Posts Tagged ‘Marreese Speights’

Morning shootaround — March 29



VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played March 28

NEWS OF THE MORNING
Beverley tears miniscus | LeBron wowed by mega-baseball contract | Not just L.A. on Love’s mind | Curry buries the Grizzlies | Wolves eye Hoiberg

No. 1: Rockets point guard out indefinitely — Houston Rockets starting point guard Patrick Beverley, the man who collided with Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook and tore his meniscus in last year’s first-round playoff series, is out indefinitely after tearing the meniscus in his right knee Thursday against Philadelphia. The Rockets will now have to make do without their top perimeter defender. Our own Fran Blinebury details how Beverley’s absence will affect Houston’s title aspirations:

For a team that has ridden the All-Star exploits of James Harden and Dwight Howard to the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference playoff race, Beverley plays a critical role.

The 25-year-old Chicago native who was drafted and cut by Heat, then toiled overseas in Russia, puts significant bite into the face of the Rockets’ defense.

Jeremy Lin can step back into the starting lineup and give the Rockets offense, but he is not the tenacious, in-your-face type defender that the Rockets will need in the playoffs to go against elite level point guards such as Westbrook, Tony Parker, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Stephen Curry and Mike Conley.

While Lin is flashy and creative and can fill up the basket with points when he gets on a roll, it is the just plain down-to-earth toughness of Beverley that often stands out, especially in a backcourt where Harden does not especially like to play defense.
Coach Kevin McHale said it would be 7-10 days before the Rockets would know a timetable for Beverley’s return.

Beverley has played in 53 of the Rockets’ 71 games, missing time with a hand injury. He has averaged 9.9 points in 31.3 minutes while taking over the starting role from Lin this season, but it’s that defensive bite and overall toughness that the Rockets would miss most. Sometimes it’s the littlest pieces of the puzzle that are hardest to replace.

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No. 2: LeBron would take Cabrera deal — Major League Baseball does not have a salary cap and that means some mighty contracts never even imagined in the NBA become reality. Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was the latest example Friday when he inked a contract that will pay him $292 million over the next 10 years. It makes LeBron James‘ $19 million this season seem like charitable donation. ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst puts it into context:

“I said ‘wow,’ ” James said before the Miami Heat played the Detroit Pistons on Friday. “I wish we (the NBA) didn’t have a salary cap.”

James will earn $19 million this season with the Heat, tied with teammate Chris Bosh for the ninth-highest in the NBA as part of a six-year, $109 million deal he signed in 2010.

“He’s the best player in baseball, and the best players in each sport should be rewarded,” James said. “It’d be nice to sign a 10-year deal worth $300 million.”

James earns about $40 million per year off the floor in endorsements, most of that coming from his deal with Nike, which reportedly is worth $19 million per year.

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No. 3: Not only L.A. on Love’s mind? — If Timberwolves double-double machine Kevin Love, set to become a free agent in 2015, makes it clear to management he won’t re-sign, Minnesota president Flip Saunders might be forced to look for a trade. The former UCLA Bruin has long been rumored to be headed for the Lakers, but Los Angeles might not be the only big city suitable to arguably the game’s top stretch power forward. ESPNLA.com’s Dave McMenamin has more:

After the league endured the “Dwightmare” and “Melodrama,” get ready for “Lovesick.”

The six-year veteran, only 25 years old, is the apple of just about every team set to have cap space in the summer of 2015’s eye.

Timberwolves president Flip Saunders will do everything he can to keep Love, who is fourth in the league in scoring at 26.3 points per game and third in rebounding at 12.6 per game this season. And Minnesota will have the advantage of being able to offer a five-year extension, versus a four-year deal from any other team.

But if Love makes it clear that he has no intention to re-up with the Wolves, Saunders will be forced to shop Love or risk seeing him walk for nothing in return.

Which is where the Lakers come in.

Love’s ties to L.A. are undeniable. He went to college at UCLA. His father, Stan, played for the Lakers — and coincidentally was on the 1974-75 team, a.k.a. the worst team in Lakers history up until this season, so his son could help make up for that. And Love was born in Santa Monica, to boot.

“You know, my parents live there and they had me there,” Love said of L.A., after his Wolves beat the Lakers for the third time in four tries to win the season series Friday. “It’s not my fault. So, I don’t really care about that right now. I just go out there and play and don’t think about it.”

