By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
With so many players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, as well as games being outright postponed, the waiver wire might be short on quality options in many leagues. If you’re looking to improve your fantasy basketball squad via the trade route, here are some players to consider acquiring, as well as a few who might be ready to be dealt away.
Trade for: Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
Siakam has missed the last two games with swelling in his left knee, which is a bit worrisome. Before that, he was struggling, having averaged 15.2 points, seven rebounds, and four assists while shooting 40 percent from the field across his last five games. However, it’s important to note that he faced tough defensive teams during that stretch in the Hornets (twice), Mavericks, and Heat (twice).
If you can find a fantasy manager who is concerned about his knee issue and Siakam’s recent poor play, now might be the time to pounce. Even with that rough patch, he’s still averaging 18.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists. That’s even with him shooting just 25.4 percent from behind the arc. He’s shot at least 35.9 percent on three-pointers in each of the last two seasons, so history suggests Siakam will gradually improve in that area as the season rolls along.
The market: Recent trades in fantasy leagues involving Siakam included one deal in which he was acquired for Andrew Wiggins and Montrezl Harrell. Another fantasy manager was able to acquire Siakam by trading away Andre Drummond.
Trade for: Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
Garland came storming out of the gate this season, averaging 18.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.8 three-pointers across four games. It looked like he was going to be in line for a heavy workload given that he averaged 37 minutes during that stretch. However, he then went down with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss eight games.
Since making his return, Garland has come off the bench in three straight games. On top of that, he’s logged 26 minutes or fewer in each contest. He should return to the starting five and plenty of minutes in short order, so now might be the final opportunity to acquire him at a discount.
The market: There haven’t been a lot of deals involving Garland lately, but one saw him traded straight up for Terry Rozier. Another was a multi-player deal in which Jeff Green and Tyler Herro were shipped away for Garland and Danilo Gallinari.
Trade for: Coby White, Chicago Bulls
The Bulls have high hopes for White, who came on late as a rookie and earned the starting point guard spot to begin his second NBA season. To further accelerate White’s expanded role, Tomas Satoransky was sidelined because of COVID-19, which forced White to log a ton of minutes. He came through with flying colors, averaging 19.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and three three-pointers across their first eight games.
The problem is that since that stretch, White has struggled. He’s still seeing plenty of minutes, with an average of 33.0 across the last eight games, but his scoring numbers are way down at 11.5 points and 1.8 three-pointers a night. He’s only shot 36.5 percent from the field during that stretch, and now that Satoransky is back, the Bulls have options at point guard if White is struggling on a particular night. With that being said, he’s an important part of their future and remains a lethal three-point shooter. Add in White’s improved assist numbers, and he’s still an extremely valuable fantasy option who’s likely available at a discount right now.
Trade away: Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics
The Celtics are happy to have Walker back from his knee injury. Understandably, they’re taking a cautious approach with his return, playing him fewer than 30 minutes in all four games. Still, he’s scored at least 19 points in three straight and has racked up nine steals already. With Gordon Hayward gone, Walker has the potential to have an even greater role during his second season with the Celtics.
There is a lot to like about Walker, but he also comes with significant risk. Knee issues plagued him at the end of last season, so this could be something that he continues to deal with for the remainder of this season and beyond. The Celtics have championship aspirations, so they aren’t going to push him during the regular season. In fact, he might not play both games of any back-to-back sets from here on out. Given his injury risk, it might not be a bad idea to float him out on the trade market now while he’s back on the floor.
The market: An interesting recent trade involving Walker saw him and Bam Adebayo traded for Kristaps Porzingis, De’Aaron Fox, and LaMelo Ball. In another league, Walker and Buddy Hield were traded for Kyrie Irving and Deandre Ayton.
Trade away: R.J. Barrett, New York Knicks
The Knicks have played surprisingly well this season with Julius Randle and his monster counting stats grabbing most of the fantasy headlines. However, Barrett has also been one of the key reasons for their success. He’s been fully unleashed under new coach Tom Thibodeau, averaging 36 minutes a night. The result has been impressive averages of 17.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. He’s been even better lately, putting up 19.4 points while shooting 51.4 percent from the field across his last eight games.
The key stat to make note of is his elevated field goal percentage. Even with that sample factored in, Barrett is only shooting 42.1 percent for the season. That comes on the heels of him shooting 40.2 percent during his rookie campaign. If you play in a points league, Barrett’s season-long outlook is very appealing. However, if you play in a roto league, his lack of efficiency and defensive stats greatly restrict his upside. Considering the current heater Barrett is on, it might be time to take stock of his value on the trade market.
The market: One fantasy manager recently dealt away Barrett in a one-for-one swap for Michael Porter Jr. Another deal that stood out was Barrett, Jordan Clarkson, and Dillon Brooks traded for Bradley Beal in a three-for-one. Finally, in another league, Barrett was traded along with Andre Drummond for Karl-Anthony Towns and P.J. Washington.