Hey guys, welcome back to The Week Ahead! Every weekend I’ll touch on some of the major storylines across the NBA and will take a brief look at what’s in store during the coming days. Additionally, I’ll have a complete report on the latest injury news and trade rumors. If you guys have any questions or just need some advice, be sure to follow me on Twitter or just shoot me an email!
Week 15 Schedule:
4 Games: ATL, BOS, BRK, CHI, CLE, DAL, DEN, DET, IND, MIA, NOP, NYK, ORL, SAC, SAN, UTA, WAS
3 Games: CHA, HOU, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIL, MIN, OKC, PHI, PHX, POR, TOR
2 Games: GSW
Suns fire head coach Jeff Hornacek
Phoenix had already fired their two assistant coaches back on Dec. 28, so this isn’t a surprise since Hornacek has gone 2-14 since then. If there’s one thing to take away from all this, it’s clear that the Suns are going tank and focus on player development the rest of the way. Expect to hear several trade rumors involving P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris in the coming weeks, while veterans such as Brandon Knight and Tyson Chandler could eventually be shut down.
On the bright side, this bodes really well for the outlook of the young studs including Devin Booker, Alex Len, T.J. Warren and Archie Goodwin. Booker is a must-own player already, but Len has way too much upside to drop even though he played just 15 minutes on Sunday. Goodwin and Warren don’t belong in active lineups right now, but there’s nothing wrong with stashing them on the end of your bench.
Rest coming for Chris Paul?
Clippers coach Doc Rivers hinted on Saturday that CP3 will “probably” get an occasional day off for rest purposes, but I’ll explain why I’m not concerned. Blake Griffin (hand) is out for a couple months, so Paul’s fantasy value is going to be incredibly high the rest of the way. In fact, Paul has been the third best player in standard leagues over the last month with averages of 21.1 points, 10.4 assists, 4.4 boards, 2.3 steals, 2.2 3-pointers and 2.9 turnovers per game. There is no real reason to sell high since the Clippers have a great playoff schedule anyways, so his owners should feel confident about standing pat.
Blake Griffin (hand) will be out two months?
I’ve gotten this question a lot, so I feel the need to address this. The original timetable was slated for 4-6 weeks, but that was way too optimistic. Doc Rivers even scoffed at those reports, and all indications suggest that he will indeed miss around two months of action. This would mean that we may not see him on the court until April, and by then a lot of fantasy playoffs would already be over. You should stash him in an IR spot by all means in case he beats his timetable, but if you’re fighting for a playoff spot you should really consider moving on.
I’ll start with Gordon. He finally broke out on Sunday with a massive performance, scoring 19 points with 14 boards, five assists and two blocks in 39 minutes. He shot 8-of-11 from the field, and the only complaint I have is that he was just 3-of-9 from the free throw line. Regardless, the second year player now has averages of 12.0 points, 9.6 boards, 2.8 assists and 0.8 3-pointers in 30.0 minutes over his last five games, and I also know that the blocks (0.6) and steals (0.4) will be coming soon. The Magic have every incentive to give him big minutes from here on out, so plug him into your lineups with confidence knowing that the Magic play four times this week
As for Dieng, he admitted that he struggled with coach Sam Mitchell’s decision to only play him limited minutes at the start of the season, but he thinks it helped him grow as a man and as a player. “I think I’ve improved as a basketball player and as a man as well,” Dieng said. “Maybe two or three years ago, I wouldn’t respond like this. I think I responded in the right way.” Mitchell also praised Dieng, saying that the big man looks a lot better. “He works hard, he’s getting a lot better,” Mitchell said. “When he sets good screens and rolls to the basket, it just makes us a better basketball team. It just opens up spacing and creates more opportunities for guys.” Dieng has back-to-back double-doubles in his last two games, averaging 16.5 points, 12.5 boards, 2.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks. He’s going to be a stud the rest of the way. (Source: Star Tribune)
Trade chatter and rumors:
The Celtics have inquired about Jeff Teague and Al Horford, and it’s no secret that general manager Danny Ainge is looking to make a splash before the deadline. Teague is available and has been linked to teams such as the Knicks and Jazz, and the reason for that is because the Hawks are reportedly ready to “turn the page” on Teague in order to hand over the starting point guard duties to Dennis Schroder. As for Horford, he is on the last year of his deal and will command a max contract this summer, so the Hawks will try to cash in if they don’t believe he will return. (Source: Chris Mannix of the Vertical)
The Bulls are leaning towards standing pat at the trade deadline, and that’s because they have lost two key bigs to injuries in Nikola Mirotic (abdomen) and Joakim Noah (shoulder). This is good news for the value of Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson, but it’s a buzzkill for Bobby Portis. The impressive rookie will likely be stuck in a reserve role for the foreseeable future, so he’s just a luxury stash in deeper leagues. (Source: ESPN)
Rudy Gay and Marco Belinelli have both been made available by the Kings, but it still isn’t clear if they will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. They are three wins behind the Blazers for the eighth seed in the West, so it would be surprising if they moved Gay without getting a proven scorer in return. The Kings are reportedly looking to bring in a quality young player with more than a year left on his deal in any deal involving Gay, but that’s not going to be easy. (Source: CSN Bay Area)
The Pelicans may still try to trade Eric Gordon (finger) even though he will miss a few more weeks. “Before the injury, sources say the Pelicans were exploring trade offers for Gordon,” John Reid of the New Orleans Times-Picayune said. “There is still a chance the Pelicans could look to trade Gordon before the Feb. 18 deadline if they can find a willing team. Gordon was the only Pelicans’ player to start 40 of the first 41 games before getting injured.”
