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Weekend Wire: Injury Creates Opportunity

Note: A couple of readers noted that my Working the Wire column - published Tuesday afternoons - arrives too late (or too early) for leagues with weekend waiver claim deadlines. So I'll be publishing a set of additional suggestions in this space every Friday.

As always, I'm looking for players worth adding to a roster because of marked improvement in their skills or situations. If you're looking for guys who happen to have five games on their schedule in a given week, check out Eric Johnson's weekly Value Meter.

Injury Replacements

Some major injuries this week could create waiver wire opportunities. Act fast on Nate Robinson (18% owned), given the news that Rajon Rondo could miss a couple of weeks after twisting his ankle during Wednesday's game against the Knicks.

And with Joakim Noah expected to miss a month or more, Taj Gibson (48% owned) becomes an obvious target.

The Yao Ming situation is a bit harder to project. Yao has only played in five games this season; it's not like the stress fracture just discovered in his ankle creates a void that someone must rush in and fill. But the realization that Yao is gone - possibly permanently - could inspire the Rockets to start rebuilding, or at least giving younger players an extended look to see what they can do. Jordan Hill (just 2% owned) could be a player to target.

You probably missed the boat on Wes Matthews (73% owned) - but if he's available, grab him. Brandon Roy's knees don't seem to be getting any better.

And as I mentioned in the column this week, John Wall keeps having trouble with his foot - I can't help wondering if the Wizards wouldn't be better off shutting him down for a while until he's completely healthy. Kirk Hinrich (45% owned) is worth stashing if you have the space.

Mehmet Okur (36% owned) could make his debut in the next week, but it's hard to say what his role will be now that Utah has Al Jefferson.

Trades and Trade Rumors

December 15 is the unofficial start of trading season in the NBA; on that date, players that signed free-agent contracts the summer before become eligible to be included in deals. We've already seen the first such deal; Joe Smith signed with the Nets last summer, but was sent to the Lakers as part of the just-completed Terrence Williams deal.

I'm a big fan of Williams' game, but given the glut of wings on Houston's roster, it's hard to recommend him as a short-term play. But if you have the space, he's just 32 percent owned - and I suspect Daryl Morey has another move planned.

Another rumor worth watching - there's a lot of buzz that the Knicks will complete a deal within the next couple of days - most likely bringing in either a backup point guard or a frontcourt banger. Claim anyone Donnie Walsh brings in - anyone getting regular minutes in Mike D'Antoni's rotation is going to put up numbers, but the current Knick bench is giving him next to nothing. (That said, I'm still high on Toney Douglas long-term… rumor has it he's playing through an unspecified injury, which would explain his inconsistency of late.)

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