The NBA Trade Deadline is kind of like a game of Risk. You have several territories to conquer (or players to add), some of which are more valuable than others. You have different number of pieces (i.e. trade assets) depending on your performance in the game, and you have the ability to control how you use such pieces. You have to make sure you don't leave currently-owned territories uncovered, which is kind of like making sure you don't lose anything in the present or future with any potential trades. And while there may not eventually be one winner, there is a cost/benefit analysis each team must make that's very similar to what you do in Risk.
With that in mind, let's take a closer look at where every teams stands, what they have to offer, what they need and what players and teams are potentially good trade targets. We at SB Nation have already talked about some trades we'd love to see, but we've yet to take that step back and really analyze the full picture. Here, we attempt to do that in as systematic a way as possible, with five categories to separate teams and a comprehensive breakdown of all the factors that would influence their thinking. I've enlisted the help of several SB Nation team bloggers to help me with this project, so where relevant, you'll see them mentioned or quoted.
(All salary figures are via ShamSports.com, the premier NBA salary site on the Internet. All salary-cap estimates are based on a $53 million salary cap and a $67 million luxury tax line, which may or may not be too high).
ON THE SIDELINES
Status: Buyer, if they can
Team Weakness(es): Interior depth
Projected 2010 cap room: $5.5 million (without Joe Johnson)
Untouchables: Josh Smith, Al Horford
Potentially on the block: Maurice Evans ($2.5 million this year, player option for 2010/11)
Expiring Contracts: Joe Johnson ($15 million)
Prospects: Jeff Teague
Good trade partners: Charlotte, Milwaukee, Washington
Possible targets: Brendan Haywood, Kurt Thomas, DeSagana Diop
Atlanta has a definite need for another big man to handle Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal, but they literally have nothing to trade, so I strongly doubt anything happens. Sorry, Hawks fans.
Team Weaknesses: Perimeter offense, outside shooting, slashing
Projected 2010 cap room: $6 million
Untouchables: Brandon Jennings, Andrew Bogut
Potentially on the block: Charlie Bell ($3.6 million this year, two more years left, last year a player option)
Expiring Contracts: Luke Ridnour ($6.5 million), Kurt Thomas ($3.8 million), Hakim Warrick ($3 million), Joe Alexander ($2.6 million)
Prospects: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Jodie Meeks
Good trade partners: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Denver, LA Lakers, New York, Washingto
Possible targets: Caron Butler
Another team likely to be quiet during the deadline. The Bucks have some valuable pieces to contending teams, but they're all expiring contracts. Besides, the Bucks still have fleeting playoff hopes (gotta believe!). Had he been healthy, Michael Redd would certainly have been a trade chip, but he's not healthy.
Caron Butler in theory makes sense here, but the Bucks don't have a ton they can give the Wizards back. Boston could also look here to upgrade their bench, but it'd just be swapping expiring contracts with each other, which doesn't appeal to Milwaukee. So, don't expect much.
Status: Closed for business
Team Weaknesses: Perimeter scoring, interior defense,
Projected 2010 cap room: $-19 million ($5 million over the luxury tax)
Untouchables: Chris Paul
Potentially on the block: None
Expiring Contracts: None
Prospects: Darren Collison, Marcus Thornton, Julian Wright
Good trade partners: None
Possible targets: None
New Orleans already accomplished their goal of penny pinching getting under the luxury tax with the Devin Brown and Bobby Brown trades, so they're probably done. That's too bad for other teams, who I'm sure were hoping the Hornets got desperate enough to do a fire sale on David West just to get under the tax line, but the Clippers screwed things up by trading for Bobby Brown. As usual, the lesson is, blame the Clippers for everything.
Status: Buyer, if they can be
Team Weaknesses: Interior defense, defensive rebounding, perimeter defense ... defense in general
Projected 2010 cap room: $6 million (without Bosh)
Untouchables: Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani
Potentially on the block: Jose Calderon ($8.2 million this year, three more years left)
Expiring Contracts: Amir Johnson ($3.9 million), Rasho Nesterovic ($1.9 million), Antoine Wright ($1.8 million)
Prospects: DeMar DeRozan, Marco Belinelli, Sonny Weems
Good trade partners: Golden State, Houston, LA Lakers, Milwaukee
Possible targets: Raja Bell, Charlie Bell
It looks like the Raptors won't trade Chris Bosh yet, because they're cheap they want the revenue that comes from a first-round playoff appearance and Bosh's presence ensures that. That means they probably won't do anything. SB Nation's Raptors HQ e-mails to say they could use a veteran shooting guard, but they don't really have the assets to make it happen. They could try to move Jose Calderon, who's now coming off the bench, but his contract is pretty big and teams don't seem interested. In the end, they've played well recently and probably don't want to mess up the chemistry they've developed.
