• The Portland Trail Blazers have long sought a viable 3-and-D wing. While Brandon Rush no longer quite fits that description, the well-traveled veteran could still offer Terry Stotts reliable depth on the perimeter his team always seems to lack.

    The Blazers signed Rush to a 10-day contract on Monday night, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The 13th pick of the 2008 draft by Portland, he was traded to the Indiana Pacers on draft night, along with Jarrett Jack and Josh McRoberts, for the rights to Jerryd Bayless and Ike Diogu.

    Rush’s most notable NBA stints came with the Pacers and Golden State Warriors near the top of the decade. He shot a scorching 45.2 percent on 3-pointers, the league’s sixth-best mark, for the Warriors in 2011-12, further staking his claim as one of basketball’s most promising role players given his knockdown shooting ability and defensive versatility. Rush tore his ACL in the 2012-13 season-opener on an and-1 dunk, though, ending his fifth professional campaign essentially before it began – and, more importantly, completely derailing his developmental track.

    Rush, whose effectiveness as a defender and rebounder hinged largely on his short-area quickness and explosive vertical oomph, has been unable to regain his early-career form ever since. Golden State brought him back in 2014-15 following one dispiriting season with the Utah Jazz, hoping to reinvigorate a player who seemed to have found an NBA home in Oakland before suffering his injury. It worked, too, at least to the extent expected by realists.

    After appearing in just 33 regular season games and three playoffs games during the Warriors’ initial championship run, Rush was a replacement starter for 25 games of their record-setting 73-9 season to follow. His effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot jumpers of 62.3 was second on the team behind Steph Curry’s, and a top-15 clip overall, per NBA.com/stats. Rush reverted back to a full-time bench role for the postseason, though, playing in 14 of Golden State’s 24 games and notching just 28 minutes in the NBA Finals, the vast majority of which came in garbage time.

    The Minnesota Timberwolves signed Rush to a one-year, $3.5 million deal in summer 2016, with the expectation he’d provide a young team with not just floor-spacing and defensive awareness, but a steady veteran hand. Instead, Rush never found his footing in Minnesota, posting career-lows in usage – especially debilitating for a player who doesn’t make plays with the ball in his hands – rebounding rate and free-throw rate while generally appearing disinterested.

    The Milwaukee Bucks signed Rush to a training-camp deal last fall after he received scant interest on the open market over the summer, but made him one of their last cuts before the regular season.

    At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds with a long wingspan, Rush offers the Blazers a combination of size and 3-point shooting acumen no player on the current roster can match. Unless the 32 year old has rediscovered the athletic verve that was a hallmark of his early NBA years, though, it seems extremely unlikely he will break into Stotts’ rotation – whether he remains with the team beyond this 10-day contract or not.

    But experienced depth never hurts, especially when the player in question fills a personnel gap that could be widened even further by injury. Evan Turner, for instance, was hobbled before the All-Star break by a nagging calf injury that placed him on a minutes restriction. If he or any other wing is forced to miss time down the season’s final stretch, Rush could certainly come in handy for Portland. Similar logic applies to specific circumstances of time and score, too; having another shooter with size on the floor is always helpful when a team needs to stage a late-game comeback.

    More than anything else, though, consider this move further indication of this team’s tenuous grasp on a playoff spot. The Blazers, seventh-place in the Western Conference at 32-26 with the New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Clippers and surging Utah Jazz nipping at their heels, need all the help they can get to emerge victorious from an overcrowded pack of postseason contenders, and Rush, playing for just $119, 602, will certainly provide more of it than an empty roster spot.

     

Fantasy News

  • Nikola Vucevic
    C, Orlando Magic

    In an interview Wednesday, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said he could see Nikola Vucevic improving across all areas of his game, and echoing his player's belief that he is in his prime.

    One of the areas Clifford thought Vucevic could improve upon was his 3-point shooting percentage, and also seemed to indicate that he could contonue to up his play on defense. He's unquestionably solidified himself as the anchor of this team, and the Magic as a whole are likely eyeing to improve upon their momentum as a rising young playoff team in an Eastern Conference that looks pretty weak after the top four to five teams. Expect Vucevic to produce safe second-round value this season.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    Suns General Manager James Jones said in a recent interview that Deandre Ayton is capable of playing PF if needed.

    One could chalk this up to either Ayton continuing his development in becoming a more dynamic offensive player, or the Suns covering up for the lack of depth on their roster at PF. In reality it's likley a mix of both, and is a positive for Ayton's value heading into this season. If he does end up spending meaningful time at the four, it would not bode well for the value of Dario Saric, who is already barely going at the end of drafts in 9-cat leagues.

    Source: NBA.com

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Lakers have been granted a $1.75 million Disabled Player Exception for DeMarcus Cousins (torn left ACL).

    This now officially rules DeMarcus Cousins out for the season. The Lakers will now have the ability to go out and acquire a player that will in all likelihood occupy the end of their bench. Because they signed Dwight Howard, using this cap space on a center isn't necessarily as big a priority as it once was when Cousins initially went down.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Mohamed Bamba
    C, Orlando Magic

    Mo Bamba will enter training camp second on the depth chart behind Nikola Vučević.

    Head coach of the Magic, Steve Clifford, told a reporter that he plans on having Bamba as his primary backup center while Khem Birch will be third on the depth chart. The Magic also have Vučević, who was re-signed in the offseason to a four-year, $100M contract. As long as Bamba is backing up Vučević, his fantasy ceiling is capped outside of standard redraft leagues.

    Source: NBA

  • Nerlens Noel
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Brett Dawson of The Athletic believes that Nerlens Noel could see a slight bump in minutes if the Thunder limit Steven Adams' usage.

    Noel is a great per-minute producer of steals and blocks but only appeared in 13.7 minutes per contest last season. Additional playing time would make him more useful in deeper leagues.

    Source: Brett Dawson of The Athletic

  • Joel Embiid
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    In a video, Joel Embiid announced that he lost about 25 pounds over the summer.

    Embiid is one of the best fantasy players around but has struggled at times with conditioning. The Sixers will gladly accept any improvements from last season's averages of 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds.

    Source: NBC Sports

  • TJ Warren
    SF, Indiana Pacers

    According to Pacers beat writer Scott Agness, Pacers forward T.J. Warren has no injury worries heading into the season.

    Warren has missed 56 games during the last two seasons, but he hopes to stay healthy for all of 2019-20. Warren is likely to start for the Pacers and could hold top-100 value if he can stay on the court.

    Source: Scott Agness on Twitter

  • Damian Lillard
    PG, Portland Trail Blazers

    Damian Lillard expects to play for Team USA during next year's Summer Olympics.

    Lillard skipped this year's World Cup but is planning to play in Tokyo. He should be a late first-round or early second-round fantasy pick this year.

    Source: news.com.au

  • Stephen Curry
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    Warriors guard Stephen Curry expects to play at next year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

    Curry will have a busy year ahead of him. Still, it's no surprise that many potential members of Team USA skipped this year's FIBA World Cup in favor of an Olympics appearance. Curry will be a popular early first-round pick in fantasy drafts.

    Source: ESPN

  • Isaiah Thomas
    PG, Washington Wizards

    Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left thumb.

    This is rough news for the Wizards, who already have John Wall on the shelf. Thomas was a candidate to start at point guard, but instead he'll have to recover from yet another injury. Thomas averaged 8.1 points and 1.9 assists in limited action for the Nuggets last campaign.

    Source: Washington Wizards on Twitter