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Getty Lakers head coach of the Darvin Ham.

The clock is ticking on the Los Angeles Lakers to find a trade partner for Russell Westbrook before the NBA season begins. This is especially true with LeBron James eligible to sign a contract extension as the Lakers attempt to prove the viability of the team’s roster to the superstar.

Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz suggested what he described as five “brutal” trade proposals that the Lakers need to consider to move Westbrook. There has been plenty of speculation about the Pacers, Nets and Knicks acquiring Westbrook. but Swartz offers a few new ideas for general manager Rob Pelinka to ponder.

One intriguing deal has the Lakers acquiring Tim Hardaway Jr., Davis Bertans and Reggie Bullock in exchange for Westbrook, Austin Reaves and two unprotected first-round picks (2027, 2029). The brutal part is Bertans’ $80 million contract that runs through the 2024-25 season.

“This is a nice influx of talent for the Lakers, even if Bertans’ contract (three years, $49 million with an early termination option) is pretty brutal,” Swartz wrote on August 4, 2022. “Hardaway is a 6’5″ shooting guard who’s averaged 15.7 points and shot 38.1 percent from three over his past three seasons. Bullock is the perfect 3-and-D wing this Lakers team desperately needs, and Bertans can be one of the NBA’s best floor-spacers when healthy. Giving up Reaves and two first-round picks stings, but these are ideal-fitting pieces for L.A. to plug in.”

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Would the Lakers Be Willing to Take Bertans’ $80 Million Contract?

Westbrook’s $47 million salary is less than ideal but the good news for the Lakers is the star guard only has one year remaining on his contract. This potential deal has a number of warning signs for the Lakers front office. Los Angeles would be taking on significantly more future money for players that may not help make the Lakers become a contender this season.

Bertans still has three seasons remaining on his five-year, $80 million contract. This is a lot of money for a player who averaged just 5.6 points and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 33.5% from long range last season. It was admittedly a down year for the forward who is a career 39.8% three-point shooter, and the Lakers would be hoping to maximize his talent next to James as well as Anthony Davis.

The Case for Hardaway on the Lakers

Hardaway is a far more appealing part of this trade for the Lakers as it gives the team another playmaker who can create his own shot. The veteran wing has consistently been one of the Mavericks’ top scorers. Hardaway averaged 14.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 33.6% from long range during the 2021-22 season.

Like Bertans, Hardaway’s four-year, $75 million contract is on the high side, and the deal goes through the 2024-25 season. The Lakers would still be getting a strong level of production that accompanies Hardaway’s $19.6 million salary.

Despite Hardaway’s upside, the future money the Lakers would be taking on in this deal does indeed make it “brutal.” This factor combined with Los Angeles also giving up two future first-round picks means it is a deal the Lakers must decline to make.

News Source: Heavy.com

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Lars von Trier’s ‘The Kingdom Exodus’: A Guide to the Most Wonderfully Weird Show on TV

Lars von Trier likes to tell stories in trilogies. Those who know the director—as much as one could know or understand the Danish provocateur/auteur/saboteur of good taste—know him mainly from the feature films which drove him to international success:

Breaking the Waves, The Idiots, and Dancer in the Dark, collectively known as the Golden Hearts trilogy; and later Antichrist, Melancholia, and Nymphomaniac, cheerily nicknamed the Depression trilogy.

But, before any of these, when von Trier was still attempting to break free of the Danish cinema mold (with the beginnings of his strict filmmaking manifesto Dogme 95 still brewing in his head), he wrote and directed the supernatural hospital drama The Kingdom, which, after 27 years, is finally concluding with the five-episode season The Kingdom: Exodus.

In 1992, after establishing himself and his art in his home country, von Trier and his producing partner Peter Aalbæk Jensen founded the production company Zentropa, named after the fictional railway line in von Trier's 1991 psychological drama Europa. To make some money for the newly minted company, von Trier opted to create and direct a television miniseries, The Kingdom, which was broadcast in 1994 on Danish channel DR. A follow-up season, The Kingdom II, debuted in 1997.

The show is set in the Danish national hospital Rigshospitalet, colloquially known as Riget ("realm" or "kingdom"), a hospital for specialized medicine and unusual medical conditions, whose staff are as peculiar as the diseases they treat. Each episode of the show begins with a prologue describing how the hospital was built over a site known as the "bleaching ponds" which contain within them some supernatural evil threatening to bubble up to the surface.

