Warriors, Clippers, Knicks have new look
The Knicks officially began the LeBron sweepstakes today, shipping Jamal Crawford to Golden State for Al Harrington, then sending Zach Randolph and Mardy Collins to the Clippers for Cuttino Mobley and Tim Thomas. Let's take a look at key players from each team and how their value will be affected.
Jamal Crawford: This won't dramatically affect his numbers, although the Warriors' backcourt boasts more scorers than the Knicks', which could cut into his scoring slightly, but should improve his field goal percentage and assists. His field goal shooting (.432 this season, .403 career) is his biggest weakness, and being surrounded by Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette with Andris Biedrins in the middle should help this and his dimes improve, offsetting a potential dip in points. When Monta Ellis returns, they will make a dynamic backcourt duo for coach Don Nelson to exploit in his run-and-gun offense, although Ellis will provide even more competition in the scoring department.
C.J. Watson: Watson was an option only in deep leagues, but he has been performing nicely, scoring in double digits in four of his past five games. Sadly, this trade bursts his bubble, making him immediately expendable, especially since he doesn't shoot 3-pointers.
Stephen Jackson: Crawford will take pressure off Jackson, but also cut into his 6.5 assists per game. Jackson has been averaging more than 43 minutes per game and doing everything for the Warriors, but now he has a veteran guard to complement him. Even though Crawford's arrival will cut into some of Jackson's total stats, Crawford should do wonders for SJax's terrifying .372 shooting percentage on 19 shots per game (only three players hurt you more there this season). Jackson's numbers should settle down closer to those of last season, and if the trade helps his shooting percentage it will be worth the decrease in assists. Even if he's attempting fewer 3s, he'll likely make more of them, as the addition of Crawford should help bring his .256 3-point shooting percentage (on 7.1 attempts per game!) out from the depths of Hades.
Corey Maggette: Maggette has been starting at power forward in Nellie's small-ball lineup, and overall this trade should have negligible effect on his value.
Anthony Morrow: He's been amazing recently, but now the team doesn't need him as much as before, and his minutes will immediately decrease. I'd hold on to him for a few games to see how he responds to Crawford in the lineup, but there's an excellent chance he's on the most-dropped list in the next couple of weeks.
Kelenna Azubuike: Azubuike's value takes a hit, and his minutes will likely be in the 20s now that Crawford is around. He'll no longer be ranked 104 on the player rater as he competes for bench minutes with Morrow, and both players' roles will be even more in question once Ellis returns.
Al Harrington: He's nursing a back strain and hasn't played since Nov. 7, although something tells me he'll heal much more quickly now that his trade demand has been met. Once he's incorporated into D'Antoni's offense, the 3s, forced shots and sporadic scoring bursts should start rolling in. He can start at three positions, providing D'Antoni with flexibility in the frontcourt, and fills some of the gap left by Randolph since he can play center in a small lineup. But this is fantasy, and increased opportunity doesn't erase the fact that his percentages, rebounds and blocks are all awful. He will provide 3s from the center position, along with some big scoring nights, decent steals and positional flexibility. Upgrade him, especially in this system, but it doesn't change the fact he's a percentage killer.
Zach Randolph: Z-Bo had been playing center and putting up insane numbers for the Knicks (most notably 12.5 rebounds per game, third in the league), and now he enters a muddled frontcourt with twin towers Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby. He becomes the biggest immediate downgrade of these trades, although if Camby gets hurt or Kaman gets traded (both very possible) Randolph would likely revert back to his mean numbers if starting at power forward for the Clippers, something around 18 points and 10 rebounds. The numbers he's been putting up with the Knicks are a thing of the past, though, rendering Randolph owners joyless.
Chris Kaman/Marcus Camby: Randolph will likely cut into both of their minutes fairly evenly, making both downgrades since a scenario with all three of them on the court is molasses personified. Bummer for Kaman and Camby owners.
David Lee: Lee has been a huge bust this season, but this trade upgrades his value, since Harrington won't fill the rebounding void left by Randolph. Lee should see an uptick in minutes and grab 9-10 boards per game, especially in the short term as Harrington gets assimilated. Welcome back to fantasy relevance, Mr. Lee.
Wilson Chandler: Chandler has been terrific recently, but the addition of Harrington and Thomas likely cuts into his minutes. Chandler has an opportunity to prove he's a core part of the Knicks' future and if he continues playing at a high level, D'Antoni will be forced to figure out other ways to incorporate Harrington and Thomas. Chandler controls his destiny here, and if he keeps it up he'll keep getting minutes, although the addition of two new forwards creates more competition and little margin for error.
Chris Duhon: With Crawford gone, Duhon will provide even more 3s and assists, and is in line for as many minutes as his body can handle, making him worth adding in all formats if you need typical point guard stats.
Nate Robinson: Robinson will now shoulder the bulk of the Knicks' backcourt scoring load, and he's a big winner in this trade. Mobley will soak up many of Crawford's minutes, but he's averaging 13.7 points in 33 minutes for the Clippers, leaving Robinson to pick up the slack left by Crawford. He'll also have the ball in his hands more. Increased points, 3s and assists should be in line for Robinson, and whether he comes off the bench or starts at shooting guard, Nate Rob is this team's main attraction now. Upgrade the little guy and enjoy the ride.
Cuttino Mobley: Mobley will continue to provide decent scoring, 3s and steals, but isn't the offensive player Crawford is. Still, moving into D'Antoni's 3-point-happy offense does wonders for guards with jumpers and his scoring and 3-point numbers should increase even if his minutes go down a bit.
Tim Thomas: He won't play many more minutes in New York, but the offense is suited to his style of play, allowing him to attempt more 3s (the Knicks lead the league with 28.5 3s attempted per game). That's the only category in which you can expect Thomas to contribute at an above-average level, although in this fast-paced system he should surface as a 3-point specialist.
Al Thornton: As long as Randolph, Camby and Kaman are around, there's a logjam in the Clippers' frontcourt. Thornton will still see a bulk of the time at small forward, although his minutes per game could fall from almost 35 to about 30 as Mike Dunleavy finds room for Randolph. Not a huge downgrade here, as Thornton is clearly a building block for the Clippers' future, although Randolph makes it more crowded in L.A.
Eric Gordon: With Mobley gone, the rookie sharpshooter will see more opportunities. He still won't get enough minutes to be fantasy relevant, although it will provide a good opportunity to evaluate his prospects for the future.
Ricky Davis: Ricky Buckets has been averaging 20 minutes off the bench, a number that will increase with Mobley and Thomas gone. With more floor time he should average over a 3 per contest and is an upgrade, although still won't match his numbers from last season in Miami when he averaged 36 minutes per game.
Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.