NBA Skinny: Changing of the guards
We’ve got a truncated version of the Skinny this week, as very, very early fantasy baseball drafting took up a sizeable chunk of my Monday. Be sure to check out the Week 3 Dashboard for a breakdown of the best widely-available players and, as always, be looking for Court Report updates through the week on Roto Arcade.
Weekend Update: Need-to-know info from the past few days
• Tracy McGrady(notes) says he’s targeting November 19 for his return to the Rockets’ lineup. The Rockets maintain that he’s not on a timetable and won’t play before he can go through a full practice with the team, and that can’t take place until November 23 at the earliest. It’s hard to tell why T-Mac and the team are delivering mixed messages. Perhaps he is just about ready but the team wants to keep it under wraps and limit expectations. Perhaps T-Mac is getting restless and a bit ahead of himself, with the team off to a solid 4-2 start. Whatever the case may be, we’re likely to find out something a bit more conclusive sooner than later now that these reports have emerged. The 30-year-old McGrady has been practicing “off and on” with the team and last saw an NBA court on February 9 of last season. In a hypothetical situation where he does return to, and stay, in the Houston lineup, he’d likely be a very inefficient source of a reasonable amount of counting stats.
• Allen Iverson(notes) left the Grizzlies on Saturday after being granted a leave of absence to deal with a family matter, but now “a source” is claiming that he’s contemplating retirement while away from the team. He’s dealing with a number of issues – he isn’t interested in spending the season as a reserve, he’s had little-to-no direct communication with the team’s coach since his signing, and he’s acknowledged that he’s become a distraction to the team. A key quote that captures how AI feels about the basketball matters:
“I’m not trying to figure out how to contribute to no team. I contribute to a team by just playing. That’s it … I don’t have to figure it out. Obviously, they signed me for a reason. They’ve been watching me play this game for 13 years, and they know what I do on the basketball court, so I don’t have to figure out how I’m going to play or anything like that. I just go out and play basketball.”
For what it’s worth, team owner Michael Heisley (who met with AI before his departure) said that he expects Iverson to return to the team after he’s dealt with his family issue, that he’s been given no indication that AI is considering retirement, and that he’d be “tremendously disappointed” if that were to be the case. Putting feelings about AI aside, his departure would be mostly good from a fantasy perspective – while he’s currently rostered in two-thirds of Yahoo! leagues, he’s contributed little to this point and can be easily replaced in standard leagues, and removing him from the roster means upgrades for everyone else. If Mike Conley(notes) is currently on the wire in your league, then now is a good time for a speculative add. And now for the disclaimer: since this is rumor and information from unnamed sources, we have no way of knowing how things are actually going to work out in the end. While it’s obvious that this was a horrific fit from the start, Iverson will remain a member of the Grizzlies until the facts say that he is not.
• “No one trusts Don Nelson.” Those words came from Stephen Jackson’s(notes) agent Mark Stevens on Sunday night, as he has gone into attack mode in an effort to expedite his client’s departure from Golden State. Jackson’s original trade request came in August, and he listed only five teams as suitable destinations (CLE, NYK, DAL, SAS, HOU) – now his agent says that “it doesn’t matter where” he ends up, as “it can’t get any worse.” Stevens had the following take after the Warriors’ 120-107 loss on Sunday night to Sacramento:
“I’m disgusted with the quality of Nelson’s coaching and with the lack of trust his players have in him. Nelson is the winningest coach in NBA history to never have coached in the NBA Finals, let alone won a championship. Yet he keeps getting jobs despite being 69 years old.”
What we know is that whatever tension remained below the surface between Jackson, Nellie, and the Warriors is now clearly out in the open. But what now? Jackson is high-usage, low efficiency, 31 years old, and is owed nearly $28 million for three seasons after 2009-10. There are only so many teams in a realistic position to take on that kind of player, particularly in advance of one of the most highly-anticipated offseasons in memory. And then there’s Jackson’s “strong” personality to consider. This episode isn’t likely to make S-Jax more attractive to prospective suitors … As for the immediate future, could the Warriors end up telling Jackson to stay away from the team? If that were to be the case, Kelenna Azubuike(notes) and Anthony Morrow(notes) would benefit tremendously, so I would suggest checking the wire for them in your league. Much like the AI saga, this one will be rife with rumor before anything actually happens, but at least this outburst will put some wheels in motion. Stay tuned.
• Andre Miller(notes) has joined the Blazers’ starting lineup, but it’s alongside Steve Blake(notes) instead of ahead of him. Nate McMillan has started a Miller/Blake backcourt for the past two games, with Brandon Roy(notes) moving to small forward. The team wants to run more, and has with Miller in the lineup – after totaling 19 fast-break points in their first five games, the team totaled 33 in two games that Miller started. Roy’s fantasy owners were likely shocked to see that he scored just two points in 26 minutes on Sunday, but the 23-point win was decided very early and it will prove to be the exception. While it’s not known how long McMillan will stick with the current arrangement, for now it’s safe to get Miller back in your fantasy starting lineup.
• J.R. Smith(notes) has served his seven-game suspension and will return to the Nuggets’ lineup on Tuesday. Smith won’t start, but will play plenty, and that will put a squeeze on some of his teammates. Ty Lawson(notes) in particular has been a popular roster addition thanks to very good per-minute production, but it’s hard to see how he’ll be able to maintain a reasonable fantasy impact if he only averaged 22 minutes per game while Smith was inactive.
• And while we’re on the subject of suspended players, Rashard Lewis’(notes) 10-game suspension will end on Friday, and he’ll be back in the lineup – as the starter at power forward – the following Monday. The news that he’ll return to the four is bad for Ryan Anderson(notes) and Brandon Bass(notes), but good for Matt Barnes(notes), who has averaged 12.8 points, 1.5 threes, 8.5 boards, 3 assists, 2.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks in four starts thus far. There’s a good chance that he remains the starter at small forward after Lewis’ return and is looking like an intriguing roster addition.
Other Injury/Status Updates: Tim Duncan(notes) was a late scratch on Monday because of soreness in his left ankle. An MRI revealed no structural damage, so consider him day-to-day … Eric Gordon(notes) is day-to-day and doubtful for Monday because of a sore left groin … Don Nelson made a self-described bad decision in playing Andris Biedrins(notes) (back) on Sunday. Nelson said that he was “not doing very well” after scoring two points in 22 minutes of action, and he’s out Monday and probably longer.
For updates on Paul Gasol, Andrew Bynum(notes), Vince Carter(notes), Antawn Jamison(notes), Kevin Martin(notes), Tony Parker(notes), Nate Robinson(notes), Troy Murphy(notes), Brandon Rush(notes), Richard Hamilton(notes), Tayshaun Prince(notes), Ran Anderson, Chris Douglas-Roberts(notes), Courtney Lee(notes), Devin Harris(notes), and Kenyon Martin(notes), see the Week 3 Dashboard
Yahoo! Friends and Family League Update
HoopsKLYCE.com remains atop the league for the second straight update, maintaining a narrow margin over Hector Castro and Brandon Funston’s teams. I’m still working my way up from the bottom – hey, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Recent transactions included Mike Miller(notes), Udonis Haslem(notes), Andres Nocioni(notes), Delonte West(notes), Raja Bell(notes), and J.J. Redick(notes), among others.