DIPPING THEIR TOES IN THE WATER
Team Weaknesses: Interior depth, bench scoring
Projected 2010 cap room: $-21 million ($7 million OVER luxury tax)
Untouchables: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Nene, Ty Lawson
Potentially on the block: J.R. Smith ($6.1 million this year, one more year)
Expiring Contracts: None
Prospects: Renaldo Balkman, Arron Afflalo
Good trade partners: Charlotte, Golden State, Indiana, Milwaukee, Washington
Possible targets: Jeff Foster (before his injury), DeSagana Diop, Nazr Mohammad, Kurt Thomas, Brendan Haywood
Denver has a very, very good team with very few trade assets, but GM Mark Warkentien has been on a tear lately with underrated moves and could pull a trick up his sleeve. Denver could use another big man to match up against the Lakers and were hot after Indiana's Jeff Foster before Foster's back injury. They could now turn to someone like Brendan Haywood, Kurt Thomas or someone cheaper.
In other words, they seem to want to do something, but are hindered by their lack of assets. However, if there's any GM right now that I'd trust to be creative, it's Warkentien.
Team Weaknesses: Outside shooting, athleticism, small forward position
Projected 2010 cap room: $17 million
Untouchables: Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan
Potentially on the block: Nobody
Expiring Contracts: Marcus Camby ($9.1 million), Rasual Butler ($4 million), Ricky Davis ($2.4 million), Craig Smith ($2.3 million)
Prospects: Al Thornton
Good trade partners: Boston, Memphis, Miami, New York, Portland, San Antonio
Possible targets: Unclear
Blake Griffin's injury immediately shifted from Clippers from buyers to sellers. They have what Clips Nation's Steve Perrin describes as "one of the most coveted trade pieces out there" in Marcus Camby and his expiring contracts, but the Clippers have shown no indication they want to move him. Perrin says the Clippers need help at small forward, so a Camby-Caron Butler deal makes sense in theory, but it doesn't seem like it's being discussed.
Most likely, the Clippers' are in another holding pattern until next summer.
Team Weaknesses: Point guard defense
Projected 2010 cap room: $-29 million ($16 million OVER luxury tax)
Untouchables: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Potentially on the block: Sasha Vujacic ($5 million this year, one more year)
Expiring Contracts: Adam Morrison ($5.2 million), Derek Fisher ($5 million)
Prospects: Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Josh Powel
Good trade partners: Chicago, Detroit, Golden State, Indiana, Milwaukee, Minnesota
Possible targets: Kirk Hinrich
The Lakers tend to be reluctant to make big mid-season moves because of the learning curve of the Triangle offense. However, they know they need better point guard play, and have some assets (over $15 million in expiring contracts, Jordan Farmar) to make it happen. Kirk Hinrich seems like an ideal fit for the them, though his contract isn't cheap. Otherwise, it's tough to find a point guard that makes sense, due to the unique nature of the Triangle.
There's also this: they might be good enough to win anyway, so why risk it? They're already paying a huge luxury tax bill, so why pay more to make a marginal improvement? They won it last year with this mix, after all.
Status: Buyer, depending on Rudy Gay's status
Team Weaknesses: Depth, perimeter defense
Projected 2010 cap room: $5 million
Untouchables: O.J. Mayo, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Hasheem Thabeet
Potentially on the block: Rudy Gay ($3.3 million, impending extension)
Expiring Contracts: Steven Hunter ($3.7 million), their own cap space
Prospects: DeMarre Carroll, Sam Young
Good trade partners: Chicago, Golden State, Houston, Miami, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Orlando, Utah
Possible targets: Ronnie Brewer, Dorrell Wright any other cheap bench player
Memphis' primary goal, as Straight Outta Vancouver e-mails, is to get another bench piece. They nearly traded for Utah's Ronnie Brewer and reportedly did trade New York's Nate Robinson before Robinson vetoed it (he can because he's on a one-year contract). They've also looked at Miami's Dorrell Wright. Memphis has some space under this year's salary cap, meaning they can make slightly unbalanced trades, which helps a team like the Jazz who have luxury tax issues.
There are two lingering issues. One is Rudy Gay, who is up for a contract extension next summer and will be one of the most sought-after free agents on the market. Part of Memphis' motivation for a trade is to provide insurance in case Gay's demands become too much. They could also trade Gay now, in which case they'd have a lot of suitors. The other issue is Mike Conley, and since I didn't see this coming, I'll have Straight Outta Vancouver explain.
If you watch the Grizzlies, you know Mike Conley might be an even greater limiting factor than the bench, but Conley doesn't deal well with rumors. So the Grizzlies may or may not be silently shopping him with Denver and/or the Laker's picks for an upgrade. We know he's a favorite of Coach Lionel Hollins, but he's quickly becoming a fan least-favorite. It's worth wondering if the Grizz would deal for a potential replacement -- probably a cheap, young under-performer like Ramon Sessions, though he doesn't fit the team well since he can't shoot, Lou Williams, or D.J. Augustin.
This all seems hard to believe with Conley's improvement this year, but who knows.
