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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
Chris Wright earns multi-year deal
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:48 am ET) The Bucks signed forward Chris Wright to a multi-year contract Tuesday, on the second-to-last day of the season. The deal is likely for the minimum salary, after Wright proved himself on 10-day contracts.

Wright has appeared in seven games with the Bucks and has impressed with his athleticism. He is averaging 6.0 points and 2.1 rebounds per game on 64.3 percent shooting, and has likely earned a spot on the roster for next season. 


Paul Pierce solid in playing through shoulder injury
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:44 am ET) Nets forward Paul Pierce was able to play through a shoulder injury Tuesday, logging 21 minutes in a 109-98 loss to the Knicks. Pierce scored 13 points on 4 of 8 shooting in the game, with one 3-pointer made. He added one rebound, one assist and one steal in the loss.

With the Nets locked into their playoff seeding, Pierce might not even play in the season finale against the Cavaliers Wednesday. If not, he will finish the season averaging 13.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in 75 appearances, the worst averages of his career across the board. 


Darrell Arthur sits out vs. Clippers
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:38 am ET) Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur was unable to play Tuesday against the Clippers, due to a knee injury suffered in the team's previous game. This leaves his status for Wednesday's season-finale against the Warriors in doubt, given the limited time for his injury to improve.  

Ty Lawson misses penultimate game, fifth straight
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:36 am ET) Nuggets guard Ty Lawson missed his fifth game in a row Tuesday against the Clippers, as he continues to deal with an ankle injury.

With just one game left on the schedule, Wednesday against the Warriors, it seems unlikely Lawson will be able to return this season. The normally durable guard has already missed a career-high 19 games, but has been terrific when able to play, averaging 17.6 points, 8.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game.  


Blake Griffin earns 16th tech, suspension
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:33 am ET) Clippers forward Blake Griffin did not travel with the team to Portland for Wednesday's season finale, after picking up his 16th technical foul of the season Tuesday. That technical triggers an automatic suspension, and with just one game left, there isn't a great chance the league will rescind the technical.

The technical was the lone blemish on an otherwise fantastic game for Griffin, as he scored a game-high 24 points on 9 of 17 shooting. He added five rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in a 117-105 win over the Nuggets. 


Mirza Teletovic not with team for final two games
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/15/2014) Nets forward Mirza Teletovic is not with the team Tuesday for the penultimate game of the season against the Knicks, and he won't be there for the season finale against the Cavaliers Wednesday. Teletovic is with his wife after she gave birth to twins.

Teletovic emerged as a key contributor off the bench for the Nets this season, after barely seeing the floor as a rookie. He is averaging 8.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 3-pointers per game in 72 appearances. 


Paul Pierce playing through shoulder "tweak"
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/15/2014) Nets forward Paul Pierce will play through a minor shoulder injury Tuesday against the Knicks, after tweaking it in Sunday's game. Pierce is in the starting lineup against the Knicks, though he might not play his usual role with the Nets gearing up for the playoffs. 

Alan Anderson sits out third in a row
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/15/2014) Nets guard Alan Anderson will miss his third straight game Tuesday against the Knicks, as he continues to deal with an abdominal injury. Anderson has not played in nearly a week, and his status for the season finale Wednesday against the Cavaliers is not yet known.

Torn labrum ends Carmelo Anthony's season
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/15/2014) Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony had an MRI taken Tuesday that showed the extent of the right shoulder injury he has been playing through.

Anthony will miss the team's final two games of the season with a small tear in his labrum, the MRI revealed. The team announced he will not require surgery to repair the injury, and he will be evaluated in a month to determine the extent of the injury. He is expected to be fully recovered in time for the start of next season, though whether he will still be with the Knicks remains to be seen.

Anthony has now suffered a torn labrum at the end of the last two seasons, one in each shoulder. Anthony played in 77 games this season, averaging 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, while shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 40.2 percent from three-point range.  


Goran Dragic out for finale
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(4/15/2014) Suns guard Goran Dragic had been fighting through an ankle injury over the last few games, but he will not be on the floor for the season finale against the Kings.

With the Suns' playoff hopes dashed following their last loss, Dragic will not push his ankle in the season finale Wednesday against the Kings, with the Arizona Republic reporting Tuesday he will be out for the finale.

Dragic has been one of the most improved players in the league this season, registering career-highs in nearly every relevant category. Dragic appeared in 76 games this season, averaging 20.3 points, 5.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game. He shout 50.5 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from three-point range. 


 
 
 
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