A lot of trade chatter has begun to percolate over the past 24 hours, so much so that I'm postponing this week's sober-minded column on low-minute endgame producers for an up-to-the minute fantasy recap of how the market could be affected by certain deals.
Let's skip the formalities and get right into it.
Positions in play: SG, SF, PF, C
Current SG: James Anderson (PR15: 8.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.8 3-pointers, 1.0 steals)
Current SF: Evan Turner (PR15: 13.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals, 0.7 3-pointers)
Current PF: Thaddeus Young (PR15: 14.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.0 3-pointers)
Current C: Spencer Hawes (PR15: 8.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 blocks, 0.8 3-pointers)
Word has it that the Charlotte Bobcats are seriously pursuing Turner. This would be a major blow for his fantasy prospects. I won't use the word "cripple," but it's close when speaking in relative terms.
He'd be going from a so-tanked-they're-completely-submerged culture to a playoff team. An Eastern Conference playoff team, but a playoff team nonetheless. A playoff team that already has two established yet mediocre producers on the wing in Gerald Henderson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
The dip in minutes alone hurts Turner's fantasy value, but most of all, it's the loss of pace. Turner would leap from a 76ers roster that is pulverizing the NBA in possessions per 48 minutes (102.5) to a bottom-third team (95.2). Again, I didn't say "cripple." But numbers in line with his PR15 stats would be a reasonable expectation in Charlotte.
You can Xerox the same prognosis for Young and Hawes. No matter where they land, they take a hit in value. There simply isn't a more fantasy-friendly destination than Philadelphia. Anywhere else represents a downward statistical trajectory.
Now, one position that could gain numerical traction in a deadline deal is shooting guard. Let's say Philadelphia decides to go the other way and deal an asset or three for a player such as Arron Afflalo. A shooting guard with even a 15.0 PER pedigree could plug right in to that lineup and start producing top-70 value. Someone of Afflalo's ability would be top 30.
I'm not saying it's likely, but with all of the trade chatter flying around Philadelphia, anything could happen in the next 24 hours.
Position in play: PG
Current PG: Isaiah Thomas (PR15: 22.6 points, 6.8 assists, 1.0 3-pointers, 1.8 steals) and no one else.
Message to Sacramento GM Pete D'Alessandro: Put down the phone now. On behalf of Isaiah Thomas owners everywhere, just put it down. Because no matter where Thomas is dealt (unless it's in a one-for-one for Michael Carter-Williams), he will hemorrhage fantasy value.
As I've written before this season, a large part of Thomas' value lies in the fact that he's the only King with a skill set that even remotely resembles one of a starting NBA point guard (and he isn't a pure point guard himself). Now, if you still had Greivis Vasquez on your bench, you could be looking at a late-season fantasy boon. But you don't.
But let's say this happens. Let's say Thomas is dealt for a high draft pick (on his rookie deal, that's what I'd demand). Who plays point guard in Sacramento for the rest of their long trudge to the lottery: Jimmer Fredette or Ray McCallum?
Jimmer would have some potential. Hear me out. Take a little trip to Hollingerland and look at his per-40 numbers for the season: 20.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists. A 16.90 PER. A 23.0 Usage Rate. On a low expectations roster with DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay taking most of the defensive attention. I'm not saying it would be pretty, but the numerical potential is there.
Position in play: PG
Current PG: Raymond Felton (PR15: 9.2 points, 6.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds, 0.6 3-pointers, 1.0 steals); Pablo Prigioni (PR15: 4.4 points, 6.4 assists, 0.8 3-pointers, 2.0 steals) with a dash of Iman Shumpert
As always with the Knickerbockers, rumor has it that they're trying to swing an impact deal. The names you hear (in order of wildly unlikely to relatively tangible); Rajon Rondo, Kyle Lowry, Jeff Teague, Jeremy Lin.
The problem for the Knicks is a lack of ammunition. They don't have much to work with in regards to draft picks or in young, dealable assets. But they have experienced a Quixotic Zen for taking on bad money, which can be a dealable asset in of itself. And Iman Shumpert might have some value on the open market if packaged with other assets (Tim Hardaway Jr., for instance).
A deal involving Shumpert plus, say, Hardaway and loose change for Jeff Teague would provide some clarity to a fuzzy backcourt rotation. You'd be clearing out 52 minutes of playing time, which would be a solid fantasy situation for Teague. Anytime you've got a team with a lot of roster flotsam like the Knicks, a two-for-one can only improve their fantasy outlook.
