By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and a blockbuster trade in Major League Baseball found the New York Mets making a significant move to acquire superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor and star right-hander Carlos Carrasco. Lindor is coming off a disappointing 2020 season, but he remains one of the game’s elite players. Carrasco is coming off an incredible season following a 2019 leukemia diagnosis, compiling a 2.91 ERA with 82 strikeouts across 68 innings. Lindor is a massive addition to the New York lineup, and Carrasco joins Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman in one of baseball’s best starting rotations.
In the NBA, headlines from Wednesday night’s action centered around the devastating injury suffered by Magic guard Markelle Fultz. Already without Jonathan Isaac, the Magic lost Fultz to a season-ending knee injury. Amid a continuation of the breakout that began in the bubble, Fultz has played a significant part in Orlando’s early-season success. The Magic will likely turn to rookie Cole Anthony as its starter at the point in Fultz’s absence, a development that is unlikely to help Anthony overcome the shooting woes that have plagued the start of his NBA career.
Elsewhere, Bradley Beal had himself a night, albeit during another loss for the Washington Wizards. Beal scored a whopping 60 points in a defeat against the 76ers, which dropped Washington to 2-6 on the season. Beal continues to be wasted in the nation’s capital, and teams have to be anxiously awaiting the Wizards making the superstar available via trade. There’s unlikely to be a better player made available for trade this season, setting Washington up for a potentially massive, franchise-altering return.
Gordon Hayward joined Beal in showing out on Wednesday night. The Hornets wing scored a career-high 44 points, proving he remains an effective go-to scoring option. As a focal point for Charlotte’s offense, Hayward looks every bit the All-Star caliber player he was during his Jazz days. Alongside rookie LaMelo Ball, a highlight waiting to happen, the Hornets are becoming a sneaky fun watch on League Pass.
Detroit swooped in and snagged Jerami Grant during free agency, paying the role player a star’s salary. So far, Grant has delivered for the Pistons. Grant scored 31 points on Wednesday night, and he’s averaging 24 points-per on the season, literally doubling his production from a season ago in Denver. There’s a reason the championship-ready Nuggets were desperate to re-sign Grant. There’s also a reason Detroit was willing to outspend the cap-strapped franchise. Grant is playing like a potential first-time All-Star.
Saturday’s NFL action consists of three games, including a nightcap that stands as Tom Brady’s first ever road trip on Wild Card weekend. Brady will lead the Buccaneers against the NFC East champion (and underdog) Washington Football Team. To open the day’s action, Indianapolis will travel to face the surging Buffalo Bills, while a rematch of a rematch finds the Los Angeles Rams heading to Seattle to face Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.
On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens will look for revenge for last year’s playoff loss against the AFC South-champion Tennessee Titans. Chicago, who backed into the playoffs at 8-8, will face the New Orleans Saints. Rounding out the weekend’s action, in another rematch of a rematch—including a meeting in Week 17—the COVID-riddled Cleveland Browns will face the rested Pittsburgh Steelers. Thanks to the expanded playoff structure, there’s a pair of triple-headers heading the way of football fans this weekend, with the NCAA National Championship between Ohio State and Alabama capping things off on Monday night. It’s going to be a fun few days.