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 12 Schedule
4 Games: BOS, BRK, CHI, DAL, GSW, HOU, IND, LAL, MIA, MIL, MIN, OKC, SAS, WAS
3 Games: ATL, CHA, CLE, DEN, DET, MEM, NOP, NYK, PHX, POR, SAC, UTA
2 Games: LAC, PHI
1 Game: ORL, TOR
So where do the Nets go from here? I have a tough time placing any blame on Hollins for not being able to win games given the roster he had to work with, but it’s obvious that King had to go. To refresh your memory, King traded away most of his valuable assets to obtain Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and we all know how that turned out. Now the Nets are left without a first round pick until 2019, so finding a GM that is willing to build under those circumstances is not going to be easy.
I’ve said this before, but I feel like I need to say it again. The Nets have no incentive to tank since they don’t have a first round pick this season, so I still believe that the value of guys like Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young is relatively safe. However, they could be one of the busiest teams at the trade deadline, so the roster could have some major changes in the coming weeks. Additionally, keep a close eye on the rotation moving forward with interim coach Tony Brown at the helm.
Aaron Gordon unleashed?
I’ve been one of Magic coach Scott Skiles’ biggest critics, but I’m pumped that he has suddenly realized that Aaron Gordon needs to play more. To make things even better, Gordon is also finally logging consistent minutes next to Tobias Harris which does wonders for his outlook. The second year player is averaging 9.0 points, 6.6 boards, 1.2 assists and 0.8 3-pointers in 24.0 minutes per game over his last five, and he even played down the stretch in each of his last two. Skiles is more concerned about getting wins as opposed to developing his young studs because the Magic are in the playoff hunt, but Gordon’s recent play has forced his hand. It also helps that Channing Frye is still shocking. However, with just one game on the schedule this week, it makes sense to wait one more week to add him if necessary.
Bradley Beal (leg) to return this week?
"I only have about a week," Beal said on Saturday when asked about a potential return. "Maybe a little bit less hopefully.” The guard said that he has been working out every day, and also noted that he isn’t dealing with any more pain. Beal has been a top-75 player on a per-game basis this season, but his owners need to keep in mind that he will have strict minute restrictions when he returns. This is a guy who is potentially playing for a max contract this summer, so I’d expect Beal’s agent to also put some pressure on the Wizards to limit his workload right out of the gate. That being said, I’m still calling Beal a must-own player in standard leagues. When he does return, Garrett Temple and Gary Neal will lose most of their minutes.
When will DeMarre Carroll (knee) return?
Carroll had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Jan. 6, and while the Raptors have released very little details, most reports expect him to return in about 6-8 weeks. That means we probably won’t see him back in action until the All-Star break, and then he will likely be limited for a few weeks after that as he tries to get his legs under him. Carroll didn’t look quite right this season, so at least the knee issue explains why he has struggled so much in Toronto. Carroll can be dropped in competitive leagues, but there is also no harm in stashing him in an IR slot. James Johnson and Terrence Ross will fill the void, but I’m only considering them in deeper leagues for now.
Trade chatter and rumors:
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Joe Johnson is currently not seeking a buyout from the Nets. Brooklyn is obviously not going to make the playoffs, but it sounds like the 34-year-old veteran is content to stay with the Nets for now. He is on an expiring contract, but the fact that he is making $25 million means that a trade would be nearly impossible. It also doesn’t help that the Nets don’t have an executive to handle these matters at the moment as well. Regardless of what happens with Johnson, he is not a must-own player considering he is averaging just 11.1 points on 36.9 percent shooting this season.
DeMar DeRozan is fully expected to opt out of his contract this summer, but the swingman made it clear that he has no intention of leaving Toronto. "That’s one you thing you can never question: my loyalty to the city," DeRozan said. "How much I really love and appreciate the team and the organization. I think all the fans understand that. A lot of times they don’t understand how contracts or things like that. But I’ve always stressed that this is where I want to be my whole career.” DeRozan is averaging a career-high 22.9 points per game this season, and he and Kyle Lowry have been playing at an All-Star level all season. With the Nets and Lakers interested in his services, DeRozan will likely receive a max offer this summer.
Timofey Mozgov has been drawing some interest from several NBA teams according to a recent report by Yahoo Sports, but as disappointing as he has been this season, the Cavs don’t seem willing to bite just yet. The 7’1” center hasn’t been the same player since his knee procedure during the offseason, but he is only on the books for less than $5 million and the Cavs have no real incentive to move him. His fantasy value would likely get a significant boost with a trade, but I have zero interest in owning him at the moment.
David Lee says he hasn’t requested a trade, but it’s clear that he isn’t needed in Boston any longer. The big man has picked up three DNP-CDs in his last four games, and he blew his chance for more playing time by scoring just four points on 2-of-12 shooting on Sunday. To make things worse, 11 of those shots came inside the paint. He is making a little more than $15 million this season, so the Celtics won’t have the easiest time finding a trade partner.
