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Phil Londen

Court Report: Kobe Bryant will save some for the playoffs

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Status updates from around the league in bullet-point form and some discussion of rising and falling player values.

There is still no set timetable for the return of Rodrigue Beaubois(notes) as he recovers from setbacks related to a broken foot sustained this summer. Look for production elsewhere if you haven’t already.

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Head coach Phil Jackson recently announced that Kobe Bryant(notes)’s minutes are to be limited in the beginning of the regular season, and that he could also see limited minutes in back-to-back situations. While Bryant’s toughness has never been questioned, it is clear that the Lakers brass are willing to sacrifice some regular season success to prepare for another deep postseason run.

On a similar note, the Lakers are going to proceed with caution in bringing back Andrew Bynum(notes) from his latest round of offseason knee surgery. Bynum has been cleared to ratchet up his physical activities, although he has not yet been cleared for explosive running or jumping. Bynum is still at least a month away from playing his first minutes this season.

Veteran center Marcus Camby(notes) sat out his third consecutive game with a sore hip but claims he would have been active if it were the regular season. Camby should be available on opening night but comes with the usual injury concerns.

Tyson Chandler(notes) cut his hand on the rim in Wednesday’s preseason loss to the Orlando Magic. Chandler required a couple of stitches to his right thumb and sat out the remainder of the game. He is not expected to miss significant time as a result.

Suns swingman Josh Childress(notes) fractured the tip of one of his fingers during Phoenix’s preseason victory over the Golden State Warriors. Childress is to refrain from participating in any basketball activities for one week and will be re-evaluated on the day of the Suns’ first regular season game.

The Bobcats recently experienced some success with Boris Diaw(notes) playing point-forward against New Orleans (seven assists versus only two turnovers along with the win). Playing the point is not unfamiliar territory for Diaw, who has filled that role for both Mike D’Antoni’s Suns and his French national team. Letting Diaw initiate Charlotte’s offense would allow D.J. Augustin(notes) to focus on shooting instead of distributing, and could be a boon for both Diaw’s and Augustin’s fantasy values this season.

Tyreke Evans(notes) is the latest in a long line of professional basketball players to be diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. While the diagnosis is being described as mild, any plantar fasciitis diagnosis should be viewed as a red flag for fantasy managers, as it generally requires a healthy dose of rest to overcome and can be easily aggravated during the grind of an 82-game season.

Toronto’s point guard battle become a little less clear recently (if that is possible) with the development that Jarrett Jack(notes) is suffering from a swollen bursa sac in his left elbow. While there is no indication how long Jack will suffer from this uncommon injury, it is clear that his range of motion in his (non-shooting) elbow will be limited, putting a damper on his campaign to unseat Jose Calderon(notes) as Toronto’s starting point guard.

Al Jefferson(notes) suffered a bruised knuckle during Utah’s preseason victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Although the knuckle on Jefferson’s right index finger was swollen and bruised after the game, Al is not expected to miss any games unless he aggravates the injury further.

Wesley Matthews(notes) is still recovering from his Achilles injury and has been ruled out for Portland’s final preseason game against Denver. Accordingly, Matthews remains questionable for Portland’s season opener against Phoenix.

Darko Milicic(notes) sat out Minnesota’s game against the Pacers because of neck and shoulder pain. Neck pain is difficult to gauge and there are no indications as to the seriousness of the injury besides head coach Kurt Rambis’ indication that Darko is experiencing considerable pain. Monitor the situation for updates on the severity of Milicic’s injury prior to the start of the season.

Troy Murphy(notes) recently received a cortisone shot in his back in order to reduce the pain he has been experiencing since diving for a loose rebound in practice. Murphy is optimistically targeting a return to practice this weekend, with an eye towards seeing game action shortly after the regular season opens. Back injuries have a high probability of re-injury or aggravation, so take this timeline with a dose of skepticism.

