• Next week is a somewhat obscure but important deadline in the league’s year: December 15.

    That’s the day when players who signed contracts in the offseason are eligible to be traded.

    Not only does that open the doors for players who are viable trade targets to be traded, but it can also open the floodgates in terms of making it easier for teams to match salaries in potential transactions.

    With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising if we saw some trades over the next week or so, especially concerning teams sitting on disgruntled players or veterans who have no place in the team’s long-term future. Here are a couple of players to keep an eye on in the event that some deals get made.

    No, we’re not counting Ben Simmons, because he’s not available in the vast majority of leagues.

    Thad Young, F, San Antonio Spurs

    It’s a simple story here, as we’ve seen what Young can do with minutes even as a member of the Spurs. He’s frustrated in San Antonio and contending teams only need to look at his run when Jakob Poeltl (health and safety) was out to see that he’s still effective. Young is someone to keep extremely close in all leagues as he could quickly jump to top-100 output after a trade.

    Derrick Favors, C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Favors is another player whose skills just don’t fit his team or its timeline, though he should offer up some utility to a contender. Last season, Favors only needed 15.3 mpg to return top-190 value and any team that seeks out a deal might have eyes on more playing time than that. He’s got a stat set that can quickly lead to late-round appeal thanks to great efficiency from the floor, and there’s no chance he ends the year as a member of the Thunder.

    Goga Bitadze, C, Indiana Pacers

    Bitadze, unlike the first two guys here, is someone to target if trades happen around him. The Pacers look set to break up their fronctourt core, which should create backup minutes for Bitadze. In terms of per-36-minutes value, Bitadze is currently in the top-190 thanks to averages of 2.4 rebounds, 0.6 steals and 0.6 blocks in just 8.4 mpg. That’s also accounting for an abnormally low .300 mark from the field. It’s time for the Pacers to see what their former first-rounder can do, and he could be a serious upside play in fantasy.

    Marvin Bagley, F/C, Sacramento Kings

    Bagley has been a standard-league guy before but injuries and a terrible development process have put his career in neutral. He’s leaving the Kings one way or another and we’d imagine that the team wants to recoup something for the failed No. 2 pick in the draft. Any team willing to sacrifice assets for Bagley (i.e., anything other than money as a free agent) would probably want to kick the tires and see if he’s got some game still. He’s going to be moving to a better basketball situation with just about any deal you can dream of and is someone that could become a top-150 player with even 20 mpg.

    Terrence Ross, G, Orlando Magic

    It’s a stunner that Ross wasn’t traded at the deadline last season but perhaps this year does the trick. It doesn’t hurt the cause that Orlando has lots of guard depth, with Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton all in need of playing time. T-Ross has been very hit-or-miss so far but has sort of taken a back seat in general as the Magic tilt towards youth, and he’s a proven top-125 contributor as a bench gunner. We’ll see if Ross gets moved, and if he can get back to his old self on a better roster.

    Schedule Breakdown

    Two Games: Thunder

    Three Games: Nets, Bulls, Mavs, Pacers, Clippers, Lakers, Wolves, Pelicans, Knicks, Magic, Spurs, Jazz

    Four Games: Hawks, Celtics, Hornets, Cavs, Nuggets, Pistons, Warriors, Rockets, Grizzlies, Heat, Bucks, Sixers, Suns, Blazers, Kings, Raptors, Wizards

    Back-to-Backs

    Monday/Tuesday: Raptors, Warriors, Suns
    Tuesday/Wednesday: Blazers
    Wednesday/Thursday: Pacers, Sixers, Rockets, Wizards
    Friday/Saturday: Celtics, Magic, Warriors, Bucks, Jazz
    Saturday/Sunday: Pistons, Nets, Cavs

    Schedule Maximizers

    Once again, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are the light nights on the schedule, though Saturday isn’t exactly super targetable with seven games. Tuesday and Thursday are really the light days where you’ll surely have roster spots open, which makes the Raptors, Pistons, Nets and Knicks all a little extra appealing since you can pretty much fit them all into your lineups without much worry. The Nets and Pistons also both get that sweet weekend back-to-back for those last-second pushes, which is nice.

