Welcome back to The Week Ahead! Every Monday I’ll touch on some of the major storylines across the NBA and will take a brief look at what’s in store for the coming days. If you guys have any questions or just need some advice, be sure to follow me on Twitter!
4 Games – BOS, CHA, CHI, DET, LAC, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NYK, OKC, PHI, PHX, POR, SAS, TOR, UTA, WAS
3 Games – ATL, BRK, DAL, GSW, HOU, IND, NOP, ORL
2 Games – CLE, DEN, SAC
Things to look for this week:
Rockets interested in Markieff Morris?
Morris is in the doghouse in Phoenix once again, and things reached an all-time low on Sunday vs. the Grizzlies when he picked up a healthy DNP-CD. Marc Stein of ESPN reported on Sunday night that the Rockets have interest in Morris, so it sounds like it’s possible that we could see some movement between these two teams in the next couple of weeks. It’s also no secret that the Rockets are open to discussing trades involving guys like Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones, so there could be several pieces in play here. Everyone pretty much knows by now that I’m a huge fan of Jones, and after watching him struggle in Houston this season I would be thrilled if he landed in Phoenix as it could really help his outlook. As for Morris, a change of scenery can only be a good thing at this point, so feel free to hang onto him to see if anything happens.
LeBron James will continue to miss games?
James admitted that he wasn’t “thrilled” with sitting out for the first time against the Heat on Saturday, but according to Cleveland.com, the plan has always been for him to have some maintenance days despite James saying before the season that he wanted to play in all 82 games. With their eyes fixed on a postseason run, expect the Cavs to limit James’ workload the rest of the way and his owners should go ahead and make it a habit to check the injury report prior to every back-to-back set going forward.
Kendall Marshall (knee) expected to return this week?
According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Marshall is hoping to make his season debut on Thursday against the Nets after successfully recovering from ACL surgery. He’s fully expected to have a minutes limit right out of the gate, so the 76ers could do the same thing they did with Tony Wroten which is to limit him to around 12 minutes of action in his first game. Head coach Brett Brown has praised Marshall’s playmaking ability and it’s possible that he could spend some time playing alongside Wroten, so he could have a significant role after the new year. I’m not in a rush to add Marshall in any format, but he’s a decent stash if you’re in desperate need for assists.
Pelicans reporter John Reid said on Saturday that coach Alvin Gentry will stick with Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon in his starting lineup over the next 8-10 days in order to develop some consistency. This means that Jrue Holiday will continue to come off the bench, but it’s probably the right decision since he is limited to around 25 minutes of action anyways. Evans scored 14 points with 10 assists in Friday’s win overtime win over the Cavs and Gordon added 19 points and four treys, so both players could post some exciting numbers in the coming weeks and it certainly helps that the Pelicans are finally healthy.
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Rondae Hollis-Jefferson sprained his right ankle in practice on Saturday and did not dress for Sunday’s game vs. the Warriors, but he was spotted leaving the arena on crutches. I’m no doctor, but this is obviously very concerning and it sounds like he could miss some time. The Nets haven’t issued a timetable, so his owners shouldn’t make any roster decisions until we get an update.
Marcus Smart (leg) is still a few weeks away from a return according to Celtics president Danny Ainge, so we may not see him until around Christmas. If you have an open IR spot, it makes a lot of sense to stash him. Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Evan Turner will all benefit in his absence.
David Lee (heel contusion) didn’t practice on Sunday after missing Saturday’s game vs. the Spurs, and Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe said he could be sidelined for a few more days. Lee is officially listed as questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Pelicans, but he’s only averaging minutes in the teens and isn’t a fantasy asset in most leagues anyways.
Mike Dunleavy had a setback with his back issue and isn’t allowed to participate in basketball activities for another 4-6 weeks. His return to the lineup could be more than a couple of months away, so there’s no reason to own him in any league. Doug McDermott and Tony Snell will continue to soak up his minutes at the three.
Kyrie Irving (knee) has been practicing in full with the Cavs this week, and he has even been participating in some full-court scrimmages. Numerous reports have indicated that he will be ready to play on Christmas day vs. the Warriors, but it’s also possible that he could return before that as well. His owner’s patience will soon be rewarded.
Chandler Parsons was rested on Sunday night vs. the Wizards, but he will be ready to go for Monday’s game vs. the Knicks as expected.
Devin Harris injured his ribs on Sunday vs. the Wizards, but x-rays came back negative and he is listed as questionable to play against the Knicks. If he is unable to go, expect Raymond Felton to pick up most of the slack.
