For now, China's letter-of-clearance rule still stands for Smith, Chandler and Aaron Brooks. Smith's team has slumped, and could miss the playoffs. If so, Smith could return to the NBA by the All-Star break in February. Chandler and Aaron Brooks are on teams that could make playoff runs well into March.
Smith is an unrestricted free agent, and Chandler and Brooks are restricted free agents, likely to re-sign with Denver and Phoenix, respectively. Smith has significant interest around the NBA, including the Lakers, Knicks, Spurs and several more potential contenders.
Based on what Woj says there, Smith may end up with a team within three weeks or so and certainly could impact the fantasy landscape down the stretch - he's currently leading the CBA in scoring at 35.2 points per game and his per-minute production in the NBA has never been in question. He's already being stashed in the deepest of leagues (5% owned) and should be on more radars while we see about his team's playoff chances. Chandler is also currently rostered in 4 percent of leagues, but he could remain in China into March and then would return to a packed Denver depth chart, while Brooks (1% owned) will be behind Steve Nash for the Suns after an eventual return. One more aspect of the Martin signing for the Clippers - it likely means that Mo Williams will not be traded, and he's settled in nicely as the Clippers' third guard.
• Amar'e Stoudemire turned in his best performance of the season on Thursday, scoring 34 points on 16-of-27 shooting and adding 11 boards, one steal, and one block in 41 minutes. A look at the advanced box score tells you all you need to know - Amar'e made 11 of his 13 shots at the rim, six of which were assisted. Per HoopData, Amar'e had attempted more than seven shots at the rim in just one other game, with seven makes being his previous high-water mark. Amar'e was heavily involved in the pick-and-roll and helped Iman Shumpert and Landry Fields combine for 12 assists and four turnovers. The performance needs to be qualified with that it came against Carlos Boozer playing his fourth road game in five nights, and the Knicks still lost, but there were most certainly some positive signs for Amar'e owners here.
• Are you a fantasy owner sweating Wesley Matthews' cold shooting streak? For what it's worth, Matthews is taking it pretty hard, too. He averaged 15.6 points on 48-percent shooting (11.6 FGA) and 1.8 threes (4.7 3PA, 38%) through his first 11 games but those numbers have fallen to 10 points on 34-percent shooting (10.4 FGA) and 1.5 threes (4.8 3PA, 32%) over the past 12 games. We've been seeing a lot of "What's wrong with Wes Matthews?" questions over the past week or so, but this is the kind of slump that you just have to wait out. Interestingly enough, Matthews' field goal percentage also tanked in January of last season [splits], in the middle of an otherwise productive season, and he also ruled out any kind of unreported injury. Matthews has also been a microcosm of the Blazers' home/away performance - as a team, the Blazers have shot 47 percent at home (10-1) and 42 percent on the road (3-9), but Matthews' splits have been more dramatic (45% home, 35% away) and the team has played nine of its past 13 games on the road. Like Matthews himself, you are just going to have to keep the faith here. After all, if there's hope for Raymond Felton (43% FG his past nine games), then there is certainly hope for Matthews.
• The Hornets have reportedly removed Chris Kaman from the trade block and will reinstate him. The between-the-lines story here is that nobody wanted to give the Hornets near their asking price and this is a hedge in an attempt to raise his trade value. Houston was assumed to be in the lead for his services. He'll likely play some minutes for the Hornets moving forward, but you can't imagine that Monty Williams will feature him heavily in the rotation, ahead of long-term pieces of the Hornets' puzzle, or that Kaman will be especially motivated to perform, given the entirety of the situation. This muddies the picture a bit, but Kaman still seems like a lock to end up on another team on or before the March 15 trade deadline.
• Status updates: Jarrett Jack sat out Thursday because of a sore knee and his status for Saturday remains in doubt. Greivis Vasquez started in his place (34 minutes, 16 points, 5 assists, 2 steals) and is gaining relevance by the day .. Rajon Rondo (wrist) is expected to be active on Friday .. Gerald Henderson is expected to miss two to four weeks with a hamstring strain. Matt Carroll and Reggie Williams will inherit Hederson's minutes .. The Mavs expect to have both Brendan Haywood (back) and Lamar Odom (illness) return on Friday .. Ben Gordon (shoulder) is out again Friday but appears to be getting closer to a return .. Anthony Morrow (ankle) will return on Friday .. Jason Richardson (knee) will play and start for the Magic on Friday .. Spencer Hawes: out again Friday .. For the Raptors: Linas Kleiza (knee) will play, Leandro Barbosa (illness) is a game-time decision .. Glen Davis has been suspended by the Magic for the next two games after an outburst during Friday's shootaround .. Jason Kidd (calf) says he feels a lot better and will ramp up his activities over the weekend. He'll be re-evaluated by the middle of next week
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Starting at shooting guard has suited Gordon Hayward just fine and he's averaged 16.5 points, 1.3 threes, 3.8 boards, 1.5 steals, and 0.8 blocks in 33 minutes over the past four games. But it's nearly impossible to see this keeping up after Raj Bell returns from his groin injury .. Jimmer Fredette was a DNP-CD on Thursday, with the minutes behind Tyreke Evans and Marcus Thornton going to Isaiah Thomas. Thomas hasn't been fantastic statistically, but his energy and truer point guard play are much-needed on this roster. Fredette should be a mass drop (40% owned) .. Percent-owned numbers have yet to catch up with the Spurs' big-man rotation, which has been turning away from DeJuan Blair (55% owned) and been leaning more on Tiago Splitter (39%) and Matt Bonner (11%). The minutes distribution over the past nine games: Tim Duncan 28, Bonner 24, Splitter 24, and Blair 21 .. Yep, the shine is fully off Marreese Speights at this point. He's still starting and will see regular 20ish minutes, but the Grizz are going small a lot and he's in a platoon with Dante Cunningham otherwise. Over the past nine games, Speights has averaged 19 minutes to Cunningham's 18 .. Just when you thought Kawhi Leonard was back in the mix for the Spurs, with a double-double in 32 minutes against the Grizzlies on Monday, Gregg Popovich played him a total of 20 minutes over the past two games and replaced him in the starting five with Gary Neal. At this point, it appears that Leonard will deployed when defense is needed and not much otherwise .. Jamaal Tinsley was huge while filling in for Devin Harris (hamstring) and Earl Watson (ankle) on Thursday (34 minutes, 9 points, 6 boards, 13 assists, 2 steals). Watson looks like he'll miss at least a few games, while Harris remains questionable for Saturday.