Bayless, Speights emerging
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - About a week before they traded Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors, the Memphis Grizzlies made another deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers that wasn't expected to make many ripples in the fantasy waters.

But two players -- Jerryd Bayless and Marreese Speights -- have emerged from the salary dump with more playing time.

Bayless wasn't a part of the transaction, but backup guard Wayne Ellington was. With Ellington gone, Bayless has assumed backup duties for both the point guard and shooting guard spots behind Mike Conley and Tony Allen. Conley plays 33.5 minutes per game and Allen 27, giving Bayless plenty of minutes off the bench.

And Gay's trade has opened up the need for scoring outside of the paint for Memphis. Bayless has filled the void so far.

The guard has scored in double figures in each of his last eight games and is averaging 16.8 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 0.9 steals and 1.0 threes in 31 minutes in that span. He has been even better lately, putting up 19.8 ppg in his last five games, including three games of 21 or more points.

Prior to the trade with Cleveland, Bayless was only producing 5.0 ppg in 18 mpg. Ellington was getting 17 mpg prior to the deal, so it seems like Bayless has basically absorbed Ellington's minutes in addition to his own.

Speights, meanwhile, has provided some beef to a Cleveland frontcourt that has been struggling with depth since Anderson Varejao's injury.

Speights has been getting close to 25 mpg as a reserve big man for Cleveland after playing only 14.5 with Memphis. He has taken advantage of the increased minutes by averaging 14.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.8 blocks in six games, including a double-double in each of the last two contests. Speights showed the ability to produce when given the chance in Memphis -- in the two games Memphis forward Zach Randolph had to miss this season, Speights filled in and put up 32 points and 22 rebounds -- so there's reason to believe this isn't a mirage.

Tristan Thompson is holding down the starting power forward job and playing 34 mpg since Varejao went down and Tyler Zeller has played 32.5 mpg as the starting center in Varejao's absence, but both players are getting less time since Speights joined the roster.

It's clear Cavaliers coach Byron Scott wants to keep Speights in the frontcourt mix, and that puts him in the fantasy conversation with Bayless. That's two more players with fantasy interest than we expected to come out of this swap.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at

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