houston Astros and getting eliminated in Game 4 at Fenway Park.

Mini-controversies were ever present with the Red Sox last season.

In April, television cameras caught second baseman Dustin Pedroia shouting, “It’s not me, it’s them,” at Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado after Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes threw a pitch behind Machado’s head. Left-hander David Price screamed at a reporter in a hallway underneath Yankee Stadium in June then humiliated Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley on the team plane a month later for an innocuous comment during a TV broadcast. In August, a trainer was caught using a smartwatch to relay stolen signs to players.

“I think [there was] just tension in the locker room as far as if things were down,” Betts said. “We could have had more fun. Through the rough times, I think those are the times when we could have had a little more fun instead of being down so much.”

Said Bogaerts: “We had a lot of stuff going on last year, to be honest. We all live and learn. We can’t just sit back and keep reminding ourselves about the past. That’s not something we want to do.”

Uhhhhh, ya think?

Last season sucked for the Red Sox. As bad as a division-winning season could be. Chris Sale was the best pitcher in the league for the first half then just ran out of gas and got destroyed in the playoffs. David Price was hurt all year and his prickly relationship with the very prickly Boston media ruin what should have been a pretty inspirational return to the bullpen. Every week they had a new feud with a different team. I completely forgot about the stupid Apple Watch scandal. Everyone just seemed so out of it and so pouty and everything just sucked. Saying there was tension in the Red Sox clubhouse is like saying LeBron doesn’t like Isaiah Thomas.

But, I don’t know if you heard, but pitchers and catchers reported, which means all the problems go away. They also have a new manager, so now all the problems definitely go away. That’s how it works, right? I’m actually pretty pumped for Alex Cora to take over, but the only way anything changes is if the players actually start caring again. And let’s be honest- unless something crazy happens this team isn’t going to sniff the World Series. The Yankees, Astros, and Indians are all better than them, and the Red Sox big move is probably going to be signing Logan Morrison. Yipee. So, unlike last year, the expectations are pretty much gone. If they just become a fun team to watch and grab one of the Wild Card spots, I’d be perfectly happy with the season. But if this keeps snowballing and becomes Chicken and Beer, pt. 2, then I don’t see how they don’t make even more wholesale changes. Not to spoil my eventual MLB preview, but I’m of the mind that they’ll make the playoffs, if for no other reason than they have a manager with a brain. But, not to dip too far into the Boston talk show host waters, the Sox do a lot of bitching to the media. Maybe tone down the complaining just a little? The team needs a little more mental toughness to ever reach their potential, I don’t think that’s too warm of a take. I think Alex Cora can certainly help with that. If you’re actually enjoying yourself, odds are you’ll play better. But, at the same time, you shouldn’t need to be having fun to play well. If you’re a professional, you should be able to motivate yourself regardless of the situation and not then blame it on outside circumstances. Which is what a lot of Red Sox like to do. I don’t know, I feel like I’m already talking myself out of this season, which I definitely don’t want to do, so I’ll just stop.

TL;DR- Sox need to grow up.

My Valentine’s Day Plans

Note: I posted this last year, but since my love life is surprisingly in the exact same state it was last Valentine’s Day, I just figured I post it again. Nothing wrong with running back the hits, especially when they help me cope with crippling loneliness. Haha, just kidding. Could you imagine? I’m not so low where I’m buying myself roses yet, but I might soon because it’d be nice to have some roses every now and then. Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Guys, I’ve found someone. After years of searching, I finally have someone I can call my own. A love so pure and profound I pity anyone who is unable to share in this feeling of bliss. And now, on Valentine’s Day, it’s time I go public: Chocolate Strawberry Oreos and I are getting serious.

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Arguably the best tasting cookie I’ve ever had. How it took them this long to make, I have no idea. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe it. It was love at first sight, and we’ve had great chemistry from the moment we first met. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. Unfortunately, these are limited time only, which means this love was made to burn fast and hot. Luckily, tonight is the perfect time to show Chocolate Strawberry Oreos my true feelings. So, what’s in store? Let’s run through the itinerary of our date night.

