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Happy Tuesday morning, all!

Let's get right to it.

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Good morning to everyone but especially to...

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USATSI

THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS' HEAD COACHING CANDIDATES...

The Lakers officially fired Frank Vogel yesterday, and the biggest head coaching gig in the NBA is now open.

Even after an incredibly disappointing 33-49 season, the Lakers are very much in win-now mode. Anthony Davis said as much over the weekend, and the Lakers will look for a coach who aligns with that approach, just as Vogel did: Los Angeles won it all in his first season with the team (2019-20).

So, who will be the next Lakers head coach? Our NBA reporter Sam Quinn has a list of 25 potential candidates, broken down into six categories:

  • Currently employed big names
  • Former Lakers head coaches
  • Internal candidates
  • External assistants
  • Connected to principles
  • Former head coaches looking for second chance

That first category caught my eye. Current Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is already reportedly at the top of the list, but I think another name in that category could be more realistic.

  • Quinn: "Doc Rivers oversaw another collapse last postseason. ... President of basketball operations Daryl Morey did not hire Rivers, and the two of them approach basketball fairly differently. If Philadelphia flames out early in the playoffs, Rivers, despite the three years remaining on his contract, is the likeliest scapegoat by far. He is also exactly the sort of candidate all of the major decision-makers in Los Angeles could compromise on. He's a big name that has coached in Los Angeles before and is known to be player-friendly."

I really enjoyed the all-encompassing breakdown here. It even includes big names who won't be candidates (Mike Krzyzewski and Phil Jackson fall into this category). The Lakers' job is the most scrutinized in the league, especially as long as LeBron James is in town. It's also a great chance to win in a huge market while coaching two stars, though. Sam's list is a great primer for what will be a fascinating search.

... AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO RHYNE HOWARD

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Welcome to the history books, Rhyne HowardThe Atlanta Dream took her first overall in last night's WNBA Draft, making her the first Kentucky Wildcat to earn the honor. Howard fills an immediate need for Atlanta, which went 8-24 last season. Our WNBA expert Jack Maloney gave the pick an "A" grade.

  • Maloney: "As expected, the Dream select Rhyne Howard with the No. 1 overall pick. Howard is a big, athletic wing out of Kentucky who can impact the game on both sides of the ball. She is an elite scorer who can shoot from the outside and get to the basket, and will be able to defend multiple positions. Best player in the draft and a great get for the Dream as they start their rebuild."

Here's who got draft with the top five picks:

  • 1. Dream: G Rhyne Howard (Kentucky)
  • 2. Fever: F NaLyssa Smith (Baylor)
  • 3. Mystics: F/C Shakira Austin (Ole Miss)
  • 4. Fever: F Emily Engstler (Louisville)
  • 5. Liberty: F Nyara Sabally (Oregon)

You can find full draft results here and Maloney's winners and losers here.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for...

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LUKA DONCIC AND THE DALLAS MAVERICKS

The Dallas Mavericks got some bad news at a bad time. Luka Doncic suffered a calf strain, and there's no timetable for his return. Dallas opens its postseason Saturday against the Jazz. Doncic  the injury in Sunday's season finale against the Spurs. It's all extremely unfortunate given the circumstances.

  • The Mavericks needed a win plus a Warriors loss Sunday to move up to the 3 seed.
  • Doncic's injury occurred with both the Mavericks and Warriors way ahead. Both won, rendering the Mavericks' result meaningless. The Mavericks were right to play him, but it still makes the injury all the more frustrating.
  • Doncic wasn't expected to play after receiving his 16th technical foul of the season Friday, which comes with a one-game suspension. But the league rescinded the technical. Now, ironically, that could actually hurt Dallas more than the team could have ever anticipated.

Doncic is a superstar and a potential First-Team All-NBA selection (one of our writers thinks so) who somehow reaches an even higher level in the postseason. Here's the most points per game in the playoffs all-time (minimum 10 games):

  • 1. Luka Doncic: 33.5 PPG
  • 2. Michael Jordan: 33.4 PPG
  • 3. Allen Iverson: 29.7 PPG
  • 4. Kevin Durant: 29.5 PPG

I'd say that's a pretty good list. Hopefully Doncic can continue his postseason stardom sooner rather than later.

Not so honorable mentions

Previewing tonight's NBA play-in tournament action 🏀

The play-in tournaments start tonight with the 7-8 matchups in both the East and the West.

The winners of tonight's games will be the 7 seed, while the losers will face the winner of tomorrow's 9-10 games for the 8th and final playoff spot.

Let's start in the East, where the Nets are anything but your typical play-in team.

Before the Nets can focus on that, though, they need to get past an upstart Cavaliers team that has already exceeded expectations. Evan Mobley is the Rookie of the Year favorite, and he'll have to play well for Cleveland to pull off an upset, writes our NBA expert Colin Ward-Heninger.

  • Ward-Heninger: "Mobley will be tasked with protecting the rim against K.D. and Kyrie ... while also keeping the likes of Andre Drummond and Nicolas Claxton off the offensive glass. That's no simple task, and then the Cavs will likely also need him to score in order to keep pace with Brooklyn's attack. The Cavs were 4-1 this season when Mobley scored 24 or more points."

In the nightcap, the Clippers visit the Timberwolves. The Clippers recently got Paul George back and have gotten contributions from up and down the roster. Minnesota, meanwhile, has one of the league's most exciting young cores with Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell.

Champions League quarterfinals: Real Madrid, Villarreal hope to maintain advantages ⚽

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The second legs of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal matchups begin today with Real Madrid up 3-1 on Chelsea and Villarreal leading Bayern Munich 1-0. Both games are available to stream on Paramount+.

Soccer expert Chuck Booth has three things that Chelsea need to do in order to keep their hopes of defending their title alive, including...

  • Booth: "Unleash the wing-backs: Just as Chelsea's best defense in this tie is their attack, their best attack in this tie is their defense. When conceding a goal doesn't change much in the tie, it would make sense for Thomas Tuchel to start Reece James, Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta at once in Madrid. ... Playing the most possession-based attacking lineup possible will give Real Madrid something to think about every time they lose the ball. Combining that with Timo Werner and the space that Kai Havertz opens with his excellent movement should give Chelsea good chances in attack which will leave it to the front three to finish their chances."

For more on the Champions League:

What we're watching Tuesday 📺

Champions League quarterfinal: Real Madrid vs Chelsea, 3 p.m. on CBS and Paramount+
⚽ Champions League quarterfinal: Bayern Munich vs Villarreal, 3 p.m. on Paramount+
🏀 NBA play-in tournament: (8) Cavaliers at (7) Nets, 7 p.m. on TNT
🏀 NBA play-in tournament: (8) Clippers at (7) Timberwolves, 9:30 p.m. on TNT
🏒 Lightning at Stars, 9:30 p.m. on ESPN