Fantasy Basketball: DeMarcus Cousins joins Warriors in free agency roundup
Yep. DeMarcus Cousins, on the Warriors. It send shockwaves throughout the league, but it may not have much of an impact for Fantasy. Here's why.
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The big names have largely come off the board, but there is still plenty of Fantasy-relevant news coming out of NBA free agency. Here is a roundup of the latest.
DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State Warriors
The contract: One year, $5.3 million
What it means: Cousins played only 48 games before tearing his Achilles during late January last season. Prior to the injury, he was putting together a great season in his first full year with Anthony Davis, averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists and a combined 3.2 blocks/steals. Because of the injury, the presumption heading into free agency was that the Pelicans would offer Cousins some sort of a prove-it deal to protect the team in case he wasn't remotely the same player he was before. Either that deal never came, or Cousins liked the idea of playing for Golden State more, because he'll be donning a Warriors uniform during 2018-19.
The big man mentioned earlier in the offseason that he hopes to be healthy by training camp, though Golden State will likely exercise caution, as there's no need to rush him back and risk re-injury. Cousins' Fantasy value is tough to gauge. He'll be penciled in as a starter, but his minutes will inherently be limited, and his all-world supporting cast means Cousins won't be able to approach the sky-high usage rates he's thrown up in recent years. The bottom line is no one is sure what to expect. A situation like this is completely unprecedented – both in a Fantasy and a real basketball sense – and it may take several months until we can confidently assess how Cousins fits in with what's now undoubtedly the most talented roster in NBA history by a large margin.
Rajon Rondo, Los Angeles Lakers
The contract: One year, $8 million
What it means: It's not immediately clear if Rondo will start or come off the bench for the Lakers, though he hasn't cracked 30 minutes per game in each of the past two seasons. Last year, however, he needed just 26.2 minutes per game to average 8.2 assists, giving him one of the best assist rates in the league. That said, playing alongside LeBron James for significant stretches may take the ball out Rondo's hands, as could the presence of Lonzo Ball, another pass-first point guard. Rondo has proven that he can still be Fantasy-viable in limited minutes, but the move to Los Angeles probably means a decline in overall value.
Julius Randle, New Orleans Pelicans
The contract: Two years, $18 million
What it means: With LeBron (and others) coming to LA, the organization was content with letting Randle move on to another team to maintain financial flexibility. While it wasn't publicly known at the time, the Pelicans apparently weren't seriously interested in bringing DeMarcus Cousins back. That paved the way for New Orleans to sign another young frontcourt player to pair next to Anthony Davis.
It's possible Randle comes off the bench while Nikola Mirotic starts at power forward and E'Twaun Moore slots in at small forward for floor spacing. But regardless of how the starting lineup shakes out, Randle will still be a key piece at his natural power forward spot, as well as at center in small-ball looks. It's hard to imagine Randle seeing fewer than the 26.7 minutes per game he garnered last season, when he averaged 16.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Elfrid Payton, New Orleans Pelicans
The contract: One year, $2.7 million
What it means: Payton's stock has fallen dramatically over the last year. The Suns, who acquired Payton at last year's trade deadline in exchange for a second-round pick, informed him prior to free agency that they were interested in re-signing him. Ultimately, it appeared he might not be able to land a starting spot. But with Rajon Rondo now in LA, Payton walks into an opportunity to start alongside Jrue Holiday. That said, there's a chance Payton comes off the bench if coach Alvin Gentry opts to start Holiday at point guard surrounded by shooters. Either way, Payton landed in one of the few spots where he should see significant run with a chance of putting up numbers like what we were used to seeing from him in Orlando.
JaVale McGee, Los Angeles Lakers
The contract: One year, $2.1 million
What it means: McGee may once again come off the bench for short stints, as Ivica Zubac appears to be the favorite for the starting center job. Moritz Wagner and Channing Frye are also options at the position if coach Luke Walton wants to focus on floor spacing. McGee could see higher usage than he did in Golden State, but I wouldn't bank on him seeing more than 15 minutes per night. The last time McGee saw at least 15 minutes per game was 2013-14, when he averaged 7.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks for the Nuggets.
J.J. Redick, Philadelphia 76ers
The contract: One year, $12.5 million
What it means: After playing on a bloated, $23 million contract last season, Redick has taken a dramatic pay cut for the upcoming season, which should help the Sixers' financial flexibility during the remainder of free agency and/or the trade deadline. Unless management makes a drastic move, Redick's role should remain roughly the same, and he could even see a slight uptick in production with deadline-addition Marco Belinelli now in San Antonio.
