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Find out how to play the waiting game with injured NBA stars


Injuries are an unlucky reality in sports, and the NBA isn’t any different. Nonetheless, “load management” introduced a singular problem for the Association that’s less distinguished across other leagues. And the NBA’s policies around transparency and injury disclosure are inconsistent, to say the least. Still, those playing fantasy basketball must navigate each day through ambiguous injury designations and last-minute absences.

But for those who play in season-long leagues, the flexibility to stash injured players in IL or IL+ spots offers much-needed flexibility to maintain your roster afloat while players are out of the lineup for prolonged periods of time. Several players are sitting in street clothes for various reasons, and to be clear, I won’t be advocating for selling any of them for peanuts.

As a substitute, I’ll give the newest update on their health and supply a glimpse into the trade market if fantasy managers get the itch to make moves.

Probably the most frustrating situations in fantasy basketball needs to be with Chris Paul. I talked about him on Tuesday and mentioned how the Suns have been pretty tight-lipped about his heel injury. He’s been out since November 7, missing 14 games in the method and yet, there’d been no official timetable for his return. He was listed as questionable on the injury report for over a month, only to be eventually ruled out. Phoenix Suns GM James Jones said, “Chris is close, he’s coming back, he’ll be back …” but again, nothing concrete with a definitive timeline.

So you’ll be able to imagine my response this morning — waking as much as see that Chris Paul expects to play tonight versus the Boston Celtics (barring any setbacks).

The conspiracy theorist in me figured that Paul would return through the Suns’ upcoming four-game road trip. The Suns have one of the best record within the West but they’re only 4-6 on the road this season. And it’s quite the string of away games, facing the Pelicans twice, the Rockets and Clippers; nearly every team Chris Paul has played for.

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Fantasy managers have been patiently waiting for Paul to make it back and on Wednesday they’ll get their wish. Cameron Payne‘s month-long run involves an end in shallow leagues but control him since Paul is popping 38 this yr and is becoming an injury risk late in his profession. But Paul shouldn’t have much of a ramp-up period as Suns’ GM James Jones said the organization wants him to be 100% before returning. If Paul struggles in a couple of games, he’d be a solid buy-low goal should you’re in need of elite assists and steals.

The Hornets are in shambles without their star point guard, and after missing his first 13 games of the season with an ankle injury, his return to play was short-lived after aggravating that very same ankle on November 16 versus the Pacers.

He only made it back for 3 games before a freak accident forced him to miss the next eight games for the Hornets. He’s been ruled out ahead of Wednesday’s contest against the Nets, but by all accounts, he’s making strides in his rehabilitation. Here’s a video of LaMelo getting shots up before Tuesday’s game versus the Clippers:

And here’s LaMelo running and moving laterally at Hornets practice on Wednesday:

There are not any reports of him taking over contact or joining in 5-on-5 drills yet, in order that is probably going a hurdle he’ll must clear before returning to motion. The Hornets are currently 7-17 this season, thirteenth within the Eastern Conference and certain headed to the 2023 Lottery. But there’s a whole lot of season left, and the Hornets have to be cautious with their most prized asset, especially after re-injuring the identical ankle in such a brief time frame.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but when I had LaMelo on my fantasy team, I’d proceed to carry. He was likely a late-first or early second-round pick, so don’t hassle selling low. When he returns, he’ll see an uptick in scoring with all the injuries in Charlotte, together with the standard assists, steals and threes that fantasy managers can expect.

When it comes to the trade market, the one trade I saw that made me think, “Hmm, I’d consider that,” can be for Zach LaVine. And truthfully, I doubt anyone with LaVine would make a move with Ball’s return so murky.

Finally! A player with an actual timeline to return to motion! Karl-Anthony Towns will miss four-to-six weeks with a right calf strain that he suffered on November 28. Based on Adrian Wojnarowski, he’ll have the opportunity to recuperate fully and return sometime in January.

Doing a little back-of-the-envelope math based on the Timberwolves schedule, the short end of KAT’s timeline (4 weeks) has him missing 13 games with a possible return versus the Heat on December 26. That seems too early, so if KAT is taking a look at a six-week absence, he’ll miss about 20 games with an affordable return date around January 9.