While Love downplayed his interest, the Lakers clearly could use a player of Love’s caliber to jump-start their rebuilding process. Especially with Kobe Bryant recently putting the screws to management to turn things around as soon as possible so he can contend for another championship in the twilight of his career.

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported Friday the Lakers would be willing to trade their upcoming pick in the heralded NBA draft — likely to be in the top half of the lottery — to land Love.

While Minnesota could certainly decide to go that route and hit the restart button, there is no assurance that the Lakers are truly Love’s most desired destination.

A source familiar with Love’s thinking told ESPNLosAngeles.com that it’s not just L.A. that is appealing to Love; he’s enamored with the idea of being “big time in a big city,” and that list of potential places he’d seek includes New York and Chicago, as well.

Love himself told GQ in February that his situation in Minnesota might be better than L.A. could offer anyway.

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No. 4: Curry’s 33 fends off Grizzlies — The Golden State Warriors were minutes away from the No. 6 seed they’ve held for the majority of the season slipping away to the visiting and hard-charging Memphis Grizzlies. Then Stephen Curry came to the rescue yet again. The All-Star swished a 3-pointer and dropped in a scoop shot as the Warriors, playing without forward David Lee and center Andrew Bogut, who left the game in the first quarter, closed out the Grizzlies with a 14-0 run in the 109-103 win. It sent the Grizzlies from the verge of the 6-seed to No. 8. Diamond Leung of the Oakland Tribune was there:

“We’ll never quit and understand we have the weapons to pack a heavy punch at any given time,” Curry said.

Coach Mark Jackson demanded that Curry have the ball in crunch time, and the star guard delivered with the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:21 left and a subsequent scoop shot to pad the lead. Memphis could not muster a response, missing its final seven shots.

Marreese Speights added 15 points and eight rebounds in his first start with the Warriors while replacing an injured David Lee (right hamstring strain). The Warriors were still able to grab a 43-33 rebounding edge without their top two rebounders for most of the game, pleasing Jackson with the way his team competed in difficult circumstances.

Bogut was injured after getting kneed and ran the court with an obvious limp before checking out of the game for good with 7:59 left in the first quarter. He did not return and was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Saturday, according to Jackson.

Jermaine O’Neal had 10 points and six rebounds in 34 hard-fought minutes. Also off the bench, Draymond Green had 12 points and nine rebounds, hitting two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and providing strong defense on Memphis leading scorer Zach Randolph.

“There’s a guy that came into this league, and people probably said, ‘Why is he shooting threes? He should stop shooting threes,’ ” Jackson said. “And he’s winning ballgames with us, knocking down shots and making huge plays on the defensive end. The guy is a tremendous warrior.”

The Warriors would have taken a tumble down the standings with a loss but instead kept pace with the rest of the Western Conference and remained 1½ games ahead of No. 7 seed Phoenix. The win also evened up the season series 2-2 with Memphis, which dropped to No. 8 with the loss.

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No. 5: A return to the Timberwolves? — Speculation is growing that Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman will invoke his right to opt out of his contract this summer. If he does, the franchise is expected to go after one of its former executives and current Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein provides the background:

If Adelman indeed walks away this time, at 67, there are two natural courses for the Wolves to pursue.

The obvious response is [Flip] Saunders, part-owner as well as team prez, heading downstairs to reclaim his old floor seat to see if he can be the guy who finally brings a halt to the league’s longest postseason drought, which dates to the Wolves’ 2004 Western Conference finals team coached by Saunders.

But that might be too obvious.

There have been no clear-cut signals that Saunders is prepared to leave the executive suite to return to coaching.

There is also another textbook candidate out there for Minnesota to chase with long-standing Wolves ties: Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg.

Widely regarded as the most NBA-ready college coach in the game, Hoiberg was a Wolves executive for four years before leaving the pros to coach the Cyclones. It should be noted that Saunders is close with Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, as well, but the rumbles out of Sota are getting louder that the Wolves are going to court Hoiberg hard if they, as expected, have an opening.

An opening, rather, that Saunders declines to fill himself.

And all of that makes Friday one of the more pertinent days left on the 2013-14 calendar for long-suffering Wolves fans.

