Welcome to a super-sized edition of Buy or Sell. This week, editor-in-chief and site’s founder, Joel Deering, joins myself and RahimAli while Mickayeen prepares for the arrival of a baby. Congratulations to him and his family!
In this article, Joel, RahimAli and I will be checking in on one of MLB’s marquee free agents; two Western Conference NBA teams heading in opposite directions; an AFC South team potentially on the edge of breaking through; a recently-humbled college basketball power; and a once proud, now struggling college football program in uncharted waters.
Cullen: Manny Machado Will Get the Biggest Free Agent Contract This Offseason.
RahimAli: I will sell on Machado’s contract. If he really wants to be in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future, he won’t be able to take a huge payday. Like we spoke about in the previous Buy or Sell with the Dodgers, Machado could be a pivotal piece to the team’s future if they want to go back to the World Series and have a chance at getting the first title in 30 years.
That being said, I think Bryce Harper will be the highest paid this offseason. Plus, having an outfielder with Harper’s talents is something a lot of teams will be interested in. He’ll even bring the ticket sales up for the team who does sign him. Not sure if the Washington Nationals want to retain him, but if not there are a lot of big name teams more than willing to offer Harper and Machado.
I believe Machado’s deal will also be shorter, especially if he plans to stay with the Dodgers. Let’s say a two year deal that will make him and SP Clayton Kershaw free agents at the same time. The Dodgers could then swift into a different era.
For the Nationals, it’s always been about trying to make it to the World Series. Each year, no matter the talent, they seem to not make it to the postseason or have an early exit. With the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies young and ready to take over, it may be best for them to let Harper go. That way they can focus on other pieces around their rotation.
Joel: I’m going to sell on Machado getting the biggest free agent contract this offseason. One reason is because of what RahimAli had to say about him staying in L.A. for the future. He just won’t be able to get the huge contract another player might get if he wants to stay there.
The other reason I don’t think Machado will get the biggest contract this offseason is because of Bryce Harper. I feel like Bryce Harper is going to be more of a hot commodity this offseason. As is usually the case when teams are battling to land a star, someone will be willing to pay him A LOT of money to join their team.
With that being said, if a team like the Dodgers chooses to go after Harper, he may take less. If they went after Harper, would they still be able to give Machado a contract he’d be willing to take? If not, Machado could be on his way out of L.A. to another team who’d be willing to pay him a lot of money.
That could potentially have an impact on who gets more. Do I think Dodgers will land Harper? No, but there’s always a possibility of it happening. They like to make big moves, so I’m not ruling it out in any way.
RahimAli: The Lakers Will Finish with 50 Wins and a Playoff Spot.
Cullen: Sell on the Lakers winning 50 games, but I’ll buy them grabbing the 7th or 8th seed in the West. The team doesn’t have enough shooting to get to 50 wins. I’m expecting more of a gradual rise for the the Lakers during LeBron’s time there. This year will be rough, followed by a rise next season. Then the Lakers will make some serious noise starting in 2020-21.
But for 2018-19, I don’t see it happening. The West is still stacked. Despite teams like Thunder and Rockets starting slowly, they’ll pick it back up. The Thunder already have. For the Lakers, I could even see them trading some veterans at the deadline for help with the future. There may also be a coaching change in line this season. Luke Walton, I’m certain, will not be the head coach for this team in 20-21. For now, they’ll compete, get above .500, barely make the playoffs, but they won’t get to 50 wins.
Joel: I’m buying the Lakers being in the playoffs all the way. However, I think I’m going to sell on them winning 50 games. We’ve seen LeBron have slow starts before, but then turn it on when he’s had enough. That usually comes as we get closer to the playoffs. With the best player in the NBA on their team, I have no doubt the Lakers will be in the playoffs.
If you would have asked me this before the season started, I’d be all for the Lakers winning 50 games. Since seeing their slow start, though, I don’t think they’ll reach that many wins. LeBron’s Cavs reached exactly 50 wins a season ago, but that was in a weaker Eastern Conference. It was also a team LeBron had been with for a few years, at least the core of the group.
In the Western Conference last season, only two teams reached 50 wins. Those two teams were the Houston Rockets (65) and Golden State Warriors (58). I don’t see the Lakers being as good as either of those teams were last year. Regardless of how many wins the Lakers get or what seed they are in the playoffs, as long as they’re in the playoffs, the Western Conference better watch out.
Joel: The Houston Texans Will Make the Playoffs, but Will Lose in the Wild Card.
Cullen: I’ll buy the Texans making the playoffs, but sell them losing in the Wild Card.
Right now they’re on pace for the No. 4 seed in the AFC. That means a home playoff game. Right now, they’d be hosting the Los Angeles Chargers. While that would be a tough win, I’d still pick Houston to win that game. Deshaun Watson is an electric young quarterback who has an incredible connection with star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Give Watson some more time with newly-acquired Demaryius Thomas, and this offense will be clicking on all cylinders. They’ve also got a solid running back duo in Alfred Blue and Lamar Miller. Rookie tight end Jordan Thomas is suddenly a red-zone threat, catching three touchdowns the past two weeks.
Defensively, J.J. Watt looks back to his old self, the secondary is stout, and Bernardrick McKinney is one of the league’s underrated linebackers. But the key is Watson. As long as he’s healthy going into the postseason, the Texans should win a home game before becoming a dangerous foe in the divisional round.
