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The Give and Go: The Give and Go

Charlie Zegers

Charlie has covered the NBA, NFL and MLB for RotoWire for the better part of 15 years. His work has also appeared on,, the New York Times, ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo. He embraces his East Coast bias and is Smush Parker's last remaining fan.

The Give and Go
By Charlie Zegers and Carson Cistulli
RotoWire Staff Writers

From: Carson Cistulli
Sent: Monday, February 15, 2010 4:32 PM
To: Charlie Zegers
Subject: Give and Go: Mavericks Going Rogue

So I spent about a thousand hours yesterday thinking about the Washington-Dallas trade ahead of my Pick One Challenge article. Only thing is, I wasn't able to get my nerd on quite like I'd like to (it's points, rebounds, assists, only), so if you'll indulge me here, Zegers, I'mma about to get all math-y up in this piece.

Below are the players most affected by the trade, roughly in order of most to least improved prospects. (You'll notice it's all Wizards. I think Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler should ease nicely into their new roles.) The Fantasy Ranks are the ranks of the players per Basketball Monster, which measures the standard deviations from average of each player for each category. (Translation: it's nerdy but accurate.) The rankings presuppose a 12-team, eight-cat league and are listed for the entire season and then for the last two weeks (just as a gauge of their recent performance). A ranking of "NA" means the player has been ranked outside the typical 156-man player pool.

I'm also including some "analysis" -- if you can call it that. Feel free to correct me early and often.

Player: Andray Blatche
Fantasy Ranks: NA / 100
Outlook: Rumors suggest he could be the starter now. His decent rank these last two weeks has come in only about 21 MPG. He's probably not a star, but he doesn't kill you in free-throw percentage like some big men. Provided something like Haywood's minutes (i.e. 30 MPG), he instantly become a top-100 player, I think.
Action: Pick up, stat.

Player: Josh Howard
Fantasy Ranks: NA / NA
Outlook: Two years ago, Howard finished the season ranked somewhere in the mid-60s. Last year, he fell to the mid-80s on a per-game basis. This year, he hasn't been worth even a bench spot most weeks. That should change if Howard starts get 30-plus minutes. With the vacuum left by Caron Butler, that should happen.
Action: Pick up.

Player: Mike Miller
Fantasy Ranks: 56 / 12
Outlook: Yes, it's true: Miller is ranked 12th in all fantasy basketball for his per-game performance the past two weeks. Mind you, that's on the strength of 61% field goal shooting -- a level that's unlikely to be sustained. Regardless, Miller contributes around near enough to league-average production in almost every category but blocks to make himself useful. He might even play a bigger role now that Caron Butler has left.
Action: HE'S A FANTASY GOD!!! (Er, which is to say, pick him up.)

Player: JaVale McGee
Fantasy Ranks: NA / NA
Outlook: McGee has only averaged about eight minutes per game this season after seeing about 15 per game last year. He's actually ranked in the 130s somewhere on a per-minutes basis, which means if he can start getting 20 - 25 minutes per game, he becomes relevant.
Action: Watch him. He could be a candidate for a four-game week.

Player: Drew Gooden
Fantasy Ranks: 148 / 120
Outlook: Gooden's done some good work in between Erick Dampier injuries this season, but recently he was losing minutes to Eduardo Najera of all people. I don't know what Washington plans to do with him, but they're out of contention and they should be using this time to play guys like McGee.
Action: Dump him if you have him.

The only thing I'm nervous about -- well, besides the economy and global warming and death and all that -- is the JaVale McGee/Drew Gooden situation. Do you think Flip Saunders might not give McGee some run now?

From: Charlie Zegers
Sent: Monday, February 15, 2010 5:28 PM
To: Carson Cistulli
Subject: Give and Go: Mavericks Going Rogue

As far as Butler and Haywood are concerned, I think you're right. If anything, they'll get a fantasy boost once you factor in the Jason Kidd effect, but I'm interested to see how Rick Carlisle divides minutes between Butler and Shawn Marion and Jason Terry at the wing spots, and between Haywood and Erick Dampier in the middle.

(Of course, that may not be an issue for Haywood right away, as Dampier has been battling a knee problem.)

The Wizards values are harder to project right now, only because I really don't think they're done making deals. Antawn Jamison could be the next to go.