That’s because Hoiberg will be coaching Iowa State against UConn in a Sweet 16 game at Madison Square Garden … and because Saunders will be there watching.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Lakers make (the wrong kind of) history again in epic loss … Anthony Davis leaves game in first quarter with a left ankle injuryVince Carter thinks he’s earned the right to re-sign with DallasKevin Durant scores 29 and streak creeps closer to overtaking Michael Jordan … TNT analyst Steve Kerr is the frontrunner to coach the Knicks under Phil JacksonShane Battier reiterates that he will retire after this seasonDirk Nowitzki‘s mentor and personal coach believes he has three or four high-level seasons left.

David Lee Encouraged By Recovery

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HANG TIME WEST – The injury that quickly swung from season-ending to day-to-day in the playoffs has now gone from a one-time distressing finding to now a very encouraging outcome.

The torn hip muscle suffered in the playoff opener at Denver was worse than anyone thought, David Lee reported Wednesday. And, the recovery is going so well that he feels better than a year ago at this time, Lee also revealed.

So goes the roller-coaster return from the injured right hip flexor and the subsequent surgery, with implications for the Warriors and the entire Western Conference if Golden State turns potential into reality and pushes into the top tier of playoff teams.

From being declared done for the season when he went down in the first-round opener at Denver to playing in the clinching Game 6 and then again four more times in the West semifinals against the Spurs.

He didn’t play much — one post-injury minute versus the Nuggets and then three, eight, 12 and 12 minutes against San Antonio, respectively — but even the limited action came with Lee acknowledging at the time that he could do more damage to the hip by playing with the torn muscle. When the All-Star power forward had surgery in May, he said, doctors found the injury to be worse than originally thought.

In the Wednesday update for a group of reporters, though, Lee said he is fully recovered, in the best shape of his career and that the core of his body is strong as ever.

“I feel no ill effects whatsoever,” Lee said, as reported by Marcus Thompson II of the Bay Area News Group. “I actually feel a lot better moving around than I did even last year at this time.”

Lee’s health would have been an important early-season storyline for the Warriors no matter what, but is particularly relevant amid the new uncertainty surrounding the frontline. His 2012-13 backup, Carl Landry, left as a free agent; starting center Andrew Bogut is trying to prove he can get to 100 percent after a series of ankle problems; and No. 2 center Festus Ezeli is expected to be out until midseason with a knee injury. Marreese Speights was signed to be the third big man, and Jermaine O’Neal came in via free agency as well. Coach Mark Jackson will have options to play small.

“We still have a long way to go,” Lee said. “But, if you looked at where we came from three years ago, some of the questions were, ‘Why would you come here? They’ve had one playoff team in the last 150 years.’ Looking where we are now and having these conversations, it’s very exciting.”

Bench Mobs: Four That Got Better

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Every general manager’s goal is to assembly an energetic, productive bench.

A strong second unit filled with single-minded role players enhances a team’s chances at winning. Just look at the two-time champion Miami Heat and perennially contending San Antonio Spurs: both clubs received significant bench contributions throughout the 2012-13 season. Still, a deep and talented bench does not ensure success — the Los Angeles Clippers being Exhibit A.

Arguably the NBA’s deepest bench last season, L.A.’s reserves ranked fourth in scoring and second in overall production (points, assists and rebounds combined). The second unit of Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf ranked as the third-best defensive unit in the league. Yet the Clippers lost in the first round to the Memphis Grizzlies, whose thin bench was considered a major weakness.

The goal is to build a well-rounded and deep roster that doesn’t falter when the starters sit, that can change pace when needed and can light it up just as well as lock it down.

Four teams looking to make a charge in their respective conferences — including the all-in Clippers and the go-getter Golden State Warriors in the West; and in the East the rugged-but-reinforcement-thin Indiana Pacers and the money-is-nothing Brooklyn Nets — completed significant offseason signings and trades that should bolster each club’s depth:

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

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Loses: G Bledsoe, G Chauncey Billups, F Odom (still available), F Grant Hill (retired), F/C Turiaf

Additions: G J.J. Redick, G/F Jared Dudley, G Darren Collison, F Reggie Bullock (draft pick)