Status: Buyer, but only to a certain point
Team Weaknesses: Depth, point guard play, outside shooting
Projected 2010 cap room: $41 million
Untouchables: Dwyane Wade, Michael Beasley
Potentially on the block: Nobody
Expiring Contracts: Jermaine O'Neal ($23 million), Quentin Richardson ($8.7 million), Udonis Haslem ($7.1 million), Dorrell Wright ($2.9 million).
Prospects: Daequan Cook, Mario Chalmers
Good trade partners: Chicago, Houston, New Jersey, New York
Possible targets: Anyone with a pulse that has an expiring contract
Miami's likely going to wait until the summer, when they have more cap space than anyone and can woo any big free agent with the unbeatable great weather/no state income tax/great nightlife/Dwyane Wade package. If they make a move, they'll be sure to make it a swap for expiring contracts only.
Actually, Miami's probably a good candidate for buyout guys after the trade deadline. They already acquired Rafer Alston this way, and there will likely be a lot more candidates, because there will be a lot of veteran expiring contracts on bad teams that don't get traded. Miami can take these guys on without a heavy financial commitment, so I'd guess they'll go this route instead of a trade.
Status: Buyer, sort of
Team Weaknesses: Rebounding, interior defense, foul-drawing
Projected 2010 cap room: $26 million
Untouchables: Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler
Potentially on the block: Jared Jeffries ($6.5 million, one more year), no, I'm not counting Eddy Curry
Expiring Contracts: Larry Hughes ($13.7 million), Al Harrington ($10 million), Cuttino Mobley ($9.5 million, with insurance), Darko Miicic ($7.5 million), David Lee* ($7 million), Chris Duhon ($6 million), Nate Robinson* ($4 million)
Prospects: Jordan Hill, Toney Douglas
Good trade partners: Boston, Chicago, Denver, Houston, LA Clippers, Memphis, Miami, New Jersey, Phoenix, Utah
Possible targets: Tracy McGrady, Ray Allen, Tyrus Thomas, Marcus Camby, Jermaine O'Neal, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer
The Knicks have a problem. Under normal circumstances, they'd be a seller, because their focus is the future. The goal would be to shed long-term contracts to get even more salary-cap space and position themselves better in the draft lottery. However, because of Isiah Thomas' stupidity, the Knicks don't have a first-round pick this year, which means they have no incentive to tank focus on the future. At the same time, they need to preserve cap space, and they currently only have enough space for one max free agent.
That means they'll look for an upgrade on an expiring contract to help with the "playoff push," all while trying to find a taker for Jared Jeffries (and, if we're honest, Eddy Curry, though that'd require spiking some GM's drink on the eve of the deadline). This is exactly what they did last year, and they ended up with Chris Wilcox and Larry Hughes, so that should tell you how effective their quest will be this year. They were rumored to be close to a Al Harrington/Tyrus Thomas swap with the Bulls a while back, and those talks could rekindle. Otherwise, they could trade for one of those giant expiring contracts like Tracy McGrady in one of those pointless trades designed to make fans happy. Yippee!
Status: Buyer, sort of
Team Weaknesses: Too many guys, chemistry, youth
Projected 2010 cap room: $-25 million ($11 million OVER the luxury tax)
Untouchables: Dwight Howard, Ryan Anderson
Potentially on the block: Vince Carter ($16.1 million, two more years left, second year partially guaranteed), Marcin Gortat ($5.9 million, four more years left)**, Brandon Bass ($4 million, three more years left, player option for fourth year)
Expiring Contracts: Anthony Johnson ($2.1 million)
Prospects: J.J. Redick
Good trade partners: Charlotte, Dallas, Golden State, Miami, New Orleans
Possible targets: D.J. Augustin, C.J. Watson, Mario Chalmers
The Magic are two-deep everywhere, so they don't need to make a trade. About the only guy who could move is Brandon Bass, and that's only to a team with a definite power forward need, like Charlotte. The Magic probably would love to trade Vince Carter, but nobody's touching him.
However, as Orlando Pinstriped Post's Ben Q. Rock e-mails, GM Otis Smith loves mid-season deals, having made one in three of the last four years. None were huge deals (the biggest being Rafer Alston last year), but all were useful. Here's what he wrote about this year's trade prospects.
if you're scouting potential trades for the Magic, think of which teams have young point guards with three-point range (it's a requisite in this offense), and think of which teams could use a productive, complementary, young, starting-quality power forward. See which teams overlap. You might've found something.
That's why I've got the young point guards I do on that list. They all could use a power forward like Bass.
Golden State Wariors
Team Weaknesses: Perimeter defense, interior defense, passing, rebounding, team chemistry
Projected 2010 cap room: $1 million
Untouchables: Stephen Curry
Potentially on the block: Monta Ellis ($11 million this year, four more years left, fourth year a player option), Corey Maggette ($9 million this year, three more years left)
Expiring Contracts: Raja Bell ($5.25 million), Speedy Claxton ($5.3 million), Devean George ($1.6 million
Prospects: Anthony Randolph, Anthony Morrow, C.J. Watson
Good trade partners: Boston, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento.
