The Daily Sweat: Phoenix heads to Atlanta after trading for Kevin Durant

The Phoenix Suns will be a bit shorthanded on Thursday night.

The Suns visit the Hawks (7:30 p.m. ET) and are 7.5-point underdogs at BetMGM in their first game since trading for Kevin Durant overnight. Durant is heading to the Suns from the Nets in exchange for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder and four first-round picks. The Suns are also getting T.J. Warren in the deal and there’s a 2028 pick swap included.

Crowder hasn’t played all season for the Suns as he’s been wanting a trade. Bridges and Johnson have been key pieces. Bridges has averaged 17 points per game while Johnson is averaging 14 points per game.

Without Johnson and Bridges in the lineup, the Suns could end up starting Torrey Craig and Ish Wainwright or Dario Saric against the Hawks. And the bench will be pretty thin as a result. This may be a good time to bet the Hawks, unless you’re confident in Chris Paul and Devin Booker.

Durant should end up playing for Phoenix sooner rather than later. It’s possible he could return on Feb. 24 for the team’s first game after the All-Star Break. That game, coincidentally, is in Oklahoma City, the place where Durant became an NBA superstar.

Thanks to the break, the Suns have just four games remaining before that game against the Thunder. Phoenix plays Indiana on Friday as part of a road back-to-back before home games against the Kings and Clippers. If Phoenix can get a split of those four games before the break and hang on to the fifth spot in a jumbled West, then it’ll be feeling really good.

Devin Booker, base de los Suns de Phoenix, avanza junto a Cam Thomas, de los Nets de Brooklyn, en el partido del martes 7 de febrero de 2023 (AP Foto/Mary Altaffer)
The Suns' Devin Booker will soon have Kevin Durant as a teammate. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Other NBA action

The first game of Thursday night’s doubleheader features the other team involved in the Durant trade. The Nets host the Bulls in a game that suddenly looks a lot less intriguing than it did at the start of the season. The Bulls could end up making a move or two before Thursday’s trade deadline as well. The Nets are a half-point favorite as Cam Thomas looks to have a fourth consecutive game with 40 or more points.

The Nuggets are 5.5-point favorites at the Orlando Magic while the Bucks are 5.5-point favorites at the Los Angeles Lakers. Thursday night is Milwaukee’s first game of an L.A. back-to-back. The Bucks take on the Clippers on Friday night.

WM Phoenix Open begins

The first big golf tournament of the year gets underway on Thursday. The WM Phoenix Open is the first of back-to-back designated events on the PGA Tour. The purse for the event is $20 million and the field features most of the top golfers on tour as part of a new scheduling agreement to bolster certain tournaments.

Jon Rahm is the favorite to win at +700, while Rory McIlroy is at +800. Scottie Scheffler is at +1200 and Xander Schauffele is at +1400. The list of favorites also includes Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Justin Thomas and Farmers Insurance Open winner Max Homa.

Next week’s Genesis Invitational will also have a similarly stacked field. If you’re a casual golf fan, these tournaments are going to have the best fields you’ll see outside of the four majors.

Purdue favored over Iowa

No. 1 Purdue is among the five ranked men’s basketball teams playing Thursday night. The Boilermakers are 7.5-point home favorites vs. Iowa.

No. 16 Gonzaga is a 14.5-point favorite at home against San Francisco, No. 7 UCLA is a 14.5-point favorite on the road against Oregon State, No. 15 St. Mary’s is an 8.5-point favorite at Loyola Marymount and No. 4 Arizona is an 18.5-point favorite at Cal.

Who cashed tickets on Wednesday?

Vanderbilt had the upset of the night thanks to a buzzer-beating three with a 66-65 win over No. 6 Tennessee, and West Virginia took down No. 11 Iowa State, 76-71, at home. Road favorites No. 2 Houston and No. 3 Alabama easily covered in blowout wins, and No. 14 Baylor won by 10 at home against Oklahoma as a 9.5-point favorite.