The first big trade ahead of Thursday’s deadline has reportedly been made, and it involved Robert Covington and Clint Capela. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Minnesota and Houston were two of the four teams involved in this blockbuster trade, with Covington now a member of the Rockets and Capela the Atlanta Hawks. In addition to RoCo, Houston has also received Jordan Bell from Minnesota, with Capela and Nene headed to Atlanta.
Minnesota is receiving four players in this trade: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez and Jarred Vanderbilt from Denver and Evan Turner from Atlanta. Denver will get Gerald Green (who’s out for the year and is expected to be waived), Noah Vonleh, Shabazz Napier and Keita Bates-Diop. There were also two first-round picks involved, with Minnesota getting the 2020 first-rounder that Brooklyn sent to Atlanta during the offseason (the Allen Crabbe trade) and Denver receiving a pick from Houston. Houston will receive Golden State’s 2024 second-round pick by way of Atlanta.
Atlanta finally has the center that it has been looking for, even with Capela currently sidelined due to a heel injury. This should result in John Collins spending more time at the four, and while this could be a bit awkward on offense in the beginning it’s a better fit for him defensively. His value may take a hit in the short-term, but overall he should be fine. As a result of this trade Minnesota will spend more money, but not enough to go into the luxury tax. The question is whether or not they’re done making moves. If the Timberwolves are done Beasley and Hernangomez are both worth a look in fantasy leagues, with Beasley being a better shooter than any of Minnesota’s current reserve guards. And point guard Jordan McLaughlin is worth picking up in the short-term, as Minnesota is now incredibly thin at that spot.
As for Houston, the additions of Covington and Bell will bolster a frontcourt that has played small in recent games. Covington provides good value as a defender, rebounder and three-point shooter, so not having the ball in his hands much due to the presence of James Harden and Russell Westbrook shouldn’t be an issue. Bell’s fantasy value could receive a significant boost in Houston, as he’s gone from fringe contributor to competing with Isaiah Hartenstein for minutes at the five on a playoff contender. Add in the fact that he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer, and that should be all the motivation that Bell needs.
Denver was able to pick up a draft asset while moving two players in Beasley and Hernangomez that they may not have been willing to pay this summer. Napier, Vonleh and Bates-Diop aren't worth picking up in any league, as they’ll face a tough fight for playing time once Denver gets back to full strength. Michael Porter Jr. (ankle), Mason Plumlee (foot) and Paul Millsap (knee) are all currently sidelined due to injury.
The four-team trade capped what was a rather quiet night on the court, as there were only four games on the schedule. Giannis and Zion met on the court for the first time with the reigning MVP getting the upper hand, while LeBron James, James Harden and Nikola Jokic put forth solid stat lines in their respective teams’ blowout victories.
Bucks 120, Pelicans 108 — In a matchup of two of the NBA’s most entertaining talents, the reigning MVP outperformed the league’s prized rookie as Milwaukee pulled away to beat New Orleans. Giannis Antetokounmpo did the usual, as he tallied 34 points (12-of-17 FGs, 9-of-13 FTs), 17 rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer in 33 minutes of action. He did turn the ball over five times on the night, but when you’re as productive as Giannis the other numbers make up for whatever fantasy points are lost due to turnovers.
Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson accounted for 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and one steal in 32 minutes, but he struggled shooting the basketball. Williamson shot 5-of-19 from the field, with his being his worst game as a pro in that regard. Milwaukee has both depth and length in the frontcourt, which can make for a tough matchup for a veteran much less a rookie taking on the Bucks for the first time. Williamson will be fine, and Thursday’s matchup with the Bulls sets up to be one where he can get back on track.
