Andray Blatche left the Wizards Thursday to see a specialist in New York regarding his ailing right shoulder. What is most troubling here is that Blatche first injured his shoulder on March 8 of last season. He missed 10 games before returning and closing out the season with a strong April (23.6 points, 51% FG, 10.3 boards, 2.1 steals, 1.3 blocks) and the assumption at the time was that it was well behind him. There was even an added touch of optimism surrounding Blatche when reports surfaced that he was staying in shape and organizing private workouts with his teammates during the lockout. But then Blatche admitted that he had to roll back his summer workouts when his shoulder starting bothering him again - "it comes and goes" - and then he said it was "about 75, 80 percent" in early December. But there were no expectations of missed games through camp, and all signs pointed to his being ready to roll when the season started. It's been all bad since - the Wizards have been terrible (1-9), Blatche has been terrible (39% FG), and we finally saw reports of Blatche's shoulder giving him real problems a few days ago. Blatche tweeted "No good news from the shoulder doc smh" a few hours ago - we don't yet know exactly what that means, but it makes sense to prepare for some time off given his the timeline above.
This news means that Trevor Booker should get a look in most formats - he's averaged 10 points on 65-percent shooting, 7.3 boards, 1.3 steals, and 1.7 blocks in 30 minutes over the past three games, and those numbers are right in line with his career per-30s. Chris Singleton would also in line for a few more minutes if Blatche misses time, and he's averaged 8 points, 0.8 threes, 6.3 boards, 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks in 29 minutes over the past four games. He's starting ahead of Rashard Lewis at small foward and would need to play some power forward for the Wizards' thin frontcourt - it's not ideal for him in terms of matchups, but he's been converting minutes to stats thus far. JaVale McGee played 39 minutes on Wednesday and would see as many minutes as his foul rate would allow with no Blatche, given that Kevin Seraphin is the only other option. How significant Blatche's loss would be to the team's offense is questionable. The Wizards scored just 64 points against the Bulls on Wednesday (31% FG%, 12:14 AST:TO), and the onus clearly remains on John Wall (and Flip Saunders?) to lift this team. A silver lining here is that Booker and Singleton have been among the team's most efficient offensive and most effective defensive players, but that's not exactly setting a high bar.
• Various Bulls updates: Derrick Rose's sprained toe was feeling a lot better as of Friday morning. He was a partial participant in shootaround and then put his walking boot back on as a precautionary measure. He's officially a game-time call, with a decision coming after warmups .. Richard Hamilton's groin injury continues to linger - he's doubtful for Friday and doesn't look likely for Saturday, either .. Tom Thibodeau has no plans to adjust his starting five any time soon.
• Other status updates: Dwyane Wade (foot) is officially a game-time decision Friday but says he's playing .. Jason Kidd (back) is out again Friday but expected to return on Saturday .. Ty Lawson (foot) participated in Friday's shootaround and will be active against the Heat, with the help of painkillers .. Carmelo Anthony (wrist, ankle) sounds very doubtful for Saturday .. Spencer Hawes (back) plans on playing Friday but will be a game-time decision .. Marcus Thornton (knee) hasn't had a setback but will miss another game Friday .. Andrea Bargnani's calf injury is not serious. He'll sit Friday but is day-to-day .. Stephen Curry (ankle) is unlikely to play Saturday .. Dorell Wright is day-to-day with a left knee contusion .. Trevor Ariza's recovery from a groin injury remains frustratingly slow .. Jason Richardson is day-to-day with a bone bruise in his left knee .. Jermaine O'Neal (knee) is expected to play Friday.
• Bucks rookie Jon Leuer's quickly expanding role culminated with his first career start on Thursday. Leuer responded with 15 points (6-9 FG), six boards, five assists, and two blocks in 32 minutes, and he's clearly an intriguing fantasy prospect. He fits the definition of NBA ready after spending four years at Wisconsin, including a very productive senior season (18.3 points, 1.6 threes, 7.2 boards, 0.9 blocks). He's got good good range on his jumper, as evidenced by those threes and so far by his NBA numbers, making him an excellent complement to Andrew Bogut. In a small sample, he's shown excellent efficiency (53% FG, 87% FT, 12:7 AST:TO) and good stat potential (13.8 points, 8.3 boards, 1.5 blocks per-36). Scott Skiles said he's not married to lineup switch but that Leuer deserves the look as the starter. Considering the alternatives (Ersan Ilyasova, Drew Gooden), Leuer has a very good chance to make this move stick. I'd consider him just behind Byron Mullens when it comes to an add, and ahead of a low-ceiling option like Zaza Pachulia.
• Michael Redd made his season debut for the Suns on Thursday night, coming off the bench to score 12 points (4-9 FG, 3-7 3PT) in 19 minutes. He's in line for some playing time - as long as he can stay healthy - thanks to the struggles of Grant Hill (33% FG) and Shannon Brown (34% FG). Alvin Gentry has been looking for ways to limit the 39-year-old Hill's minutes, in particular, and Jared Dudley played plenty of small forward after Hill left Thursday's game early with a quad injury. How the rotation should play out moving forward, assuming all parties stay healthy: Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat are locked in with 32-plus minutes; Dudley and Channing Frye are next in the pecking order, coming in around 30 on most nights; Markieff Morris is the sixth man and will average out around 25 per night; Hill, Redd, and Shannon Brown split around 60 minutes as a group, with no single player emerging consistently; and Hakim Warrick, Robin Lopez, and Ronnie Price are on mop-up duty.
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Byron Mullens had some good (33 minutes, 21 points) and some bad (4 boards, 0 blocks) in his first start, but he's clearly at the forefront of the Bobcats' plans at center and deserves near-universal rostering. Also worth noting: Mullens has made 25 of his 27 free throws (93%) .. Rip who? It looks like Kyle Korver's excellent run will get a chance to continue for at least two more games, and he's averaged 13.2 points on 54-percent shooting, 3 threes, and 1.4 steals in 30 minutes over his past five. Just don't expect the ride to continue when Hamilton does eventually return .. Tyrone Corbin says he's now comfortable with Josh Howard playing 30-plus minutes on a nightly basis. Howard posted 18 points, two threes, four boards, and a steal in 34 minutes on Wednesday .. Ramon Sessions has been packing the box score on a per-minute basis (16.2 points, 5.9 boards, 7.9 assists per-36), but his shot has been way off (28% FG in January) and Kyrie Irving is growing more comfortable by the day. I've dropped Sessions in all but the deepest of leagues .. Signs of life from Jameer Nelson? He was very productive in the Magic's back-to-back (33 minutes, 12.5 points, 65% FG, 1.5 threes, 5.5 assists, 2 steals).