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Offseason Extra: Who's on the move?

by | Fantasy Writer
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The NBA offseason is a time of certain uncertainty. What's Stan Van Gundy going to do with the Pistons' roster? Which young free agents will leave the nest? How's this much-hyped draft going to shake out?

But the biggest questions may boil down to a handful of not-exactly-satisfied stars and what uniform they'll be wearing by the end of next season. I'll run through a handful of Fantasy stalwarts, weighing in on whether they're on the move, staying put or possibly even teaming up with one another.

LeBron James

ADP Rank: No. 1 overall
2013-2014 season: Finished third in total Fantasy points

As expected, LeBron James opted out of his current deal, forgoing $20.6 million and becoming an unrestricted free agent. Whether this means James is looking for a new home or simply hoping to renovate his current one remains to be seen.

His future likely depends more on Dwyane Wade and what he chooses to do with his player option. If he opts in, James will probably look for a team with more to offer in terms of cap room and a younger, hungrier roster. If Wade opts out, then it likely means the big three is working to stay intact. Bosh will likely follow suit.

Regardless, for Fantasy purposes, consider LeBron on the downturn. He's basically played five seasons' worth of games in the last four years. It's clear that he's worn out and could use some help. Therefore, it would make sense that all the teams that attempt to woo him, including Miami, will sell him on how they'll ease his burden and relieve some of the pressure he felt in the quest for a threepeat. Talent-wise, Houston and the Clippers make the most sense, but they represent completely different Fantasy outlooks. In Houston, he'd be the central facilitator -- meaning it's not far-fetched to envision 10-plus assists per game. But with the Clippers, Chris Paul would still run the show and James would be forced to play with a true point guard for practically the first time in his life.

Still, the most realistic scenario is a return to Miami with a younger, more athletic supporting cast. If that's the case, expect near identical numbers and efficiency from James. Younger Fantasy studs like Stephen Curry, John Wall and Blake Griffin are nipping at his heels, but I've always taken more stock in a player's situation than his overall talent level. James' decision No. 2 will likely have a ripple effect that changes roles and rosters across the league, so wait until the dust has settled to start assessing draft stock.

Kevin Love

ADP Rank: No. 6 overall
2013-2014 season: Finished second in total Fantasy points

Kevin Love is as good as gone, but his destination isn't so clear. The Warriors came close, but talks stalled out. The Celtics have the picks, but Minnesota wants players too. Can Cleveland tempt them with the No. 1 pick? Will a draft-day trade ultimately decide his fate?

The thing to remember for Fantasy is that wherever Love ends up, he's not really going to be better statistically than he was last season. His usage rate in Minnesota this past season was in Blake Griffin/Al Jefferson territory, so he was already very much the focal point. The only thing to watch out for in reassessing his value is just how good the team around him will be. More All Stars equals fewer opportunities to dominate, which is great for a guy trying to make the playoffs for the first time in his career but not so great for his Fantasy value.

Right now he's a top-five pick, and he'll stay that way if he moves to Boston. But should the Celtics land other top free agents or Love get traded to a talented team like the Warriors or Rockets, you might consider dropping Love to top-ten range. I just can't see Love improving on, or even maintaining, 25-plus points, 12-plus rebounds and 4-plus assists per game in a crowded lineup. Only seven guys in the history of the league have achieved that line for a season. And of those seven, only Elgin Baylor and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were able to do it in back-to-back seasons.

Boston seems like the best spot for Love as far as Fantasy is concerned. He'll have basically a more athletic Ricky Rubio at the helm in Rajon Rondo and will still be an extremely high-usage player, as opposed to in a more crowded lineup with the Warriors. Those looking to draft Love next season should hope he avoids any big three/super team scenarios as not to cut down on his astronomical production.

Carmelo Anthony

ADP Rank: No. 9 overall
2013-2014 season: Finished seventh in total Fantasy points

As the Knicks' sad, sad season was winding down, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Anthony would choose to terminate his contract early and see what else is out there. Now he's done so, meaning he'll see what other teams can offer him before deciding whether or not to spend another highly lucrative waste of a year in New York.

