Good morning to everyone but especially to...
THE 2023 BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS
The star-studded 2023 Basketball Hall of Fame class has reportedly leaked, and here it is:
- Dwyane Wade
- Dirk Nowitzki
- Pau Gasol
- Tony Parker
- Gregg Popovich
- Becky Hammon
The last three of that list give the class a distinctive Spurs feel. Parker -- a four-time champ -- and Popovich -- a five-time champ and the NBA's all-time coaching wins leader -- will get the main headlines in San Antonio, but Hammon also experienced tremendous success with the city. She spent the latter half of her 16-year playing career with the San Antonio Silver Stars (now the Las Vegas Aces, whom she coached to a title last season). She also spent eight seasons as an assistant under Popovich.
You can read up on the entire class here.
- The Warriors rallied from 17 down to beat the Pelicans in a game with crucial playoff implications.
- Bronny James shined at the McDonald's All-American Game. Here were our top takeaways.
- Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore are on track to be Timberwolves majority owners by 2024.
- Here are the NFL rule changes, including one Calvin Ridley will take advantage of immediately.
- Keyonte George is headed to the NBA Draft.
- Lionel Messi scored his 100th career goal for Argentina.
- Here's the latest USWNT roster ahead of the final friendlies before the World Cup.
And not such a good morning for...
Ben Simmons' season is over. The fact that this news isn't particularly impactful or notable for the Nets signifies just how far he has fallen.
The former No. 1 overall pick has not played since Feb. 15 due to a nerve impingement in his back and will finish this season having played just 42 games.
- This comes one season after he did not play at all due to a holdout, a herniated disc in his back and mental health issues. Simmons appeared to be on track to make his season debut in Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs. Instead, he had a setback and missed the game, and the Nets were swept by the Celtics.
- Simmons missed time early this season with knee issues, and his absence frustrated the organization.
- Simmons finishes this season with career lows in points per game (6.9), rebounds per game (6.3) and assists per game (6.1). He had averaged 15.9, 8.1 and 7.7 in those respective categories prior to this season.
Where the Nets and Simmons go from here is anyone's guess.
It's not that long ago that he was regarded as a premier young player: a three-time All Star, two-time first-team All-Defensive team member and one-time All-NBA performer and a franchise cornerstone. After being shipped from Philadelphia to Brooklyn in the James Harden trade, he was supposed to be the third member of the Nets' new "Big Three" alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. We all know how that went.
Instead, Simmons has dealt with health setbacks and complete offensive ineffectiveness when on the court. The Nets are expected to explore trading Simmons this summer, but he's owed $80 million over the next two seasons -- and his value is basically zero. Simmons is only 26. But with each passing day, it seems harder and harder to believe he'll get back to where he was.
Not so honorable mentions
- Simmons isn't the only big name done for the season: With the Trail Blazers out of playoff contention, Damian Lillard has been shut down as well.
- Bradley Beal is under police investigation after a postgame confrontation with a fan.
- Tyler Adams will miss time following a hamstring surgery.
Opening Day is tomorrow! Bold predictions and more ⚾
Load up on peanuts and Cracker Jack, and go find that glove buried somewhere in your closet: MLB Opening Day is tomorrow!
Our MLB team has done an excellent job getting us ready, and one of my favorite pieces is Mike Axisa's 23 bold predictions for 2023. Here's one that will be good for everyone involved:
- Axisa: "Time of game will drop to 2:45 -- The pitch timer era has arrived. ... Games had become a major drag in recent years, mostly because batters repeatedly stepped out of the box and pitchers took time to center themselves between pitches. The pitch timer creates much better flow. ... That would be an 18-minute improvement from last season and baseball's quickest time of game since 1985. Baseball has not had a time of game under 3:00 since 2011 or under 2:50 since 2005."
Mike's other bold predictions range from a projection on Aaron Judge's home run total to a potential Athletics relocation and more -- and you can see them all here.
We also have win total best bets, Dayn Perry's excellent piece on Old Yankees Stadium and, of course, our Fantasy Baseball Today newsletter.
Kevin Durant expected to return to Suns tonight 🏀
With under two weeks left in the regular season, the Suns are getting healthy. Kevin Durant will return to action for Phoenix tonight against the Timberwolves.
Phoenix went 4-6 in their latest stint without Durant.
- Durant missed the last 10 games with a sprained ankle he suffered in warmups before a game against the Thunder on March 8.
- The Suns are fourth in the West, but a half-game ahead of the Clippers for fifth and just 1.5 games up on the seventh-place Warriors in the tightly packed conference standings.
- In the 98 minutes Durant has played with the Suns, they've outscored their opponents by 46 points. That's an absurd number that will certainly come down, but in the tiny sample size (three games), they've been absolutely dominant.
While this is obviously good news for the Suns, Sam Quinn points out an interesting quirk: "No NBA champion has ever been led by a player who gave them more playoff games than regular-season appearances."
Two groups meet record asking price for Commanders 🏈
Daniel Snyder is asking for a record amount of money for the Commanders: $6 billion.
As of Tuesday night, two separate groups have met that number and submitted their respective bids to purchase the franchise.
- One group is headed by Josh Harris, whose Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment group owns the 76ers and the Devils and a piece of Crystal Palace. For this bid, Harris has partnered with Mitchell Rales and Magic Johnson.
- Harris made a run at the Broncos last year, but the Walton-Penner family won that bidding at a record $4.65 billion.
- Steve Apostolopoulos has also met the $6 billion asking price. He's a more recent addition to the long list of reported interested parties, which also includes Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and potentially Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, among others.
From our NFL insider Jonathan Jones, here's how Snyder may choose his bidder.
What we're watching Wednesday 📺
🏀 Mavericks at 76ers, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Islanders at Capitals, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏀 Timberwolves at Suns, 10 p.m. on ESPN
🏒 Wild at Avalanche, 10 p.m. on TNT