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Matt Buser

Court Report: Happy returns?

Matt Buser
Roto Arcade

Iverson's return to the 76ers dominates the Thursday headlines, but Wednesday's slate of games and updates on Love, McGrady, and Griffin also help make up the Thursday Court Report.

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Allen Iverson(notes) has signed with the 76ers, a one-year prorated deal for the for the remainder of the season. Technically it's also non-guaranteed, but it becomes guaranteed if he's on the team's roster as of Jan. 10. You are likely to be happy to hear this news if you added Iverson off the wire following his debacle in Memphis, and you may have some trepidation if you've rostered Andre Iguodala(notes), Elton Brand(notes), and/or Thaddeus Young(notes). Here are some quotes from Eddie Jordan to lighten the mood:

"One of the options we're looking at is obviously, I would like him to start. I haven't talked to the team about it, but it's a thought process. When I make that decision I will talk to the team first and then will tell you guys. I'm really looking to see if he can fit into our starting lineup, but it's not etched in stone." ... "I would like to, without really seeing him on the floor, I would like to compare him to Brett Favre, a guy who people think is too old to play, and he's almost having an MVP year. I think he could be that."

And some interesting speculation (from followed by another Jordan quote:

Jordan's Princeton offense will no doubt have to take a back seat now with Iverson being implemented into the lineup, but Jordan said Iverson knows the gist of the offense and that it shouldn't be a problem, with the help of teammates who are more familiar with the read-and-react system. "I have confidence in my abilities to teach how to catch the ball and go iso (isolation)," Jordan kidded. "Isolation is part of our offense. I feel good. When I talked with him, he knows what we do. I'd like for him to know the minimum part of it."

Clearly, Iverson will start – that's the whole point. As to the Princeton offense "taking a back seat" to Iverson's whims as a usage hog – that's exactly what would carve into the fantasy impact of his teammates and is the last thing the majority of fantasy owners should hope for. For comparison's sake: Louis Williams'(notes) usage% while posting very good numbers before his injury this season was 21.6; Iverson's number in 2008-09, the lowest of his career, was 25.9. It's been three years since AI1 and AI2 were teammates, and it will be interesting to see if Iguodala can remain his assertive self with Iverson back on board. Iverson is set to have his first practice with his new (old) team on Sunday and make his debut Monday (DEN).

• How great is a matchup with the Raptors these days? The Hawks went berserk on Wednesday: they totaled 146 points on 59-percent shooting, out-rebounded Toronto 51-29, and had 37 assists on 52 made field goals. Chris Bosh(notes) was in early foul trouble and ended up only playing 16 minutes (2 points, 5 boards) in the laugher. Opposing teams have averaged 116 points against the Raptors over their past 10 games.

• The shooting woes continued for Brandon Jennings(notes) on Wednesday. He made seven of 21 shots and is shooting 30 percent over the past six games (14.7 points, 2 threes), with the Bucks going 1-5 in those games. During the team's 8-3 start, he made 48 percent of his field goal attempts (25.3 points, 2.5 threes).

Luke Ridnour(notes) was not limited by his recent hamstring strain and had another solid line in 33 minutes (20 points, 2 threes, 4 boards, 6 assists, 0 turnovers, 1 steal). In the past eight games that Michael Redd(notes) has not played, Ridnour has averaged 13.8 points on 53-percent shooting, 1.4 threes, 5.6 assists, and 1.1 steals in 29 minutes. While it's not likely that the career 42-percent shooter will maintain his high percentage, his role is very secure for as long as Redd is sidelined.

Ersan Ilyasova(notes) was limited by foul trouble on Wednesday (14 minutes, 5 fouls) and it could ultimately determine how substantial his fantasy impact will be this season. He's totaled 11 fouls in 41 minutes over the past two games and has averaged 7.3 fouls per 48 minutes on the season.

Nate Robinson(notes) was benched on Wednesday because he hasn't been conducive to winning for the Knicks, according to Mike D'Antoni. Nobody else on the Knicks was any better, as the team fell to 4-15 and trailed by eight points after one quarter, 12 at halftime, and 22 after three quarters. Robinson has made a few plays in recent weeks that have showed a clear lack of focus, something that undoubtedly is at the root of D'Antoni's gripes. Perhaps the benching will force Nate to rein things in, but fantasy owners don't have the luxury of waiting more than a few games to see how temporary this move is.

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• Hopefully the pair of games against the Knicks was what Rashard Lewis(notes) needed to get things going. He had averaged 13 points on 37-percent shooting and 1.3 threes in his first seven games since returning from his suspension, but combined for 46 points on 61-percent shooting and 10 threes in the two games against the Knicks.