The first two seasons follow Stig Helmer (Ernst-Hugo Järegård), a crabby Swedish neurosurgeon obsessed with proving the intellectual supremacy of Sweden over the dullard Danes he's forced to work with. He’s preoccupied with fleeing the legal repercussions of a botched surgery that left a young girl, Mona, in a barely conscious state. Meanwhile, Sigrid Drusse (Kirsten Rolffes), a hypochondriac medium who keeps showing up at the hospital claiming she can hear voices in the elevator, hounds Helmer and the staff while searching for the source of the voices, unraveling a horrifying mystery from the hospital's past.

Elsewhere in the hospital, a medical student becomes obsessed with an older nurse in charge of Riget's sleep studies, a ghost ambulance haunts the highways around the campus at night, another doctor collects extra expired medication in a lab in his basement, and another resident is impregnated by a ghost—and gives birth to a rapidly growing and horrifyingly deformed child. (Both the ghost and the child are played by Udo Kier.) Every beat of the action is watched and commented upon by a Greek chorus of dishwashers with Down syndrome, whose poetic and prophetic dialogue connect the happenings above with the battle of good vs. evil down below.

    Each episode ends on a horror-tinged cliffhanger, and the finale of the second season ends on the biggest one of all: Drusse discovers a cult of tumor-obsessed doctors who reside in the hospital and falls 50-plus floors deep into the ground. Meanwhile, Helmer attempts to banish Mona to some sort of netherworld. Von Trier had plans for a third season, which never came to fruition after both Järegård and Rolffes, his main stars, died in 1998 and 2000, respectively.

    While the series is not as well-known overseas as his films, shades of The Kingdom popped up on American television not once, but twice. In 2001, UPN broadcast the short-lived hospital anthology/procedural All Souls, which took inspiration from The Kingdom in its main premise: a haunted teaching hospital with a dark past (in this case, the American Civil War) becomes the unwitting battleground of near-Biblical forces. In a fun coincidence, one of the producers of All Souls was Mark Frost, co-creator of Twin Peaks, which von Trier was heavily influenced by for The Kingdom.

    The other, perhaps slightly more well-known, is Kingdom Hospital, a 2004 miniseries directly adapted from The Kingdom by none other than Stephen King. The show hews closely to many aspects of von Trier's show: a cruel brain surgeon fleeing his greatest mistake, an elderly lady who can see ghosts, a young medical resident with a crush on an older female sleep nurse, a secret society, and a hospital built upon the site of some grave sin.

    King makes a few additions here and there: the hospital dog from The Kingdom becomes a spectral anteater with sharp teeth, who ushers spirits from the world of the living to a sort of basement purgatory. An additional character, a comatose painter hospitalized after being hit by a car, can communicate with the hospital's ghosts on the astral plane. Neither of these shows had a large viewership, and both were canceled after a single season. (Kingdom Hospital, though, is well worth a watch.)

    Lars von Trier's creation lives on in a final conclusive season, broadcast on DR and on Mubi in America as The Kingdom: Exodus. The director didn't spend too much time revisiting the earlier episodes, preferring to focus on the new story he wanted to tell, and Exodus is indeed something of a departure from the first two seasons—with a more metatextual take on the ideas of the show before diving back into all the weird stuff.

    The Drusse character arrives in the form of Karen Svensson (​​Bodil Jørgensen) an elderly sleepwalker who believes the events of a Lars von Trier TV show from the '90s to be real (ha-ha), and the absence of the original Dr. Helmer is remedied by the arrival of his son, Helmer Jr. (Mikael Persbrandt), whose fear of politically incorrect improprieties swiftly lands him in hot water. Both of the omniscient dishwashers have been replaced by new actors, one of which is a talking robot.

      Unlike the first two seasons of the show, von Trier's end credits monologues in Exodus are delivered from behind a curtain. The director was unknowingly suffering from the beginnings of Parkinson's disease, a diagnosis he announced this year, while he was filming the show, and told reporters at the Venice Film Festival that he had “a rotten time.” Instead, during his monologues the camera focuses on an Advent wreath hanging in front of the ever present red curtain, at the bottom of which you can see, presumably, the toes of von Trier's shoes.

      After each episode, another of the four candles on the wreath is lit, signifying in no uncertain terms the Biblical nature of the story von Trier is attempting to tell, substituting hospital orderlies and sickened inmates for gods and monsters, reminding us, as always, the importance of taking the good with the evil.

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