Big Picture:Holiday Wish List

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So I've decided that I'm treating my Christmas shopping this year like Pacers' GM Donnie Walsh is treating the Ron Artest situation. Obviously, it is inevitable that I've got to get something done, and there are a decent amount of people that will be affected by my decisions, but I'm not going to let that fact alone dictate the where and when of what I do – no rash decisions here. Sure the deadline is looming, but I have a feeling things will work out, even if I'm shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone else that is waiting for crunch time just like me.

Some Random Observations

All players who signed deals this offseason officially become eligible to be traded either 90 days after they signed the deal or on December 15, whichever is later, so today should prove to be the start of a fairly active period. The biggest name, of course, is Artest, who we know will be traded – it's just a question of for whom. Peja Stojakovic, Corey Maggette, Jamaal Crawford, Mike Dunleavy, and Al Harrington are some of the more poplar names being thrown around in the Artest rumor frenzy. Other players that could be moved include Earl Watson, Jalen Rose, Ruben Patterson, Chucky Atkins, Dan Gadzuric, and Ronald Murray. Roles will change, some player's values will go up, and some will go down in these transactions, so make sure to watch for the latest news and act accordingly – and stay tuned for the Fantasy Fallout for the major deals, including the impending resolution to the Artest mess.

The Bulls, Tyson Chandler, and his fantasy owners finally have some answers. Chandler was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma, which is likely the cause of his chronic fatigue and shortness of breath, according to the Chicago Tribune. He will be using an inhaler, and that and other treatment for the condition should get him back to playing at full capacity. Coach Scott Skiles had moved a frustrated Chandler to the bench in hopes he would be more comfortable and produce, and Mike Sweetney has started at center for the past three games. This latest revelation should have Chandler back in the lineup soon and back on track towards being that 10/10/2 stud fantasy owners were hoping for, so those of you that didn't bail on Chandler may soon be rewarded.

Zach Randolph continues to disappoint – just ask Nate McMillan and, oh yeah, his fantasy owners. His numbers are down in every statistical category this year from last, and last year was a drop in most from the year before, as well. The Oregonian recently published a telling statistic – in the season's first 18 games, Randolph had attempted 161 shots from outside 12 feet, and 131 from inside that distance. His rebounding numbers, field goal percentage, and free throw attempts are all suffering – although given that he is shooting just over 70 percent from the line, maybe that part isn't so bad. No matter how you look at it, Randolph's numbers are in a noticeable decline, whether it is the after-affects of his knee surgery or not and his trust (or lack of it) in the structural integrity of his knee at this point. This is unfortunate for Portland because not too long ago he was signed for a long time for a lot of money – this is unfortunate for Portland and his fantasy owners because he does not seem to have the disposition, shall we say, to try to make a marked improvement.

Injury Report
Gilbert Arenas (PG, Washington) – Arenas is likely to play in the Wizards' game Friday versus the Lakers. He is nursing a bruised lower back that he suffered on Saturday, December 10.

Gerald Wallace (GF, Charlotte) – Enjoying your ride on the Wallace roller-coaster so far? Wallace may not return until early next week because of a sprained index finger on his shooting hand.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C, Cleveland) – Big Z missed Tuesday's game because of a sore knee and is currently day-to-day. He ran into a basket support structure on Saturday in Milwaukee, and an MRI on Monday revealed a sprain with no serious damage according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Ron Artest (SF, Indiana for now) – In addition to his trade demand, Artest is also currently recovering from a right wrist contusion, from which initial speculation had him returning shortly before Christmas. Once the dust settles and he is on another roster, a return date will be more solidified.

Jamaal Tinsley (PG, Indiana) – Tinsley missed his fifth straight game Wednesday night because of a strained groin. Tinsley remains questionable, but may return to action this weekend.

Corey Maggette (GF, LA Clippers) – Maggette did not accompany the team on its recent road trip because of his left foot sprain, but may be available for the Clippers' game at home versus the Rockets on Saturday.

