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NBA Waiver Wire: Working the Wire-Week 11

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.

Working the Wire
By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Hoops Editor

There's a long list of players that have the reputation - usually earned - of being injury-prone. Marcus Camby. Jermaine O'Neal. Yao Ming. T.J. Ford.

Some of the guys in my home league call 'em "lepers." (Not me, of course. That would be inappropriate and wrong.)

The number one guy on the list is almost certainly Tracy McGrady. No one has ever questioned McGrady's transcendent talent… but fully 95 percent of all preseason outlooks on McGrady include the phrase "if he can stay heathy…" or words to that effect.

But lately, we're hearing a new gripe about McGrady. The biggest questions raised by Rockets observers are questioning his effort, not his health. According to various reports, the Rockets wanted to sit McGrady for an extended period to rest his sore knees. McGrady refused, preferring to play as much as possible… but the pain has limited his minutes - he's expected to sit at least one game of the Rockets' next few back-to-backs - and his production when on the floor has been spotty at best.

McGrady is obviously a huge key to the Rockets' success - as their "point forward," he makes their offense go. But Houston is also a tremendously deep team this season - one could certainly make the case that the team would be better off in the short term giving extended minutes to the likes of Aaron Brooks, Carl Landry and Luther Head, and letting McGrady get as healthy… well, as healthy as he ever gets.

Expect this situation to come to a head soon… and grab any Houston bench players that are available in your league in the meantime.

Picks for the Week

The first set of picks is for players in standard leagues… guys who will typically be available in your average 10 team/15 player roster league. The second group is for owners in very deep leagues, and will be based more on speculation than actual numbers. The third batch of players will be guys I've mentioned in previous columns that still seem to be available in a lot of leagues and worth a look.

Standard Leagues

Linas Kleiza (DEN) - Carmelo Anthony will be sidelined for the next month or so with a broken wrist. J.R. Smith will probably be the most immediate beneficiary - but the versatile Kleiza will also be asked to pick up some of the slack - and unlike Smith, Kleiza may be available in your league.

Drew Gooden (CHI) - Gooden returns this week after missing eight games with a sprained ankle. We expect to see him playing significant minutes right away, as Joakim Noah's… "free spirited" behavior seems not to be winning him many friends at the United Center these days.

Keyon Dooling (NJN) - As Devin Harris has been showing us all season, Laurence Frank's version of the dribble-drive offense is very friendly to the stat lines of point guards. Harris has been hobbled by a bum hamstring, so Dooling will get to show his stuff for a little while.

Courtney Lee (ORL) - With Mickael Pietrus out with a broken wrist and Keith Bogans playing through a foot injury, Lee is starting at shooting guard for Orlando for the time being.

Trevor Ariza (LAL) - A valuable bench contributor all season, Ariza shifts into the starting lineup for the next two weeks or so while Luke Walton recovers from a foot injury.

Deep Leagues

Jarrett Jack (IND) - Jack continues to put up good numbers even after T.J. Ford's return from injury. Some owners might be scared off because Mike Dunleavy is due back from his season-long absence this week - but as the Pacers get Dunleavy back, they're losing Marquis Daniels to a groin injury - and Ford is a good bet to miss more games down the stretch. Jack seems like a sound investment.

Darius Songaila (WAS) - Songaila has replaced Andray Blatche as Washington's starting center because of a "team matter." Coach Ed Tapscott didn't elaborate, but word is the move is a reaction, in part, to the way Blatche reacted after being pulled from a game last weekend.

Matt Carroll (CHA) - An accomplished shooter, Carroll gets a short-term bump in value while Raja Bell recovers from a groin injury.

Sasha Vujacic (LAL) - Jordan Farmar's injury moved Vujacic up a spot on the depth chart. He's made the most of the opportunity so far, scoring in double figures in three of the Lakers' last four contests.

Worth a Second Look

  • Mike Dunleavy (IND) - Could return to the lineup as soon as Wednesday.
  • Eddy Curry (NYK) - Expected to make his season debut at some point during the Knicks' current road trip.
  • Matt Bonner

Article first appeared on 1/7/08
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