NBA Trade Rumors Heat Up As 2011 Deadline Approaches

Carmelo Anthony trade rumors have dominated the NBA landscape since September (no, really!), but there are plenty of other stories to follow heading into the league's 2011 trade deadline. The deadline is on Thursday, February 24, at 3 PM Eastern. Past years have experienced hit-or-miss deadline days in terms of actual action. In some seasons, the major trades happen weeks in advance, with All-Star Weekend -- happening from Feb. 18-20 this year -- acting as a lubricant. But uncertainty about Anthony's status has constipated this year's market, with teams hesistant to act before knowing the landscape.

But time is running out, and teams are expected to pull a few triggers. Complicating matters is the uncertain status of the league's collective bargaining agreement. The agreement will expire on June 30, and the league's franchise owners and players' union remain at an impasse in terms of how (or if) it should be amended. Franchisees wants massive salary cutbacks; players want the status quo, to put it bluntly.

As such, teams may be hesitant to trade for players with hefty salaries that would become even more onerous under a new agreement. There isn't expected to be the manuevering for cap space there was at the 2010 NBA trade deadline, but some teams could look to cut salary in order to find themselves in a fortuitous spot come July (or whenever the expected lockout ends).

Meanwhile, the lack of a clear-cut No. 2 behind the ace San Antonio Spurs might have contenders groping for an extra edge. The Celtics, Heat, Bulls, Mavericks and two-time defending champion Lakers are all bunched up behind the Spurs, and a few other teams like the Hornets, Thunder and Magic could look to join the chase. The Knicks may be the most watched team at the deadline, even if few can see a reasonable expectation of near-term contention, no matter what move they make.

Follow this StoryStream for all the latest in trade rumors through All-Star Weekend.

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