The Replacements Rule: Week 11 in The Weekly Assist
As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it.
Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.
Taysom Hill, Andy Dalton, and P.J. Walker all lead their teams to Week 11 victories filling in for injured starting QBs. Cleveland moved ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North with their win over the Eagles while Baltimore fell to the Titans. The Steelers continued to roll and now sit at 10-0 atop the NFL. The Colts outlasted the Packers in an overtime thriller as Indianapolis is now positioning themselves as a team nobody wants to see come playoff time as they boast the best defense in the NFL.
Joe Burrow was injured in the Bengals' game against Washington and he miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. This should make Justin Herbert the odds on favorite to win Rookie of the Year if you're interested in a futures bet.
NFL players coming back from torn ACLs: ➖ Joe Burrow ➖ Saquon Barkley ➖ Odell Beckham Jr. ➖ Nick Bosa ➖ Tarik Cohe… https://t.co/9fLMBjuKDx— B/R Gridiron (@B/R Gridiron) 1606147450.0
Along with the Colts' win this past Sunday, the Seahawks' victory over the Cardinals this week was just as important to keep pace in a competitive division. Both teams currently lead their respective divisions, but their margins of error are slim. The Titans beat the Ravens to match the Colts' 7-3 record, but the Colts hold the tie-breaker over them.
Taysom Hill contributed 284 total yards and two rushing touchdowns in a win over division rival Atlanta. The Falcons couldn't get their offense working all game and New Orleans was able to keep the Falcons' defense guessing all game. Michael Thomas led the way with nine catches for 104 yards.
P.J. Walker helped the Panthers get a win against Detroit showing his mobility and arm strength on a 52 yard strike to D.J. Moore and tossed for 258 yards and a touchdown. Mike Davis had 64 rushing yards and a TD as Carolina won 20-0.
PJ was having fun 😎 https://t.co/psYmAolycu— Carolina Panthers (@Carolina Panthers) 1606148197.0
The Dallas Cowboys beat the Vikings in one of the most surprising outcomes from Week 11 and are now tied with Washington and New York for second place in the NFC East. The Eagles still lead with a record of 3-6-1 but it's truly anyone's prize to win. Ezekiel Elliott had over 100 yards on the ground and Tony Pollard pitched in with 60 yards and a TD. Andy Dalton had three touchdown passes in the game.
Despite an early touchdown pass to DeVante Parker the Dolphins offense stalled under Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins brought in Ryan Fitzpatrick to spell the struggling rookie as their five game win streak came to an end after a loss to the Broncos 20-13.
The Chiefs avenged their only loss on the season defeating the Raiders in a barn burner 35-31 and are now 9-1 on the year and arguably the best team in football even though the Steelers remain a perfect 10-0. Patrick Mahomes threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns, but Derek Carr nearly outdueled him in a losing effort throwing for 275 yards and three TDs. Clyde Edwards-Helaire fantasy owners were happy as he had two scores which has been his Achilles heel all season is a lack of touchdowns.
The multi-TD game for Clyde Edwards-Helaire is here! https://t.co/epv1rYeqfX— Yahoo Fantasy Sports (@Yahoo Fantasy Sports) 1606101381.0
A few other notable performances from Week 11 include Keenan Allen finishing with 16 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown. Deshaun Watson had 344 yards passing along with three touchdowns (two passing and one on the ground). Derrick Henry had 133 yards and the game-winning touchdown to beat the Ravens.
DERRICK HENRY CALLED GAME (via @NFL) https://t.co/hYeLwF2xGX— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) 1606079811.0
There's been a lot of player movement in the past week in the NBA and there may not have been a more impactful signing than Montrezl Harrell agreeing to terms with the defending champion Lakers. Harrell is the reigning sixth-man of the year and averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game during the 2019-2020 season.
Lakers really replaced Danny Green, Dwight, & Rondo with Dennis Schroder, Wes Matthews AND Montrezl Harrell https://t.co/H0PeZ2O0UD— LakeShowYo (@LakeShowYo) 1605929348.0
It appears that Anthony Davis will be asked to play more at the center position this upcoming season. Now that Dwight Howard is on his way to Philadelphia and JaVale McGee was traded to Cleveland to make room for the eventual signing of Marc Gasol, Davis will likely be asked to play the 5 more often rotating with Gasol and Harrell.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel proved throughout the 2020 playoffs that he is very adept at finding good lineups with the talent at his disposal and with the league shifting to smaller and quicker lineups, Los Angeles is gearing up for a title defense.
The Clippers will hope to replace Harrell's production with veteran Serge Ibaka who is signing with the Clippers and should provide some nice spacing for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to work in this season.
Serge Ibaka is signing a 2 year $19M deal with the Clippers and will re-unite with his former teammate Kawhi Leonar… https://t.co/s31RE11aMa— NBA Retweet (@NBA Retweet) 1606019596.0
Gordon Hayward in a surprise move is headed to Charlotte to join newly drafted LaMelo Ball. The Hornets are an organization that has struggled with bad contracts weighing down their flexibility to make roster changes. Hayward signed a 4 year deal for $120 million and has struggled to stay healthy since arriving in Boston three years ago.