Look at their current salary situation: they can opt not to pick up Howard's option for next year and choose not to make a qualifying offer to Foye. Miller, Mike James, Gooden, Fabricio Oberto, Javaris Crittenton, Earl Boykins, Singleton, Dominic McGuire and Paul Davis all come off the books after the season. That leaves Blatche at $3.2 million, Nick Young at $2.6, McGee at $1.6 and Quinton Ross at $1.1 and change...

And Gilbert Arenas, who is on the books for $80 million through 2014.

If they could move Jamison - who is due to make $13.3 million in 2010 and just over $15 million in 2011 - for an expiring deal like that of Zydrunas Ilgauskas - they'd have the opportunity to really turn over their roster this summer, even with Arenas' millstone contract on the books.

(And for what it's worth, I think Jamison would be a much better fit on the Cavs than Amar'e Stoudemire.)

If Jamison is gone, Blatche and McGee could both become significant factors - assuming Ernie Grunfeld doesn't bring back someone like J.J. Hickson in the deal.

Of course, that also means guys like Miller, James or Oberto could be included in other deals this week. Miller could really help a contender, but landing on the wrong team would absolutely kill his fantasy value.

Until the deadline is history, I won't feel terribly confident about any of these guys. I worry about Blatche anyway - that guy has all the talent in the world, but he's been prone to knuckle-headedness for years. I wonder how he'll handle a prime-time role. Actually, when you factor in Blatche's history, McGee starts to look even more promising as a prospect.

While we're taking fliers on guys who could be moved before the deadline, where do you stand on Tracy McGrady at this point? The most promising McGrady rumor I'd seen involved a three-way deal between the Knicks, Wizards and Rockets. Obviously, the Butler/Haywood trade makes that version of the deal impossible - but the crawl on ESPN seems to indicate that Donnie Walsh and Daryl Morey still have something cooking.

New York is one of the few teams I can see actually using McGrady as something other than pure cap relief. You think he has enough left to merit a roster spot at this point?

From: Carson Cistulli
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 4:36 PM
To: Charlie Zegers
Subject: Give and Go: Mavericks Going Rogue

I interrupt this edition of the Give and Go for a special announcement: the Portland Trailblazers have just traded Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw to the LA Clippers for center Marcus Camby.

Yes, that's right: in between your most recent email and the one I'm presently composing (which, if you'll allow me to lie for a sec, we'll say was sent within 24 hours of your reply), the Blazers have solved like a dozen problems in one fell swoop. The deal, which, according to the Oregonian, has $1.5MM going south along with Blake and Outlaw, resolves the Blazers' big-man conundrum while also dealing with their logjam at the wing.

Now, I know -- for the sake of your sanity -- we need to address the McGrady-to-the-Knicks rumors, but if you don't mind, I'd like to just look at some of the fantasy fallout for this done deal.

I'll do it the same as before, with Fantasy Ranks (per Basketball Monster) from the whole year and also from the last two weeks, given a typical 12-team, eight-cat league.

Player: DeAndre Jordan
Fantasy Ranks: NA / NA
Outlook: Jordan has averaged 12.8 minutes per game on the season. In the Clips' first game sans Camby (bizarrely, against the Blazers), he recorded 28 minutes, 14 points (on 7-of-8 shooting) and 11 rebounds -- great stuff. Note the free throws, though: 0-of-5 against Portland, 34.2% on the season. On a per-minute basis, he's 6.32 standard deviations below the mean. Dwight Howard, by comparison, is only 5.24 below the mean.
Action: Pick up, but recognize the free throw impact.

Player: Jerryd Bayless
Fantasy Ranks: NA / NA
Outlook: Blake's departure basically hands the back-up point guard spot to Bayless. Curiously, he only played 11 minutes in the first Blake-less game. (Rudy Fernandez, on the other hand, got 31 miuntes). Though he should see more playing time, it's unlikely that he'll get the 25 minutes per game necessary to give him real fantasy relevance.
Action: Hold for now, but watch minutes.

Player: Chris Kaman
Fantasy Ranks: 51 / 145
Outlook: With the departure of Camby and his nutso rebounding rate (seriously, 22.6%!), Kaman is likely to see a slight uptick in that category. He had a terrible first game sans Camby (only 27 minutes, 1-of-6 shooting, seven turnovers), but that's very likely.
Action: Duh.

Player: Marcus Camby
Fantasy Ranks: 32 / 37
Outlook: Camby fills the giantest vacuum in Portland's team -- namely, the center role. Juwan Howard has actually filled the role with something approaching adequacy, but he's also an old, old man. (Seriously, I saw him on the cover of AARP Monthly, or whatever it's called.) Camby needs minutes more than anything for his fantasy numbers, as his real value is in rebounds and blocks, where he rates 2.36 and 2.23 standard deviations above the mean, respectively, on the season.
Action: Double-duh. He's awesome.

