The NBA trade deadline is two weeks from Thursday, which means the rumor mill is churning at full speed. This could be a particularly active trade session because so many teams are tanking and trying to secure extra picks in this year's deep and talented draft.
Since NBA trades can open and close doors that lead to statistical success, fantasy owners should be paying close attention to the rumors in order to be prepared if something goes down.
Let's take a look at a handful of players available in most leagues who could be affected by trades that have been rumored in recent weeks and months to determine how their roles could change.
Greivis Vasquez, Toronto Raptors (33.9 percent ESPN ownership): I've discussed Vasquez plenty in this column and with Doug Kezirian on the Fantasy Focus Podcast, so I won't rehash things too much. The bottom line is that the Raptors may trade Kyle Lowry before the deadline, which would open the door for 2012-13 NBA assist leader Vasquez to step into a starting role. If you are in need of assists, pick up Vasquez and stash him until the deadline passes.
Omer Asik, Houston Rockets (31.1 percent): We shouldn't set our expectations too high for Asik if the Rockets finally decide to trade him. He's not a big-time scorer or shot-blocker, so his upside is capped. On the other hand, he averaged a double-double and a block while shooting well over 50 percent from the field last season. There aren't many fantasy teams that wouldn't benefit from having those numbers to round out their starting lineup. There haven't been any recent trade rumors involving Asik, but the Rockets likely wouldn't hesitate to deal him if a decent offer came along. If he lands on the right team, Asik could be a double-double machine.
Andre Miller, Denver Nuggets (0.4 percent): In order for Miller to make a mark in fantasy, he would have to end up in a situation where he could get 25 to 30 minutes per game, which seems unlikely. Actually, with Nate Robinson done for the season and Ty Lawson ailing, his best shot for that much game action might come by sticking with the Nuggets. Regardless, with 25-30 MPG on any team, Miller still has enough juice left in his aging body to chip in 5-6 APG and 1.0-1.5 SPG, which is enough to help teams in deep leagues. Keep an eye on him if coach Brian Shaw is forced to bring the point guard out of the doghouse or if trade rumors pick up.
Iman Shumpert, New York Knicks (23.4 percent): There are sound arguments to be made for the Knicks to keep and to trade Shumpert, so it is genuinely unclear whether he will be dealt. The trouble in fantasy terms is that he's had every chance to shine statistically this season with the Knicks and has failed to come through. Even if you write off his offensive game and dub him a "defensive specialist," his 1.2 SPG is disappointing. Hypothetically, if he ended up in the right situation, he could exceed expectations, but at this time he doesn't seem to be a fantasy threat.
Kirk Hinrich (4.6 percent), Mike Dunleavy (18.3 percent), Taj Gibson (71.1 percent), Chicago Bulls: All three of these Bulls have been involved in recent trade rumors, though Gibson seems to be the least likely to be dealt away. Odds are that we would see Hinrich and Dunleavy produce less on a different team, especially Dunleavy, who has done well since Derrick Rose went down. Gibson's value could soar if he were to be traded to a team willing to give him 35 MPG. He has already been a viable option as a sixth man with the Bulls.
Ed Davis (0.1 percent), Memphis Grizzlies: Davis will be a restricted free agent during the offseason, so the Grizzlies could move him before the deadline. He is only 24 and has proved capable of racking up double-doubles, including three last month. We've heard frontcourt mate Zach Randolph tied to some trade rumors too, and his departure from the Grizzlies could open up a bigger role for Davis. Regardless of how it might come to fruition, a big bump in minutes for Davis could make him a viable fantasy play.
A Pau Gasol trade: The latest buzz is that the Phoenix Suns are interested in acquiring Gasol in a deal that would essentially swap his expiring contract for Emeka Okafor's expiring deal. Okafor is injured, so the Lakers likely wouldn't be adding anyone of note to replace Gasol in their frontcourt. If this hypothetical trade, or any trade that doesn't add a relevant piece to the Lakers frontcourt, goes through, Ryan Kelly (2.1 percent) likely would be the biggest beneficiary. As a stretch 4, he fits coach Mike D'Antoni's system well. He should be a decent deep-league addition right now since Gasol is expected to miss a week or more due to his injured groin. A Gasol trade may also open the door for an increased role for Jordan Hill (9.0 percent) and may even bring Chris Kaman (5.5 percent) back into the rotation.
A Thaddeus Young, Spencer Hawes or Evan Turner trade: This trio of Philadelphia 76ers has been on the trading block all season, and it would be a bit of a surprise if some or all of them are not traded for draft picks or expiring contracts prior to the deadline. The trouble in fantasy terms is that the Sixers are so thin on talent that there aren't many fantasy free agents on their roster who would benefit significantly from the departures. If Turner leaves and the Sixers don't acquire a starter in return, Tony Wroten (5.1 percent) could become an impact player down the stretch. He is worth stashing in deeper leagues, especially since Michael Carter-Williams is nursing a sore shoulder. If Hawes or Young leave, Lavoy Allen (0.0 percent) could get a bump, but he doesn't offer much upside. I still find it hard to believe that they would let Nerlens Noel (1.0 percent) play this season, but hypothetically he could be a decent waiver-wire addition if minutes open up in the frontcourt.
A Dion Waiters (47.2 percent) or Anderson Varejao (95.0 percent) trade: I think it's pretty unlikely that either of them will be traded prior to the deadline, but rumors have popped up. Waiters got kicked out of practice last week while the oft-injured Varejao is nursing a sore knee, so those factors could affect their respective trade values. If Waiters goes, then Jarrett Jack (21.9 percent) should get a decent boost. He could score in the low teens and chip in some dimes, 3s and steals, at least enough to help out deep-leaguers. C.J. Miles (3.0 percent) could be a decent source of 3-pointers in that scenario. Normally at this time of the season, if a veteran is traded and minutes open up for the No. 1 overall pick, we would expect a breakout from the rookie. In this case, though, Anthony Bennett arguably isn't capable of making any statistical noise, even if Varejao were to be traded and not replaced in the frontcourt. Tyler Zeller (0.2 percent) seems far more likely to do something, though the former 17th overall pick hasn't exactly lit up the box score either.