It's become impossible to ignore. The looming lockout has begun to affect my life.
First, it canceled my wife-proof annual "business trip" to the Vegas Summer League. Thursday night, it slowed the pace of the deal-making during the historically transaction-rich NBA draft.
But as the night wore on, a few trades trickled through, all of which have some fantasy ramifications. The top story? It involves a happy ending to the Raymond Felton fantasy saga.
Portland Trail Blazers acquire Raymond Felton
This past season, no player took as big of a hit after the trade deadline as Felton. His departing the high-octane Knicks for a frustrating time-share in Denver seriously dented many a fantasy owner's playoff aspirations. Felton closed out strong, but it obviously wasn't going to work in Denver long term. It was only a matter of time before he (or Ty Lawson) was dealt to a squad in need of a point guard.
Now, Felton goes to a great (some would say ideal) situation in Portland, where he'll handle one of the more versatile groups of offensive talent in the NBA. He won't sniff his D'Antoni-inflated numbers in New York, but averages of 14-16 points, 7-8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 3-pointers per game should well be in his future.
Ugh. Those of us pining for Ty Lawson to get an unobstructed hold on Denver's starting gig at point guard will have to keep on waiting. If Miller isn't waived/bought out, he should enter training camp as the backup to Lawson, but it's not hard to see this degenerating into a time-share. If Lawson slips, this becomes a sequel to the Lawson-Felton situation.
Miller will have his hot scoring weeks here and there, but he'll likely be relegated to an assists-and-steals specialist role in shallow-to medium leagues.
I admit all my judgments this time of year are a little Chad Ford-icized, so I was initially a little puzzled at this one. Hill is a nice player, but according to all the experts (including, apparently, Gregg Popovich), Kawhi Leonard is a potential big-time starter, a sort of Gerald Wallace in training.
Then I thought back to some of Hill's bigger games last season and realized this was a good deal for both squads. Given consistent minutes, Hill could be a real steal for fantasy teams in the later rounds. He'll have to duke it out with Darren Collison and Paul George for minutes, but all three have upside, and it's hard not to see them all getting at least 25-28 minutes per game. Watch this situation closely in training camp. If Hill wins a starting spot, toss him up your draft boards.
Fernandez should slot in nicely in Dallas' rotation, most likely backing up (free agent) Caron Butler and proving a source of cheap 3s and steals.
However, the small forward spot in Dallas seems to be constantly shifting, and if the Mavericks don't re-sign Butler, it's conceivable the mercurial Fernandez could have an outside shot at his long-coveted starting spot.
From a fantasy perspective, Milwaukee was a veritable Desolation Row last season; injuries, poor shooting and general overall ineffectiveness conspired to create one of the NBA's worst offenses (the worst if you ask John Hollinger).
But in their quest to return to the playoffs in 2012, the Bucks just landed a big piece in Jackson, an underrated contributor in Udrih, and some good karma with Livingston.
Jackson is reportedly disgruntled in being shipped to yet another team, but he's going to a better situation than the rebuilding Bobcats. He will calm down eventually (he always does, with one or two notable exceptions), and continue to be one of fantasy's most versatile and underappreciated swingmen.
Anchoring a team parched for offense, Jackson immediately becomes the "1b" scoring option for the Bucks, and nearing 20 ppg wouldn't be a stretch. He's one of the NBA's streakiest shooters, so if you draft him make sure to not overvalue or undervalue him during his statistical ups and downs.
Jackson's arrival also helps to solve one of the more frustrating time-shares in fantasy, as the 3 spot in Milwaukee proved impossible to lock down last season.
Shooting guard will be a position of interest for the Bucks. Without John Salmons, the minutes are up for grabs. Maybe Michael Redd gets re-signed, maybe Chris Douglas-Roberts gets a qualifying offer, maybe another free agent gets signed but maybe Udrih gets some time at the 2. Why not? He's done it before, and it would make for some interesting stat lines running alongside Brandon Jennings.
Rich Cho may not be fun to hang out with, but he knows how to swing a deal (see: Gerald Wallace trade). Obviously, the order from above is to tear it down, but they need someone who can score in the interim, and an injury-free Maggette fits the bill.
Health permitting, Maggette can fill the scoring void left by Jackson's departure, but Maggette does his damage a little differently: at the line, as opposed to from behind the arc. He'll provide some veteran punch (say, 15-17 ppg) as the baby Bobcats start their rebuild, and will be a nice endgame pick in fantasy drafts. Maggette's hidden strength is his free throw shooting. He lives at the line and hit 83 percent of his attempts in 2010-11.
Sacramento Kings acquire John Salmons and rights to Jimmer Fredette
If the Kings were a fantasy team, they'd be crying for a three-for-one deal. They have time-shares at multiple positions, and I can't say this trade solves any of them. They give up Udrih, who might have had the most under-the-radar-productive season in fantasy in 2010-11, drop three slots, and get John Salmons? I don't know, maybe they're trying to scare away the entire city of Anaheim.
Jimmer will solve a lot of PR problems, but it's hard to see how this makes Sacramento a better fantasy destination in 2011-12. Salmons should be the starting shooting guard, but the Kings now feature two high-profile combo-type guards in Tyreke Evans and Fredette. And public demand will guarantee both will get their minutes from somewhere.
But if Salmons can stay as hot as he was down the stretch for Milwaukee, and averages more than 30 minutes per game, he can help fantasy teams. He provides a steady mix of steals and 3s to go along with some nice percentages.
Daryl Morey continues to stockpile pretty good assets. Flynn escapes Minnesota, but lands in a very crowded point guard rotation. It's hard to see him resurrecting his NBA prospects battling for minutes with Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic. Until some more trades shake out, it would appear Flynn stays off the fantasy radar.
Minnesota Timberwolves acquire Brad Miller
Maybe Miller becomes the Crash Davis to Darko Milicic's Nuke LaLoosh and helps shape Darko into a night-in, night-out player. No matter. Until Darko, Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver, Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley simultaneously get food poisoning, Miller's days as an occasional fantasy plug-in appear to be over.
John Cregan is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.