Player: Juwan Howard
Fantasy Ranks: NA / NA
Outlook: Let's hope for the sake of your fantasy existence that you didn't have him on your team. If you did, don't anymore.
Action: Back away from the elderly man.

Whaddaya think? Am I missing anyone?

And also: what's this I hear about Krypto Nate going Bostonward?

From: Charlie Zegers
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 5:26 PM
To: Carson Cistulli
Subject: Re: Give and Go: Mavericks Going Rogue

And since you sent that message - about three hours ago - the Clippers have been at it again. They're at the center of a three-team deal that will put Antawn Jamison and Sebastian Telfair in Cleveland, Al Thornton and Zydrunas Ilgauskas in Washington, and Drew Gooden in L.A.

More on that in a moment.

The Camby deal is interesting. At first glance, he seems like an ideal replacement for Oden and Przybilla. But I worry that the loss of Blake will hurt more than expected. Of course, that's sort of a moot point if they can't get Brandon Roy healthy, based on recent interviews it sounds like Roy's hamstring is still really hurting.

From a fantasy perspective, the trade of Blake followed by the news that Roy is still hurting should trigger a major run on Andre Miller, Jerryd Bayless and Rudy Fernandez.

The trade of Robinson to Boston is being reported by several sources as a done deal at this point, but we don't know who else is involved. The strongest rumors indicate Eddie House would be the player coming back to New York, but for a variety of salary cap issues slightly more complicated than the average credit default swap, they can't be traded straight-up for each other. Another player or two will be involved - someone like Tony Allen or J.R. Giddens.

The Celtics apparently feel like they aren't getting enough energy from the second unit, and they see Robinson as an instant offense off the bench guy. I think that's his ideal role. I predict big things, assuming he can keep his head on straight.

As for the big Wizards/Cavs/Clippers trade… I thought Jamison was the best option for the Cavs all along, though I'm wondering how they'll find minutes for Antawn and Anderson Varejao and Leon Powe and J.J. Hickson.

It'll be interesting to see what the Wizards do with Thornton. He's not just a throw-in - his contract runs through next season. But I'm not sure what role he'll play with Mike Miller and Josh Howard already in place. Everyone seems to be high on Andray Blatche after the Haywood trade; the second deal would seem to clear playing time for JaVale McGee as well. (I suspect Ilgauskas will be waived, wait the required 30 days and then re-sign with the Cavs.)

For the Clippers, the plan is pretty transparent. They have cap space for next season, and they have pretty solid starters penciled in at point guard (Baron Davis), shooting guard (Eric Gordon), power forward (Blake Griffin) and center (Chris Kaman). I wonder who they're planning on signing for that small forward spot. Any big free agents this summer that can play the three?

From: Carson Cistulli
Sent: Thursday, February 18, 2010 2:17 AM
To: Charlie Zegers
Subject: Re: Give and Go: Mavericks Going Rogue

The Cavs' move for Jamison makes sense, I guess, but I'm a little disappointed just because it probably means Leon Powe won't get much playing time. Per Basketball Prospectus, Powe posted a Player Winning Percentage (Win%) of .580 last year. By comparison, Jamison's Win% last year was .555, and is only .517 this year.

Hoop Data's Adjusted Player Efficiency Rating (APER) rates them similarly: 19.04 and 16.22 for Jamison, last year and this year, respectively; 18.82 for Powe last season.

Obviously, this doesn't prove conclusively that Powe is better than Jamison. Not only are these metrics themselves limited in their ability to paint the entire picture of a player's production, but Powe is coming back from pretty serious knee surgery. But it sure does seem as though the upgrade is marginal. Still, if nothing else, I'm disappointed from a fan's perspective.

On the plus side of things, this trade goes some way to creating an even more interesting situation in Washington for the season's last 30 or so games. Now with both Gooden and Jamison departing -- and the Big Zeasy unlikely to stick -- the likelihood of Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee securing playing time increases. My guess for Al Thornton is that Flip Saunders will play him a little at the four. If I'm not mistaken, he did a little of that in LA last year.

As for your final question, I'm stumped: I can't think of even one big free agent this summer.

(Does this keyboard have a sarcasm button?)

Article first appeared on 2/18/10