Fantasy Basketball: Free Agency Primer

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It felt like free agency started on draft night, thanks to the blockbuster deal between the Celtics and Nets. Then came the Knicks, who of course couldn’t be outdone (or outspent) by their in city rival. Now with tons of other rumors swirling, it looks like the madness will continue. Before we get started on who might sign where, lets take a look at the players switching cities by virtue of trade. 

This is as originally posted on DimeMag.com. Kevin writes as Dime Magazine’s Fantasy Doctor. For more extensive fantasy basketball advice, follow him on Twitter at @DimeFantasyDoc.

NETS RECEIVE: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry

CELTICS RECEIVE: Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Reggie Evans, Keith Bogans, Kris Joseph, Tornike Shengelia, draft picks

FANTASY FALLOUT - At this point of their careers, Pierce, Terry, and KG all have the same fantasy potential no matter where they go. Barring injury, Pierce will be the most consistent scorer and Garnett will bring his usual defensive tenacity, while Terry looks to improve on the notion that last year was the beginning of the end. I think the biggest winner of this trade is Brook Lopez. He averaged 19.4 points 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last year, and if KG can get him to start playing with a mean streak, I think those defensive numbers can come up even higher. The excess of offensive talent suddenly flooding Brooklyn may lead to a decline in scoring for Deron Williams and Joe Johnson.

Depending on what the Celtics do with the rest of their offense, Humphries may be thrust back in to fantasy relevance. Remember, he is just a year removed from an 11.0 rebounds per game season and with only an oft-injured Jared Sullinger and rookie Kelly Olynyk as a threat for time on the front line, Humphries will no doubt be gunning for a big contract year. Wallace and Jeff Green will make for a hard to beat offense/defense combo at the three, but you have to guess that the bulk of the minutes will go to Green’s fresher legs.

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RAPTORS RECEIVE: Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, draft picks

KNICKS RECEIVE: Andrea Bargnani

FANTASY FALLOUT - It will be interesting to see how the Knicks divide the minutes between Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire. No matter who starts, you’d have to think that Bargnani will get the bulk of time because of STAT’s knees, but Bargnani is no stranger to the trainer’s room himself. Perhaps New York could rejuvenate the former first overall pick’s game, but for sure you know you’re getting at least 1.5 treys with close to a block per game. Novak still makes for the league’s best Sunday pickup when you’re trailing in threes. In other news, Q-Rich is still a tradable asset.

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HELLO, MY NAME IS: Dwight Howard

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: Houston, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas, Golden State

FANTASY FALLOUT - Understand that Dwight is getting 11-plus boards and 2-plus blocks no matter where he winds up this summer, but certainly there are better situations than others. Houston and Los Angeles seem to be the favorites despite the fact that Golden State can surround him with “the best shooting backcourt off all time,” barring Klay Thompson being a part of that deal. The Rockets would make for a better fit than the Lakers offensively for Dwight, but he’ll be near the top of the league in field goal percentage regardless. Dallas would probably be the landing spot where his offense is most needed, but I can’t see him going there by his lonesome. Kobe may take some looks away, but when you’re as good as Howard is, you can play in East Jabib and still put up major stats.

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HELLO, MY NAME IS: Josh Smith

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: Detroit, Houston, Atlanta, Boston (sign-and-trade)

FANTASY FALLOUT - Smith is never going to be an efficient, 20 points per game scorer, but his volume of touches should only make him better if he becomes the focal point of a team somewhere else. He’s a lock for at least a steal and two-plus blocks anywhere he goes, but a team like Detroit, who has been pursuing Smith hard and is totally bereft of offense, can actually use his scoring punch. He seems to be the Plan B in Houston if they strike out on Dwight and a return to Atlanta isn’t totally out of the question, despite the relationship problems they have had over the years. The best landing spot for fantasy purposes would probably be Boston, who is suddenly loaded with draft picks and trade assets. Smoove used to play AAU ball with Rajon Rondo, and having both of those guys running up and down the floor at the professional level would do wonders for both of their fantasy games.

