NBA Preseason Notes

Kyle McKeown covered the Nets' acquisition of Mehmet Okur in this space yesterday... but to expand on what he said:
  • I really like this deal for both teams. Okur wasn't part of Utah's long-term plans, and his presence on the roster was going to make it more difficult for Ty Corbin to juggle Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter at the four and five spots.
  • Okur fits on the Nets in several ways. In the short term, he can fill in for Lopez. When Lopez returns, Okur can play alongside him as a stretch four at times, giving New Jersey a pretty solid rotation at the four and five in Lopez, Okur and Kris Humphries. And as Kyle noted, he shouldn't have much trouble getting used to playing with Deron Williams; they were teammates for years in Utah.
  • Lopez had surgery on his broken foot today and will reportedly be sidelined for 6-8 weeks... but I'm betting the over. Dallas guard Rodrigue Beaubois suffered a similar injury and has been sidelined for the better part of a year... and lower body injuries always seem to be more complicated when seven-footers are involved.
  • The biggest loser in all this? Could be Shawne Williams. Williams reportedly signed with the Nets for a chance to start... but in Okur, New Jersey has a player that does most of what Williams can, but is better able to guard opposing big men. It's hard to say how Avery Johnson intends to use Williams this season; Williams missed both preseason games against the Knicks due to a virus.
Of course, Williams is only the biggest loser from a fantasy value perspective. Nets general manager Billy King is in a much worse boat. I suspect the Lopez injury - particularly if it sidelines the center for more than that eight-week span - will take the Nets out of contention in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes. And that will make it very difficult for the soon-to-be Brooklyn franchise to hang on to Deron Williams this summer.

In other news:

Andrew Bynum's five-game suspension has been reduced to four games, so the Lakers' center will make his season debut a little earlier than anticipated. While he's out, the Lakers will shift Pau Gasol to center and start Josh McRoberts at power forward. Plan your lineups accordingly.

Charlie Villanueva also had his suspension shortened by a game, but if he's starting for your team, I'm not talking to you. Just on general principle.

Back to the Lakers - second-year forward Devin Ebanks has been named the team's starting small forward. With the artist formerly known as Ron Artest set to come off the bench, that will leave very little playing time for Matt Barnes. (Sorry, I just cannot bring myself to type "Metta World Peace." Wait, I just did. Easier than I thought it'd be.)

Keep an eye on Bonzi Wells. The veteran reportedly looked very good at a free agent camp held by the Knicks this summer. He was just cut by the T-Wolves, but that team has about 46 guards under contract. Don't be surprised if he catches on somewhere and starts getting regular playing time.

Some position and rotation battles to watch: second-year pro Justin Harper has reportedly landed a rotation spot in Orlando. A very good shooter at the collegiate level, Harper could be a sneaky source of threes this year. Dante Cunningham is headed to Memphis, where he'll likely take over as the primary backup to Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph - a rotation spot vacated when Darrell Arthur tore his Achilles' tendon. Jared Dudley looks like he'll be the Suns' starter at shooting guard, with Shannon Brown coming off the bench. And now that Chuck Hayes has been cleared to play, he's back with the Kings and is expected to start at power forward. Downgrade Jason Thompson and J.J. Hickson accordingly.


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