This article is part of our Rebound & Rant series.
Whoa, things are getting angry in The Association! Fists are flying. If mild mannered Trevor Ariza can get into altercations, no one is safe. Maybe now is a good time for a Ron Artest comeback. Let's dive into the fury and find some fantasy nuggets along the way.
Answering the trivia question "what ever happened to Arron Afflalo?" the forgotten veteran made headlines last night by throwing an empty haymaker at Nemanja Bjelica. Afflalo is shooting 38% from the field this season, so it's no surprise the 32-year-old veteran missed Bjelica.
WHOA! Bjelica and Afflalo Fight! pic.twitter.com/KS0tWTuhGl— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) January 17, 2018
Did you know Bjelica is 30 years old? He seems younger since this is only his third NBA season. That's a quality headlock he clamps down on Afflalo. Bjelica never blossomed into the stretch four many envisioned. In fact, with Taj Gibson now in Minnesota, the Serbian's minutes are down to 14 per game versus last year's 18 minutes per contest.
Roles are pretty set in Minnesota and Orlando. The exception is the center position in Orlando, where Bismack Biyombo has blossomed filling in for an injured Nikola Vucevic. Somehow Biyombo is still only owned in 52% of Yahoo leagues, despite averaging 11.8 points, 11.4 boards and 1.8 blocks over his last five games. Vucevic is out until early February, so expect two more weeks of usable play from Biyombs Over Baghdad. Also, am I the only one wondering what Mario Hezonja could do if he ever escapes Orlando? Mario should switch to Victor Oladipo's agent.
Rondo Chirps Up Over Pierce, IT Tribute Squabble
Really, Rondo, you gotta chirp up over this? The former, championship winning Boston point guard couldn't resist adding more drama to the Isaiah Thomas – Paul Pierce tribute argument:
Rajon Rondo was irked to hear that the Celtics would honor Isaiah Thomas on any night. "What has he done?" Rondo asked. Told that he led the Celtics to the conference finals last year, Rondo remarked, "Oh, that's what we celebrate around here?"— Bill Doyle (@BillDoyle15) January 17, 2018
After leaving Boston, Rondo's career has ping-ponged all over the NBA landscape, disappointing many a coach and GM. Has he really earned the gravitas to chime in on the Isaiah Thomas tribute video controversy? If you haven't heard about the controversy, it goes like this. Isaiah Thomas returned to Boston in early January, but said he didn't want Boston to play their tribute video because he wasn't scheduled to play and he didn't want to drag his family to a game where he was on the bench. So IT's tribute video was rescheduled to Cleveland's next visit to TD Garden. But that game is already scheduled for Paul Pierce's number retirement ceremony. And Pierce stated multiple times on national television he didn't want IT's tribune running during his night. To IT's credit, he seems to have defused the situation with this:
I'd like to thank the Celtics for their gracious offer to play a video tribute on Feb 11th celebrating my 3yrs in Boston. But since it appears this has caused some controversy w/ Paul Pierce's night I'd ask the Celtics instead to focus all of their attention on #34's career.— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) January 17, 2018
IT needs to focus more on his recovery and less on tributes. The diminutive point guard is struggling, averaging only 13.6 points and 3.4 assists in his first five games back. And his shooting percentages are pretty cold, which should be expected. Now is the time to try and trade low with Thomas owners, before IT inevitably heats up.
Chris Paul's Clipperland Return Does Not Go Well
NBA fights, as Mr. Afflalo showed, tend to go nowhere. The only analysis needed for the recent Clippers-Rockets dust up is the unstoppable laughter from Sir Charles and Shaq:
For those dying for James Harden to come back, he's supposed to return tomorrow (Thursday) night. I can't imagine Houston will rush his return and risk another hamstring injury. Sadly, this probably ends Gerald Green's sweet nine game run of 17.3 points and 3.8 made threes per contest. But I bet you can squeeze another week or two of productivity out of him. Can Chris Paul and James Harden really stay healthy over the second half? I doubt it. Don't cut Green just yet.
By the way, do these guys really seem like fighters? Especially Trevor Ariza and that beautiful voice of his?
Well, that's it for the Angry edition. This fantasy train wreck has hit the END OF THE LINE! CHOO-CHOO!
(BTW, if you enjoy this little column, give our Friday NBA podcast a try, where I usually join Shannon McKeown and D.J. Trainor for some NBA conversations.)