Welcome to Friday, my friend. We've survived another week together, though things got a bit dicey for a second there yesterday. Anyone who knows me knows that my computer may as well be a loved one -- I have two monitors and a light-up keyboard, for context -- and she was on life support for most of the day yesterday. I spent the ENTIRE day troubleshooting and trying get her back on her feet and it was an exhausting, stressful journey.
Luckily, we pulled through and she's once again strong enough to bring you your morning updates. It's a good thing, too, because today's a pretty big day. It's not just any Friday -- it's NBA free agency Friday! Quite the week for basketball, huh?
We'll get you caught up on everything this morning but if you want to stay in touch over the weekend, feel free to follow me on Twitter if you don't already. Feel free to send me pictures of your beastly computers or fancy office/game room setups to let me know you came from here. I enjoy a beautiful office setup almost as much as I appreciate a nice deck.
OK, let's close this week out strong.
📰 What you need to know
1. What do the Warriors do now to stay competitive? Spend money 💰
Well, yesterday brought confirmation of the news we most feared: Klay Thompson has once again suffered a devastating lower body injury --this time an Achilles tear -- and he'll miss a second straight full season as a result. It's just a total gut punch for one of the NBA's best shooters, especially after he missed last season while recovering from a torn ACL.
It's also a brutal loss for the Warriors, who were looking to get back to being a Western Conference contender after a throwaway year. Golden State would have been in golden shape with a healthy Steph Curry, Thompson and promising rookie big man James Wiseman.
So, now what? Well, it appears the Warriors are still incredibly committed to going all-in to remain competitive, even if it costs them a whole lot of money.
- Golden State is finalizing a deal to acquire Kelly Oubre Jr. from the Thunder. The Warriors are over the cap but they will absorb Oubre into the trade exception created by the Andre Iguodala trade last offseason
- The team's luxury tax bill could rise from $66 million to around $134 million as a result of the trade. The $68 million bump on top of Oubre's $14.4 million salary means the team will be paying north of $80 million for one season of Oubre
- The Warriors still have a $6 million mid-level exception to use and they may also get a $9.3 million Disabled Player Exception as a result of Thompson's injury. They plan to use that money to pursue targets in free agency
I've gotta say, I respect the hell out of the team's ownership and front office for being this aggressive in wake of the setback. They know there's a limited window with this accomplished core and they're willing to put up the money to do everything they can to keep the team as competitive as possible, even with the financial strains of the pandemic.
Will the aggressiveness pay off (literally) and keep the Warriors alive as contenders? Who knows ... a lot of that probably hinges on how good Steph Curry can be for them. Either way, I still appreciate putting money where your mouth is for the sake of gamesmanship. Then again, I'm the guy whose favorite baseball team traded away Mookie Betts because they wanted to save some money on the luxury tax earlier this year.
2. Seahawks get revenge on Cardinals 🏈
We had ourselves a very feathery Thursday Night Football matchup last night, as the Seahawks took on the Cardinals in a big NFC West divisional game. Both challengers entered the night sitting at 6-3 with a shot at taking sole possession of first place (for a few days at the very least) and, ultimately, Seattle came away with the win to end a two-game slide.
I was a bit worried that the game wouldn't live up to the hype when both teams got off to a slow start in the first quarter but they eventually found their footing and delivered some solid entertainment. It was a close battle to the end, but let's take a look at a few takeaways that help explain why the Seahawks got the W:
- Why the Seahawks won: It was a bruising game and Russell Wilson took plenty of hits, but he still made the plays he needed to make and didn't turn the ball over. He was efficient and his teammates made sure he didn't have to do it all
- Why the Cardinals lost: The defense couldn't force Wilson to make mistakes, and Arizona made too many mistakes of their own. The biggest came in the fourth quarter when they took a holding penalty in the endzone to double their deficit from two to four
Also of note: Carlos Dunlap, who was VERY disgruntled with the Bengals earlier this season, seems to be enjoying himself in Seattle. He clinched the win with a walk-off sack to end the Cardinals' final drive last night.
The Cardinals can take solace in the fact that they weren't the only ones who lost last night -- we all had to watch the Seahawks play in those horrific toxic green uniforms.
3. Hello, NBA free agency! 🏀
It's been a very busy week for the NBA so far and the foot ain't about to come off the pedal. Free agency opens later today (at 6 p.m. ET, to be exact) and the open market signing spree might be even crazier and more chaotic than usual thanks to a condensed offseason this year. Considering training camps open in a week and a half, front offices will likely be eager to finalize their roster plans in the days ahead.