Phil Jackson's already shown his inexperience in the front office by losing out on coaching candidate Steve Kerr (once thought to be a sure-thing) and by getting fined $25,000 in his pursuit of still-in-the-playoffs Derek Fisher. I'm still not convinced that Jackson actually cares about turning the Knicks around so much as he was bored and wanted back into the league without having to pinky whistle on the sidelines again. $12 million is a great cure for boredom.

If Anthony stays, look forward to another ultra-high usage season where he's asked to do everything every game -- great for Fantasy. If he bolts, it will likely to try and form another "super team" in Chicago, Boston or elsewhere, meaning he'll get to relax and worry more about developing chemistry than dragging his team into the playoffs.

One thing to watch when he does decide is whether he'll stick to the stretch four he's been playing or move back to the perimeter where he began his career. Having the paint mostly to himself allowed Anthony to snatch a career-high 8.1 rebounds per game this past season. Expect that number to go down if he moves back to the three.

Rajon Rondo

ADP Rank: No. 66 overall
2013-2014 season: Averaged 34.8 Fantasy points per game

If there's a blockbuster trade about to go down in the league, I'd put my money on the Celtics being a part of it. It's not just the plethora of first round picks in their back pocket. Rajon Rondo is no spring chicken anymore. At 28 years old and coming off knee surgery, he doesn't strike me as the patient type – especially considering he won an NBA Championship in his second year and continued to go deep into the playoffs for the next several years.

The East is weak, and Danny Ainge has the guile and assets to make major upgrades in the talent surrounding Rondo. Kevin Love makes the most sense, as we've already seen how productive he can be with a tall, pass-first point guard. Rondo is pretty much a more athletic Ricky Rubio. But rumor has it the Celtics could be gearing up to bring two big names to Boston this offseason. Carmelo Anthony maybe? Chandler Parsons possibly?

There's also a small chance that the blockbuster pendulum swings the other way and Rajon Rondo is dealt, pushing the Celtics to go all-in on the total rebuild. That doesn't seem like Ainge's style though, and something clearly has to give here. It just doesn't make sense to surround a 10-plus assist player with raw youngsters only to watch him walk away in 2015. That's why they'll value for him now by dealing him, or give him a reason to stay beyond next season by surrounding him with competitive talent.

Rondo was still awesome for Fantasy in the 30 games he gave us last season, but the frequent rest and the unpredictable teammates made conditions less than ideal. I'm hoping Ainge whips up some 2007 trade magic, allowing Rondo free lanes to the basket with ample targets to choose from. The waiting hands of Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and Aaron Gordon won't be enough to keep Rondo or Fantasy owners happy.

Kyle Lowry

ADP Rank: No. 68 overall
2013-2014 season: Finished ninth in total Fantasy points

Considering where he ended the season compared to where he was drafted, Lowry was easily the biggest surprise in Fantasy. But that production might not have been enough for him to get paid like a top-tier point guard.

One of the biggest problems is there aren't a whole lot of other situations that make sense for him. There are only so many teams that might offer Lowry in the first place. When guys like Jameer Nelson, Jeff Teague, Brandon Jennings and George Hill are owed $8 million next season from their respective teams, it’s hard to find a franchise that would be willing to pay Lowry what he earned with last season’s production. Maybe the Lakers? Can the Heat afford him? Who knows?

Chandler Parsons

ADP Rank: No. 53 overall
2013-2014 season: Finished 45th in total Fantasy points

Speaking of restricted free agency, the Rockets are leaning toward declining the super affordable team option for Parsons' contract, meaning he too could be on the semi-open market. Since Houston has also been rumored to be searching for another All Star, declining the Parsons option seems like an insurance policy in case they don't land anyone big.

If they pick it up, they'll pay him a tiny amount next season, but that could open the door for a huge pay day in unrestricted free agency next summer. Instead, they'll likely give Parsons a more moderate raise sooner, even if it means allowing him to field offers from the rest of the league. But unlike point guard, forward is not so deep, meaning an ambitious team could end up with Parsons next season if it pushed his price high enough.

