Take 5: Brown, Boban, Bryce


Aaron Lavinsky/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns (32) pressures a 3-point attempt by the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis (23) in the first half on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, at Target Center in Minneapolis.

By The Pitt News Staff

It’s that time of the sports season, when big names in every major sport are looking to head for greener pastures. Steelers wideout Antonio Brown formally announced he wants out of Pittsburgh, several trades shook up the NBA landscape and MLB superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are playing hard to get in the offseason.

No more Brown in town

The odd saga of Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown saw a new development this past Tuesday with the estranged wideout tweeting a farewell to Steeler nation, seemingly severing his ties to the organization once and for all.

So that’s it — Brown is done as a Steeler and will take his talents elsewhere for the upcoming season.

But it’s not that simple. Brown doesn’t quite seem to understand how the business side of the game works, and despite his proclamation to “move on and forward,” he has almost zero leverage in this situation.

Brown is under contract with Pittsburgh through 2021, meaning the ball is in the Steelers’ court to move him where management sees fit — if they move him at all. Brown still hasn’t communicated with the team since the last week of the regular season, and his agent Drew Rosenhaus is the lone mediator between the two sides. Players from teams all around the NFL have expressed a desire to play with Brown, but his trade value has naturally taken a hit due to accumulating legal issues, including a domestic violence report from his ex-wife and a fine for skipping a court date after receiving a speeding ticket. If the Steelers don’t receive an offer they like, they may be inclined to hold onto Brown in what could turn into an awkward stalemate.

— Trent Leonard, Sports Editor

Shakeup in La La Land

As it goes every year in the NBA, the days leading up to trade deadline are hectic for executives seeking to make last-minute deals. While many deadline moves made waves throughout the NBA, this year’s trade deadline was dominated by both Los Angeles franchises — the Lakers and Clippers — taking divergent paths.

The biggest storyline of the trade deadline wasn’t a trade at all — it was the courting of New Orleans Pelicans star big man Anthony Davis to join the Lakers. Both Davis and Laker forward Lebron James have the same agent in Rich Paul and have shown great interest in playing with one another through not-so-subtle media comments. But despite numerous attempts to trade almost their entire team, they were unable to acquire him. Not trading for Anthony Davis is a double blow to the Lakers — not only did they not acquire a superstar in Davis, but they now have a locker room full of players who know they are expendable to management.

While the Lakers had a rather forgettable trade deadline, the other team that shares the Staples Center with them could look back on this deadline as a great success. The Clippers made a solid move in trading for Lakers center Ivica Zubac, a promising third-year center from Croatia who showed the quality to be a starter in limited minutes as a Laker. The Clippers also took place in a blockbuster deal by shipping their best player Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for two first- and two second-round picks. Even though Harris has been outstanding, this trade is a win for the Clippers because they acquired a huge haul of draft picks and cleared enough cap space to pursue two max contract players in this summer’s loaded free agent class.

— Peter Bosco, For The Pitt News

Flac of talent

The Baltimore Ravens traded former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco to the Denver Broncos Wednesday afternoon. On the one hand, this move answers many questions that were looming for both teams. But at the same time, it’s a bit of a head-scratching deal that creates a great deal of confusion.

The Ravens have solidified their franchise situation that most NFL analysts and fans predicted. They will move forward with their second-year quarterback out of Louisville, Lamar Jackson. Jackson took over for the injured Flacco toward the end of the season, and Baltimore stuck with Jackson through the playoffs. This is when we knew that Flacco’s time was up in Baltimore, and it was for the better — the team became anemic during his last four years at the helm.

This trade also shuts down rumors of the Denver Broncos selecting a quarterback in the upcoming draft. With the No. 10 overall pick in the draft, the Broncos were in prime position to trade up and select top quarterback prospect Dwayne Haskins, or another well-esteemed option like Daniel Jones or Drew Lock.

The confusing part of this entire transaction is the fact that this is now the same Flacco that led his team to a Super Bowl victory. You could argue that Flacco is not much better — if better at all — than current Broncos quarterback Case Keenum. Drafting a quarterback and rebuilding would have been more beneficial in the long run for Denver’s organization. Flacco will lead this Broncos team to a 7-9 record and keep the team in “no man’s land.”

— Tyler Moran, Staff Writer

City of Bobanly love

With the Philadelphia 76ers latest trade, the team dealt away Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala along with two first-round picks and two second-round picks. In return, they received near All-Star Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott. This trade will put the Sixers over the top in the East and into contention for the Conference Finals come May.

With a core of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid, the Sixers starting five is now inarguably the best in the East and, after the Warriors, the second best in the entire league.

Not only is Tobias Harris an All-Star-caliber player with amazing talent, but he’s also exactly what the Sixers needed — a starting power forward who can shoot. They survived with Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala, who did a respectable job, but Harris is shooting 42 percent from 3-point range so far this year. He should receive plenty of open looks with pass-first point forward Ben Simmons handling the ball.

Philly’s bench is now a bit weaker — but it was weak to start with, and they have some interesting pieces coming in who can contribute. Namely, the 7-foot-3-inch, hyper-efficient big man Boban Marjanovic. It’s tough giving up the highly coveted 2021 Miami Heat unprotected first-rounder, but it will be worth it in the long run as long as Butler and Harris re-sign.

This trade was a huge win for the 76ers. They sacrificed some of their long-term assets, but it shows that they’re all in right now, as they should be. This isn’t to say that the Sixers are a lock to sweep everyone in the East and make the finals, but surely no team wants to see the Red and Blue in the playoffs.

— Jack Clay, Staff Writer

The price is not right

With Spring Training once again underway, baseball fans have their eyes glued to Twitter looking to see where two of the most polarizing players in the game, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will sign. It seems that neither player wants to sign first, looking to use the other’s deal as a negotiating point with whichever club is willing to empty their wallets enough to sign them.

For quite some time now, it has appeared that the Philadelphia Phillies are the frontrunners for Harper. But Harper’s unwillingness to sign indicates that there is another team making a play for the star — or that he’s waiting for Philadelphia to sweeten the pot.

Machado is more difficult to figure out. He’s shown no clear signs of a preferred landing destination, despite offers and interest coming from many directions. With a strong offer reportedly on the table from the Chicago White Sox and interest from clubs like the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres, it appears the Machado sweepstakes are still very much up in the air.

With two of the biggest names in baseball not in attendance at Spring Training, the sport needs to reverse this free agency trend of players simply signing when they feel like arriving for offseason activities. But with such an immense pool of talent still on the tables, clubs are sure not to pull their offers any time soon.

— Andrew Kelly, Staff Writer