The good news is that we should have plenty of news to follow and consume for our entertainment. The bad news is that this year's free agent class isn't all that great and the transaction wire will likely be far less star-studded than what we saw last year. If you're interested in studying up on who's out there, our resident NBA madman James Herbert has put together an incredible primer on the 2020 free agent class.
He's taken a look at the top 100 players on the market and ranked them in tiers, so here's a glimpse at the cream of the crop:
- Fred VanVleet: He's a two-way playmaker who is quietly becoming one of the best defensive guards in the NBA. He also gets a strong grade in the intangibles department and will likely be one of the most sought-after players available
- Gordon Hayward: Many were surprised when Hayward turned down his $34.2 million option on Thursday because it's unlikely he'll secure that kind of yearly salary in his next deal. However, he could be seeking more long-term security on a team that can provide him more offensive opportunity ... like ... the Knicks? If his next deal is lucrative, he might be part of a sign-and-trade
- Bogdan Bogdanovic: He's a restricted free agent was reportedly on his way to Milwaukee via sign-and-trade earlier this week but the deal was nixed thanks to concerns over tampering (the trade was agreed to four days before free agents were allowed to negotiate with other teams). Now we'll have to see what happens with Bogdanovich once negotiations can (legally) open up
You can find all the other free agents right here. Here's to hoping your team doesn't do anything stupid!
4. Where will Francisco Lindor end up? ⚾
What do you say we close out this week with a little roundtable action? Nobody does that better than our MLB staff, and they've got a pretty interesting topic to discuss here this morning: What team will Francisco Lindor suit up for on Opening Day 2021?
It seems rather inevitable that Cleveland's star shortstop will be on the move this winter as the Indians look to save some money. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of potential suitors for Lindor, so our baseball writers have taken their best crack at guessing where he might end up.
- Katherine Acquavella: The Mets -- "Steve Cohen figures to make an aggressive opening statement during his first offseason as owner while opposing owners may decide to save this winter"
- R.J. Anderson: The Reds - "They have the need; they've shown the willingness to part with prospects (and would presumably be willing to ship out Nick Senzel if that's what it takes); and they've already made one huge deal with Cleveland the past few years"
- Mike Axisa: The Blue Jays -- "The guess here is Cleveland and Toronto swing a true blockbuster, with the Blue Jays getting Lindor and Carlos Carrasco for multiple prospects but none of the system's elite"
- Dayn Perry: The Indians -- "... Cleveland winds up keeping him and lets him walk after next season. I don't really have any basis for saying this, but every good roundtable needs a bad answer"
- Matt Snyder: The Angels -- "I'll go with the Angels on a package centered around Jo Adell. Cleveland has long needed outfield help and we know Angels owner Arte Moreno loves him some star power, so there's a decent fit to be had here"
Much respect to Dayn for sacrificing himself for the sake of the roundtable. That's a team player right there. Glue guy.
📝 Odds & Ends
- Maryland coach Mike Locksley has tested positive for COVID-19 and the Terrapins have had their second straight game canceled. They were set to play Michigan State this weekend
- A high school football coach suffered a heart attack during a game but refused medical help until the end of the 53-0 loss
- The music industry cracking down on copyright issues could change how NFL and other leagues distribute content
- Pac-12 presidents have approved the addition of non-conference football games this year
📺 What to watch this weekend
🏈 Syracuse vs. Louisville, 7:00 p.m. | LOU -18.5 | TV: ESPN
🏈 No. 9 Indiana vs. No. 3 Ohio State, 12:00 p.m. | OSU -20.5 | TV: FOX
🏈 No. 10 Wisconsin vs. No. 19 Northwestern, 3:30 p.m. | NWEST +7.5 | TV: ABC
🏈 No. 14 Oklahoma State vs. No. 18 Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m. | OU -7 | TV: ABC
🏈 Titans vs. Ravens, 1:00 p.m. | BAL -5 | TV: CBS
🏈 Packers vs. Colts, 4:25 p.m. | IND -2 | TV: FOX
🏈 Chiefs vs. Raiders, 8:20 p.m. | LV +8 | TV: NBC
📝 Top scores from last night
Russell Wilson threw for 197 yards and two touchdowns while adding 42 yards on the ground.
💵 Winning wagers: SEA -3, Under (57)