Good morning to everyone but especially to...
FANS WHO LOVE THE NBA... AND CHAOS
The NBA officially stands for the Never Boring Association. Like, never, ever boring. And, apparently, never, ever asleep, either.
Kevin Durant is going to the Suns in a stunning blockbuster trade that happened in the wee hours of Thursday morning. It comes just days after Brooklyn traded Kyrie Irving to the Mavericks and, notably, also days after new Suns owner Mat Ishbia officially took over the franchise. Talk about a strong first impression.
- Kevin Durant
- T.J. Warren
- Mikal Bridges
- Cameron Johnson
- Jae Crowder
- Four first-round picks (unprotected) and a 2028 pick swap
You already know how great Durant is, but here is an eye-opening stat about the season he is having: He's averaging 29.7 points on career-high 55.9% shooting this season. It is worth noting that Durant is working his way back from an MCL sprain and hasn't played in more than a month, though he's expected back soon.
Phoenix Suns potential lineup 👀 pic.twitter.com/5BEowyEfmL— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) February 9, 2023
The Suns received an A- trade grade from our Sam Quinn, and with Durant joining Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton, the Suns should be considered title favorites, writes our Brad Botkin.
- Botkin: "Booker and Durant immediately become the deadliest duo in the league. Paul, if you haven't noticed, is still pretty damn good. Phoenix retains Ayton. Those four plus Warren is an absolutely nasty starting five. ... Phoenix lacks depth, even more so now, but Durant fits perfectly with a methodical team that defaults to half-court basketball. ... I wouldn't say the Suns are a runaway favorite. But they are at the top of the list."
As for the Nets, watching a once-super team of Durant, Irving and James Harden crumble to this is just stunning. Jack Maloney has the details of the long downfall, which is nearing completion.
The KD blockbuster was far from the only move that went down last night:
- In Los Angeles, one night after LeBron James made history, the Lakers pulled off a three-team trade with the Jazz and Timberwolves that sends Russell Westbrook to Utah and brings back D'Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley. Here are the details. The three players the Lakers are getting in return should be valuable contributors immediately, but it doesn't move the needle enough says our Sam Quinn in his trade grades.
- The Knicks are acquiring Josh Hart from the Trail Blazers.
- The Raptors are acquiring Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs.
You can keep track of every trade here, The trade deadline is 3 p.m. today. Buckle up.
- Florida State gave Mike Norvell a big extension.
- Here are our NHL Power Rankings.
And not such a good morning for...
The Celtics entered last night's game against the 76ers short-handed, and the hits kept coming. Jaylen Brown suffered a facial fracture after taking an accidental elbow to the face from Jayson Tatum in the second quarter of Boston's eventual win.
- Brown will miss multiple weeks.
- He joins fellow starters Marcus Smart (ankle), Al Horford (knee) and Robert Williams III (ankle) on the injury report.
Not so honorable mentions
- Zion Williamson will miss the All-Star Game.
- No. 6 Tennessee suffered a shocking loss to Vanderbilt.
- The Aces are under investigation for under-the-table payments.
- A high-school basketball game ended 4-2.
Super Bowl: X-factors, plus 57 fun facts for the 57th Super Bowl 🏈
One of the best things about the Super Bowl is that it often lends itself to little-known players becoming big-time heroes (who can forget David Tyree's helmet catch?). The two teams playing Sunday are familiar with this:
- In the Chiefs' most recent Super Bowl triumph, it wasn't Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce who caught the big pass on the go-ahead drive, but Sammy Watkins.
- In the Eagles' most recent title, Corey Clement led the team in receiving yards.
It's what our Jared Dubin refers to as X-factors:
- Dubin: "Kelce and Patrick Mahomes have unmatched chemistry ... That makes Eagles linebackers T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White -- as well as safeties Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Epps and Reed Blankenship -- arguably the most important defenders on the team for Sunday's game. ... Keeping a roof on the defense and not allowing Kelce to get in behind them, and thus forcing the Chiefs to methodically work their way down the field, is Philly's best option."
The Chiefs' top X-factors also reside on the defense, Jared says in his excellent, data-driven piece. But why limit our focus on just X-factors when we can know 57 things for Super Bowl 57? Luckily, Cody Benjamin has come to our rescue, covering every single angle.
You probably know about Andy Reid's history with the Chiefs, but the GMs who built these teams also have strong ties:
- Benjamin: "Chiefs general manager Brett Veach spent his first nine seasons as an NFL staffer in Philadelphia, working alongside Eagles GM Howie Roseman from 2004-2012. Whereas Veach has only worked in tandem with Reid as K.C.'s personnel chief, Roseman has now led Philly's front office alongside four different coaches: Reid (2010-2012), Chip Kelly (2013-2015), Doug Pederson (2016-2020) and Nick Sirianni (2021-present)."
Already knew that? All right then, you clearly know your stuff. But can you pass our trivia about each of the previous 56 Super Bowls? Be warned: It's not easy.
How Zach Edey, who first played basketball in 2018, became the best player in college 🏀
Listen, if you're waiting until March to really start focusing on college basketball, I get it. Right now, you have the Super Bowl, the NBA Trade Deadline, and more. And March Madness is, frankly, the best, so if you're saving up your energy for that, it's fine.
But if you're doing that, you're missing out on one of the biggest college basketball stories in recent memory. Like, 7-foot-4, 300-pound big. No. 1 Purdue's Zach Edey is going to be the player of the year. The team success certainly helps, but the surface-level stats are eye-popping as well.
- 22.4 PPG (4th in D-I)
- 13.2 RPG (2nd)
- 41.7 Player Efficiency Rating (on pace to be the best by any player since the stat began in 2009-10)
Not bad for a guy who, get this, started playing basketball in 2018, and was the 440th-ranked recruit in his class. Our Matt Norlander talked with Purdue's "gentle giant," who isn't so gentle when destroying opponents. Here's one of my favorite parts:
- Norlander: "As for his cherished routine, Edey always naps before games and always has to eat sushi. In warmups, his repetitions are the exact same every time, from Mikan drills to layup lines, foul shots and more. ... After each practice, it's a minimum of 30 minutes of solo workouts every time. Edey works on hook shots by the hundreds, taking at least 10 from 12-15 spots on the floor. Right hand, left hand, over and over and over. On the road, there have been a few times where Purdue wasn't close to a gym to get shots up before a game. Edey's had team managers Google Map gyms to drive him to so he can get his drills in."
Matt has more great details in here, too, such as:
- Why Edey wears No. 15.
- The moment Edey was drawn to basketball after playing baseball and hockey growing up.
- The hilarious shirts Edey's mom, Julia, makes him, including one that reads He ain't just tall, eh?! -- paying homage to his Canadian roots.
What we're watching Thursday 📺
🏀 No. 5 Iowa at No. 2 Indiana, 6:30 p.m. on BTN
🏒 Avalanche at Lightning, 7 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Bulls at Nets, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 No. 6 Stanford at No. 17 Arizona, 9:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Bucks at Lakers, 10 p.m. on TNT