NBA Basketball Column: The Daily Dose
Thomas Robinson's Neighborhood
I didn’t add Thomas Robinson in any leagues Wednesday because I was frozen by confusion. Why in the world would the Kings give up on the No. 5 overall pick in the draft without ever giving him a chance to play? A salary dump? They’re only saving a few million bucks. That should be pocket change to an NBA team. Because he’s struggled offensively so far? Who wouldn’t struggle on the dumpster fire that is the Kings’ roster and coaching staff?
A day later, I really regret not pulling the trigger. The Kings are apparently just that dumb and cheap. They didn’t know something about Robinson the Rockets didn’t – they just dropped the ball. And Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, the sharpest GM in the game today, doesn’t drop the ball. He’s set things up nicely for his gift-wrapped acquisition, unloading both starting power forward Patrick Patterson and backup Marcus Morris.
“For us, it was obviously for Thomas Robinson,” Morey said when discussing the trade. “He is a very high-upside guy, plays with high energy, runs the floor, can rebound. He’s athletic. He is a guy that has potential to grow into a top-level player.”
If Morey thinks this highly of Robinson, he’s going to get all the burn he can handle from coach Kevin McHale. Expect 28-30 minutes nightly with elite rebounding numbers and the upside for more.
NEWS OF THE DAY #2
Buried under the trades that Orlando made Thursday is the status of Jameer Nelson’s knee. He’s been diagnosed with a strained patella tendon and will be reevaluated on Saturday. Newly acquired Beno Udrih is a poor bet for fantasy value if Nelson and Arron Afflalo are healthy, but an injury would really open things up. It’s a situation to keep a close eye on.
As for the trade, the Magic’s starters gained some rotation stability. J.J. Redick was playing 31.5 minutes per game and taking 11.6 shots a night. Udrih and Tobias Harris will eat up some of that production, but this is a complete rebuilding process in Orlando. The young core they’ve built (Moe Harkless, Andrew Nicholson, Nikola Vucevic, Afflalo) are going to get all the burn they can handle.
For our purposes, the player most owners still have a shot at is Moe Harkless. He won’t get any more minutes now that Redick is gone because he was already playing 34.2 a night over the last nine games. What he will get is a chance to touch the ball more and not have to worry about getting squeezed out of the rotation at any point. During this nine-game stint, Harkless is averaging 10.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks. His length and activity on defense is really intriguing.
TRADE DEADLINE RECAP
Bang it here for Aaron Bruski’s excellent team-by-team recaps of the trade deadline. I’m just going to give a little context on three situations:
1. Josh Smith stays put: The Bucks’ final offer was reportedly Beno Udrih, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ekpe Udoh and a protected first-round pick. Understandably, Hawks GM Danny Ferry decided to pass and make his move this summer when he’ll have perhaps the most cap room in the league. He could re-sign Smith, who said he’s open to that. He could also go after Dwight Howard. Either way, it’s a best-case scenario for Smoove’s owners as his fantasy value is at its peak in Atlanta.
2. Jazz stop the music: Utah’s decision to stand pat is a lot more confusing. They had two impending free agents in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson that should have been attracting interest as a difference-making rental. But GM Dennis Lindsey said he didn’t even get any offers that made him think. So now we go forward with the status quo: Starter’s minutes for the Sapper and Big Al, 21-23 for Derrick Favors and 12-14 for Enes Kanter. I still think owners that stashed Favors made the right play – it’s just fantasy variance (bad luck) that comes with the territory.
3. Takes bad shots, will travel: We got a ton of questions asking if Jordan Crawford should be snapped up. I don’t see it. He’s going to come off the bench behind Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee, and then will fight for shots with Jason Terry. It’s the old Leandro Barbosa role of roughly 20 minutes a night. "We don't have that wild card off the bench. And I'm hoping [Crawford] gives us that,” coach Doc Rivers said. HEAT at BULLS RANDOM THOUGHTS
* Kirk Hinrich’s elbow continues to be an issue. His original cut was in such a weird spot that doctors expected it to get infected. Now the infection is gone, but his range of motion is still off. He’s also afraid of contracting another infection. So Hinrich sat out Thursday and his status going forward is uncertain. Nate Robinson predictably posted 14 points, two 3-pointers, two steals and three assists. He’s a must-start anytime Hinrich sits.
* LeBron James took a shot from Robinson in the fourth quarter and came up limping, but didn’t miss any time. He’s literally indestructible. Of course, LeBron went 11-of-15 from the field, raising his field-goal percentage to an absurd 56.7 percent.
* Dwyane Wade continues to look really spry and healthy. Count me among the people shocked he’s playing 34.1 minutes a night and has missed just four games all year.
SPURS at CLIPPERS RANDOM THOUGHTS
* Kawhi Leonard was held out due to a sore knee that’s been bothering him for a while now. He’s fully expected to return on Friday.
* Tony Parker is the rare elite fantasy point guard that doesn’t make 3-pointers. It’s because of his percentages. He went 12-of-16 from the field and 7-of-7 from the line on Thursday. Parker is now at 53.9 percent and 83.4 percent, respectively, on the season.
* With the Spurs on a back-to-back road game and the score out of hand, Gregg Popovich sat Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili for most of the second half. Owners should know it comes with the territory.
* As I mentioned in Tuesday's Rotating Rotations, there’s just no upside with Chauncey Billups. Too old, bad situation.
* DeAndre Jordan played 21 minutes and blocked zero shots. I’d say it’s a fluke, but he came into this one averaging just 0.9 blocks a night over his last nine games.
INJURY FAST BREAK
Al Harrington (knee) could be back next week, but he doesn’t fit in the Magic’s true rebuilding process. … Doc Rivers said he’ll likely rest Kevin Garnett in one of the next three games. No clue on which one yet. … Wesley Matthews (ankle) got some light work in on Thursday and is headed for a game-time call Friday. … Chandler Parsons (ankle) is expected to play Friday despite getting carries off the court Wednesday. … Kendrick Perkins (knee) remains day to day. ... Bradley Beal chipped a couple teeth in practice but is expected to be fine. … Danny Granger (knee) is expected to make his season debut either Friday or Saturday. He’ll start off with limited minutes off the bench. … Brandon Knight is day to day with a hyperextended knee. It doesn’t appear serious.
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