• OPPONENT: Los Angeles Clippers

    RECORD: 25-24 (14-11 at home, 7-3 last 10 games)

    MEASURABLES: 107.0 offensive rating (10th), 106.4 defensive rating (17th), +0.6 net rating (14th)

    PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP: PG Milos Teodosic, SG Lou Williams, SF Wesley Johnson, PF Sam Dekker, C DeAndre Jordan

    INJURIES: Danilo Gallinari (hip – questionable), Jawun Evans (abdominals – out), Avery Bradley (groin – out), Austin Rivers (heel – out) Patrick Beverley (knee – season)

    WHEN, WHERE, HOW TO WATCH10:30 EST, Staples Center (Los Angeles), TNT

    Lob City is officially dead. Seven months after trading Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets and re-signing Blake Griffin to a five-year, $171 million contract, the Los Angeles Clippers ultimately decided to move on from both of the superstars that ushered in the most successful era of franchise history.

    Take what you’ve come to know about the Clippers over the past half decade and forget about it. DeAndre Jordan is the only key player remaining from frustratingly consistent teams that always seemed a legitimate championship contender but never lived up to that reputation in the postseason. Los Angeles, with Monday’s blockbuster trade of Griffin, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to the Detroit Pistons for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and first- and second-round draft picks, has turned over an incredible 13 of its 15 roster spots since the end of last season. Just Jordan and Wes Johnson remain, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Clippers will continue mulling trades for both their All-NBA center and Lou Williams, new offensive alpha dog, before the February 8 deadline.

    Note that Los Angeles is supposedly considering contract extensions with Jordan and Williams, too, but maintains the big-picture goal of acquiring valuable assets – on the court and in the front office – while remaining competitive. The notion has always been that Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers were too prideful to initiate a full-scale rebuild, and that’s apparently still the case after jettisoning both of their franchise players in just more than half a calendar year.

    Not every team can be the Boston Celtics, though. An effort to threat the needle between bottoming out and going for broke is far more likely to result in sustained mediocrity than a steady ascent back to title contention. Trading Griffin was in part about replenishing a near-empty trove of future draft picks, but the lone first-rounder the Clippers received from the Pistons – protected 1-to-4 through 2020 before losing all its restrictions in 2021 – doesn’t come close to approximating the league-changing haul Boston received from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2013. There’s no Jaylen Brown on the imminent horizon for Los Angeles, let alone Jayson Tatum or the likely top-five pick heading to Boston in either of the next two drafts.

    Danny Ainge nabbed Kyrie Irving with an All-Star point guard, an efficient, two-player on a bargain contract and a highly-desired lottery pick. Los Angeles’ best theoretical trade package, with Jordan (player option), Williams and Bradley on expiring contracts, isn’t anywhere near that level. Ballmer can dream all he wants about bringing LeBron James to the other home locker room in Staples Center, but it’s hard to imagine the four-time MVP signing with a team that can’t win now and isn’t set up to win later.

    The Clippers’ organizational crossroads comes after the Portland Trail Blazers might have avoided one of their own. Portland enters Tuesday’s action against new-look Los Angeles with an 11-6 record since falling to .500 on December 22nd, success mostly predicated on offensive efficiency the team sorely lacked over the season’s first three months.

    Those strides should pay off against the Clippers, who will be without the injured Bradley and likely Harris and Marjanovic on Tuesday night. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum should have a field day against Milos Teodosic and Williams, who form arguably the worst defensive backcourt in basketball among starters. Tyrone Wallace and Sindarius Thornwell are far better suited to keep the Blazers’ star guards in check, but it’s tough to imagine a two-way player and rookie second-rounder providing enough of an offensive punch for Rivers to play them a lion’s share of minutes.

    Danilo Gallinari has been upgraded to questionable against Portland after missing his team’s past 25 games with a hip injury. When fully healthy, he stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Griffin’s absence, though the same positional redundancy that plagued the Clippers before still does given the addition of Harris, another tweener better suited for power forward. Jordan is back in the lineup again, and should be more motivated than ever playing his first game as Los Angeles’ only All-Star. This is another great opportunity for Jusuf Nurkic to prove he’s overcome an early-season funk.

    Jordan’s extra emotional jolt is one Portland should expect from Los Angeles en masse. It’s almost routine for teams that have just traded away a franchise player to perform over their collective head in the ensuing game, and it’s certainly a possibility the Clippers do just that. They’ve fought adversity all season long to stay in the playoff race, only to have their best player traded away to initiate what the front office swears isn’t a rebuild. Expect Los Angeles, short-handed and all, to come out with aggressive energy on Tuesday night.

    Regardless, this is a game the Blazers should win, and one that’s important considering they have back-to-back road games against the Celtics and Toronto Raptors early next week. The Clippers’ new reality is a boon for Portland in both the short- and long-terms. It gives Terry Stotts’ team a better chance for victory on the road, and weakens – and could potentially completely eliminate – one of the four competitors for the three final playoff spots in the Western Conference.

    It’s imperative the Blazers take full advantage, beginning on Tuesday at Staples Center.

Fantasy News

  • Alex Len
    C, Atlanta Hawks

    Alex Len is not on the latest injury report with an ankle sprain so expect him to play on Thursday against the Suns.

    Len had a strong game off the bench on Tuesday, finishing with 17 points and seven rebounds while contributing in other categories as well. He will need to show more consistency in order to be looked at in standard leagues. Len is currently on pace to finish with top-250/251 value.

    Source: Hawks PR on Twitter

  • Chandler Parsons
    SF, Atlanta Hawks

    Chandler Parsons (knees) has been upgraded to questionable for Thursday's road game against the Suns.

    Parsons has not been a meaningful part of any team's rotation for many years now and he can be ignored in fantasy.

    Source: Brad Rowland on Twitter

  • DeAndre' Bembry
    SF, Atlanta Hawks

    DeAndre' Bembry (illness) is probable to play in Thursday's road game against the Suns.

    Looks like Bembry might be a little under the weather but it seems he should be fine to play. With Kevin Huerter out, he should have a chance to log meaningful minutes and provide value in assists and steals.

    Source: Brad Rowland on Twitter

  • Kyrie Irving
    PG, Brooklyn Nets

    Kyrie Irving (shoulder) has been upgraded to probable against the Nuggets on Thursday.

    Irving's shoulder injury came up out of nowhere but it looks like he should be fine and able to play through it. With Caris LeVert out for a few weeks, Kyrie should shoulder a massive load and continue playing at his top-10 value going forward.

  • Kevin Huerter
    SG, Atlanta Hawks

    According to coach Lloyd Pierce, "It's going to be some time" for Kevin Huerter (shoulder) to recover from his shoulder injury suffered against Nuggets on November 12.

    Huerter does not have a tear in his shoulder according to his MRI. He was just starting to find his groove and it will be tough to hang onto him while there is no definitive timetable on his return. It may be wise to grab a hot free agent off the wire instead of waiting around to figure out when he might be back. Cam Reddish will start in his absence and DeAndre' Bembry and De'Andre Hunter should soak up more minutes in the rotation.

    Source: Sarah K. Spencer on Twitter

  • Russell Westbrook
    PG, Houston Rockets

    Russell Westbrook is likely to sit out either Friday's game against the Pacers or Saturday's game against the Wolves per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

    Westbrook struggled in his last game out and finished with just 30 minutes due to foul trouble and he has been averaging 32.6 minutes after receiving 34-36 in his past 10 seasons for the Thunder. This seems to be part of a greater plan to keep him fresh down the stretch as he also sat out a back-to-back on Nov 4. In that game, James Harden went off for 46-10-6 with seven 3-pointers and monster usage.

    Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter

  • Nicolas Batum
    SG, Charlotte Hornets

    Nic Batum (fractured middle finger) is out Friday but has hope to return sometime on the Hornets' upcoming four-game road-trip.

    Batum has not played since October 23 and will likely be eased back into action. However, with the emergence of Devonte' Graham and P.J. Washington and the Hornets trying to develop their younger players, he may not have a large role in the rotation. He may be a speculative add in most formats but may just be an end of your roster type of guy.

    Source: Hornets PR on Twitter

  • Caris LeVert
    PG-SG, Brooklyn Nets

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Caris LeVert (right thumb surgery) is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks.

    It's the first concrete timetable to emerge, and it makes LeVert a droppable player in standard leagues given that he was already producing well below par with top-170/250 value thanks to another dip in his efficiency and a spike in turnovers. You can hold him if possible, but most managers might not be able to have a dead roster spot that long, especially for a player who hasn't been performing.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Hamidou Diallo
    SG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Hamidou Diallo (knee soreness) did not practice on Thursday.

    Diallo has taken hold of a steady role for the Thunder this season and is a surprising top-200 player on the year, with top-150/115 value over the last couple of weeks. In that span he's averaging 1.8 steals and 0.5 blocks while going an even .500 from the field, so hopefully he doesn't miss much more time. Diallo should find his way onto rosters in competitive 12-team formats at this point, though we don't envision him keeping up this pace all season.

    Source: Joe Mussatto on Twitter

  • Dwayne Bacon
    SF, Charlotte Hornets

    Dwayne Bacon (sore right knee) is probable to play against Detroit on Friday.

    Bacon received treatment during practice on Thursday and did not participate in full but it looks like that will not keep him out of Friday's game. Deep league managers should check back tomorrow to be sure.

    Source: Hornets PR on Twitter