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Steve Alexander

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Rearranging of the Bulls

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Covering the NBA in today’s social media-filled world is a constant grind, as the news never sleeps. As soon as the season ends we start working on next year’s NBA Draft Guide, while also heading right into the draft, free agency, summer league, training camp, preseason and then the season starts all over again, with the news cycle peaking with a trade deadline frenzy. But then the All-Star break happens and the whole world seems to check out for a few days and regroup. And while things were a little quiet when Donovan Mitchell was dunking and Devin Booker was banging threes, there were still several interesting things happening around the NBA. The Chicago Bulls are making big changes and we’ve seen the last of Joakim Noah in a Knicks uniform. Here’s a quick rundown of what happened while you were watching Curling for almost a week.

 

Spencer Dinwiddie won the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, Devin Booker won the JBL 3-point Contest, Donovan Mitchell won the Verizon Slam Dunk Contest and LeBron James got the MVP honors in a game that actually featured some defense in the fourth quarter. The idea of having guys pick their teams added some grit to the All-Star Game and if you skipped it, you might want to tune in next year. Jimmy Butler opted to rest instead of play, which is probably a good idea since he leads the league in minutes.

 

The Bulls provided us with the biggest news over the weekend, as Justin Holiday and Robin Lopez will come off the bench going forward, while Jerian Grant will be taken out of the rotation going forward. David Nwaba will start for Holiday, Cristiano Felicio will start for Ro-Lo and Cameron Payne will replace Grant as the backup point guard behind Kris Dunn. Dunn is no longer on a minutes limit and needs to be owned, while Nwaba and Felicio are worth a look going forward. I had trouble finding a player to drop in order to pick up Nwaba in my leagues, but if you have a guy on your roster you’re not attached to, think about making the switch. Nwaba is a stat stuffer and he could be really fun to own down the stretch. And if you’re having center woes, Felicio is also worth a close look. I’m not expecting much from Cam-Payne, but you never know. Zach LaVine might end up being cleared for back-to-back action, which is a big deal since the Bulls still have five of them left. We should know something soon.

 

Gregg Popovich says he’ll be “surprised” if Kawhi Leonard (quad) plays again this season. Leonard has been medically cleared by the team, but has elected to gather a second opinion on his injury. Maybe he’ll be back for the playoffs, but the Spurs and Leonard don’t seem to be on the same page and my “over-under” of three more regular-season games for Leonard appears to be heading for the under. It’s time to move on. Rudy Gay (heel) is expected to play on Friday and is probably worth a pickup in all leagues if he’s actually going to finish out the season for Pop. Then again, the Spurs will probably baby him, so he’s not a lock to come through for you if you pick him up.

 

Nikola Vucevic (hand) and Aaron Gordon (hip) are both expected to play on Thursday against the Knicks. Finally! Their returns hurt Bismack Biyombo and Mario Hezonja. If Vuc is somehow still available in your league, pick him up. Gordon is more of a headache than anything else, but he should also be owned now that he’s on the verge of coming back. Jonathan Isaac has been ruled out for Thursday, but might play in the G-League this weekend. With Gordon back, Isaac loses a lot of luster, even when healthy.

 

Joel Embiid played in the All-Star Game and had 19 points, eight boards, two blocks and two 3-pointers. I’m sure Philly’s brass wasn’t thrilled at him playing, especially since he sat out Wednesday’s game before the break due to swelling in his right ankle. It would be nice if his ankle wasn’t an issue going forward and Embiid could finish the season out strong.

 

Anthony Davis’ groin injury didn’t slow him down in the All-Star Game so he should be good to go once we get back underway tonight.

 

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John Wall’s not limping after knee surgery, but hasn’t started running yet and may not be on track to return early. If he ends up missing seven weeks he’d be ready to return around March 20. The Wizards would have 12 games left if he comes back then, so if you think 9-11 solid games from Wall are worth stashing, feel free to do so. Tim Frazier is expected to play on Thursday in a facemask to protect his broken nose. Tom Satoransky is the guy you want to own while Wall is on the shelf.

 

Ricky Rubio didn’t practice on Wednesday due to his hip soreness and I’m starting to get worried. I’m holding him for now, but there’s no telling when he’ll be ready to play again. Hopefully we get a fresh update soon.

 

Avery Bradley is 50-50 to play on Thursday for the Clippers due to a groin injury. In fact, he might be 50-50 to play on a nightly basis going forward, meaning his lost season is just that – lost. Austin Rivers is looking better and better going forward.

