Saturday, March 2, 2024
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Tiger Woods returning to PGA Tour; NBA trade deadline is hours away

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🐅 Good morning to everyone but especially …

TIGER WOODS AND THE PGA TOUR

For the first time in nearly a year, Tiger Woods is back in a PGA Tour field. Woods, 48, will tee it up at next week’s Genesis Invitational, an event he hosts annually. It will mark his first Tour event since the 2023 Masters, from which he withdrew in the third round.

Woods played (and finished) at the Hero World Challenge in December 2023 — the first time he walked 72 holes since the 2023 Genesis Invitational — and participated in the PNC Championship with his son, Charlie, two weeks later. Neither are PGA Tour events.

How Woods plays will obviously draw a ton of attention. What he wears will, too: After 27 years with Nike, he and the apparel giant parted ways, and there should be plenty of options for the 15-time major winner.

👍 Honorable mentions

👎 Not so honorable mentions

🏀 NBA trade deadline deals, rumors: Celtics, Timberwolves make moves 

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The NBA trade deadline is today at 3 p.m. ET, and the moves are starting to trickle in. Wednesday, the Celtics added to their front court, trading for the Grizzlies Xavier Tillman. Memphis is receiving two second-round picks (the Hawks‘ in 2027 and the Mavericks‘ in 2030) and Lamar Stevens in return.

Tillman, 25, has been a solid rotational piece for Memphis. But he’s set to hit free agency this summer, and the Grizzlies are decimated by injuries, so this move makes sense, writes Sam Quinn.

  • Quinn: “The logic for Boston is clear. While Al Horford and Kristaps Porzingis have both played well for the team with the NBA’s best record, neither are reliable bets to make it through the entire postseason at 100%. … The Grizzlies had serious luxury tax concerns going into next season. … Now, they get assets back for a player they likely would have lost.”

The other notable trade was Monte Morris to the Timberwolves for Shake Milton, Troy Brown Jr. and a 2030 second-round pick. Morris, 28, has been a solid ball handler throughout his career, and he also has significant playoff experience — something Minnesota is sorely lacking considering the franchise hasn’t made it past the second round since 2004. I like this move for Minnesota, and so does Sam.

  • Quinn: “While he’s a bit small, Minnesota’s elite defense should mitigate the weaknesses that come from that. His shooting, passing and ball-handling will go a long way towards fixing their bench offense problems.”

I mean no offense to Tillman and Morris — both very good players in their roles — but they’re not exactly the big names we’ve seen moved at the deadline in years past: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook last year and James Harden, Ben Simmons, Kristaps Porzingis, Tyrese Haliburton, Domantas Sabonis and CJ McCollum the year before. Sam explains why deadline week has been so quiet this year.

Of course, things can heat up quickly. Just ask Garrett Temple, who has played for 12 teams. I loved James Herbert’s chat with the veteran forward.

Here’s our live blog, and here’s our trade tracker.

🏈 Super Bowl players who could become household names

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The Super Bowl is full of stars. It’s also where players become stars. Remember Malcolm Smith winning Super Bowl XLVIII MVP? Timmy Smith running for 204 yards in Super Bowl XXII after having 126 all season? David Tyree‘s helmet catch? Malcolm Butler‘s game-saving interception?

Today we’re looking at players who could become household names, and for the Chiefs, I love this pick from Tyler Sullivan.

  • Sullivan:Trent McDuffie — While he’s stood up strong in coverage, where McDuffie shines is applying pressure on the quarterback. His nine quarterback hits this season are the most by any corner since the stat was first tracked in 2006. He also had the most pressures (16) and pass-rush snaps (53) among corners this year. When McDuffie is in on the pass rush, quarterbacks are completing just 46% of their passes with a 4.2 yards per attempt average. They’ve also thrown two interceptions and zero touchdowns.”

Brock Purdy is susceptible to magnificent highs and awful lows. Don’t be surprised if McDuffie causes the latter.

Jeff Kerr, meanwhile, has 49ers who could become household names.

🏈 National Signing Day: SEC, Big Ten lead the way

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National Signing Day isn’t the spectacle it once was thanks to the early signing period, but it still wraps up the 2024 class, and it was quite the close for the SEC and the Big Ten. How good was the 2024 cycle for the two super conferences? Chip Patterson has the numbers:

With Nick Saban departing, Kalen DeBoer did a great job keeping much of his class and bringing in highly rated prospects, notes Brandon Huffman. As for another College Football Playoff team — the champs, in fact — replacing its coach, Michigan didn’t have as much success post-Jim Harbaugh and is among the teams that need to improve in 2025, Brandon writes.

  • Huffman: “For Michigan’s 2024 class to fall outside the top 10 nationally, taking fourth place in the Big Ten behind the likes of conference newcomer Oregon and Penn State fresh off a national title is concerning. Matters are compounded when you look at what rival Ohio State is doing on the trail … First-year coach Sherrone Moore should be able to get a lot out of the players Michigan has signed, and he did a really good job of keeping the class together amid so much turnover and controversy, but the Wolverines are falling behind a bit in the arms race.”

Here are more headlines:

🏀 Elena Delle Donne stepping away from basketball

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Two-time MVP, seven-time All-Star and 2019 WNBA champion Elena Delle Donne is stepping away from basketball and doesn’t plan on signing the one-year super max the Mystics offered her. There’s no timetable for her return.

  • Delle Donne, 34, has struggled with injuries — most significantly to her back — for several years. She also opted out of the 2020 season and played just three games in 2021. She was on a minutes restriction in 2022 and dealt with ankle issues last year.
  • Even with Delle Donne’s injury history and the fact that she told the team she was unsure of her future, the Mystics designated her as a “core” free agent, giving them exclusive negotiating rights, an automatic one-year super max offer and the ability to work on a sign-and-trade if the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement.
  • If Delle Donne does want to return this season, she’ll have to sign with the Mystics or ask the team to trade her. If she does not return this season, the Mystics can use the “core” designation on her again next year.

The Mystics, who lost Natasha Cloud to the Mercury a week ago, appear headed toward a total rebuild.

📺 What we’re watching Thursday

🏀 No. 12 Notre Dame at No. 15 Louisville (W), 6 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 Mavericks at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. on TNT
🏈 NFL Honors, 8 p.m. on CBS, NFL Network
🏒 Lightning at Islanders, 8 p.m. on ESPN
🏀 No. 16 Virginia Tech at No. 3 NC State (W), 8 p.m. on ACC Network
🏀 Penn State at No. 2 Iowa (W), 9 p.m. on BTN
🏀 Nuggets at Lakers, 10 p.m. on TNT

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