Going back to the Bucks, four of the team’s five starters played at least 33 minutes with Wesley Matthews (17 points, two rebounds, two assists, one block and five 3-pointers in 28 minutes) being the exception. George Hill missed his third straight game due to a hamstring injury, with Pat Connaughton and Donte DiVincenzo absorbing many of the available minutes. Connaughton posted a line of four points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot in 27 minutes, while DiVincenzo accounted for eight points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals in 18 minutes. Both are worth a look, especially with Hill sidelined, but I’d lean DiVincenzo if forced to pick between the two. He’s been a top-100 player in nine-category formats this season, and is still rostered in just 20 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Khris Middleton tallied 20 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes, while Eric Bledsoe (16 points, six rebounds, seven assists and one steal) and Brook Lopez (12 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks) also scored in double figures. Kyle Korver was the eighth man in the rotation, and in 17 minutes he contributed nine points, one assist, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers.
Brandon Ingram, who will join Antetokounmpo and Middleton in Chicago later this month to play in the All-Star Game, led the Pelicans offensively with 32 points (12-of-19 FGs, 5-of-6 FTs). Surprisingly this was his first game with at least 30 points since January 16, when he torched the Jazz for a career-high 49 points. And he was the only Pelicans starter that had things going offensively, as none of the other four shot better than 33.3 percent from the field. Lonzo Ball went 4-of-12, scoring 11 points with 14 rebounds, three assists, one block and three 3-pointers, while Jrue Holiday (seven points, three rebounds, five assists, two steals, one block and one three pointer) shot 3-of-14 from the field and Derrick Favors (five rebounds, two assists and one block) 0-of-3.
Off the bench J.J. Redick accounted for 13 points, one rebound, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers, with Nicolo Melli (nine points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers), Josh Hart (8/7/4/3/1 with one three-pointer) and E'Twaun Moore (eight points, one rebound and one three-pointer) also getting on the scoreboard. Moore played just nine minutes and Jaxson Hayes (one rebound and two assists) five, and neither has produced enough recently to warrant their being rostered in any league. After a promising run of play while Favors was out, Hayes has played a total of nine minutes in New Orleans’ last two games.
Rockets 125, Hornets 110 — Russell Westbrook (left thumb) sat this one out, which meant a spot start for Ben McLemore. He played 37 minutes, scoring 14 points (5-of-10 FGs) with two rebounds, four assists, one block and four 3-pointers. McLemore is worth picking up in the short-term, as the Rockets have a back-to-back scheduled for Thursday/Friday (games against the Lakers and Suns). Westbrook has yet to play in both games of a back-to-back this season, so if he’s healthy you have to assume that he’ll sit out one of those road matchups.
With his partner-in-crime on the sideline James Harden posted another robust stat line, finishing with 40 points (11-of-26 FGs, 14-of-15 FTs), nine rebounds, 12 assists, three steals, one block and four 3-pointers in 40 minutes. Clint Capela was ruled out for what turned out to be his final game as a Rocket due to a heel injury, and Houston stuck with its small rotation as a result. P.J. Tucker served as the de facto five, scoring 13 points with 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three 3-pointers in 41 minutes.
Danuel House played 42 minutes, and he accounted for 22 points, nine rebounds, one assist, three steals, one block and six 3-pointers. He, Harden, Tucker and McLemore combined to make 17 3-pointers, making up for Eric Gordon’s brutal night from deep. Scoring 16 points on 6-of-22 shooting (4-of-6 FTs), Gordon was a frigid 0-of-12 beyond the arc. Over the last two weeks he is averaging three 3-pointers per game, but Gordon has made just five of his last 35 attempts. Austin Rivers added 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 29 minutes off the bench, with Thabo Sefolosha playing 17 minutes and finishing with seven points, four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one three-pointer.
Isaiah Hartenstein played three minutes in his first action since January 27. The lack of playing time makes it extremely difficult to envision a scenario in which his fantasy value receives a boost with Capela having been traded to Atlanta. Hartenstein will compete with Jordan Bell for minutes at the five, and given how the Rockets have used the center position recently Bell may be a better fit due to his athleticism and shot-blocking.
