J.J. Barea returned from his quad injury Wednesday and started at point guard for the Timberwolves, scoring 15 points and adding three treys, six boards, eight assists, and seven turnovers in 37 minutes. Luke Ridnour is expected to miss at least a week with his severely sprained right ankle, meaning that Berea could be in line for as many as four more starts [schedule], and he'll play huge minutes for as long as Ridnour is out, given that rookie Malcolm Lee is being pressed into backup point guard duty.
• Charles Jenkins was very productive on his start against the Timberwolves on Wednesday (33 minutes, 19 points, 8-13 FG, 4 boards, 7 assists), after which Mark Jackson said that he's been pleased with what he's seen from Jenkins as the starter. The caveats here are that Jenkins was defended by a gimpy and undersized J.J. Barea, and he'd averaged just 23 minutes in the previous two games (8.5 points, 4 assists). But Jenkins does now appear to be locked in as the starter ahead of Nate Robinson, who played just 15 minutes on Wednesday, and you'll get two favorable games in two days from a Thursday add (Fri @UTA, Sat DEN).
• Gregg Popovich has been going deep into his depth chart, having played 10 players for averages between 16 and 30 minutes over the past three games, and that doesn't include one-offs for Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, and James Anderson. The biggest loser in the exchange has been Kawhi Leonard, who has seen his averages fall to 20 minutes, 4.3 points, 2 boards, 2 assists, and 1.3 steals in those games. Pop has delved out minutes on the wing in this order: Danny Green (25), Manu Ginobili (24), Stephen Jackson (21), and then Leonard. You won't be faulted for dropping Leonard for a player currently on the upswing, but keep in mind that the Spurs are about to enter the busiest part of their schedule, so the vets are going to get rest and Leonard's playing time should pick back up. Starting Sunday, the team plays 13 games in 19 days, including four sets of back-to-backs and a back-to-back-to-back [schedule]. And keep players like Green, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, and Tiago Splitter in mind for potential spot starts the rest of the way - Pop will certainly be looking to give Tim Duncan, Ginobili, Parker, and Jackson some downtime during these busy weeks.
• Status updates: Derrick Rose's status for Thursday will be determined after team warmups. Rose still felt some discomfort and didn't go "at full speed" in Wednesday's practice .. Deron Williams missed Wednesday's game with a stomach virus and is day-to-day .. Kyrie Irving (shoulder) will be re-evaluated after another week to 10 days. His status for the remainder of the season will be established at that point. Donald Sloan (36 minutes, 12 points, 8 assists on Wednesday) and Lester Hudson (28 minutes, 9 points, 5 boards, 6 assists) will continue to see major minutes in the interim .. Marcus Thornton (calf) has improved but is out again on Thursday .. Danilo Gallinari (thumb) expects to return to the Nuggets' lineup on Monday .. Wilson Chandler (groin) is day-to-day .. Jarrett Jack (ankle) has no structural damage but was still dealing with pain and swelling as of Thursday. Consider him questionable for Friday .. Rodney Stuckey (hamstring) will be active on Thursday as a reserve, and is expected to return to the starting five on Friday if all goes well .. Drew Gooden (back) expects to return to the lineup on Friday .. Devin Harris (ankle) is headed for a game-time decision on Friday .. James Johnson was a surprised DNP-CD on Wednesday, and simply called the matter "internal" after the game. There's been no more clarification as of yet .. Mo Williams (toe) could return to the Clippers' active roster on Saturday .. D.J. Augustin was back in the starting lineup on Wednesday but lasted just 11 minutes (2 points, 1-5 FG). Regardless of role, his knee tendinitis will ensure that his fantasy impact is minimal the rest of the way.
• Preferred adds among widely-available players: Byron Mullens (29%), J.J. Barea (24%),Kevin Seraphin (24%), Kawhi Leonard (31% owned), Randy Foye (36%), Courtney Lee (23%), Charles Jenkins (14%), Chandler Parsons (28%), Shannon Brown (30%), Greivis Vasquez (16%), Gerald Green (15%), Kenneth Faried (34%), Carl Landry (35%), Alonzo Gee (31%), J.R. Smith (29%), Jason Smith (15%), Danny Green (13%), Donald Sloan (2%), Reggie Williams (5%), Terrence Williams (9%), Marvin Williams (17%), Tiago Splitter (13%), Nate Robinson (24%), Glen Davis (26%), Delonte West (7%), Anthony Parker (2%), Avery Bradley (6%), Tristan Thompson (22%), Greg Stiemsma (6%), Jason Maxiell (4%), Lester Hudson (0%), Jan Vesely (3%), Ronny Turiaf (1%)