Trade deadline winners, losers
Following a very busy trade deadline day in the NBA, it can be difficult to digest all that went down, and what it means in fantasy basketball.
That's where we come in. Instead of breaking down each trade, it's easier to simply look at each team alphabetically and discuss the players who benefited most, as well as those whose value takes the biggest hit.
Who will the Celtics start at center? The first instinct is a mix of Krstic and Davis holding down the fort until Shaquille O'Neal returns. In the short term, Green would back up at Pierce and Garnett at small forward and power forward. As long as Green projects to coming off the bench, his value will take a hit.
Another move would be to play Garnett at center, which would mean either Davis or Green get the start at power forward. In this scenario, Green's value would still dip, but not as much as in the previous scenario.
Green will have a short window to establish himself in the rotation. As soon as Shaq returns, the Celtics' rotation will probably solidify for the duration of the regular season. Shaq at center guarantees Green will come off the bench, so Green needs to make himself useful to keep getting the 25-30 minutes he'll need to be a fantasy factor.
No matter what, I see Pierce taking a small hit, as Green will probably get many of his minutes at Pierce's expense. Doc Rivers will probably use the extra depth to rest Pierce and Garnett as much as possible down the stretch.
Also, if Troy Murphy signs with the Celtics (via buyout), he'd have more value than he did a week ago (absolutely none), but it's hard to see him being more than a supersub backing up Garnett and maybe spending even some time at center.
With this deal, it's really hard to project a substantive fantasy "loser" for the Bobcats. Przybilla will come in and enter a time-share with Brown. Who ends up as the starter is anyone's guess. Neither will have much value.
Diaw is the obvious choice as a step-up candidate to replace Wallace's offense. But I should point out that Cunningham has, at times, flashed some fantasy appeal. If the Bobcats fade -- and Tyrus Thomas decides to shut it down -- Cunningham just might have some late-season value. Keep an eye on him.
The Baron Davis era ended in a poetic manner, with Baron sitting in a Kia.
There is perhaps no frontline NBA player whose production is as tied to his psychological state more than Baron Davis. Oh, maybe Vince Carter gave Davis a run for his money back in the day, but today Baron stands alone among the ranks of the NBA's most consistently inconsistent players. That might sound harsh, but it's a reputation well earned (when Donald Sterling heckles you for not caring, you know you've got a problem).
The trade breaks down like this: The Cavaliers get Baron Davis and a likely lottery pick, while the Clippers get Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. Giving up the lottery pick shows you how anxious the Clippers were to move Davis, as well as the little amount of faith they have in the upcoming draft class.
The Cavaliers' new lineup will probably look a lot like the Cavaliers' old lineup. Mo Williams was already coming off the bench after a long spell on the shelf. For now, Davis will probably come off the bench behind Sessions, if he isn't shut down entirely. Shutting it down is a long shot, but it could happen if Davis is unhappy.
Why could Davis be unhappy? Let's count the reasons:
1.) Leaving the residual spotlight that surrounds Blake Griffin
2.) Leaving Los Angeles, where he was pursuing a film career
3.) Going to a rebuild-from-the-ground-up situation in Cleveland
4.) Reuniting with Byron Scott
The last item here is the key. When Davis and Scott were last paired together, it resulted in one of the more combustible player/coach relationships of the past 10 seasons. I'm not overstating the situation; look at some of the old news stories circa 2005. Reports are that relations eventually improved, but only after Davis and Scott were split up. If Sessions isn't dealt, and Davis isn't shut down, you could be looking at a value-killing time-share at point guard.
The one new fantasy bright spot here belongs to Eyenga. He's been flashing some nice underrated value of late, and without Moon pushing for minutes, Eyenga could be in line for a small breakout down the stretch.
This was, and remains, a team in dire need of some trades for fantasy purposes. Knee-deep in No. 2 and 3 scoring options, the Rockets needed to deal volume for a more established player. Instead, Daryl Morey dealt one of only two Rockets with a firm grip on a starting job (Shane Battier) for a project at center (Thabeet), then traded his former budding star point guard (Aaron Brooks) for another intriguing prospect.
This should set Kyle Lowry's hold on the starting point guard spot in stone for the rest of the season. He's streaky, but capable of monster lines on occasion and should feel a little freer with Brooks shown the door.
Budinger becomes an intriguing add as he rates the most likely to scarf up Battier's vacated minutes. Already a cheap source of 3-pointers, Budinger bears close watching during the next few games. He might already be worth a speculative add in medium-to-deep leagues.
Thabeet, who had nowhere to go but up, could finally see some steady minutes for the center-starved Rockets. If you need a second center in a deep league, put him on your watch list.
