We start with what’s going on in the NBA — and there is a lot. The moratorium on trade deals ended Monday, leading to a flurry of activity that included moves for Chris Paul and Jrue Holiday. The draft is on Wednesday. On Friday, free agency negotiations can officially begin. And training camps start in just two weeks. “November madness” doesn’t quite describe this condensed offseason, but the NBA is squeezing a lot into the next two weeks, which means some crazy things might happen — although probably not “James Harden getting traded to the Brooklyn Nets” crazy. The Hot Takedown team is largely positive about the deals that have been inked so far — although the Milwaukee Bucks giving up almost their entire bench for Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanović will only be a success if a certain superstar player on the team sticks around as well. As for the draft, fans may have very little idea who anyone is, given the absence of the NCAA tournament to raise or lower players’ profiles. But maybe players coming into the NBA this year will be judged on slightly different metrics — and have a slightly cleaner slate.
Next, we move to baseball’s offseason, during which the Miami Marlins made a historic hire. Kim Ng, a veteran of the Yankees and Dodgers front offices and a fixture at the commissioner’s office for the past nine years, is now the first woman to serve as GM of a major male American sports team, the first Asian American and only the second person of Asian descent to do so. Ng is one of the most qualified new GMs in history, although she inherits a Marlins team that was, according to our model, especially lucky last year and probably won’t be able to hang onto its good players for long. But Ng’s hire hopefully breaks a trend that may have prevented other women and people of color from getting in the door a lot sooner. There is a trend in sports of hiring sabermetric wunderkinds in their 30s — but there’s no reason that some of those up-and-comers with less than half the experience Ng brings to running an organization shouldn’t also be women and people of color. Well, there is a reason. But it’s as stupid today as it was in 2005, when Ng first started interviewing for GM roles.
Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, we’re joined by FiveThirtyEight copy editor Santul Nerkar, who teamed up with Neil to uncover the most random basketball players to ever score 50+ points in a game. It’s a delightfully eclectic mix — though there could have been more of those games if Shaq had just hit more of his free throws.
What we’re looking at this week: