Jay Triano, the Raptors interim head coach, said O'Neal volunteered to come off the bench to begin.
"He's earned the right to stay in the starting lineup," said O'Neal of Bargnani.
"I have no ego about that. Some guys would want their starting position back, but I've been out for two weeks.
"... I don't deserve the right to come back and take somebody's position that has been playing well."
The 75 percent-owned Bargnani had 31 points and 10 boards in Wednesday's home loss to Chicago, and he's averaging 22.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.9 threes and 1.3 blocks during O'Neal's nine-game absence. Yet according to the Star, "all signs point to a return tonight" for O'Neal.
I get a lot of email suggestions about this: (Larry) Hughes for O'Neal, though the Bulls would have to make up more than $8 million in salaries.
As far as I know it hasn't been discussed by the teams, and I cannot see the Bulls interested at all. Though I think Toronto might jump at it. They'd get another player or two at that amount of money, and Hughes might actually help them.
If Chicago hasn't discussed Larry Hughes with every team, that's just gross negligence. The Bulls have won their last two without Hughes, or a credible center. They can offer O'Neal all the minutes and shots he requires, should his ego and health return.
• Delonte West suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right wrist in the first quarter on Thursday. (Note the extreme concern on the face of the woman on the far left. She's obviously read West's classic guide to wooing). He was off to a scorching start against Chicago, too. He went 5-for-7 in just over ten minutes, easily dismissing Ben Gordon.
The early word is that West could be sidelined two to three weeks, although he's threatening to play through the injury. Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak picked up bonus minutes last night. Curiously, the Bulls left Mo Williams completely alone, allowing him to finish with 26 points (5-for-10 on threes).
• The seven percent-owned Jerryd Bayless scored 23 points on 6-for-9 shooting against the Nets. "When this dude finally gets comfortable out there," said Brandon Roy, "he's gonna be tough, because you can't keep him out of the paint."
Bayless seemed plenty comfortable here. (The early BDL commenters make two fair points: 1) There was no foul on that drive, and 2) yeah, I can see the Derrick Rose Lite-thing). Steve Blake is out seven to ten days with a shoulder separation, so Bayless will get minutes in the weeks ahead. He's only made one three in 10 attempts this season, however. The Blazers are at Charlotte on Saturday, then they're home against the Bucks, Cavs and Wizards next week.
• Linas Kleiza and JR Smith combined for 37 points against the Shaqless Suns on Thursday night; Carmelo Anthony has reportedly targeted January 30 for his return, although that's clearly not a reliable date. Smith won't be suspended for the elbow incident, by the way.
• Nick Collison (stomach virus) could miss tonight's game against Detroit, which would mean a start for Nenad Krstic. The 18 percent-owned Krstic is coming off his first double-double for OKC. (Yes, he's in the game. You're spelling it wrong. K-R-S-T-I-C).
• Andrew Bogut (back spasms) didn't accompany the Bucks on their three-game road trip:
Bogut visited a back specialist on Thursday and was advised to rest.
"It's going to need some more rest so there's no point in going on the trip because I wouldn't even play in the Portland game," Bogut said.
"It's one of those things where I'll have to get treatment around the clock. A lot of rest. A lot of pills."
Lucky [profane]. That sounds awesome, actually. Scott Skiles didn't guarantee a start for Dan Gadzuric:
Skiles declined to name a starter after practice on Thursday, suggesting that he was considering other options.
"We may change the lineup in another way to try to make up for Andrew's absence," said Skiles. "We're talking about that so we'll see."
So...Villanueva? Mokeski? Breuer?
• In addition to Buser links, we're also offering a special Friday spreadsheet. This should look familiar to football readers. Each week during the NFL season, we regularly reviewed the upcoming schedules of the league's worst defenses. The reason for this should be obvious. When you're making short-term adds in fantasy leagues, you go where the points are.
With that principle in mind, here's a quick look at the NBA's most user-friendly teams, along with their upcoming opponents:
For a more comprehensive weekly look-ahead, try RotoWire's Fantasy Basketball SOS. The table above is simply a way to highlight teams that are about to put up 115 against the Warriors (WAS, OKC, CLE, LAC).
Enjoy the weekend everyone. Please use Nick Young responsibly.
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