As Pliny the Elder once wrote, "Take [NBA trade rumors] with a grain of salt." Yes, the antidote to endless speculation is a healthy dose of skepticism, but another well-worn phrase has also proved its merit in the past few weeks – “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Rudy Gay and Jose Calderon had been constant sources of trade rumors, and both were traded well before the deadline. For more about guys likely to be traded, watch for Adam Levitan's column on Monday. For now, I'll limit myself to some recent developments.
The 76ers are "exploring" deals for Evan Turner, according to ESPN's Marc Stein, though there are no teams or players connected to him...yet.
The Mavericks would reportedly “prefer” to keep Shawn Marion through the trade deadline, but rest assured that Mark Cuban will exhaust all avenues to land an impact player in the coming weeks – he’s positioned his team well for the offseason but Dirk is impatient and Cuban is willing to swing for the fences.
ESPN reported on Friday that a deal involving Kris Humphries and Ben Gordon has been discussed by the Nets and Bobcats. Gordon is owed $13.2 million next season (a no-brainer player option in the final year of his contract) while Humphries is owed $12 million (also in the final year of his contract). The deal works on paper, therefore, and it would give Charlotte's roster some much-needed balance and frontcourt heft. For those of you who are smart enough not to watch the Bobcats, here is a quick fact list:
Charlotte is 29th in the NBA in rebounding rate (47.9 percent).
Charlotte's frontcourt is the least-efficient in the NBA both offensively and defensively.
Charlotte's backcourt ranks 7th in the NBA in offensive efficiency.
Charlotte's bench scores 41.6 points per game, tops in the NBA.
As I said...this is a team with an 11-38 record (easily the worst in the league) which has lost nine of its past 10 games, and a roster-balancing deal for Humphries makes plenty of sense on paper. I'm not in favor of stashing him yet, however, unless you're making room for him by cutting dead weight (Andre Drummond, etc.). Ben Gordon's role wouldn't improve if he landed with the Nets, where D-Will and Joe Johnson continue to dominate backcourt minutes, so don't bother with him as a speculative add. One final note...it's conceivable that MarShon Brooks could be included in a deal for Humphries, so keep an eye on him just in case.
Nate Robinson continues to thrive as the Bulls' starting PG, scoring eight points with four rebounds and nine assists vs. Utah. He belongs in all fantasy lineups but there is a dark cloud on the horizon for his owners -- the return of Kirk Hinrich (elbow) will probably move Nate back to the bench, and Derrick Rose's eventual return will further marginalize his value. What's more, everyone knows that Nate's value is temporary so it's futile to try to trade him. Enjoy his production while you can.
Taj Gibson played 31 minutes off the bench and finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks, while making 7-of-9 FGs. Like many owners, I spot-started him while Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) was sidelined and expected to cut him now that Noah is playing again. Joakim is still playing through pain, however, and with Carlos Boozer's name popping up in trade rumors I'm in favor of keeping Gibson through the trade deadline (Feb 21). Owners in need of shot blocking, take note -- Gibson is averaging 2.8 blocks in the past eight games.
Al Jefferson's season-high 32 points weren't enough for Utah on Friday, despite the fact that he made 15-of-22 FGs while pitching in 13 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and zero turnovers. He and Paul Millsap (21 points on 8-of-14 FGs, three boards, three assists) are both rolling along right now, apparently unbothered by the trade rumors swirling around them. It's unclear who is more likely to be dealt, Big Al or Millsap, and both are on expiring contracts, but I believe Chad Ford's suggestion last month that Utah is "more willing" to part with Jefferson. Derrick Favors is ready for a starting role and needs to be on the court more than Enes Kanter, but pairing Favors with Big Al would likely cause problems for Utah's spacing and ball movement. Speaking of trade speculation…
Luke Ridnour has also been mentioned in trade rumors, but that didn't affect him on Friday, as he scored 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting, with two rebounds, three assists and one steal. He logged 36 minutes and Ricky Rubio played 39 minutes, which left Alexey Shved with a smaller role than usual -- Shved scored eight points with four rebounds, zero assists and one steal in 26 minutes. The rookie is shooting 37.4 percent from the field this season, and just 31.0 percent from downtown, with 4.5 assists and 2.3 turnovers per game.
Ricky Rubio posted 18 points (a season-high) with two rebounds, 11 assists and one steal on Friday, and he even made his only 3-point attempt (just his second 3-pointer of the season). He's finally turning the corner after a disastrously slow start, coming off knee surgery with a minute-limit, and his assists and steals give him obvious appeal since those categories are typically harder to find on the waiver wire. Still, his shooting percentages and turnovers remain a major hurdle in most formats (he had only one turnover on Friday, but made 6-of-14 FGs and 5-of-9 FTs). I cut Rubio a few weeks ago for Kyle Korver in one league, in another league I cut him for Tiago Splitter, and in both cases I'm more than satisfied with the decision. If I owned him today, however, I'd be hesitant to move him for anything short of a homerun. As stated last week, I still think the best idea is to trade him, since his silky highlight-reel plays give him an appeal that isn’t justified by the numbers -- in the past week he's averaging a solid 12.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, 10.8 assists and 1.5 steals, which combined with his other stats gives him...10th-round value in nine-cat leagues. Direct your incredulous complaints to KnausRotoworld@gmail.com.
Derrick Williams is averaging 17.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in the past two games, taking full advantage of extra minutes for the Wolves' banged-up frontcourt, while giving them at least some traction in their transparent attempts to trade him. Even if he's traded to a seemingly ideal situation, I'd probably avoid him -- in 21 starts this season, he's shooting 37.3 percent from the field, 29.8 percent from downtown and 72.9 percent from the FT line. He also averages twice as many turnovers (1.2) as assists (0.6), and doesn't jump out in any category.
With that I have to go dig out my car from about four feet of snow…I live in Maine and we’re in the middle of a wild blizzard. If you were hoping for some discussion of games-played over the remainder of the season, I’m afraid I’ve let you down, but you can always avail yourselves of the Schedule Grid and Schedule Breakdown in the RW Season Pass.