Possible targets: Amare Stoudemire, Ray Allen's expiring contract
The Warriors make no sense. Two months ago, it appeared Monta Ellis was as good as gone. Now, he's probably close to untouchable status unless the Celtics really get desperate and offer Ray Allen's massive expiring contract for Ellis and, say, a healthy Raja Bell. Nobody wants Corey Maggette, and they won't just give Anthony Randolph and Anthony Morrow away now that they're nowhere near the playoffs. They have the pieces to make a move for Amare Stoudemire, but who knows if they'll do it.
It's funny - looking at Golden State's profile, they are built more like a team that needs the deadline to be a buyer. They have over $12 million in expiring contracts (though it is deadweight because all those guys are injured or terrible), and they have prospects they're willing to move. The problem is that the Warriors also have bad contracts they might want to move, and they stink. So ... I give up.
Team weaknesses: Outside shooting, perimeter defense, interior defense, foul-drawing
Projected 2010 cap room: $18 million
Untouchables: Kevin Love, Jonny Flynn, Ricky Rubio's rights
Potentially on the block: Al Jefferson ($12 million this year, three more years left), Ramon Sessions ($3.7 million this year, three more years left with a player option for the third)
Expiring Contracts: Mark Blount ($7.9 million), Brian Cardinals ($6.6 million), Damien Wilkins ($3.6 million)
Prospects: Corey Brewer, Ryan Hollins, Wayne Ellington, Nikola Pekovic's rights
Good trade partners: Chicago, Memphis, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Washingto
Possible targets: Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Martin, Caron Butler.
Minnesota ... a buyer? Is there a playoff push we're not aware of?
Not exactly. Minnesota might be better off trading for someone to fill that cap space instead of trying to woo a free agent. Timberwolves fans get prickly when you bring this up, but it's the truth: Minnesota is not an attractive NBA destination. David Kahn, Minnesota's GM, knows this, so don't believe him for a second when he says he doesn't expect to make any major moves. He might not, but he's definitely thinking about it.
The Wolves desperately need some wing help, so they're in the market for guys like Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala and even Caron Butler and Luol Deng. They also seem a bit unenthused by Al Jefferson, judging from the rumor that snuck out about Kahn offering Jefferson for Danny Granger. Kahn's not going to give Jefferson away, but I do get the sense that he will listen.
All this is a long-winded way of saying that you shouldn't be surprised if the Timberwolves are a team that makes a big move. They have lots of assets and a major need to capitalize on them because of the difficulty of attracting free agents there. Two moves to consider - Gay for Ramon Sessions and Ricky Rubio's rights, and Jefferson for Kevin Martin and Jason Thompson.
Team weaknesses: Everything
Projected 2010 cap room (assuming a $53 million salary cap and $67 luxury tax): $30 million
Untouchables: Brook Lopez
Potentially on the block: Devin Harris ($8.4 million this year, three more years left)
Expiring Contracts: Bobby Simmons ($11.2 million), Tony Battie ($6.6 million), Trenton Hassell ($4.4 million), Jarvis Hayes ($2.1 million)
Prospects: Yi Jianlian, Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Terrence Williams
Good trade partners: Memphis, Phoenix, Sacramento, Utah
Possible targets: Rudy Gay, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, Kevin Martin
Yes, the Nets are buyers, despite potentially being historically bad. Trust me, it's not for a playoff push.
No, the Nets are buyers because they have literally nothing to sell. The only long-term contract they have is Devin Harris, who has occasionally come up in trade discussions because he's regressed so badly this season both on and off the floor. The Nets seem a bit fed up with him, but they also have very few sure things, and Harris, even if he never reaches that 2008/09 level, is a sure thing. The Lakers supposedly inquired about Harris, and there were whispers about a Harris/Caron Butler swap with the Wizards, but neither of those seem serious.
Otherwise, the Nets have a lot of cap space, but very little else to sell free agents, at least yet. Maybe they'll have a number one pick, but with a move to Brooklyn hardly impending, who wants to play in New Jersey? That's why, as SB Nation's Nets Daily e-mails, the Nets could seriously consider trading their many expiring contracts for one of the big guns (in particular a power forward or a proficient outside shooter) instead of signing them outright. Amare Stoudemire is someone to watch. The Nets could offer Phoenix several interesting prospects for Amare and then work out an extension with Amare after he gets to the Nets.
So, yes, New Jersey is a buyer. For future talent, that is.
Status: Buyer, but not a serious one
Team Weaknesses: Outside shooting, depth, interior scoring
Projected 2010 cap room: $13 million
Untouchables: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, James Harden
Potentially on the block: Nobody
Expiring Contracts: Etan Thomas ($8 million), Matt Harpring ($6.5 million)
Prospects: Eric Maynor, Serge Ibaka, Byron Mullens, Kyle Weaver, D.J. White
Good trade partners: Charlotte, Golden State, LA Clippers, New Orleans, Washington
Possible targets: Tyson Chandler, Andris Biedrins, Marcus Camby, Emeka Okafor, Brendan Haywood
The Thunder seem like they'd rather take their cap space into the summer and do something then. They're very young, so there's plenty of time to make that final move. But don't be surprised to see something, well, surprising. Remember, the Thunder traded for Tyson Chandler last year until he failed his physical, and that came out of nowhere. If they do so again, they'll probably again look for a center that's relatively young, but has a big contract. The Thunder have five draft picks in next year's draft in addition to expiring contracts, so they have the assets if they want to use them.