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HELLO, MY NAME IS: Al Jefferson

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: Utah, Atlanta, Charlotte

FANTASY FALLOUT - Jefferson is one of the safest fantasy picks you can make, but his upside would be through the roof if he went to Charlotte to have his own team. While being the focal point of his team’s offense in Minnesota for two seasons, he averaged over 20 points and 11 rebounds from 2007-09. I understand that we’re almost five years removed from that, but Al-Jeff’s fundamentals and presence on the glass give him the potential to be a fantasy beast. Utah would love to re-sign him along with fellow teammate and free agent Paul Millsap, but it’s possible that they won’t be able to pony up the cash for both. Atlanta has also expressed interest since it has become known that their attempts at Dwight Howard will be bleak. As enticing as a frontcourt of Al Horford and Jefferson might sound in the real game, the pairing only hurts their fantasy values.

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HELLO, MY NAME IS: Monta Ellis

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: Chicago, San Antonio, Denver, Phoenix, New York

FANTASY FALLOUT - Ellis is the offensive spark plug that every team covets for their backcourt. While gambling on defense creates problems in real life, I fantasy it equates to tons of steals, inflating his defensive numbers. It’s well known that Milwaukee is going to let him walk and the first suitor to step up in requesting his services was the New York Knicks. His offensive attitude and deficiencies on defense would fit in perfectly with Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith (if he returns), Andrea Bargnani, and crew, but it’s improbable that he winds up in the Big Apple. It would take a sign-and-trade to get him to Chicago or San Antonio as well, but those teams are so systematic that even Ellis’s scoring ceiling would be lowered. Denver and Phoenix would be the best fit for his fantasy game, although he probably only winds up in Denver if Andre Iguodala walks.

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HELLO, MY NAME IS: Andre Iguodala

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: Denver, New Orleans, Golden State, Detroit, Atlanta, Sacramento

FANTASY FALLOUT - Iguodala has become the ultimate glue guy both in the real game and in fantasy. He’ll give you contributions in every category, but his consistency has been dwindling over the past couple of seasons. If he can get back to playing at a high level on a nightly basis, then he can be considered a steal on fantasy draft night. Detroit is determined to land either Iguodala or Josh Smith over the next few days, and if Iggy winds up as a Piston, he would easily become their best passer and could see an uptick in assists. I’m intrigued to see him in New Orleans, but he didn’t mesh so well with Jrue Holiday in Philadelphia, so why would it work better the second time around? Anyways, it really doesn’t matter where Iguodala lands for the sake of stats. He’s going to fill up the stat sheet no matter where he goes.

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HELLO, MY NAME IS: Andrew Bynum

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: Cleveland, Dallas, Atlanta, Golden State, Houston

FANTASY FALLOUT - For years Lakers fans would brag that having Bynum was the next best thing to having Dwight Howard, so it seems fitting that Bynum is the backup plan to most of Dwight’s suitors. Several teams have expressed interest in Bynum, headed by the Dallas Mavericks. We all saw the success they had a few years ago in the lone season that Dirk Nowitzki played next to a legitimate center (Tyson Chandler), and if Bynum can stay healthy (and that’s a HUGE if) that could be his best shot at fantasy stardom. Houston gets up and down the floor way to quickly for Bynum to succeed and I can’t see why Golden State would want to add the injury risk when their starting center is Andrew Bogut. A sleeper place for him to land is Cleveland, but with bigs like Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, and Anthony Bennett already on the roster, his fantasy value would suffer.

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HELLO, MY NAME IS: J.R. Smith

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: New York, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Detroit

FANTASY FALLOUT - Scorers can put the ball in the hole no matter where they play, but iso-Melo definitely held Smith back from even more shot attempts last season. Milwaukee is expected to blow New York out of the water with an offer, and if he winds up in any of the cities above not named New York, you can take it to the bank that J.R. will put up any shot he pleases. Not good for his teammates, but wonderful for his fantasy owners.

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HELLO, MY NAME IS: Tyreke Evans

POSSIBLE LANDING SPOTS: Sacramento, New Orleans, Dallas

FANTASY FALLOUT - Evans is a restricted free agent so even if he signs an offer sheet, it doesn’t mean he’s leaving the Kings. Still, he has been a part of trade rumors for years so don’t be surprised to see him suiting up somewhere else next season. Evans claims that he won’t go anywhere that asks him to play small forward and while I agree that he shouldn’t be playing the three, I also know that money talks. A change of scenery could do wonders for Evans, who kicked in fantasy basketball’s front door in his rookie season with a 20.1 points 5.3 rebounds 5.8 assists campaign, but has done little to brag about since. Sometimes, a fresh start with a new organization can go a long way.

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