• Get more fantasy basketball articles from RotoWire.com.
Not gonna lie … I won't miss Scott Skiles.
It's not that he's a bad coach. I think he's actually pretty good, and he's had a fair amount of success in this league. But his distribution of minutes is famously unpredictable, which has destroyed the fantasy value of quite a few players on Skiles' teams. I've been consciously avoiding Milwaukee players – with the notable exceptions of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis – in fantasy drafts for that very reason. Given the choice between a guy who will play 30 minutes consistently and one who will play 35 one night and then 13-14 for three straight games, I'll take the guy getting regular run every time.
Inconsistent playing time might also have hurt the development of promising young frontcourt players like Larry Sanders. Sanders (71 percent owned) could get a nice boost under new coach Jim Boylan. He played 31 minutes in Wednesday's win over Chicago – up from his season average of 24.8 – and has been a force in the paint of late (13 blocks in Boylan's two games calling the plays). It'll be nice to plug Sanders into lineups and have confidence that he'll get starter-type minutes on a much more regular basis.
Of course, rotations can also be too predictable. Brooklyn's Avery Johnson was known for having carved-in-stone substitution patterns, which may have allowed some of his more-established players to get a little too comfortable. And that level of comfort – and the lackadaisical play that followed – is a big reason why Johnson is no longer employed by the Nets.
Interim coach P.J. Carlesimo has been preaching accountability since taking over the job. Specifically, he's said that players that aren't playing up to par on both ends of the floor will get pulled. That probably doesn't mean we'll see a big shakeup in the Nets' rotation, but it's possible that someone like MarShon Brooks – a promising second-year guard who spent much of this season in Johnson's doghouse – could re-emerge.
What's next for the Lakers
But as bad as they've been, the alternative seems much, much worse. With Howard sidelined due to an injured shoulder and Gasol out with a concussion, D'Antoni was forced to use a Villanova-esque four-guard lineup against the Spurs on Wednesday. Darius Morris joined Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash in the starting five, with Metta World Peace and Robert Sacre as the nominal frontcourt.
Remarkably, even with that lineup, the Lakers came back from a 16-point fourth-quarter hole and almost tied the game as time expired, but an Earl Clark three-point attempt came up short.
It's unclear when Howard and Gasol will be able to rejoin the team. Howard's injury was initially described as a torn labrum, but more recent reports suggest that the muscle has separated from the bone. That sounds worse but may actually require less recovery time.
Gasol has not been cleared to resume basketball activities.
Clark's part in the near-comeback (22 points, 13 rebounds, three assists in 27 minutes) could win the journeyman forward a more significant role going forward, but one word of caution... we all know how much Mike D'Antoni likes forwards and centers that can hit a three. Clark did hit one three last night, but it was just his third make from long range of his career and his first since 2009-10, when he was a rookie in Phoenix. He's worth a look, particularly in deeper leagues, and at just two percent ownership, he's probably available. But it's hard to call him a long-term play.
Free agent watch
With Gasol, Howard and Jordan Hill unavailable, the Lakers could opt to bring in veteran help in the form of Kenyon Martin. Martin was fairly productive off the bench for the Clippers last season, averaging about five points, four boards, and a steal in 22.4 minutes per game. He'd provide an immediate boost to the Lakers' defense, which has been awful all season.
The Knicks have also been linked to Martin, and with Rasheed Wallace hurting, Amar'e Stoudemire still recovering from knee surgery, and Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas, well, old, they have a need. But the Knicks would have to cut a player to make room for K-Mart. The Lakers have an opening on their roster.
And keep an eye on Tracy McGrady. The fading superstar is playing for one of the worst teams in the Chinese league, which means he could be available to return to the NBA as soon as the CBA regular season ends (like J.R. Smith did last year).
McGrady is averaging over 24 points per game for Qingdao, despite the fact that he's shooting under 30 percent from three.
Picks for the Week
All percent-owned are from Yahoo! Your league's mileage may vary.
Tyreke Evans (84%) – Evans could return to the lineup early next week.
John Wall (84%) – Wall is likely to return soon, but if the photos of a shirtless Wall that were circulating on Twitter early this week are any indication, his conditioning leaves a lot to be desired.
Jared Dudley (74%) – Dudley has been putting up very good numbers since his return to the starting lineup. and it's worth noting that he's also one of the players that would be sent to Memphis in a rumored deal involving Rudy Gay. He seems a very good fit for Memphis' halfcourt-based attack.
Kyle Korver (49%) – Korver seems to have cemented a spot in the Hawks' starting lineup. He's started their last 14 games and has made 2.7 three-pointers per game in that span.
Derrick Williams (20%) – With Kevin Love sidelined – possibly for two months – Williams may finally have a chance to really show what he can do.
Tiago Splitter (15%) – Gregg Popovich's rotations can be a bit fluid, but Splitter has been getting a pretty consistent 27 minutes per game of late, well above his season average of 21.2.
Dante Cunningham (8%) – Cunningham does a much better job of replicating Love's rebounding ability than anyone else the T-Wolves can plug into the power forward spot.
Iman Shumpert (5%) – Shumpert has been cleared to return to practice, which means his season debut isn't far away. The Knicks could really use him as an athletic defensive perimeter presence, as Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni have a lot of trouble keeping up with quick guards.
Follow Charlie on Twitter – @charliezegers
- Sports & Recreation
- Scott Skiles
- Dwight Howard
- Pau Gasol
- Larry Sanders