Now that the Carmelo Anthony trade to the New York Knicks is finally completed, we can finally focus on what the rest of the teams will do at the NBA Trade Deadline. The Anthony saga was very clearly holding up any potential movement that would occur. Now that it's over, we can start to consider which teams may be active this week.
Here is Part 4 of a team-by-team breakdown of what we should expect as the NBA Trade Deadline draws near. We already discussed the Atlantic, Central and Southeast divisions, so now let's move on to the Southwest Division, where four potentially active teams chase the San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio Spurs
Record: 46-10, first in the West
Holes/weaknesses: Interior depth and perimeter defense, but those are all relative
Trade assets: Nothing
Other pieces involved in rumors: Nobody
Summary: The Spurs are perfect the way they are, so their name hasn't come up much. They don't really have much to trade, so don't expect them to come up much.
If I were GM, I would ...: Stand pat and let this team do its thing.
Record: 40-14, second in the West.
Priority: Contend for a title
Holes/weaknesses: Small forward, perimeter shot creation.
Trade assets: Caron Butler's expiring contract, $4.3 million and $3 million trade exceptions, Rodrigue Beaubois.
Other pieces involved in rumors: N/A.
Targets: Tayshaun Prince, Devin Harris, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace
Summary: The Mavericks have surged to the top of the West with Dirk Nowitzki back in the lineup, and are now a legitimate title contender. They remain a bit weak at small forward after Caron Butler's season-ending injury, and ironically, their best way to upgrade that position is to use Butler's expiring contract. They continue to be linked to the top veterans on the market, but are also a little more conscious of their long-term finances than before.
If I were GM, I would ...: Forget the financial concerns. The West is there for the taking. Dallas matches up well with San Antonio, and the Lakers are vulnerable. With key players like Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry and Butler free agents soon, the window is closing. A move for a legitimate difference-maker like Wallace could end up being the difference, even if Wallace's contract has two more years left on it.
New Orleans Hornets
Record: 33-25, sixth in the West.
Priority: Contend as long as they have Chris Paul.
Holes/weaknesses: Perimeter scoring, interior scoring, interior depth,
Trade assets: Marcus Thornton, Quincy Pondexter, Marcus Banks' expiring contract, Willie Greene's expiring contract, $6.2 million trade exception.
Other pieces involved in rumors: David West.
Targets: Antawn Jamison, J.R. Smith, Troy Murphy, Corey Maggette.
Summary: The Hornets are among the most active teams at the deadline, as general manager Dell Demps continue to improve a roster while he has Chris Paul. They've been linked to Antawn Jamison, among others. But here's where Demps' impulsiveness earlier in the season has cost him. He's lost a lot of his trade assets (Darren Collison, Peja Stojakovic's expiring contract), and all he has to show for it is Trevor Ariza and Jarrett Jack. Had he kept Stojakovic's contract, he may have been able to match salary for Jamison. Alas, he cannot, and making a trade for an upgrade will be difficult. Instead, it sounds like the Hornets have shifted gears to dumping Thornton, who has not gotten along great with coach Monty Williams.
If I were GM, I would ...: ... have not made the trades they made earlier, but that's neither here nor there. In the meantime? Look for bad-contract guys that may come with smaller asking prices, including the trade exception.
Record: 31-26, tied for eighth in the West
Priority: Find short- and long-term help around their core of Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
Holes/weaknesses: Perimeter shooting, depth.
Trade assets: Darrell Arthur, Sam Young, Xavier Henry.
Other pieces involved in rumors: O.J. Mayo, Randolph, Hasheem Thabeet,
Targets: Courtney Lee?
Summary: The Grizzlies got dealt a monkey wrench when Gay went down for a month. They are clearly going for a playoff run -- which is why Randolph is not available -- but without Gay, it'll be difficult. Mayo was clearly on the block before the injury, because of all the stuff he's been through this season, but now he's needed as insurance. The Grizzlies could still move him, but they'd have to take a short-term hit. Thabeet remains clearly on the block, if anyone wants him.
If I were GM, I would ...: Move Mayo anyway. With extensions coming for Marc Gasol and, now, likely Randolph, they can't also afford Mayo when his rookie deal expires in two years. Moving him now while he still has value makes sense.
Record: 26-31, 12th in the West.
Priority: Very unclear - could look for upgrades now or begin rebuilding.
Holes/weaknesses: Center, perimeter defense, interior defense.
Trade assets: Yao Ming's expiring contract, Shane Battier's expiring contract, Jared Jeffries' expiring contract, Terrence Williams, Aaron Brooks, Courtney Lee, Patrick Patterson, Chase Budinger, New York's 2011 first-round pick, the right to swap first-rounders in 2012 with the Knicks, two high 2011 second-round picks (Sacramento, Clippers), $6.3 million trade exception, $2.5 million trade exception.
Other pieces involved in rumors: N/A
Targets: Nene, O.J. Mayo, Gerald Wallace, Omer Asik, anyone.
Summary: Once again, the Rockets have a treasure chest of assets, but this time, there aren't too many players that are legitimately available. The Rockets really want a center to replace Yao Ming and zeroed in on Nene, who seemed likely to be dealt given the Nuggets' preference for rebuilding. However, the Nuggets are now talking contract extension with Nene, which has to be a huge blow to the Nuggets. They could grab Gerald Wallace, but their wing positions are already crowded. So what do they do? Daryl Morey is usually creative and certainly could figure something out, but this was the deadline for Houston to make its huge move, and there's not much there.
If I were GM, I would ...: Hold all the key assets, unless Nene or a young, elite wing (Andre Iguodala, Danny Granger) somehow becomes available. Otherwise, I'd look to get something of value for Aaron Brooks and possibly Courtney Lee in smaller deals.