Zach Randolph had another MRI on Wednesday and all signs point to his still being on schedule as he returns from a torn right MCL, suffered on January 1. His approximate return date remains March 1, with eight weeks remaining in the regular season (~29 team games). Notable for h2h: a March 1 return would be just over three weeks before the start of the default playoffs (March 26), and the Grizzlies are the only team with five games in both the default semifinals and finals (weeks of April 2 and April 9). Z-Bo wouldn't play big minutes in the early stages, no matter when he returns, but could certainly be back to form by the time the h2h playoffs roll around. For this reason, a stash does make sense, and he's already rostered in 60 percent of Yahoo! leagues. If he's on the wire in your league, then how quickly you should consider adding him will be relative to your team's depth and current odds of making the playoffs. With this news, Z-Bo still remains behind Manu Ginobili (77% owned) and Brook Lopez (57% owned) in the stash hierarchy.
• Game two for the Raptors' small lineup was a reality check as the team struggled on both offense and defense in a 100-77 loss to the Hawks, dominated by Joe Johnson (30 minutes, 30 points, 13-18 FG, 4 assists). Jerryd Bayless was the high scorer for Toronto (26 minutes, 14 points, 4-11 FG, 4-4 FT, 2 threes) but was also a team-worst -23 and played eight minutes in the second half, as Dwane Casey looked to Gary Forbes to provide some size. Amir Johnson was largely uninvolved in his 14 minutes (2 points, 1-1 FG, 1 rebound) and didn't play in the second half, ceding his time to Ed Davis (26 minutes, 11 points, 11 boards, 1 steal, 1 block). Johnson has now averaged 17 minutes, 3.5 points, 2.8 boards, and 0.8 blocks over his past eight games. At this point, he's looking like nothing more than a deep-league bench option - he's been showing next-to-nothing and Casey's big-man rotation is wide open.
• Brandon Knight has slumped badly over the past three games (29 minutes, 6 points, 24% FG, 0.7 threes, 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 0.3 steals), but it's not like he was tearing it up before this rough patch. His first 14 starts (prior to those three games) produced the following line: 14.5 points, 42% FG, 1.7 threes, 78% FT, 4.4 boards, 3.9 assists, 3.2 turnovers, and 0.9 steals in 37 minutes. In the end, you are sacrificing huge amounts of efficiency for a few counting stats, and that's why Knight's per-game rank over the past 30 days clocks in at 216th. Factor in that his minutes will only go down once Ben Gordon and Will Bynum are healthy, and there isn't exactly upside from even this poor ranking. That said, Knight is still likely to have a good amount of perceived value in a number of leagues, given his minutes and counting stats. He'll need to kick this current scoring slump, but his fantasy owners in deeper leagues should look to sell once that happens and see if they can pull of an exchange of perceived for actual value.
• Here's your Wednesday edition of "As the Knicks' point guard position turns." Iman Shumpert was back in the starting five Tuesday, just two days after Mike D'Antoni said that playing point guard is "too much" for him and that he'd play the two and three moving forward. D'Antoni also said Tuesday that Baron Davis missed a Monday practice because of "a little issue" with his back, although he stopped short of calling it a setback, and now the vague timeline for his possible return has shifted to sometime next week. And this report suggests that the Knicks could pursue Ramon Sessions, but does not acknowledge the reality that the team essentially has nothing of value to offer the Cavs to match Sessions' $4.2 million salary. Shumpert can obviously maintain some fantasy value as the starter and/or with 30-plus minutes, and the likelihood that Davis will be a major factor for this team continues to decrease incrementally.
• Deep-leaguers should keep an eye on Shawne Williams, who started at small forward for the Nets on Tuesday (32 minutes, 8 points, 3-10 FG, 1-8 3PT, 1 steal, 1 block) and, by necessity, is looking at plenty of playing time. MarShon Brooks is out indefinitely, Damion James is done for the season, and DeShawn Stevenson's chronic knee issues have him on the sidelines, so Williams defaults to the starting lineup. His Tuesday line would have been solid had a few of those threes gone down, and his career per-36s include 1.8 threes, 0.8 steals, and 1.1 blocks. The Nets added Keith Bogans to the roster on Wednesday, and he figures to back up the two and three.
• Tuesday's list of teams that leaned heavily on their benches, meaning you shouldn't read too much into minutes totals, included: both sides of the Hawks' 100-77 win over the Raptors; the Pistons, who were down by 24 to the Knicks by halftime; the Lakers, who were up on the Bobcats by 24 at halftime; and the Warriors, as Mark Jackson used his reserves for all but a few closing seconds of the win over the Kings.
• George Hill has a chip/avulsion fracture in his left ankle and is out indefinitely, but we should know a more specific timetable by the weekend. Hill's absence should mean more minutes for starters Darren Collison and Paul George, with Lance Stephenson becoming first guard off the bench.
• Status updates: Al Jefferson (ankle) participated in Wednesday's shootaround and expects to play. Big Al said he's not afraid of further or long-term issues with his tendinitis .. Rajon Rondo (wrist) says he's ready to play Wednesday but the Celtics will likely hold him out until Friday .. Steve Nash's bruised left thigh isn't 100 percent but has improved enough for him to play Wednesday .. Amar'e Stoudemire tweaked his ankle on Tuesday but it's not expected to cost him any games .. For the Bulls: Luol Deng (wrist) may return Thursday, Richard Hamilton (leg) is out indefinitely .. Nicolas Batum's MRI revealed just a bone bruise. He's out Wednesday but is officially day-to-day .. Marcus Thornton (thigh) was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and could be active as soon as Thursday .. J.J. Barea (hamstring) will return on Wednesday .. Mehmet Okur (back) may be back Saturday or Monday .. Jason Richardson (knee) is out again Wednesday .. Spencer Hawes (Achilles) is out again Wednesday ..
• Scanning the Buzz Index leaders: Landry Fields' averages over the past eight games includes 13.5 points on 53-percent shooting, 1.1 threes, 4.4 boards, 3.6 assists, and 1.9 steals in 33 minutes, and that's factoring in Saturday's stinker (18 minutes, 0 points). The assists and steals are particularly encouraging - I'm on board here .. Jimmer Fredette's percent-owned number (43%) can come way down now that Marcus Thornton is close to a return. He's averaged 22 minutes in his 15 games as a reserve .. The fact that Houston is in the lead to acquire his services doesn't bode well for Chris Kaman's fantasy impact, as he'd back up Samuel Dalembert. There doesn't seem to be a trade scenario at this point where Kaman would emerge with significant minutes, and the league is unlikely to buy him out and free him up to sign with a team of his choice.