Team Weaknesses: Perimeter defense, interior depth
Projected 2010 cap room: $-3 million ($11 million under the luxury tax)
Untouchables: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, DeJuan Blair
Potentially on the block: Richard Jefferson ($14.2 million this year, one more year left)
Expiring Contracts: Manu Ginobili ($10.7 million), Roger Mason ($3.8 million), Matt Bonner ($3.3 million), Michael Finley ($2.5 million)
Prospects: George Hill, Ian Mahimini
Good trade partners: Detroit, Golden State, Indiana, LA Clippers, Milwaukee, New York, Phoenix, Sacramento, Washington
Possible targets: Amare Stoudemire, Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas, Jared Jeffries
I'm surprised we haven't heard the Spurs be more involved in trade rumors. They need a spark badly, and they have some assets to get it done. One such asset is Manu Ginobili's expiring contract, though, and the Spurs will naturally give pause before parting with that. I'm not surprised they thought about Amare Stoudemire, because he's one of the few guys for whom I could see the Spurs trading Ginobili.
Otherwise, San Antonio could use another big man and a dose of wing athleticism. Brendan Haywood makes sense here, but the Wizards will likely ask for George Hill and the Spurs will likely say no. Don't count out someone like Marcus Camby either, though his salary is tougher to match. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Jared Jeffries move here, though the Spurs certainly won't give up anything of value to get him. The Spurs are famous for these deadline deals for role players, so don't be surprised to see something.
Team Weaknesses: Interior defense, bench play
Projected 2010 cap room: $-4 million ($10 million under the luxury tax)
Untouchables: Deron Williams
Potentially on the block: Nobody
Expiring Contracts: Carlos Boozer ($12.3 million), Kyle Korver ($5.1 million), Ronnie Brewer* ($2.7 million)
Prospects: Ronnie Price, Wesley Matthews, Kosta Koufus
Good trade partners: Detroit, Memphis
Possible targets: Tayshaun Prince
The Jazz are playing great basketball now, but they have major financial issues. This year, they're still over the luxury tax, despite a tax-motivated move two months ago to give rookie Eric Maynor to Oklahoma City. As we covered in the Memphis section, they had discussions about trading Ronnie Brewer to Memphis for nobody in order to get under the tax, but those fizzed. It doesn't get much better in the future, though. They already have $51 million in committed salaries next year on just seven players. They have to re-sign Brewer and surprising rookie Wesley Matthews to extensions and somehow need to fill out their roster without going over the luxury tax.
That's why you keep hearing a tug-of-war involving Carlos Boozer. According to Ken Berger of CBS Sportsline, Jerry Sloan doesn't want to trade Boozer, because Boozer helps this year's team make a potential playoff run. But Boozer's also a free agent, and the Jazz could solve tax problems this year AND money problems next year if they trade Boozer to Detroit for Tayshaun Prince. Prince has one more year left on his contract, but he could be moved next year to help next year's luxury tax bill. All the while, the Jazz don't have to worry about a big extension for Boozer with all their other highly-paid players.
Andrei Kirilenko also has a huge contract, but he's played so well recently that the Jazz probably won't move him. Plus, he expires in 2011 as well.
In the end, the Jazz could make a minor move, but really, this is all about Boozer and whether the team or management wins out.
Team Weaknesses: Post scoring, outside shooting
Projected 2010 cap room: $-7 million ($7 million under luxury tax)
Untouchables: Gerald Wallace
Potentially on the block: Tyson Chandler ($11.7 million, one more year left), DeSagana Diop ($6 million, three more years left)
Expiring Contracts: Raymond Felton ($5.5 million), Acie Law ($2.2 million)
Prospects: D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson, Alexis Ajinca, Derrick Brown
Good trade partners: Detroit, Golden State, Indiana, LA Clippers, Milwaukee, Orlando, Sacramento
Possible targets: Jason Maxiell, Ronny Turiaf, Craig Smith, Kurt Thomas, Brandon Bass
Charlotte already made their big trade (Stephen Jackson), but I wouldn't count them out. They'd love a true power forward and have several centers (Nazr Mohammad, DeSagana Diop, Tyson Chandler, Alexis Ajica) that could be valuable to contending teams, though they all have bad contracts. I also get the sense they'd be willing to trade D.J. Augustin, who's fallen well behind Raymond Felton at point guard, to sweeten the pot. Augustin's not a bad player, but he's had a poor year, and Larry Brown hates young players (also see Henderson, Gerald). If they can get any veteran power forward, I'd think they'd surrender either young player to do it.
