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Courtside Seat: Working out the kinks

Senior Fantasy Writer
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MIAMI -- The Lakers had just lost to the Heat 98-87, and coach Mike Brown was looking at the box score. He was fine with the production he got from Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, but he couldn't find much else to be happy about.

The rest of the Lakers combined for just 22 points, and an offense that used to rely on the triangle is now just three players trying to carry the load. The offensive woes in Los Angeles are a big reason the Lakers have lost three in a row prior to Wednesday night's win over the Clippers, and Fantasy owners can't find anyone outside of Bryant, Gasol or Bynum to start in the majority of leagues.

"We just have to have some other guys step up to help Gasol and Bynum and Kobe out in certain situations," Brown said. "When they're open, knock down shots. Or make some plays."

Over the past several years Fantasy owners have gotten more from the Lakers then just three players, mainly from Lamar Odom, who is now in Dallas. Metta World Peace, the artist formerly known as Ron Artest, is now coming off the bench and struggling to produce at a high level.

Matt Barnes has been the best fourth option this season, but he doesn't play at a consistent level. And don't be fooled by Josh McRoberts, Steve Blake or Derek Fisher since they shouldn't be owned in the majority of leagues.

"The help will come from different people on any given night," Bryant said. "We're still experimenting. We're experimenting on the fly. This is what we have to do. It's a process, and we just have to stick with it."

Bryant said the offense is "under construction," and "we're still working on the blueprint." We know Bryant has been awesome as the No. 1 guard in head-to-head leagues despite playing with a significant wrist injury, Gasol is a Top 5 center in category-based formats despite a career-low scoring average (15.8 points) and Bynum has 10 double-doubles in 14 games. But it would be nice if other players on the team could offer significant contributions.

Typically you don't get more than three Fantasy options from a given team, but the drop-off for the Lakers after Bryant, Gasol and Bynum is staggering.

"It has to come a long way," Barnes said. "We have some more work to do. It's new. Most of the guys have been in the triangle for six, seven, eight years. This is a new offense, and we're still working out the kinks and finding our spots."

Until they work out those kinks, Fantasy owners should stay away from all of the Lakers not named Bryant, Gasol or Bynum.

Each week we will take a look at a variety of topics around the NBA. We will look at guys to trade, trade for, add off the waiver wire and also answer some of your social media questions, among other things. It's our CBSSports.com potpourri look at Fantasy Basketball.

More on Kobe

Bryant is enjoying life without the triangle and Phil Jackson since his minutes and shot attempts are up, but you have to be concerned if he can sustain this level of play given his age (33) and wear and tear, especially with the wrist injury. He is averaging 30.5 points, which is his best production since 2005-06.

"As a team we have to pick him up," Barnes said. "He can't carry the load every single night. We have to help."

Fantasy owners might want to sell high on Bryant since he could bring back quite a haul in return. Some recent trades for Bryant include Paul Millsap and Rajon Rondo in a rotisserie league and Bynum and Brandon Jennings in a head-to-head format. (You can see more trades on Bryant's player page).

Obviously the hope is Bryant can continue to stay healthy and play at a high level all season, but don't be afraid to shop him around and see what's out there.

Injury updates

Here are five significant injuries affecting Fantasy owners:

D.J. Augustin, PG, Bobcats
What's the deal: Augustin is out for the rest of Week 5 with a toe injury, and he could miss time in Week 6. That has opened the door for Kemba Walker to become a must-start Fantasy guard. Walker had 22 points, five rebounds and two assists against New York on Tuesday as the starting point guard, but his production should remain high with Augustin out. Derrick Brown (2 percent ownership on CBSSports.com) is worth a look in deeper leagues since he moved into the starting lineup, and he had 15 points, four rebounds and two steals against the Knicks.

Baron Davis, PG, Knicks
What's the deal: Davis could make his season debut very soon after dealing with a back injury, and we're excited to see how he plays. He should not be used in most daily leagues for the remainder of Week 5, but if he plays against the Heat on Friday or Rockets on Saturday -- and performs well -- then he might be worth starting in Week 6 as a No. 3 guard. Davis will likely hurt the value of rookie guard Iman Shumpert, and he could be worth dropping in the majority of leagues if Davis can start off playing at a high level.

