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Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Camby trade hurts Aldridge's value

By Seth Landman
Special to ESPN.com

The Portland Trail Blazers' acquisition of Marcus Camby from the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday is an important one for fantasy owners, and not only because Camby is a top-40 player on the Player Rater (and even better in leagues that count turnovers). Many other fantasy-worthy players on both squads will be impacted in various ways.

Considering Camby is moving from a team somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of pace to the slowest team in the league, it stands to reason that there will be slightly fewer blocks, steals and rebounds to go around. Still, it's not a huge difference; he's not moving from the Golden State Warriors to the Blazers, for instance, and considering his expiring contract pretty much makes him a rental for the rest of the season, I'd expect Camby to play plenty of minutes, maybe even more than the 31.3 per game he played in L.A. Basically, I don't see his value changing much at all.

For the Trail Blazers, this trade makes up for the fact that they've lost two extremely good rebounding centers, Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla, to injury already this season. Juwan Howard, an afterthought heading into the season, has played more minutes to this point than any Trail Blazers big man not named LaMarcus Aldridge. Howard has averaged 7.1 rebounds per game and has shot better than 50 percent shooting from the floor since the start of January, but he won't get nearly enough minutes to maintain the little value he had now that Camby's in the fold.

Howard shared minutes during the past couple of months with two young Blazers bigs, Dante Cunningham and Jeff Pendergraph. Each has showed some flashes, but neither has seen enough minutes to be fantasy-worthy, and that certainly won't change now.

The Blazer most affected by this move has to be Aldridge. He has spent the entire season slowly improving his rebounding average, and the reason his recent rankings have been much better than his overall season ranking is he's been playing an insane number of minutes. His 37.3 minutes per game on the season is good for 20th in the league, but the 40-plus minutes he's been playing during the past two months would be third in the league if he kept it up for an entire season. Obviously, that's not the Blazers' plan. Aldridge's minutes will go back down to the 35-37 per-game range. Add the fact that he's now playing alongside one of the league's best rebounders, and you can probably assume his rebounds will dip back to around 7.5 per game as long as Camby stays healthy. Factoring in small cuts in his stats across the board due to fewer minutes, and Aldridge no longer looks anything like a top-50 fantasy player the rest of the way.

Travis Outlaw hasn't played since November, so his vacancy on the roster doesn't open up any previously hidden minutes, but Steve Blake was playing 27.4 minutes per game, and those minutes will be distributed among Brandon Roy, Jerryd Bayless, Andre Miller and Rudy Fernandez in some fashion. This makes all four of those guys more valuable to varying degrees. Roy is great and will still be great, and as the starting point guard, Miller's minutes have been pretty consistent for a few weeks. Fernandez has struggled with his shot all season, and it's hard to imagine the Blazers trotting him out there at point guard for long stretches.

As such, the guy with major potential here is Bayless. Already a decent source of scoring and free throw shooting at different stages this season, if he starts seeing the 27-28 minutes per game that Blake was seeing, we could be looking at a guy who averages 15 points per game with three or four assists while shooting well above 80 percent from the line on a whole bunch of attempts. That's a valuable fantasy player, and in most leagues Bayless is definitely worth adding if he's not already owned.

For Blake, this move is probably slightly negative. Baron Davis is having a good season at point guard for the Clippers, and there's no outgoing guard from whom Blake can grab some minutes. He'll certainly get most of the minutes that Sebastian Telfair and Mardy Collins have been seeing, but it's hard to imagine him reaching the 27.4 per game he was seeing in Portland. He has value as a guy who makes 3s (1.5 per game) and gets assists (4.0 per game), but those numbers will probably shrink a bit. Unless you're really desperate for those two numbers, he's not worth owning unless Davis gets hurt at some point.

Outlaw, if he can get healthy, has become a good 3-point shooter in recent years and has showed he can score with some pretty good efficiency, but until and unless he manages to get on the court, he's not worth paying attention to this season.

For the Clippers, Camby's 31.3 minutes per game at power forward and center will probably get divvied up mostly by Craig Smith and DeAndre Jordan. Jordan certainly has showed signs of potential but also has been wildly inefficient with a really low player efficiency rating), so it's hard to imagine that even 10 or so more minutes per game would make much difference in terms of his viability for fantasy. Instead, give your attention to Smith. He has been averaging nearly 20 points per 40 minutes on nearly 60 percent shooting from the floor this season, so if he starts getting heavy minutes at power forward, which seems pretty likely, he'll be a great source of points and field goal percentage along the lines of the Houston Rockets' Carl Landry (without the great free throw shooting). He doesn't have much value besides that, but if you're looking for a guy to boost your field goal percentage and score you some points down the stretch, Smith's a good bet.

Lastly, the Clippers may choose to go small more often, using Rasual Butler and Al Thornton in different roles, so some of Camby's minutes might go to those two players. That said, both players are already seeing pretty significant minutes and have very little value to show for it, so don't adjust your projections much for either based on this trade.

Seth Landman is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.