I'm not sure who's out there, but keep your eye on Brandon Bass of Orlando, Jason Maxiell in Detroit, Ronny Turiaf in Golden State and Kurt Thomas in Milwaukee.
Team Weaknesses: Outside shooting, perimeter scoring
Projected 2010 cap room: $15.5 million
Untouchables: Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah
Potentially on the block: Luol Deng ($10.3 million this year, four more years), Kirk Hinrich ($9.5 million this year, two more years), John Salmons ($6.4 million this year, one more year with a player option)
Expiring Contracts: Brad Miller ($12.5 million), Jerome James ($6 million), Tyrus Thomas ($4.7 million)
Prospects: Taj Gibson, James Johnson
Good trade partners: Boston, Houston, LA Lakers, Miami, Minnesota, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio
Possible targets: Amare Stoudemire, Al Harrington, expiring contracts of any kind
For all the talk about the Bulls being a major 2010 player, we forget that they actually can't guarantee themselves maximum cap room unless John Salmons opts out of the final year of his contract, which is hardly a certainty considering how much he's sucked this year. That's why there's a lot of noise surrounding Kirk Hinrich, who has a long-term contract and is intriguing to several teams.
Trading Hinrich would probably hurt the Bulls this year, because Hinrich's presence in the starting lineup has helped everyone, but you'd think that the Bulls would want to commit fully to the 2010 plan. Problem is, their actions sort of indicate otherwise. They've already turned down a Hinrich for "spare parts" trade from Boston, and those "spare parts" presumably were Celtic expiring contracts. The Lakers also talked to the Bulls about Hinrich, and they also have expiring contracts to offer. I know the Bulls would prefer to move Salmons, but with him playing so poorly, does anyone want him? It's almost as if Hinrich has some mysterious pull within the Bulls organization that makes them decide having him and a first-round playoff exit is more important than putting yourself in the position to grab LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and others.
Chicago's also in the mix for Amare Stoudemire, though they have even less to offer Phoenix than they did last year. They could also make another upgrade for the playoff push, like they did last year with the John Salmons-Brad Miller trade. What they should do, though, is trade Hinrich. Who knows if they actually will.
Team Weaknesses: Interior depth, shooting guard, perimeter defense, wing athleticism
Projected 2010 cap room: $-4.5 million (without Dirk)*
Untouchables: Dirk Nowitzki
Potentially on the block: Erick Dampier ($12.1 million, one more year unguarateed), Josh Howard ($10.9 million, team option for next year)
Expiring Contracts: Dampier, Howard, Drew Gooden ($4.5 million)
Prospects: Rodrigue Beaubois, J.J. Barea
Good trade partners: Charlotte, Detroit, Golden State, LA Clippers, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Utah, Washington
Possible targets: Brendan Haywood, Marcus Camby, Kevin Martin, Andre Iguodala, Carlos Boozer, Rip Hamilton
The Mavericks will always be a player, because, as Marc Stein wrote, they're one of the few teams willing to take on long-term salary. Dallas could use some wing athleticism and another big man to play with Erick Dampier. They desperately want Kevin Martin, as Stein writes, and they also make sense for Andre Iguodala and Brendan Haywood.
However, Dallas could also elect to wait for the summer. The Mavericks' two biggest trade chips are Erick Dampier's expiring contract (which technically isn't expiring, but is fully unguaranteed for 2010/11, so a team could cut him and pocket the savings) and Josh Howard's expiring contract (which also isn't technically expiring because 2010/11 is a team option). Because of the nature of their contracts, they can also be used over the summer in a larger sign-and-trade for one of the 2010 free agents. The Mavericks are trying to figure out whether they have a good chance of getting someone good for those two contracts over the summer. If they think they do, they'll stand pat. If they don't think so, they'll make a move now.
Besides those two, they could move Drew Gooden and super prospect Rodrigue Beaubois for a mid-level big man such as Haywood.
Team Weaknesses: Post offense, passing, perimeter defense
Projected 2010 cap room: ($-1.5 million, $12.5 million under luxury tax)
Untouchables: Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerekb
Potentially on the block: Rip Hamilton ($11.4 million this year, three more years left), Tayshaun Prince ($10.3 million, one more year left)
Expiring Contracts: Kwame Brown ($4 million)
Prospects: Austin Daye, DaJuan Summers
Good trade partners: Boston, Charlotte, Phoenix, Utah
Possible targets: Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, any other expiring contract
Detroit wants to offload some long-term contracts, but they have the wrong guys to do it. They're reportedly committed to moving Rip Hamilton and his massive contract, but to channel Adam Sandler for a second, THAT WAS SOMETHING THAT JOE DUMARS SHOULD HAVE SEEN COMING YESTERDAY. Sorry. Tayshaun Prince might have some value to a team like Charlotte or Utah, but he hasn't been the same player since suffering back problems last season, and there's not much those teams can offer back.
It's a pity to Pistons fans. That team is unwatchable and there doesn't seem to be much of a prospect for making a move. I'm guessing Detroit is listed in a ton of rumors, but ends up doing nothing.
