By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Staff Writer
Hope Springs Eternal
The first robin of spring.
Pitchers and catchers reporting to camp in Florida and Arizona.
The Knicks, in active discussions with new general manager candidates.
All signs that the long, dark winter is coming to a close; that there's hope for a new start.
A bunch of big-name NBA players are looking for a new start in the next week or so as well, as they return from a variety of grisly long-term (and in one case, life-threatening) injuries and illnesses.
Andrew Bynum – LAL: Bynum is reportedly joining the Lakers on their upcoming two-game road trip. There's not much point in him travelling with the team if there's not a chance – however slight – that he might get into a game. Expect the Lakers to proceed with extreme caution, but don't be surprised if you see Bynum in uniform for the first time in a long time.
Elton Brand – LAC: Brand could return on Thursday night, which would mean he'd be available for the Clippers' final seven games of the season. What he'll give you is anyone's guess – but I'd rather have him than some 10-day-contract scrub you might get on the wire at this time of year.
Gilbert Arenas – WAS: Agent Zero was told "at least a week" about a week ago – he could make a return any day now.
Jermaine O'Neal – IND: O'Neal was slated to return to the floor on Monday night after missing more than two months with a knee injury.
Nene Hilario – DEN: Hey, the guy is returning from cancer treatment. I don't care if he only played one minute – it's outstanding that he's back on the floor at all.
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.
C.J. Miles – UTA: Miles got a spot-start in Andrei Kirilenko's place on Monday and exploded for 29 points (12-of-17 FG), four boards and five assists. With AK-47 and Ronnie Brewer (see below) unavailable, Miles could emerge as a nice short-term play.
Marko Jaric – MIN: It seems less and less likely that Sebastian Telfair will return this season, which means Jaric will continue to start at shooting guard for the rest of the year.
Corey Brewer – MIN: The T'Wolves are apparently going to use the last few games of the year to see what Brewer can do. He was in the starting lineup on Sunday and played 26 minutes, scoring 16 points with seven boards.
Leon Powe – BOS: With the Celtics well into the "Garbage Time" portion of their schedule, look for guys like Powe to rack up quality minutes. He had 17 points and 13 rebounds in Boston's win over Miami on Sunday.
Caron Butler – WAS: Butler posted his third career triple-double -- 17 points, 12 assists and 12 rebounds – in Washington's loss to the Lakers on Sunday, but then sat out Monday's game with a strained hamstring. He hopes to return to action on Wednesday.
Pau Gasol – LAL: Gasol worked out and participated in scrimmages over the weekend, but wasn't cleared to play on Sunday. He could return any day now, but it appears the Lakers are being particularly cautious in the hopes of having him 100 percent healthy for the playoffs.
Nick Young – WAS: Young had a career-high 27 points in Washington's loss to the Lakers on Sunday. Unfortunately, his playing time is almost entirely dependent on both Antonio Daniels and Gilbert Arenas being out. Watch the status of all three closely – if Daniels is still sidelined and Arenas hasn't made his triumphant return, Young could be a nice short-term play.
Brent Barry – SAN: Barry hasn't played since his return to the Spurs due to a calf injury, but he's reportedly close to being healthy enough to go and may get some run by the end of this week.
Andrei Kirilenko – UTA: Kirilenko has missed two straight games due to what has been called both "muscle spasms" and a deep hematoma – a bruise – in his calf. He may sit for another game or two to get healthy.
Ronnie Brewer – UTA: Brewer suffered an injury to his right groin during Sunday's game and wasn't able to play Monday. It's unclear how much time he'll miss – but with C.J. Miles playing so well on Monday, the Jazz may elect to be conservative.
Larry Hughes – CHI: Hughes is butting heads with coach Jim Boylan. In Friday's game against Atlanta, he was pulled after a series of highly questionable shots left him 1-of-5 from the floor.
Antonio Daniels – WAS: Daniels suffered a wrist injury early in Sunday's loss to the Lakers and did not return. He's been battling wrist troubles for several weeks now, so don't be surprised if this makes him unavailable for a few games.
Brian Cook – ORL: Cook has a broken middle finger on his right hand, which will sideline him for the bulk, if not all, of the remainder of the season.
Trevor Ariza – LAL: Ariza – recovering from a broken bone in his foot -- has at least two weeks' of rehab remaining. That puts his target return some time in the first round of the playoffs, most likely.
Article first appeared on 4/1/08