Fantasy managers should expect Karl-Anthony Towns to return in the approaching month. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Missing upwards of 20 games is critical, but at the very least fantasy managers didn’t lose KAT for the season. And there is ample time to stream players to compensate for his loss. Kyle Anderson is a beneficial streaming option in 12-team leagues, and Naz Reid is worthy of a glance as well.

The one trade I saw for KAT that piqued my interest was for Brandon Ingram. But he’s also injured, so that does not help anyone within the near term. I’d be willing to maneuver Towns for the proper deal because I do not trust the Timberwolves to determine how one can play two big men in the identical lineup. KAT will likely be coming off an injury, and his numbers are nearly down across the board this season when playing alongside Rudy Gobert. So, if there’s anyone on this injury list that I’d be trying to move, it might be Towns.

Budding star Desmond Bane was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his big toe on November fifteenth. The injury occurred on November 11 versus the Minnesota Timberwolves, right when Bane was approaching (what gave the impression to be) mid-season form. Bane is averaging 24.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and three.8 3PM (all career-highs) with 47/45/91 shooting splits. He’s still twenty third in per-game value, but because he’s missed three weeks of hoops, he’s fallen to 128th in total value.

The excellent news is that Bane shed his boot, however the three-week mark for re-evaluation passed five days ago, and the newest information from Grizzlies HC Taylor Jenkins just isn’t ideal:

I did some additional research because the shortage of details surrounding Bane’s injury has me concerned. Dr. Rajpal Brar provided some insight into the style of injury that Bane is coping with and, in easy terms, it’s turf toe. Turf toe typically has a recovery period of 4-6 weeks, so if that’s indeed Bane’s injury, and assuming he’s healing properly, we should always expect to see him return on December 23 versus the Suns or on December 25 versus the Warriors.

Since I even have a whole lot of exposure to Bane, and he’s been playing at an All-Star caliber level, I haven’t any intentions of divesting my shares. And assuming all is well on his road to recovery, he’s only a couple of weeks away. But listed here are the highest trades I saw involving Bane recently:

Desmond Bane for Kyrie Irving

Desmond Bane for Bradley Beal

Each are fair trades, but I’d still go for Bane’s upside provided that Beal’s missed several games to injury and Kyrie Irving, well, is Kyrie Irving.

One other rising star this season, Tyrese Maxey, was heating up before sustaining a foot injury against the Milwaukee Bucks on November 18. He fractured his left foot; initial reports had him missing 3-4 weeks. He’d taken on a more distinguished role as a playmaker within the absence of James Harden, averaging 5.8 assists within the six games he played without Harden. But for the season, Maxey is 66th in per-game value and 151st in total value after missing a couple of weeks.

The Sixers organization has been forthright about Maxey’s prognosis since he was injured. Here is Sixers HC Doc Rivers’ comments after the Bucks game where Maxey went down:

While Doc couldn’t reveal the variety of games Maxey could miss, a couple of games were higher than the nothing burger the Phoenix Suns provided regarding Chris Paul. Getting back on course, Maxey said to reporters on November 21 that he expects to get his boot off in every week.

Maxey was right on time, as he shed his boot on November 28, and reports got here on this afternoon that he returned to practice. Here’s a video of Maxey running for the primary time since his injury:

It is important to notice that Doc Rivers said, “He’s still a ways from sprinting and jumping.” While Maxey is progressing well, his four-week timetable is nine days away. If he isn’t sprinting or jumping yet, we will conservatively expect him back in early January.

Maxey’s value is undoubtedly higher when Harden is off the ground, and now that Harden is back, this can be a compelling window to see what’s available on the trade market. Maxey was a top-50 player before getting injured, and fantasy managers would net essentially the most in return by packaging him with a healthy player. For instance, here’s a trade I assumed was pretty even for each parties when it comes to value:

Tyrese Maxey and Terry Rozier for D’Angelo Russell and Lauri Markkanen

Markkanen is one of the best player within the deal, and also you’re absorbing Russell, who’s playing higher with KAT out of the lineup.

So my advice with Maxey is to carry your position and wait it out unless you’ll be able to package him with one other player. The one straight-up offer that was remotely interesting was for Mikal Bridges, but Bridges (twenty second in per-game value) just isn’t a sensible option in the intervening time.

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