Why they’re better: Only two members of the aforementioned third-ranked defensive unit, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes, are returning as of today (Odom remains a possibility) to the Clippers’ second unit, so they could slip defensively. But the firepower is all-world with Redick (a 39 percent career 3-point shooter) and Dudley (40.5 percent) joining Sixth Man runner-up Crawford (35.0 percent). Collison has plenty to prove after twice losing his starting job in Dallas to late-30-somethings Derek Fisher and Mike James. The ultra-quick Collison backed up Chris Paul as a rookie in New Orleans and he now has a defined role that should suit his game. Plenty of experience and savvy leaves town in Hill and Billups, but they played a combined 51 games last season. Hill was not part of the playoff rotation until former coach Vinny Del Negro got desperate late in the first-round series loss. New coach and senior vice president of basketball operations Doc Rivers has given himself plenty of options with a bench unit that might top last season’s group. Free agents Barnes, center Ryan Hollins and guard Willie Green return.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

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Loses: Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry

Additions: Marreese Speights, Toney Douglas, C Jermaine O’Neal, Nemanja Nedovic (draft pick)

Why they’re better: Simply, Andre Iguodala. Acquiring the veteran forced out Jack and Landry, but also provides instant depth for a young team that basically rode seven players in the playoffs after David Lee injured his hip. The tough call for coach Mark Jackson will be moving either semi-conscious shooter Klay Thompson or confident forward Harrison Barnes to the bench (both started every game they played last season) to make room for the 6-foot-6 Iguodala. Thompson could challenge for Sixth Man of the Year honors and he’d easily replace the scoring punch Jack provided. The second-year Barnes, who truly emerged during the playoffs, can provide everything the blue-collar Landry delivered only with advanced skills in every facet, especially with his burgeoning offensive arsenal. Barnes could discover some very favorable matchups off the bench. Speights, more accurately, will be expected to fill Landry’s role. The Warriors also bring back impressive frontcourt youngsters Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli, who should benefit from the presence of the steady veteran O’Neal.

INDIANA PACERS

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Loses: F Tyler Hansbrough, F Jeff Pendergraph

Additions: F Chris Copeland, G C.J. Watson, G Donald Sloan, F Solomon Hill (draft pick)

Why they’re better: The wild card here is forward Danny Granger, who missed all but five games last season with a left knee injury but will be back. With Paul George emerging as a star, Granger could find himself as the Pacers’ sixth man — imagine that. A better bench might have pushed Indiana past Miami in the East finals. The Pacers were one of six teams whose bench averaged fewer than 80 mpg, and they ranked 29th in scoring. The veteran Watson should stabilize a backcourt that had no consistent answer (D.J. Augustin) coming off the bench last season. Watson is a solid veteran who rarely turns the ball over — less than one a game in 19.0 mpg last season with Brooklyn — and is the type of team-first player president of basketball operations Larry Bird wants for coach Frank Vogel. And then there’s the unexpected feather in Bird’s cap — forward Chris Copeland. The 29-year-old late-bloomer provided the Knicks with energetic play off the bench and surprising accuracy from beyond the arc (59-for-140, 42.1 percent). The 6-foot-8, 235-pounder gives Indy a rugged backup for David West and weakens a rival.

BROOKLYN NETS

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Loses: G C.J. Watson, G Keith Bogans, G MarShon Brooks, F Kris Humphries

Additions: G Jason Terry, G Shaun Livingston, G D.J. White, F Andrei Kirilenko, C/F Mason Plumlee (draft pick)

Why they’re better: While a pudgy Deron Williams hobbled about on bum ankles for the first couple of months last season, the Nets’ bench carried the team, so they were no slouches to begin with. But when you add Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the starting lineup, that turns rebounding machine Reggie Evans and offensive weapon Andray Blatche into reserves and instantly improves that group. Terry remains a dangerous streak shooter even after a down season in Boston. The 6-foot-7 Livingston has quietly resurrected his career and should find a home backing up D-Will, who played like an All-Star in the second half of last season. The coup was snagging Kirilenko, who signed for $3.18 million after opting out of his $10-million deal with Minnesota. Kirilenko is always a nagging injury away from missing handfuls of games at a time, but the 6-foot-9 countryman of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is a do-it-all stat-sheet-filler. He is a sneaky offensive presence on the baseline and a rangy defender the Nets can use against Carmelo Anthony and other rival scoring threats.

