By Sam Page
April 14, 2016

The NBA regular season ends with a bang

Last night's Warriors/Lakers double feature delivered on its promise big time. After a grand goodbye ceremony before his final game, Kobe went out and dropped 60 points (on 50 shots), leading the Lakers to a 101–96 comeback victory over the Jazz. And in Oakland, Steph Curry willed his Warriors to their NBA-record 73rd win. He recorded 49 points, shooting 10–19 from three-point range and becoming the first person to hit 400 treys in a season.

Kobe was less efficient than Curry (he went 6–21 from behind the arc), but enjoy the show he put on last night:

I'm not so sure about Flea's rendition of the national anthem, though...

The Rams trade for the first-overall pick

In a shocking move this morning, the Rams traded their first round pick (15), two seconds, a third, plus next year's first- and third-round picks for the first-overall pick this year, plus a fourth, and a sixth. Ironically, the L.A. (then-St. Louis) Rams were on the other side of the similar trade four years ago when the Redskins traded up to get Robert Griffin III (whoops!). The rebuilding Titans now have six of the first 76 picks. 

Now check out potential future Rams QB Carson Wentz

The NHL playoffs kick off

There's big news from every sport today! The NHL playoffs started last night with the Lightning, Penguins, and Blues drawing first blood. The Blues also scored the first overtime game-winner of the playoffs:

Pretty cool

Today's Peanuts

(Photo credit: Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

Getty Images/Streeter Lecka

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Defensive end Jared Allen has signed a one-day contract to retire with the Minnesota Vikings, the team announced Thursday.

“We are incredibly proud to have Jared retire as a member of the Vikings franchise,” said Vikings owner Zygi Wilf. “Jared was not only a phenomenal player on the field, but he was also a favorite among the fans and within the organization. He will always be a member of the Minnesota Vikings family.”

Allen was selected in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent six seasons of his 12-season career with the Vikings.

During his time with Minnesota, Allen accumulated 83.5 sacks, ranking third on the franchise’s all-time sack list. He finished his final season with the Carolina Panthers.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead have said all off-season that Case Keenum would be their QB headed into Week 1. That may still be the case, but it appears he’s not going to be long for the job. 

The Rams pulled off a blockbuster trade on Thursday morning, sending picks 15, 43, 45 and 76 in this year’s draft, plus their first- and third-rounders next year, to the Titans for the No. 1 pick, plus picks 113 and 177. The move leapfrogs Los Angeles ahead of Cleveland and into position to choose the quarterback it wants as the face of the franchise as it relocates west, while Tennessee comes away with a stockpile of early-round picks.

“Being able to acquire six players in the top 76 this year, along with next year when you factor that into it—I am assuming five in the top three rounds—that is 11 players that we can add to this football team that should not only increase our depth, but give us good quality players at all those positions,” Titans general manager Jon Robinson said in the team’s statement announcing the move.

From Tennessee’s perspective, this is a significant haul for a rebuilding team. It is not all that dissimilar to what the Rams scored from Washington a few years back when the Redskins wanted to move up to take Robert Griffin III at No. 2. 

That trade backfired on Washington. Will Carson Wentz or Jared Goff give the Rams a better outcome this time around? 

NFL
Complete 2016 NFL draft team needs

The interesting backdrops for the Rams’ move are that a) this draft class overall is seen as a bit underwhelming—a reason why some thought Tennessee would have a hard time trying to trade down; and b) this year’s top quarterbacks aren’t generally seen as on par even with last year’s 1–2 pairing of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. The Rams jumping to No. 1 puts it very much in the ballpark that QBs could go 1–2 again this year, with the Browns taking whichever of Goff or Wentz falls past Los Angeles.

Regardless, the Titans scored a major coup in picking up two extra top-50 picks this year plus that additional first-rounder in 2017. If Laremy Tunsil indeed was the focus for Robinson had the Titans stayed put, he should now be in range, at pick No. 15, to pick up a solid offensive tackle anyway—Michigan State’s Jack Conklin and Ohio State’s Taylor Decker both could still be on the board by then. 

The early chatter on Los Angeles’s end is that Wentz is the target here. Multiple reports, including one from the Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer, indicated that the team is leaning towards taking the North Dakota State QB at No. 1.

Fisher and Snead still could be right about Keenum and Week 1, then. Perhaps Los Angeles has a different view on Wentz, but the consensus coming from outside is that Wentz—who was limited for much of his senior season by a broken wrist and logged just 612 career passes in college—will need more than one off-season to get to the top of a team’s depth chart. 

But in coughing up their 2017 first as well, the Rams must have reached the conclusion that getting Wentz (or Goff) now would be far more beneficial than waiting on next year’s quarterback crop. 

NFL
2016 NFL draft position rankings

It is a massive gamble, without question. It’s also a storyline the NFL must love: The Rams relocating to Los Angeles, preparing to play in the L.A. Coliseum, then snagging the No. 1 pick. The league’s desire to get back into one of its major media markets certainly has been fulfilled with a bang.

Fisher and Snead were under fire before the relocation, having produced a run of disappointing finishes. The trade up to No. 1 should buy them a longer grace period, but it also inextricably ties their fates to that of their new quarterback—who by all indications should be Wentz. Los Angeles has committed its next two drafts to him, so recovering from any sort of misfire could not begin until at least 2018. 

Even this year, the Rams now are facing a 99-pick gap between their first selection (No. 1) and their second (No. 100, in Round 4). The Titans are set to make six picks in the interim (15, 33, 43, 45, 64 and 76). Which method will pay off? The answer will determine both teams’ fates for several seasons to come.

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