Andrea Bargnani called Wednesday's calf injury "much worse" than the the first one, which cost him six games. Bargnani is due for an MRI on Thursday but figures to be lost for a while in any case. As we saw during his first stretch of missed games, the Raptors will struggle mightily on offense for as long as he's out. Aaron Gray will likely remain as the starter at center by default, but will top out at 20 minutes on most nights. That leaves a combined 124 minutes behind Gray at center and between the two forward spots, which will be divided between James Johnson (SF/PF), Linas Kleiza (SF/PF), Amir Johnson (PF/C), and Ed Davis (PF/C). That means regular playing time for all four players - Johnson deserves near-universal roster consideration, Kleiza and Amir should be very solid options, and Davis should also see an uptick in his season averages. It's hard to say that Leandro Barbosa's stock also improves here, given that Jerryd Bayless is back from his ankle injury. We'll have to see what happens to DeMar DeRozan, who finally turned in a solid performance on Wednesday (44 minutes, 17 points, 6-11 FG, 4-4 FT, 8 boards, 2 steals) but was really pressing during Bargnani's previous absence.
• Andrew Bogut said he's "not optimistic" as he waits for a diagnosis on the left ankle sprain he sustained on Wednesday night (lowlight here). X-rays were negative, but check out this particularly foreboding quote from Bogut after the game:
"But tomorrow's the day of reckoning where I go under the MRI machine and find out my fate."
We won't know any specifics until the results of his MRI are announced, but you do have to expect at least some time off here. The immediate fallout is more playing time for Drew Gooden, who has averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 boards in his five starts on the season. Ersan Ilyasova also gets a boost and was already seeing more time recently - his averages over the past five games include 9 points, 11.2 boards, 1.2 steals, and 0.6 blocks in 24 minutes. Nobody else involved will register in fantasy leagues, including Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Larry Sanders, and Jon Leuer.
Update: Bogut is out indefinitely (and likely a long while) after the MRI revealed a fracture in his left ankle. Grab Gooden wherever he's available and take a good long look at Ilyasova.
• Reports are now surfacing that Eric Gordon could miss up to six more weeks because of whatever is wrong with his right knee. Instead of expecting a return in three weeks, now he's set to be re-evaluated at that point. This update doesn't necessarily mean you immediately eject him from your roster, particularly if you were content to wait three weeks as of yesterday, but the continued expansion of his timeline obviously does not bode well for an eventual return. He should stay on your roster in a roto league, at least until we get to that re-evaluation. If you are at risk of missing the playoffs in a h2h league, shop him to the top teams before you simply cut him loose and see if you can do a bit better than whatever the best handful of free agents offer. We've got just over eight weeks until the default h2h playoffs begin, and roughly 12 weeks remaining in the complete season. Obviously the injuries are different, but rostering Brook Lopez and Manu Ginobili right now makes all kinds of sense and they are both out for roughly three more weeks, as well.
• Tyrus Thomas played 33 minutes on Wednesday, finishing just short of a triple-double with 13 points, nine boards, nine blocks, and four steals. These kinds of numbers are why you've been advised to exercise patience while he's struggled - yes, mightily - since returning from a preseason ankle injury three weeks ago. But he remains one of the few players with a chance of delivering a ridiculous line like this, and he's now totaled 10 steals and 16 blocks over the past five games. The offense has been bad, both for Thomas and the team - the Bobcats have averaged 85 points over their past 12 games (1-11) and are without D.J. Augustin for at least a few more games - but it's those defensive numbers that we're chasing here.
