The Rockets have won their past three games with Courtney Lee (30 minutes per game) and Chase Budinger (29) leading the team in minutes. Kevin Martin has averaged 17 minutes in the three games, while starting center Samuel Dalembert has see just 14 minutes of playing time, on average. Kevin McHale will tell you that it's simply his sticking with what is working at any given point, and Tuesday's gameflow certainly backs that up - the Rockets' five starters averaged and a -15 in 21 minutes, while the five reserves averaged a +22 in 27 minutes. This situation is obviously maddening for fantasy owner, but a knee-jerk reaction here is not warranted. Yes, I'm including Dalembert in that statement because he's averaged 7.6 points, 7.7 boards, and 2 blocks in just 23 minutes on the season - you aren't going to find that level of production on the wire in anything resembling a competitive league. The Rockets are 8-3 when Dalembert has played at least 25 minutes and 8-8 when he hasn't, and these on/off court numbers should speak to his impact beyond some recent slow starts. McHale obviously isn't afraid to mix things up and his reserves have been peaking lately, but you should still expect Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, and Luis Scola to lead the team in minutes over the final 10 weeks of the season, and Samuel Dalembert doesn't need more than 25 minutes to warrant near-universal ownership in the first place.
• J.R. Smith's Chinese Basketball Association team has been eliminated from playoff contention, meaning he's eligible to sign with an NBA team as of February 16. Smith's ownership number has climbed up to 12 percent, and that can come up even further now. Smith posted a per-game rank of 101st in 25 minutes last season (12.3 points, 1.5 threes, 1.2 steals), all numbers he could easily repeat in any of his most likely future rosters (LAC, LAL, CHI, NYK). As for Wilson Chandler and Aaron Brooks, both of their teams made the playoffs and they'll return to relatively limited minutes in Denver and Phoenix, respectively, so I'm not in a rush to add either in most leagues. The one scenario where Chandler could have a far-reaching impact is if Danilo Gallinari has a fairly significant setback in his return from a serious ankle sprain.
• Status updates: Kyrie Irving (concussion) is out for at least two more games (Fri MIL, Sat PHI). The Cavs are off until Wednesday after their weekend games .. Derrick Rose (back spasms) is officially a game-time decision but says he should be able to play. He's not likely to be needed extensively against the Bobcats in any case .. Jason Kidd (calf) went through Friday shootaround and is a game-time decision .. For the Nets: MarShon Brooks (foot) is a game-time decision Friday and the team expects Brook Lopez to return after the All-Star break .. Monty Williams says that Jarrett Jack didn't re-injure his knee, but he's still having issues and won't play Friday .. Spencer Hawes (Achilles) is out Friday and may not travel with the team on its upcoming three-game road trip .. Jerryd Bayless (ankle) is out Friday .. Tony Allen (hip) will play Friday .. Mario Chalmers (hand) will play Friday .. Manu Ginobili (hand) will return Saturday, albeit with limited minutes to start .. Kevin Love will return from his two-game suspension on Friday.
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: So it turns out that Chase Budinger didn't forget how to play basketball after all. He's been a per-minute stud of late, averaging 13 points on 52-percent shooting, 94-percent foul shooting, 2 threes, 5.1 boards, and 2 assists in 22 minutes over the past nine games. No roster configuration appears to be out of the realm of possibility for Kevin McHale, so I'm very much in favor of rostering Budinger while he's such a hot hand .. Channing Frye has averaged 13.3 points, 1.7 threes, 6.2 boards and 1.7 blocks in 28 minutes in February. With Frye, it's never about individual games but rather how it all averages out .. Trevor Booker has averaged 12.5 points on 65-percent shooting, 6.7 boards, 1.2 steals, and 1.8 blocks in 32 minutes over the past six games. I'd add him before Chris Kaman 10 out of 10 times thanks to much better efficiency and those steals-plus-blocks .. Yes, Corey Maggette is getting closer to a return from his hamstring injury. Just keep in mind that he ranked 275th in per-game rank before his injury thanks to 30-percent shooting and a 0.87:1 Eddy Curry Line ratio.