    Best Schedule: Hawks (vs. Rockets, @ Magic, vs. Nuggets, vs. Cavs)

    Four games with three great matchups, minimal travel and no back-to-backs so you don’t have to worry about rest. All your big name Hawks are lineup fixtures but it certainly looks like a week to bump up Kevin Huerter, Danilo Gallinari and Cam Reddish if you’ve got some fringe guys only playing three times next week.

    Worst Schedule: Thunder (vs. Pelicans, vs. Clippers)

    The schedule itself isn’t that bad but the Thunder only have two guys you can trust anyway, and two games is a lot to make up for when everyone else has an advantage. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander probably gets a spot in your lineups, but Lu Dort is dicey. If you’re considering anyone else, godspeed.

    Game of the Week: Warriors @ Knicks, Tuesday December 14th, 7:30 pm ET

    Steph Curry in The Garden with a chance at history? Say less.

    Quick Adds

    Josh Hart, G, New Orleans Pelicans

    Hart might’ve been dropped during his latest bout of left knee troubles but he’s hit the ground running since returning and is a multi-cat darling that can lift just about any roster build. The Pelicans are going to give him huge minutes and as long as his knee cooperates there’s easy standard-league value.

    Cody Martin, F, Charlotte Hornets

    Charlotte’s wave of guys in the health and safety protocols has opened the doors for Martin, who responded with top-30 value last week. Granted, that came on 40.1 mpg, but he averaged 16.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 2.0 triples a night on .545 shooting. He’s played his way into steady work even as the Hornets get some guys back and while you shouldn’t expect early-round numbers for too long, there’s no reason to even think about not having Martin in lineups with Charlotte’s injury report stuffed with starters.

    Terence Davis, G/F, Sacramento Kings

    Davis has done nothing but impress in his run as Sacramento’s starting small forward, and while he isn’t a perfect player, he’s been racking up stats. TD is a top-50 guy over the last week, and while some of that is driven by defensive stats and efficiency that look a shade too high, he’s been able to turn about 26 minutes per game into usable numbers. That’s definitely someone that should be on your fantasy radars.

    Injury Report

    Zion Williamson is getting shut down again after experiencing persistent soreness in his right foot. It’s beginning to look like his whole season is in jeopardy, and the Herb Jones train will keep on rolling. Remember when the Pelicans said that Williamson would be ready around opening night?

    DeMar DeRozan, LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier and Kyle Kuzma are just some of the names in the health and safety protocols right now, with the Bulls and Hornets running skeleton crews with their five-plus absences each.

    Luka Doncic is dealing with some left ankle issues that bear watching, after he played through knee and thumb problems earlier in the week.

    Anthony Davis was finally forced out of the lineup despite constantly being on the injury report, with left knee soreness preventing him from playing on Friday against the Thunder. We’ll see if this becomes a bigger issue or if that was a glorified rest day.

    Paul George has missed a couple contests with a right elbow sprain, which hopefully will not linger. Marcus Morris, Luke Kennard and Terance Mann could be very busy with Nic Batum (ankle) also missing some time.

    Jimmy Butler aggravated his tailbone contusion in his attempt to return to the lineup and played just 24 minutes last week; we’ll see if six-plus days of rest can get him back on the court again.

    Joel Embiid played through some abdominal discomfort on Friday against the Jazz but doesn’t look like he’ll need to spend any time on the shelf.

    Richaun Holmes missed a pair of games with an eye injury and hopefully he won’t miss much more action.

    Kevin Porter Jr. (left thigh contusion) and Jalen Green (left hamstring strain) remain without a timeline to return.

    Jerami Grant suffered a nasty-looking right thumb injury on Friday night and we’ll have to see how long it takes for him to be cleared. He didn’t leave Friday’s game but was ruled out well in advance of Sunday’s contest.

    Still no timetable for OG Anunoby (hip pointer) and managers just have to brace for the long haul.

    Jaren Jackson Jr. hit the injury report with left knee soreness on the weekend, which is not something managers want to hear given his history.

    D’Angelo Russell (right ankle soreness) has been out of the lineup with very little said about his recovery. Malik Beasley should benefit for as long as D’Lo is out.

    In positive news, Donte DiVincenzo will make his season debut on Wednesday. It’s been a long road back since he suffered a left ankle ligament injury early in last year’s playoffs.

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