Paying Homage to Saint Valentine

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Chocolate Strawberry Oreos is a bit of a religious history nut, so we’re taking part in a reenactment of the legendary Saint’s life at the local Rotary Club. It’s an odd bit of performance art where everyone in the audience gets a randomly assigned part. Then, under cover of darkness, the person playing Valentine illegally weds couples, only to eventually get caught. So, I might end up married to someone else, face religious persecution and martyrdom, or I might wind up executing someone. Anything could happen.

A walk through a strawberry field

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As is typical with someone nearing the end of their life, Chocolate Strawberry Oreos wants to reconnect with their heritage and see the land of their ancestors. No better way that by walking through a strawberry field. Unfortunately, we live in the Northeast, so it’ll be covered in snow. All that will remain will be ghosts of past harvests and the hope that the sleeping plants will one day regain their glory. Kind of a downer when you think about it, but it’s still better than visiting a synthetic strawberry flavor factory.

Dinner

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What Valentine’s Day is complete without a romantic dinner out at your favorite restaurant? Unfortunately, not many high end places will let you bring your own food in, so the options are limited. So, we’re going to go the place I went on the day we met: Taco Bell. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than sharing some Nacho Fries together. Add in a nice bottle of wine and some nice candles and the mood will be perfect.

Going home to watch Valentine’s Day

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What Valentine’s Day would be complete without this 2010 classic? Almost unthinkable not to watch this once a year. Decent chance I’m the only one who’s ever seen it, but that doesn’t matter to me.

Dessert

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It’d be kind of messed up to make Chocolate Strawberry Oreos eat chocolate or fruit, so all that leaves really are Sweethearts. Not ideal, but we can make the most of it. Maybe blend them up and make some smoothies. Maybe melt them down for some Sweetheart fondue. Maybe I’ll skip this part because they’re gross. It’ll be a game time decision.

Seal the Deal

What happens next? Well, I’ll leave that to the imagination. Let’s just say it involves a glass of milk and me eating a million Oreos in one sitting. Hope everyone’s Valentine’s Day is as good as mine is about to be!

I Refuse to Believe I Couldn’t Be an Olympic Luger

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It’s time for everyone’s favorite segment- non-athlete says he could be an Olympian if he wanted to! I know, I know, I usually hate it, too. Like, no, random guy on the couch, you couldn’t roll out of bed and be an Olympic archer (to complete the Olympic debate cycle, yes, LeBron could have been the best handball player ever if he wanted to. But he didn’t, so who cares?). I understand the temptation, though. I even fall into the trap sometimes myself. At least half of Olympic events are weird, obscure curiosities that people only turn to when they’re not good enough to play real sports anymore. I know for a fact I could post up whoever the ski jump champion is. I know if I had the stamina I could dominate biathalon because all those guys are so mentally weak. They miss their first shot and they completely fall apart. I’d win on composure alone. But then I realize that, of course, I would never do these events because they take decades of training and dedication to physical fitness that I just have no interest in. But you’re telling me I couldn’t show up to the U.S. Olympic training facility and start putting up good enough times to make the luge team in 2022?

