The All-Star weekend begins on Friday, giving most of the league some time off before the final stretch of the season. After the break, there are only four weeks left in the regular season for standard leagues. That’s not a lot of time to wait for guys to return from injuries. Owners will have to make hard decisions on whether to keep their injured stars or let them loose. More should be known after the All-Star break about the severity of many of these recent injuries, so hold on until then.

Blake Griffin underwent surgery on Monday to remove a staph infection in his right elbow. Prior to surgery, Griffin was expected to miss anywhere from 2-to-6 weeks. Griffin will be reevaluated in three weeks, which should help clarify when owners can expect to have Griffin back. Since Griffin is a top talent and there isn’t much clarity on his timeline, owners should hold onto Griffin for the time being.

With Griffin out, DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Hawes become the biggest benefactors. Jordan has put up back-to-back 20/20 games and looks like he’ll grab every rebound that Griffin used to get.

While Jordan is universally owned, Hawes becomes a top waiver wire pickup. In the three games that Griffin has missed, Hawes has averaged 11.0 ppg and 1.7 rpg. The numbers have been underwhelming so far, but Hawes has shown that he can fill up the box score when given starters’ minutes in the past. Last year as a starter, he averaged 13.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.2 bpg, and 1.6 3PTM. He probably won’t approach those numbers, but I expect Hawes to be useful for owners for as long as Griffin is out.

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Well Ello there, Poppet!  Bootstraps Bill Turner pulled a scoop and squat shot with under a second left to pull off the upset of the century…. It’s only been 15 years this century, it could be true!

Evan Turner put together a solid 12/7/9/1/0 line hitting 4-11 from the field and all 4 freebies with only 2 TO.  Ending the first half on a high note!  The move back to his more natural SF spot is finally paying off, as he’s averaging at least 6/6/6 (THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST!) the past 4 games.  The FG% is terrible, but I guess I have to believe a little in the out-of-position dimes.  The greatest trick Miss Turner ever played was convincing me he wasn’t fantasy usable!  Well, he still isn’t ever going to be a stalwart on 10 or 12 team squads due to the low %s, TOs, and absence of 3s, but a lot of teams could use his popcorn stats for their build.  He’s like Lance Stephenson, but actually worth owning!  At least for now, if he sticks with Boston until the end of the year… Here’s what else went down in our last busy slate of NBA games before the All-Star Break:

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It’s always nice to see the deep league guys you love turn into Mr. Planters and go nuts!

After 22 minutes, many of which trying to play through it, Jimmy Butler finally waved the white flag and checked out with a shoulder injury.  He first hurt it last Sunday, and that black tape stuff (that I still don’t completely understand how it works) didn’t keep Buckets’ shoulder together.  Maybe the black tape is more a statement.  Like, “Yeah brah, I got a jacked up shoulder but I’m still gonna go ham!”  Either way, it opened up some huge run for Tony Snell, playing 41 minutes.  And they were 41 heat check minutes!  Made his first 6 from the field including 4 treys, ending up with a career-high 24 points in a 9-11 FG (4-6 3PTM 2-2 FT) 24/2/2/1/0 line with no TO.  Snell going full Mr. Planters!  Even with Mike Dunleavy returning after nearly a month-and-a-half off, you can’t suppress the sense of Snell!  I keed of course, this is an anomaly type of game, but Butler could easily get tomorrow night off against the Cavs to rest that shoulder through the ASB making Snell a very interesting end-of-the-short-week streamer (only the one game Thursday night).  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy NBA action:

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From the depth of 90s video games, crossed with the beastly rancor of Joakim Noah (can you use rancor as an adjective?  is that even the right part of speech?!), it’s the Goromotaro!  An epic performance of 20/20 needed a name, but ever since Joakim pulled off a few back in the day, he hasn’t scored 20 points in like… a million years.  Hasn’t yet this year!  Shocking he’s scored double digits in only 2 of the past 19… But I digress…

