It's mailbag time, kids! You've been hitting me up for tips and analysis on the e-mail, and I thought, "Why not kill a couple birds with one stone and answer some of them here?". I always answer my e-mails, so keep them coming. It may take a day or two to respond -- my life, wife, and other things have an amazing way of taking priority at times -- but I will get back to you.
Without further ado, here are your e-mails and my replies:
Javier (Chicago): You've most likely been flooded with e-mails about your ankle story telling you how people lost one of those guys. Well, I lost Tony Parker, Josh Smith and Kirk Hinrich. All 3 are on one of my teams. With only one IR space (I placed Parker here), I released Hinrich, and will leave Smith on my bench.
Up front I've got Carlos Boozer, Al Jefferson, Tyson Chandler, Luc Mbah a Moute, Darrell Arthur, Andres Nocioni, and Joakim Noah. In a standard cat ESPN h2h points league, how does this team stack up for the next three to five weeks? This is a deep league and there aren't many immediate impact type of FAs left.
So, I think my team will remain competitive even after losing three players in three days. I'm certainly not panicking, but I have depth at PG that I can trade for a solid player. What do you think?
Lake: I have seen a lot of e-mails asking what to do when you lose important players to injury. Javier's e-mail was the only one where three of last week's big injuries all landed on one team. In these cases, the second order of business -- after banging your head into your keyboard -- is to prioritize. Assess where you are weak, where you have a surplus and how you can plug and play free agents.
Shedding Hinrich for Stuckey was a good move, though there were some concerns about Stuckey's health after he missed the first game of the Pistons' road trip with dizziness. The Detroit Free Press reported that he was tapping his chest before leaving the game against Boston on Sunday. The Pistons haven't disclosed what tests Stuckey underwent, but have said he is cleared to play and could be back as soon as Thursday against Golden State. Hinrich is out for three months and wasn't lighting it up when he was playing. This time of year if you hold onto too many injured players, you risk not picking up the emerging talents and missing out on them for the season. Hinrich can be let go in most leagues.
I actually disagree with Javier's assessment of his team. I see far more depth up front than in the backcourt. With Parker on his team's IR, he is rolling three rookies and a pair of bench players out there. Only Rose inspires confidence, though I expect good things from Westbrook eventually. My suggestion is that Javier actually look to move Stuckey ASAP. This has nothing to do with his health. I think he is a bit overhyped, and in a keeper league, owners will be more likely to overlook the shortcomings he has displayed this season. Pair Stuckey with Andres Nocioni (always try to capitalize on a 20-point game from a fantasy bench player) and see if you can't get Randy Foye. Yes, he's an underperforming combo guard, but he won't shoot 33.9 percent all season. His career average is 42.7 percent, and he has been getting minutes despite his struggles. He's a player I would be stealing, as he will be available for very little.
Another reader, Luis, has been going back and forth with me for a few days. Luis is in a 12-team league and has had a number of offers thrown his way. He too was hurt by Josh Smith's injury. Check out the offer he received from an owner who tried to capitalize:
I really want to keep Josh Smith, but is this trade worth it?
Lake: I almost yelled at my laptop when I saw this e-mail. Luckily the exigencies of fatherhood and sleeping children held my tongue. I will type (some) of what I would have said: In the name of all that you hold on to, reject this offer immediately! There are many things wrong with this deal. First, Josh Smith is clearly the most valuable player in the deal, and he has proven a fast healer in his career. It is way too early to bail on him. Even if he misses the maximum four weeks, that leaves a ton of the season to be played. Second, I know David Thorpe said he looks "fantastic," but Greg Oden has yet to make it through a single NBA game. I believe in his talent, but before I give up a known quantity like Smith, I want to see some consistency on the health front. Beasley is going to be better than what he has shown, but taking on two rookies in this deal is asking for trouble. The other owner is attempting a GTR. You must block him.
If you have an owner you think might be wavering on holding Josh Smith in one of your leagues, by all means make a pitch for him. This e-mail shows there are owners who will be tempted.
The following reader disagreed with my call to sell Marc Gasol last week.
Tyler: You are [synonym for intellectually challenged]. Marc Gasol is gold. One of your commenters had it right: I'm not trading Gasol unless I get a top 50 player.
Lake: First rule about Marc Gasol: Don't talk about Marc Gasol, or the fact that in the four games since the Golden State game he has averaged 8.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 0.2 blocks. Top 50, eh? I wouldn't hold your breath, Tyler. And yes, I type with a helmet on.
Misha: I am in a league with expanded categories (double-doubles, triple-doubles, turnovers, assist/turnover ratio and steals/turnover ratio) in addition to the standard eight. My team is: Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Marquis Daniels, Travis Outlaw, LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Granger, David West, Carmelo Anthony, Mehmet Okur, Al Horford, Francisco Garcia, Jermaine O'Neal, Luis Scola.
I'm in a 10-man league. I'm currently in fifth place. A lot of my guys (Melo, Horford) are underachieving. I'm getting KILLED in rebounds and 3-pointers and DOUBLE-DOUBLES.
Lake: I wrote back to Misha and stressed what a poor offer this was. He could have kissed his season goodbye with this deal. He would have surrendered the two best players in the deal (Roy and West) and lost where he needed help the most: rebounds and double-doubles. Misha rejected the deal and worked the following counter with the same team.
Lake: Good, yes! Randolph was much-maligned before the season (ADP of 97.1) but he has put up excellent numbers under Mike D'Antoni, averaging 19.1 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, and has five double-doubles in his past five games. He is shooting less than his career average of 46.4 percent from the field and, at 27, is entering what should be his statistical prime. This is a guy to target for a steal. Iguodala is another steal candidate. Owners are getting very frustrated with him. As my colleague, Eric Karabell wrote, he may not get back to where he was last season with Elton Brand in town, but he should climb to 16 points per game once he gets back to slashing and getting to the line. His other numbers are fine; it's just the shooting percentage and lack of attempts that are holding him down.
The lesson from Misha's trade is that while the initial offer he received was insulting, he didn't act insulted. He kept the lines of communication open and got a far better deal in the end. Next week, communication strategy and tools are going to be the focus of the column. Too often owners fail to use their most important asset when trading: their voices!
Until next week, keep sending your deals and steals. I will answer them and they may make a mailbag in a future column.
Guy Lake is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Guy.Fantasy@gmail.com.