Happy Friday, everyone! We're nearly through the first week of the NFL offseason. Only 29 weeks to go!
Let's get right to it.
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Good morning to everyone but especially to...
On Tuesday, the 76ers lost by 48 points at home against their biggest rival. Then last night, they went on the road and beat the defending champions as their superstar added another chapter to his potential MVP story.
Joel Embiid poured in 42 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out five assists as Philadelphia went into the All-Star Break on a high note, beating the Bucks 123-120. Embiid is currently the favorite to win MVP -- he's +130 at Caesars Sportsbook, well ahead of Nikola Jokic at +300 -- and nights like Thursday are why.
It would have been easy for the 76ers to pack it in ahead of the break -- it looked like they did so Tuesday -- but instead they earned one of their best wins of the year without their big trade deadline acquisition, James Harden. While Embiid was the major reason, there were plenty of supporting pieces:
- Tyrese Maxey had 19 points and made all 10 of his free throws. Tobias Harris also had 19.
- Georges Niang scored 18 and tied a season high with five 3-pointers.
- Furkan Korkmaz added 13 points off the bench and was a team-best +18.
Two days ago, the 76ers were in the "not such a good morning" section of this newsletter because -- even though it was just one game -- they were awful. Last night was still just one game, but it's about as good of a game as the 76ers could have played. And that's good morning-worthy indeed.
- Matthew Stafford and the Rams will pay the medical bills for a photographer who was injured during the championship parade.
- New Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell seems to believe in Kirk Cousins.
And not such a good morning for...
THE ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS
Arizona State's dramatic offseason has taken yet another turn. Starting quarterback Jayden Daniels will enter the transfer portal.
- In December, after meeting with head coach Herm Edwards, Daniels said he would return to Arizona State.
- In January, two coaches were fired and two more resigned amid the NCAA's investigation into the program.
- Now Daniels, a three-year starter, is gone.
Daniels is the top quarterback in the portal. Over the last three seasons, he's one of just six FBS players with at least 6,000 passing yards and 1,200 rushing yards. And remember, he only played four games in 2020 due to COVID-19.
This news is even worse for Arizona State when you consider that after Daniels met with Edwards, Arizona State decided not to pursue former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, who ended up transferring to South Carolina. Arizona State now has next to no experience in its quarterback room.
Safe to say Edwards' tenure in Tempe hasn't gone to plan, writes our college football reporter Barrett Sallee:
- Sallee: "Edwards was supposed to bring the Sun Devils back into prominence, but he has driven them straight into the ground instead. The combination of Daniels' departure, the NCAA investigation and a pared-down coaching staff is going to make it hard to take the program seriously under Edwards' watch."
Not so honorable mentions
- Anthony Davis won't even be re-evaluated for his foot injury for another four weeks.
- The Titans' stadium renovation plans have hit a snag.
Eric Kay found guilty in trial over Tyler Skaggs' drug-related death ⚾
Former Angels employee Eric Kay was found guilty on counts of distributing counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute in connection to the death of former Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs. Kay will face a minimum of 20 years in federal prison. Sentencing is set for June 28.
Here are the key details:
- Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in Southlake, Texas on July 1, 2019.
- The toxicology report showed traces of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his system.
- Kay told the DEA that Skaggs introduced him to a dealer and paid for both men's drugs while Kay handled transactions. Kay also said that he did not have pills with him during the team's trip to Texas during which Skaggs died.
- In 2020, Kay was charged with possessing and distributing opioids, a Schedule II controlled substance, and causing the opioid-related death of Skaggs in 2020.
The Skaggs family released the following statement after Kay was found guilty:
- "We are very grateful to the government and the jury for seeing this important case through to the right verdict. Tyler was the light of our family. He is gone, and nothing can ever bring him back. We are relieved that justice was served, although today is a painful reminder of the worst day in the life of our family."
Little progress made in latest MLB lockout talks 😐
Another meeting, another uninspiring result. MLB and the MLBPA met again Thursday, with the players presenting their latest CBA proposal in a session that lasted only... 15 minutes.
It's just the latest step in what has been an exhausting -- and unproductive -- last few months. Let's review the full timeline:
- Dec. 2: Lockout begins as previous CBA expires.
- Jan. 13: MLB finally makes first proposal, which is not well-received by the union.
- Jan. 24-25: Sides meet two consecutive days with union rejecting most of league's proposals.
- Feb. 1: Sides meet again to discuss core economic issues.
- Feb. 3: MLB asks for help from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which the MLBPA declines.
- Feb. 10: Commissioner Rob Manfred addresses the media for the first time since lockout began, says he's optimistic season will start on time.
- Feb. 17: Latest meeting focuses on expanding the super-two pool and the bonus pool for pre-arbitration players.
The question is quickly becoming: Will there be a full 162-game season? Our writers are split on the elephant in the room, but here's what R.J. Anderson had to say about the situation:
- Anderson: "I'll hold out hope a little longer and say 162. I can't pretend I have a great deal of confidence with how the owners and the league have operated to date, but I also have a hard time imagining them willingly losing regular-season revenue over some proposed changes that are -- to be frank -- anything but radical. It would be myopic and silly -- and, given who we're talking about, I suppose it must be taken as a serious possibility."
MLB has set a deadline of Feb. 28 to agree to a new CBA if the season is to start on time. The clock is ticking.
What we're watching this weekend 📺
🏀 Rising Stars, 9 p.m. on TNT
🏀 No. 12 Illinois at No. 19 Michigan State, Noon on ESPN
🏀 No. 11 Texas Tech at No. 20 Texas, 12:30 p.m. on ABC
🏀 No. 25 Alabama at No. 4 Kentucky, 1 p.m. on CBS and Paramount+
🏀 All-Star Saturday Night, 8 p.m. on TNT
🏀 No. 12 Tennessee at No. 1 South Carolina, 1 p.m. on ABC
🏎 Daytona 500, 2:30 p.m. on FOX
🏀 No. 13 Maryland at No. 9 Michigan, 3 p.m. on Big Ten Network
🏀 Rutgers at No. 5 Purdue, 5:30 p.m. on FS1
🏀 NBA All-Star Game, 8 p.m. on TNT/TBS