Charlotte’s starting lineup changed for this one, with Cody Martin making his first NBA start and P.J. Washington (right ankle) coming off the bench. Martin played 36 minutes, finishing with 12 points (5-of-9 FGs), five rebounds, one assist and two 3-pointers in what was a solid game for him. He took a shot to the nose during the second half but was able to return to the game. As for Washington, he played 24 minutes and accounted for eight points (4-of-9 FGs), six rebounds and three assists. The Hornets have just one more game to play this week, and it’s likely that Washington will be back in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game against the Mavericks.
Miles Bridges (15 rebounds, one steal, one block and one three-pointer) and Terry Rozier (five rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers) scored 20 points apiece, with Malik Monk (19 points, six rebounds, one block and two 3-pointers) and Devonte' Graham (16/4/10 with five 3-pointers) also scoring in double figures. Monk has played well recently, providing 12th-round value in eight-cat over the last two weeks. But due to the schedule he isn’t worth picking up right now. If he can follow up this performance with another solid outing Saturday night, that may change things especially in deeper leagues.
Willy Hernangomez played 17 minutes and posted a line of 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists. He’s scored in double figures in four of his last five games, getting a few more opportunities Tuesday night due to starting center Cody Zeller (three points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal in 13 minutes) being limited by early foul trouble. Hernangomez should be left on the waiver wire, even with his recent run of form.
Nuggets 127, Trail Blazers 99 — Well, someone managed to slow down Damian Lillard. And with Denver doing that, it should come as no surprise that this game was essentially decided by halftime. Lillard, who scored 34 points or more in eight consecutive games, shot 8-of-23 from the field and finished with 21 points to go along with two rebounds, nine assists, one steal and one three-pointer in 30 minutes. If there’s a silver lining in this cloud, it’s that Portland was able to get their leader some rest during the fourth quarter.
C.J. McCollum added 20 points, two rebounds, one assist, one block and three 3-pointers, but that wasn’t enough to make up for the lack of production from the other three starters. Hassan Whiteside was thoroughly dominated by Nikola Jokic, as he finished with eight points, five rebounds and one blocked shot in 23 foul-plagued minutes. Trevor Ariza and Carmelo Anthony were even worst, with the former posting a line of five points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one three-pointer. Anthony finished 0-of-5 from the field, scoring two points and grabbing two rebounds in 26 minutes. He has struggled over the last two weeks, and the only thing that should keep anyone from cutting bait is Anthony’s place in the Blazers rotation.
Gary Trent Jr. (11 points, two rebounds, one steal, two blocks and two 3-pointers) and Anfernee Simons (10/1/1 with one three-pointer) were solid off the bench, with Caleb Swanigan (7/10/2) having his best game since returning to Portland via trade last month. Swanigan isn’t worth picking up in any league, but he likely earned himself a longer look from Terry Stotts as Portland has three more games to play this week.
Going back to the aforementioned Jokic, he finished the rout with 29 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists, two steals, three blocks and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes. He shot 11-of-17 from the field, and has now shot 50 percent or better in five of his last six games. In addition to Jokic’s big night there was also some big news with regard to the Nuggets rotation, as Jamal Murray made his return after missing 10 games with a sprained ankle. Denver’s starting point guard played 20 minutes without any issues, tallying 20 points (6-of-9 FGs, 5-of-7 FTs), two rebounds, six assists and three 3-pointers.
Murray’s return bumped Monte Morris back to the second unit, and in 23 minutes he accounted for seven points and four assists. With Denver playing the second game of a back-to-back Wednesday night in Utah, it may be worthwhile to hang onto Morris for at least one more night. No decision has been made regarding Murray’s availability (and how much he’d play) for Wednesday’s game.