Erick Dampier(notes) returned to the Mavs – and to their starting lineup – on Wednesday, posting 18 points, 11 boards, and two blocks in 23 minutes of action. Brook Lopez(notes) necessitated the bigger Damp getting the start, and Drew Gooden(notes) should still see minutes based on matchups, but Dampier has contract year motivation (it's made a difference for him previously) and looks like a solid pickup once again.

• Wednesday marked a second consecutive solid effort from Courtney Lee(notes) (32 minutes, 13 points, 2 threes, 6 boards, 4 steals) and he should make his return to the starting lineup shortly, ahead of Trenton Hassell(notes). The Nets' young players will be the focus as Kiki Vandeweghe takes over as head coach. On a related note, Yi Jianlian(notes) is about a week away from returning for the Nets.

Mike Conley(notes) played through a sore shoulder and had one of his better overall efforts of the season (33 minutes, 20 points, 4 threes, 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 2 steals, 1 block). Conley's strong play limited Jamaal Tinsley(notes) to 15 minutes of playing time (0 points, 3 assists).

• A specialist is taking a look at X-rays of Kevin Love's(notes) broken left hand on Thursday, and playing as soon as Friday is "a possibility" if everything checks out. He's likely to return soon, even if it's not Friday, and he'll be fitted with a fingerless glove to protect his hand in the early-going. Fantasy owners also need to keep in mind that he'll need some time to get back into game shape once he is back on the active roster. Damien Wilkins(notes) will continue to act as a placeholder in the T-Wolves' starting five until Love is ready to rejoin the team.

Russell Westbrook(notes) dished a career-high 15 assists on Wednesday but also made just one of his 11 field goal attempts. He's shot just 37 percent over his past 12 games and lowered his season mark to 41 percent in the process.

John Salmons(notes) was good again on Wednesday (22 points, 7-of-12 shooting, 3 treys, 2 steals, 1 block) and, although he's still lacking for consistency, he's at least been better over the past seven games (17.4 points, 47% FG, 1.6 threes, 1.9 steals, 0.9 blocks).

Charlie Villanueva(notes) (broken nose) did not play Wednesday but is expected to be back on the active roster on Friday. Tayshaun Prince(notes) and Richard Hamilton(notes) both practiced with the team on Wednesday and could be nearing their respective returns to the court, although John Kuester said he was "not exactly sure" what the team's active roster would look like for Friday's matchup with the Bucks.

Tyreke Evans(notes) completely owned T.J. Ford(notes) on Wednesday, limiting him to no points and one assist in 20 minutes of playing time. Earl Watson(notes) was solid off the bench (28 minutes, 15 points, 2 assists, 3 steals) but hasn't been playing well enough himself to make a real push for Ford's minutes, but Ford himself really needs to pick things up.

Brandon Rush(notes) has not only been benched for Dahtay Jones, he's been removed from the team's nine-man rotation. He's struggled so mightily to this point (34% FG, 30% 3PT, 52% FT), despite Jim O'Brien's best efforts to get him untracked, that he'll only be used on an "as-needed" basis. Jones will start moving forward, with Mike Dunleavy seeing the backup minutes at the two.

Al Thornton(notes) has made a concerted effort to stop settling for perimeter jumpshots and it's been evident in the box score. He's averaged 18.9 points over his past eight games on 54-percent shooting – he did not attempt a three in any of the games and averaged 6 attempts from the foul line. While the supporting stats have remained sparse (5.3 boards, 1.1 assists, 1.6 turnovers, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks), his maturation on offense is at least a good sign.

Eric Gordon(notes) did not play Wednesday after his right hamstring tightened up late in Sunday's game and still didn't feel right during warm-ups. Gordon called hamstrings a sensitive issue and he's currently day-to-day. Something of a silver lining in the timing here is that the Clippers only play twice in the next 10 days (Saturday IND, Tuesday ORL).

Blake Griffin(notes) is still a month or so away because of the stress fracture in his left kneecap. He's set to undergo X-rays in 10 days that will determine how well the bone has healed and if he'd then be able to start graduated weight-bearing exercises on a special machine. He'd be eased back into practice at that point before being cleared to join the active roster.

• Not much has changed regarding Tracy McGrady's(notes) return to the Rockets' active roster. Athough he is practicing and traveling with the team, he's yet to get to a point where Rick Adelman thinks he would help the team win, as opposed to simply rehabbing during games that count. Team chemistry and his returning before he is truly 100 percent remain chief concerns.


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