Good morning! It's Thursday, which means you've only a few more days left to showcase self-control by NOT eating through all the Halloween candy you have stashed at your place. (It probably will not surprise you that I've already failed and will need to make another candy run before Saturday. Self-control has never been a strong suit.)
Thanks for being back here with me to kick off your day. I know we're about to hit a sports slow patch (at least in terms of actual games being played) but I promise our daily chats will continue to hit the hole hard. Remember when we made it through a couple of months without much of anything at all? If that didn't stop us, nothing will. (But please, please, please don't make us go through that again.)
Let's take it away with this morning's goodies.
📰 What you need to know
1. Why Daryl Morey will be a great fit for the 76ers 🏀
The Philadelphia 76ers continue to overhaul their leadership group this offseason and the latest (and most significant) big hire came yesterday. when they decided to hand total control of their basketball operations to Daryl Morey, former general manager of the Houston Rockets.
On the surface, it may seem like an odd marriage for a variety of reasons -- not the least of which being the Sixers just hired Doc Rivers. Two major incoming names, one of them being a coach that wasn't hired by the new top executive? That's often recipe for an ego clash. But our Bill Reiter says that, despite the seemingly odd fit, the Sixers made the right call trusting Morey to take them to the next level.
- Reiter: "Morey's stewardship leaves the Rockets holding the league's longest mark for consecutive playoff appearances at eight. That's something Morey built in Houston. He's going to build something special for the Sixers, too. And there is much, much more talent waiting on Morey in Philly than there was 13 years ago when he took over in Houston...The fact is this: Morey will figure it out"
There's no doubt that Morey is a smart guy with a very solid resume, but the biggest burning question in Philadelphia is how the current pieces will fit into Morey's long-term vision for the club. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are the two star pillars of the organization right now but they haven't been able to get Philly over the hump yet. Simmons could potentially be a a big trade chip as Morey tries to build a team more to his style.
In any case, Morey's hiring may be the beginning of a new process in Philadelphia.
2. One trade each NFL team should make 🏈
We're less than one week away from the NFL's trade deadline (Nov. 3) and several significant deals have already been struck, including Carlos Dunlap going to the Seahawks yesterday. But there are still plenty of rumors swirling around the NFL hot stove and we could see lots more action come across the wire between now and next Tuesday.
Not every team will be busy wheeling and dealing over the coming days, but what if they were? What if every team had to make one blockbuster trade at the deadline to address a need? That was the exercise that our Cody Benjamin explored this week and some of the deals he proposed are pretty juicy. Let's take a look at a few good ones:
- Bengals trade A.J. Green to the Titans: It doesn't look like the Titans need to make a big splash on offense but another weapon for Ryan Tannehill could help diversify their offensive portfolio and solidify them as an AFC contender
- Cowboys get Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins: The Cowboys are desperate to salvage their season in wake of Dak Prescott's injury and it's clear that Andy Dalton isn't helping. With Tua starting in Miami, Dallas could take a shot on Fitzpatrick
- Patriots trade Stephon Gilmore to the Raiders: If New England decides to wave the white flag on this season and trade Gilmore, who they're reportedly shopping, then Vegas could be an interesting fit as they're looking to push for the AFC West.
You can check out all of Cody's proposed trades here. In a somewhat related piece, our Patrik Walker brainstormed some mid-season trades that would send contending teams into overdrive as they try to make a Super Bowl run this year.
It's a strange time to be a Patriots fan considering I don't really know whether the team will be buying or selling heading into the deadline. There are rumblings of them trading Gilmore, but also rumors of them going after a guy like A.J. Green as well. Perhaps what happens in Buffalo this weekend will have an impact on the way the team approaches Tuesday cutoff.
No matter what, I think it's safe to say that we're all rooting for a busy, exciting deadline.
3. Big Ten's opening weekend tainted by positive COVID-19 tests 🏈
The Big Ten's journey to playing football in 2020 was a very weird and windy one but, after lots of drama and indecision, the conference successfully opened its season last weekend. Well... maybe not quite as successfully as they would've hoped.
Wisconsin hosted the conference's first game of the season last Friday night and now they're also hosting the conference's first COVID-19 outbreak of the season less than a week later.
- Twelve members of the Wisconsin football program -- six players and six staff members -- have tested positive for coronavirus
- Among those who have tested positive: Redshirt freshman QB (and breakout star) Graham Mertz, second-string QB Chase Wolf, and head coach Paul Chryst
- Mertz will miss at least three weeks, as Big Ten protocols require players who test positive to sit out for a minimum of 21 days
- The previously scheduled Wisconsin-Nebraska game for this weekend has been canceled and will not be made up. Wisconsin is suspending all team activities for seven days
Here's a necessary reminder that this year's Big Ten schedule has very little room for error -- teams are scheduled to play nine games (eight regular season games and one postseason game) in nine weeks -- so this situation is not exactly ideal.
Our Dennis Dodd penned a column yesterday examining the impact of this early hurdle:
- Dodd: "To witness the extended absence of a key Big Ten player to COVID-19 in real time will be revealing. Cases continue to rise in the region and the nation. The absence of just one skill player like Mertz could shift the conference race. Enough positives in one program could mean multiple games canceled given the 21-day protocol and no off weeks built into the compacted Big Ten schedule."
Is it too early to call this a total mess? Perhaps, but Wisconsin is ranked No. 9 in the country and now they may have to play their next few games (at least) with their fourth-string quarterback, Danny Vanden Boom, who has a great name and also one career pass attempt in college. It's not NOT a mess.
4. Top goals from Champions League Matchday 2 ⚽
We're through another match week in the Champions League but we've got some stuff to go over after yesterday's slate of action that closed out Matchday 2. Let's jump into it:
- Rashford lights fire under Manchester United: Marcus Rashford continued his excellent start to this Champions league by recording a hat trick as a sub over the final 15 or so minutes against RB Leipzig. He entered the game at 1-0 and United walked away with a 5-0 victory
- Barcelona beats a Ronaldo-less Juventus: Cristiano Ronaldo is still sitting out after testing positive for COVID-19 and Barcelona did well to take advantage of his absence. They secured a 2-0 win over Juve, which had three goals disallowed and looked simply average without their big star
The American soccer fans will be thrilled to hear that Christian Pulisic got on the board yesterday during Chelsea's 4-0 thrashing of Krasnador. You like nice goals? Of course you do, so you might be interested to know that Pulisic's goal was one of the top three goals of the day according to The Golazo Show. Feel free to go pass some time with those top highlights.
That'll do it for this week but we're gonna need the UCL to hurry on back because it's really been a blessing in terms of bridging the weekday gap between football (the American kind) to this point.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Dodgers infielder Max Muncy took a shot at MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Instagram
- Looking ahead to MLB's offseason: Here's a full list of the 2020 free agent class. Players can begin signing with new teams next week
- Baker Mayfield took offense to an "insensitive" question about Odell Beckham Jr.
📺 What to watch tonight
🏈 Falcons vs. Panthers, 8:20 p.m. | CAR -2 | TV: NFLN
📝 Top scores from last night
Marcus Rashford had a hat trick off the bench for Man U.
Ousmane Dembele scored in the first half and Lionel Messi converted a penalty kick in stoppage time.