Fantasy Basketball Trade Tips: Perfect time to deal Kyrie Irving?

By Alex Barutha, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

We had a rare January trade in the NBA on Monday, with the Wizards sending Rui Hachimura to the Lakers for Kendrick Nunn and some second-rounders. The Lakers realized they needed more shooting and more size on the floor when Anthony Davis is playing center.

Like the Lakers, you should assess your fantasy roster and determine potential upgrades. Look at the standings and figure out where you're weak and where you're strong, then offer some trades.

For example, in one of my roto leagues, I'm first in points scored by a wide margin (+988) but am weak in blocks (-123 compared to first place). I'm considering trades to replace one of my scorers for a shot-blocker since I may still be able to retain my lead in points while climbing up the blocks standings.

The equation is different if you're in a head-to-head categories league since the goal is just to win most of the categories weekly. You should do the inverse — chase your strong categories and dump your weak ones.

Fantasy value is all relative based on your league type, position in the standings and roster needs. Zach LaVine may rank 20 spots higher than someone like Clint Capela, but Capela could easily be more valuable to you if you need rebounds and blocks. Don't chase anything too lopsided in the overall rankings, but it's alright to eyeball something that feels fine and pull the trigger without getting caught up in the exact values.

It's also worth mentioning every week until the deadline — trade your vets on tanking teams. It's OK to get 75 cents or 50 cents on the dollar for guys like Jakob Poeltl or Mason Plumlee to mitigate the risk that they're dealt into a reserve role. For the same reasons, it doesn't hurt to take a flier on guys like Mark Williams and Zach Collins — the backups to those vets.

Without further delay, here are some players to consider dealing this week:

Sell High: Kyrie Irving, Nets

Irving's first two games in the wake of Kevin Durant's extended absence were underwhelming — 19.5 points and 5.0 assists. Then, he took the next game off against the Spurs.

The rest helped him recharge, as he's been blazing hot over the past three games. Against Phoenix, Utah and Golden State, Irving averaged 38.7 points on 53/50/91 shooting, 8.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.7 steals in 39.3 minutes. Fantasy managers in nine-category leagues are frothing over the 1.0 turnovers during that stretch.

I won't be surprised if he continues to take 26.0 shots per game with a 35.8 usage percentage during Durant's absence. But the efficiency, rebounds and steals are unsustainable. Plus, he's absence-prone.

Deal him now to a fantasy manager near the bottom of the standings desperate for production and secure a more stable asset(s) for the stretch run. Once KD is back (likely after the All-Star break), Irving's production will normalize.

Kyrie Irving's fantasy production will drop once Kevin Durant returns to the Nets. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Kyrie Irving's fantasy production will drop once Kevin Durant returns to the Nets. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Sell High: D'Angelo Russell, Timberwolves

Russell is on an expiring $31.4 million contract, and he's involved in trade rumors amid Minnesota's disappointing 24-25 record. The organization seems hesitant to invest more time and money into the 26-year-old.

He's coming off three strong performances, averaging 26.0 points on 51/54/100 shooting, 7.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.7 rebounds in 35.7 minutes. It helps that he played Houston twice.

Now's the time to sell high. Assuming Russell gets dealt, he may end up in a sixth-man role since most winning teams already have a quality point guard. Russell should still be fantasy relevant when seeing minutes in the mid-20s, but it will be a dip in production nonetheless. I would look to secure a stable top-80 player for him.

Buy Low: Paul George, Clippers

Trading for Paul George is risky, but someone in your league has him and is probably sick of him missing time. If you're near the bottom of the standings, now's the time to gamble on upside.

Float out a two-for-one offer with the promise of stability and a higher floor for your rival manager. With the real-life trade deadline looming, you can afford to sacrifice depth. The two most crucial waiver wire periods are after the first week of the season and after the deadline. Make a trade for upside now and go all out on the post-deadline waiver wire. Spend the vast majority of your remaining FAB if you have to.

In per-game nine-cat value, George ranks 24th. That type of player can change your fortunes if he stays healthy, and the Clippers will be under pressure during the stretch run to play him and Kawhi Leonard to build chemistry before the postseason.

Buy Low: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Hawks

Bogdanovic might be a better target for deeper leagues. But, if you're in a standard league and are working a deal, he's the type of player you attempt to secure as a throw-in.

His past seven games have been poor — 10.7 points on 34/25/75 shooting, 4.0 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 30.6 minutes. There are positive indicators within that, though. He's playing starter's minutes despite struggling, getting up a good volume of shots (12.6 FGA) and passing well. Bogdanovic remains vital as a high-level sixth man for Atlanta.

The guard ranks 129th in per-game nine-cat value, but like in real life, he's one of the better bench options you can have. It's a spot on your roster you don't have to worry about, and he's a no-brainer start on four-game weeks.