The way things have looked the past month, Goromotaro might need a name or image change to feature Hassan Whiteside!  Dude is hitting the glass harder than Cheech at a bong-only party.  24/20/0/3/2 last night for his first career Goro.  Not that he hasn’t been close!  Had a 23/16 and a 16/24 in there.  Unreal!  There’s only been 23 20+ board games this year, and Whiteside is two of them and has only 8 starts!  Whiteside has the 7th Goro this year (the others belonging to Kenneth Faried, Zach Randolph, DeAndre Jordan, Andre Drummond, Pau Gasol and… you ready for this…?  Jason Thompson!), and as good as those guys are (well, minus Thompson), I’d put good money on Whiteside being the first with multiple.  He’s also 73% from the stripe his past 13 games!  Getting a little unreal out there, and the 4 TO last night were very fluky – especially one on an inbounding violation that was totally Norris Cole‘s fault.  Cole tried handing it back to Whiteside after he tossed it in during an odd, weird lack of awareness that cost the Heat the game!  I’m pretty sure it was a play ran to perfection from the Larry Drew playbook…  Here’s what else went down last night across the NBA:

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So, I don’t know how old you guys are, obviously, but I’m at the age where I have “lost youth’ moments. Most recently, I was at the local TargWalmar-conglomerate, and happened to see some of my favourite hip hop acts in the bargain CD bin. Ice-T’s “Power” album for $2? Big Daddy Kane, Eric B and Rakeem, tossed away like so much trash? My blood began to boil, but then I remembered that my doctor told me to watch my angina (don’t worry, I have pills for that), so I shuffled off to the suspender aisle to find my zen. But there is a lesson to be gleaned from this experience, beyond me cantankering about the youth today, and that is: you can find gold in the bargain bin, if you know what to look for.

Remember, the NBA trade deadline is fast approaching, and that fact should remind you to be aware when your fantasy trade deadline is, if you don’t already know. It’s always difficult to slow-play, counter, or reject a trade if you have 48 hours to pull something off, and it puts more pressure on both you and your trading partner. I know this isn’t any great revelation, but it happens every year, some dude in the league sends out an email after the deadline complaining that he/she (he/she?…  even I’m not taking the obvious joke there) wasn’t aware, and should be allowed to make one last trade. Don’t be that he/she! What you can do right now, is try and start building the big trade, if you’re in contention. If you’re not (and in a keeper), analyze your team, and start trading assets for picks before the guy in second last does it before you. The third thing to do is pay close attention to the waiver wire gets, as they will be all that’s left in that post-trade apocalyptic wasteland. Guys rise and fall, due to injury and the subsequent opportunity, and you need to be aware of those streamers who can fill those voids. Keep your eye on the following bargains and fool’s gold:

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Ya know, the Lakers deserved to lose like that last night.  After building a solid lead against the Wizards, the Purp and Gold collapsed yet again…  And they didn’t play my boy or fan-favorite Tarik Black!  I find this an atrocity…  Gonna be about 30 straight losses at this rate!

But as much as I want to rant about Black, that would be a pretty weak open… So the next best ranty Lakers subject has to be Wayne Ellington‘s crazy game, putting up a 28/3/3/3/0 line on 12-20 FG (3-9 3PTM 1-1 FT).  Sell if you can!  No Nick Young last night as he’s dealing with a minor ankle injury from practice on top of being in the doghouse.  Swaggy Peed on the carpet!  We all know Swaggy never touched a basketball he didn’t think he could shoot, and that will sap into Ellington’s future upside.  I could see some interesting buzziness floating around Wayne given Kobe Bryant‘s shoulder fell off, so if any deeper league owners are interested and you can get a value, I’m down like Byron Scott a clown.  That said, he’s out there in a ton of league fa free (9% owned last night when I grabbed him in an RCL), so maybe you get a couple hot games before you Sellington.  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy hoops action:

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Little was known about the severity of LaMarcus Aldridge’s thumb injury when he missed Wednesday’s game. I was texting with Razzball’s own JB about the Blazers and JB voiced his concern that Aldridge would “be out a while.” After undergoing another MRI on Thursday, the Trail Blazers announced that Aldridge would be out 6-8 weeks with a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Is JB some sort of psychic? As his college roommate, I can neither confirm nor deny that, but what I do know is that owners will be hard pressed to replace Aldridge in their lineups. He was averaging 23.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, and 1.2 bpg. Those are some pretty huge shoes to fill.

