James Harden’s overnight trade, plus a brewing World Series legend

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Good morning. Boo!

While You Were Sleeping: The Harden saga is finally over

Two late games last night, plus a late (early?) NBA blockbuster. Let’s catch up quickly: 

  • Well after 2 a.m. ET, news broke that the Sixers are trading James Harden and P.J. Tucker to the Clippers for a package of players and picks. For now, I think the Clippers slightly win this trade (Terance Mann is still a Clipper), but get Zach Harper’s thorough analysis in the Bounce later this morning for more. (Teaser: Zach doesn’t love this deal for anybody.)
  • Corey Seager and the Rangers snagged a gutsy 3-1 win in Arizona last night to take a 2-1 lead in the World Series. I have no feel for this matchup at all through three games. Both teams play like they’re charmed, but on alternating nights. I guess that means Texas wins? Either way, Playoff Seager already has two huge World Series home runs — plus a game-saving defensive effort last night — and the Rangers are probably down 3-0 without him. (Game 4 tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. Scary.)
  • In the NFL, the 6-2 Detroit Lions demolished the 3-5 Las Vegas Raiders, 26-14. Our worries about Detroit are gone, while the Raiders look more like a disaster than ever. Davante Adams, who forced his way to Las Vegas two years ago, looks like he’d rather be anywhere else, and it’s hard to blame him. This game was not as close as the score indicates.

Relevant addition: The Lions are up to No. 5 in our new NFL Power Rankings. Now I really want a playoff game at Ford Field.

Rants: Dabo Swinney torches a fan

Things are bad at Clemson this year. Have you noticed? The Tigers — once regular Playoff participants — are just 4-4 this season with a highly treacherous schedule the rest of the way. It’s entirely plausible Dabo Swinney’s former juggernaut misses a bowl game. 

Clemson fans have noticed: 

  • A fan only known as “Tyler from Spartanburg” called into Swinney’s weekly radio show last night, delivering a salvo most message-board warriors dream about. He emphasized Swinney’s annual salary of nearly $11 million and wondered why the university paid him so much to be .500. Tyler also accused Swinney of “hiring his friends.” Yikes, yikes, yikes.
  • Swinney, a passionate man for better or worse, decided against taking the high road. Instead he hammered back with a five-minute rant blasting fans like Tyler, calling him a “smart-ass” and saying fans like him are “part of the problem.” He then reminded Tyler that Clemson hadn’t “sniffed a national championship for 35 years” before Swinney got there. 

Cringe or not, Swinney made some points. But while we can all laugh at the audio for a few days, this is … not a great sign for Clemson. 

Grace Raynor knows the program better than anyone and broke down the entire rant — and Clemson’s current situation — here. Now: Will Swinney apologize for the outburst today? And does this help or hurt before Clemson plays No. 12 Notre Dame this weekend?

News to Know

The Drive for 325’s demise
Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz is out after this season, interim athletic director Beth Goetz announced yesterday, ending what has been a painful time in the school’s football history. Ferentz, son of head coach Kirk Ferentz, began the year with a bizarre clause in his contract, mandating the Hawkeyes average 25 points per game this season to keep his job. It led to jeers from the outside and consternation within the fan base. The Athletic’s Scott Dochterman, as plugged-in as anyone at Iowa, has a great column on this strange moment

The call comes with Iowa averaging 19.5 points per game. It was going to be a tough road to 25.

Flagg picks Duke
Cooper Flagg, the No. 1 prospect in the 2024 basketball class, committed to Duke yesterday, as announced on the cover of SLAM Magazine. It’s a shot of optimism for Blue Devils coach Jon Scheyer, who is attempting the impossible task of following the best coach in program history. He has momentum: a 27-9 first season, and now Flagg is the centerpiece of a Duke class that could attract more top-line stars, too.

More news

Debates: The NBA’s rest policy is already an issue

The NBA season is barely a week old, and we already have strife on the load management policy, which was controversial from the minute it came into existence. A quick refresh: 

  • Over the past decade, NBA teams have made it a practice to rest their stars to prevent injury amid the strenuous wear-and-tear of an 82-game season. Bad for fans, but it makes sense, right?
  • The league got sick of superstars missing big games, which also makes sense. If a fan buys a ticket to see, ahem, Kawhi Leonard play — and if that game is on national TV — the league wants him playing. Same goes for every other star. Thus, we get the new Player Participation Policy. Notably, most major awards now mandate a player must play 65 games to qualify. 

And yet plenty of stars have already missed games this season, in seeming open defiance of the rule. Jimmy Butler, Donovan Mitchell, Khris Middleton and Devin Booker have already missed games due to rest. (Harden, too, though that goes a few levels deeper. Still, he technically qualified under the policy and theoretically should’ve been playing before the trade.)

The league, for now, has done nothing about it. 

Maybe the most interesting part of all this: The NBA says it has data showing load management doesn’t actually prevent injuries. Coaches are skeptical, and it clearly isn’t influencing many decisions yet. 

And then there is the case of De’Aaron Fox, who injured his ankle Sunday. Sam Amick astutely wonders if the tenor around the league’s new policy pushed Fox to play through an injury and ultimately make it worse. 

It will be morbidly fascinating to watch how this progresses.

Pulse Picks

LSU’s Angel Reese is unstoppable. She got her ring last season and became an icon in the process. She wants more, though, as Chantel Jennings writes, and makes no apologies for it

Loved this story: Where is Miami’s Turnover Chain? Mario Cristobal doesn’t want to know — and he wants it to stay hidden

The World Series is on, but the other 28 teams are already fretting over offseason moves. Maybe No. 1 among them: The Cubs, and what they intend to do with Cody Bellinger. Sahadev Sharma breaks down the looming negotiation

We have updated F1 driver rankings after Mexico. Hello, Daniel Ricciardo

There’s a new MLS title favorite: FC Cincinnati. Tom Bogert breaks down how the club engineered a massive turnaround.

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(Photo: Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images)

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