Team Weaknesses: Outside shooting, perimeter defense, team speed, interior scoring
Projected 2010 cap room: $-13 million ($1 in luxury tax room)
Untouchables: Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert
Potentially on the block: Troy Murphy ($11 million this year, one more year), Mike Dunleavy ($9.8 million this year, one more year), T.J. Ford ($8.5 million this year, one more year)
Expiring Contracts: Earl Watson ($2.8 million)
Prospects: Tyler Hansbrough, Brandon Rush, A.J. Price
Good trade partners: Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Phoenix
Possible targets: Any expiring contract
Indiana wants to move guys to "refreshen the stagnant air in the fieldhouse," as SB Nation's Indy Cornrows e-mails, but they aren't finding many takers. Nobody wants T.J. Ford, and pretty much nobody wants Mike Dunleavy. Jeff Foster would have been a nice piece ... if he didn't just get hurt. That leaves Troy Murphy, who is a nice player, but one that only really fits in well on one team: Cleveland.
Despite that, Indiana's driving a really hard bargain for Murphy right now, which of course makes no sense considering their lack of leverage. Keeping Murphy isn't the end of the world -- the Pacers are all-in on the 2011 plan -- but immediate salary relief would be nice for a non-playoff team pushing the luxury tax.
Team Weaknesses: Interior play, frontcourt depth, post scoring
Projected 2010 cap room: $-4 million ($10 million under the luxury tax)
Untouchables: Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge (unless for something better)
Potentially on the block: Nobody
Expiring Contracts: Steve Blake ($4 million), Travis Outlaw ($3.6 million)
Prospects: Rudy Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless, Nicholas Batum, Jeff Pendergraph, Dante Cunningham
Good trade partners: Charlotte, LA Clippers, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, Washington
Possible targets: Nazr Mohammad, Tyson Chandler, Chris Kaman, Samuel Dalembert, Brendan Haywood
The Trail Blazers badly need a big man that has an expiring contract, with the season-ending injuries to Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla. This makes Washington's Brendan Haywood a perfect fit. The problem is that Portland is reluctant to part with anything of real value (i.e. their youngsters) for a guy that could just be a 25-game rental. The Wizards tried to pry both Rudy Fernandez and Nicholas Batum from Portland for Haywood, which the Blazers laughed off, but the Wizards really want Fernandez and could hold out for him.
If not Haywood, the Blazers could look elsewhere, but most other centers have longer contracts. The Blazers also don't have a ton of urgency because they were unlikely to make much noise anyway because of their injuries. They could decide to hold their assets and make a run next year when everyone gets healthy.
Team Weaknesses: Interior defense, rebounding, post scoring
Projected 2010 cap room: $12.5 million
Untouchables: Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, Spencer Hawes
Potentially on the block: Kevin Martin ($9.7 million this year, three more years left), Andres Nocioni ($7.5 million this year, three more years left, third year a team option), Beno Udrih ($6 million, three years let, third year a player option)
Expiring Contracts: Kenny Thomas ($8.7 million)
Prospects: Omri Casspi, Donte Greene, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstron
Good trade partners: Charlotte, Golden State, Minnesota, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington
Possible targets: Samuel Dalembert, Andris Biedrins, Brendan Haywood, Emeka Okafor, Boris Diaw, DeSagana Diop, Nazr Mohammad, Tyson Chandler
The great Tom Ziller from SB Nation's Sactown Royalty says the Kings need another big guy. That's why you see all the bigs on their possible targets. I'd guess Samuel Dalembert is the best target, because he's only got one more year left, but is still young enough to help. Brendan Haywood's not there for the long haul, and guys like Biedrins and Okafor are too expensive.
Then, there's the Kevin Martin stuff. The Kings continue to hold him out of trade talks, but he continues to struggle playing with Tyreke Evans. If the Kings do make Martin available, the market for him will be big. Dallas is very, very interested in Martin. Minnesota needs a wing, as previously discussed, and if Boston is serious about moving Ray Allen's contract for someone who can still help them this year, Martin seems like the perfect fit. His situation bears watching as the deadline approaches.
Team Weaknesses: Athleticism, perimeter depth, point guard depth
Projected 2010 cap room: $-11 million ($3 million under luxury tax)
Untouchables: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins
Potentially on the block: Glen Davis ($3 million this year, one more year)*,
Expiring Contracts: Ray Allen ($18.8 million), Brian Scalabrine ($3.4 million), Eddie House ($2.8 million), Tony Allen ($2.5 million), Marquis Daniels ($1.9 million)
Prospects: J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker
Good trade partners: Chicago, Detroit, Golden State, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia, Sacramento, Washington
Possible targets: Kirk Hinrich, John Salmons, Tayshaun Prince, Raja Bell, Monta Ellis, Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Ramon Sessions, Kevin Martin, Andre Iguodala.
Ray Allen's expiring contract is officially on the market! This makes the Celtics a team that is a must-watch in the coming weeks. They've struggled so much recently that it appears Danny Ainge is resigned to the fact that the Celtics must get younger. Ainge is an extremely bold GM, so this is not just posturing. Don't believe him when he says there's nothing to this.