Deal Likely Delays Inevitable For Grizz

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – It’s impossible to determine how much, if at all, trade speculation truly distracts a team. But in the case of the Memphis Grizzlies, it’s fair to speculate that it has a lot.

“Trade rumors have been in this league since they’ve allowed trades,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said in Dallas 10 days ago as rumors of the franchise shopping Rudy Gay — as well as Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol — ran rampant.

Hollins is right, of course, but it doesn’t mean trade rumors are any less difficult to wrap the brain around now than in Hollins’ playing days. It’s actually an impossible argument to make in the Internet age and now with social media fueling speculation by the millisecond.

That night in Dallas was the start of three consecutive blowout losses for Memphis. Monday’s 82-81 home loss to Indiana makes it four in the last six games as the Grizzlies have fallen off the pace of the West’s top three teams and are fending off Golden State for fourth place.

A smaller-scale Cavs-Grizzlies trade consummated this morning gets Memphis under the dreaded luxury tax this season without needing to move any of its key pieces and perhaps gets it back to work with clearer minds.

This group, having grown into contenders together, wanted the chance to remain together and compete for a championship this season.

The reported trade will send young Memphis reserves Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington and Josh Selby, plus a first-round draft pick to Cleveland for end-of-bencher John Leuer.

Memphis’ new ownership group wants no part of the CBA’s harsher luxury tax penalties to come. And with Gay, Gasol, Randolph and point guard Mike Conley on the books for a combined $58.7 million next season, Tuesday’s trade ultimately only postpones the inevitable trade of Gay and/or others until the summer. 

As CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger tweeted: “Welcome to luxury taxonomics.”

The new CBA, drafted with the intent to help small-market clubs keep their rosters intact, isn’t really working out that way. Chris Paul was traded from New Orleans to the Los Angeles Clippers before the start of the 2011-12 season. The Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to the Houston Rockets before the start of this season. And the Grizz will ship out Gay and/or others this summer to align their books with the new economic times.

The trade can be considered a win-now for the Grizz’s key components and fans who didn’t want the core split up before they had a chance to attack the postseason one last time. Remember, in 2010-11, Gay got injured and missed the playoffs. Memphis upset San Antonio in the first round and lost in the second round in seven grueling games to the Thunder.

Randolph injured his knee early on last season, came back late, but never got to full strength. Memphis lost Game 1 — blowing a huge lead — and Game 7 on its home floor in the first round to the Clippers.

“I definitely want to see this team stick together,” Randolph said that night in Dallas. “I’ve been with these guys four years. Rudy’s been here the longest. You want to see us together because we’ve come a long way, definitely.”

The downside to the deal is that the Grizzlies’ bench gets a little lighter. Although Speights’ role had decreased with the return of Darrell Arthur from injury, the 6-foot-10, 255-pounder averaged 6.5 ppg and 4.7 rpg in just 14.5 mpg. Ellington was Memphis’ most accurate 3-point shooter (42.3 percent) on a team that desperately needs that component.

But, at least as the Grizzlies reach the halfway point of their season at home Wednesday against the slumping Los Angeles Lakers, the core remains and they can get back to work with minds more at ease.

Grizzlies’ Arthur Eager To End Double-Trouble Layoff

Eighteen months, one week and one day. That’s how long it’s been since Darrell Arthur played a game in anger, as they say. For his NBA employers, the Memphis Grizzlies, and for his own self.

The Grizzlies look considerably different since that playoff loss to Oklahoma City in May 2011 – O.J. Mayo, Shane Battier, Sam Young and Greivis Vasquez are all gone, as is Michael Heisley as the team’s principal owner. In their place: owner Robert Pera and players such as Jerryd Bayless, Wayne Ellington and an Arthur playalike Marreese Speights. But Memphis’ record (8-2) and status as an NBA contender look good again, same as before, and Arthur is eager to feel a part of that.

Just as long as someone provides the bubble wrap. That shouldn’t be too much to ask in an arena named the FedEx Forum, should it? His unwrapping begins Friday night at home against the Lakers.