Dwight Powell sat out of Sunday’s game due to a minor knee issue, but it’s likely just a contusion and he should be considered day-to-day. His minutes have begun to decline recently, and it’s not a good sign for his outlook that the Mavs are in the playoff hunt. His upside is undeniable, but he’s a deep-league asset for now.
Gary Harris has missed five games in a row due to his concussion, but it should be noted that he put up some shots prior to Saturday’s game vs. the 76ers. The Nuggets are off until Tuesday’s game vs. the Magic, so there’s a pretty decent chance that he will be cleared in time for that one.
Harrison Barnes (ankle) will miss the next four games for the Warriors and won’t be re-evaluated until Dec. 13, but the good news is that he is making progress. The Warriors return home from their road trip on Dec. 16 against the Suns, so it sounds like Barnes could potentially return for that one. Stash him if you can.
J.J. Redick (ankle) and Chris Paul (ribs) have both missed the last two games for the Clippers, but head coach Doc Rivers hinted that he was more optimistic about Redick playing on Monday vs. the Wolves than he was about Paul. Both players can be considered day-to-day, but expect Jamal Crawford to benefit the most if either player sits out on Monday.
Kobe Bryant left Sunday’s game vs. the Pistons early because of a stomach bug, but he said after the game that he is planning on playing vs. the Raptors on Monday. The Black Mamba scored just five points on 2-of-15 shooting in Detroit, so his owners may want to leave him on their bench.
Luol Deng (hamstring) has missed five consecutive games, and he recently said that it would be “stupid” for him to return before he is 100 percent. His status hasn’t been determined for Monday’s game vs. the Wizards, but I’d expect the Heat to hold him out once again which should allow Gerald Green to draw another start.
Jerryd Bayless and Greivis Vasquez are both sidelined with ankle injuries at the moment, and neither player has a timetable to return. The Bucks will likely continue to roll with O.J. Mayo at point guard for Monday’s game vs. the Blazers.
Carmelo Anthony bruised his surgically-repaired left knee on Saturday vs. the Bucks, but the injury isn’t serious and he is fully expected to play on Monday against the Mavericks.
Jahlil Okafor is eligible to return from his two-game suspension for Monday’s game vs. the Spurs, but he is dealing with an upper respiratory infection and wasn’t able to practice on Sunday. He’s listed as questionable, but expect Nerlens Noel to draw another start at center if Okafor can’t give it a go.
Isaiah Canaan (ankle) also missed practice on Sunday, and it should be noted that the 76ers tend to play it safe with injuries. If Canaan is held out vs. the Spurs, we could see more shots from guys like Robert Covington and Nik Stauskas.
Tyson Chandler (hamstring) has missed the Suns’ last five games and also isn’t expected to play on Monday vs. the Bulls. That means the earliest we would see him back on the court is on Wednesday vs. the Magic, so Alex Len should get at least one more start this week.
Willie Cauley-Stein will miss around 4-6 weeks due to a dislocated finger, so he’s safe to drop in most leagues. The Kings are rolling with Omri Casspi in the starting lineup, while Kosta Koufos will have to play a few extra minutes off the bench.
Rudy Gobert suffered a Grade II left MCL sprain and is out indefinitely, and Jazz reporter Tony Jones said that his injury could keep him on the shelf for 6-8 weeks. Gobert should absolutely be stashed, while Trevor Booker should benefit the most from his absence and is worth a long look in most leagues.
John Wall suffered a right knee injury on Sunday vs. the Mavericks and he had to be helped off the court, but the good news is that he is listed as day-to-day and x-rays came back negative. The Wizards will play against the Heat on Monday, so Wall should be considered questionable for that contest. Expect Ramon Sessions to draw the start if Wall is ruled out.
Exciting matchups to look for:
Wizards vs. Heat (Dec. 7)
Hornets vs. Pistons (Dec. 7)
Pacers vs. Warriors (Dec. 8)
Thunder vs. Grizzlies (Dec. 8)
Jazz vs. Kings (Dec. 8)
Bulls vs. Celtics (Dec. 9)
Spurs vs. Raptors (Dec. 9)
Hawks vs. Mavericks (Dec. 9)
Clippers vs. Bulls (Dec. 10)
Thunder vs. Hawks (Dec. 10)
Heat vs. Pacers (Dec. 11)
Thunder vs. Jazz (Dec. 11)
Spurs vs. Hawks (Dec. 12)
Bucks vs. Warriors (Dec. 12)