The Kevin Durant and Juan Soto trade markets are not that different

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Let’s get right to it.


Good morning to everyone but especially to…

THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS…

The MLB trade deadline is one week away, and there’s one name everyone’s watching: Juan Soto. There’s also one team reportedly viewed as the potential favorite to get him: the St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis has emerged to the front of the pack thanks to a deep farm system and a plethora of young, talented players who have already reached the bigs. Here’s a list of the names floating around:

And let’s not forget the Cardinals have traded for some superstars recently: Nolan Arenado two offseasons ago and Paul Goldschmidt in 2018. For all those reasons and more, St. Louis has climbed to No. 1 in our baseball expert R.J. Anderson’s potential landing spots for Soto:

  • Anderson: “There’s no perfect parallel for the Soto situation, but the Cardinals have waded into the deep waters in the past… The Cardinals can offer the Nationals a compelling combination of top-end prospects and established MLB players, and they should have the means of absorbing a bad contract [Nationals SP Patrick Corbin] if that’s what it takes to get a deal done.”

… AND ALSO A GOOD MORNING TO THE KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Kentucky‘s season may not have ended how it wanted to — a shocking loss to St. Peter’s in its NCAA Tournament opener — but the Wildcats’ offseason keeps getting better. Small forward Justin Edwards, the No. 2 overall recruit in the 2023 class, committed to Kentucky over Tennessee last night, making an already-great group even better.

  • Kentucky now has the second-ranked 2023 recruiting class, only behind Duke. Edwards will join point guard Robert Dillingham (No. 12 in the class) and Reed Sheppard (No. 26 in the class) in Lexington.
  • It’s a big bounce back for John Calipari and company, who finished outside the top 10 in the 2022 class rankings.
  • Edwards averaged 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and led his high school, Imhotep, to city and state titles as a junior; 247Sports recruiting expert Travis Branham calls him “arguably the most well-rounded prospect in the class.”

Be sure to check out Gary Parrish’s column on how Kentucky and Duke continue to thrive in the NIL era as well.

Honorable mentions

And not such a good morning for…

JAYLEN BROWN

To be fair, Jaylen Brown‘s morning today probably isn’t going as poorly as it did yesterday. That still doesn’t mean he’s having a good one. Early yesterday morning, reports came out revealing Brown is at the center of a proposed trade package that would send Kevin Durant to the Celtics.

Brown had a simple reaction to the reports: “Smh” (which, for all you non-abbreviators means “shaking my head”). Let’s break this down:

  • The Celtics offered Brown, Derrick White and a draft pick to Brooklyn.
  • The Nets countered by asking for Brown, Marcus Smart, multiple draft picks and potentially another rotation player.
  • Boston has been hesitant to include Smart and multiple picks, but including Brown shows the Celtics are legitimate contenders in the Durant race.

It’s easy to see why Brown is frustrated. He has an All-Star appearance to his name, was the second-leading scorer on a team that came up two games short of an NBA championship and even led said team in scoring in the Finals. He’s 25 — nearly a decade younger than Durant — and is a terrific defender, strong offensive player and a homegrown star for Boston, where he’s under a team-friendly contract for two more years.

Boston has made its intentions clear — even if Brown doesn’t like them — and while Durant is the ultimate prize, those intentions come with plenty of potential downside, notes NBA expert Brad Botkin.

  • Botkin: “Trading a 25-year-old All-Star who has All-NBA potential over the next half decade, plus a Defensive Player of the Year, plus future draft equity, is the definition of pushing all your chips into the middle. That’s always going to give you pause. We’ll see if the Celtics are willing to come up to Brooklyn’s terms. But the train has at least started moving in that direction. Including Brown in an offer was a big hurdle to clear for the Celtics. If it were to happen, there will presumably be plenty of Boston fans — Durant’s greatness notwithstanding — uncertain, if not unhappy, about the deal.”

Not so honorable mentions

Michigan tops CBS Sports’ Best in College Sports rankings 🥇


Graphic by Mike Meredith

The eighth edition of our “Best in College Sports” rankings is here. Using a points system that emphasizes football and basketball while also taking into account other “wild card” sports, the Michigan Wolverines ran away with this year’s title. Here’s the top five:

  • 1. Michigan Wolverines: 588.50 points
  • 2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish: 512.50 points
  • 3. Ohio State Buckeyes: 506.75 points
  • 4. North Carolina Tar Heels: 470.50 points
  • 5. Arkansas Razorbacks: 440.50 points

As you can see, this wasn’t even remotely close: Michigan’s margin of victory over Notre Dame was even larger than the difference between Notre Dame and No. 5 Arkansas. And it’s not hard to see why the Wolverines dominated across the board:

  • Football: won Big Ten, made College Football Playoff
  • Men’s Basketball: made Sweet 16
  • Women’s Basketball: made Elite Eight
  • Wrestling: NCAA runner-up
  • Men’s gymnastics: NCAA third place

While the formula only counts two wild card sports, the Wolverines had plenty of success elsewhere, with a Frozen Four appearance for men’s ice hockey, a seventh-place finish for women’s gymnastics, an NCAA Tournament appearance for women’s lacrosse and Regional appearances for baseball and softball.

Michigan becomes the only school to win this award twice, with its other title coming in 2018-19. Georgia, which won last year, finished ninth. You can see a full explanation, how all 130 teams stacked up and a history of the award here.

Who needs what? MLB trade deadline previews for contenders ⚾


USATSI

There are other big names outside Soto who could be dealt at the trade deadline — hard to believe, I know! — and our MLB team of experts has been putting together excellent trade deadline previews for several playoff contenders.

We already talked about the Red Sox in yesterday’s newsletter, so let’s move on to their biggest rival: The Yankees lead the AL but could certainly use some arms, notes MLB guru Mike Axisa.

Among the names to watch here are Reds All-Star Luis Castillo and Athletics standout Frankie Montas. We also have trade deadline previews for the…

We’ll also have the Cardinals today and the Dodgers and Giants tomorrow.

What we’re watching Tuesday 📺

Yankees at Mets, 7:10 p.m. on TBS

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