Adam Levitan

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Markieff Morris on the Move

Friday, March 08, 2013

Marcin Gortat’s owners' worst fears were realized Thursday when he was diagnosed with a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot. The Suns announced a timetable of 3-4 weeks, meaning the Polish Hammer’s season is essentially over.

OK, so what now? Coach Lindsey Hunter shed some light on the situation while meeting with the media Thursday. A few nuggets:

1. Usual starting power forward Luis Scola is expected to slide over to center. “Scola is crafty and more capable of doing [playing center] than [Markieff Morris] would be,” Hunter said. Expect Scola’s value to hold steady.

2. Markieff Morris is expected to move into the starting lineup as the starting power forward. It’s intriguing because the big man has a very versatile, roto-friendly game. Morris carries career per-36 minute averages of 1.3 steals, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 3-pointers. I’m thinking roughly 26-29 minutes for now.

3. The situation is complicated by the Jermaine O’Neal situation. Thankfully, his 13-year-old daughter’s heart surgery went well in Boston. He could be back as soon as Monday’s game against the Nuggets. So will he take the starting center job back, thus sending Markieff back to the bench? Perhaps. But O’Neal is 34, has a hideous injury resume and hasn’t played more than 27 minutes in a game all year. He’s probably not capable of logging more than 20-24 minutes a night – and even that may be pushing it. But he’s still worth stashing for the blocks upside.

There’s always a danger in riding great players on bad teams because of the shutdown possibilities. Kyrie Irving’s owners have a right to be very nervous right now – especially since there’s no viable handcuff.  

Irving banged knees with teammate Omri Casspi two weeks ago. He proceeded to rest for a week, but has since played in two straight games. But he probably shouldn’t have uttered this quote:

“The only way I would get better is if I sit out for the rest of the season, and I’m not doing that,” Irving said.

The problem is that Irving isn’t the boss. He’s perhaps the best young player in the league and the Cavs will protect their investment. There’s no reason to push it when you’re 21-40.

“If Ky is hurting, I have no problem sitting him down,” coach Byron Scott said.

Scott said he’s going to consult with the Cavs’ training staff and go from there. If Irving tweaks the knee again, a shutdown is very possible.

Ramon Sessions hadn’t started a game all season, but he was quietly putting together a really nice year for the Bobcats. His 14.4 points, 3.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 0.5 3-pointers led to borderline top-100 value. But after spraining an MCL on Wednesday, he’s out 2-4 weeks. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has actually found his shot of late and figures to push for something closer to 30 minutes nightly now. He got just 20.8 minutes per game in February.

* Carmelo Anthony’s knee injury is considered an “overuse” issue. He could very well be back by Saturday, but coach Mike Woodson wants to keep his superstar around 35 minutes a night going forward. Anthony is at 37.8 minutes right now.
* Russell Westbrook tweaked an ankle in the first half, but his explosiveness didn’t appear to be compromised. Remarkably, he’s never missed a game in his five NBA seasons. It’s a major part of his massive fantasy value.
* With Anthony sidelined, J.R. Smith predictably went off for 36 points and six 3-pointers.

* Jamal Crawford was a late scratch due to a sore left ankle. That allowed Matt Barnes to pop off for 18 points in a whopping 35 minutes. There’s no sign that Crawford’s injury is serious, so keep expectations in check.
* The TNT broadcasters hinted that Eric Bledsoe is on a 15-minute cap right now due to a calf injury. It’s something for handcuffers to keep in mind.
* The Nuggets’ rotation is remarkably consistent and clicking on all cylinders. Give tons of credit to Ty Lawson, who severely outplayed Chris Paul Thursday and has maintained top-10 fantasy value for the last month-plus.

Pau Gasol (foot) has resumed running. He could be back for the last couple weeks of the season, but he’ll still come off the bench behind Earl Clark. … Greg Monroe (ankle) expects to play Friday. … Dion Waiters (illness) finally got back in practice. … Al Jefferson (ankle) returned to practice, putting him on the good side of a game-time decision for Friday. It’s bad news for sharp owners that have been rolling out Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. … Kevin Love (hand) has a checkup on Mar. 13, but he’s still feeling soreness and doesn’t have range of motion. … Nick Young (ankle) has already been ruled out of the next two games. Dorell Wright is worth a look right now.

Adam Levitan is in his sixth season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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