The Clippers will be a very interesting fantasy team to watch during the final third of the season. Whether they become very frustrating remains to be seen.
First and foremost, is Mo Williams healthy? Is his ankle that bad, or was he being held out for a trade? He put up a couple of nice lines right before the break. If Williams is healthy, he should command Davis' old minutes almost immediately.
Williams isn't far behind Davis in the mercurial department, but he should be freshly rejuvenated at the prospect of playing in Los Angeles alongside Blake Griffin. Something along the lines of 17-18 points per game, to go along with 7-7.5 assists, a 3-pointer and a steal shouldn't be out of reach.
If Williams isn't healthy, then Bledsoe is primed for his second stint on the fantasy radar this season. Don't expect great things, but 12 points and 5-6 assists would be a reasonable expectation.
Small forward on the Clippers just went from crowded to a Timberwolves-esque glut. Moon could easily and immediately push the somewhat uninspiring Gomes for minutes. And the Clippers also have a lottery pick waiting in the wings in Aminu, who should also get increased playing time as the season winds down.
The center and shooting guard positions were already in a state of flux due to starters going down with injuries. When Gordon comes back in the next week or so, Foye will fall off the map, which is a mild shame because Foye's been displaying some of his long-rumored upside as of late. And Jordan -- a restricted free agent -- has not been producing with his starter's minutes since January. Expect a time-share evolving into Kaman eventually commanding 28-30 minutes per game.
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Winner: Shane Battier
Loser: Sam Young
Just last week, I was musing about the fantasy possibilities of Battier being traded to a doormat in need of offense. Well, Memphis is no doormat, but they are in need of some short-term scoring punch at the small forward position. Young has been putting up some intruging numbers in Rudy Gay's absence, but Battier should step right into the Grizzlies' starting five and log about 30 minutes a night.
The question is whether or not Battier will be called upon to look for his shot. I don't see Battier's other numbers really changing much -- his role was one of the few sure things in the Rockets' rotation -- but if he gives himself the green light to shoot, he's capable of 13-15 points per game with 2-2.5 3-pointers per game. Nothing gaudy, but Battier could consistute a savvy short-term add until Gay returns to the lineup.
Sam Presti pulls off a big one. And I mean big. Needing size and interior presence, the Thunder swap the struggling Jeff Green and forgotten Nenad Krstic for the biggest defensive presence in the Eastern Conference. Pairing Perkins up with Serge Ibaka is a move built for playoff potential.
So how does it translate fantasy-wise?
Perkins recently returned after missing the first three months of the season, but should slide into 28-32 minutes per game. He's not the kind of guy you want looking for his shot, but you'd think he'd project toward the high end of his upside, which is around eight points, nine rebounds and two blocks per game. He could be a difference-maker for blocks- and boards-hungry squads headed for the playoffs.
The Thunder also have some offense to replace, as Green and his 15 points per game head back to the Celtics. Seflosha's not going to be the guy to do it. But James Harden has been coming on as of late, finally gaining some consistency and seemingly starting to justify his high position in the lottery. He's averaging 12.6 points for the month, and with Durant and Westbrook already scoring at elite levels, he could be the source of the missing offense.
Losers: Steve Nash, Aaron Brooks
Brooks finally gets his change of scenery, but still doesn't get a starting gig, as early projections have him backing up Nash.
But here's an intriguing option: What about pairing Nash and Brooks together? Vince Carter seems to be running on fumes, and with no other Sun looking like surefire starting shooting guard material, why not give Brooks a crack at the 2? I know ... I think I just felt John Hollinger yelling at me in an upcoming dream. Maybe it's just the green tea talking, but if Carter keeps fading, why not?
Basketball-wise, I love this move for the Blazers. Wallace should team up with LaMarcus Aldridge to form a nice inside/outside combination. His willingness to mix it up underneath frees up Aldridge to move more to the outside, where his jumper has been falling at better-than-Bosh percentages. If Camby comes back sooner than later, and Brandon Roy can pitch in 25-30 minutes per game at even 80 percent effectiveness, this will be a formidable team to play in the first round of the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Camby's been the Camby of old as of late (the injured one), sitting on the sidelines and resting a balky knee. Now the Blazers are going to need him ASAP to hold down the middle. Camby should be happy he's not being moved, so he'll drop the retirement threats and get back on the court sooner than later.
Until Camby comes back, Aldridge could play center, with Wallace at power forward, which would keep Batum in the starting lineup. But the best version of the new Blazers lineup would put Batum on the bench and damage his value.
I'm putting Wallace ever-so-slightly into the "losers" column, because I see his numbers taking a very small hit playing alongside so many established scorers.
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com and a filmmaker. His film "Devolved" opens in selected cities on March 4.
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