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Anderson Varejao(notes) and Mo Williams(notes) returned to action for Cleveland after both players missed the Cavaliers’ previous six preseason games. Varejao returned from an offseason ankle injury suffered in Turkey while Williams returned from a groin injury that occurred just before training camp.

Market Moverscharting player values

Rudy Fernandez(notes), SG, POR – Despite the offseason distractions involving Fernandez’s (failed) attempt to force a trade out of the Rose City, Rudy posted excellent numbers this preseason (12.5 points, 49 FG%, 82 FT%, 3.3 threes, 2.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals and only 0.7 turnovers in about 22 minutes per game).

Toney Douglas(notes), G, NYK – The Knicks’ starting shooting guard is still to be named, with Douglas making a strong case for consideration for the honors. Toney possesses all of the necessary skills to excel in D’Antoni’s system, and has the potential to rack up points, threes and steals (he recently tallied six steals against the Nets) if given decent run.

Linas Kleiza(notes), GF, TOR – Someone in Toronto has to score this season, and the Lithuanian forward is poised to be one of the Raptors’ primary options on offense. Kleiza is playing much more confidently and aggressively since spending the past couple of seasons teamed up with Josh Childress in Greece.

Daniel Gibson(notes), G, CLE – Boobie Gibson has undoubtedly benefited from the absence of Mo Williams this preseason. Regardless, he has head coach Byron Scott’s unqualified endorsement and preseason averages of 13.3 points, 46 FG%, 88 FT%, 1.0 threes, 3.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.3 blocks and 1.8 turnovers.

Marvin Williams(notes), F, ATL – Of all the Hawks that stand to gain from the regime change in Atlanta, Marvin arguably has the most to gain. Despite poor shooting in his three preseason appearances, Williams has posted a well-rounded line of 12.7 points, 33 FG%, 78 FT%, 1.3 threes, 6.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 0.7 turnovers.

Udonis Haslem(notes), FC, MIA – Although he may not end up starting for the Heat this season, Haslem figures to be the first big off the bench and should see extended run in blowouts (read: ample stat-padding opportunities). This preseason, Haslem has averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds on good percentages in about 24 minutes per game.

Andrea Bargnani(notes), FC, TOR – Life after Chris Bosh(notes) has been pretty rough for Andrea Bargnani. Il Mago has gotten a crash-course in what it means to be a team’s primary option on offense (i.e. much greater attention from opposing defenses), and his efficiency has drastically suffered as a result (30 FG%).

Anthony Randolph(notes), FC, NYK – Another team, another season and another potential headache. That is the fear Anthony Randolph owners are experiencing at this point of the Knicks’ preseason. Randolph has been completely underwhelming relative to the perhaps unrealistic expectations fantasy managers and Knicks fans have thrust upon him.

Marcus Thornton(notes), SG, NOR – Thornton’s minutes have steadily declined since the beginning of preseason, culminating in a DNP-CD against the Bobcats in New Orleans’ penultimate game before the beginning of the regular season. It’s hard to imagine Thornton’s stock getting much lower without a serious injury.

Brendan Haywood(notes), C, DAL – The acquisition of Tyson Chandler in the Erick Dampier(notes) trade effectively capped Haywood’s fantasy potential this season. As long as Chandler stays healthy, Haywood figures to be a backup in Dallas, playing around 20 minutes a game.

Evan Turner(notes), GF, PHI – It’s hard to imagine a worse preseason for Evan Turner, whose adjustment to the NBA has been difficult to say the least (32 FG%). On the bright side, Turner’s complimentary statistics have been decent (6.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists), indicating the sophomore forward’s fantasy potential when he finally does make the adjustment to the NBA.

Taj Gibson(notes), PF, CHI – Gibson’s preseason production (5.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in about 19 minutes) is not exactly what managers had in mind when they rushed to pick up Taj off the waiver wire in the wake of Carlos Boozer’s(notes) injury. The only hope is that Gibson’s subpar production is a function of extreme caution on the part of the Bulls brass, and not a prelude to a disappointing season.

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