• Jordan Farmar has gotten a boost in minutes with MarShon Brooks sidelined by Achilles tendinitis, having averaged 31 minutes, 17 points on 60-percent shooting, and 2.5 threes over the past two games. But Farmar's role has been increasing even while Brooks has been playing - in the past seven games in which Brooks has played, Farmar averaged 22 minutes, 11.6 points on 46-percent shooting, 1.8 threes, 3.6 assists, 1.9 turnovers, and 1 steal. Damion James' season is over, ensuring that Brooks will need to play at least some small forward in games moving forward, which in turn ensures steady backup minutes at both guard spots for Farmar. And Farmar has played a lot more like a point guard since arriving in New Jersey - his AST% was just under 18 percent as a Laker, and that's climbed to over 34 percent in 90 games as a Net. Deep-leaguers in need of guard depth should give Farmar a good look (9% owned).
• I would love to say that 28 points, four threes, and six boards in 30 minutes against the Heat will be the start of something good for Austin Daye, but I can't. Tayshaun Prince missed the game for personal reasons and he's not only starting ahead of Daye but leading the team with 33 minutes per game. You can read a number of pleasant quotes regarding Daye's game from Lawrence Frank here, but what you'll find is a mention of his being "out of the rotation" and needing to make the most of minutes when he can get them.
• Chris Kaman was a healthy scratch on Wednesday because Monty Williams wants to find more playing time for Gustavo Ayon. Williams is looking for hustle and two-way energy that won't come from Kaman, who averaged 5.6 points on 30-percent shooting, 4.9 boards, 1.4 blocks, and 2 turnovers in 18 minutes over his previous seven games. Ayon continued his productive ways Wednesday, scoring 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting in 17 minutes while also logging three steals and a block. The 26-year-old rookie has averaged 8.4 points on 70-percent shooting, 4.4 boards, 1.4 steals, and 1.2 blocks when he's seen at least 12 minutes of playing time (five games). This remains a fluid situation, but clearly Kaman can come off rosters in most leagues (53% owned) - his only hope for wide relevance is an Emeka Okafor injury or a trade on or before the March 13 deadline. Ayon has shown excellent per-minute potential thus far and should be on deep-league radars.
• Luol Deng's torn wrist ligament is supposed to sideline him for a reasonable length of time, but he's already talking about trying to give it a go as early as Sunday. That of course seems foolhardy, but it does speak to how intent Deng is on playing through pain. Surgery would cost him the remainder of the season (three to four months recovery), so that's been eliminated as anything but a last resort. Ronnie Brewer went off on Wednesday night (42 minutes, 20 points, 8-15 FG, 10 boards, 5 assists, 3 steals), but his averages in 12 starts overall [splits] are more representative of his skills, so set expectations accordingly.
• Status updates: Al Jefferson is headed for an MRI on his inflamed right ankle but will travel with the team to Dallas .. Both Rajon Rondo (wrist) and Ray Allen (ankle) are out Thursday .. Ty Lawson (ankle) is doubtful for Friday but his injury isn't thought to be serious .. Arron Afflalo (groin) is doubtful for Friday .. Spencer Hawes (Achilles) could return to the lineup on Friday .. Baron Davis (back) now looks unlikely for the Knicks' weekend back-to-back (Fri @MIA, Sat @HOU). He says he's not comfortable mentally and needs more practice time. Tuesday at home versus the Pistons could happen, but we'll have to wait and see ..
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: You have to figure that Byron Mullens misses D.J. Augustin as much as anyone on the Bobcats, but when that jumper isn't falling you also start to notice that he plays bad defense and doesn't rebound much. Paul Silas may have no choice by to go another direction if Mullens can't pull it together soon .. Tiago Splitter extended his double-figure scoring streak to five games Wednesday (20 minutes, 16 points, 5-6 FG, 8 boards) and has been a per-minutes powerhouse of late (21 minutes, 12 points, 75% FG, 5.6 boards, 0.8 blocks over the past nine games). He's pushing for more playing time with each game, will get spot starts when Tim Duncan rests, and could eventually bump DeJuan Blair from his starting center gig .. Both Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas turned in good lines on Wednesday, but it's hard to get too excited when their numbers came largely against Nuggets reserves in a game that was decided in the second quarter.