The Pulse: NBA trade mayhem, the Chiefs’ real weapon and A-Rod poll results

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Goodmorning! There’s a consensus on Aaron Rodgers.

Trade Mayhem

Suns land Durant in stunner

Late last night, the Brooklyn Nets agreed to trade superstar Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns in a shocking trade that shakes the power balance in both conferences. The details:

  • Phoenix sends four first-round picks, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Cam Johnson and additional draft compensation to Brooklyn for Durant and TJ Warren. The Suns are all-in under new owner Mat Ishbia, who assumed power of the franchise just this week and immediately OK’d a complete overhaul of the roster. Bold.
  • The Nets went from title contender to rebuilder in a week’s time. Durant is gone, so is Kyrie Irving and now Brooklyn has a boatload of draft picks to retool. It makes plenty of sense, but it’s still mind-blowing all the same.

The Suns are immediately in title-or-bust mode with Durant, Chris Paul and Devin Booker. The only worry: health for all three. Zach Harper gives the Suns an A- and the Nets a B-.

Also: The Lakers, Jazz and Timberwolves agreed to a massive trade yesterday that should boost LA’s playoff hopes. Scoop:

These trades are complex and we often can’t evaluate them for years. Some immediate impacts here:

  • The Lakers got the shooting help they needed in Russell, who is hitting 39% of his threes this year. His defense of him is suspect, which will be a focus down the stretch. Zach gives the Lakers a B for this deal, and argues that adding Beasley and Vanderbilt to the rotation might be the best aspect of the trade anyway.
  • Utah adds more draft capital and will likely buy out Westbrook, who could land with the Clippers or the Bulls once the dust settles. Meanwhile, Danny Ainge has enough draft picks to start an expansion team.

The trade deadline is today at 3 pm ET. Keep up with every deal today on our live blog, and make sure to sign up for The Bounce to get all the essential NBA news and analysis in your inbox daily.


The Chiefs’ not-so-secret weapon

A gigantic question loomed over Kansas City entering 2022: How would the Chiefs replace Tyreek Hill, one of the league’s most terrifying weapons? Turns out, it wasn’t that hard. It just didn’t happen the way we all expected.

Nate Taylor has a great story today about how the Chiefs’ new additions helped facilitate an on-the-fly rebuild that has them back in the Super Bowl without a dip. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a massive reason for it — and he could be primed for a big game Sunday.

Let’s look at the arc:

One day after the Chiefs traded Hill to Miami, they signed Valdes-Scantling to a three-year, $30 million deal. Valdes-Scantling is lightning fast — maybe not Hill fast, but still — and figured to be a worthy stand-in for the departed superstar.

Valdes-Scantling did not have a year that will leap off a stats page. His impact was more tangential: All those times we saw Travis Kelce catch a ball in open space, plenty were because of Valdes-Scantling drawing attention downfield. Take a corner and a safety away, and Kelce will feast.

Valdes-Scantling kept running his routes and learning Andy Reid’s scheme. It paid off in huge moments: a massive 29-yard leaping reception early in the AFC title game, then the 19-yard touchdown catch that kept the Chiefs afloat. He finished the game with six catches for 116 yards.

Valdes-Scantling isn’t the only new Chief making a big impact. The full story on Kansas City’s masterful retooling is worth your time today.


Wait, more trades
The mega-deals weren’t the only swaps of the night: Among other trades, Portland traded Josh Hart to the Knicks for Cam Reddish, Svi Mykhailiuk, Ryan Arcidiacono and a protected 2023 first-round pick. New York officially ends the Reddish experiment and gets a savvy, useful guard in Hart as a return. The deal also reunites Hart and Jalen Brunson, who won a national title together at Villanova in 2016.

Purdy opts for surgery
49ers quarterback Brock Purdy will have surgery Feb. 22 on his torn MCL and should be healthy in time for training camp, a team source told The Athletic. Purdy’s health plays a crucial role in the franchise’s plans for quarterback next year, a decision that will be among the most important of the NFL offseason.

30 years!
Marquette beat No. 4 UConn last night, giving the Huskies’ women’s basketball team its second straight loss, the first time that’s happened since 1993. This was a surprise; UConn’s previous loss came to undefeated No. 1 South Carolina over the weekend. Marquette had never beaten UConn before last night.

Feedback Loops

You guys feel really strongly about A-Rod

We saw record engagement on yesterday’s Pulse Poll about Aaron Rodgers and his latest antics. The results:

  • 92.1 percent of you think he’s attention-starved. That’s a near consensus.
  • 7.9 percent of you think I’m a hater. I can live with that.

Can we sim to Rodgers’ decision now? The people have spoken.

Thanks again for voting. I guess if he retires I still have to do that darkness retreat. Gulp.

Pulse Picks

A fascinating follow-up to LeBron James’ scoring record: Other scoring stat leaders across sports and how likely each record is to be broken.

Chris Vannini has a great column on why Iowa’s strange contract clause for offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz is smart — and therefore embarrassing.

The WNBA is investigating the defending champion Aces after Dearica Hamby alleged discrimination over her pregnancy.

The transfer portal has had an intriguing domino effect: Junior college, once a prospect hotbed for Division I programs, has seen its recruiting tank.

Jesse Marsch to USMNT? Not so fast, writes Sam Stejskal.

Don’t let the Super Bowl distract you from the draft. Nick Baumgardner has 22 potential sleeper picks.

Hair dryers, tuning forks and TSA scrutiny. It’s a part of daily life for MLB scouts, writes Zach Buchanan.

The NHL99 run finished yesterday with a fantastic homage to — you guessed it — Wayne Gretzky at No. 1. Also, see how each writer ranked all 100 honorees.

(Photo: Brad Penner/USA Today)


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