One thing the Rockets would miss out on is his 4.0 assists per game, specifically when it comes to entry passes to Dwight Howard. With no true point guard, Houston relied heavily on Parsons' ability to handle the ball at 6-foot-9 -- much like recent championship Lakers teams did with Lamar Odom. It will be very interesting to see if this translates to a less talented team – the kind of team that might be inclined to pay Parsons more than the Rockets next season.

The majority of restricted free agents end up staying put, but this one seems like it has the best chance of going the other way. Parsons' basketball value was magnified by how little Houston had to pay him. I can't say for sure that the money needed to shake him loose will be well spent. In the end his fate will likely be determined by how the higher-priced trade chips fall – those being the first three guys of this column.

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Player News
Warriors PF Marreese Speights out for Game 3 against Rockets
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(5:37 pm ET) Marreese Speights will not play for the Warriors in their Game 3 matchup against the Rockets on Saturday, per Jimmy Spencer of Fox Sports.

Speights is dealing with a moderate right calf strain, which has kept him out since Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.


Lakers' Kupchak says PG Clarkson reminds him of Russell Westbrook
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:57 pm ET) Lakers point guard Jordan Clarkson is riding high as of late. He was recently named to the NBA's All-Rookie First Team and now his general manager Mitch Kupchak is comparing him to the Thunder's Russell Westbrook, per ESPN.com.

"If there’s a player in the league that plays like him, it’s Russell Westbrook," Kupchak said. "Now, I’m not saying for a second that Jordan Clarkson is the next Russell Westbrook, but he’s that kind of a ball-handling guard."

The Lakers drafted Clarkson with the 46th pick in the 2014 draft. An injury-riddled roster helped Clarkson gain significant playing time.

In 38 games as a starter, Clarkson averaged 15.8 points, 5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game.


Doc Rivers on son: 'I really want him back, would be great'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(4:22 pm ET) Clippers coach Doc Rivers didn't make a move to acquire his son, Austin Rivers, when he was first advised to do so. Now he's hoping to have the free-agent back on the team next season.

General manager Dave Wohl suggested Doc sign Austin before the start of last season, but Doc waivered. The Clippers instead signed Jordan Farmar, who they would later release before trading for Austin at the trade deadline.

“It was a gamble for me personally,” Doc Rivers said. “It was just a tough one for me. I was on the other side of not wanting to do it, and I’m glad I listened to people for a change. I wasn’t so stubborn. I give Dave Wohl credit, before the season started and we signed Jordan or anyone, he wanted that to happen and I didn’t hear any of that.

“In retrospect, it would have been nice to have him the whole year. It would have been better. That was a mistake. I probably should have.”

Austin showcased his potential in the Clippers' playoff loss to the Rockets. He scored 25 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out two assists in Game 5 of the series.

He opened enough eyes that his dad is hoping he takes a discount to stay with the organization, he even threatened to call his mother.

“He's young and he clearly helped us, I think we all have to agree with that,” Doc Rivers said. “And I think he loved it here. I even think he liked the coach at times.

“You know, it'll be interesting. I really want him back and I think it would be great to have him back, and I think he's a great fit for this team. But business is business and it'll be an interesting thing this summer.”


Rockets C Dwight Howard probable for Game 3
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:46 pm ET) Rockets center Dwight Howard has been upgraded to probable for Game 3 of the Western Conference finals Saturday in Houston.

That designation indicates that Howard, who has been hampered by a knee problem, came through Game 2 without a setback.

Howard certainly improved his performance Thursday, racking up 19 points and 17 rebounds in 40 minutes against Golden State. He managed just seven points and 13 boards in 26 minutes in the series opener.


Hawks' Bazemore primed to step up if Carroll can't go for Game 2
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:37 pm ET) With Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll ruled a game-time decision for Game 2 against the Cavaliers, Kent Bazemore is preparing to fill in that defensive-oriented role, according to AJC.com.

If Carroll does not play, Bazemore will undoubtedly have the task of defending Cavs forward LeBron James. Bazemore, though, is not shying away from that challenge.

“It’s great,” Bazemore said. “It’s a great platform to show what you can do. They brought me here as a defender and that’s my job. What a great measuring stick to go up against one of the best. … It’s tough but it’s what you sign up for. It’s a challenge I love. I love guarding the best players. I’ve been doing it all my life. This is no different. The tools I have and the preparation up to this point, I think I’ve prepared myself to do a good job.”

