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 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 18 Schedule: Games played
4 Games: CLE, DET, GSW, IND, MIA, MIN, NYK, ORL, PHI, POR, TOR, WAS
3 Games: ATL, BOS, BRK, CHA, CHI, DAL, DEN, HOU, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIL, NOP, OKC, PHX, SAC, SAS, UTA
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg confirmed on Sunday that both Butler (knee) and Mirotic (hematoma) are still at least 2-3 weeks away from a return, but it sounds like Butler may be a little closer. "As far as Jimmy is concerned, he’s another guy that's making progress,” Hoiberg said. “He’s feeling a lot better, and hopefully we’ll get him out there at least testing to see if he can explode off that leg.” Butler should obviously be stashed everywhere, but Mirotic is still experiencing pain in his abdomen and is limited to shooting, but he isn’t cleared to run.
The Bulls have been starting E’Twaun Moore at the two and is playing well, and he just went off for 24 points and four treys vs. the Lakers on Sunday. Derrick Rose has also stepped up in the absence of Butler with an average of 26.0 points over his last three games, while Bobby Portis has also emerged again with averages of 11.2 points, 8.2 boards, 1.2 assists, 0.6 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers over his last five. (Source: Nick Friedell of ESPN)
What is going on with Chris Bosh?
Bosh’s 2014-15 season was cut short due to blood clots, and unfortunately the All-Star big man is dealing with them once again. Bosh is having one of the best seasons of his career with averages of 19.1 points, 7.4 boards, 2.4 assists and 1.5 3-pointers on 46.7 percent shooting, returning top-35 value in standard leagues. He is considered out indefinitely, but the Heat have been very quiet regarding his status.
Bosh is currently taking blood thinners, but he reportedly won’t be able to play while on medication which could last a matter of months. I would definitely hold onto him until we get a concrete report, but sadly there is a very real possibility that his season could be in jeopardy. Luol Deng has emerged as the primary beneficiary sans Bosh, putting up averages of 28.5 points, 10.5 boards, 2.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 0.5 3-pointers in his last two outings. He obviously won’t be anywhere near this good moving forward, but he’s worth owning in all leagues until further notice.
Will D’Angelo Russell continue to start?
The rookie moved back into the starting lineup in place of Lou Williams on Sunday vs. the Bulls and really impressed, scoring 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting with six assists, two boards, one steal and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes. Coach Byron Scott said that Russell played well and to the delight of Lakers fans everywhere, he confirmed that he will start for the remainder of the season. Russell hasn’t even cracked the top-175 in standard leagues on the season, but that’s about to change and he could be a fun player to own down the stretch. Make sure he’s not available in your league. As for Williams, his value is trending down.
Is Shelvin Mack worth a look?
It was probably one of the most under-the-radar moves of the deadline, but Mack gives the Jazz a solid upgrade at the point and many of the Jazz beat writers seem to believe that he could start sooner rather than later. He debuted on Sunday vs. the Blazers and thoroughly impressed, scoring 16 points with six assists, three rebounds, one block and one 3-pointer in 24 minutes. He saw more action than both Raul Neto (10 minutes) and Trey Burke (13 minutes), so I would say that he is worth a speculative pickup in most leagues.
“I hadn’t planned to play him that early in the quarter,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I knew I wanted to play him. The way the game was we were down (11-2), I just felt like there was a window there and felt like maybe he could give us something, and he did. That was good to see.” Mack is only owned in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues, so it also makes some sense to see if he can do it again before making an add. (Source: Deseret News)
Quick Notes and Rumors
Joe Johnson could end up with the Cavaliers if the Nets buy him out according to Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com, but reports out of Brooklyn suggest that he could stick with the Nets for the remainder of the season. A move to Cleveland would shatter his fantasy value, but it could also have a negative impact on J.R. Smith as well. For what it’s worth, Miami is also said to be interested.
Jimmer Fredette will join the Knicks on Monday on a 10-day deal, but the chances of him sticking around are probably pretty slim. Fredette hasn’t shown that he can score effectively at the NBA level and his defense is cringeworthy, so I’m not expecting him to recapture any of the magic that he had at BYU during his college days.
David Lee will sign a one-year deal with the Mavericks on Monday, and he is expected to see minutes as the backup four and five. I can’t imagine him getting anything more than minutes in the teens, so I’d recommend staying away from him for now. Through 30 games with Boston, he had averages of 7.1 points, 4.3 boards and 1.8 assists.
Anderson Varejao was waived by the Cavaliers earlier in the week, so of course the Warriors swooped in and signed him for the remainder of the season. I love this move for Golden State not just because he probably has a lot of insider information on his old friends, but he still has a lot to offer and the Warriors may need him right away with Andrew Bogut (Achilles) ailing and Festus Ezeli (knee) out for several weeks. He’s only on the radar in deeper leagues for now, though.
Injury Report: Accurate as of 11:00 AM (ET)
Note: This only includes players who have been updated in last week
Jeff Teague (wrist) said that he'll be "OK" after his wrist injury on Saturday. The Hawks took the cautious approach on Saturday which is one of the reasons why Dennis Schroder played down the stretch, and my guess is that Teague will be fine for Monday’s massive game against the Warriors. Schroder would be worth a look if Teague ends up missing time, but I’m not calling him a must-own player.
Tiago Splitter said that he'll have an eight-month recovery after his hip injury, so he might not even be ready for the start of the 2016-17 season. Mike Muscala will likely get most of his minutes, but he’s not a fantasy option.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle) will be re-evaluated in two weeks. He has been sidelined since he had surgery in early December, but he has been participating in limited practices and will likely be able to return in March. If the Nets negotiate a buyout with Joe Johnson, RHJ could be a sneaky stash in deeper leagues.
Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) said that he is targeting a return to the lineup in three weeks. He is dealing with a partially separated shoulder, but the good news is that it doesn’t require surgery. Unless you’re in a deep league or have an IR spot, it’s time to move on.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist underwent surgery on his shoulder this week and will miss the rest of the season. Nicolas Batum will slide to small forward, while Courtney Lee, Jeremy Lin and Jeremy Lamb will fill the void.
Mo Williams will visit with a surgeon on Tuesday to get a second opinion on his sore left knee. He admitted that his knee has been bothering him all season and it’s very worrying that he is meeting with a surgeon. He’s not in the rotation, so this doesn’t have any fantasy implications.
Kyrie Irving (flu-like symptoms) left Sunday’s game vs. the Thunder early, meaning he should be considered questionable to play on Monday vs. the Pistons. Matthew Dellavedova (hamstring) will draw the start if Irving can’t go. As for Iman Shumpert (shoulder), he is still listed as day-to-day.
Kenneth Faried (illness) played a season-low 13 minutes during Sunday's loss, and he had to ask out of the game down the stretch. The Nuggets don’t play until Tuesday, so hopefully he makes some progress.
Jameer Nelson (left wrist) is trying to avoid surgery, but he has no timetable for a return. D.J. Augustin has been playing well off the bench, but the presence of Emmanuel Mudiay limits his appeal in fantasy leagues.
The three-team trade that sent Marcus Thornton and Donatas Motiejunas to Detroit is on hold because the Pistons have requested more time to evaluate Motiejunas’ troublesome back. If they don’t like what they find, the trade could be reversed. Both players likely won’t play Monday.
Andrew Bogut (Achilles) missed Saturday’s game vs. the Clippers, but the extent of his injury isn’t known. The Warriors will probably be cautious, but it’s possible that Anderson Varejao could immediately see a few minutes if Bogut continues to sit.
Terrence Jones (concussion) returned to practice on Sunday, but he’s in the doghouse in Houston and probably won’t see too many minutes. He’s not worth owning in most leagues despite his upside.
C.J. Miles strained his left calf during Sunday's game, and he said that he felt a “pop.” The Pacers play the Heat on Monday, so expect Solomon Hill to possibly play a few more minutes if Miles sits. Rodney Stuckey (ankle) is targeting a return to action on Feb. 28.
Chris Paul suffered a thigh bruise during Saturday's loss to the Warriors, but he said that he would be fine for Monday's game vs. the Suns. Coach Doc Rivers also indicated that CP3 is fine, but it’s worth mentioning that the Clippers play the Suns on Monday. If the Clippers take the cautious approach and hold him out, Jamal Crawford, Pablo Prigioni and C.J. Wilcox will get more opportunities.
Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace said that the team is still in "fact-finding mode" regarding Marc Gasol's (foot) injury, and they have yet to release a timetable. It would be stunning if they don’t rule him out for the remainder of the season, so don’t get your hopes up. Brandan Wright is still getting his legs under him, but he should emerge as a solid asset down the stretch.
Dwyane Wade (sore left knee) is listed as questionable for Monday's game vs. the Pacers. He has missed two games in a row, but an MRI came back clean and he should be considered day-to-day. Goran Dragic will benefit the most if Wade sits, while Gerald Green and Josh Richardson will log heavy minutes.
Jerryd Bayless (knee) could miss more action going forward and doesn’t have a known timetable. O.J. Mayo has been starting, but Michael Carter-Williams is still the PG to own in Milwaukee. Greivis Vasquez (ankle) is a few weeks away from a return.
John Henson (back) still has no timetable, but the Bucks don’t have any reason to rush him back either.
Eric Gordon (broken right ring finger) has started practicing without contact and is hoping to receive full clearance this week. His return will hurt the value of Bryce Dejean-Jones and Norris Cole. Gordon is a solid stash because Tyreke Evans (knee) is done for the season.
Tyson Chandler (shoulder) said that he will return “soon,” but the Suns won’t be in a hurry to rush him back. Coach Earl Watson wants to give Alex Len an extended look and he gave him a ton of post touches on Sunday, so he is the center you want to own in Phoenix.
Brandon Knight (groin) could return in a couple of weeks according to GM Ryan McDonough, so he’s still worth stashing in most leagues. This season should be all about player development, so hopefully Archie Goodwin will see heavy minutes even when Knight is back.
Kawhi Leonard (left calf tightness) is day-to-day, and the good news is that an MRI came back clean. The Spurs are off until Wednesday, so that will definitely help.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri said that DeMarre Carroll (knee) has been "making progress," he remains without an official timetable to return. Carroll didn’t play great before the injury, but keep in mind that he was playing at less than 100 percent. Personally, I’m stashing him everywhere.
Matchups of the week:
Pacers vs. Heat (Feb. 22)
Hawks vs. Warriors (Feb. 22)
Rockets vs. Jazz (Feb. 23)
Hornets vs. Cavs (Feb. 24)
Warriors vs. Heat (Feb. 24)
Thunder vs. Mavs (Feb. 24)
Rockets vs. Blazers (Feb. 25)
Spurs vs. Jazz (Feb. 25)
Cavs vs. Raptors (Feb. 26)
Bulls vs. Hawks (Feb. 26)
Heat vs. Celtics (Feb. 27)
Blazers vs. Bulls (Feb. 27)
Spurs vs. Rockets (Feb. 27)
Warriors vs. Thunder (Feb. 27)
Hornets vs. Hawks (Feb. 28)
Cavs vs. Wizards (Feb. 28)