San Antonio Spurs stars not simply resting
Fantasy owners were, as always, braced for Gregg Popovich to rest his key players down the stretch this season. But there's an ugly twist to that familiar storyline this time around, as the San Antonio Spurs' stars are being forced from the lineup by injuries.
Tony Parker (left knee contusion) was a late scratch on Monday, joining Tim Duncan (ankle) and Manu Ginobili (thigh) on the sidelines as the Spurs lost at home to the Portland Trail Blazers. Parker could return for the team's next game, which is Thursday against the Boston Celtics.
Incidentally, unless you're in a very deep league, about all you have to gain from the Spurs' current miseries is George Hill. Coming off a 30-point performance versus the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, Hill produced 27 points and six assists against the Blazers. He's available in more than 75 percent of ESPN.com leagues. In leagues of at least 12 teams, Tiago Splitter (14 points, nine rebounds) could merit consideration, but keep in mind that Antonio McDyess (back) is expected to return against the Celtics after essentially being rested on Monday. One Spurs-related thing I do know is that the re-emergence of DeJuan Blair (three points in just 20 minutes) isn't panning out.
• As if the recent news on Duncan, Kevin Love and David West (among others) wasn't unsettling enough, Al Jefferson owners might be in for the biggest burn of all. Although Big Al notched another huge double-double (15 points, 16 boards) on Monday, he sat out the fourth quarter and overtime as the Utah Jazz lost to the Washington Wizards, and his relationship with head coach Tyrone Corbin continued to be strained. Rookies Derrick Favors (11 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks) and Jeremy Evans (six points, three rebounds) saw extended action in Jefferson's place.
• No definitive word yet on the status of D.J. Augustin, who left Monday's game with a sprained left ankle. While Augustin finished with 10 points and eight assists in 27 minutes, he was just 4-of-13 from the field, and is shooting a brutal 36.8 percent in March. Incidentally, Augustin's backup, Shaun Livingston, was also hurt in the game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Gerald Henderson (16 points, five rebounds) remains the one Charlotte Bobcats player worth plucking from fantasy free agency right now. And I say this despite the fact that Tyrus Thomas (seven points, six rebounds) returned after missing two games with rib problems. With Kwame Brown (personal) out, Thomas started at center and got mauled by Andrew Bogut. The Bobcats, who somehow remain a playoff possibility, will contend with more bigs, as they'll face Dwight Howard twice and JaVale McGee once in the next week or so. On the bright side, they also play the Cleveland Cavaliers twice.
• Speaking of Howard, his problems with the officials continued on Monday. In overtime during their loss to the New York Knicks, the Orlando Magic center was hit with a questionable technical foul for tossing the ball into the backcourt. One more T and Howard will receive his second one-game suspension of the season, something that Howard owners can ill afford.
• And while we're on the Magic, Gilbert Arenas started for Jameer Nelson (knee) against the Knicks. While Arenas scored only nine points on 2-of-11 shooting, he did contribute 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Nelson could return for the Magic's next game against the Atlanta Hawks, but Arenas, who's available in 45 percent of ESPN.com leagues, is worth a speculative add.
• The Philadelphia 76ers hounded Derrick Rose (31 points, 5 assists, 3 steals) into 10 turnovers on Monday. Not to pick on the presumptive NBA MVP, who's been a fantasy stud this season, but Rose could be even better if he passed up a few 3-point shots. Although he's averaged 25.4 points since the All-Star break, Rose is also shooting just 27.7 percent from downtown (and 41.0 percent overall) during that span.
• For the third time in five games, Tyler Hansbrough (five points on 2-of-7 shooting) scored in single digits. More ominously, he played just 21 minutes against the Celtics, his shortest outing in almost a month. In that same game, Rajon Rondo (22 points, eight assists) returned with an excellent outing. He had missed one game with a jammed pinkie finger.
• Deron Williams (wrist) is expected to miss another game on Tuesday when the New Jersey Nets host the Houston Rockets. While he could return for Wednesday's contest with the Knicks, the Nets are also saying that Williams' season will likely end early because of the injury.
• The Phoenix Suns have benched the struggling Vince Carter, making Jared Dudley likely your best free-agent add for Tuesday's light schedule. Dudley has played at least 36 minutes in each of his past three games, and is averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.3 3s and 1.3 steals during that span. He's available in about 90 percent of ESPN.com leagues.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.