Posted: Tuesday January 18, 2005 2:48PM; Updated: Monday January 24, 2005 3:06AM
THE OPENING TIP
MAX WORK Happy Fun Ball
Last week, we looked at some of the Eastern Conference players who might get traded before the Feb. 20 deadline, and how a trade might impact their numbers. There was already one deal this week, with Cuttino Mobley swapping addresses with Doug Christie.
From a fantasy standpoint, it probably means a few less points, but a few more assists and 3s for Mobley. For Christie, expect his numbers to stay about the same.
Let's take a look at the guys in the West who might find themselves on a new team in the next few weeks.
Latrell Sprewell, G/F, Minnesota Possible Destinations: Miami, N.J., Toronto, Boston Darkhorses: New Orleans, Portland
Sprewell began the season with his infamous "feed my family" quote, and things have gone downhill from there. Through 34 games, Sprewell is averaging 12.9 pts, 2.7 reb, and 2.1 ast. But his contract expires after this season, making his mediocre numbers acceptable to teams in search of cap relief.
As of last week, Sprewell seemed certain to be dealt before the deadline. But on Friday, the Timberwolves shuffled their lineup, giving Sprewell a bigger role in the offense. In the two games since, he has averaged 27 pts, 4.5 reb, and 5.0 3PM. The Wolves also won both games... the first time they had won back-to-back games in over a month.
Still, it's possible Sprewell is simply being showcased. He was rumored to be part of a four-team trade that would have sent him to the Heat, and because of his expiring contract, Sprewell will be attractive to teams all the way up to the deadline. Whether he gets traded or not, Sprewell has been more aggressive over the past two games... an aggressiveness that will hopefully last until the end of the season. Unless he goes to Miami, expect Sprewell to play better than he has during the first half of the season.
Jim Jackson, G/F, New Orleans Possible Destinations: New Jersey, Denver, Miami Darkhorse: Toronto
Since Jackson was traded from the Rockets for David Wesley, he has refused to report to the Hornets. Jackson's inaction is unfortunate for his owners; he had put up solid numbers with Houston, and certainly stood to see his production increase given the lack of offensive options in New Orleans.
The Hornets said they wouldn't deal Jackson, but now appear willing to do so as long as they can get a first-round pick and expiring contracts in return. Most teams consider that too steep a price... especially the Nets and Raptors, who could find themselves in the lottery this year. Miami became a rumored destination when Jackson was seen at a Heats game last week, but the Heat don't appear to have pieces the Hornets would want.
Jackson isn't a superstar. But 3PM is a category you can move up quickly in, and Jackson is capable of more than two per game while providing steady production in every other category. Jackson's inactive status has caused him to be dropped in many fantasy leagues. He will likely be on a new team within a couple of weeks, and any club that trades for him will want to utilize him. If you're in the market for 3PM and/or in a deep league, you might give him a look now while his stock is low.
Baron Davis, G, New Orleans Possible Destinations: L.A. Clippers, Memphis, Indiana Darkhorse: Dallas
Another member of the Hornets who might get traded, Davis missed more than a month of this season with an injury. He returned and struggled in limited minutes in late December, but finally started putting up Davis-like numbers in the last two weeks. Unfortunately, Baron sustained a Davis-like ankle injury Sunday against the Raptors. The severity of the injury is unknown, and could severely hamper both his season and his trade value.
Because of his ability, Davis is one of the few players in the league with high years (four) and high money ($58 million) that teams will consider trading for. Davis, a Los Angeles native, originally hoped he would be drafted by the Clippers, and would be thrilled to head there in a trade. Taking on lots of years and lots of money isn't the Clippers' M.O., but they might be able to justify spending the money on a local guy who actually wants to play for them. The Clippers could also use a point guard, and Davis would be enough to push them into the playoffs.
Fantasy owners would be happy just to have Davis back in their lineup... whatever the NBA team he plays for. Davis would likely take a slight statistical hit if he goes to another team, but hopefully his FG% would improve since he wouldn't have to be the entire offense himself. Because he's been injured this season, it's likely Davis won't be traded until after the season, but don't be surprised if he's wearing a new uniform a month from now.
Nene, F/C, Denver Possible Destinations: Phoenix, Memphis, New Jersey Darkhorses: Seattle, Dallas, New York
Nene has had a pretty up-and-down season. It started with the Nuggets signing of Kenyon Martin and re-signing of Marcus Camby. Knowing that meant he would have to come off the bench, Nene asked for a trade. When he was told he would still get minutes, Nene reluctantly accepted his role, but got hurt in the first game of the season. He was out for most of November, then returned to limited minutes, fueling trade rumors again. In late December, Camby went out with an injury, and Nene posted 16.2 pts and 10.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blk while starting in his place. When Camby returned, Nene went back to the bench and limited minutes. Then on Friday, Nene got into a scuffle with Michael Olowokandi that resulted in a four-game suspension.
Nene has shown he can produce when given the minutes. He has played in eight games where he played at least 30 minutes, and he has scored in double digits in all of them. In the 18 games in which he got fewer than 30 minutes, he has scored in double digits in only two of them.
The Nuggets don't want to trade Nene, but might not have much of a choice. He wants to be somewhere he can get minutes... something his fantasy owners are hoping for as well. With Francisco Elson a capable back-up at the center position, the Nuggets might try to deal Nene for a shooting guard. They might also include him in a deal with Andre Miller for Jason Kidd.
