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Courtside Seat: Back in the nick of time?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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The Fantasy playoffs are approaching in many leagues, and owners want to know if some of their injured stars will be there to help. We're not about to play doctor, but we can take a look at the injury report to help you make some decisions.

For example, you should expect someone like Nikola Pekovic (ankle) or Rodney Stuckey (toe) to return soon since their injuries haven't kept them out for an extended period of time. We hope the same could be said about Tony Parker (hamstring), who was injured Wednesday.

What we're here to do is look at injuries that have kept players out for several games or even weeks and evaluate whether or not they can return in time for the playoffs to make a difference to a championship run. Otherwise, it might be time to cut them and add someone who can actually help your roster.

Andray Blatche, PF, Wizards
Injury: Calf
Expected return: Early April
Will he help you in the playoffs: No
The Wizards decided to shut down Blatche so he could work on his conditioning after being out almost all of February with a calf injury. He should return in time for the Fantasy playoffs in most formats, but he is not worth waiting for. Blatche is having a down year at 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds, and the Wizards will likely feature new center Nene and give Trevor Booker a longer look at power forward. You should be able to find more production elsewhere than Blatche.

Stephen Curry, PG, Warriors
Injury: Ankle
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: No
The Warriors are hoping to get Curry back at some point this season, but they are not going to play him until he's 100 percent. Since Golden State will miss the playoffs, there's no need for Curry to rush back. He could be headed toward the best production of his career once he does return with Monta Ellis now traded to Milwaukee, but we hope Curry doesn't have ankle and foot problems the rest of his career.

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Danilo Gallinari, SF, Nuggets
Injury: Thumb
Expected return: Early April
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
Gallinari suffered a fracture on his left, non-shooting hand, and he is going to try and play through the injury even though doctors told him he could be out four weeks. Gallinari was just getting back to his old form after being out 13 games with a sprained left ankle, but he could still be a starting option in most leagues if he plays through the thumb injury. His rebounding could take a hit, but hopefully he can continue to score as long as the thumb doesn't bother him.

Brook Lopez, C, Nets
Injury: Ankle
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: No
Lopez was just starting to play like a star again when he suffered the ankle injury. He had missed the first 32 games of the season with a broken foot, but he finally started to look healthy before he went down again. The Nets hope he can return this season, but they won't rush him back since they're out of the playoff race. Lopez has more value to them long-term and they obviously hope he can return at 100 percent. The only problem is that won't happen this year.

Kyle Lowry, PG, Rockets
Injury: Illness
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
Lowry has been one of the best Fantasy options this year since he was drafted in Round 5 based on his Average Draft Position but has performed like a Top 20 player. We hope he can return soon, and the Rockets could definitely use him for a playoff push. Goran Dragic has been fantastic since Lowry went down, but Lowry is a stat stuffer in all categories. He might take a while to get back to 100 percent, but he is worth waiting for based on his talent.

Kevin Martin, SG, Rockets
Injury: Shoulder
Expected return: Day to day
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
Martin's injury has lingered longer than expected, and he could return any game now from his shoulder injury, which has kept him out for five games. Martin should be able to close the season strong, and hopefully coach Kevin McHale will give him the minutes to be successful. The problem for Martin is since he went down Courtney Lee has emerged, but Martin is the better player and should earn his spot back once he's healthy.

Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls
Injury: Groin
Expected return: Day to day
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
The Bulls are going to be cautious with Rose because they want to make sure he is 100 percent healthy for the NBA playoffs. That isn't a good thing for Fantasy owners, but it doesn't sound like Rose will miss several weeks. And once he gets back on the court he should be able to play at an MVP level again. Rose has struggled with injuries all year, but he should be a difference maker for Fantasy owners in the playoffs once he gets past this groin problem.

Anderson Varejao, C, Cavaliers
Injury: Wrist
Expected return: Late March
Will he help you in the playoffs: Yes
The Cavs are hoping Varejao is ready to return by the end of March and help them with a potential playoff push after he broke his wrist Feb. 10. He was having a career season before he went down at 10.8 points and 11.5 rebounds, and we hope he can pick up where he left off. Fantasy owners who stashed Varejao will be getting a No. 2 Fantasy center, and with the lack of talent at that position he will help as a huge addition to a playoff roster.

