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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
Bulls have not guaranteed Pau Gasol a starting job
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/29/2014) Though the Bulls made him their marquee addition this offseason, the Chicago Sun-Times reports Tuesday the team has made no guarantees about Pau Gasol's role.

Gasol, who has started all but 13 of his NBA games in his 14 seasons, has not been guaranteed a starting spot for the Bulls this season. He joins a crowded frontcourt that already features Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, as well as fellow additions Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. Gasol will likely vie for a starting spot with Gibson, but should see time at power forward and center.

Gasol comes to the Bulls on a three-year deal, after averaging 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in 60 appearances -- all starts -- with the Lakers last season. 


James Young recovered from offseason concussion
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/29/2014) Celtics rookie forward James Young missed all of Summer League while recovering from a concussion sustained in a car accident, but is symptom-free as of late July, he told USA Today.

Young, the No. 17 overall pick over of the University of Kentucky, suffered the concussion prior to the draft. He was held out of all activities at the Summer League in Orlando, but has been cleared to practice in recent days. 


Wesley Johnson re-signs with Lakers for one year
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/29/2014) The Lakers announced the re-signing of forward Wesley Johnson Monday, though terms of the deal have not yet been announced.

Johnson appeared in 79 games for the injury-bitten Lakers last season, and put together the most productive season of his career as a result. He averaged 9.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. 


Jan Vesely signing with Turkish team
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/29/2014) Wizards forward Jan Vesely is expected to sign with Fenerbache Ulker of the Turkish Basketball League according to Sportando, likely bringing an end to the former lottery pick's time in the NBA.

Over three disappointing seasons, the 2011 No. 6 overall pick averaged just 3.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 162 appearances. 


Serge Ibaka still recovering from ruptured calf
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/29/2014) Thunder forward Serge Ibaka played through a ruptured calf late in the playoffs last season, and told Bleacher Report Monday he is still not fully healed.

"I'm not 100 percent back yet, but I'm getting better," Ibaka said. "I'm trying to get back in shape and it's going to take time."

Ibaka was intiailly given season-ending prognosis as a result of the injury, but came back for the final four games of the Thunder's six-game series loss to the Spurs. He is planning to play in the upcoming FIBA World Cup, and will presumably be fully healthy by then.

Ibaka led the lead in blocks for the fourth straight season, while averaging career-highs across the board. He put up 15.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 81 games. 


Steve Nash: 'I think this is my last season'
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/29/2014) Lakers guard Steve Nash has struggled through a series of injuries and appears to be just about at the end of his career at the age of 40.

"I think this is my last season," Nash told Sport TV, via the Los Angeles Daily News. "But I still love to play. I love to practice and work on my game. I'm going to spend hopefully many, many years living this life without basketball. It'll be nice to play one more year."

Nash was limited to just 15 games a year ago due to a back injury that also caused nerve problems in his lower body. The Lakers acquired point guard Jeremy Lin this offseason and likely do not expect much from Nash, given his injury issues. 


Xavier Henry re-ups with Lakers for one year
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/29/2014) The Lakers announced the signing of forward Xavier Henry to a one-year contract Friday.

Henry, was productive when healthy for the Lakers last season, averaging 10.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in 43 appearances. He is recovering from wrist and knee surgeries this offseason.  


Suns waive Dionte Christmas
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/29/2014) The Suns released guard Dionte Christmas Thursday, the team announced.

Christmas appeared in 31 games during his rookie season with the Suns, but barely made an impact. He averaged just 2.3 points and 1.2 rebounds per game, and will likely have trouble finding work for the 2014-15 season. 


Mavericks add Ivan Johnson for training camp
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/29/2014) The Mavericks announced the signing of forward Ivan Johnson Tuesday, after he spent a season playing in China.

Johnson was last in the NBA when he spent two seasons with the Hawks. He receives an unguaranteed deal from the Mavericks for training camp, after averaging 6.5 points per game over his two seasons in Atlanta.  


Magic announce signing of Devyn Marble
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(7/29/2014) The Magic signed second-round pick Devyn Marble to a three-year deal at the conclusion of Summer League, the Orlando Sentinel  reported.

Marble's first season will be guaranteed, after he was the 56th overall pick in the draft out of the University of Iowa. Marble appeared in33 games with Iowa, averaging 17.0 points and 3.6 assists per game as a senior. 


 
 
 
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