As we hoops junkies take a collective breather for the NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans (again, Happy Valentine’s Day in advance, you guys), let’s scan the gossip columns for possible developments in the National Basketball Association landscape ahead of the Feb. 20 trade deadline and see how they could impact our beloved fantasy teams:
Maurice Cheeks fired; Mike Woodson next?—The Detroit Pistons did not wait for the halfway mark of the NBA season to dismiss Coach Mo, who did not last a year with the Motown five with an underwhelming 21-29 win-loss record. Multiple sources in the US media have said Pistons owner Tom Gores viewed the team as underperforming despite its talent on paper and was pushing for a coaching change despite the wishes of general manager Joe Dumars, who felt Cheeks deserved more time after guiding the Pistons to back-to-back wins over the weekend. But with Detroit celebrating the 10th anniversary of its 2004 title run this year and a chance to still get into the playoffs of the weak Eastern Conference, Gores decided to run with assistant John Loyer as the interim head coach until the end of the year.
Hopefully Loyer gets a more consistent effort on both ends of the floor from the Pistons starting five of Brandon Jennings, Kyle Singler, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and rookie Andre Drummond, who surprisingly is the top fantasy performer at No. 36 overall in 9-category leagues with averages of 13 points, 13 rebounds (5.3 offensive), 1.3 steals and 1.9 blocks an outing with a 61% field goal shooting mark. Jennings (67th) can still bounce back from a career-low 38% shooting clip, Monroe (140th) can do better than his 64% free throw rate, and J-Smoove (107) can be a more efficient scorer and triple-double threat like he was before with Atlanta.
Some NBA observers believe that the Pistons tuned out their coach even before the season started. Now that Cheeks is gone, they have no excuse but injuries to play better and outperform their draft-day rankings, which would be sweet music to their fantasy owners’ ears. There’s still a possibility that Monroe could be dealt before the trade deadline—he’s been the most heavily-rumored Piston to go, even more than Cheeks getting fired—but Detroit has other trade chips (Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva, both with expiring deals) to consider before Greg gets the door.
Meanwhile, Knicks coach Mike Woodson is in a similar predicament as Cheeks and may get the pink slip any time after the All-Stars, the New York media says. Woodson also doesn’t have the support of his locker room—not even his star player, Carmelo Anthony, it’s been said—but owner James Dolan may be more lenient with the tactician. Unlike the Pistons, injuries to everyone but Melo have been the bane of the 20-31 Gotham unit.
Rudy Gay moving again? Gay was already involved in one blockbuster trade that saw him change address from Memphis to Sacramento, but according to the Bleacher Report, Phoenix could put together a package that would pry him away from the Kings to the Suns, who are eager to add a star to a young and promising core.
Phoenix certainly has the assets—top of which is injured center Emeka Okafor’s expiring $14-million contract—to get a starting small forward of Gay’s calibre, but they also need to consider re-signing promising two-guard Eric Bledsoe, who is also sidelined, to a better deal this summer. Otherwise Gay would fit right in with Goran Dragic, Gerald Green, the Morris twins and Miles Plumlee.
Fantasy-wise, Sacramento has been a boon for Gay, who has become more efficient with the Kings and forms a serious triple threat with DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas. Gay has been No. 28 in 9-cat rankings this season with norms of 20.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.9 blocks, and will most probably keep or build on those numbers with the Suns.
Jeff Green to the Hawks? Also out of New York comes news that the Celtics are shopping starting wing Jeff Green hard to potential buyers, and Atlanta is one of them. Green—who is underwhelming in some of my teams with averages of 16.3 points, 5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.6 triples a game—and Brandon Bass are the only Boston players to appear in all of their 51 games so far this season, while the Hawks may deal the more fantasy-friendly DeMarre Carroll (and others to match salary) for Uncle Jeff. Playing on a better team might light a fire under Green, but he has been playing much better lately with the return of Rajon Rondo.
Many more deals are expected to be made during the break as general managers wheel and deal in New Orleans. As we say in Filipino, abangan!
Five for Fighting
Games Played Week 16 (All-Star Break) (Thanks to Rotoworld)
2 Games: Every team except for…
1 Game: LAC, NYK, ORL, PHX
ESPN Leagues (Week 16/17 combined)
6 Games: ATL, CHA, CLE, DEN, DET, TOR, WAS
5 Games: BOS, BRK, CHI, DAL, GSW, HOU, IND, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NOP, NYK, ORL, PHX, POR, SAC, SAS, UTA
4 Games: LAC, OKC, PHI
For the sake of brevity, we will just cite the following players’ statistics over the past two weeks:
PG: Steve Blake, Lakers—11 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 11 apg, 3.7 spg, 2.7 3pg
SG: Courtney Lee, Grizzlies —13.9 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.7 spg, 1 3pg
SF: Wesley Johnson, Lakers —12.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.5 bpg, 1.3 3pg
PF: DeMarre Carroll, Hawks—15 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.5 spg, 1.7 3pg
C: Jared Sullinger, Celtics— 19.3 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 15 bpg