Start each morning with The Pulse in your inbox. Sign up here.
Good morning! Be like Jakob Poeltl today.
The baseball expansion takes place. Commissioner Rob Manfred wants it. Cities want teams. It should be a reality soon.
The Athletic’s baseball staff does some fascinating work this week, highlighting potential expansion locations:
- Portland: Plans for a 32,000-seat stadium are already underway, writes Stephen J. Nesbitt. The city is there, as are investors.
- Nashville: Andy McCullough reports that the foundation for an MLB team is already being laid – and they’ve already chosen a name.
Las Vegas, Charlotte and others are also top candidates for new teams. Manfred has said he wants a solution for the Athletics and Rays, both of whom are locked in uncomfortable negotiations over a new stadium before MLB officially expands to 32 teams. But it’s coming, and the A’s and/or Rays might be in a new town too.
Stay tuned for more cities this week.
Assessing the LeBron landscape
LeBron James will be basketball’s top scorer any day. We’ll be following his pace regularly on these digital pages, but make sure to bookmark our running list on the website.
However, James is on the brink several Milestones this year:
- Points: 316 away from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time record. He is scheduled to break the record on February 7th.
- Steals: He’s ninth All time with 2,170. He should overtake Clyde Drexler and move up to 8th place this year.
- Rebounds: #33who is likely to pass David Robinson tonight to claim 32nd place.
- Assists: #6, but was set to overtake Mark Jackson and Steve Nash this year (excuse the pun) for No. 4, just behind his pal Chris Paul. It is realistic that James will end up overtaking current No. 2 Jason Kidd.
Let’s recap: More points than anyone, more steals than Drexler, more rebounds than Robinson, and more assists than Nash. Plus, however, many future seasons. But if James retired tomorrow, he would end up with the best statistical career ever.
We can play Jordan against LeBron anytime. Let’s save it for the off-season. Just appreciate what James is doing now.
In yesterday’s Pulse poll, we had amazing clarity about one aspect of Tom Brady’s future: You really don’t think he’s returning to the Buccaneers. Voting Breakdown:
- 51 percent of you think He goes to the FOX booth
- 46 percent I think he’s playing somewhere else
- Only 3 percent think he’s back with the Bucs
Vic Tafur has a great article on why Las Vegas, a popular theoretical landing spot for Brady, doesn’t actually make much sense. We’re still awaiting an official word from Brady on his future.
The Titans hire a new GM
Ran Carthon is the new general manager in Tennessee, sources have confirmed the athlete. Carthon, the former director of player personnel for the 49ers, inherits an odd situation in which his predecessor Jon Robinson was fired despite overseeing six straight wins before this season’s slight stumble.
Michigan OC on leave
Under the program, offensive coordinator Matt Weiss was placed on leave after university police began investigating alleged computer access crimes at Schembechler Hall, where the football offices are located, in December. Weiss joined Wolverines in 2021 after 12 seasons with the Ravens.
Account holders of Voyager Digital, a cryptocurrency company currently in Chapter 11 proceedings, have sued Mavericks owner Mark Cuban for promoting the company. As part of the lawsuit, former tight end Rob Gronkowski — an official Voyager brand ambassador — has been subpoenaed to testify and may be included as a defendant in the lawsuit. Gronkowski joins former teammate Tom Brady as Super Bowl champions became targets of crypto lawsuits.
Hi my name is
Jakob Poeltl, the key to everything
Did you know the NBA trade deadline is three weeks away? You can pretend you did. The frenzy is upon us, but the main character might be an underrated focal point.
Yesterday Shams Charania released a voluminous notebook of things he hears as the deadline approaches, focusing on Spurs center Jakob Poeltl, the 27-year-old big man who could be the leading domino of trade talks in the league. The essentials:
- Pöltl can best be described as extremely effective. He’s a great rebounder, great offensive player and a great defender. He’s proven himself on some admittedly bad teams.
- Which brings us to the crux of the Pöltl imbalance: Spurs want to keep him long-term, according to Shams, but the center is a free agent after this season and wants to play for a competitor. The Spurs are … not in that position and may not be able to afford the high price Poeltl will ask in the open market. A trade is likely.
The Celtics are interested. Likewise the Raptors that Poeltl designed in 2016 before selling him to San Antonio in the Kawhi Leonard trade. There will also be other applicants.
From there everything could flow. Shams’ full article is well worth reading, with information on other trade articles such as Terry Rozier, Eric Gordon, Pascal Siakam and more. Buckle up.
・Big excitement last night: No. 13 Kansas State upended No. 2 Kansas in overtime.
・Derrick White is the best little shot blocker in the NBA, declares Jay King.
・David Ubben has an awesome new feature that chronicles the backstory of how Deion Sanders ended up in Colorado. Jeremy Bloom and Grits are involved.
・Sabreena Merchant’s WNBA Mock Draft is here. Aliyah Boston is No. 1, but a clear No. 2 is on the horizon.
・Why can’t teams just hire Sean Payton? A practical explanation of his contractual rights.
・Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson remains in Detroit, a huge win for a burgeoning franchise. Johnson received interest in head coaching jobs this offseason.
・Corey Pronman ranks his top 154 NHL prospects under 23. Always an insightful read.
・John Hollinger predicts that the Nuggets, Grizzlies or Pelicans will reach the NBA Finals as Western Conference champions.
(Photo: Brad Penner / USA Today)