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The John Salmons Dilemma

1/14/2008
One question is on the mind of many fantasy basketball owners this week: what in the heck do I do with John Salmons? That is, if you're lucky enough to own the guy.

That's all I'm thinking about right now since I own John Salmons on 25 teams!

One thing I've realized this year is fantasy hoops success requires a very high level of commitment. Most nights you'll find me pouring over live boxscores on Yahoo. Yes, I am a loser. Somehow, my marriage and my sanity manages to stay intacy (likely both barely). Basically, I don't go to bed until all of the games of a given night are completed. A Nuggets-Sonics triple overtime game is my worst nightmare.

So about six weeks ago I was scrolling through boxscores while in bed on my iPhone when I noticed Kevin Martin had left the game injured (he was having a sweet game too). It wasn't too long until the word spread that he would be out 4-6 weeks. So I hopped out of bed and went back down to the warroom. There was work to do.

The biggest challenge of managing so many fantasy teams is being nimble. Making roster moves takes time, and I need to be quicker to the trigger than the guy who has 1 or 2 teams and knows his roster intimately. I missed out on Salmons at the beginning of the year while Ron Artest was suspended, I was not going to be denied here. Fortunately, because of the late game there wasn't a tremendous amount of competition for Salmons' services. I was able to rifle through my rosters and pick him up in nearly half of my leagues, a good number without being too overexposed.

Looking back, I wish I had picked him up on all 52 teams. Salmons has been ballin' the last six weeks. While Martin was on the shelf, all he did was average 19.5 PTS, 5.7 REB, 3.9 AST, 1.8 STK, 0.5 BLK, 1.0 3PM while shooting 54% from the field and 82% from the foul line, numbers that put him at 17th overall over that time period. You don't find production like that in the free agent pool very often.

And although I owned Martin on 12 teams, his injury was probably the best thing that could've happened to me. Let me be the first to publicly thank his groin. Overall, my teams were struggling at the time, but have surged dramatically over the past 5-6 weeks. From week 7 to 11, the 25 teams with Salmons improved by 4.6 pts in the standings, compared to 3.3 pts on the non-Salmons teams.

However, all good things must come to an end, and the clock is striking midnight on this Cinderella story. Martin came back last Saturday and didn't miss a beat (and hardly missed a shot). Bibby and now Artest are schedule to come back this week. The first time Artest came back, Salmons dropped off the face of the Earth. If the same thing happens this time around, I'm in a lot of trouble. Because CBS doesn't have multi-postion eligibility like most other sites, the forward position happens to be really thin this year. The list of forward available in 15% or more of my leagues includes guys like Shane Battier, Wally Szcerbiak, Jeff Green, Kyle Korver, Andrea Bargnani, Darko Milicic and Charlie Villanueva. Hardly an awe-inspiring bunch of guys.

I think that Salmons will be able to maintain value in the 90-110 range even coming off the bench. Hopefully he has shown enough to earn an increased role. Plus, there's a real chance that Bibby and/or Artest might get trade in the next month (not that I would hold Salmons just for that possibility.)

That said, holding on to Salmons is not a bet that I'd like to make on all 25 teams, so I spent most of last weekend trying to lower my exposure through trades. I mostly targeted the following mid-tier forwards: Hedo Turkoglu, Andrei Kirilenko, Rasheed Wallace, Danny Granger, Richard Jefferson, Corey Maggette, Kevin Durant, Lamarcus Aldridge, Lamar Odom and Luol Deng. In a few cases I was set at forward and targeted guards in the Monta Ellis/Leandro Barbosa range.

Now, I know what you are thinking. I'm crazy for even sending these offers. No one in their right mind would accept these offers. Certainly, there's no way I would trade any of those players above for Salmons right now. So why send out 200+ trade offers?

A) Because you never know what the guy on the other end is thinking, and B) if just one of those offers is accepted, it's worth the time and energy spent sending all of them.