RahimAli: I buy the Houston Texans make playoffs, but sell they lose in the Wild Card round.
It’s very tough to buy in on the Texans having success in the playoffs, but they have been able to keep every game close, whether it was a win or not. I think they could win a Wild Card game. Despite starting the season 0-3 and losing to the 1-7 New York Giants, the Texans used an overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts as fuel to kick start their six-game winning streak heading into the bye.
Of those six wins, only two were decided before the fourth quarter. The rest went down to the wire, but after the bye things will be different. Like Cullen said, Watson will get more time to work with Demaryius Thomas and Hopkins together, adding to the offense that is already starting to put up numbers.
Houston’s defense has allowed no more than 20 points a game and will look to continue doing so after they return from the bye. As of now, Houston is 4th, but I see them finishing at 3rd and having to face the 6th seed, which would be the Cincinnati Bengals if it started today. Let’s give them the love they deserve for the work they’re putting out there this season.
RahimAli: The Kentucky Wildcats Will Make the Final Four and Win the National Championship.
Cullen: I sell the Kentucky Wildcats making the Final Four and winning the national championship this year. Right now, I’m taking the field on both accounts. Duke with R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson, Kansas with their deep roster, Gonzaga, Virginia, North Carolina, Villanova–there are a lot of solid, talented teams out there who can topple the Wildcats in the tournament before they reach Minneapolis in early April.
Joel: I’m for sure selling on the Wildcats winning the championship this season. I’m going to sell on them making the Final Four also, but it’s not as hard of a sell as the national title. One reason I’m selling is because they just got wrecked by No. 4 Duke 118-84. Like Cullen, I feel like there are several other teams who could potentially do that to Kentucky. There’s still a very long way to go in the college basketball season before we can really know who the true Final Four contenders are, but the Wildcats didn’t get off to a great start. They’ll likely get better as the season goes on, but so will their competition.
Joel: The Denver Nuggets Will Finish as a Top Two Seed in the West.
RahimAli: I sell it all the way! I’m still not a believer in the Denver Nuggets. I believe they will make the playoffs and possibly win their division, but they will not finish as a top two seed in the Western Conference.
The NBA season is long and teams start to get hot late. That will be the case for both the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz. I’m not even going to bring up the Golden State Warriors because we all expect them to finish first this year.
The Nuggets are having a great start to the season, but they still have plenty of games left against many of the toughest teams in the West. Let’s not forget to mention they are playing in possibly the hardest division in the NBA. I do think these Nuggets will surprise us all and possibly go deep into the playoffs regardless of their seeding, but the regular season hasn’t hit the peak just yet.
It is impressive the Nuggets have managed to beat the defending champions and Eastern Conference favorite Boston Celtics, but they will start slow down. When they do, they’ll finish with 50+ wins and a playoff spot.
Cullen: Selling on the Nuggets getting the West’s No. 2 seed. The season is young, only ten games as of this writing. While the Nuggets have done wonderfully in that time, I don’t expect them to continue holding off teams such as the Rockets, Jazz, or even the Thunder. As RahimAli noted, the Nuggets should make the playoffs, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they made some noise once there, but it won’t be as the No. 2 seed.
Though, I’ll note, I cannot wait for the debut of Michael Porter Jr., whenever that may be. I may be making a trip out to Denver sometime to finally be able to watch him play in person, as that opportunity never really represented itself during his time at Missouri.
Cullen: Florida State’s 36-Year Bowl Streak Ends This Season.
RahimAli: I buy Florida State’s streak ending this season. As much as I was cheering for them to be the team to knock out Clemson, I know there’s no real chance of them having a bowl game this year.
I do hope they can find a way to upset Notre Dame and get their 5th win of the season, but to be bowl eligible, you have to finish with at least 6 wins* on the season. FSU is currently at four. Maybe if they had won some of the earlier games they might have had a chance, but it seemed like they could never fully recover from the beating they took by Virginia Tech in the season opener.
*Usually, yes, but if there aren’t enough bowl-eligible teams to fill up all of the bowl games, a 5-7 team could have the opportunity to go bowling.
Joel: I’m buying Florida State’s bowl-game streak ending this season. They’re currently 4-5 on the season. If that’s not bad enough, their final three games this season are against ranked opponents. They’ve got No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 17 Boston College and No. 15 Florida. At best, Florida State wins one of those games. That’s at best. There’s a really good chance they don’t win another game for the rest of the year, which would give them a record of 4-8.
The four teams they’ve beaten this year are Samford (5-4), Northern Illinois (6-3), Louisville (2-7) and Wake Forest (4-5). Two of those teams have losing records. The other two may have winning records, but they’re not ranked. Also take into consideration what conferences Samford and Northern Illinois play in. It’s not like they’re in the SEC.
I doubt Florida State will beat a 9-0 team (Notre Dame), a 7-2 team (Boston College) and a 6-3 team (Florida).
What do you think?
- Will Machado challenge Harper for the biggest deal of the offseason?
- How will the Lakers do in 2018-2019?
- Will the Texans win a playoff game?
- How much of this good start can the Nuggets maintain the rest of the season?
- Will Kentucky be able to shrug off a tough first loss enough to reach the Final Four?
- Could the Seminoles some how, some way, finish with enough wins to be able to reach yet another bowl game?