If there were “Fragile / Handle with Care” stickers on Arthur before, no one paid much attention to them. The 6-foot-9 forward from Dallas, by way of the University of Kansas, had what would have been his fourth NBA season wiped out by a torn Achilles tendon last winter, then had his comeback delayed by a leg fracture in a pickup game in September. Now, finally, he’s ready to contribute, as Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins explained to Memphis beat writer Ronald Tillery:

“He’s an athletic 6-9 guy who can play the smaller forwards,” Hollins said. “He can shoot the ball so he can spread the court. He can rebound. He plays with a lot of energy and hustle. … I want to get him in the game and give him confidence. When we started the season, I envisioned Darrell and Mo (Speights) playing together with Marc [Gasol] and Zach [Randolph] both sitting on the bench.”

That sort of rotation mostly has been a luxury Memphis couldn’t afford, lack sufficient frontcourt depth. But with Arthur available again – along with Speights, acquired last January soon after Arthur went down, the Grizzlies might not have to ride its stellar bigs quite so hard. Randolph and Gasol again have been averaging nearly 38 and 37 minutes nightly, respectively.

Even when Arthur was out of sight, he wasn’t out of mind for Memphis; the team signed him to a three-year, $9.7 million contract before his Achilles rehab even was complete. But having him on the floor – that is, running, jumping and cavorting on the floor rather than writhing on it – figures to be better still.

Rosen’s Report: Knicks at Grizzlies

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The Knicks’ win last night in New York was their first over a team with a winning record. Of course, the unfolding of their schedule is a random thing over which they have no control.  But the point here is that, in order to live up to Mike D’Antoni’s boasting that New York is a championship-caliber squad, the Knicks have to dominate all of the league’s weak sisters.  That’s why an impressive showing in Memphis is critical.

Meanwhile, Memphis is struggling to be merely respectable while Zach Randolph is down and out.  In the interim, the Grizzlies have demonstrated that they play much better at home than on the road —- as evidenced by their playing OKC on nearly even terms on Tuesday.  A win over New York would put Memphis only two games below the even-Steven line and do wonders for team morale.

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Rick’s Tips: Waiver Watching


If you’re anything like me, you’ve been watching so much basketball that you almost feel guilty about all the time spent on the couch. But don’t beat yourselves up basketball fans, because we waited five months for this, through a late start and even near cancellation. So ignore the cold shoulders, the honey do’s, and even the cat calls, because you’re an NBA fan, and this is what we do.

I know a lot of you are pretty bummed out about all these DNPs, but get used to them — and their unpredictable nature. I’m a big believer in the law of percentages, what goes around comes around, and all that jazz, so don’t sweat it if you’ve lost a game or two due to excessive DNPs. You have to trust that these random events will even out over time.

The powers that be at NBA.com wanted me to look ahead on the waiver wire for you, which is a great idea because a) it’s the quickest and easiest way to improve your team, b) the waiver wire has never been more important with all these injuries, and c) working the waiver wire is a personal specialty of mine. So let’s get started…

Marreese Speights

Zach Randolph’s knee injury caused the Grizzlies’ front office to trade for Speights, who had 17 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes Sunday against the Lakers. The numbers are pretty good, but what’s impressive to me is that he did it in his second game with his new team.

You have seen the spike in production from Marc Gasol and that trend will continue until 20-10 gets healthy enough to play, roughly two months from now. And when you combine the absence of 20-10 with Darrell Arthur’s season-ending injury, the door is wide open for Speights to play starters’ minutes and rack up the goodies.

Matt Barnes

While I’m not a fan of his game in reality (too many bad passes and too much complaining), I am a fan of his fantasy numbers when he’s rolling — and right now Matt Barnes is rolling. In the last two games he has 31 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks, three steals, and two 3s, making him viable in any fantasy format.

Barnes was a disappointment for the Lakers last season, largely because of a lingering knee injury. But he’s healthy and making plays in Mike Brown’s non-triangular system. Barnes is probably still on waivers in your league, but he won’t be for long if he keeps playing like this.

Jimmer Fredette

The reigning College Player of the Year is being dropped by impatient owners two weeks into the season. This is a mistake.

The dude can ball, he just needs minutes — and those minutes could come under new coach Keith Smart, who ran a guard-friendly offense in Golden State last year. Smart has played Jimmer only 37 minutes in his first two games as head coach, but coaches change their minds — and their rotations — all the time.

