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 11 Schedule:
5 Games: UTA
4 Games: BOS, BRK, CHA, CLE, DAL, GSW, IND, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, POR, SAC, TOR
3 Games: ATL, CHI, DEN, DET, HOU, LAC, NOP, SAS, WAS
2 Games: PHX
Shane Larkin to start at point guard?
We learned on Sunday that Jarrett Jack has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee, so Larkin is the clear favorite to start even though this hasn’t been confirmed by the Nets. Donald Sloan would step into the backup role in this case, but I doubt that this will develop into a timeshare. Larkin has decent upside with averages of 6.6 points, 3.8 assists, 2.2 boards, 1.3 steals and 0.6 3-pointers in just 19.2 minutes per game on the season, and I think it’s possible that he could approach around 30 minutes per game moving forward. His usage rate of 18.0 should also increase, so I believe that he is well worth a speculative add in standard leagues. The Nets play four times this week.
More lineup changes for Orlando?
Magic coach Scott Skiles may be on the verge of another meltdown after his team was blown out by the Cavaliers on Saturday, as he threatened to shake up his starting lineup once again. Skiles has already ruined the value of Victor Oladipo this season, so owners of Elfrid Payton, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic should be concerned. The Magic are 19-15 on the season which is a lot better than many people predicted, but as you can probably guess it only takes one bad loss to put Skiles over the edge. I’d love to see Aaron Gordon inserted into the starting lineup in place of Channing Frye and it should be noted that his role has been increasing lately, but that is probably just a pipe dream. I guess we will find out soon enough when the Magic take on the Pistons on Monday.
Lakers contemplating lineup changes as well?
Prior to Sunday’s win over the Suns, Lakers coach Byron Scott hinted that he may shake up his starting lineup soon. Oddly enough, they have won three games in a row, so the timing is certainly peculiar. The lineup he has in mind would feature D’Angelo Russell and Kobe Bryant in the backcourt, with Larry Nance and Julius Randle at the three and four. This would mean that Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson would move to the bench.
First of all, I completely agree that Russell and Randle should be playing more, but moving Clarkson to the bench would make zero sense. Clarkson has arguably been the best Laker this season, but this is just another reason why I can’t stand Byron Scott (I’m a Lakers fan as well). I am a fan of Nance and he could be a solid role player in this league, but starting him next to Randle would just be laughable. Talk about zero floor spacing. Scott has no idea what he is doing in Los Angeles right now, but maybe that’s what the front office wants in order to secure their protected top-3 lottery pick.
Derrick Rose having knee problems again?
Rose has now missed three games in a row due to a right hamstring issue, but the Bulls announced on Sunday that he will undergo an MRI on Monday afternoon on his right knee because he is experiencing soreness. While Rose and the Bulls have both downplayed the severity, this is still a major red flag when you consider his injury history. This is not the same knee that he tore his ACL in, but he has had two surgeries on his right knee in 2013 and 2015. There is no point in speculating for now, but I could get behind a speculative pickup of Aaron Brooks just in case Rose gets some bad news. Additionally, Butler would see an increased role on offense if Rose misses more time.
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According to several different outlets, the Knicks have expressed an interest in Brandon Jennings and possibly Tony Wroten. Jennings has averaged 6.0 points, 3.3 assists, 3.0 boards and 0.7 3-pointers in 19.0 minutes in three appearances for Detroit this season, but like I’ve said before, I’m only stashing him in the hope that he lands in an ideal situation. Other than the Jazz or Nets, I couldn’t think of a better place for him to land than with the Knicks. The trade deadline is Feb. 18, but if the Knicks made a move I think it would be sooner rather than later. For what it’s worth, Jennings would absolutely be the favorite to start at point guard in New York. To be clear, nothing is imminent.
In a report in the Detroit Free Press, Marcus Morris implied that his brother Markieff is all but done in Phoenix. "One thing about [Markieff] is he's always positive," Marcus said. "Some stuff might happen a little, but he's always positive. He's still looking to get out of there, still looking to go somewhere else. Right now he has to be a pro and continue to take care of his business on and off the court.” Wow. Markieff has picked up three straight DNP-CDs, and those brothers just can’t seem to stay out of the headlines. The Suns would basically have to give Markieff away for free at this point, so he likely wouldn’t start if he was traded to another team. You should leave him on the wire and not think twice about it.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Kings are still looking to deal Caron Butler, but the Bucks’ interest has reportedly worn off. Butler is more of a locker room guy at this point in his career, so he can be left on the wire regardless of where he lands.
Chris Broussard of ESPN is hearing that the Warriors will pursue Kevin Durant this summer, but keep in mind that Broussard lost almost all of his credibility a long time ago. EVERY team will at least entertain the idea of going after KD as they should, but like Durant has said in the past, if the rumors don’t come from his camp, then they aren’t true. If you need a good laugh, check out Broussard’s reporting of Tristan Thompson’s deal this summer.
Note: This list only includes players who have been updated in the past week.