Goran Dragic signed an extension to remain with the Miami Heat and best friend Jimmy Butler. The Heat and head coach Erik Spoelstra will look to make another run for the Finals, but the Nets, 76'ers and Bucks will be serious contenders to take the Eastern Conference Championship crown from them.
🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨🚨I'm glad that I can announce that I'm staying with my #HeatNationFamily 📝❤️🏀🔥 @MiamiHEAT Let’s finis… https://t.co/CH3EzSimPv— Goran Dragić (@Goran Dragić) 1605913295.0
The Golden State Warriors lost Klay Thompson to yet another season ending injury. Thompson missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals, and will now miss the entire 2020-2021 season after an Achilles' tendon tear suffered during a workout this past week. All is not lost however for the once dominant Warriors.
Steph Curry will be making his return and he will be joined by a couple new faces. The team's top draft pick was James Wiseman out of the University of Memphis. The big man will add a level of scoring versatility that they haven't had during the Steph years and will make defending the perimeter shooting of the Warriors considerably more difficult.
The @warriors will be without Klay Thompson next year but added Kelly Oubre Jr. to help offset the loss What place… https://t.co/DlLgtSRoOY— The Association on FOX (@The Association on FOX) 1605894922.0
Golden State also traded for Kelly Oubre Jr. sending a future first and second round pick in exchange to Oklahoma City. Oubre averaged 18.7 points per game last season in Phoenix and shot over 35% from three. This is obviously an attempt at replacing Thompson's skill set and shows that the organization feels like they can jump right back in and contend in a deep western conference.
NBA Free Agency SZN is Here
The draft saw a few trades that sent some familiar faces to new places and the free agency period is now open.
In less than a week, we've seen the defending champion Lakers acquire dynamic guard Dennis Schröder from OKC. Chris Paul is now in Phoenix with Devin Booker and the Suns. Jrue Holiday and, well, just Jrue Holiday, is joining Giannis in Milwaukee, and that's just a few of the big moves around the NBA so far.
But with all that excitement comes some bad news as well. Warriors star Klay Thompson tore his Achilles and will miss the entire 2020-21 season. This after the sharpshooting guard missed the previous season with a torn ACL. It's a tough blow for the Dubs as they sought to contend for a title this season, but without Thompson, the odds are against them. General manager Bob Myers wasted no time in bolstering the roster, however:
The Golden State Warriors are finalizing a trade to acquire Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kelly Oubre, Jr., for a 2… https://t.co/5VDqSmtyhH— Adrian Wojnarowski (@Adrian Wojnarowski) 1605837968.0
Kelly Oubre, within a matter of days, went from Phoenix, to Oklahoma City before finally landing in the Bay Area. Oubre will be joined by No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman.
Point guard Tyrese Haliburton fell into the Sacramento Kings' lap at No. 12 after the Iowa State product was projected to be a top-8 pick. LaMelo Ball will be playing in Charlotte, meaning we might get to see Lavar and Michael Jordan play 1-on-1 after all.
The Clippers traded Landry Shamet to Brooklyn in a three-team trade that puts shooting guard Luke Kennard in Los Angeles. Denver picked up RJ Hampton who could be the Nuggets' next Michael Porter Jr — a guy who was a former five-star recruit in high school and might be the steal of the draft.
But perhaps the biggest winner in this thrilling and unpredictable NBA week so far are the Philadelphia 76ers. No, they didn't get James Harden. But president of basketball operations Daryl Morey showed his worth Wednesday with these two moves:
Morey cleared Al Horford's atrocious contract while adding a veteran 3-and-D wing in Danny Green, later adding an elite shooter in Seth Curry, a career 44% marksman. Surrounding Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with perimeter threats is a recipe for success in an Eastern Conference that is rapidly improving.
Hell, even the Knicks took a step forward by drafting athletic and electric forward Obi Toppin, a Brooklyn Native. That was followed by shedding some salaries to clear up $40 million in cap space:
The Knicks declined team option on Bobby Portis ($15.7M) and waived Taj Gibson ($10.29M) and Elfrid Payton ($8M), s… https://t.co/zV704ACxkP— Shams Charania (@Shams Charania) 1605809488.0
Cap space means potential free agents, and there's a couple New York should be targeting.
The Knicks have money to spend and there's players looking to get paid. This could end well for both parties involved, and Knicks fans might have something to look forward to after years of being a league laughing stock.
Celtics forward Gordon Hayward opted out of his $34 million player option to become an unrestricted free agent. You might think he's dumb for leaving that money on the table, and he might be, but Hayward is looking for a long-term contract, hence why his time in Boston ended. Hayward would give New York an effective playmaker, efficient scorer and veteran presence. He should be their second free agent aspiration, however.
Raptors guard Fred VanVleet, at just 26 years of age, is an UFA and is looking for a bag, he said so himself (:40 mark):
Episode 25 is live with @fredvanvleet. Really great interview. Here’s Fred on what he’s expecting this off-season.… https://t.co/WldtraKgvK— TheOldMan&TheThree (@TheOldMan&TheThree) 1605119016.0
VanVleet and Hayward could bring the Knicks back to relevancy and maybe, just maybe, to the playoffs.
