• An unusually large Sunday night slate at this time of year gives us a lot of news and offerings to choose from for The Dish. It also adds more opportunity for players to get hurt and give us an unnecessary headache to start the week. Oh the joys of fantasy season in March where half the battle is just praying for our guys to come out of games unscathed.

    Regardless of how you’re feeling about your team this Sunday night into Monday morning, you’re going to want to try to stay ahead of the curve or make more adjustments. As the season progresses, you’re going to need to get more creative with the moves you make and we hope it isn’t because you are running out of IR spots. Whether you’re taking that celebratory morning sip of coffee or just waiting to be put out of your fantasy misery here are some pointers no matter what type of fantasy mood you’re in.

    Add(s) of the Night

    Otto Porter Jr., SF, Chicago Bulls – 25 minutes, 23 points, three rebounds, two assists, four steals, three 3-pointers, 9-of-17 FG, 2-of-4 FT.

    For those of us who hung on for dear life, we’d like to give a warm welcome back to Otto Porter Jr. top-50 NBA fantasy player.

    It took him a while but the rust from his long-lasting foot injury seems to have worn off. His minutes have increased into the mid-20s and the confidence seems to be back as well considering his ability to bounce back from a couple of poor outings previously. The result was a very Otto Porter type of line with scoring, 3-pointers, efficiency, and a bunch of steals.

    There’s always risk with players who have dealt with lengthy foot injuries but if anyone can provide a boost with this kind of time made available to him, it’s OPJ. In addition, he only has Denzel Valentine to worry about at his position on a Bulls team that still has an outside shot at the playoffs. All it will take is a strong final few weeks for fantasy owners to regain a lot of the goodwill we had thought Porter had squandered some time ago.

    Duncan Robinson, SG/SF, Miami Heat – 39 minutes, 23 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, seven 3-pointers, 8-of-12 FG.

    What if I told you that Duncan Robinson has played more minutes per game and delivered more value per game than his teammate Jimmy Butler has over the past month of basketball?

    Now what if I told you that Duncan Robinson was available in nearly half of all CBS and Yahoo leagues?

    And now what if I told you that Butler is now dealing with a toe injury and Butler is notorious for missing chunks of time during the season? Would that all make for a good ‘30 for 30?’

    Ok, enough telling. What Duncan Robinson has done from deep this season is nothing short of unfathomable. He has the trust of Erik Spoelstra and does enough in the popcorn stats during his minutes to make him more than just a one-trick pony. All those ‘what ifs’ now make Robinson a nice horse to ride during the stretch run of the season. Giddy up.

    Drop Zone

    We’re not saying that you have to drop any of these guys, only that you should at least consider it depending who’s on your waiver wire. Your mileage may vary based on league size and team build, but for the most part we’ll try to cut dead weight in the 12-team range.

    Lou Williams

    We anticipated this kind of stretch from Heat Check Lou with the additions of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard this offseason. There’s only one basketball and only so much someone can do when players of their caliber enter the fold. There were bound to be stretches of cold shooting and less usage. The problem for Williams now is that even more players have come to Los Angeles as the focus has shifted toward depth and Williams seems to be getting lost in the shuffle.

    Lou-Will has only seen minutes in the 30s once since the All-Star Break and has been in a shooting funk to boot. Normally Williams could shoot his way back into rhythm, but again, this is a contending Clippers team and George and Leonard (and Marcus Morris for that matter) aren’t just going to stand around and let Sweet Lou shoot the ball 25 times to see if he can find a hot streak. Without the scoring volume Williams is just a stash in case one of the two Clippers stars go down at the worst possible time.

    Injury Report

    We begin with the news that on Sunday, DeAndre Jordan moved into the Nets starting lineup ahead of Jarrett Allen. Allen isn’t dealing with an injury, he’s perfectly fine. However, on the heels of the firing of Kenny Atkinson, it’s my spirit that is now week-to-week.

    The real big injury news is that Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss the next couple of games with a joint capsule strain in his knee. On one hand it’s good news that Giannis won’t miss too much time and that he avoided a major issue. On the other hand, any missed time from a star of his caliber is really bad news for fantasy owners at this time of year and it can’t be all that heartwarming that his knee issues have persisted throughout the season.

    Andre Drummond returned to the Cavs lineup after dealing with a calf injury and the hope is that he can finish strong after a very rocky start to his Cleveland tenure.

    Cavs rookies Darius Garland and Kevin Porter remained out for the Cavs with groin and concussion issues respectively.

    Zach LaVine didn’t play on Sunday but is nearing a return from a quad strain after missing a week of action.

