By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
There have been several key injuries in the NBA lately, which can have a significant impact on the fantasy basketball landscape. If you’re looking to improve your roster via the trade route, here are some players to consider dealing for, as well as a couple to potentially trade away.
Trade for: Andre Drummond, Cleveland Cavaliers
When the Cavaliers traded for Drummond last season, he never seemed like someone who would be in their long-term plans. They made that even clearer this season when they acquired Jarrett Allen from the Nets for basically no cost. Drummond initially held onto his starting role when Allen was brought in, but it was reported Monday that Drummond will no longer play while the team looks to trade him.
Drummond has an expensive contract for this season and will be a free agent next season, so he’s not exactly likely to net a significant return via trade. Just last season, he was shipped out of Detroit for a second-round pick and filler contracts. Those who drafted him in fantasy basketball could be nervous that he eventually ends up on a team with a diminished role, which is certainly a possibility.
However, Drummond is still an excellent rebounder and can provide defensive stats in bunches. Even if he is dealt to a contending team that has better scoring options, he should still play a significant role on the glass and defensive end. With his value at an all-time low while he sits out, it might not be a bad idea to float out a trade offer and attempt to grab him at a discount.
The market: It’s a bit difficult to gauge the market on Drummond since the news of his benching only came out two days ago. Since then, he was traded straight up for Tim Hardaway Jr. in one fantasy league.
Trade for: Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Lakers
After serving as a key cog off the bench for the Clippers the last two seasons, Harrell’s is off to a relatively quiet start in his first year with the Lakers. He’s only averaging 13.3 points per game, and his numbers are down for two reasons: First, his playing time has decreased by three minutes per game compared to last season. Second, his usage rate has dropped by more than six percentage points — all the way down to 19.6 percent. On the bright side, he is still averaging 6.3 rebounds and is shooting 64.6 percent from the field.
The key news that impacts Harrell is that Anthony Davis (calf) will be out for at least the next 2-to-3 weeks, and likely through the All-Star break. The Lakers don’t care about their regular-season record, so expect them to be very cautious with Davis, who rushed back from the initial injury only to aggravate it in his second game back.
In Davis’ absence, not only could Harrell log more minutes, but he could also take on an expanded role within the Lakers’ offense. In the nine games this season in which Harrell has played at least 28 minutes, he’s averaging 17.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks. He fared well against Minnesota on Tuesday night in just 18 minutes, piling up 17 points, six boards, three assists, a steal, and a block.
The market: In one league, Harrell was acquired straight up for Draymond Green. In a multi-player deal, he was recently packaged with Russell Westbrook to acquire Fred VanVleet.
Trade for: CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
McCollum came out of the gates firing this season, averaging 26.7 points and 4.8 three-pointers per contest. He was efficient, as well, shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 84.4 percent from the charity stripe. Add in his usual steady contributions in rebounds and assists and he was one of the more valuable fantasy options in the early going. Unfortunately for the Blazers, and those who drafted him, McCollum went down with a foot injury on Jan. 16.
When McCollum first suffered his injury, it was said that he would be in a walking boot for four weeks before being re-evaluated. Then news came out Tuesday that it would be another two weeks before McCollum would be re-evaluated again. At this stage, he’ll almost certainly remain out through the All-Star break, which is a difficult pill to swallow for fantasy managers eagerly waiting to remove him from IR. If you are near the top of your league’s standings and are basically going to coast into the fantasy playoffs, trying to get McCollum now — and living with a short-term downturn in production — could pay major dividends in the long run.
The market: In one Yahoo league, McCollum was acquired for Delon Wright. A big, multi-player trade saw Nikola Jokic and Tyrese Haliburton traded for McCollum, Bam Adebayo, and Terry Rozier.
Trade away: Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago Bulls
The Bulls had high hopes for Carter when he was selected with the seventh pick in the 2018 Draft. He’s certainly shown flashes of why they thought so highly of him, including last season when he averaged 11.3 points, 9.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks while anchoring the defense. He did that even with Jim Boylen at the helm, a coach whose scheme did not translate to a productive offensive season for virtually anyone outside of Zach LaVine.
The problem with Carter has been injuries. He played only 44 games his rookie season, 43 games last season and he’s already missed 11 games this season. The good news is that he made his return Monday against the Pacers, posting 11 points and nine rebounds across 21 minutes. If you can find a fantasy manager who believes in his upside, it might be time to deal him now that he’s finally healthy. It’s anyone’s guess how long he’ll remain that way.
The market: Most deals involving Carter lately have been of the multi-player variety. One saw Carter and John Wall traded for Khris Middleton. In another deal, Carter and Jarrett Allen were traded for Jaylen Brown.
Trade away: Al Horford, Oklahoma City Thunder
Horford’s tenure with the Thunder got off to a slow start. He didn’t play more than 29 minutes in any of his first nine games, then he missed six straight contests because of the birth of his child. However, he’s been a different player since making his return. Across his last 10 games, the veteran has averaged 17.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.5 three-pointers. On top of that, he shot 47.7 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from the charity stripe during that stretch.
The concern with Horford is that the Thunder are in the early stages of what should be a lengthy rebuilding process. As the end of the season approaches, there’s a possibility that he’s rested as draft position becomes more of a priority. Already, Horford is being held out of one-half of back-to-back sets. Given the heater that he’s on right now, it’s hard to imagine his value will peak any higher going forward. Now is the time to capitalize on the hot stretch.
The market: One fantasy manager was able to trade Horford for Jarrett Allen. Another interesting, multi-player move saw Horford and Jimmy Butler traded for Ben Simmons, Kelly Oubre Jr., and Serge Ibaka.