Positions in Play: PG, SG, SF, PF, C
Current PG: Rajon Rondo (PR15: 13.0 points, 9.0 assists, 2.3 3-pointers. 1.7 steals, 6.3 rebounds)
Current SG: Avery Bradley (PR15 - Injured: 9.5 points, 1.5 steals)
Current SF: Jeff Green (PR15: 22.0 points, 2.4 3-pointers, 1.2 steals, 3.8 rebounds)
Current PF: Jared Sullinger (PR15: 15.6 points, 11.0 rebounds, 1.8 blocks)
Current C: Kelly Olynyk (PR15: 9.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 0.4 3-pointers, 2.2 assists)
I have a lot of belief in Celts GM Danny Ainge. I like Ainge because you can never get a read on what the Celtics are considering via media reports. That's how it's supposed to be done (for examples on how it's not supposed to be done see Lakers, Los Angeles).
Like the 76ers, the Celtics have maximized assets in a tank-friendly environment. Green and Sullinger are at all-time highs in trade value. Even Brandon Bass looks like he could be a rotation player on a low-level playoff squad.
Fantasy-wise, this is a team that would benefit greatly from a two-for-one or three-for-one trade. Clearing out Bass and Green would open up major touches and minutes for Olynyk. Right now, the Celtics have five players in the 22 to 30 minutes per game range.
Rondo is the X factor. While I wouldn't trade him for anything less than multiple first-rounders or a top-seven lottery pick, his market is diminished due to his coming off an injury. But did you notice something in Rondo's PR15: 2.3 3-pointers per game. From a player that's averaged 0.2 3-pointers per game for his career.
As I said in a podcast last month, the intriguing fantasy aspect to a player returning from a long-term injury is how he has refined his game during the layoff. For Rondo, it was his perimeter shooting and free throw shooting. If he has found a semi-reliable 3-point stroke, Rondo's fantasy value soars into the top 20.
Positions in play: SF
Current SF: Luol Deng (PR15: 10.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.2 3-pointers, 0.8 steals)
Could Cleveland undo Chris Grant's panic move by dealing Deng for pennies on the dollar? It's looking increasingly possible. If Deng is dealt for a pick (or picks), Cleveland would be back to the field at SF.
Why could the deal make developmental sense? The likely minutes beneficiary would be Anthony Bennett. As predicted, Bennett has started to string together some value. An increased, every-night role could turn Bennett into a valuable endgame pickup.
Position in play: SF
Current SF: Andre Iguodala (PR15: 9.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.6 3-pointers); Harrison Barnes (PR15: 13.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.6 3-pointers, 1.0 steals)
I wouldn't deal a player with Barnes' upside. But he is the one big-ticket dealable asset the Warriors own. The one asset that could bring in the impact help the Warriors need up front.
If Barnes was dealt to, say, Milwaukee for John Henson, he would go from being a fantasy afterthought to a mandatory speculative pickup in all leagues.
Position in play: PF
Current PF: Pau Gasol (PR15: Out)
You could probably throw Chris Kaman on to the list of players on the market, but Gasol is the only Laker who'd fetch anything resembling real value.
The problem? Gasol is hurt (again). That's going to scare teams out of offering anything other than low first-round picks and random youngsters with opaque upside. Which means that Phoenix would still be a natural partner, if they decide to roll the dice.
You're also going to witness a cornucopia of verbal and pixelated apoplexy about a midnight run for Kevin Love. That would be coming out of every Lakers fan you know. It's the kind of talk you hear out of people who are used to getting what they want all of the time. That mindset is why three different BMWs almost sideswiped me on the 405 this morning.
But let's play conspiracy theorist. Let's assume we believe the anonymous reports that Love will sign with the Lakers in 2015 as a free agent. Why give up the only high-level asset that's even close to landing on your radar -- your top-10 pick -- for a player you're going to sign next summer? I just don't see this happening unless it's a 25th-hour Jim Buss fever dream.
By the way, Love said Wednesday morning that the Timberwolves had a "better team, a better foundation" than the Lakers. He used the "s" word. Was that a poke at the Lakers brass to trade for him now? Or a poke to get Mitch Kupchak the heck away from the poker table before they deal away Tyler Ennis? Ugh. Now I'm doing it.
This is why I tend to go to more Clippers games than Lakers games. And why I tend to avoid driving on the 405.