Jason Williams (PG, Miami) – Williams was listed as doubtful and did not play in Wednesday night's game for the Heat, his fourth game missed due to tendonitis in his right knee. Coach Pat Riley said that he doesn't want to take a chance with Williams' injury and referenced that his own career ended due to tendonitis, so Williams will likely be inactive for at least a few more games.

Bobby Simmons (GF, Milwaukee) – Simmons was doubtful and missed his second consecutive game Wednesday night with a sore shoulder. He is currently day-to-day and could be available for the Bucks' next game Friday at Boston.

Darius Miles (GF, Portland) – Miles still has yet to have surgery on his knee, and he is simply considered to be out "indefinitely". His recovery time will be estimated once the surgery does take place.

Rafer Alston (PG, Houston) – Alston continues to miss games due to a fracture in his fibula, although he appears to be closer to returning – he was listed as questionable for Wednesday night's game.

Shaun Livingston (PG, LA Clippers) – Livingston saw his first action of the season Wednesday night, playing 20 minutes in the Clippers' 102-89 loss to the Hornets. Livingston scored five points, grabbed four boards, and had one steal.

Grant Hill (SF, Orlando) – Hill also made his regular-season debut Wednesday night, getting the surprise start over Hedo Turkoglu in the Magic's 105-90 win over the Knicks. Hill played 23 minutes and scored seven points in the game.

Manu Ginobili (SG, San Antonio) – Ginobili did not accompany the Spurs on their current trip to Minnesota and is expected to be out of action until at least early next week with a sprain in his right foot, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Carlos Boozer (PF, Utah) – Utah brass is satisfied with the progress he is making as he attempts to return from a hamstring injury which he twice re-aggravated, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, but there are still no estimates on his return date and a return before January is extremely unlikely.

Zaza Pachulia (FC, Atlanta) – Pachulia was a late scratch for Wednesday night's game because of back spasms.

Lineup Changes
The Pacers have moved Stephen Jackson to small forward and have been starting Anthony Johnson in the backcourt in Ron Artest's absence … Gary Payton continues to start in place of Jason Williams, and turned in a strong performance Wednesday night … Jiri Welsch got a start and played major minutes Wednesday night as both Bobby Simmons and Mo Williams were unable to play … Josh Howard's 35 minutes and 18 rebounds Wednesday night should signify that he is ready to rejoin Dallas' starting lineup. Adrian Griffin's minutes will be all but gone … Mark Blount has started the Celtics' past two games at power forward and may be back in Doc Rivers' good graces now that Raef LaFrentz appears to not be … Michael Finley started in place of the injured Manu Ginobili on Tuesday, and should see two or three more starts … Kwame Brown is back and coming off the bench until he is all the way back to 100 percent … Royal Ivey has started the past five games for the Hawks at point guard, although he has yet to justify the move.

Stat of the Week
Chris Webber's 21 rebounds (Dec 12 vs Minnesota) were his highest single-game total since grabbing a career-high 26 in a game versus Indiana on January 5, 2001. The game, in which he also scored 27 points, was just another in what continues to be a strong early season for Webber. He fell far in many drafts, thanks to his annual injury concerns coupled with a lackluster showing after being dealt to Philadelphia last year. He has at least put the latter concern to rest – the injury concern will always be there, but his fantasy owners have to be ecstatic with his numbers at this point, especially considering they likely came at a discount.

Line of the Week
LeBron James (Dec 10 @ Milwaukee) – 52 points (19-29 FG, 9-10 FT), 5 threes, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 3 turnovers
James scored just under half of his team's points in 111-106 loss to the Bucks, with fantastic efficiency from the field, line, and from downtown. James remarked after the game that he never wants to score 50 points again, as the Cavs are now 0-2 in those games and he's all about getting the win – he was joking, of course.

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