All these sledding events have to take the least skill of any event. I don’t have the guts to go down headfirst, so skeleton’s out, and I’d just turn into the Isaiah Thomas of bobsled and blame everyone else when we lose, but luge has to be easy. It has to be. Like, how do you even become good at luge? I assume there’s a way to control the sled, but how long could that take to master? Oh, here’s a turn, better turn. Boom, just mastered luge strategy. And all these Olympic guys are skinny and fit, but have they ever heard of something called momentum? Get a fat guy on the sled and it’ll be tough to top that kind of speed once you get going. I figure it would take me five runs to become world class. Two to get used to the speed, two to learn the controls, and one to put it all together. It’d be that simple. All the luging purists will come out and talk about the subtle skills and various intricacies that make the best lugers, and I just know that’s not true. I just Googled how to be good at luge and the first result was a PDF that said the three things you need are flexibility, the ability to relax, and feel. As a follower of the TB12 method, I’m as pliable as they come. Relaxation is my number one skill. You could even say I relax too much. And feel is just a BS intangible they made up to make it sound like not everyone could be good at luge. I’ve gone sledding before, I think I’ve got the gist of luge. I almost want to drop everything and find a luge track right now just to prove I could do it. If I luged every day for the next four years I might be the greatest of all time. Literally the only thing standing in between me and Olympic glory is getting up the motivation to actually do it. Which is usually enough to keep it out of my reach.

Who’s Ready for the Olympics?

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Welcome to Olympics SZN, folks. I, for one, am itching to watch the first huge sporting event of 2018. I still can’t believe they cancelled this year’s Super Bowl. Crazy. Truth be told, my hype level is pretty meh for these Olympics. I’m pumped to spend all day watching cross-country skiing and learning cool facts about Good Korea, but I just find myself caring less than I usually do. Maybe it has something to do with the NHL not letting their players participate (if you ever need a great business model, all you have to do is look up every single major decision the NHL has ever made and do the exact opposite). Maybe it’s because there’s no Russia. The Olympics need a villain to really work. What, I’m supposed to get pumped up when an American beats someone from North Korea who probably hasn’t eaten in four days? Doesn’t get the blood flowing as much. And I realize that we’re the villain for the rest of the world, but the American perspective is really the only thing that matters. I wouldn’t be opposed to Russia being let back in just this one time.

A lot of people hate on the Winter Olympics, but that just shows how uncultured they are. As previously established, snow is my natural habitat, so any time winter activities get their shine I’m in. Plus, the Winter Olympics is the ultimate collection of events that are really cool for about ten minutes until you’ve had enough and big time, world-stopping events like figure skating and mogul skiing. Asian countries are also great at hosting world-wide events, so there’s always the chance we won’t have to hear about how many slave laborers died trying to build the venues on time. It should be a great time. Now, with so many events and so many storylines, things can get a little overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Luckily enough, I’ve scoped out all the details you need to stay up-to-date with all the tape-delayed action. So, without further ado, the Official Brian’s Den Winter Olympics Preview 2018:

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Best Events

  • Cross-country skiing– Many people will say watching cross-country skiing on TV sucks. Fake news. CCS is arguably the greatest and most perfect Olympic sport to watch on television. It’s the ultimate background noise if you’re attempting to be productive while also watching TV (who would ever do that? Yikes) and is so boring that it’s impossible to look away. Try not to get emotionally invested in a CCS race after watching more than five minutes, it’s impossible. And there’s always some Norwegian guy in the middle of a huge dynasty, too.
  • Biathlon– Take everything I just said then add guns.
  • Short-track speed skating– Always felt like this would be the coolest to do if you didn’t want to be a skier/snowboarder bro.
  • Ice dancing– It’s just figure skating, but without the fun or personality!
  • Curling– Curling has somehow become the cliché event to ironically say you like (if you ever have the chance to never use the Internet again, take it and never look back), but I actually do enjoy watching people throw some stones.

Olympians to Watch

  • Chloe Kim– When I first heard about this snowboarding prodigy like, last week, I tried really hard not to Google her because I was afraid of what I would see, but I wasn’t strong enough and my fears were confirmed. She was born in 2000 and I feel like such a lazy piece of shit.
  • Iceman– He can control ice which would seem like pretty unfair advantage in the Winter Olympics but when has the IOC not been on the straight and narrow?
  • Nathan Chen– His hair may be his greatest weapon in the male figure skating competition.
  • Johannes Høsflot Klæbo– He’s a Norwegian cross-country skier who also has a vlogging channel on YouTube, so you know he’s someone who you’d really want to hang out with all the time.
  • Iceman– The shock addition of stunt plane piloting to this year’s Games opens up the door for him to win gold.

