• About a week ago, Jake Fischer released an article that quickly got passed along the internet.  In the article, Griffin spoke very candidly about his unhappiness in Cleveland, and his comments were taken by many as a slight to LeBron James.  Because LeBron news gets pushed to the forefront of conversation, some things buried inside the article were not talked about as much.  One of these quotes was important:

    “Instead of chasing ping pong balls, they [the Pelicans] expect to battle despite the West’s stingy field. Griffin warns New Orleans will play buyer at the trade deadline if the playoffs are within his grasp. “People are gonna be like, ‘What the f— are they doing?’” he says. “We’re trying to win basketball games!” He knows vying for victory most often ends in defeat. But teams that overcome losing together—like Griffin’s Suns, unlike Griffin’s Cavs—grow together”

     

    We can look back at the entirety of his summer to put this into context.  After all, in regards to the Anthony Davis trade, Griffin made it clear that the team was open to any avenues: if someone had blown the doors open with a trade that meant a longer rebuild, he would’ve been okay with that.

    “So we were open-minded to if the best offer we got was going to be entirely a future play form someone, then maybe we would’ve gone that route.  But building in such a way that the best offer we received was some really quality basketball players that were going to help us win immediately, it gave us a real confidence in, okay, let’s keep augmenting this group.”

     

    Putting this all together, I think Griffin’s comment about what the Pelicans could do at the deadline is pretty clear.  I don’t think Griffin means that he is going to sacrifice the future to make a last-minute push for the playoffs.  What I do think he is open to is finding the in-between for players that will help now and help later.  What makes this interesting to me is that Griffin’s mindset is not altogether different from the approach that Dell Demps took.

    In my mind, what makes it different is that Griffin has a big set of chips to throw at the table.  Because of some bad contracts/decisions and some awfully bad luck, Demps was not in the position that Griffin is.  As it stands, the Pelicans have at least four or five good young prospects and a few that could be elite.  The Pelicans have no bad contracts, no ultimatum from a superstar to sacrifice everything now, and are in the driver’s seat for their future.  This means they can be patient for now.

    If I had to guess, Griffin is still trying to accomplish the one piece of the AD trade goal (via him) that is still unfinished: to acquire a young, All-Star caliber player.  Shamit Dua has been on the Bradley Beal train for a long time, and I think Beal is certainly someone who fits the bill.  Washington just made a huge hire in analytics pioneer Dean Oliver, and I fully expect that they’ll try to do whatever they can to get Beal to stay… but I also think there could be others.

    I think Griffin is waiting to unload some of the assets in his treasure chest to obtain a player in an unhappy situation or whose timeline doesn’t match his team’s.  Tracing back to Griffin’s comments, and considering the situation that the Pelicans are in, I would expect that anything he does at the deadline this year will be something he wants to do, not something he feels pressure to do.

Fantasy News

  • Mikal Bridges
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Mikal Bridges led all Suns reserves in minutes (36) on Thursday and put up 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting, to go with six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

    He's simply outplaying Dario Saric (five points, five rebounds, one trey, one steal, 16 minutes) right now and the extra run on the floor is paying off dividends for managers who held onto Bridges during those lean games. Pick him up if he's been dropped in your league.

  • Devin Booker
    SG, Phoenix Suns

    Devin Booker was relatively quiet on Thursday, recording 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting with five rebounds, seven assists, two treys and six turnovers in 37 minutes.

    The turnovers were a stinger for his owners in 9-cat leagues and you can credit the Pelicans' feisty defense for more than a few of those. Count it as an off-night for Booker and move on. He should bounce-back to his top-30 form in no time.

  • Tyler Johnson
    PG-SG, Phoenix Suns

    Tyler Johnson started for Ricky Rubio (back) on Thursday and chipped in across the board with six points, five rebounds, four dimes, one trey, two steals and two blocks.

    It was a DFS gem coming from the low-end veteran guard. He is worth streaming while Rubio remains out, but that's the ceiling of his upside in fantasy at this stage of his career.

  • Kelly Oubre Jr.
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Kelly Oubre Jr. produced a team-high 25 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field and 9-of-9 shooting from the line with six boards, two 3s and four assists in Thursday's loss to the Pelicans.

    Oubre is holding steady as a top-70 play in 9-cat so far this season. His ceiling is somewhere within top-50 value, but as a hot commodity, may cost you an arm and a foot for his services.

  • Jrue Holiday
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Jrue Holiday was one assist shy of a double-double on Thursday as he tallied 23 points (10-of-19 shooting), four rebounds, nine assists, one 3-pointer, three steals and one block.

    His ability to stuff the stat sheet is at the core of Holiday's fantasy appeal. It appears he's turned the corner from a slow start. Both he and Brandon Ingram are playing well right now, but Zion Williamson could throw a wrench into the vibe once he's back on the court. Now would be an ideal time to sell-high on Holiday if you want to exit your position.

  • E'Twaun Moore
    SG, New Orleans Pelicans

    E'Twaun Moore chipped in 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting with five rebounds, three 3s and two assists in 26 minutes in Thursday's win over the Suns.

    Moore has been on the radar in 14-team leagues or deeper for his scoring and 3-point shooting as of late. He will fade as the Pelicans get healthier, but feel free to ride out his run while it lasts.

  • JJ Redick
    SG, New Orleans Pelicans

    J.J. Redick caught fire in Thursday's win over the Suns, knocking down 5-of-8 shots from deep en route to his 26 points (10-of-14 shooting) with five rebounds, two assists and one steal.

    Redick definitely has some gas left in his tank, scoring 20 points or more in four of his last five games. He's been a top-120 play in 9-cat over the season, so consider selling high now.

  • Brandon Ingram
    SF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Brandon Ingram shook off a slow start in Thursday's 124-121 win over the Suns to finish with 28 points (9-of-19 shooting), eight rebounds, five assists, three 3s, one steal and two blocks in 33 minutes.

    Ingram is back to his early-season form and delivering across the board in impressive fashion. He appears on track to sustain his production, as is, but a returning Zion Williamson could muddle things for sure.

  • Lonzo Ball
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Lonzo Ball (right adductor strain) played 19 minutes off the bench in his return to action on Thursday, posting eight points on 3-of-9 shooting with two 3s, one rebound and five assists.

    Considering it was Ball's first game back in over two weeks, it was not a bad showing. He should eventually return to the starting lineup and see his minutes restriction eased and then later lifted as he gets his legs back. For now, you can bench him until he's back at full strength. Good news is the wait might not be too long.

  • Skal Labissiere
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers

    Skal Labissiere had a huge night on Thursday with a season-high 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and five blocks as the Blazers lost 137-129 against the Bucks.

    Labissiere was huge partially due to Hassan Whiteside's absence, but we have to give him a lot of credit. Not only was it a season high in points for Skal, but also in rebounds and blocks. Additionally, he hit his first two 3-pointers of the season. It was an all-around gem from him and he should really be on radars going forward because of the lack of depth up front for the Blazers even when Whiteside is healthy.