• We are back on the first of February and tonight looks like it is going to be a little more relaxing than are typical Friday slates. We only have five games to break down and with so many high priced studs we are going to need some obvious value. Lucky for us, the Knicks mortgaged their team and will not have their new players available.

    To keep it simple, we are playing Knicks with some high priced studs, mixed in with one or two players from another game. The two best games to target are going to be the OKC vs. Heat game and the Rockets vs. Nuggets. Westbrook and Paul George are very much in play and should go lower owned than Harden and Jokic, but I will get to Harden in just a minute.

    Point Guard

    Allonzo Trier vs. Celtics $5,300 – We are in a similar situation as we were last night with the Mavs. None of the players involved in the trade are expected to be available leaving the Knicks with a depleted roster. I do not expect this game to stay close though, and targeting the Knicks we know will have minutes and usage is essential. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are gone and with Frank Ntilikina hurt it really only leaves Trier to handle to ball. Knicks’ head coach David Fizdale has talked up Trier all season as a scorer and he may have his way with the usage tonight.

    Tyler Johnson vs. Thunder $4,200 – We have a lot of high priced players on a short slate so we are going to need some value. With everything going on in New York we may not need to go to Johnson, but he feels like a solid cash play. Justise Winslow remains the better option for tournaments and his price tag of $5,800 leaves ample opportunity for value.

    Shooting Guard

    James Harden vs. Nuggets $12,900- Don’t think about this too much, if we hear Chris Paul is going to sit out tonight’s game on the first half of a back-to-back we play James Harden. If Paul plays he is no longer a must-play.

    Malik Beasley vs. Rockets $4,400 –If you are leaning towards the high priced players on OKC then Beasley may be one of your plays for value. He has taken double digit shot attempts over the last four games and his minutes seem safe the upper twenties. Without Jamaal Murray, Beasley and Monte Morris will handle to point guard duties and I’m going to lean towards the guy who will likely draw lower ownership and has a cheaper price tag.

    Small Forward

    Kyle Anderson vs. Hornets $4,400 – Anderson draws a solid matchup against a Hornets team that has struggled against athletic wings this season. His minutes are back to where they were before the injury and while he is not a scorer, Anderson has shown us he can provide counting stats across the board. If Conley sits or gets traded he becomes a near must-play.

    Mario Hezonja vs. Celtics $4,200 – Super Mario may be my favorite Knick on the board tonight. His minutes and usage should be elevated with all of the missing bodies and I am not worried about the blowout with him expected to come off of the bench. Kevin Knox is in play as well, but a like the slight discount in Hezonja.

    Power Forward

    Kenneth Faried vs. Nuggets $6,900 – This game is going to be targeted heavily and for good reason. Faried is one of my favorite plays in this game and has been nothing short of productive since signing with the Rockets. I’m not worried about Nene cutting into his minutes and let’s not forget where Faried played for most of his career and made his name as the Manimal.

    Paul Millsap vs. Rockets $5,000 – Millsap is severely underpriced and saw 34 minutes in his last game. Nikola Jokic is undeniably the force down low for the Nuggets, but Millsap has made a career off of chipping in counting stats across the board and has plenty of opportunity in what should be a close game.

    Center

    Nikola Jokic vs. Rockets $10,900 – His recent play warrants his current price tag. Jokic is in play regardless of whether or not Chris Paul plays, but if he sits I can promise I will have a lineup with both Harden and Jokic. The only man with the size to guard Jokic is Nene and he will see limited minutes at best.

    Marc Gasol vs. Hornets $7,900 – Conley is currently questionable and missed shootaround. If he sits or gets traded there is an obvious boost in usage headed Gasol’s way. As the deadline approaches it becomes riskier and riskier playing guys on the trade block, but everything I am hearing is leaning more towards Conley being moved first.

    Luke Kornet vs. Celtics $4,300 – Let’s not forget who was Fizdale’s favorite toy when he was healthy. He’s coming off of injury, so I am slightly worried about where his minutes will be, but if Kornet sees the workload he was seeing before he becomes a fantastic value play.

    Like I said earlier, I did not mention anyone from OKC because they are all squarely in play, it is just going to come down to which games you are targeting more and whether or not Chris Paul plays.

    As always you can find me on Twitter @MikeApotria with any of your questions and comments. Thank you always for the support and let’s continue smashing slates this season.

Fantasy News

  • Kristaps Porzingis - PF - Dallas Mavericks

    Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that the Mavs will meet with restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis (torn ACL) once free agency opens on June 30th, and the team will offer him the full five-year $158 million max contract.

    This was expected ever since the Mavs traded for Porzingis mid-season while he recovered from his knee injury. Porzingis is fully expected to sign with the Mavs and become reigning ROY Luka Doncic's running mate for the foreseeable future.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Jordan Clarkson - PG - Cleveland Cavaliers

    Cavs' combo guard Jordan Clarkson changed agents and signed with Klutch Sports and Rich Paul.

    Clarkson is likely to be a trade target for competitive teams ahead of next year's trade deadline, as a quality player on an expiring contract. Clarkson will enter free agency next offseason looking for the best deal possible.