Bazemore is averaging 4.2 points and 2.8 rebounds per game during the playoffs.


Lakers GM: Kobe 'has indicated to me that this is it'
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:17 pm ET)
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said that the upcoming 2015-16 season will be the last for perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant, per ESPN.com.

"He has indicated to me that this is it," Kupchak said.

Bryant, who will be 37 years old when the season begins, is entering the final year of a two-year, $48.5 million dollar extension with the team.

"I think first and foremost, he's on the last year of a deal," Kupchak said. "There have been no discussions about anything going forward. I don't think there will be."

Kupchak said that if anything changes and Bryant wants to continue playing past his current contract, negotiations can be had. Bryant's last three seasons have been cut short because of injury. Last season, he was limited to 35 games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

"A year from now, if there's something different to discuss, then it will be discussed then," Kupchak said. "I talk to him from time to time ... and he is recovering. He's running. He's getting movement and strength in the shoulder. We expect a full recovery, but yeah, he's much closer to the end than to the beginning."

Kobe Bryant might be ready to walk away aftrer next year.  (Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant might be ready to walk away after next year. (Getty Images)


Cavs' Dellavedova: 'I will be ready for whatever' in wake of Irving injury
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(1:00 pm ET) With Kyrie Irving listed as questionable for Game 2 against the Hawks on Friday, Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova is primed to take on a bigger, more crucial role, per Cleveland.com.

"I will be ready for whatever the team needs," Dellavedova said when asked about the possibility of starting. "It will probably mean a lot more minutes so I might have to adjust my game a little there, but not too much."

Though Irving is the Cavs' second-leading scorer, it was Dellavedova who came up big in the team's closeout win over the Bulls in Game 6 of the previous series. Dellavedova scored a season-high 19 points on 7of 11 shooting, including 3 of 5 from behind the arc.

"Delly has done great work for us all season coming from the bench and he has started other times during the season," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "He's been a consistent rotation guy for us and he's a dependable and high character guy that gives us an awful lot. We believe in him, our guys believe in him and he's ready."

Iman Shumpert is also capable of filling in for Irving during stretches. Shumpert is averaging 9.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per games during the playoffs.


Blatt: Cavaliers PG Kyrie Irving will decide fate Friday night
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:36 pm ET) David Blatt has indicated that Cavaliers ailing guard Kyrie Irving will make the final decision as to whether he plays in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night in Atlanta, per the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Irving expressed optimism heading into the series that the pain in his left knee and right foot had subsided, but if anything he was more limited than ever in the series opener. He re-aggravated the knee injury during the game and played only three of the last 18 minutes as his team put away the Hawks.

The guard did not attend shootaround Friday. He instead received further treatment and evaluation as an MRI was planned.

"My understanding is like most injuries, it's a combination of pain management and what the physical symptons are," Blatt said.

Irving was not invisible in Game 1, but his struggles trying to finish off drives to the basket were again evident. He did manage 10 points and six assists in 27 minutes.


Wizards F Kris Humphries working to expand his range
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:28 am ET) Wizards veteran Kris Humphries has come to the realization that he might need to re-invent himself as a stretch forward to maximize his potential to remain a viable player in the NBA, according to CSNWashington.com.

And that means expanding his shooting range to beyond the arc.

That would be quite a departure for Humphires, who made two 3-pointers as a rookie and none since.

"I never really worked on shooting threes and stuff," he said. "I started working on it this year. I had a lot of success in the last month (practicing) and I was working on it every day."

Humphries was a forgotten man in the playoffs, playing just five total minutes after averaging 21 minutes a game in the regular season.


Hawks SF DeMarre Carroll wearing knee brace Friday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:12 am ET) Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll, who is questionable for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night against Cleveland, is wearing a knee brace at shootaround, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Carroll sustained what was diagnosed as a knee bruise in the series opener Wednesday. The injury appeared far worse when he writhed in pain and was later helped off the court without putting any pressure on the leg.

His presence would be critical for Atlanta. Carroll is the team's leading scorer in the playoffs and is responsible for guarding Cleveland superstar LeBron James.


 
 
 
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