- Brian McKitish, Fantasy Basketball
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This time of year is heavy on speculation. With football coming to an end and baseball still a few weeks away, sports fans have nothing better to do than watch ridiculous amounts of college hoops and conjure up overzealous NBA trade scenarios. As a fantasy owner, it's often best to dismiss trade rumors for what they are -- rumors. But, with three weeks remaining until the Feb. 19 trade deadline, it's time for fantasy owners to start thinking about the fantasy implications of any deals that might go down.
Over the past few seasons, we've seen some big names move at the deadline, and this season might be no different as teams look to put themselves in better position to make runs at the already-legendary free-agent class of 2010. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at a few teams likely to make deals prior to Feb. 19.
Sacramento Kings: It would be shocking if the Kings didn't make a move before the trade deadline. They have a few big names on the block -- Brad Miller and John Salmons -- who are attractive commodities to teams in the playoff hunt, and with a 10-37 record, they'll be looking to evaluate their young talent for the future. If Miller goes, owners immediately should run to the waiver wire to grab Jason Thompson (see below) and Spencer Hawes. Thompson and Hawes are the Kings' frontcourt of the future, and they'll get plenty of run down the stretch.
Salmons is getting 37.2 minutes per game in Sacramento, and his value likely will take a hit if he is moved. It's hard to imagine him getting those type of minutes elsewhere. If your league is paying attention to the rumors, it might be hard to get full value for Salmons in trade negotiations, so you might have to stick this one out and hope he stays in Sac-town. If Salmons is dealt, Francisco Garcia will see more of the court and could turn into a solid second-half pickup.
Miami Heat: The Shawn Marion rumors have swirled all season, and they won't slow down as the deadline gets closer. At this point, it would be surprising if the Heat didn't trade him. Marion has been a shell of his former self in Miami, so a change in scenery should do him good. If you need to make a risky trade to get back in the hunt, going for Marion might not be a bad idea right now. He could land in a fantasy-friendly scenario, and if so, you'll make out. Of course, there always is a chance Marion will never return to his glory days, so there is plenty of risk here as well. Michael Beasley already has started to turn his season around with 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game in January, and he obviously would be the beneficiary of any trade involving Marion.
Chicago Bulls: Kirk Hinrich has been on the block since the 2008 NBA draft (Derrick Rose, anyone?), and the Bulls desperately need a big man to fortify their undersized frontcourt. It would make sense for Chicago to make a deal if it can find the right pieces, and there seems to be plenty of quality big men on the market this season. That doesn't mean the Bulls will pull the trigger, but keep in mind that Chicago is an attractive fantasy location for any big man. Drew Gooden has thrived in the paint (when healthy), and with the inconsistent duo of Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah on the depth chart, almost any talented big man would have success here. Hinrich, meanwhile, is a wild card. He still can put up big numbers in the right spot, so be sure to monitor his movement closely.
Pickups: Shallow Formats
Players named in previous weeks who remain quality waiver-wire additions in shallow formats: Anderson Varejao, Sebastian Telfair, Von Wafer, Nick Collison, Andray Blatche, Charlie Villanueva, Lamar Odom and Beno Udrih.
Jason Thompson, PF, Kings (9.0 percent owned): I've been talking about Thompson for a few weeks now, but I feel he deserves another mention, as he is on the verge of breaking out in Sacramento. With the Kings going into full youth-movement mode and a potential Brad Miller trade on the horizon, Thompson is primed to have a big second half. And he already is starting to show signs with averages of 12.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 0.7 blocks while shooting 52.5 percent from the floor and 88.9 percent from the line in 27.7 minutes per game during the month of January. As a rookie, he'll get into foul trouble from time to time, but don't let that discourage you, as the Kings are going to try to get him as many minutes as possible over the last few months of the season.
Ramon Sessions, PG, Bucks (38.5 percent owned): The Bucks finally have figured out a way to get Luke Ridnour and Sessions on the court at the same time. Unfortunately, they had to lose Michael Redd for the season in order to make it happen. Many fantasy owners liked what they saw in Sessions earlier this season when he averaged 15.6 points, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals in 33.6 minutes per game during November. Unfortunately, his minutes and fantasy value took a major hit when Ridnour assumed a larger role in the offense. The fantasy community did not forget the upside Sessions possesses, and that has made him a hot commodity since Redd went down with a knee injury. Sessions has not disappointed with Redd out, posting 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 0.8 steals over his past five games.
Mickael Pietrus, SG/SF, Magic (62.9 percent owned): Pietrus' first season in Orlando hasn't gone exactly as planned. Injuries have contributed to the disappointment, but Pietrus hasn't lived up to expectations when he's been on the court, either. Let's hope his 27-point, 10-rebound, 1-steal, 1-block performance Tuesday will turn things around for him. Pietrus has averaged just 12.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 0.4 blocks and 1.5 3-pointers as a starter this season but has the potential to outperform those numbers for the rest of the year, provided that he is 100 percent healthy. Don't expect a repeat of Tuesday's numbers, but do expect him to be a solid source of points, 3-pointers and steals going forward.
Mike Conley, PG, Grizzlies (4.3 percent owned): I don't trust Conley, but even I can admit he's been put in good position to succeed with Marc Iavaroni out and Lionel Hollins in. Sometimes all a player needs is opportunity, and Conley has seen 32.2 minutes per game over his past five, so I'll look the other way on his deficiencies as a player. Conley will be inconsistent and a drain on your field goal percentage, but he has plenty of potential in assists, steals and 3-pointers, provided that he continues to see 30-plus minutes per game. If you missed out on Sebastian Telfair a few weeks ago, Conley will offer similar statistics off the wire.
Raja Bell, SG, Bobcats (48.2 percent owned): Bell already was a solid pickup prior to Gerald Wallace's injury, but he's even more attractive with Wallace out. He has averaged 15.8 points, 0.7 steals and 1.6 3-pointers per game in January, and someone is going to have to pick up the slack on the offensive end while Wallace mends. Bell figures to be that player, and we very well might see him average 2-plus 3-pointers per game until "Crash" returns.
Pickups: Deep Formats
Darrell Arthur, PF, Grizzlies (1.3 percent owned): Teammate Mike Conley is getting all the pub in fantasy circles, but don't forget about this talented rookie out of Kansas. Arthur has been too inconsistent to stay on the court, but his raw ability has been evident to anyone watching. He has seen his minutes skyrocket since the firing of Marc Iavaroni, and the 11-34 Grizzlies have little to lose by giving him plenty of run during the second half. Arthur is averaging 7.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals in 27.6 minutes per game over his past five and has shown some real nice per-minute numbers.
Dominic McGuire, SF, Wizards (0.6 percent owned): McGuire won't be right for many fantasy teams, but you might want to look his way if you're in need of a boost in your defensive categories. McGuire has quietly averaged 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocks per game over his past five contests. Unfortunately, he's scored only 4.6 points per game during that time. If you don't need the scoring, McGuire could be a fine addition in deeper fantasy formats. Just be sure to monitor his playing time once DeShawn Stevenson returns to action.
Darius Songaila, PF, Wizards (0.2 percent owned): JaVale McGee will be a very good player some day, but he's too inconsistent to produce on a nightly basis. In the meantime, Songaila will be the main beneficiary of Andray Blatche's knee injury. Blatche is expected to be out for two to three weeks, and Songaila can be a solid but unspectacular addition in his absence.
Brian McKitish is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Brian McKitish says you might be able to be proactive and pick up players who would benefit if and when veterans get moved at the trade deadline.