Even if Nene is not traded in the middle of this season, he will almost certainly be dealt after it. Those in retention leagues whose players' prices are based on stats from the previous season might want to keep that in consideration.
1. Guys who might be available in your league:
a. Nick Van Exel, G, Portland: Van Exel blew up this week, averaging 22.3 pts, 4.3 reb, 6.8 ast, and 5.8 3PM. With all of the injuries in Portland, he should continue to start, get lots of minutes, and put up good numbers. Just like...
b. Damon Stoudamire, G, Portland: Stoudamire had a pretty good week himself, including a game in which he had 54 pts and eight 3PM. Stoudamire and Van Exel had been canceling out each other's effectiveness, but because they're both starting now, they should both be great fantasy options.
c. Bob Sura, G, Houston: Sura had been alternating great games with terrible games, but has become more consistent lately. He's always an injury concern, so keep that in mind.
d. Bonzi Wells, G/F, Memphis: Mike Miller is hurt, which means Bonzi is now the first option off the bench. With James Posey still nicked up, Wells should continue to see more than 30 minutes a game.
e. Andre Iguodala, G/F, Philadelphia: Iguodala has started becoming more consistent lately, especially in his scoring. He has also been putting up good rebound numbers, and his potential to contribute in every category makes him worth taking a look at for a roster spot.
2. And a guy you might want to avoid:
a. Antonio Daniels, G, Seattle: Daniels has been seeing more time (and putting up good numbers) because of the injury to Rashard Lewis. Lewis should be back this week, and Daniels will likely see his time and numbers diminish.
3. While Sprewell has seen his role increase in Minnesota, the one who has been hurt by the T'wolves new lineup the most is Wally Szczerbiak, who is coming off the bench and seeing less minutes. Wally was the one who seemed to come up the most in trade rumors at the beginning of the season, but they had died down with his stellar play of late. Don't be surprised to hear his name start coming up in trade rumors again.
4. Larry Hughes will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury. A tough blow to his owners, since Hughes had been playing like a top-five guard and was probably the biggest surprise and best value of the season. Juan Dixon will likely get the start in his place, and Jarvis Hayes might see some additional time as well.
5. Speaking of injuries, Shareef Abdur-Rahim elected to have surgery on his injured hand, and looks to be out for the next five weeks. Not only does this hurt his fantasy owners in the near-future, but it could prevent Abdur-Rahim from being traded before the deadline, which comes right around the time he returns to health.
6. Oh yeah, and one other injured guy: Kobe Bryant is on the IL with an ankle injury. No word on how long he'll be out, but from the way he was describing the injury, expect at least two weeks. At least.
7. Another guy who has been mentioned in recent trade rumors is Cliff Robinson. But the Warriors say they don't want to deal him because their frontcourt defense would collapse.
8. Good to know that Adonal Foyle is living up to that $40-million contract.
MAIL BONDING (please include name and location when sending an e-mail)
I need rebounding help. I have a ton of depth at guard, but the people in my league are reluctant to trade because they think it would make me too powerful. I have my eyes on Brad Miller, but who else do you think I should go after? -- Kevin, Slidell, La.
Perhaps the people in your league aren't worried about you becoming too powerful. Perhaps they are worried that you will use your powers for the purposes of evil.
Brad Miller is a good choice because he does other things well. Someone who might be available as a free agent, or that you can get without giving up much, would be P.J. Brown. He's been playing well in New Orleans since everyone else on the Hornets is either hurt or terrible. In general, guards tend to be more well-rounded than power forwards, so make sure you don't give up too much. A guy such as Troy Murphy might get a lot of rebounds, but you'll probably end up losing in at least three categories if you trade a guard to acquire him.
In a keeper league, would you rather have Chris Bosh or Dwight Howard? -- Eric
Great question. Before the Vince Carter trade, I probably would have said Howard. But Bosh has really stepped up since Carter was exiled from Canada. The chances of the Raptors rebuilding their team next year don't look good; it's hard to imagine anyone taking over for Bosh as the primary option on offense. On the other hand, the Magic will have both Steve Francis and Grant Hill back next year. So while I expect Howard to improve a great deal, Bosh will probably have the better season in '05-06. Past that, it's tough to tell. I think Howard has the potential to be a top-five fantasy player, and he'll probably lead the league in rebounding before his career is over.
I was trying to pick up Eddie Griffin from the free-agent pool and I wondered if I should drop Nene (he ranks the lowest on my team). I need more 3TM and steals. Nene has more steals, but Griffin has more 3TM. Also, between these two, who do you think will do better later on in the season? Will Griffin's numbers come back? Or will Nene improve? -- Chris in Sterling, Va.
Obviously, I already wrote about Nene. And anyone who reads my column on a regular basis knows that I'm a pretty big fan of Eddie Griffin. Ironically, the guy who might benefit the most from the fight between Olowokandi and Nene is Griffin. Kevin Garnett will probably play a lot of center in Kandi's absence, opening up more time for Griffin at the forward slot. With four games this week, Griffin might be worth a start.
The longterm picture is tough to project. Nene either needs to be traded or for Camby to get hurt to become valuable again. Likewise, Griffin needs Minnesota to make a trade in order for him to get minutes on a permanent basis. If I had to choose, I'd probably go with Griffin unless you're weak at center. Griffin is the better all-around player, and it's not every day you find a guy with the potential to average more than two blocks and two 3PM per game.