Tuesday was another day without games, as no teams are scheduled to play until Thursday night. But there were some stories of note, as Detroit bid farewell to its starting point guard and John Beilein will reportedly step down as head coach on Wednesday. Tuesday’s Daily Dose will open with a look at Kyrie Irving’s lingering shoulder issue, and what that means for the Nets moving forward.
Kyrie Irving (right shoulder) out indefinitely: Irving missed the Nets’ last five games ahead of the All-Star break with a sprained knee, but it’s the shoulder that cost him 26 games earlier this season that is the issue. Ruled out for Thursday’s game against the 76ers, he’s expected to visit with another specialist at some point this week in order to get the shoulder re-evaluated. Irving, who received a cortisone shot in the shoulder in late December, has been dealing with lingering soreness and there won’t be a timetable regarding his return until after that meeting.
His absence means more work on the ball for Spencer Dinwiddie, who’s averaging 17.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.3 blocks and 1.4 three-pointers per game when Irving isn’t on the court. And his usage, which is just 20.9% with Kyrie, jumps up to 30.8% without the six-time All-Star. Caris LeVert, whose usage increases from 21.1% to 30.0% when Kyrie isn’t on the court, will also see more time on the ball. LeVert averages 10.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.5 steals and 1.1 three-pointers per game when he and Irving aren’t on the court together.
Jarrett Allen’s value holds steady, as Irving’s availability has not impacted his production all that much, and the same can be said for Joe Harris. Going back to the two players most impacted by this news, LeVert is currently rostered in 76 percent of Yahoo leagues and Dinwiddie 86 percent, so it’s likely that neither player is available on your waiver wire. Depending upon what the diagnosis is for Irving, both could be trade targets as the fantasy playoffs appear on the horizon.
Pistons waive Reggie Jackson: Detroit will have a new starting point guard when the team hosts the Bucks Thursday night, as Jackson and the franchise have come to an agreement on a contract buyout. And according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski he intends to sign with the Clippers once he clears waivers. Jackson’s fantasy value takes a major hit with this move, as he’ll be part of a second unit that has one ball-dominant guard in Lou Williams and a power forward in Montrezl Harrell who needs his touches as well.
That could change if a Williams or Patrick Beverley (who’s returning from a groin injury) were to miss time, but when the Clippers rotation is complete Jackson isn’t worth plugging into your lineups. Beverley and Landry Shamet’s fantasy values stand to take a hit as well once this move is completed.
As for Detroit, this leaves Derrick Rose and Brandon Knight as the team’s remaining point guards. Rose is the first choice here with regard to fantasy, as he’s provided ninth-round value in nine-cat and seventh-round value in eight-cat over the course of the season thus far. But don’t expect his minutes to jump too much, as Rose is averaging just over 26 minutes per game for the season. Dwane Casey has been hesitant to push the veteran past 30 minutes on a consistent basis due to the three-time All-Star’s medical history.
Rose has played 30 minutes or more in just seven games this season, which includes a run of four straight from January 20-25. He didn’t play in a January 27 loss to the Cavaliers, returning to play just under 31 minutes two nights later in Brooklyn. Prior to playing 17 minutes in Detroit’s final game before the break, Rose missed the five games prior due to a hip issue. Knight has appeared in just one game since he was acquired from Cleveland in the Andre Drummond trade, and he’s largely been a non-factor in fantasy hoops this season.
More likely to see a bump in opportunities with Jackson gone are Bruce Brown and Luke Kennard, with the latter expected to make his return from a knee issue at some point in the near future. Brown is averaged 7.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals per game when Jackson wasn’t on the court, while also experiencing a slight increase in his usage (from 13.5 to 16.1 percent). Kennard, who’s been a ninth-round player in both eight- and nine-cat formats this season, is the better play especially if you’re in need of offensive production in the aftermath of Jackson’s exit. He’s averaging 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 0.4 steals and 2.6 three-pointers per game on the season.
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Suns frontcourt rotation filling out: Phoenix has been hit hard by injuries in the front court recently, but there was some good news on Tuesday. Deandre Ayton (left ankle), Aron Baynes (left ankle) and Dario Saric (hip) are all expected to be available for Friday's game against the Raptors. Ayton has the highest fantasy value of these three, as he would immediately be a go-to guy for the Suns. Baynes provides additional depth at the center spot, but isn't a must-have at this point. Saric's case is interesting however, especially given the potential impact on Mikal Bridges.
Bridges has been effective as a small-ball four with Saric out of the lineup, and for the season he's averaging 8.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.6 blocks and 0.7 three-pointers per game. If Bridges remains in the starting lineup his fantasy value shouldn't take much of a hit, but that would change if Saric were to move back into the first unit. Saric has started 43 of the 48 games in which he's appeared this season, and coming off the bench he's averaging 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in just under 11 minutes per game. A reserve role would spell doom for him fantasy-wise.
Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle) could be back Thursday: There's been no official word on this, but Carter was a participant in Tuesday's practice and could make his return to action Thursday night. He's been out since early January due to a serious ankle sprain suffered in a loss to the Mavericks, and will likely have his minutes restricted once available to play. Carter's return means that the fantasy value of Luke Kornet takes a noticeable hit, especially once Carter returns to the starting lineup.
Otto Porter (left foot), who is working his way back to full strength, was also a participant in Tuesday's practice. Depending upon when Lauri Markkanen (hip) is healthy enough to play, Porter would provide solid value once he's back on the court. The hope for Markkanen is that he'll be healthy enough to play by early March.
John Beilein reportedly to resign Wednesday: During Sunday’s All-Star Game it was reported that Beilein was on his way out in Cleveland, with the timing yet to be determined. It appears that we’ve got a timeline now, as on Tuesday it was revealed by ESPN and The Athletic that the longtime college head coach is expected to inform the team of his decision to step down when everyone returns for practice on Wednesday. J.B. Bickerstaff, who was expected to eventually take over for Beilein at the end of his contract (which was five years in length), will take over as head coach with no interim tag.
How this all affects the Cavs players with regard to fantasy remains to be seen, but it is worth noting that Bickerstaff will be Collin Sexton’s fourth head coach in less than two seasons in the NBA. While the young shooting guard has had his ups and downs since arriving in Cleveland, that lack of stability does a player no favors as he’s working to establish himself as a pro. Sexton has been an 11th-round player in nine-cat and a ninth-rounder in eight-cat this season, and he’s rostered in 78 percent of Yahoo leagues.