March 11, 2021, 1:33 am
The biggest piece of news that came out on Wednesday was that LaMarcus Aldridge was away from the Spurs and would no longer be playing for them. As expected, he was already unavailable for tonight’s tilt vs. the Mavs.
It was a quiet two-game slate, a nice easing back in after the All-Star break hangover.
Jonas Valanciunas had a 29 & 20 game as he mauled the Wizards en route to a 127-112 win. Desmond Bane scored a career-high 20 points in the winning effort, while Ja Morant left a bit to be desired with his lack of steals and poor shooting from the free-throw line.
The Wizards needed Bradley Beal to deliver, but his shot was not finding the mark tonight and left managers holding their hats with his 6-of-22 shooting from the field – just a minor hiccup in his still-impressive fantasy season.
Sans Aldridge, the Spurs got worked by the duo of Luka Doncic (22-12-12) and Kristaps Porzingis (28 & 14) and the Mavs ended up coming away with the 115-104 win.
DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Spurs with 30 points, 11 dimes and four steals but failed to rebound the ball and he didn’t have a great run at the free-throw line. Jakob Poeltl had a quiet showing, but we reiterate our bullish stance on him for the season, more so now that LMA is no longer a looming threat to his playing time.
Add(s) of the Night
Rudy Gay, SF/PF, San Antonio Spurs
Gay provided a near-double-double with reasonable peripherals tonight. While the Spurs cut ties, or are ready to cut ties with one elder statesman in Aldridge, Gay is one “oldie” who might just slip through the cracks and be able to provide some nice lines here and there, especially if he’s able to find minutes in the high 20s like he got tonight.
Cole Anthony, PG, Orlando Magic
This recommendation comes off the news that came out tonight that Anthony remains “still a ways away” from a return. We’re nearing the critical weeks and caring for injured guys like Anthony could get in the way of securing much-needed wins in the coming weeks. IF you don’t have the luxury of an IL slot to accommodate him, the upside he brings (which is still limited at this point as a rookie) might not be enough to offset the missed games that he carries as baggage.
Grayson Allen missed tonight’s game due to still being in the league’s concussion protocols. As expected, Jaren Jackson Jr. remained out of tonight’s contest as he recovers from his right meniscus surgery. He’s not yet been cleared, though the murmurs of a nearing return can be heard in the air.
On the Wizards’ side, Ish Smith was the only one notably absent with his right quad strain.
Tyrell Terry (illness) was available for the Mavs in their game but he did not take to the court tonight.
As mentioned, LaMarcus Aldridge was already no longer with the Spurs tonight. Derrick White (health protocols) returned from a five-game absence but provided a lackluster showing in his first game back. We’re not worried and are willing to offer more than a spoonful of patience, especially given his body of work in the second half of last season.
Devin Vassell (conditioning, related to health and safety protocols) missed this game but is expected to make his return for the Spurs on Friday. Good news. He should further crowd things in the second unit, given the Spurs’ depth at the guard spot.
Save those moves, those waiver positions. The NBA trade deadline is just around the corner. Take a cue from what happened to Blake Griffin and what’s likely to happen with LaMarcus Aldridge. These aging vets are going to find their way to contenders. In Griffin’s case, he already did.
There should be a robust amount of player movement. Teams and players alike will be jockeying for position, whether to poise themselves to compete for a championship or to free up cap space for the future.
The tactic now is to make moves before the real-life NBA teams do. Get value where you can, targeting teams with less volatility. Take for example the Spurs, who are. currently ripe for buy-low offers, especially after tonight’s so-so game vs. Doncic and company.
Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Jakob Poeltl and to some extent, even Dejounte Murray can be targeted with buy-low moves right now.
Though he didn’t see many minutes tonight, Trey Lyles is someone who could be a deep-league guy now that Aldridge has seen his final days in Spurs uni.
De’Anthony Melton has been good, under the radar kind of good. He’s been under-appreciated in many circles and should be someone to target via trade.