I was shooting craps when the news hit.
(No, I wasn't in Vegas. I was in Temecula, living my best life).
I'm at the table. On a run. Surrounded by happy Lakers fans. Making money for these happy people in purple and gold. Making friends. Buying the drinks. Congratulating everyone on Anthony Davis. Everyone loved me.
Then my phone buzzed -- and I reported the breaking NBA news to my new friends.
You have never seen a group of Lakers exceptionalists turn on someone so fast.
One minute? I was the life of the Lakerland party. The next minute? I was the troll who had taken their Kawhi from them. Not only that, but I had given Kawhi and Paul George to the Clippers? And I was excited? We were lucky to make it to our car.
But that evening was merely case study No. 9 in how the NBA ruined our summer. Or, to be exact how the NBA ruined the current Mrs. Cregan's summer. In the Cregan household, the months of July and August were traditionally a time of marital rejuvenation. Other than the odd trip to the Las Vegas Summer League, the summer had been a relatively NBA-free zone.
But this summer, the wheels came off. The NBA's sleepy season was explosive, marked by constant player movement that reached dramatic heights and statistical impacts heretofore unseen in the annals of Fantasyland.
Cut to last week. I'm now in marriage counseling. Trying to explain to a very nice lady from Sierra Madre named Aleta how the NBA went over the guard rail and ruined the calm of what had once been a promising summer.
Aleta: "OK. Tell me what happened after the draft."
Me: "Not much to report there. People tend to overrate rookie fantasy impact. We're really only talking Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett. Sleeper-wise, I like Jarrett Culver. But if we're gonna be honest, this really started the night of the NBA lottery. "
Current Mrs. Cregan (CMC): "Don't bring David Griffin into this ... "
Me: "... the Pelicans are gonna get Zion. But Anthony Davis is still moving. The Grizzlies are gonna get Morant. Which means Mike Conley is moving. The Knicks fall to No. 3. So, they're gonna get Barrett and throw stupid money at a couple of guys ... "
CMC: "You're not going to talk about how completely mad you were about the Wizards drafting Rui Hachimura?"
Me: "There you go, blurring the line between fantasy and reality. So Hachimura is a back-of-the-rotation guy at best. But don't sleep on the Wizards' picking up Davis Bertans. Bertans could be in line for 25-30 minutes a night, shot 42% from deep last season, definite endgame pick ... "
CMC: Forget Bertans. Forget the draft. Tell Aleta about June 30th.
Me: What part of June 30th?
CMC: The Woj Bomb, where Durant and Irv ...
Aleta: But from what I recall, June 30th was so much more than Durant and Irving.
Me: Start with who stayed put: Klay Thompson, Tobias Harris, Khris Middleton, Nikola Vucevic, Brook Lopez. With Klay hurt, Vucevic is the biggest fantasy story of those five. He'll be a top-15 guy if he stays healthy ...
CMC: He's totally not mentioning the other ramifications of Durant-Irving to Brooklyn.
Me: Yes. The Wizards never would have gotten Davis Bertans without ...
CMC: Forget Bertans! Tell Aleta about your dumb "Dual Domino Theory."
Aleta: Domino theory?
Me: 90% of the impact fantasy moves this summer can be traced to two transactions: Durant/Irving to Brooklyn and Paul George to the Clippers.
CMC: Start with Durant/Irving so she has a shred of a hope of following your logic.
Me: First off? Golden State notches a sign-and-trade for Durant. They get D'Angelo Russell. In a Durantless, Klayless starting five? Russell could be a top-20 player.
CMC: Top-20 is a little high ...
Me: Fine. Top 25. Now, Charlotte should have dealt Kemba Walker when they realized they weren't going to give him the max. But instead, the Celtics need a new No. 1 option, so they sign Kemba to replace Irving.
Aleta: So Kemba Walker is going to be the same as last year?
CMC: He's going to take a hit in Brad Stevens' offense.
Me: But Celtics fans in Fantasyland are going to reach for Irving by at least a round. Personally, I'd rather have Russell in the third round. At the same time, the Celtics took a hit, when Al Horford left for Philly.