    Source: Joe Vardon on Twitter

  • Julius Randle - PF - New Orleans Pelicans

    Per Marc Spears of The Undefeated, Pelicans forward Julius Randle and the Knicks have mutual interest as free agency approaches.

    The Pelicans drafted their PF of the future in Zion Williamson last week, and will seemingly let Randle walk in free agency as they are unlikely to pay him what he deserves. After a productive finish with the Lakers in 2018-19, Randle had to settle for a one-year deal from the Pelicans last summer. After another productive season on an expiring contract, it looks like at least one franchise is ready to invest in Randle as their PF of the future. Randle averaged 21.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.9 threes to boot this past season and makes for a good mid-round selection in drafts next season if he finds himself in a similar role.

    Source: The Undefeated

  • Andre Iguodala - SF - Golden State Warriors

    Speaking about Kevin Durant's injury situation during this year's playoffs, Andre Iguodala said that he fractured his left leg against the Rockets in the 2018-19 playoffs and the Warriors listed him out with a "left lateral leg contusion”

    There has been a lot of smoke in regards to how the Warriors dealt with Durant's injury, as it did not appear to be as minor as the team led the public to believe when he injured himself backpedaling after a made basket. A non-contact injury is always a major red flag, but the Warriors called Durant's initial injury a "first-grade calf strain," which is the lowest graded injury designation. Weeks later, when Durant rushed back to help his team out of a 3-1 Finals deficit, he fully ruptured his Achilles in only 12 minutes of action. This is all just speculation, but this revelation from the 2015 NBA Finals MVP is an alarming development for a franchise who could seemingly do no wrong the past half-decade. The league may take a deep-dive into these claims soon enough.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • D'Angelo Russell - PG - Brooklyn Nets

    The Lakers, who are also working towards setting up meetings with a defensive specialist and a floor-spacer, have a set meeting with D'Angelo Russell when free agency opens.

    The Lakers drafted Russell at #2 overall in the 2015 NBA draft and subsequently traded him to the Nets a few years ago as a way to get Timofey Mozgov's horrendous contract off their books. He has since blossomed into an All-Star selection this past season as the leader of the Nets' push back into relevancy. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Russell and the Lakers would mend their previous relationship, but it remains to be seen if anything will come of it. If it is any consolation to Russell, Magic Johnson, the man who traded Russell to the Nets, is no longer with the team.

    Source: Fred Robbins on Twitter

  • Mitch Kupchak - Team - Charlotte Hornets

    In what will play a major role in all personnel decisions, the Hornets are determined to avoid the luxury tax next season, per Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

    If true, then this will have a major effect on free agency as the Hornets are unlikely to extend the supermax to Kemba Walker this summer. While Walker has said publicly that he is willing to take less than the supermax, it would be hard to see him stay with the Hornets for anything less as he is sure to garner interest from many teams with much better odds at competing for a title. The Lakers, Mavs, and Celtics are just a few of the many teams that will be looking into Walker once free agency opens up, and they all have brighter presents or futures ahead than the Hornets current outlook. There have been rumbles that Walker would head elsewhere next season for a few weeks now, and this report adds even more smoke to the fire. Free agency opens in less than a week.

  • Billy Garrett - PG - New York Knicks

    The Knicks have declined the 2019-20 team option on G Billy Garrett, making him an unrestricted free agent.

    This was the expected outcome as the Knicks look to create max cap space for free agency this summer. Garrett appeared in just four games for the Knicks this past season where he averaged 6.5 points and 1.8 assists in 15.8 minutes. Garrett was productive in the G-league and should find himself another opportunity as a deep reserve or back in the G-League. There is no fantasy value here.

    Source: Michael Scotto on Twitter

  • Rob Pelinka - Team - Los Angeles Lakers

    Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said she has, “100 percent confidence in (GM) Rob Pelinka.”

    For all the bashing the Lakers franchise has taken in the media, and all the stories about dysfunction and deceit in the front office, the team is right where they want to be and right where they promised to be last summer. The Lakers have LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and cap room to bring in another max player or depth to build around the two superstars. For everything negative that has been said and reported on the franchise, if the team can deliver on the court next season everything about the team’s perception will change in an instant. Free agency opens next week and the Lakers hold the keys to the offseason.

    Source: LA Times

  • Jake Layman - SF - Trail Blazers

    The Blazers have given F Jake Layman his qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent.

    The Blazers will now have the right to match any offer sheet that Layman receives on the market. With Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Kanter, Rodney Hood, and Seth Curry all hitting free agency, along with Jusuf Nurkic recovering from his lower body injury, Layman could find himself in the prominent role that some envisioned for him this season. He makes for an intriguing late-round look, depending on what situation he lands in this summer.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Kemba Walker - PG - Charlotte Hornets

    According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Celtics are emerging as a stealth suitor for Hornets free agent Kemba Walker.

    Walker is one of the top free agents on the market and is heavily linked to a few teams including the Lakers, Mavs, and a reunion with the Hornets. While the Hornets can offer Kemba the most money, he also has said that he is willing to take a pay cut if it gives him a better shot at winning. With the Celtics expected to lose both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, it remains to be seen if they are the team to give him the better shot at winning.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter