This is the first big in-season trade in the NBA. If you have not heard about it before now, where have you been? The deal is the Lakers recieve Pau Gasol in exchange for Kwame “underachiever” Brown, Javaris Crittendon, and two first round draft picks. The trade immediately helps out the front court depleted Lakers. With Bynum still out another month or so, Pau will step in and be the guy down low for LA. This means the Lakers are definitely in contention for the Western Conference title instead of teetering on being contenders and pretenders. The scary thing about all of this is the fact that the trade has made the now dreaded Laker team the biggest front court in recent memory and quite possibly of all time. With Bynum in the lineup, the small forward will be Lamar Odom (6′ 11″), the power forward is Pau Gasol (7′), and the center is Andrew Bynum (7′). This will inevitably create match up problems for all of the teams in the Western Conference. It is almost silly to think about that line up that will also inlude arguably the NBA’s greatest player Kobe Bryant and playoff tested veteran Derek Fisher. The effect for fantasy owners is going to be negligible. With having no one really to back him up at center, Gasol should see all the minutes for about the first month. This should increase his rebounding numbers and his point total at first. His percentages should all stay relatively even and his block totals should increase because he had no real reason to play hard for Memphis. I am not saying he did not necessarily play as hard as he could, but one only has to this with his fragile back that he would not put everything he had into a non-contender. If you own Pau and are worried when Bynum gets back, trade him closer to when you hear exactly when Andrew gets back.
The fantasy implications for the Grizzlies is much more extensive. There are very many different people that are going to have to step up to make their team slightly respectable. The first one is former “Player Spotlight” Rudy Gay. With Pau Gasol gone, the only other scorer on the team is Mike Miller. Rudy will get a lot more touches on this newly formed team. If you can get him for a reasonable price, I would say without question you need to get him because I see no reason why all of his numbers cannot go slightly upwards from here on out. The next player is Darko Milicic. It pains me to even recommend him as a player and talk about him as a fantasy and/or NBA starter. However, when you are the only big man in the lineup it should get you, by default, a lot of rebounds, points, and blocks. We will see if he can carry the load, but I am not a believer just yet, even though he has done well with Gasol gone. The next beneficiary is Juan Carlos Navarro. Apparently, when you trade your starting power forward/center you need to replace him in the lineup with a shooting guard. It really does not make much sense to me, but that is the way it is. If you need a good source of three pointers from here on out pick him up. I do not think he will remain a starter but his minutes should be there all season long. Hakim Warrick is the next player to contribute as a result of this trade. Without question, I thought Hakim would come in and be the starting Power Forward for Memphis so I picked him up. He should still continue to see around 25 minutes as a reserve player and if he does get promoted to starter, he should pay off nice dividends.
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