Thursday, February 23, 2006

Steve Francis Goes to New York; Everybody Laughs

Well, today’s the big day. Everyone will be frantically refreshing ESPN.com, RealGM.com and whatever other sites to get the latest on the trades that just aren’t going to happen. There will be plenty of talk, but will there be any action? We shall see. I’m always skeptical, but that goes for everything. Just like I’ll believe a player comes back from a sprained ankle when I see him on the court, I’ll believe a trade rumor when the NBA officially announces a deal. But as we all know, a pretty big deal went down yesterday, as the Knicks swung a deal to acquire Steve Francis’s outrageous contract and his past-his-prime, overrated to begin with talent for the expiring contract of Penny Hardaway and a promising young player in Trevor Ariza. You’ve had plenty of chances to read about fallout and ramifications, but don’t you want to read one more? I thought so.

Winners
Keyon Dooling – In our league, Dooling was picked up about 45 seconds after news of the trade first broke, and the only thing the guy who nabbed him can be upset about is that he didn’t have him in time for last night’s game. Getting the start at PG and playing a team high 42 minutes, Dooling went off for 23/1/6 on 9-of-14 shooting. Good stuff. He’s certainly worth a pickup and should be a strong play in the short term. But there are some caveats. First off, the Magic are extremely depleted right now, so Dooling has little choice but to be the main man. Jameer Nelson, Grant Hill and Hedo Turkoglu are all out. Now even before today’s news that the Magic are considering buying Hill out, I had all but written him off for the season. Meanwhile Nelson is at least three weeks away from returning, while Turkoglu should be back within a week or so. So Dooling should be able to have his way for a while. But what about his game? He’s masquerading as a PG right now, but Dooling isn’t a natural at that position and has a pretty limited fantasy repertoire. His line last night sort of shows that, as he came up empty in 3s, steals and blocks. He’s averaging a decent 1.4 steals per 40 this season, right in line with his career averages. During the 02-03 season with the Clippers he attempted 2.5 3s in just 17.6 mpg, but other than that he’s never been much of a long range threat. And he’s a career 40% shooter. And he’s turned the ball over at an alarming rate this year, with 2.1 per game in just 22.3 mpg. I’d still plug him into lineups immediately and use him while he’s still likely to receive 40 minutes and be one of the team’s top scoring options. But he’s not going to put up numbers as good as Jameer Nelson when he was in a similar position.

Carlos Arroyo – I like Arroyo better as a player than Dooling, but he’s in the same boat when it comes to having a limited fantasy arsenal. He’s not going to hit many 3s or grab many steals even with lots of playing time, although he will rack up the assists if given the opportunity. Right now he seems to be in the same boat as Jose Calderon, a guy who can help in assists in the deepest of leagues, and would be worth a pickup if he could crack the starting lineup. But with Dooling and DeShawn Stevenson (yet another Magic player with limited fantasy upside) ahead of him, it doesn’t look like that will happen. It’s worth noting that Dooling is quite fragile, though, and should be go down with an injury before Nelson’s return, Arroyo could put up some nice numbers.

Dwight Howard – Remember last year when Vince Carter was traded from Toronto and Chris Bosh really picked his game up a notch and made his way into the elite class? I’m hoping we see something like that happen with Howard. It’s no sure thing, by any means, but with the Magic clearly building the team around the young big man, now is the time for him to start taking control on offense. Howard has been a very solid performer all year, but he’s still a bit tentative on offense. He hasn’t topped 25 points a single time this season and has attempted more than 15 shots in just four games. It seems like Howard would have little choice but to take a bigger role in the offense. These next few months will be very crucial in determining where Howard should be selected next year. Bosh’s total numbers last year didn’t reflect how strong he played once Carter left town, and even if he went in the third rounds of drafts this year, he’s turned out to be a bargain. We’ll see if the same happens with Howard.

