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Winners Club: Here’s What Happened on the First Day of NBA Free Agency

Plus, KD asks out of Brooklyn, USC and UCLA are headed to the Big Ten, how NFL coaching changes will impact fantasy football and a USFL championship game preview.

Kevin Durant is not a free agent, but his trade request was by far the biggest news to come out of the first day of free agency.

By and large, the mega stars inked extensions to stay put and some key role players switched teams. News of signings began to trickle in after 6 p.m. ET, but it was Durant who dominated the day as the Nets continue to crumble before our eyes.

Oh, yeah, and UCLA and USC are headed to the Big Ten? That happened too.

Keep reading Winners Club for the free agency breakdown, an explanation of the coast-to-coast Big Ten expansion (which will now have 16 schools) and a fantasy football fix.

Durant Requests Trade While Other Top Stars Re-Sign

So, about KD…

It was reported Thursday afternoon that the 12-time All-Star requested a trade from the Nets directly to owner Joe Tsai. Durant, 33, signed with Brooklyn in 2019 and has four years remaining on the contract extension he signed last summer.

This request comes just days after Durant’s teammate Kyrie Irving opted into the final year of his contract with the Nets.

Durant apparently has two preferred trade destinations: Phoenix and Miami. The two No. 1 seeds from the East and West aren’t the only suitors of the former MVP; half the league has already reportedly been in touch with Brooklyn. Better yet, Irving and Durant want to continue playing together, just not for the Nets.

The Nets had some of the best 2023 championship odds at many sportsbooks as early as Thursday morning. That’s changed dramatically within 24 hours—they’ve fallen out of the top 10 at some sites.

With all that in mind, Rohan Nadkarni and Michael Pina assembled some sizable trade packages that Brooklyn could expect to see in exchange for Durant (or Durant and Irving). And the Crossover staff tried to make sense of the Nets’ debacle, figure out where it went wrong and how—or if—it can be fixed.

Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) talks to forward Kevin Durant (7) during a game against the Celtics.

Okay, now let’s get to the actual free agents!

Among the notable players who re-signed with their current teams: back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic signed the largest contract in NBA history to remain with the Nuggets, Devin Booker inked the super max with the Suns, Bradley Beal signed the super max to stick with the Wizards, Ja Morant agreed to the rookie max extension with the Grizzlies and Karl-Anthony Towns signed the super max with the Timberwolves.

As for those changing teams, the biggest name so far is Jalen Brunson. The former Mavericks guard signed with the Knicks after a breakout postseason. Pina graded New York’s big-money acquisition here and cautioned that it’s not necessarily cause for celebration in The Big Apple.


Beyond Brunson, P.J. Tucker is headed to the 76ers while James Harden is still working with the team on a new deal.

Impact players have been on the move this week via trade as well—the Spurs sent Dejounte Murray to the Hawks in exchange for a haul of picks and Danilo Gallinari and the Nuggets sent Monte Morris and Will Barton to the Wizards for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith.

Yeah, it’s a lot to keep up with. Plenty of players are on the move, betting odds are shifting as a result and this is just the beginning! Keep up to date on all the deals with SI’s NBA Free Agency Blog.

What Coaching Changes Mean for Fantasy Football

For as much player turnover as there’s been in the NFL this offseason, the coaching changes around the league cannot be ignored. New head coaches and offensive coordinators will be directing the offenses that will dictate the success of your fantasy football players.

Which changes should we be excited about? And which should worry us?

Michael Fabiano answered just that by singling out 10 coaching changes that will impact fantasy football in 2022.

Former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll left Buffalo to take the Giants job. How will his departure affect Josh Allen and his high-powered offense and can his presence boost Daniel Jones’ value? How about Josh McDaniels taking over in Las Vegas? Or Mike McDaniel in Miami?

Fabiano explained how play calls and usage may change under these new regimes in a must-read for fantasy fanatics.


The coaching changes matter, of course. But the aforementioned player turnover created plenty of holes in offenses around the league.

Perhaps none are bigger than the void Davante Adams left in the Green Bay offense.

In the latest edition of The Replacements, I analyzed how Aaron Rodgers and the Packers might move on in a post-Adams offense. Rookie Christian Watson and veteran Sammy Watkins are new arrivals to the receiver room, but will Allen Lazard be the top option?

And Shawn Childs just wrapped up a most intriguing division fantasy preview. There’s enticing storylines for each team in the NFC South with Tampa Bay adding a new receiver while Chris Godwin recovers from his torn ACL, New Orleans acquiring a few pass catchers for Jameis WinstonChristian McCaffrey returning to the fold in Carolina and Atlanta’s rebuild being in full swing with its 2022 draft choice at the center of it.

NFC South: Falcons | Panthers | Saints | Buccaneers

The Big Ten Goes Hollywood

News of USC and UCLA spurning the Pac-12 for the Big Ten was overshadowed by Durant’s trade request. But the latest realignment news to shake college football to its core certainly matters for the future of the sport.

The Big Ten reached an unanimous decision Thursday night to admit the pair of Los Angeles-based schools to its conference, likely starting in 2024. And other Pac-12 schools are reportedly already looking to follow in their footsteps across the country.

USC and UCLA at the line of scrimmage in a football game

This major conference realignment news comes about a year after Texas and Oklahoma made the decision to leave the Big 12 for the SEC.

If you’re curious why these schools in particular made the move, what this means for non-football sports and how Notre Dame fits into all of this, Pat Forde, Richard Johnson and Kevin Sweeney broke it all down.

In Other News

USFL Championship Betting Preview: It’s the Stallions against the Stars this weekend in Canton, Ohio, for the title. Birmingham won the first meeting earlier this year and is a 4.5-point favorite Sunday. See what bet you should back before the game kicks off.

SEC College Football Futures Breakdown: The Crimson Tide are minus-money favorites to win the conference and also national title favorites with Heisman-winning quarterback Bryce Young back behind center. See which SEC team has the best shot at unseating Nick Saban and Alabama.

Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: The Brewers’ Josh Hader leads MLB with 24 saves and Devin Williams has held up well behind him. Check the depth chart of each team’s bullpen amid plenty of turnover at the closer spot.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the holiday weekend! On that note, I won’t be coming to you Monday morning with a new edition of Winners Club, but I’ll be back in your inbox a week from now. Take care.