Jarrett Jack was diagnosed with a torn right ACL as well as a torn right meniscus on Sunday and will miss the remainder of the season. Shane Larkin is expected to start at point guard, with Donald Sloan backing him up off the bench. Larkin is worth a pickup in standard leagues.
Chris McCullough (knee) has started practicing with full contact, but he isn’t sure when he will make his season debut. He does have potential, but he is also still pretty raw and the Nets may not give him a heavy workload since he is coming off knee surgery. He’s more of a stash in dynasty leagues.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (ankle) is on-track for a mid-February return, but he will be eased back into action when he is cleared. RHJ is a decent stash in very deep leagues if you need steals, but you can wait a few more weeks before adding him.
Avery Bradley has already been ruled out for Monday’s game vs. the Nets which is a bit concerning, so he should also be considered questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. the Pistons. Marcus Smart still has playing time restrictions, but the Celtics may be more willing to give him a few more minutes now. Evan Turner should benefit as well.
Nicolas Batum (toe), Jeremy Lin (ankle) and Spencer Hawes (back) are all listed as questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Warriors, but considering the opponent, I would bet that Batum and Lin will give it a go. If either player sits, the Hornets would use a committee approach to soak up their minutes.
Joakim Noah (shoulder) could be cleared to return to action as soon as this week, so things are about to get interesting in Chicago. With five bigs demanding minutes, something has got to give. It better not be Bobby Portis… For what it’s worth, Noah is not a must-own guy in standard leagues at the moment and it’s not a lock that he will be cleared.
Deron Williams left Saturday’s game vs. the Pelicans with tightness in his hamstring and wasn’t able to return, and his status for Tuesday’s game vs. the Kings is still unclear. It’s the same hamstring that forced him to miss four games, but hopefully the Mavs were just being cautious. Devin Harris (back) is also sidelined at the moment, meaning J.J. Barea and Raymond Felton could get a lot of minutes this week.
Reggie Jackson rolled his left ankle against the Pacers on Saturday, but for now there is no reason to believe he won’t be ready in time for Monday’s game vs. the Magic.
Harrison Barnes (ankle) is probable for Monday's game vs. the Hornets after being sidelined since Nov. 27. He was a top-60 player in standard leagues before going down, so he needs to be owned everywhere. His minutes might be limited right out of the gate, though.
Stephen Curry (shin) is officially questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Hornets, and Curry even hinted that the Warriors may hold him out as a precaution. If he sits, Shaun Livingston and Ian Clark would play more, but Draymond Green would run the offense.
Festus Ezeli (toe) is doubtful to play vs. the Hornets on Monday, meaning he could miss his fourth straight game. James Michael McAdoo (toe) has already been ruled out, so Marreese Speights could get another look as the backup center.
Terrence Jones (wrist) was able to practice on Sunday, so he should be all set for Monday’s game vs. the Jazz.
Marcus Thornton didn't travel for Monday's game in Utah due to the recent birth of his child, but he isn’t a consistent part of the rotation anyways.
Donatas Motiejunas (back) has already been ruled out for Monday’s game vs. the Jazz, and he is not even traveling with the team. He just returned from an extended absence due to offseason back surgery, so this is very concerning. Jones and Clint Capela will pick up a couple extra minutes in his absence, but D-Mo can be dropped everywhere.
Kobe Bryant's surgically-repaired right shoulder is "probably something he'll have to manage for the rest of the season," according to coach Byron Scott. The Black Mamba has already missed two games in a row, but it sounds like he will have several more maintenance days moving forward. This report benefits Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams.
The Bucks are "hoping" Giannis Antetokounmpo (dental work) is able to play on Monday vs. San Antonio after he chipped a tooth on Saturday. He was able to practice with the team before going to get the dental work done, so hopefully the Bucks put him on the injury report as a precaution.
Tyreke Evans (right knee tendinitis) did not play on Saturday vs. the Mavericks, and it should be noted that this is same knee that he had offseason knee surgery on. The Pelicans haven’t provided any updates, so he should be considered questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. the Mavs. Norris Cole will start if he can’t go.
Elfrid Payton (ankle) will be a game-time decision on Monday vs. the Pistons. Payton is banged up right now and hasn’t been playing well, but he takes pride in the fact that he has never missed a game at any level. Victor Oladipo, Mario Hezonja and Shabazz Napier could all benefit if he sits.
Damian Lillard (plantar fasciitis) has missed seven games in a row, but he did warm up for Sunday’s game vs. the Nuggets which suggests he may have a shot of playing against the Grizzlies on Monday. If he doesn’t, C.J. McCollum and Allen Crabbe will fill the void.
Tony Parker (sore right hip) has been ruled out of Monday's game vs. the Bucks. He didn’t even travel with the team, so expect the Spurs to continue to be cautious with him like they did with Tim Duncan. Patty Mills should start and is worth a look if you need 3-pointers.
Derrick Favors (back) has missed five games in a row, and his status is unclear for Monday’s game vs. the Rockets. With five games on the schedule for Utah this week, Jeff Withey could be a nice pickup if Favors continues to miss time.