Luol Deng, SF, Bulls
What's the deal: Deng is expected to miss a couple of weeks with an injured left wrist, which should allow Richard Hamilton and Ronnie Brewer to benefit. Hamilton (71 percent ownership) has scored in double figures in four games in a row, but he played great Monday with Deng out against New Jersey with 22 points, 10 assists and four rebounds. He should be considered a must-start option with Deng out. Brewer, who is owned in 8 percent of leagues, will start in place of Deng and is worth adding in deeper leagues. He had 11 points and five rebounds against the Nets.

Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks
What's the deal: Nowitzki (knee) is expected to miss the rest of Week 5, and he could miss time in Week 6 as well. We hope the rest can help him return at 100 percent, but several Mavericks should benefit in his absence. Shawn Marion had a standout game against Phoenix on Monday with 29 points, four rebounds and two assists. He also has two double-doubles in his past four games prior to Wednesday, and he should be considered a must-start forward with Nowitzki out. Odom also has shown signs of life with double digits in points in his past three games, and he had 11 points, five assists and three rebounds against the Suns. We hope this recent surge can wake him up for the rest of the year. One free agent to monitor is Ian Mahinmi (19 percent ownership), who had 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks against the Suns. Another game like that and he could be worth adding in all leagues.

Chris Paul, PG, Clippers
What's the deal: We hope Paul (hamstring) can return Wednesday against the Lakers after missing the past five games. Once he does come back at 100 percent, Mo Williams should return to the bench in the majority of leagues. He has been great with Paul out, but he won't continue to play at a high level when he's coming off the bench. He is averaging 25.7 points, 3.7 assists and has eight 3-pointers in his past three games. But he failed to score 15 points in any of his first eight games this season when Paul was healthy, and that's what Fantasy owners should expect going forward.

Free agent watch

Here are five guys I am looking at in my leagues:

O.J. Mayo, SG, Grizzlies
Owned: 62 percent of leagues

Anthony Morrow, SG, Nets
Owned: 50 percent of leagues

Zaza Pachulia, C, Hawks
Owned: 43 percent of leagues

James Johnson, PF, Raptors
Owned: 41 percent of leagues

Jason Thompson, PF, Kings
Owned: 30 percent of leagues

Mayo has scored 20 points in two of his past three games and could be finding his groove a little. Morrow is averaging 17 points in his past two outings and could benefit if MarShon Brooks (Achilles tendon) is out for an extended period of time. Pachulia started Monday against Milwaukee and had nine points and 14 rebounds in 38 minutes. If he starts he's worth owning with Al Horford (pectoral) out, but he has been in and out of the starting lineup. Johnson started Tuesday against Phoenix and had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and hopefully this is a sign of things to come. And Thompson has done a nice job filling in for the injured Chuck Hayes (shoulder), but his value is short-lived once Hayes returns.

Social media corner

@NELaker on Twitter wants to know: Is Eric Gordon a buy-low candidate?

Yes, but buy very low. His knee injury could linger all season, but if he's able to return at 100 percent you're looking at a player who is capable of averaging 22.2 points, 4.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds like he did last year with the Clippers. For the right price he could be a great addition.

@SeductionCity on Twitter wants to know: Should I drop Shumpert for Davis?

Yes, that is a good move to make. Shumpert is likely headed to the bench once Davis gets up to speed with his back injury. Shumpert has had some nice moments this season, but he is averaging just 11.4 points, 3.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds in his past five games. Davis should eclipse those stats when healthy.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyNews . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Rockets to pick up options on Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) The Rockets intend to pick up the fourth-year option on the contracts of Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas, according to the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday. Head coach Kevin McHale also indicated that the power forward position is an "open competition" heading into the start of training camp.

Nets giving Brook Lopez the freedom to take more jumpers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:29 pm ET) Nets head coach Lionel Hollins told reporters he's given center Brook Lopez the freedom to shoot more jumpers this season, per the New York Post.