Other notable free agents who could be on new rosters soon include:
-Serge Ibaka (UFA)
-Rajon Rondo (UFA)
-Dwight Howard (UFA)
-Demarcus Cousins (UFA)
-Danilo Gallinari (UFA)
-Avery Bradley (UFA)
-Brandon Ingram (RFA)
There's many more free agents than those listed above which is why these next couple days are going to be fun.
Wes Matthews and reigning sixth man of the year, Montrezl Harrell, are expected to sign with the Lakers. Bradley opted out of his deal with LAL as he's looking for a longer deal, and he might get it, but it might not be with the Lakers, as the Warriors will try to lure the defensive specialist to NorCal.
New Orleans will presumably offer Ingram the max money he can earn after his first All-Star selection last season. Joe Harris has reportedly gotten his payday from the Nets with a 4 year, $75 million contract.
The Hawks, like the Knicks, have a bunch of money to spend and could throw some to Rondo who's coming off an incredible championship run with the Lakers. The Clippers will also be in the hunt for the veteran point guard, per reports.
Friday's free agency opening could make for some major power shifts and headlines that would cap off one of the most memorable NBA off seasons in undeniably the most memorable year in recent history.
Ben Simmons May Be Houston's Best Trade for Harden
The NBA offseason is off to a sizzling start, and we're only three days into it.
With the shortened offseason the NBA Draft is tonight, and free agency begins Friday. But the biggest move has yet to be made, and it could happen at any moment.
James Harden has openly requested a trade from Houston, and per reports, he wants to play in Brooklyn with his former teammate Kevin Durant and point guard Kyrie Irving. Harden's backcourt partner Russell Westbrook wants out, too.
Sources: After turning down an extension offer to become the first $50M a year player in league history, James Hard… https://t.co/rvlsr2NhTr— Adrian Wojnarowski (@Adrian Wojnarowski) 1605577569.0
Any trade offer coming from the Nets would, at the very least, include Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and a slew of picks. It's not that easy, though.
ESPN is now reporting that Houston is feeling no pressure in moving its superstars, but that doesn't mean they've stopped fielding calls for The Beard.
So, what if I told you the Sixers can offer a better deal for Harden than the Nets?
Former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is running the show in Philly now, and he's looking to reunite with his All-NBA shooting guard. And if you're current Rockets GM Rafael Stone, you want to get the best possible return for your franchise, regardless of where you send Harden. That's also why you don't want to rush this process, because you're in the driver's seat. Not Harden and not any of the teams desperate to acquire the 2017-18 MVP.
Moreover, seeing the return the Thunder got in the Chris Paul trade from the Pelicans in the Jrue Holiday package only increases the absurd return Houston can get for a top-10 player.
What Can Philly trade for The Beard?
The Sixers have two of the top 20 players in the NBA in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is one of the best two-way players in the game, coming off a 2019-20 campaign in which he averaged 23 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks a contest. He's also a two-time All-Defensive selection.
Simmons is fresh off his first All-Defensive team selection and logged 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and eight assists per game. He's only 24 and Embiid is just 26. But only one can remain in a pursuit of Harden, and if I'm Daryl Morey, I volunteer Simmons as tribute.
Pairing an elite scorer like Harden with Embiid AND Simmons would be a dream come true for Philly. But that's the catch — it's just a dream.
If Philadelphia is able to somehow turn it into reality though, the Harden + Embiid combo has the makings of a top-notch duo — one that can compete with KD and Kyrie in Brooklyn, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in Boston, and the new look Bucks in Milwaukee.
For the Rockets, an exchange in which they get Simmons back is a major win that could fast-forward a rebuild, assuming they move Westbrook, too.
In order to make this trade work, however, the Sixers need to dump one of the horrific contracts they have.
Backup center Al Horford is set to make $27 million annually over each of the next three seasons, and forward Tobis Harris will earn $33 million, $36 million, $38 million and $41 million over the next four seasons. YIKES.
There's no way in hell Houston asks for Harris in the deal, but Horford's contract is feasible, and it would give the team a starting center, like, a real one.
Here's my proposal:
The trade machine doesn't allow this deal to be processed because Robert Covington is still on Houston's roster (he's being traded to Portland). But in this move, the Rockets get a two-way All-Star in Simmons, a couple of young guards with plenty of potential, and to seal the deal: draft picks.
Philly has five picks in the 2020 draft alone, followed by a 2021 second-rounder and a 2023 second-rounder which will be the most favorable one of three teams': Atlanta, Charlotte and Brooklyn.
The Nets, in addition to LeVert and Dinwiddie, have two picks in Wednesday's draft and four second-round picks in 2021. So it all comes down to what each team is willing to offer, how desperate they are and most importantly, if the Rockets like the return.
In this case, if the Sixers are comfortable and willing to dispatch from Simmons, their 2016 No. 1 overall pick, Houston should seriously consider pulling the trigger. We'll see if Stone and company are feeling frisky ahead of the draft.