There was big news out of Chicago Monday, as the Bulls fired Scott Skiles after stumbling to a 9-16 start. The Bulls are among the biggest underachievers of the early season (fantasy owners of Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Ben Wallace, etc. can certainly vouch for that) and a major shakeup has been looming. Don't expect changes to stop at the head coach, however. While it could help address the sagging team chemistry, a new coach won't change the fact that they still have a complete lack of post scoring, so this should be just the beginning of the shakeup.
That is a decent segue into the fact that the holiday season usually brings with it a spike in NBA trade rumors, and this season is no exception. Jason Kidd, Tracy McGrady, Mike Miller, Andre Miller, Ben Wallace, Jason Williams, Larry Hughes and Sam Cassell are some of the names floating around in current scenarios. While the NBA trade deadline has been anticlimactic in recent seasons, it seems that more teams are ready to move this year than those in recent memory, and a number of the players mentioned above have the ever-popular expiring contracts. As always, fantasy owners should be keenly aware of the complete impact that roster moves will have. Often times, it's not the biggest names in any given trade whose fantasy impact is most affected for the positive or negative.
We've got a bit of an abbreviated Christmas edition of the Skinny today, but I attempted to include all of the most pertinent player updates. Enjoy your day off from NBA games on Monday and have a Merry Christmas on Tuesday.
Injury Updates: Dwyane Wade pulled a muscle in his right shoulder on Saturday, but does not think it will be a lingering problem. He will "take some pills, rest it, and ice it" over the next few days and see how it feels. In case you were wondering, Wade's offseason shoulder surgery was on his left shoulder … Tracy McGrady aggravated his knee injury on Sunday and was scheduled for an MRI on Monday. After hoping that nothing serious was going on, T-Mac said that the pain in his knee on Sunday made him realize that "it could be a lot worse" than was originally suspected. Get him on your bench and hope for less-than-catastrophic news … Manu Ginobili is likely to miss at least Wednesday's game with sprained ligaments in his left index finger, according to the Express-News, an injury that he originally suffered on Dec. 2. "He's probably going to miss a little bit of time," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "It's just a matter of how much." … Jazz trainer Gary Biggs said that he wouldn't know Mehmet Okur's availability for Wednesday's game until the day of the game, according to USA Today … Mike Bibby is scheduled to return to practice on Jan. 1 and is "certain" that he'll be back in the lineup on Jan. 15, according to The Sacramento Bee … Kenyon Martin hopes to be back in the Denver lineup on Wednesday, according to the Rocky Mountain News, after missing two games with a strained right hamstring … Tim Thomas is set for an MRI on Monday after injuring his knee on Saturday.
Lineup Changes/position battles: Rumblings are that slumping Eddy Curry is headed to the bench for the floundering Knicks, with David Lee moving into the starting lineup … Josh Boone has been a good fit in the Nets' starting lineup (11.7 points, 8.3 boards, 1 steal, 1 block over the past three games), while Sean Williams' minutes have remained volatile, despite three straight starts … Ryan Gomes has started two straight games for the T-Wolves at SF, averaging 18 points, 8 boards, and 1.5 steals in 38 minutes – Be ready to snag Luther Head off of waivers if Tracy McGrady misses extended minutes. In his lone start this season, Head's line included 22 points, five threes, four rebounds and six assists, and he's usually very productive when given the minutes.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Nazr Mohammed (C – Charlotte)
Mohammed's early returns as the Bobcats' starting center have been even better than expected, as he's averaged 17 points on 61 percent shooting, 11 boards and 2.3 blocks in 33 minutes during his first three starts. The Bobcats have been desperate for some solid play in the middle, so they'll give Mohammed as many minutes as he can handle. He'll come back down to earth a bit, but close to a double-double with one-plus block per game is not outside the realm of possibility.
Nene Hilario (FC – Denver)
Nene should be back in the Nuggets' lineup sometime around the first of the year, so it's a good time to think about picking him up (before someone else in your league does). Kenyon Martin's recent hamstring injury after a string of games with 30-plus minutes bodes well for Nene's fantasy stock, even if he's slow to get all the way back to 100 percent playing shape.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Yi Jianlian (PF – Milwaukee) – After struggling for the good part of a month, Yi has been extremely productive of late. Over the past six games, he's averaged 16.7 points on 62 percent shooting, 7.8 rebounds, 1 steal and 1.2 blocks, while making all 17 of his free throws.
Lamar Odom (F – LA Lakers) – While he has yet to start dishing out his usual amount of assists, the rest of Odom's game is rounding into form. Over the past eight games, he's averaged 15.6 points on 55 percent shooting, 10.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals.
Tyson Chandler (C – New Orleans) – The buy low period for Chandler has come and gone. After averaging 10.2 points on 53 percent shooting and 9.8 boards in November, he's upped the ante to 13.1 points on 66 percent shooting and 14.9 boards in 10 games thus far in December.
Brad Miller (C – Sacramento) – Miller's recent play has been causing memories of his miserable 2006-07 season to fade. Over the past seven games, he's averaged 19 points on 60 percent shooting, 0.7 threes, 9 boards, 3.6 assists, 1 steal, and 0.6 blocks.
Devin Harris (PG – Dallas) – Harris has turned it up a notch since missing the Mavericks' Dec. 12 game with a stomach virus. Over his past five games, the fourth-year PG has averaged 16.2 points on 57 percent shooting, 1.4 threes, 5.4 assists and 2.2 steals.
Larry Hughes (G – Cleveland) – After a two-game explosion immediately following returning from a month on the inactive list, Hughes has been absolutely terrible for the Cavs in recent weeks. Over the past six games, the 10-year veteran has averaged 6.3 points on 23 percent shooting and 0.7 steals in 26 minutes per game.
Eddy Curry (C – New York) – Curry has been losing playing time and his production, even in his typically strong categories, has declined right along with it during the month of December. Over the past nine games, he's averaged 10.2 points on 45 percent shooting and 4.0 rebounds in 24 minutes per game, while totaling five assists, one steal, two blocks and 19 turnovers (a 0.42:1 Curry Line ratio).
Drew Gooden (PF – Cleveland) – It's not a coincidence that Gooden's production took a hit once Anderson Varejao was back in the fold for the Cavs. In the first 21 games of the season, Gooden averaged 14.1 points, 9.8 boards, and 1.1 steals in 35 minutes per game; in seven games since Varejao's return, he's averaged 9.3 points, 7.0 boards, and 0.3 steals in 27 minutes per game.
Yahoo! Friends and Family League Update
The usual suspects remain clustered at the top of the standings, and things remain volatile up and down the leaderboard. This week's transactions included Kris Humphries, Kyle Korver, Erick Dampier, Joel Przybilla, Dorell Wright, Charlie Bell, and Earl Barron, and the league's third trade was Allen Iverson (pianowski) for Deron Williams (Y! – Gehlken).