Steve Francis – First off, I’d like to start a petition to get Francis’s #23 jersey taken down from the rafters in Cole Field House. I was there over the weekend and it pained me to see this chump who played just one season (and a pretty disappointing one at that, all things considered) have his jersey hanging up there with the likes of Steve Blake, Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter. Anyway, it just wasn’t happening anymore for Francis in Orlando. He had to get out of there. Will moving to the Big Apple and the biggest mess of a team in the league help him? At this point it can’t hurt him. You probably read the Sports Guy’s theory that guys like Francis should be traded every four months or so, just so they always play inspired ball. His idea was that Francis and Marbury should continuously be dealt for each other, not share the backcourt together, but oh well. A best case scenario has Francis and Marbury clicking like Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes did last year. A worst case scenario has him … well, playing like he was the past few weeks in Orlando. Nowhere to go but up, right?

Channing Frye – Maybe with this trade Larry Brown will finally start to simply throw his best players out there and see what happens. Marbury, Francis and Jalen Rose are locked in for a loooong while now. We can probably call them untradeable since they are now on the one team that made it previously impossible to call any player with a horrible contract untradeable. So LB should just go with it, start those three along with Channing Frye and Eddy Curry and see what happens. Honestly, that’s a talented lineup. You might worry that Frye will never get his hands on the ball, but he will, and when he gets the ball, he rarely lets it go. He’s averaging 10.5 FGA per game in just 25.4 mpg, so he takes his shots. This is probably just wishful thinking, as is anything with the Knicks, but LB can’t keep going back and forth with Frye. Perhaps there will finally be some stability, and he can take advantage of that. Man, did I really just write that?

Losers
Jamal Crawford
— Early rumors had Crawford going to Orlando as part of the Francis deal, which might have been an ideal situation for him, as it could have been him who would have inherited Dooling’s role and Gunner by Default. He could have at least approached 20 ppg and 3 3pg with big minutes in Orlando. But now he’s stuck behind the $30 million backcourt and there just doesn’t seem to be enough minutes to go around. He’ll still explode for his occasional 27 points in 24 minutes, but it’ll be pretty impossible to know when that will happen.

Quentin Richardson – Just when it looked like he might be able to salvage some value, it looks like he’ll be made irrelevant again. Really, you’ve got Francis, Marbury, Rose, Crawford and Richardson fighting for minutes at three positions. Richardson seems to be the lowest member on the totem pole there. He had scored double digits in five straight, was hitting the boards well like he usually does and was slowly re-discovering his three-point stroke. But it’s hard to see him managing much value from here on out.

Jameer Nelson – Just bad timing for his injury. A longtime FBB favorite, he could be putting up true “difference maker” numbers with Francis out of the picture. But he’ll be on the shelf for a while, and who knows if the Magic will even want to risk bringing him back for the last few weeks, depending on his progress. A tough break for owners who held onto him hoping for a situation like this. But next year? If he can nab the starting job, he is going to certainly be worth targeting in drafts.

4 Comments:

Blogger PR said...

Yes, as a Jamal Crawford owner myself I was pissed that he was not included in the Orlando deal. Hopefully he'll still be traded and land on a team like the Lakers.

1:01 PM  
Blogger JM said...

espn.com reports that e.watson is getting traded to Seattle in a 3-team deal.
Do you think this will hurt Ridnour much?

Since Hill took over as coach Ridnour's #'s have improved dramatically, particulalry in pts,asts,FG%,min. In those 25 games he's averaged 14 pts, 7.5 assists, 46%FG, 37 minutes. He's 11th in the league in assists over that span.

How much do you think those numbers would drop if this trade goes through?

1:42 PM  
Blogger T-Plan said...

Who thinks Tim Thomas will offer a mid-season boon when Chicago buys him out and he signs with New Jersey? That guy is gonna make out like a bandit in all this activity.

Can't really see where any of the other trades affect fantasy. Marc Jackson to the Hornets could be an interesting trade.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Andy said...

JM: Now that Flip Murray's gone, at least there's still only one guy eating into Ridnour's minutes. Watson is a good player, and I think he'll get a few more minutes per game than the 19-20 Murray was getting, just for defensive purposes if nothing else. However, I still think Ridnour will retain most of his value. Hill seems to love him and he's been playing extremely well lately. If anything, I think he'll see a slight dropoff in minutes (and therefore his counting stats), but I don't think it will be much.

6:25 PM  

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