Perhaps we all owe David Kahn an apology. The Timberwolves president and general manager has taken a lot of heat over the years for accumulating point guards the way my mother collects Hummel figurines, but, as several teams are learning this season, you simply cannot have too many of 'em.
The Knicks are just the latest example. It seems Raymond Felton's finger injury - initially reported as a minor sprain - is actually a fracture that could require surgery. New York's starting point and second-leading scorer will be sidelined four to six weeks. Jason Kidd, the Knicks' starting two for much of this season, moved over to point for Wednesday's win and scored a season-high 23 points (5-8 from three) with eight assists, six boards and a steal. Not bad for an emergency starter, but can he play 30-plus minutes per night at age 39?
Felton's absence will force backup guard Pablo Prigioni into a more significant role. The 35-year-old rookie played 17 minutes in last night's win and was credited with five points, three assists and two steals. But he was also a -11 for the game. Mike Woodson may not be a huge fan of Prigioni's game, but he'll put up with the occasional defensive lapse if the Argentine develops good pick-and-roll chemistry with Amar'e Stoudemire (who could make his season debut New Year's Day). Besides, he won't have much choice; if Prigioni doesn't run point, the Knicks will be forced to make do with someone like J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert (also due to return from injury soon) or Carmelo Anthony as point forward. None of those options are particularly attractive.
There are already rumors that the Knicks will look to bring in another point guard. Jonny Flynn has come up in discussions, and Woodson favorite Mike Bibby - who was working out for the Grizzlies a couple weeks ago - is probably working the phones already. But New York would have to cut someone to free a roster spot, so Glen Grunwald may opt to wait until Stoudemire and Shumpert return before assessing his needs.
In another good example of the importance of good point-guard play, the Lakers look a lot more like the team people expected now that Steve Nash is back in the lineup . Los Angeles is 2-1 with Nash on the floor, the loss coming Wednesday in Denver when they played the final 17 minutes without Dwight Howard (ejected for a flagrant 2 on the Nuggets' Kenneth Faried).
Like Kidd, Nash may be asked to play heavy minutes despite his age. When it comes to managing the playing time of older players, Mike D'Antoni is the anti-Popovich; he'd rather hold Nash out of practices than cut his minutes in actual games. And - as was painfully obvious when Nash was injured - backups like Chris Duhon or Darius Morris really aren't realistic options, and Steve Blake is still weeks away from a return.
A situation to watch closely: Deron Williams has shot poorly for much of this season and was sidelined for Wednesday's loss to the Bucks with a sprained right wrist. The assumption is that dissatisfaction with Avery Johnson's isolation-heavy offense is a reason for Williams' poor play, so Johnson's departure may jump-start Williams' game. But there's growing concern that any one of a number of nagging injuries - the wrist, or bone spurs in his ankle - could be a contributing factor.
PICKS OF THE WEEK
(All percent owned stats from Yahoo! Sports.)
Eric Gordon (81%) - Remember when he was a potential Dream Teamer? Maybe he never lives up to that hype ... but it's certainly worth a waiver claim to find out. Gordon could make his season debut this weekend.
Jose Calderon (76%) - Calderon got a vote of confidence as Toronto's starting point from coach Dwayne Casey this week. That may be a purely practical matter; Kyle Lowry isn't healthy enough to re-take the job yet. Or it could be an attempt to build up the potential trade value of Calderon and his expiring contract. Either way, Calderon is a good fantasy play in the short term.
Jason Kidd (71%) - Sure, he'll be 40 in March. But he was good for a couple of threes, a couple of assists and a couple of steals and boards per game even before Felton's injury. He should be a very good play for the next couple of weeks and a valuable bench player beyond that.
Danny Green (52%) - Green doesn't play enough to merit a roster spot in shallow leagues, but he's hitting a couple of threes per game and has the potential to explode periodically (25 points on 7-of-8 from three in Monday's win over the Mavs).
Tristan Thompson (30%) - Thompson has posted double-doubles in each of the four games Anderson Varejao has missed due to knee problems. So he's a good short-term value ... and a nice speculative pick-up; Varejao's name could be popular at the trade deadline.
Alexey Shved (24%) - Shved continues to get starter's minutes, even with Ricky Rubio back in the mix, and has received some playing time at small forward recently, which could mean additional position eligibility soon.
Corey Brewer (17%) - Another part-timer putting up occasionally great numbers, Brewer scored 27 points in just 24 minutes against the Lakers on Wednesday. At twenty-something minutes per game, he shouldn't be rostered in many leagues, but keep an eye out; an outburst like that could win him a larger role.
Jamaal Tinsley (5%) - He'll get extended run with Mo Williams sidelined indefinitely.
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