ESPN is reporting that the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets have agreed to a five-player deal. The names involved aren’t going to turn the heads of casual NBA fans, but for fantasy owners there’s some real treasure here. Here’s the quick-and-dirty breakdown:
- The Pacers get Darren Collison and James Posey: This is pure gold for Collison, who will take the reins of the long-suffering PG spot in Indiana. With word that the Pacers are working to buy out T.J. Ford, Collison’s jump into fantasy stardom seems all but guaranteed. I don’t think it’s too bold to declare him a top-50 fantasy player now. After all, he averaged 18.8/3.5/9.1 along with 1.4 steals and 1.0 threes in 37 starts last season. Granted, he played 40:17 in those games and turned the ball over 4.1 times per outing, but that does little to dampen the happy possibilities for Collison. (The threat of a maddening timeshare with Lance Stephenson and A.J. Price exists, but it’s slim — or it should be.) Those who were banking on Stephenson being a sleeper can probably let that dream go for now. Posey is immaterial here. Also, Chris Paul‘s value has a little more breathing room, though it does little to change his stud status.
- The Nets get Troy Murphy: Murphy is now playing alongside a capable center in Brook Lopez who, unlike Roy Hibbert (who should get a couple more shots per game along with more caroms bouncing his way), knows how to rebound well. This should knock Murphy out of double-double land. Derrick Favors is the big loser here, as he can kiss his starting gig good-bye. Still, don’t be surprised if the rookie and the new-old dog split time on some nights. For the Pacers, things open up a bit for the likes of Paul George, Josh McRoberts and Mike Dunleavy, especially if Danny Granger moves to the PF spot.
- The Hornets get Trevor Ariza: While this trade shifts talent to a vacuous SF spot in N.O., which shores up its starting unit and makes it look miles stronger than last season’s, the impact on Ariza’s value is probably minimal. Will playing with a great floor general like CP3 boost his field-goal percentage? Maybe. Will he do his best Peja Stojakovic impersonation and knock down threes like there’s no tomorrow? Yep. Essentially, Ariza takes his talented third-wheel act to New Orleans, which doesn’t exactly exude excitement. (In a separate deal, the Hornets sent Julian Wright to Toronto for Marco Belinelli.) For the Rockets, the (ahem) budding Chase Budinger becomes an even more intriguing sleeper, while Shane Battier‘s minutes are more secure.
- The Rockets get Courtney Lee: There’s no way Lee plays anywhere near the 33:30 per game he got last season in New Jersey, as he now becomes a backup to Kevin Martin. The big news here is Anthony Morrow, who is now the unquestioned starting SG (and the only viable one at the moment) for the Nets. Visions of 16/4/2 along with around 2.5 threes per game from Morrow are flashing in my head. He should follow Collison up your draft lists and might be worth a spot in the top 70.