As it turns out, all of that work was worth it. Here is what I came up with:

Amare Stoudemire and John Salmons for Yao Ming and Monta Ellis
John Salmons for Hedo Turkoglu
John Salmons for Andrei Kirilenko

Three nice deals. As is the case with most trades on CBS, they received the 4+ objections and are pending approval from the fiefdom otherwise known as CBS Ron. They should both go through, but with Ron you never know (three months ago, could you imagine living in a world for any trade for Hedo Turkoglu would be considered vetoable?).

The moral of the story is you just never know. If a trade has a 2% chance of being accepted, you need to make that offer. Aim high. Test the market. What's the worst thing that can happen? Maybe you tick off a couple of your competitors...who cares? I received a number of colorful responses to these Salmons trade offers. For some, I would've had a better response if I had run over the family dog. And I learned a few new words that aren't in the dictionary (why do people get so bent out of shape over trade offers? Just hit 'reject' and move on.) One of the nicer guys called me an idiot for even trying to get Hedo Turkoglu for John Salmons. But considering another Turkoglu owner accepted the deal, I think I'd be an idiot for not trying it elsewhere. It's interesting that out of all the players I was targeting, Turkoglu and Kirilenko were the highest-rated of the bunch. In my mind, it justifies sending to the rest of the players on the list.

So 3 down, 22 Salmons to go. All I can do is hold on to him and hope for the best...a Bibby and/or Artest trade. Does anybody have Danny Ferry or Pat Riley's e-mail?

SPEAKING OF CBS RON...

Below are the trades that I've made since the last update.

TRADES EFFECTIVE WEEK 11
SP37: Pierce,Paul, Jamison,Antawn and Davis,Ricky for Wade,Dwyane, Howard,Josh and Nelson,Jameer
SP12: Allen,Ray and Barbosa,Leandro for Paul,Chris and Brewer,Ronnie
SP10: Stoudemire,Amare and Salmons,John for Ming,Yao and Ellis,Monta
SP10: Brewer,Ronnie for Gibson,Daniel

TRADES EFFECTIVE WEEK 12
SP20: Gay,Rudy for Jamison,Antawn
SP29: Barbosa,Leandro, Ellis,Monta and Smith,Josh for Nowitzki,Dirk and Billups,Chauncey

PENDING TRADES
SP33: Camby,Marcus, Nelson,Jameer and Horford,Al for Nash,Steve, Ilgauskas,Zydrunas and McCants,Rashad
SP34: Iverson,Allen, Okur,Mehmet and Barbosa,Leandro for Wade,Dwyane, Gasol,Pau and Aldridge,Lamarcus
SP11: Salmons,John for Turkoglu,Hedo
SP19: Salmons,John for Kirilenko,Andrei
SP43: Aldridge,Lamarcus and Miller,Mike for Garnett,Kevin and Evans,Reggie
SP09: Robinson,Nate for Thomas,Kurt

VETOED TRADES
SP21: Marion,Shawn, Iguodala,Andre and Gay,Rudy for Garnett,Kevin and Paul,Chris
SP33: Camby,Marcus, Iguodala,Andre, Nelson,Jameer and Horford,Al for Nash,Steve, Duncan,Tim, Ilgauskas,Zydrunas and McDyess,Antonio

I did get some feedback from Ron on the above deals.

KG/Paul Deal
JIM:
When are you going to come around on Rudy Gay? He's playing like a 3rd rounder in Roto (ranked 36th overall). He's above average in every category except for ASTs...how many 7-cat players are there in roto? Owners are willing to pay up for him. But you shoot down nearly every deal that he's in. I don't understand how you can give Chris Paul credit for playing well above his initial expectations and not give Gay credit for doing the same. If you treat them both the same (either their ytd stats are both real or both not real), then the following deal is more than fair. Iggy is a true 2nd rounder and playing like it. Marion and KG are a wash.

Your trade offer of Rudy Gay,Andre Iguodala,Shawn Marion for Kevin Garnett,Chris Paul to Marbury's Backseat has been vetoed by the commissioner.