Jerami Grant, who finished with 17 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers, played 30 minutes but left during the third quarter with a sprained right ankle. Should he be limited or unable to play Wednesday night, Torrey Craig stands to benefit. Craig would also be in the mix for more playing time, as he accounted for seven points, five rebounds and one blocked shot in 19 minutes. Will Barton went 4-of-4 from three, scoring 16 points with five rebounds and one assist. With Murray back in the fold Barton won’t have the ball in his hands as much as a primary playmaker, which lowers his fantasy value.
Lakers 129, Spurs 102 — LeBron James took over early in the fourth guard, turning a game that had been competitive into a rout. He made five straight 3-pointers during the final stanza, and he would finish the game with 36 points (12-of-20 FGs, 6-of-9 FGs), seven rebounds, nine assists, one steal and six 3-pointers in 34 minutes. James was one of five Lakers to score in double figures, with Anthony Davis (five rebounds, one assist and one steal) and Kyle Kuzma (12 rebounds, four assists and two 3-pointers) scoring 18 points apiece, JaVale McGee (five rebounds and one blocked shot) 14 and Dwight Howard (11 rebounds and one assist) 12.
Kuzma’s fantasy value still isn’t great, but over the Lakers’ last three games he’s averaging 15.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.0 three-pointers per contest. His name has come up in some trade rumors, but it feels more likely that he’ll remain a Laker through the trade deadline. And with Darren Collison's name having come up recently (he hasn’t decided whether or not he’ll return to the NBA after retiring during the summer), the Lakers may not have to make a trade in order to bolster their rotation.
Should L.A. do something ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, perimeter shooting and playmaking are the areas that need to be addressed. With regard to the shooting, Avery Bradley shot 2-of-5 from three and finished with eight points, five rebounds, one assist and one blocked shot. He wasn’t great, but Bradley outperformed Danny Green, who made one three-pointer and finished with five points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one blocked shot. Rajon Rondo dished out nine assists in 21 minutes off the bench, while scoring seven points and grabbing four rebounds. Of those three Green is the most valuable fantasy-wise, but that isn’t saying a whole lot.
One night after tallying 27 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks in the Spurs’ three-point loss to the Clippers, LaMarcus Aldridge struggled mightily against the Lakers tandem of McGee and Howard. He shot 3-of-10 from the field, finishing with seven points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal in 30 minutes. Aldridge has now failed to reach double figures in two of San Antonio’s last three games. None of the Spurs big men had good nights in fact, as Trey Lyles (one rebound) scored three points and Jakob Poeltl (two rebounds and one assist) six. Poeltl has value due to his production as a rebounder and defender, while Lyles can be left on the waiver wire in standard leagues.
DeMar DeRozan led five Spurs in double figures with 28 points (12-of-21 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs) while also tallying nine rebounds and seven assists. Since scoring 14 points in a January 26 loss to the Raptors, DeRozan has put up 24 points or more in five straight games. That’s his second-longest streak of the season, as he went on a run of 10 straight with at least 24 points from late-December to mid-January. Bryn Forbes (three assists, three steals and four 3-pointers) scored 14 points, with Dejounte Murray (12 points, four rebounds, two assists and one three-pointer), Marco Belinelli (11 points, two rebounds and three 3-pointers) and Lonnie Walker IV (11 points, three rebounds, one block and two 3-pointers) also scoring in double figures.
Neither Belinelli nor Walker offer much in the way of fantasy value given their places in the Spurs rotation. Patty Mills shot 1-of-8 on the night, scoring three points with one assist and one three-pointer. This ends his streak of games in double figures at four, and at best he’s an option worth considering in deeper leagues.
Wednesday’s Schedule (all times Eastern)
Phoenix at Detroit, 7 PM
Indiana at Toronto, 7:30 PM
Orlando at Boston, 7:30 PM
Golden State at Brooklyn, 7:30 PM
Cleveland at Oklahoma City, 8 PM
Atlanta at Minnesota, 8 PM
Memphis at Dallas, 8:30 PM
Denver at Utah, 9 PM
Miami at LA Clippers, 10 PM