"It's been a mixture of high post and low post, depending on our set," Lopez said, per the Brooklyn Game. "It's been a lot of moving the ball, we have a lot of smart guys that can move the ball. So we want to take advantage of that."


76ers' Jason Richardson may not play this season
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:24 pm ET) The 76ers have not revealed whether guard Jason Richardson will actually play this season, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday. The 33-year-old missed last season recovering from knee surgery. He is expected to be the highest-paid player entering this season.

"We'll see," general manager Sam Hinkie said. "He'll definitely have a role as a voice on our team. He was helpful in that last year. He wasn't able to contribute for us on the floor, but he contributed in lots of other ways."


Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace could earn minutes at PF
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:32 pm ET) Celtics head coach Brad Stevens indicated that Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace could earn some minutes at power forward to start the season, according to the MetroWest Daily News on Tuesday. The move would likely cut into the playing time of Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass.

Green appeared in all 82 games last season for the Celtics, averaging 16.9 points, 4.6 boards and 1.7 assists per outing. Wallace was limited to 58 games in 2013-14 and averaged only 5.1 points in 24.4 minutes per game.


Pistons' Brandon Jennings worked on adding weight in offseason
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:18 pm ET) Pistons guard Brandon Jennings added weight in the offseason, most of which he lost when he had his jaw wired shut at the beginning of last season. He's hoping the added weight and strength will help him defensively this season, per the Oakland Press.

"I didn't put on 25 pound of muscle or anything like that. I just gained my weight back and I'm excited at the weight I'm at," Jennings said. "I think more on the defensive end it's going to help a lot, just fighting through screens, being tougher and just taking on that challenge on the defensive end. Offensively, it's going to help me hold up more during the season."


Bulls C Joakim Noah taking cautious approach to season
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(4:08 pm ET) Bulls center Joakim Noah hopes he won't be limited by his surgically repaired left knee this season, according to ESPN Chicago on Tuesday.

"Obviously this is the first time I've ever had surgery on my knee so I'm hoping there's no limitations," Noah said. "But I just have to be a little bit more cautious. But it's exciting, it's really exciting. I know that this is a long journey we're about to embark (on) and I just want to be as ready as possible."

Noah enjoyed the best season of his career last year, post averages of 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 80 games. He also won his first Defensive Player of the Year award along with first-team All-NBA honors.


Mavericks G Jameer Nelson receives reps with first unit
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:51 pm ET) Although the Mavericks have not named their starting point guard, the team provided a good hint at who they're leaning on for the start of the season. Jameer Nelson, who head coach Rick Carlisle called a "natural leader," received reps with the first unit during the first practice of training camp on Tuesday, ESPN Dallas reports.

"He's just got a grit and toughness about him that we really need on this team this year," Carlisle, said. "His game is going to help us, but his personality is going to help us, too."


Warriors C Andrew Bogut full participant in practice Tuesday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:30 pm ET) Warriors center Andrew Bogut was a full participant during the first training camp practice on Tuesday, per NBA.com.  Bogut suffered a fractured rib in mid-April and appears to be fully recovered from the ailment. He averaged 7.3 points, 10.0 boards and 1.8 blocks per game over 67 games last season.

James Ennis expected to work behind Luol Deng at SF
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:22 pm ET) The Miami Herald reported that James Ennis will be playing most of his minutes at small forward, behind Luol Deng to start the season. Ennis was acquired by the Heat in a draft-day trade last year. The 24-year-old spent last season playing in Australia. 

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's jump shot 'going in a lot more'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:13 pm ET) Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist worked with assistant coach Mark Price to rebuild his jump shot from ground-up, and the results are starting to show at the start of training camp, according to the Charlotte Observer. Kidd-Gilchrist shot 47.3 percent from the floor in 62 appearances last season.

"Does it feel that different? Well, it’s going in a lot more," Kidd-Gilchrist said. "I believe in the process. I started in April and it feels great."


 
 
 
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