CMC: When the Sixers already had Embiid ...
Aleta: I like it. Load management.
CMC: Here's where he goes into how he likes the 2019-20 Sixers more than the 2018-19 Sixers.
Me: Fantasy-wise, it's a friendlier rotation. Horford's going to be completely underrated as always. Harris will get more touches. Simmons gets more room to grow ...
CMC: Who's going to shoot 3s? JJ Redick is a Pelican.
Me: Josh Richardson! Who just had a career-best season that nobody noticed! He's good for 2.5 3s, 2.0 steals-plus-blocks ...
CMC: But the Sixers lost Jimmy Butler. In what universe does a team lose a top-20 player with top-10 upside and get better for fantasy?
Me: A universe that prizes effective field goal percentage!
Aleta: Who replaces Horford in Boston?
Me: Enes Kanter.
CMC: (Snoring sound). Empty points, doesn't matter. Tell her how Miami cleared the cap space for Butler, and why you're excited.
Me: (looks down, speaks softly) Hassan Whiteside could have a big year in Portland.
CMC: How many times can someone get hurt and keep coming back?
Me: (Looks up). Let's stick to basketball.
Aleta: You were talking about Whiteside in Portland.
Me: Lots of minutes. No competition at center.
CMC: I'd rather have Bam Adebayo. Talk about a hot sleeper.
Me: He's not a sleeper anymore! Whiteside's the sleeper!
CMC: Who would you rather have in the seventh round?
Me: (Stares at floor)
Me: (Whispers) Adebayo.
CMC: (Knowing, victorious smile)
Aleta: Is that it for the Durant/Irving ramifications?
CMC: You're leaving out the Knicks. What a blues-based dumpster fire ...
Me: Fantasy-wise, the Knicks are going to be underrated! Don't underestimate the positive fantasy impact of a bad free-agent signing ... or three.
CMC: Like Terry Rozier to Charlotte?
Me: Yes, like Terry Rozier to Charlotte.
CMC: Give me a comp on Rozier.
Me: Peak Pelicans Tyreke Evans.
CMC: Now who's ducking effective field goal percentage?
Aleta: Let's get back to the Knicks.
Me: In that lineup, Randle could be an All-Star. A 24-10 guy.
CMC: With no blocks.
Me: But he learned how to shoot 3s last season.
Me: But only one Mitchell Robinson. Put him down for a double-double and close to three blocks per tilt.
Aleta: Three blocks per game?
CMC: On this ... we are in rare agreement.
Aleta: Anything else from Durant/Irving?
CMC: I like Taurean Prince in Brooklyn as the Durant fill-in. Two 3s and a steal.
Aleta: Anything else before we move on to Paul George?
CMC: ... timeshare with Coby White ...
CMC: (Arches right eyebrow)
Aleta: You look like you want to add ...
CMC: Utah. Utah. Utah.
Me: Here we go ...
CMC: Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic to the Jazz? That's a top-three team in the West. In fantasy and reality. Conley-Mitchell-Bogdanovic-Ingles-Gobert. No depth behind them. 30-plus minutes per game all around.
Me: There's some depth there ...
CMC: Who's their sixth man?
Me: Dante Exum still has potential.
CMC: You're living a lie.
Aleta: So, what happens with Paul George?
CMC: Can you please skip to the end?
Aleta: As in?
CMC: As in SGA is going to break out in OKC.
Me: Where do you take him?
CMC: Ninth round. Eighth in a points league.
Me: Some breakout. I'd rather have Gallinari.
CMC: I'd rather have Alex Len!
Aleta: We're running out of time ...
Me: Before we start dithering in the ninth round, we should probably figure out where Westbrook and Paul get drafted.
CMC: Spoiler alert: too high.
Me: Westbrook feels top-8. Paul's going to be better than you think.
CMC: How much better?
Me: Round 5-ish. As in "about five rounds before I'd take SGA."
Aleta: (Checks watch.) I get the feeling I should check in with your babysitter out in the lobby.