Suns GM Ryan McDonough admitted that he has already started looking towards the 2016 draft lottery. "When I came in here a lot of people said you guys should bottom out and get a top five pick," McDonough said. "We've taken a circuitous route to that point. I'm not saying we'll end up there, but we may. Maybe it's two years delayed what's going on now.” This bodes really well for the outlook of guys like Devin Booker, T.J. Warren, Alex Len and Maybe Archie Goodwin, as player development should be their No. 1 focus going forward.
Note: This report only includes players who were updated this week
Jeff Teague tweaked his troublesome left ankle during Saturday’s game vs. the Bulls, but he was able to carry on. The good news is that the Hawks are off until Wednesday’s game vs the Hornets, so Teague should be good to go for that one. If not, Dennis Schroder becomes a must-own player. Thabo Sefolosha sat out Saturday’s game with a sore wrist, but his status for Wednesday is still up in the air. His injury is minor, though.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (shoulder) has been cleared for non-contact work. He was originally expected to sit out the entire season, but he recently indicated that he intends to play at some point during this campaign. That would likely still be at least a couple of months away, so there’s no need to stash him in most formats. His upside isn’t great either.
Joakim Noah (shoulder) could return to action on Monday vs. the Wizards after taking contact in practice on Sunday, and an update is expected after the team’s shootaround. If he does return, keep an eye on what the Bulls do with the minutes of Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and rookie sensation Bobby Portis. Noah is not a must-own guy in standard formats. On a side note, Mike Dunleavy (back) is likely out for another month, but he could be very limited for a while.
UPDATE: Joakim Noah will play on Monday and will not have any restrictions.
Mo Williams has a partially torn ligament in his right thumb, but he intends to play through the issue. The only problem is that he isn’t in the rotation right now…
Marcus Morris (left knee tendinitis) expects to play on Tuesday vs. the Spurs. His injury is very minor, but it’s not a bad idea to stash Stanley Johnson in case Morris misses any more time. With Morris on the shelf on Saturday, Johnson played 39 minutes…
Donatas Motiejunas (back) is showing improvement, but he still has no timetable to return. Considering how long it took him to recover from his back surgery that he had back in April, the Rockets will proceed with extreme caution. Leave D-Mo on the wire.
Doc Rivers said that he hopes Blake Griffin (quad) can begin running on the hardwood soon. He has been running on a zero-gravity treadmill, but his timetable is murky at best. The Clippers are rolling right now, so they won’t rush the All-Star back. Hopefully we will finally get some real details this week.
Julius Randle was diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right foot during Sunday's game vs. the Jazz, but the injury is very minor and he was able to play through it. I’m not concerned and you shouldn’t be either.
Kobe Bryant is dealing with a strained right Achilles, but the Lakers are saying that the injury is minor and have listed him as day-to-day. On a side note, this is not the same Achilles that he tore back in 2013. D’Angelo Russell is still bothered by his sprained right ankle, and he was held out of Sunday’s game vs. the Jazz. The Lakers have no incentive to rush him back, but he is considered day-to-day. The Lakers don’t play again until Tuesday vs. the Pelicans.
Mike Conley (Achilles) has missed three games in a row, but he is doing better and fully expects to play on Tuesday vs. the Rockets. Mario Chalmers’ value would take a massive hit if that happens, so be prepared to move on. Courtney Lee is still day-to-day with a hip issue, while Jordan Adams (right knee) will have a surgery on his knee on Tuesday and could potentially miss the rest of the season.
Dwyane Wade (left shoulder strain) is probable for Monday's game vs. the Warriors. He shot just 3-of-17 from the field on Saturday and admitted that his shoulder limited him, but it does sound like a minor issue. Tyler Johnson (shoulder) is questionable, so expect Gerald Green to log heavy minutes off the bench.
O.J. Mayo (hamstring) did not play on Sunday, and it should be noted that this is the same hamstring that forced him to miss time at the start of the season. He’s a drop candidate in most leagues. As for Jerryd Bayless (ankle), the Bucks haven’t provided an update as usual.
Anthony Davis (back) is still bothered by a bruise on his lower back, but knowing how cautious the Pelicans are, they won’t rush him back. If I’m being honest, I’m seriously worried that the Pelicans might shut him down towards the end of the season once they realize that their season is all but over.
Omri Casspi (upper back soreness) thinks that he will be back soon after missing the last four games. He was putting up some really solid numbers before going down and he might be one of coach George Karl’s favorite players, so I would stick with him.
Derrick Favors (back) has missed 10 straight games, but Jazz coach Quin Snyder finally said on Sunday that the big man is really close to a return. It also helps that the Jazz are off until Wednesday’s game vs. the Blazers.
John Wall is dealing with a bruise right above his left knee, but the guy is as tough as they come and it doesn’t sound like he is in any danger of missing any time.
Matchups of the week:
Wizards vs. Bulls (Jan. 11)
Heat vs. Warriors (Jan. 11)
Rockets vs. Grizzlies (Jan. 12)
Mavericks vs. Cavaliers (Jan. 12)
Mavericks vs. Thunder (Jan. 13)
Heat vs. Clippers (Jan. 13)
Cavaliers vs. Spurs (Jan. 14)
Mavericks vs. Bulls (Jan. 15)
Cavaliers vs. Rockets (Jan. 15)
Heat vs. Thunder (Jan. 17)
Spurs vs. Mavericks (Jan. 17)