    Ryan Arcidiacono was also unavailable for the Bulls due to an Achilles injury and Shaq Harrison’s days of being a streaming delight will come to an end once LaVine and Arcidiacono return.

    Both Eric Gordon and Ben McLemore were ruled out on Sunday for the Rockets and I seriously can’t believe we’re still watching an NBA where Jeff Green is getting significant minutes on a contending team.

    Gordon Hayward returned to the Celtics lineup after a brief absence due to a knee contusion.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Celtics with a hip injury, making it the first game SGA has missed in his young career. He’ll have time to heal up with the Thunder not playing until Wednesday of this coming week.

    Kristaps Porzingis played through an ankle sprain on Sunday with lackluaster results but his owners are hopeful that he can remain on his obscene tear uninterrupted.

    Tim Hardaway Jr. also returned to the Mavs lineup after dealing with an illness.

    The Pacers needed some positive injury news and got it on Friday when Victor Oladipo returned after missing a couple of games with a sore knee and again on Sunday when T.J. Warren was able to make it back to the lineup after receiving stitches in his leg.

    One pair of Hawks in John Collins and Kevin Huerter are probable for Monday so they’re safe to get back into lineups. Another Hawks pair of DeAndres in Bembry and Hunter are both questionable to play on Monday with a case of irreconcilable differences in apostrophes.

    Jeff Teague must have picked up the same bug as Trae Young as he is now questionable as well for the Hawks on Monday.

    George Hill returned on Sunday so the cavalry is back right on time for the Bucks without Giannis.

    Fred VanVleet has now missed over a week with a shoulder issue despite being tagged as questionable the last couple of games.

    Marc Gasol has finally returned for the Raptors from a lengthy battle with a hamstring injury but was on a minutes limit off the bench and will likely be very restricted from now until the playoffs.

    John Henson left Sunday’s game against the Knicks with what looked like a serious ankle injury and any hope of Henson being a sneaky streamer for big man stats is all but gone.

    Tristan Thompson left Sunday’s game after getting poked in the eye. Rather than make a cornea joke, Iris that Thompson can return in a blink.

    Moe Wagner was with trainers in the locker room during the 4th quarter of Sunday’s game.

    And finally, Jimmy Butler left Sunday night’s game with a toe injury and the reports say that Buckets is pretty sore. We know the numbers Butler can put up but the injuries are starting to mount which has always been the story with Butler’s career.

    Oh My God, They Killed Kenny

    I was not expecting to begin my weekend with the news that the Nets were relieving Kenny Atkinson of his duties as head coach. The news was universally shocking around the league and even more so when you consider how injured the Nets have been this season and that they are still well positioned to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season. Atkinson was let go right after his team destroyed the Spurs on their home court no less.

    It doesn’t take much to deduce that the new stars that came to Brooklyn this summer weren’t going to go to bat for Atkinson when push came to shove. If the reports are true that Atkinson pushed to leave then he clearly recognized that everything he had built over the past few seasons had changed and not for the better.

    We heard similar grumblings out of Los Angeles that the Clippers locker room was not a happy place when considering the star treatment that Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were getting that replaced a scrappy underdog mentality that lifted the Clippers to a surprise playoff berth last season. At some point culture only gets you so far in today’s NBA and it’s the stars get you championships. The difference here is that Doc Rivers is seasoned enough to navigate these types of personalities whereas Atkinson has always been a builder and developer, not a babysitter. In Brooklyn, the builder sensed that something was wrong with the foundation, which then led to the decision to tear it down and start over.

    Meanwhile across town, the Knicks are one self-made PR disaster after another. They went an alienated their most recognizable fan after doing the same to plenty of other less famous fans over the past several decades. They have no roadmap for change. No culture to speak of. Even the most optimistic of basketball scouts would say that this roster can be built around R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson with perhaps Kevin Knox being salvageable but the rest of it needs to go.

    There are no star free agents in this year’s class. No Zion Williamson to tank for in the lottery. There isn’t a quick fix that a mountain of salary cap money will help solve. Just a long road of losing and the hope that someone is willing to deal with the whims of James Dolan and the hope that Leon Rose is finally the right guy to bring the Knicks back to just mere respectability.

    The Knicks need someone who can see that light at the end of the tunnel to lead the team on the court and won’t flinch at every loss or setback. They need someone who can get the most out of a depleted roster and get them to look at the bigger picture. They need someone to give them hope that the previous retreads of David Fizdale, Jeff Hornacek and Mike Woodson could not provide.

    This weekend, the Nets just handed their rivals a lifeline. We’ll see if the Knicks are smart enough to grab it.

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