This time of year - with less than a month to go before the February 19 deadline - trade rumors will be hard to avoid. They'll be flying constantly. They'll be on every blog, and coming from every Twitter account, and featured in every newspaper column and on every highlight show.
Oh, and most of them will be utter crap.
For the fantasy player, the key is to judge whether or not a rumor has any validity… and then figure out who stands to gain the most if a particular trade goes through.
For example - there are two rumors making the rounds this week involving New York-area guards.
Rumor: Devin Harris goes to the Wizards, Caron Butler to the Nets
Analysis: ESPN's Chad Ford mentioned this potential deal (and about fifty others) in one of his recent online chats. The salaries match, though Harris' deal is two years longer than Butler's (which expires after next season). Both players are highly talented, if injury-prone. Both teams are playing badly and potentially looking to shake things up. But it's difficult to envision Washington committing big money through the 2012/2013 season to a point guard unless/until they get Gilbert Arenas off the books and equally hard to imagine they'll successfully void Agent Zero's contract before the trade deadline.
If you believe this deal is a real possibility, one player to target is New Jersey guard Keyon Dooling, who would be the likeliest candidate to take over Harris' starting spot. Dooling is just .04 percent owned in ESPN NBA.com Leagues - he's there for the taking almost everywhere.
Dooling put up very good numbers filling in for Harris last season - but it's worth noting that the Nets played a much more guard-centric offense then.
Rumor: The Celtics looking to acquire Nate Robinson
According to a report that originated with Mark Spears of Yahoo! Sports, the Celtics have made an offer to the Knicks in the hopes of acquiring Krypto-Nate. And why not? We know he looks good in green. And when Robinson's agent was reportedly trying to force a buyout during his client's month-long string of DNPs earlier this season, Boston was the destination Robinson reportedly had in mind. That probably means Robinson would be willing to waive his no-trade rights to join KG and company.
The question is, what can the Celtics offer New York in return? Donnie Walsh won't take back a contract that extends beyond this season - so Danny Ainge's offer likely involves some combination of Tony Allen, Marquis Daniels, J.R. Giddens, Eddie House, Brian Scalabrine and Shelden Williams. Yeah, that'll be a big hit with the fans at Madison Square Garden.
The Celtics do have one commodity that might be of interest to Walsh - draft picks. The Knicks, faced with the prospect of losing a very sizeable chunk of this year's roster after the season, have no first-round pick in 2010. If the C's include a pick, the likelihood of this deal happening increases exponentially.
Unfortunately, none of the players who might go back to New York in such a deal is a point guard, and with Chris Duhon's production falling off a cliff of late, Robinson is primed to take on a much larger role as floor leader. If he goes to Boston, that role could fall to rookie Toney Douglas.
The most popular adds in ESPN NBA.com Leagues this week:
The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues - guys who will typically be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers. The third batch of players will be guys I've mentioned in previous columns that still seem to be available in a lot of leagues and worth a look.
All "percent owned" stats are taken from ESPN NBA.com Fantasy Basketball - your mileage may vary.
Grant Hill (41.3% owned) - The lineup shuffle in Phoenix may be boosting Hill's production - he's averaging 13 points, just under eight boards and over three assists over his last six games.
Mike Miller (34.8% owned) - Miller is back, but being worked into the rotation gradually - coach Flip Saunders is limiting Miller to around 26 minutes per game for the time being. That's a temporary situation, so you might want to make a claim now.
DeJuan Blair (5.1% owned) - Blair has started 15 of the Spurs' last 16 games, and has averaged over 13 points and 14 boards over their last four. With Gregg Popovic looking to rest Tim Duncan whenever possible, Blair should continue to play big minutes.
Robin Lopez (3.0% owned) - Moved into the starting lineup for Monday's game, Lopez responded with 19 points, seven boards and three blocks before fouling out. It's not clear how long he'll remain the starter - Amare Stoudemire reportedly prefers playing alongside Channing Frye, who is more perimeter-oriented and doesn't clog the lane - but for now, Lopez looks like a nice play.
Donte Greene (0.7% owned) - Greene has - at least temporarily - moved ahead of Omri Casspi on the Kings' small forward depth chart, and will be starting.
Kris Humphries (0.6% owned) - Nets coach Kiki Vandeweghe is using Humphries as his primary big man off the bench. Little-used in Dallas, Humphries has averaged 18 points and 7.5 boards in the Nets' last two games.
Article first appeared on 1/20/10