Salah Mejri, Dallas Mavericks
The contract: One year, $1.6 million
What it means: With DeAndre Jordan finally making his way to Dallas, Mejri's role will probably be reduced, especially after Dwight Powell showed flashes last season. It would be a major surprise if Mejri is Fantasy-relevant.
Nerlens Noel, Oklahoma City Thunder
The contract: One year, $1.6 million
What it means: Noel reportedly turned down a four-year, $70 million offer from the Mavericks last season. It's tough to say for sure, but that's a decision he probably regrets. However, Noel will now be joining a team more prepared to compete in the postseason. While he'll essentially be stuck behind Steven Adams, who played 32.7 minutes per game last season, Noel isn't a stranger to putting up quality numbers in limited action. Two seasons ago, he saw 20.5 minutes per game and averaged 8.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and a combined 2.3 steals/blocks. Noel may be worth taking a risk on in deeper leagues. If Adams goes down with injury, Noel becomes a must-add in all formats.
Derrick Favors, Utah Jazz
The contract: Two years, $36 million
What it means: Questions remain about Favors' fit alongside Rudy Gobert, not to mention his concerning injury history. However, considering Utah's recent playoff success, letting someone as skilled as Favors simply walk away would have been a tough decision. It seems unlikely that his workload will change significantly, as the Jazz are essentially running back the same roster as last season. Look for Favors to continue playing somewhat of a super-sixth-man role, earning minutes in the mid-to-high 20s.
Anthony Tolliver, Minnesota Timberwolves
The contract: One year, $5.5 million
What it means: General manager/coach Tom Thibodeau essentially kicked out Nemanja Bjelica and replaced him with Tolliver. As such, I expect Tolliver to absorb Bjelica's role, which meant 20.5 minutes per game last season. However, that number was largely supplemented by starts in the wake of Jimmy Butler's knee injury. In 22.2 minutes per game for the Pistons last season, Tolliver posted 8.9 points and 3.1 rebounds. He can continue to be passed on in the vast majority of Fantasy leagues.
Jose Calderon, Detroit Pistons
The contract: One year, $2.4 million
What it means: Calderon joins both Ish Smith and Jameer Nelson as reserve point guard options off the bench for coach Dwane Casey. At this point in his career, Calderon is, more or less, a spot-up shooter who can bring the ball up. He thrived from beyond the arc in Cleveland last season, but he's among the worst on-ball defenders in the league, and it's hard to imagine he'll play enough minutes to be relevant in even the deepest of leagues.
Seth Curry, Portland Trail Blazers
The contract: Two years, $5.9 million
What it means: A leg injury kept Curry sidelined for the entirety of the 2017-18 season. He put together a breakout campaign the year prior, however, seeing a career-high 29.0 minutes per game and averaging 12.8 points, 2.7 assists and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 42.5 percent from three. Curry probably won't see the same type of run with Portland considering he's behind both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum on the depth chart. But he could end up in a sixth-man role as a combo guard, filling the spot vacated by the likely departure of unrestricted free agent Shabazz Napier. If that's the case, he should have some Fantasy relevance, though he hasn't proven to be much more than a three-point specialist.
Avery Bradley, LA Clippers
The contract: Two years, $25 million
What it means: Bradley was traded to the Clippers from the Pistons in late January, though he played just six games in LA due to a lingering abdominal injury. His first year away from Boston wasn't great, as he saw most of his numbers slip across the board. Even assuming he bounces back to some degree, Bradley generally doesn't put up numbers conducive to Fantasy success – his extreme rebounding rate two seasons ago now looks like a major anomaly – as he's mostly a defense-first guard who's better in real life than in Fantasy.
Michael Carter-Williams, Houston Rockets
The contract: One year, veteran's minimum
What it means: This one is a bit of a head-scratcher, but the Rockets are apparently the latest team to be intrigued by Carter-Williams' size and perceived ability to pass. Luckily, with Chris Paul and James Harden on the roster, Carter-Williams won't be asked to do much. He appeared in 52 games for the Hornets last season, averaging 4.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists while shooting 33.2 percent from the floor – the lowest mark in the league among players who attempted at least 200 field goals.
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