Court Report: Isaiah Thomas, post-Lin waiver point guard

Matt Buser
February 20, 2012

Keith Smart finally got around to replacing John Salmons in his starting five, moving him to the bench on Friday and promoting Isaiah Thomas. Smart wants Thomas to keep the offense moving at a brisk pace but also hopes that his point guard skills translate to better team efficiency. The Kings lost both of the games that Thomas started over the weekend, but he was a +1 on Friday and a +11 in the one-point loss to the Cavs on Friday, totaling 36 points, four threes, 12 boards, 15 assists, and five turnovers in the two games (66 minutes). In short, Thomas has been productive whenever he's played this season [per 36s] and warrants immediate roster consideration in most formats. His size (5'9, 185) will limit his contributions in certain matchups and you shouldn't count on his shooting percentage climbing much higher than 40 percent, but there is plenty of counting stat potential here if his influence allows the Kings to more effectively push the ball in transition. Look for Smart to stick with a tight backcourt/wing rotation moving forward, meaning big minutes for Thomas, Tyreke Evans, and Marcus Thornton.

• The Spurs lost both Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter to injury on Saturday - Ginobili suffered a strained left oblique, while Splitter strained his right calf - and both players are expected to miss two weeks. The time frame means at least five games off, and the short-term fantasy gains go to Danny Green (36 minutes, 11 points, 3 threes, 2 steals on Saturday), Matt Bonner (36 minutes, 13 points, 3 threes, 6 boards, 2 steals), and Gary Neal (27 minutes, 17 points, 5 threes, 3 steals).

• As Portland's backcourt turns: Raymond Felton played well during the team's convincing win over the Hawks on Saturday (33 minutes, 14 points, 6-11 FG, 2 threes, 8 assists, 2 turnovers). Nate McMillan lauded Felton for being aggressive and consistently pushing the tempo, and said he played "free" and "loose." McMillan also found 15 minutes of playing time for Nolan Smith (5 points, 2 assists, 2 turnovers), which didn't leave much for Jamal Crawford (13 minutes, 0 points, 0-1 FG). McMillan explained the few minutes for Crawford as the matchup with Joe Johnson,  but Smith's minutes were the surprise here. And Wesley Matthews turned in a line that will give hope to his fantasy owners that he can stay relevant as a reserve (28 minutes, 13 points, 6-13 FG, 1 three, 2 steals).

• Brook Lopez made his season debut on Sunday and clearly showed rust (22 minutes, 9 points, 2-7 FG, 5-11 FT) but showed no ill effects after the game, and that's the clear positive here. That said, the Nets will hold him out of Monday's game as a precaution and he'll be back in the lineup Wednesday.

Status updates: Rajon Rondo has been suspended for two games for throwing the ball at a ref during Sunday's loss to the Pistons. Rondo will sit out the Celtics' remaining two games before the All-Star break (Mon @DAL, Wed @OKC) .. Kevin Garnett (personal) is expected to be out again Monday .. Danilo Gallinari (ankle) looks to still be on schedule for a return in early March .. Nene Hilario (foot) is out Monday and seems doubtful for the team's back-to-back before the All-Star break (Wed @LAC, Thu SAS) .. Knicks on Monday: Carmelo Anthony expects to play, Tyson Chandler (back, wrists) will be a game-time decision .. Andrea Bargnani has started some low-impact exercises but nothing basketball-related and remains out indefinitely .. Joe Johnson is dealing with some tendinitis in his left knee but is not expected to miss time at this point .. George Hill (ankle) could return to the Pacers' active roster on either Tuesday or Wednesday .. Jordan Farmar (groin) is out through the All-Star break .. Samuel Dalembert came off the bench on Sunday because he missed the team's shootaround earlier in the day .. Doug Collins told Jrue Holiday he wants him to be more aggressive on offense, and he went out and scored 20 points on 10-of-20 shooting on Sunday.

Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: J.R. Smith made quite an impact in his first game with the Knicks. He hit three of five threes during a six-minute stint that keyed a 17-0 run to end the first quarter and finished with 15 points and a plus-21 in 30 minutes during the seven-point win over the Mavs. Smith played the entire fourth quarter (2-6 FG, 0-2 3PT, +10), while Landry Fields didn't leave the bench .. Gustavo Ayon has been a big part of the Hornets' current three-game winning streak, averaging 12.7 points on 70-percent shooting, 10.7 boards, 2 steals, and 1 block in 32 minutes. Ayon comfortably leads the team in both offensive rating and defensive rating and is distinguishing himself from his minutes competition (Jason Smith, Carl Landry) in fairly short order .. Wilson Chandler is with the Nuggets currently, discussing the possibility of a signing. He's waiting for CBA/FIBA clearance before he can officially sign. Nene Hilario and Danilo Gallinari's injury clear plenty of playing time right now, but how much is available after they return is questionable .. Trevor Booker has been platooning with Jan Vesely lately and it, along with his putrid foul shooting, has knocked him down a few pegs. The steal-plus-block potential is no joke, but that only matters so much if Randy Wittman sticks with Vesely, and we're also getting closer to an Andray Blatche return .. Perhaps you swap out Booker for Markieff Morris? Morris is back into a groove off the bench, having averaged 13.5 points, 1.3 threes, 5.5 boards, 1.7 steals, and 1.8 blocks in 23 minutes over the past six games.