As I said, different owners in different leagues are willing to provide 3rd round value for Rudy Gay, and he's playing at that level, so shouldn't that be the going rate for him? Look at what he's been going for in plat and diamond roto leagues.

RON:
Would you take garnett and paul for marion and iguudala. Garnett and Paul are way better players. So gay and marbury are of no value in this trade. Lets say the cancel each other out or Gay a slight advantage, it still does not make up the difference in paul and granett.

JIM:
Marbury wasn't in the deal...it is the guy's team name. It's KG and Paul (and he'd drop Bonzi Wells) on the one side. Marion and KG is a wash. Outside of week 1, Marion is ranked 7th and KG 8th. In case you haven't noticed, KG has really tailed off. I own him on 18 teams and I have experienced it first hand. He's still a top 5-6 player, but Marion is right there too. Marion ranks 6th over this year and last year, and was #1 overall the year before that.

So the question is Iguodala and Gay enough for Paul, and I would argue that he is. If you're going to count Paul as a top 5 player, then you have to give Gay credit as a top 35 player. Iggy is ranked 23-24 and should be viewed a 2nd rounder. So is a 2nd rounder and late 3rd rounder enough for a 1st rounder. It should be, especially if it meets category needs, which this does.

In your assessments, you generally always hold KG to a higher esteem while not giving Marion the credit he deserves. I always have an easier time getting deals through for Marion, and basically I'm indifferent between the two. Marion may be a better fit on some of my teams, KG better on others. I'm not so sure KG deserves the same criteria that he has had in the past. So if anything here you are undervaluing Marion, overvaluing KG and really undervaluing Gay...all three working against me in this deal. It's equally likely and equally reasonable that you could have the opposite opinion on each of these three players and the deal looks much different. You should be measuring reasonableness, not whether you would do the deal. This is a reasonable deal.

Nash/Duncan Deal
JIM:
Nash (rk 10) / Duncan (32) / Zydrunas (74) / McDyess (113)
for
Camby (rk 11) / Iguodala (24) / Nelson (96) / Horford (101)

Vetoed because of Nash's injury (flu) or some other reason? The rankings are very close for each player down the line.

RON:
Nash's injury currently, but Nash and Duncan are better then any two on the other side. Horford and Mcdyess are irrelevant. Nelson for Z is fine. but camby and AI or two mvp candidates?. Not happening. Nash and Duncan in any format is better then AI and Camby.

JIM:
One of these days I'm hoping you'll understand that Duncan is not as good a roto player as he's is a real basketball player. You cost me $600 with that Butler/Duncan reversal last year and you're killing me here again. The fact that he is one of the top 5 players in the NBA does not mean anything. MVP trophies are not a category. Steals and Blocks are and count just as much as points and rebounds. Iguodala is a much better roto player than Duncan. All knowledgeable roto players know this. Iguodala was drafted 20th on average in diamond and platinum roto leagues, and is performing right at that level. There's no way I would trade Iguodala for Duncan straight up unless I really needed FGP, REB and BLK. There's a reason I own Iguodala on 10 teams and Duncan on zero. Camby is a fantasy stud who has been pretty healthy the last two years. Before you play the Mr. Glass card, he has missed less games than Nash or Duncan this season. Those 3.8 blocks per game are miles above everybody else other than Josh Smith.

Just let the numbers speak for themselves...look at the ratings this year and last.

Basketball Monster
2006-07 Per Game
Nash 6
Camby 11
Duncan 18
Iguodala 19 (14th after the Iverson trade)

2007-08 Per Game
Nash 9
Camby 16
Iguodala 27
Duncan 33


Don't believe BasketballMonster? How about ESPN...
2007-08
Nash 9
Camby 11
Iguodala 23
Duncan 29

The guy that you are trying to protect in this deal put out an 'on the block' with Zydrunas and Nash, requesting blocks and rebounds. He told me he wants Camby. This deal meets exactly what he is looking for. Basically, he would do Camby for Nash straight up, but I'd need a center so that's where you get Jameer for Zydrunas. He's first in AST so Nash isn't quite as valuable for him. Obviously he's acting in his best interests here.

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