 

Joakim Noah had a physical altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek some time ago and Hornacek said, “We’ve moved on. He’s ready to move on and maybe have an opportunity somewhere else.” The Knicks signed F Troy Williams to a 10-day contract on Monday. I’m not going to pick him up, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he puts up decent numbers for a Knicks team going nowhere. Michael Beasley missed Tuesday’s practice with a right ear problem. I’m thinking he’ll be ready to go tonight, and he was back at practice on Wednesday. Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke are going to get more run the rest of the way, which likely signals the end of Jarrett Jack having fantasy value. Mudiay is the guy I’m most interested in here and he’s expected to start on Thursday, so feel free to fire him up. Ntilikina could also do something down the stretch, but Mudiay’s the guy you want to pick up if he’s available.

 

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) and Caris LeVert (knee) aren’t expected to play on Thursday night. RHJ is getting close and LeVert is still mystery. Allen Crabbe is a must-own right now, while DeMarre Carroll, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris and Quincy Acy should all get extra minutes as long as RHJ is out.

 

Reggie Jackson could miss a “few more weeks” with his sprained ankle, which is good news if you own Ish Smith. Stan Van Gundy speaks as if he doesn’t even remember that Jackson is on his team, although he has been cleared for some light running. I’m not saying Jackson’s done for the season, but if you’ve been stashing him, he’s still probably a couple weeks away, at best. Reggie Bullock missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness, leaving him iffy for Friday against the Celtics. My guess is he’s going to play in that one, but if not, Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson and Langston Galloway would all get a boost.

 

Marcus Smart (hand) is due back on Friday and his return will hurt Terry Rozier. But I think Rozier has taken the upper hand in their position battle and might still maintain some value the rest of the way. Don’t cut him until he disappears.

 

PG Darren Collison will miss at least another week of action with his knee injury, so Cory Joseph could have another good week. Glenn Robinson III is due back Friday for the Pacers, but he’s only going to play a handful of minutes. He’s not worth owning.

 

Tyreke Evans and Chandler Parsons were out of practice on Wednesday for personal reasons. Evans may make some noise again this season, but it’s not a lock. Parsons, however, is a lost cause.

 

Ersan Ilyasova is expected to continue to start at PF for the Hawks until further notice. I have no idea why they’re not rolling with John Collins as the starter, but it is what it is. Both Ilyasova and Collins are worth owning right now, assuming the Hawks aren’t just messing with us.

 

Trevor Ariza (hamstring) is due back on Friday, meaning Luc Mbah a Moute, P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green should all take a hit for the Rockets.

 

Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) is doubtful for Friday, meaning Bam Adebayo and James Johnson should continue to get solid run for the Heat.

 

Paul Millsap (wrist surgery) could return in 2-4 weeks. That means Wilson Chandler should continue to roll for the Nuggets, at least for a few weeks. Mason Plumlee (calf) is set to return for the Nuggets on Friday, but I don’t think he’ll see a big role. Let him be.

 

Skal Labissiere (shoulder) is probable for Thursday. He could make some noise, but it would come at the expense of Zach Randolph, who has been playing well. Just keep an eye on Skal going forward. Frank Mason is also probable (foot), but I don’t see him doing much.

 

John Henson is iffy for Friday with a sore right hamstring. If he’s out, Tyler Zeller and Thon Maker will still continue to get big minutes.

 

Jordan Bell (ankle) went through a full scrimmage on Wednesday and might be ready to play after Thursday’s game against the Clippers. He’s only worth a look when a starter is sitting out.

 

Vince Carter won’t be bought out by the Kings this season, but might sign to play one more year with the Raptors next season. And I don’t care how you feel about Vinsanity, seeing him finish up where he started would be very cool.

 

Brandon Rush signed a 10-day with the Blazers, but he shouldn’t do much for a good and healthy team. The Suns signed G Shaquille Harrison to a 10-day (and waived Josh Gray) and given the shambles they’re in, he could have a couple decent lines in Phoenix. The Pacers signed G Trey McKinney to a 10-day, but he’s not going to get much run for one of the East’s better teams. The Magic signed Rashad Vaughn to a 10-day, and he shouldn’t do much in Orlando. The Pelicans signed G Walter Lemon Jr. to a 10-day, and we’re not expecting much from him, either. The Cavaliers will sign G Marcus Thornton to a 10-day, but it’s hard to see him doing much for the Cavs.

 

Michael Jordan is targeting Mitch Kupchak to replace Rich Cho as GM, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Interesting.

 

Channing Frye had his appendix removed and won’t play again until March.

 

The Hawks recalled G Andrew White and G Josh Magette from the G-League, but it’s hard to see either of them doing much, even though the Hawks are one of the worst teams in the league.

 

Malik Monk was involved in a car accident on Sunday and was suffering from upper-body soreness. He’s not doing much for the Hornets, but the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.

 

And pour one out for Tiago Splitter, who retired on Sunday. 



Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2017-18 NBA season marks (at least) his 16th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
Email :Steve Alexander



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