Fun South Korea Facts

  • The hugely popular music genre known as Korean pop, or “K-Pop” as the kids say, actually originated in South Korea.
  • Haesindang Park in Sinnam is known as Penis Park because it has a bunch of penis statues.
  • Korean babies are considered one year old at birth.
  • They have the fastest Internet in the world but everyone is really stingy with their WiFi password so I can’t use it.
  • Koreans treat their e-Sports “athletes” like rock stars and shower them with fortune and fame, but I’m a nerd loser because I like to play PS4. Very unfair!

Best Korean Food

  • Kimchi– Legend has it Koreans serve kimchi with every meal, which means the salty, fermented veggies must go great with ice cream!
  • Bulgogi– Korean BBQ is *insert chef kissing fingers gif*
  • Bibimbap– Can’t say I’ve ever had it but it’s a funny name.
  • McDonald’s– Korean McDonald’s have delivered for years and we’re just starting to do it. Tells you all you need to know about the sad state of affairs in the USA.
  • Jjajangmyeon– Could have sworn jjajangmyeon was Italian.

Best Korean Companies

  • Samsung– Pretty sure if you’re caught using a non-Samsung electronic device you get sent to North Korea.
  • Hyundai– Hyundai is actually an official sponsor of the NFL, so it’s their fault the Super Bowl was cancelled this year.
  • LG– I bought an LG TV my sophomore year of college and it still works now so, yeah.
  • SK Group– This sounds like a fake company made up to spoof real corporations.
  • Kia– R.I.P. Blake Griffin Kia commercials.

Best Winter Activities

  • Staying inside all day– Really the only one you need.
  • Skiing– I wonder if skiing is the whitest activity ever invented. Still fun, though.
  • Eating a ton of comfort food since you have to wear a heavy jacket whenever you go outside, so who can really tell?– Is this just me?
  • Getting someone else to shovel snow– This might be my primary motivation for wanting a son at some point.
  • Complaining about how poorly everyone else drives in the snow– God, it’s like these people forget they live in New England or something! How are they not used to this?

Worst Events

  • Luge– Luge is cool until you find out skeleton exists and then all of the danger and intrigue goes away.
  • Hockey– Again, why did the NHL pull NHL players? Do they dislike exposure and money?
  • Figure Skating– I think we all have a moral obligation to boycott figure skating with the Tonya Harding incident so fresh in our minds.
  • Freestyle Skiing– Just pick up a board, brah.
  • Anything USA doesn’t win– It’s not even a real sport, anyway. If he wanted to LeBron could be the best in the world in like, three weeks.

Best thing about huge International events that take place on the other side of the world so they’re put on tape-delay even though it’s 2018 and everyone knows the results the second they happen anyway so what’s the point of even watching?

  • Nothing

I think that’s all you need to know about this year’s Olympics. Make sure you don’t get Pyeongchang mixed up with Pyongyang- I’ve heard they don’t appreciate it when you do. Gonna be some great Mike Tirico behind-the-desk action in primetime, and I can’t wait for the awkward “Cris Collinsworth sent to the streets of South Korea for some reason” pieces that will surely captivate the audience. But, it’s impossible to deny the sheer spectacle of the Olympics and the drama they manufacture create through organic competition. Now someone get me a cross-country skiing feed!

NBA Trade Deadline Wrapup

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Another trade deadline came and went in the NBA today, and, predictably, there was a flurry of moves. Most of which involve the Cavaliers, but we can get to that. After all, it’s not every day someone like Noah Vonleh gets traded for the rights to Milovan Rakovic. That kind of deal among the league’s power players can shake up the pecking order in the NBA for years to come. My various sources have confirmed that there were, in fact, other trades made, so might as well break down the big and small.