The Blazers are already shallow in the frontcourt, since Robin Lopez and Joel Freeland are also ailing. As a result, they will use Dorell Wright and Thomas Robinson more at the four. Wright started Wednesday against the Suns (15 points, 5 assists, 3 threes), but then Robinson started Thursday’s game against the Celtics (9 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks). It’s unclear who will start or if coach Terry Stotts will play matchups. Unless someone gets the majority of minutes, Wright and Robinson will eat into each other’s playing time, limiting their fantasy appeal.

To make matters worse, Nicolas Batum left early in the third quarter with a wrist injury. An upcoming MRI this weekend will reveal more information, but this could be even more devastating to the Blazers.

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I know, I know.  Much bigger headlines on the injury front, but it’s Injury Friday with Pete’s Fantasy Basketball Infirmary coming out in a few hours, so I’m not gonna steal his spotlight!

With LaMarcus Aldridge out 6-8 weeks with a hitchhiking injury, on top of Robin Lopez still a few weeks out, there’s a ton of PF/C minutes to fill your Blazing hole.  After Dorell Wright had a very solid 15/3/5/2/0 line with three treys on Wednesday, it kinda felt like Wright could’ve run away with the gig.  But Stotts was like “I want someone else with Ciroc!” and put Thomas Robinson in the PF spot for 28 minutes last night.  Almost rainbowed too!  I’ve always thought T-Rob could turn into something, and 9/12/1/2/2 was mighty solid.  Can’t hit a FT, but who can these days?!  By tomorrow night, Stotts could pound a few more Jamesons and be like “F it, we’ve lost two in a row, it’s Meyers Leonard time!”  All that said, Nicolas Batum also hopped into the Fantasy Basketball Infirmary leaving early with a wrist injury, so maybe Wright will HAVE to play some starting F.  Stotts will take another 5-6 shots of, I dunno, something so low shelf it’s ridiculous – let’s go Popov – to get over last night’s crushing loss and start Steve Blake at PF tomorrow night.  At pressers tomorrow he’s going to be lit like Drunk Uncle!  Here’s what else went down last night in fantasy basketball action:

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I’ve never been a huge fan of his, but at least Mo Williams makes it really easy to have a punny title…

I would’ve said you’re as high as Busta Rhymes if you told me Mo Will was about to drop 50 last night.  What a crazy, crazy world we live in where the T’Wolves finally break out of their 15-game losing streak behind a franchise record 52-point game.  Some really weird biguns for the Wolves, remember when Corey Brewer put up 51 last year?  So both of those guys stay in the franchise record books as better scorers than Kevin Love or Kevin Garnett.  Go figure.  Makes me wanna headbutt something!  Mo with an unbelievable line of 52/4/7 hitting 19-33 FG (6-11 3PTM 8-9 FT).  Where to even start with the crazy?!  Mo hadn’t scored 30 since MARCH 2012 (!!) according to our friends at Rotoworld.  I would look at his game-logs to fact check, but we don’t fact check!  And as good as this game is, he’s not even a good pickup!  I think that’s the craziest thing…  Ricky Rubio is almost back to retake the PG minutes, and even if Flip wanted to run some combo guard lineups out there, Kevin Martin (so many Kevins in Timberwolves history!) is almost back.  Plus this game should make him easier to sell in the NBA.  Might get the Wolves a first rounder.  So while Mo is maybe worth an add for the very short-term (only 32% owned on Yahoo late last night), I’m certainly not losing anyone of value for him.  Here’s what else went down on a crazy and injury-riddled night of NBA action:

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Operation shutdown: when a team shuts down a star player in order to preserve them for the future. It’s a fear of every fantasy owner and that’s exactly what the Knicks are contemplating doing with Carmelo Anthony and his sore knee.

As a DC sports fan, I’m all too familiar with the shutdown. Different sport, different circumstances, but it’s the same idea.

As of now, Anthony refuses to be shut down. He’s said that his knee won’t get any worse by playing on it, but he’s already missed the last five games with the injury.

Having lost 14 games in a row, the Knicks have now surpassed the 76ers as the worst team in the league. It’s clear that the Knicks are in total rebuild mode. This week, the Knicks waived Samuel Dalembert and traded JR “I’ve Never Taken a Bad Shot” Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cavaliers in a salary cap dump.

Right now, Anthony is day-to-day without a timetable for his return. He says he wants to play next week in London, but we don’t know for sure.

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