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.

Guys on the rise

Here is a look at the five players who have improved their performance over the past seven days. We want to let you know if they can keep it up at this level.

Luke Ridnour, PG, Timberwolves
Key stats for the past seven days: 11.6 points, 7.4 assists, 1.2 steals

Nate Robinson, PG, Warriors
Key stats for the past seven days: 13.3 points, 6.8 assists, 2.0 steals

Jason Thompson, PF, Kings
Key stats for the past seven days: 16.0 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists

Klay Thompson, SG, Warriors
Key stats for the past seven days: 20.0 points, 1.5 steals, 12 3-pointers

Marcus Thornton, SG, Kings
Key stats for the past seven days: 30.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 steals

Ridnour had a rough game Wednesday at San Antonio and was outplayed by J.J. Barea, but Ridnour should close the season on a high note with Ricky Rubio (torn ACL) out. Robinson has stepped up with Curry out, and Thompson has done a nice job replacing Ellis for the Warriors. Thompson has really shined and should finish strong with J.J. Hickson no longer in Sacramento. We hope Thornton can also stay hot, but he could lose some production once Tyreke Evans (ankle) is back at 100 percent.

Free agent watch

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

Boris Diaw, SF, free agent
Owned: 56 percent of leagues

Chandler Parsons, SF, Rockets
Owned: 36 percent of leagues

Ben Gordon, SG, Pistons
Owned: 36 percent of leagues

Courtney Lee, SG, Rockets
Owned: 13 percent of leagues

Gary Neal, PG, Spurs
Owned: 8 percent of leagues

Diaw recently received a buyout from the Bobcats, and while it's unlikely he will land in a spot where he can get increased playing time, you never know based on his skill set. He needs to get in shape, but Diaw could be useful in deeper formats. The Rockets have gotten quality production from Lee with Martin out, and he could be a short-term investment. Parsons has been playing well of late with 11.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists in his past five games, and he has benefited with the injuries in Houston as well. Gordon had 45 points and eight assists against Denver on Wednesday with Stuckey out, and he's worth a look since he can get hot at any moment. And Neal could benefit if Parker is out for an extended period of time since he has done well in the past when Parker has missed time.

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
Heat add Reggie Williams
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/16/2014) The Heat signed guard Reggie Williams to a free-agency contract last week, the team announced. Terms of the deal are not known.

Williams appeared in just three games for the Thunder last season, and has played 180 games over parts of five NBA seasons. He averages 8.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 46.0 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from three-point range for his career.  


Isaiah Thomas undergoes wrist surgery
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/15/2014) Suns newcomer Isaiah Thomas underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist, the team announced Thursday.

Thomas dealt with a sprained wrist last season but was able to play through it on his way to a career year. An MRI in February revealed no ligament damage, which would indicate this latest procedure is nothing to worry about. The team expects him to be ready for training camp. 


DeMarcus Cousins avoids serious injury at Team USA practice
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/15/2014) Kings center DeMarcus Cousins dodged a bullet Thursday when the MRI on his right knee came back negative.

According to Yahoo Sports, Cousins limped off the court during a Team USA training session after Anthony Davis landed on his knee during a scrimmage. Cousins later tweeted that he was "fine," helping to suppress any concerns of a serious injury. 


Pacers shopping Roy Hibbert, call Pistons about Greg Monroe
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) The Pacers are shopping center Roy Hibbert, and they have called the Pistons regarding a potential deal involving restricted free agent Greg Monroe, Detroit Sports 105.1 reports.

There's no word about whether the Pistons would be interested in a Monroe-for-Hibbert spot, but they are pretty well set in the middle with Andre Drummond in the starting lineup. It's a rumor that seemingly has very little chance of coming to fruition.


Rockets sign Kostas Papanikolaou
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) The Rockets have signed small forward Kostas Papanikolaou .

Papanikolaou gets $4.8 million guaranteed in the upcoming season, with a team option of $4.6 million for the following season. He has been playing in Europe since being drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft.


