If your fantasy roster features the likes of Tim Duncan, Ray Allen and Lamar Odom, you have the rare honor of possessing something more decimated than The Skinny's college basketball tournament bracket. If upsets ruled the NCAA Tournament during the weekend, then injuries were the order of the day in the NBA. Allen and Duncan were each sidelined by ankle sprains Sunday. Odom's bum shoulder may land him on the injured list. On the bright side, there's always the waiver wire. There are no second chances in a bracket pool. Here's what else you may have missed while focusing on the college game:
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- Steve Francis was back at point guard Friday. If he was happy about the move – and given his reaction to moving to shooting guard in the first place, he should have been – he didn't show it against Seattle. Early in the fourth quarter, Francis allegedly kicked a photographer after a pile-up under the Orlando basket. The kick earned him an indefinite suspension from the NBA and un-did interim head coach Chris Jent's first big shakeup since taking control of the team Thursday. Jent had handed point guard duties back to Francis, a move that sent rookie Jameer Nelson back to the bench. The head coach told the Orlando Sentinel that the only sure things for the team's final 18 games would be Francis at point, Grant Hill at small forward and Dwight Howard at power forward.
Depending on what additional camera angles reveal to league officials, Francis will probably earn a suspension of five to 10 games. Dennis Rodman was handed an 11-game vacation for his well-publicized shoe to the groin of a photographer in 1997. An extended penalty helps Nelson the most. Though the team was just 3-8 in his first 11 starts, Nelson has rewarded fantasy owners with 16 points, five assists and almost two steals per game as a starter. DeShawn Stevenson gets a short-term upgrade as well. He started Orlando's last two games, scoring 16 points Saturday in a season-high 32 minutes. The Skinny has more on the Magic in the Market Movers section – but keep in mind that lineup juggling ranks right up there with running-back-by-committee on the list of fantasy nuisances.
- The San Antonio Spurs have four games scheduled in Week 21 of the fantasy season. Tim Duncan owners need to prepare for playing the entire week – the last before the playoffs in Yahoo! head-to-head leagues – without their No. 1 center. Duncan crumpled to the floor in agony Sunday after his ankle turned in gruesome fashion when he came down on the foot of Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace. Team officials are calling it a Grade II sprain that will keep their star out at least two games. Gregg Popovich isn't as optimistic. The head coach called this injury "much worse" than the sprain that kept Duncan out two games earlier this month. Two games is a certainty. Much more is a real possibility. Several San Antonio media sources predicted that the all star would be sidelined at least two weeks.
Though it sounds odd, fantasy owners should hope Duncan is placed on the IL. Otherwise, you have an inactive player taking up a bench spot and you'll be forced to drop a player when signing a replacement center. Samuel Dalembert has been improved of late and is probably your best option among widely-available centers, particularly if Chris Webber is further slowed by his leg condition. On the Spurs roster, Nazr Mohammed finished with 13 points and eight rebounds against a tough Detroit frontline Sunday. He stands to see more court time with Duncan in street clothes. Tony Massenburg is another option. He started the last time Duncan missed action and finished with 16 points and eight rebounds against Denver. Rounding out the list of possible fill-ins are Dale Davis (a rebounding machine of late), Chris Kaman and Nenad Krstic. None will put up Duncan numbers, but can help ease the pain until he returns.
- If you toss out LeBron James' otherworldly effort against Toronto, the best fantasy line of Sunday belonged to Lakers forward Caron Butler. Like James, Butler's performance came in a losing effort, but no fantasy owner will complain about 29 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals. The game capped a great weekend for Caron, who also filled up the stat sheet Friday with 19 points, 10 rebounds and six steals against the Pacers. He played a team-high 43 minutes that night – not coincidentally the same night Lamar Odom was lost in the first half with a shoulder injury.
