Jason Kidd Photo Credit: Icon SMI
– It looks like Jason Kidd‘s days in New Jersey are finally over, and all that remains is his specific destination. Kidd made his trade demand official yesterday, and that really shouldn’t surprise anybody. The move is probably two years overdue, New Jersey isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and Kidd has been noticeably disgruntled all season. It’s pretty clear now that when he called in sick in early December, Kidd was sending a message. The early favorites to land Kidd’s services are Dallas, the Lakers of Los Angeles and Cleveland, with Denver as a dark horse. I would love to see Kidd in Denver or Dallas, and I think both of those teams would maximize his fantasy potential as well. Dallas is the best fit with so many capable offensive options, but he would crush the value of emerging PG Devin Harris, who was having a career month before going down with that nasty ankle sprain. The uptempo offense in Denver would also suit Kidd well, and he could easily average 12 assists per game with the Nuggs. In New Jersey, Josh Boone and Sean Williams are going to find it a lot harder to score and shoot a decent field-goal percentage with the game’s best distributor suddenly out of the equation.
– Speaking of Devin Harris, this injury couldn’t come at a worse time for his owners. It looked very serious when he went down, but Harris should only be out for about three weeks. Including that shortened 6 points, 0 assist effort when Devin got hurt Harris is averaging 16.4 points and 6.8 assists on a very impressive 54.7% FGs and 79% FTs in January. He was just getting into a nice rhythm, and the injury could even put more pressure on Dallas to make a move for Kidd in the ultra competitive West.
– It’s official, Chris Webber has signed with the Golden State Warriors. It’s a real noodle scratcher, this one. Not only did Webber and Don Nelson have a public falling out in 1994, but Webber doesn’t fit this team or system at all on paper. The Warriors are a young, fast team that runs all night while Webber is nothing more than a 35-year-old plodding big man with a deteriorating skill set, inability to get up and down the floor and modest passing skills. As Brian mentioned yesterday, it will be a real shame if he steals a chunk of minutes from 21-year-old Andris Biedrins.
– Don’t look now, but everybody’s favorite little person is back. It was hard to imagine that nobody could find a roster spot for sparkplug Earl Boykins this offseason, but word is that the 5’5″ combo guard will sign somewhere by the end of the week. He’s lightning quick and capable of filling it up on occasion (not to mention cute as a button), so Boykins could have fringe fantasy value down the line depending on where he ends up.
– As I write this Randy Foye is making his season debut, and looking strong. He’s got 7 points in just under seven first-half minutes, and doesn’t appear to be limited by the knee (though he is huffing and puffing out there). He’ll continue to come off the bench for the next week, but should be good to go full steam by the middle of February after a very conservative rehab process. This is great news for Wolves fans because Foye is one of the only closers and confident offensive weapons on a team that has been really struggling to close out games. No team in the NBA has lost more second-half, double-digit leads than Minnesota, and Foye will be their most clutch ball handler and perimeter shooter down the stretch of tight games. He’ll take a ton of pressure off of the amazing Al Jefferson inside, and Wolves fans will finally get a chance to see what they have with their full complement of youngsters.
Randy Foye Photo Credit: Icon SMI
– And I just can’t go on without mentioning the insanely good play of Al Jefferson of late. Say what you will about his defense (it’s piss poor), but Big Al works as hard as anybody on his low-post game and it shows. He could be the most polished player in the NBA on the block this side of Tim Duncan. Jefferson can pivot both ways, he’s got an array or dribble-ups, ball fakes and up-and-under moves that he can pull out at any moment, and Jefferson splits a double team as well as anybody I’ve watched this season. I love Kevin Garnett, but it’s just so refreshing to see a big man who likes banging underneath on offense, gets deep post positioning and demands the ball down the stretch. I watched him dismantle the Nets this weekend and it was the most impressive performance I’ve seen by a big man this season: 40 points, 19 rebounds 2 blocks and just 1 turnover on 13-of-21 FGs and 14-of-17 FTs.
– Two key players from last year’s NBA Finals could be missing extended time. Anderson Varejao went down with a nasty ankle injury on Sunday. The middle of his ankle was stepped on, bending his foot at a near 90 degree angle, surely stretching ligaments and tendons further than his maker intended. The early word is Varejao will miss about a month– fortunately Cleveland plays in the East, so they won’t loose too much ground in the meantime. More significant to fantasy owners is bone spurs discovered in Spurs PG Tony Longoria‘s ankle. According to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, “He was told he was going to get better, but he’s gotten worse. I don’t know how long it’s going to be, but he’s going to sit. He doesn’t like it, but this is the way it’s going to be.” This is bad news. Parker was clearly struggling in January already and this could linger for some time. If they decide that surgery is necessary Parker would likely miss six or more weeks.
– Keep an eye on Elton Brand, who reportedly has been dunking in practice. The healing process is slightly ahead of schedule, and we should see him on the court sometime in February. The Clippers don’t have any reason to push Brand and they’ll be cautious, but Elton is the kind of fierce competitor that just can’t stand to be off the court and will push himself. He’s a great buy low candidate right now, but that window of opportunity is closing fast.