Sports

Kyrie Irving is staying with the Nets after all, plus how the Avalanche went from worst to first

Happy Tuesday!

Let’s get right to it.

Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE BROOKLYN NETS

Well well well, how the tables turn.

Just hours after the Nets were reportedly “prepared to lose both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant” this offseason, Irving decided to opt into his $37-million player option and commit to Brooklyn — and Durant — for at least next season. It’s a shocking change of events, and Brooklyn has gone from a lose-lose situation to championship contender.

When Irving is available and locked in, he is one of the game’s premier offensive talents and forms one of the league’s scariest 1-2 punches with Durant. The problem is Irving has rarely been, well, available and locked in.

  • He’s played in just 103 of a possible 226 regular-season games in three seasons with Brooklyn due to several injuries and not being vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • In 2021-22, the Nets went 30-23 when Irving was out and just 14-15 when he played.
  • Therefore, it was hard for the Nets to commit to him long-term and hard for them to find a worthwhile return in a trade. He’s almost impossible to value properly.

At least for now, the Nets can hope for the best this season with Irving and Durant back, Ben Simmons expected to finally play and key role players like Joe Harris and Seth Curry returning. There are still many steps left to fill out the rest of the roster, but the Nets seemingly have cleared the first major hurdle of the offseason.

Honorable mentions

John Wall to sign with Clippers after being bought out by Rockets 🏀


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It’s been over a year since we’ve seen John Wall in NBA action, but if all goes to plan, that drought will end this coming season. The former All-Star point guard was bought out by the Rockets last night and plans to sign with the Clippers once he clears waivers.

It’s a huge, huge step in what has been a difficult last few years for Wall.

  • In late 2018, Wall, playing for the Wizards, suffered a season-ending heel injury. That injury then developed an infection, and then he tore his Achilles, forcing him to miss all of the 2019-20 season as well.
  • Washington dealt him to the Rockets ahead of the 2020-21 season in the Russell Westbrook deal. Wall played 40 games, averaging 20.6 points and 6.9 assists. Last year, with the Rockets in the early stages of a massive rebuild, the team decided to not play Wall at all.
  • With the buyout, Wall gives up $6.5 million of the $47.4 million that’s owed to him by the Rockets this season.

Wall has played just 113 games in the last five seasons, and he’ll be 32 when this season starts. It’d be unfair to all parties involved to expect him to return to his peak self: an incredible blend of speed, explosiveness and outstanding passing ability that at one point led him to five straight All-Star appearances.

But the Clippers could prove a strong landing spot with Kawhi Leonard returning alongside Paul George and a strong supporting cast. The league’s better when John Wall is playing. Good for him — and lucky for us — it looks like that will be the case soon.

Not so honorable mentions

  • Suspensions for the Mariners-Angels brawl have been handed down.
  • Warren Sapp said Colin Kaepernick‘s workout with the Raiders — contrary to several reports — was “a disaster.”

MLB Power Rankings: Yankees still No. 1; Will they break win record? ⚾


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The Yankees managed a split with the Astros to close last week and, at an MLB-best 54-20 — seven games better than any other team — they remain atop MLB expert Matt Snyder’s MLB Power Rankings.

Here’s the top five:

  • 1. Yankees (prev: 1)
  • 2. Dodgers (prev: 3)
  • 3. Astros (prev: 4)
  • 4. Mets (prev: 2)
  • 5. Red Sox (prev: 7)

Yes, that’s the Red Sox climbing into the top five, a pretty incredible turnaround. They started the season 10-19. Since then, they’re 32-13 — second only to the Yankees. The Brewers were the biggest risers — from 14th to eighth — and the Giants were the biggest fallers — from eight to 14th.

Getting back to the Yankees, though, they went “only” 4-3 last week, but they’re still on pace to win 118 games. That would be the most ever, just beating out the 116-win 2001 Mariners and 1906 Cubs. Of course, being on pace to do something and actually doing it are two completely different things.

But MLB expert Mike Axisa has three reasons New York will break the record, including…

  • Axisa: They’re great at everything. They really are. The Yankees lead baseball in fewest runs allowed per game (3.08) and … in runs scored per game (5.08). … New York’s dominance extends beyond runs scored and runs allowed. They are winning all kinds of games against all kinds of opponents. The Yankees have baseball’s best record in these games: home, road, one-run, blowout, vs. .500 or better teams, vs. sub-.500 teams.”

Mike also has three reasons the Yankees won’t reach 116 or more, so we’ve got you covered no matter which side of the debate you land on.

How the Avalanche turned into Stanley Cup champions 🏒


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The Avalanche were the worst team in the NHL in 2016-17. Now they’re champions. How did it happen? Our NHL expert Austin Nivison took a look. But first, some background information:

  • The Avalanche weren’t just the worst team in 2016-17; they were by far the worst. They finished with 48 points. Second-worst was the Canucks… with 69 points.
  • Still the Avalanche fell all the way to the fourth pick, where they drafted Cale Makar, who just won the Conn Smythe Trophy.
  • Another key point of that offseason? GM Joe Sakic retained head coach Jared Bednar, even after the awful year.

Over the next few seasons, the team improved, and Sakic made some savvy moves, but the biggest reason for the jump was Nathan MacKinnon developing into a superstar, Nivison writes.

  • Nivison: “He was a very good player in his first four seasons with the Avalanche, but he wasn’t the superstar that everyone expected him to be. … But in 2017-18, his second season under Bednar, MacKinnon finally broke out and established himself as one of the NHL’s best players. He set career highs with 39 goals and 97 points… The following season, MacKinnon set career highs yet again with 41 goals and 99 points.”

Marlin Briscoe, first American pro football Black starting quarterback, dies at 76 🏈


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The football community lost a pioneer yesterday as Marlin Briscoe, the first Black player to start at quarterback in American pro football, died at 76 after a battle with pneumonia.

  • Briscoe began his career in 1968 with the AFL’s Broncos, where he started five games at quarterback. He asked for his release ahead of the following season after he wasn’t going to be in the quarterback competition.
  • Briscoe caught on with the Bills in 1969 as a wide receiver and broke out in 1970, when he was named a Pro Bowler after surpassing 1,000 receiving yards.
  • In 1972, the Dolphins traded for Briscoe, and he was part of the undefeated 1972 team as well as the 1973 team, both of which won the Super Bowl.
  • He also spent time with the Lions, Chargers and Patriots before his retirement following the 1976 season.

Briscoe’s status as a groundbreaking influence in the world of professional football is unquestioned. Nicknamed “The Magician” for his ability to produce big plays out of nothing, Briscoe, a Nebraska-Omaha product, was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

What we’re watching Tuesday 📺

🏀 Dream at Mystics, 7 p.m. on ESPN2
Astros at Mets, 7:05 p.m. on TBS

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