Odom underwent an MRI Sunday and results were inconclusive. He'll be re-evaluated Monday to determine the severity of the injury. If he's forced to miss an extended stretch of games, Butler will be called upon to continue picking up the scoring slack. Butler averaged nearly 17 points per game in January when Kobe Bryant was limited to seven games. He's more than capable of putting up similar numbers with Odom out. As of Sunday, Butler was still available in roughly half of Yahoo! leagues.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Ronald Murray, SG, Sea
Seattle needs to replace the 11-plus points per game that injured forward Vladimir Radmanovic contributes off the bench. The favorite, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, is Ronald Murray. Flip, as he's known in Seattle, is no stranger to scoring. He began the 2003-04 season in Seattle's starting lineup and scored 20 or more points 10 times in the season's first 11 games. Sunday he came off the bench to tally 25 points in a win against the Lakers. Ray Allen suffered a sprained ankle in the game, which depending on severity could further boost Murray's value.
- Marquis Daniels, GF, Dal
As expected, Daniels has seen increased minutes as the Mavs try to rest their veterans in the weeks leading up to the playoffs. Saturday's line was typical of his performances of late: 17 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. For the month of March, he's averaging 15 points, five rebounds and two steals in roughly 30 minutes per night. This is what fantasy owners expected out of Daniels before a myriad of injuries conspired to sidetrack his progress. With Michael Finley running out of gas, expect Marquis to continue to play a significant role in head coach Avery Johnson's rotation.
- Dale Davis, C, Ind
With only weeks left in the fantasy season, now is the time to address category needs on your roster. If rebounding or blocked shots have been your downfall, Davis could be a nice fit in the No. 2 center position on your roster. Friday he paired 16 rebounds with three blocked shots against the Lakers. He was back at it again Sunday against the Nets, notching a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. With Jermaine O'Neal out for the remainder of the season, Davis will continue to do the dirty work for Indiana. As a starter with the Pacers, he is averaging 9.7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.7 steals.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Anthony Johnson, PG, Ind – Johnson scored 18 points Sunday, his sixth straight game in double figures. He's averaging 7.8 assists in those same six games.
Zarko Cabarkapa, PF, GS – Big Z has been a force off the bench for the resurgent Warriors. Sunday he chipped in with 17 points and four rebounds in a surprise win at Sacramento.
Nene Hilario, C, Den – Nene returned from a sprained knee Sunday to score six points with a blocked shot in seven minutes.
Keith Bogans, SG, Cha – With Kareem Rush and Gerald Wallace on the shelf, Bogans has emerged as a go-to guy for Charlotte. He scored 27 points against Dallas Sunday and is shooting 58 percent from three-point land in March.
Tony Battie, C, Orl – In his last two starts, Battie made 14 of 19 shots and recorded double-doubles in both games. That was back in early February, but interim head coach Chris Jent has hinted that Battie may start some games down the stretch.
Shaun Livingston, PG, LAC – Livingston played 27 minutes, including all of overtime, in Saturday's loss to Sacramento. The rookie had missed more than a month with a shoulder injury.
Alonzo Mourning, C, Mia – With Christian Laettner and Udonis Haslem injured, Mourning should play a more prominent role in Stan Van Gundy's rotation. Mourning has yet to play double-digit minutes in any game since joining Miami.
Viktor Khryapa, SF, Por – A starter in Portland's past four games, Khryapa scored 21 points Saturday on 9-of-10 shooting. He added seven rebounds and three blocks.
Bostjan Nachbar, SF, NO – In his last seven games, Nachbar has topped 14 points three times, hit two or more three-pointers four times and has six or more boards three times.
Steve Blake, PG, Was – Performing lately like a poor man's version of Kyle Korver, Blake has made 13 three-pointers (out of 16 total field goals) in Washington's past five games. He'll continue to get more minutes with Juan Dixon and Anthony Peeler on the shelf.
Kelvin Cato, C, Orl – Chris Jent has declared Orlando's starting center job up for grabs. Matchups and recent performance may dictate whether Cato or Tony Battie takes the opening tip from night-to-night.
Matt Harpring, GF, Utah – On the heels of a 10-for-33 shooting slump, Harpring was replaced in Utah's starting lineup by Kris Humphries. Harpring averages 10 points per game as a sub, almost five points below his output as a starter.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Eyebrow-raising numbers
39 Shooting your age is a feat normally reserved for golfers, but Reggie Miller earned a repeat stay in this space Friday when he scored 39 points as a 39-year-old. The soon-to-be-retired sharpshooter is averaging 21.8 points since Jermaine O'Neal was placed on the IL.