Jimmer is the perfect stash player because he has plenty of upside in assists and threes, typically the two toughest categories to find on waivers.

Toney Douglas

Douglas is being dropped like sippy cups at a birthday party. Fantasy owners are turning their backs on Douglas because of Iman Shumpert’s emergence, and the fact that Douglas was scoreless in 18 minutes over his last two games. Douglas has been dealing with a shoulder injury though, so don’t give up on him just yet.

In fact, check him out tonight on NBA TV and be ready to pounce if he gets back to bringing the MSG crowd to its feet. Douglas is a great source for threes and steals, so keep your eye on his minutes.

Tony Allen

Allen posted back-to-back 20-point games leading into Sunday’s tilt with the Lakers, but he crashed back to earth with four points and four fouls in 13 minutes. That was to be expected, though, as Allen is charged with guarding the opposition’s top wing player — and Sunday it was future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.

Lionel Hollins is using a committee approach in trying to make due without Zach, and Allen is a big part of that committee. The Grizzlies’ junkyard dog is probably still on waivers in your league, but you need to add him to your scout team and stay ready. One more 20-point game and Allen won’t be on waivers for long.

Grizzlies Randolph Out Up To 8 Weeks

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph could miss the next eight weeks of the season with a slightly torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee, according to The Commercial Appeal.

The report confirms fears that the injury Randolph suffered Sunday in Chicago, when teammate O.J. Mayo inadvertently fell into his leg in a loss to the Bulls, was more serious than initially expected:

The injury will not require surgery and doctors will re-evaluate Randolph in two weeks.

Randolph was believed to only have a bruised MCL. He did not travel with the team for its road game tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He remained in Memphis and is wearing a knee brace.

… Last season, Randolph missed four games after suffering a deep tailbone bruise in the season-opener.

This is obviously a huge blow to a Grizzlies team built around the frontcourt tandem of Randolph and center Marc Gasol, the catalysts for the Grizzlies surprise run to the Western Conference semifinals last season.

The Grizzlies are already working on a contingency plan for the meantime, having agreed in principle to the terms of a three-team deal with the Hornets and 76ers that will bring 76ers center Marreese Speights to the Grizzlies, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com.  The deal, on course to be completed later Wednesday according to Stein, would also send Grizzlies swingman Xavier Henry to the Hornets and two second-round picks to Philadelphia.

Sixers, Nuggets Discussing Speights; All-Star West Headed To Pacers

– For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

According to sources, the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets have had advanced discussions about a trade that would send center Marreese Speights from Philly to Denver for a future second-round pick. However, the trade has not been completed and may not occur, depending on whether the Nuggets are able to retain their free agent center Nene.

Denver is still hopeful it can re-sign Nene, but the Rockets, Pacers and Nets are all in hot pursuit of the 29-year-old center, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds last season. Each has significant cap room, though the Rockets would have had more had they been able to complete the three-team deal with the Lakers and Hornets that would have sent Chris Paul to Los Angeles. Houston would have taken Pau Gasol and his $18 million salary this season, but it would have dealt Kevin Martin ($12 million this season), Luis Scola ($8.5 million) and Goran Dragic ($2.1 million) to New Orleans, clearing even more room to go after Nene.

Speights, 24, was Philadelphia’s first-round pick in 2008, averaging 7.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 16 minutes a game his rookie season. But injuries the last two seasons have caused him to fall out of favor, and the Sixers have put him on the trading block.

The Nuggets, however, have other big man options on the table if Nene departs, and will explore those before returning to the potential Speights trade, a league source said. The Sixers, another source said, have other possibilities on the table as well for Speights as they assess his trade value.

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A league source said Sunday afternoon that the potential sign-and-trade deal between the New Orleans Hornets and Boston Celtics which would have sent forward David West to Boston is dead, and confirmed that West is likely headed to the Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers have more cap room to offer the 31-year-old West than the Celtics could generate in the sign-and-trade proposal, which developed late last week while the Hornets were also working on the Paul-to-LA trade. But that trade fell through Saturday night, with Los Angeles opting to send Lamar Odom to Houston for a 2012 first-round pick.

ESPN.com first reported West’s progress toward a deal with Indiana.

UPDATE: David West’s agent is saying his client has indeed agreed to a two-year, $20 million-dollar deal with the Pacers.