Report: Greg Oden faces felony charge
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) Free agent Greg Oden is facing a felony charge after allegedly attacking his former girlfriend after a night of drinking, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Oden is accused of punching the woman in the face three times and fracturing a bone in her nose, according to court documents. The felony offense carries a penaly of one-to-six years in prison.


Markel Brown out with broken hand
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(8/11/2014) Nets guard Markel Brown will be held out of basketball activities for four-to-six weeks after being diagnosed with a nondisplaced fracture of the fourth metacarpal in his right hand, the team announced Monday.

Brown was selected 44th overall in this year's draft, and the Nets acquired him for cash considerations on the night of the draft. He averaged 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in his senior season at Oklahoma State.


Report: Wolves to swap Anthony Bennett for Thaddeus Young
by Joe Polito | CBSSports.com
(8/8/2014) Though the trade can't go official until August 23, the deal reportedly struck between the Cavaliers and Timberwolves will lead to another trade between Minnesota and the 76ers.

The Philadelphia Daily News reported early Friday that Minnesota, upon receiving Anthony Bennett from the Cavs as part of the Kevin Love trade, would then trade him for Thaddeus Young. The Timberwolves have been showing interest in Young since Love stated his desire to be traded.

Meanwhile, the 76ers want to move Young because he's entering his prime at age 26 and only has one additional year left on his contract. Acquiring Bennett would complete a core of young talent to develop over the coming years. Young was one of the most productive forwards in the league last year playing in Brett Brown's up-tempo offense, averaging 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Bennett, on the other hand, failed to make any impact what so ever but did show signs of growth during the Summer League. 


Landing in Minnesota should improve Andrew Wiggins' value
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/7/2014) The prize of the trade that ultimately sent Kevin Love to Cleveland will likely be the Timberwolves' acquisition of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins , assuming there are no unexpected changes in the deal the two sides agreed to.

If Wiggins does ultimately land in Minnesota, as expected, this should be a boon to his Fantasy value. Though Wiggins will have substantially less help as he makes the transition to the NBA than he would have in Cleveland, he is also likely to be much more of a featured option than he otherwise might have been.

Wiggins was likely going to be the third or possibly even fourth offensive option for the Cavs, and likely would have been so for some time, given the presence of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on long-term deals. Now, the Timberwolves get to build around Wiggins as their long-term centerpiece, and he should be given plenty of rope as the team tries to navigate their upcoming rebuild.

Wiggins is raw, but still put up 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds in 32.8 minutes per game as a freshman at the University of Kansas. There are some questions about how well his game will translate to the NBA, but he will at least have some help, in the form of point guard Ricky Rubio, who knows exactly how to set up teammates for shots they like.

Wiggins is mostly upside right now, but should be considered a second-round pick in all keeper-league Fantasy formats. In yearly re-draft leagues, he is more of a mid-round option at this point, albeit one with tremendous upside. 


Anthony Bennett a bit more intriguing following trade
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(8/7/2014) After a rookie season that can be charitably described as lost, a change of scenery is probably the best outcome Anthony Bennett could have hoped for this offseason. He got that Thursday, with the news that the long-awaited Kevin Love trade has landed him in Minnesota.

Last year's No. 1 overall pick luckily doesn't have to join the Cavaliers with the pressure of replacing Love as the face of the franchise -- this year's No. 1 pick, Andrew Wiggin, will take that on. Bennett gets to join a Timberwolves team that can give him more consistent playing time than last year's Cavaliers afforded him, but which won't ask him to do more than he is capable.

Bennett might end up starting at power forward for the Wolves, though a bench role seems more likely at this point. He had a disastrous rookie season after entering the season out of shape, but appeared to be in better shape while playing with the Cavaliers during the Summer League in Las Vegas. He still shot the ball poorly in Vegas -- 42.6 percent from the field and just 4 of 16 from three-point range -- but Bennett looked much more capable during his time there.

Based on his rookie season, Bennett has a long way to go before he is contributing at a high level. However, Fantasy owners in deeper category-based leagues should consider taking a chance on the 21-year-old in the later rounds, because he will have the chance to earn a large role if he proves worthy. 


 
 
 
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