By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Staff Writer
Ah, finally. The football season is over and we can get down to the very serious business of NBA hoops. And the basketball gods have smiled upon us, by giving us a major trade to discuss this week.
Verily, the basketball gods are just and righteous.
Let's break this down, Barometer-style.
Pau Gasol LAL: Joining a contender should be a tremendous shot in the arm for Gasol, who figures to return to 20-and-10 form as soon as his balky back allows. He'll reportedly make his Laker debut on Tuesday against the Nets. We're concerned about how well Gasol will sync up with Andrew Bynum, but that problem is a few weeks away at this point.
Juan Carlos Navarro MEM: It's hard to say what the Memphis rotation will look like post-trade especially with more moves looking likely -- but with Gasol and Stromile Swift (see below) out of the picture, it seems reasonable to expect the Grizzlies to go small, with Rudy Gay at power forward and Navarro and Mike Miller splitting the off guard and small forward spots.
Rudy Gay MEM: As if this wasn't apparent already, the Grizzlies are now, officially Rudy Gay's team. It will be interesting to see how well he holds up as a full-time power forward; if he can take the pounding he could be one of the better forwards in fantasy down the stretch.
Mike Miller MEM: At this point, any Grizzly not named Mike Conley or Rudy Gay has to be considered trade bait. Miller's name has been circulating in the rumor mill for the better part of a year; the most likely destination right now would seem to be Cleveland. You can never be sure how a trade will impact a player's fantasy value, so proceed with caution.
Lamar Odom LAL: We don't anticipate any major changes to Odom's status in the short term. But when Bynum returns, Odom's likeliest destination will be the small forward spot. He obviously has the skill to play the three, but it will be an adjustment.
Kobe Bryant LAL: You have to assume that the addition of Gasol will impact Kobe's scoring a bit.
Andrew Bynum LAL: Will the arrival of another low-post scorer impede the progress of the Lakers' young center? Does the fact that the Lakers were eager to make a deal for another big man indicate that Bynum will be out longer than anticipated? Bynum has been one of the most pleasant surprises in fantasy hoops this season, but his prospects for the remainder of the year look shaky.
Trevor Ariza and Luke Walton LAL: Once the Lakers are at full strength, both Ariza and Walton will almost certainly be relegated to bench roles.
Kyle Lowry MEM: Grizzly management has claimed they'll "lock their three promising young point guards in a room" and keep the two who play the best. But playing the best really doesn't seem to be the primary driver of roster decisions in Memphis these days. And while Lowry is basically a rookie due to the injury he suffered last season, the fact is he's one year closer to free agency than Mike Conley or Javaris Crittendon. It seems reasonable to expect that to tip the scales in favor of the two true rookies, and that Lowry will be shopped heavily before the deadline or this summer.
Around the League:
Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 every now and again - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level. Comments and questions are always welcome - just post 'em on the message board at the bottom of this page.
Damon Stoudamire SAN: Mighty Mouse completed his first workout with the Spurs over the weekend, and is expected to plug the gaping hole in San Antonio's backcourt more or less immediately.
Willie Green PHI: Green has averaged over 10 points and shot over 50 percent from the floor in two games since suffering a sprained ankle. I'm no doctor, but I think that means it's not bothering him all that much.
Corey Maggette LAC: After missing four straight games with the flu, Maggette returned to the floor Monday night and scored 19 points in a win over the Knicks.
Chris Kaman LAC: Like Maggette, Kaman was back in the lineup Monday night and made his presence felt with 15 points, nine boards and three blocks.
T.J. Ford TOR: After missing two months with a severe neck injury, Ford was back on the floor for Toronto in Monday night's game, but not as a starter. We expect the Raptors to bring him along slowly and they have that luxury, given the emergence of Jose Calderon as an elite point guard.
Stromile Swift NJ: New Jersey has been trying to acquire Swift for as long as we can remember; we have to assume that they have plans for him. On the other hand, Swift has a very similar profile to athletic young bigs like Josh Boone and Sean Williams.
Kevin Garnett BOS: KG (abdominal strain) is expected to miss Boston's next two games at least. Conspiracy theorists suspect he'll feel a lot better for Friday's visit to his old stomping grounds at the Target Center.
Andres Nocioni CHI: Nocioni has been mired in an awful shooting slump, shooting just over 34 percent over his last eight games. He'd better snap out of it, or he's at risk of losing minutes to emerging swingman Thabo Sefolosha.
Jason Collins MEM: Collins is the fantasy equivalent of the guy who goes on The Biggest Loser and gains four pounds. Pushed aside by the likes of Josh Boone and Sean Williams, his value in New Jersey was next to nil. In Memphis, on a team that's built for speed, the plodding Collins will be a fixture on the bench.
Ray Allen BOS: Allen is still experiencing soreness in both ankles more than 10 months after surgery to remove bone spurs. Look for the Celtics to try to save Allen's ankles down the stretch by resting him more often than usual, particularly in the second half of back-to-backs.
Marquis Daniels IND: A bit of a 'tweener, Daniels has been squeezed out of Indiana's rotation of late as coach Jim O'Brien has been using a small lineup featuring Kareem Rush and a big lineup featuring Shawne Williams.
Jason Terry DAL: Terry has struggled badly as a replacement for the injured Devin Harris at the point, significantly raising the odds that he'll be consigned back to a bench role when Harris returns - or that Dallas will make a trade for another point.
Udonis Haslem MIA: Haslem is recovering from a high ankle sprain and isn't expected to return until after the All-Star break.
Article first appeared on 2/4/08