In ESPN fantasy basketball leagues, we have something called the undroppable list. The names on there are the top players in the league, and the reason we have it is so that the integrity of fantasy leagues is protected by people not dropping Kevin Garnett so a pal (hint, hint) can pick him up. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Yao Ming -- well, only the first two of those guys now -- are undroppables.
In the NBA itself, nobody is really an undroppable. Of course, teams don't cut their best players, but in the next day or two you'll be seeing some accomplished players who are no longer all that valuable and cost way too much finding new homes. It's legal, though it seems kind of unethical, but whatever, rules are rules.
Sam Cassell, you get to leave the awful Clippers for the top-seeded Celtics, or a team of that playoff-bound level. Congrats to you. Brent Barry gets traded a week ago, subsequently released, and he's going to find work with a contender to be named. P.J. Brown and Jamaal Magloire didn't have jobs at all, but with the Saturday deadline for NBA teams to have playoff-eligibles on the roster, and bigs available, the flurry comes now.
I don't think Cassell is going to help Boston or any other team all that much, not statistically at least, thus he won't be a must-add in fantasy. In fact, I can't say any of the players moving on late this week will matter in fantasy. The problem is, they could affect some of the players you do own. Chief among them is probably Rajon Rondo.
Boston's point guard has done a nice job, really, averaging 10.7 points. 4.8 assists and 1.73 steals per game, all worthy of being owned in a 10-team fantasy league, and obviously in deeper ones. Rondo is one of the most-dropped players in ESPN leagues during the past week, and I can't find a good reason for this other than the fact Cassell-to-Boston rumors have been running rampant. Rondo's play has remained steady. Sure, you'd like more assists, but Garnett and Paul Pierce also like to pass the ball. It's possible Cassell would take the starting role, I suppose, but he was averaging 12.8 points and 4.7 assists. He has more experience than Rondo, and he's a great option for free throws late in a game, but Rondo is the superior defender. If he gets cut in one of my leagues, I'll swoop in and sign him.
But all of that is a big if, if in fact Cassell infiltrates the Celtics. Brown already joined the Celtics, where he'll be more of a bench presence and affect Glen Davis and that's about it. Magloire is a Maverick, replacing the minutes DeSagana Diop left behind. Wow, how many times have we wondered aloud who, if anyone, could fill Diop's shoes? Erick Dampier now doesn't have to play 35 minutes a night. As if. Still, Magloire's signing didn't make Dampier any worse, so don't cut him. Dampier hauled in 16 boards and blocked seven shots in his most recent game.
Wagging your finger
Magloire and Brown aren't going to be a big deal in fantasy, but what about Dikembe Mutombo? I really enjoyed the 76ers' run to the NBA Finals earlier this decade, and nothing against Allen Iverson, but that run was borne from the team picking up Mutombo in the big trade with Atlanta seven years ago last week. The 76ers dealt Toni Kukoc, Theo Ratliff, Nazr Mohammed and Pepe Sanchez to get Mutombo, addition by subtraction if you will, and went to the Finals. It was a great ride, and Mutombo was a monster. He was old then. What does that make him now?
I'd say it makes him amazing. Now 41, Mutombo has barely played this season, but in the wake of the Yao broken foot, the Rockets dragged him to the court Tuesday and he blocked four shots and grabbed six rebounds in 23 minutes. Mutombo was owned in, apparently, 0.0 percent of ESPN leagues before that game, and now it's up to 5.3 percent. Hey, if you need blocked shots, I can't fault the pickup, though I don't expect four per night. The guy is like a statue, and when he's out there I'd guess opponents will realize those long arms can still make a difference. People need their blocks. Alonzo Mourning is still owned in 0.9 percent of leagues. Some things just can't be explained.