The Pistons have interest in Ryan Anderson, but they likely won’t make a move until he becomes a free agent this summer. Expect a number of other teams to go after Anderson before the deadline, though. (Source: ESPN)
The Grizzlies are exploring the trade market for Jeff Green and Courtney Lee, as both players are on expiring deals. Green is averaging 26.7 points, 5.0 boards, 1.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.6 3-pointers over his last three games, so his value may not ever be higher than it is right now. As for Lee, only a contender would likely take on his contract, and a move away from Memphis would probably be bad news for his value. (Source: ESPN)
Markieff Morris of the Suns and Kevin Martin of the Wolves are still fully expected to be moved, but their respective teams are simply waiting for a better offer. Their asking prices will likely come down as we approach the deadline. (Source: ESPN)
The Lakers have made a number of veterans available in a trade, including Lou Williams, Brandon Bass, Nick Young and Roy Hibbert. The only name that’s interesting to me is Williams, and I don’t think it will be a bad thing for his value if he’s traded because his role would likely shrink on the tanking Lakers down the stretch. They really want Ben Simmons.
Injury report: (Note: This only includes players who were updated this week)
Accurate as of 1:00 ET
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffered an apparent right leg injury in the closing moments of Sunday’s game vs. the Lakers, but the Hornets haven’t released any details yet. He should be considered questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. the Cavaliers.
Nicolas Batum is dealing with the same toe issue again, and he sat out of Sunday’s game vs. the Lakers. This has been a lingering issue for a couple of weeks now, and the Hornets may be tempted to shut him down for a little bit until he’s 100 percent. Jeremy Lamb is also dealing with a toe injury, but he is still listed as day-to-day.
Nikola Mirotic had an appendectomy on Jan. 30 and is expected to return after the All-Star break. The Bulls have already lost Joakim Noah (shoulder) for the rest of the season, meaning Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson are looking at heavy minutes. Bobby Portis could flirt with 20 minutes a night, but he’s still just a stash.
Mike Dunleavy (back) is "pain free" and he said he could return to action before the All-Star break. Dunleavy will spend some time in the D-League to get his legs under him, but he will eventually start at small forward for the Bulls. He’s still not worth stashing in most leagues.
Festus Ezeli (knee) will be re-evaluated on Monday, but he still doesn’t have a known timetable for a return. Be on the lookout for an update tonight, but Ezeli is only on the radar in deeper leagues.
Rodney Stuckey (foot) will not return until after the All-Star break, so he’s safe to drop in most leagues. Ian Mahinmi (back) will miss his second straight game on Monday vs. the Cavs, but he is day-to-day. Jordan Hill and Myles Turner will fill the void left by Mahinmi.
The Lakers are expected to hold Larry Nance (knee soreness) out until the All-Star break. This is great news for Julius Randle, so he’s officially on the radar in standard leagues. Nance is safe to drop.
Marc Gasol (left knee) is questionable to play vs. the Pelicans, but he has been questionable for the last few games and has ended up playing in all of them. He will be fine.
Tyler Johnson (shoulder) will travel with the Heat for Tuesday’s game vs. the Rockets, but it would be surprising if he played. The Heat have already hinted that he will likely need offseason surgery, so this issue is going to linger.
Hassan Whiteside (hip) still has no timetable for a return, and his durability issues are becoming a real concern. He is technically considered doubtful for Tuesday’s game vs. the Rockets, but owners in weekly leagues should bench him. As crazy as this sounds, Amare Stoudemire double-doubled on Sunday and will benefit the most.
John Henson (back) is questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Kings, meaning he’s in jeopardy of missing his third straight game. Greg Monroe will be forced to play heavy minutes if Henson sits. O.J. Mayo (hamstring) and Greivis Vasquez (ankle) have already been ruled out.
Tyreke Evans (knee) is questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Grizzlies, but the Pelicans should err on the side of caution. His knee is a real concern, and the shut-down risk will continue to grow unless the Pelicans can go on a hot streak. Bryce Dejean-Jones and Norris Cole will step if Evans is held out, but Jrue Holiday will be the primary beneficiary.
Jose Calderon (groin) is day-to-day, but he is known for taking a long time to heal and could miss more time. Langston Galloway could continue to start, but he’s not a great option outside of deeper leagues.
T.J. Warren (ankle) is day-to-day and Brandon Knight (groin) still doesn’t have a timetable to return. P.J. Tucker will continue to log heavy minutes on the wings, but Warren could be a decent stash because the Suns will be sellers at the trade deadline. If you own Knight, you should handcuff him with Archie Goodwin.
Tim Duncan (knee) will not play on Monday vs. the Magic, and he has no timetable for a return. David West, Boris Diaw and the legend of Boban Marjanovic will continue to grow. Stash Duncan in an IR spot for now.
DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) is questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Bucks. The injury looked really bad when it happened, but Boogie insists that he is fine and was reportedly moving around pretty well on it. Rudy Gay, Omri Casspi and Willie Cauley-Stein will all have to step up if Cousins is held out.
Matchups of the week:
Pacers vs. Cavs (Feb. 1)
Hawks vs. Mavs (Feb. 1)
Bulls vs. Jazz (Feb. 1)
Heat vs. Rockets (Feb. 2)
Heat vs. Mavs (Feb. 3)
Warriors vs. Wizards (Feb. 3)
Raptors vs. Blazers (Feb. 4)
Pacers vs. Hawks (Feb. 5)
Celtics vs. Cavs (Feb. 5)
Spurs vs. Mavs (Feb. 5)
Blazers vs. Rockets (Feb. 6)
Thunder vs. Warriors (Feb. 6)
Clippers vs. Heat (Feb. 7)