Cavs Trade For An Entirely New Roster

These Cavs moves made me sad. Not because they suddenly righted the ship or can now beat the Warriors or Rockets (they don’t), but because this might finally end the season-long drama. Just kidding. Kevin Love is still on the roster, after all. LeBron can’t help himself, and yelling at George Hill will be a lot easier than yelling at Isaiah Thomas (short rant on Isaiah: I hope he vows to never speak to LeBron again after this. I don’t know if you heard, but he was actually on the Celtics last year and was traded. He wasn’t happy, can you believe it? He made a big stink about literally everything this season and has been statistically the worst player in the NBA. I don’t know why he thought he was more influential than LeBron or why he’s telling the Lakers he won’t be coming off the bench, as if he’s been so much better than Alex Caruso or whoever the hell the Lakers have starting at point guard with Lonzo out, but I hope that hypocrite tells the media every step of the way how bad the Cavs did him, even though his own shitty play and shitty attitude is the reason the wanted him out of town in the first place. Whatever. Good luck with your Brink’s truck this offseason!). What do all of these moves do? Well, they inject some much needed athleticism for one. George Hill is essentially the anti-Isaiah: plays good D, hits open 3s, and is completely milquetoast. I assume they view Jordan Clarkson as an upgrade over Dwyane Wade, which, at this point in their careers, he is, but if LeBron was frustrated with Isaiah how will he not get frustrated at taller Isaiah? Dumping D-Rose and Jae Crowder are additions by subtraction, and Larry Nance and Rodney Hood will probably kill the Celtics in the playoffs. Despite the in-fighting and absolutely terrible play, I never fully committed to believing the Celtics would beat the Cavs, simply because I just assumed LeBron would figure out a way to get to the Finals again. Now I know the Cavs will beat the Celtics, because even getting marginally better than the shitshow they were last night was going to be enough as long as you have LeBron. So not only will they make the Finals now, they might even win a game! Can’t wait for the Wade “I’m Coming Home” video.

Pistons Trade Willie Reed to Chicago for Jameer Nelson

Jameer Nelson is eternal.

Magic Trade Elfrid Payton to Suns for 2nd Rounder

Elfrid Payton STINKS and has stupid hair. Boom, roasted.

Knicks Acquire Emmanuel Mudiay in 3-Team Trade

Remember when Mudiay was a top prospect? Feels like 100 years ago. Guy’s terrible, but the Knicks are gonna Knick. I assume D-Rose will get bought out and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks tried to get him back (please, Wolves, don’t do it! I feel like J.R. telling Jeff Hardy not to jump off a 20-foot ladder onto a table. Think of your roster’s livelihood!). They just live for picking up bad players who are past their prime. Mudiay didn’t even have a prime, that’s how bad he’s been. Doug McDermott sent to Dallas where he can presumably learn how to be a good white NBA player from Dirk. Devin Harris is somehow still in the league and getting traded.

Pistons Trade Brice Johnson to Grizzlies for James Ennis

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Heat Trade Okaro White to Hawks for Luke Babbitt

Damn. This is the one that had the internet buzzing big time when it happened. Luke Babbit, multi-time All Star and future Hall of Famer, traded straight up for Okaro White. Crazy. Yet to be seen how the Heat will adjust to such a ball-dominant player, but trust Erik Spoelstra to figure it out. Don’t be surprised if this pushes the Heat into a top three seed in the East.

That’s pretty much it. Aside from the Cavs completely blowing it up, not a ton of trades, and certainly none involving the elite players. No Tyreke Evans trade, no DeAndre Jordan trade, Lou Williams re-signed. Warriors, Rockets, and Celtics stand pat. LeBron didn’t waive his no-trade clause. The Lakers cleared out cap space to sign LeBron Paul George next year. Gonna be an exciting end of the season, and you can be sure the Cleveland drama is far from over.