Fantasy Basketball Trade Tips: Time is running out to improve your squad for playoff push

By Alex Barutha, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

If you're looking to make deals in your standard Yahoo league, you have just over a week left until the fantasy basketball trade deadline (March 2). Hopefully, your rival managers were inspired by the real deadline and are coming out of the All-Star break with a fresh mentality open to deals.

Even though there were technically only two days of NBA action between last week's column and this week's column, there were still some things to observe on new-look teams. Coming out of the break, what moves should you make?

Buy: Rudy Gobert, Timberwolves

I identified Gobert as a buy target last week, though that was a little more speculative. He helped hammer the point home during Thursday's game against the Wizards, posting 17 points, 19 boards, three blocks and one assist in 35 minutes.

I'm less focused on the rebounds and the blocks and more focused on the scoring. D'Angelo Russell and Gobert didn't have chemistry — an issue when Gobert can't create points for himself besides crashing the offensive glass. He needs a point guard to feed him.

Gobert got just that when the Wolves traded for Mike Conley. The pair appeared in 175 games together while on Utah, and they clearly work well. In the 71 minutes that Gobert and Conley have been on the court together this season, the big man has averaged 17.4 points per 36 minutes — a nice boost from his season average of 15.7 points per 36. That sample size with Conley also includes a clunker in a blowout loss to Memphis, where Gobert scored just eight points in 29 minutes.

Ultimately, I'm banking on Conley's addition not only helping Gobert directly but also helping the team's vibes and the flow of the offense, which should indirectly help Gobert. I'm also not putting a lot of stock into Karl-Anthony Towns' expected mid-to-late-March return, as he'll need some ramp-up time, and a good chunk of fantasy leagues will be concluded by the time he's 100 percent.

Rudy Gobert's fantasy stock is on the rise after being reunited with Mike Conley. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Rudy Gobert's fantasy stock is on the rise after being reunited with Mike Conley. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Sell: Gordon Hayward, Hornets

As with any time Hayward gets on a healthy stretch where he's producing, it's time to move him. The veteran has appeared in 11 straight games, and he's seen 30-plus minutes in each of the past six, with averages of 15.3 points, 4.0 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals.

If the Hornets were competitive, I wouldn't feel as strongly about selling, but there's no incentive to continue to work the veteran so much with the team 17-43. After Mason Plumlee was dealt to the Clippers, Hayward is the oldest (32) player on the team by four years.

Plus, Kelly Oubre and Cody Martin should be back at some point following the All-Star break, which will be the perfect excuse to give fewer minutes and more rest days to Hayward. I'd take almost any top-150 player for Hayward.

Buy: Jaden Ivey, Pistons

The reason to buy Ivey is the same reason to sell Bojan Bogdanovic, but you'll have a much harder time pulling off the latter. The 15-44 Pistons have no reason to keep pushing the veteran to play 35.4 minutes per game, as he has this month. Like the aforementioned Hayward, expect rest days and fewer minutes.

Even though I'm a bit confused by Detroit moving Saddiq Bey, his absence opens up even more usage for Ivey during the games that Bogdanovic misses. The rookie has looked good lately, regardless, averaging 15.5 points, 5.9 dimes, 3.3 assists and 1.0 steals in his past 11 games.

However, the numbers with Bogdanovic and Bey (and Cade Cunningham) off the court show Ivey's real potential as a No. 1 option. In those situations (128 total minutes), Ivey has averaged 24.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.7 steals per 36 minutes. Now, that also comes with 5.6 turnovers (wow), but there are plenty of Fantasy formats or team builds where that won't hurt you.

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Sell: Nic Claxton, Nets

Part of me thinks this could come back to bite me, but Claxton hasn't looked good since the Nets dealt Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Post-deadline, the center has averaged 7.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.0 assists in 25.7 minutes.

It's important to note that Claxton was coming off a hamstring injury, but that was just a one-game absence. My concern is that he won't be as effective offensively without the gravity of KD and Kyrie. With those two off the court, Claxton averages 1.7 fewer points per 36 minutes. That's not a massive decrease, but it's enough to concern me when paired with his recent stretch and the eye test. Plus, it will take time for Spencer Dinwiddie and the other new players to form chemistry with Claxton on lobs and dump-off passes. Ultimately, we should temper our expectations compared to the 17.2 points on 72.8 percent shooting he averaged for a 13-game stretch in mid-January to early February. For as much attention as that got him, he's averaging only 12.8 points on the season.