The difficulty of Ainge's quest, though, is that the Celtics can't just tank because of the vets the team already has. They can't just trade Ray Allen for young players; they need to trade Ray Allen essentially for a younger version of Ray Allen. Monta Ellis was one name that came up, but he doesn't fit in well with Boston's style of play. I think the Celtics would love to trade Allen for Sacramento's Kevin Martin, but Martin's not on the block. SB Nation's Celtics Blog and Liberty Ballers collaborated on a Allen/Andre Iguodala trade, but does Iguodala fit in well with Paul Pierce? Chicago could offer Kirk Hinrich, who the Celtics already tried to get (as covered in the Bulls section), and John Salmons, but is that a good enough return? This is the problem with trading Ray Allen now. He needs to be traded for someone really good, and how many really good players are out there that are better than Ray Allen?
Besides a Ray Allen trade, the Celtics also desperately need bench help, particularly at the point and on the wings. Andres Nocioni of Sacramento has been rumored to head to Boston several times, but he has a big contract. We already talked about Hinrich. Jeff Clark from SB Nation's Celtics Blog is enamored with Golden State's Raja Bell, but Bell's hurt now. Detroit could offer Tayshaun Prince, but Prince makes too much money. Milwaukee can offer Luke Ridnor and Charlie Bell, but the two combined make too much. Boston's only assets other than Allen are small expiring contracts and third-tier prospects. That could be enough to get them somebody, but nobody particularly great.
Either way, Boston went from a team likely out of the mix to one of the big players in just a couple weeks.
Team Weaknesses: A lack of a finesse power forward
Projected 2010 cap room: $19 million (without LeBron)
Untouchables: LeBron James, Mo Williams
Potentially on the block: Nobody
Expiring Contracts: Shaquille O'Neal ($21 million), Zydrunas Ilgauskas ($11.5 million)
Prospects: J.J. Hickson, Jawad Williams, Darnell Jackson
Good trade partners: Indiana, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, Washington
Possible targets: Antawn Jamison, Troy Murphy, Andre Iguodala, Amare Stoudemire.
Cleveland's got a great chance to solidify their status as the league's best team. They have expiring contracts and a definite need for a power forward that can stretch the defense with his shooting and also get them easy points inside. They also have LeBron James in a contract year, so this might be their last chance to win a title with him. Last year, they decided the mix they had was good enough to win it all, and it wasn't. You'd think they wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
Target A is Antawn Jamison. LeBron badly wants Jamison, and Jamison's an almost perfect fit. The Cavs are still haggling with particulars with the Wizards, which could derail this. The Wizards want more than cap relief (i.e. Zydrunas Ilgasukas' expiring contract), while the Cavaliers are worried about throwing young power forward J.J. Hickson into the mix. They also want the Wizards to cut Ilgauskas so they can sign him back to back up Shaquille O'Neal. The Wizards also seem reluctant to help out their rival, which would only make sense if this was 2006 and the Wizards were actually good. Either way, expect this talk to continue all the way until the deadline.
Target B is Troy Murphy, but Indiana's setting a ridiculously high price for him right now. Target C is Andre Iguodala, but Iguodala's got a big contract and doesn't really fit in well with LeBron. There's also Target D, Amare Stoudemire, but the Cavs probably don't want to reunite Stoudemire with Shaquille O'Neal.
It's tough to read Cleveland's urgency. On the one hand, LeBron's influence, combined with the possibility that he walks, means they could be desperate to make a big move. On the other hand, they're also the best team in the league, so they could decide they have a better chance to win with this group than last year. I get the sense that teams like the Wizards and Pacers think that it's the former scenario, which explains why they're asking Cleveland for a high price for their players. That could be the right mindset to take, but it also could blow up in their faces when Cleveland calls their bluffs, does nothing and forces them to be stuck with their overpaid players.
Team Weaknesses: Lack of size, creating offense, defending point guards
Projected 2010 cap room: $15 million (sans options)
Untouchables: Yao Ming
Potentially on the block: Shane Battier ($6.9 million this year, one more year left), Trevor Ariza ($5.8 million this year, four more years left, player option for fourth year)
Expiring Contracts: Tracy McGrady ($22.5 million), Brian Cook ($3.5 million), Luis Scola ($3.3 million)
Prospects: Aaron Brooks, Carl Landry, Kyle Lowry, Chase Budinger, Jermaine Taylor
Good trade partners: Chicago, Golden State, Memphis, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, Toronto, Washington
Possible targets: Andre Iguodala, Kevin Martin, Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh (if available), Rudy Gay, Kirk Hinrich, John Salmons, Monta Ellis
How greedy does Houston want to be? That's the question that could turn this trade deadline from epic to ordinary.
Look at all their trade assets. In Tracy McGrady, they have the biggest expiring contract in the league, and they're trying to get some mileage out of it, whether that means getting Caron Butler, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Martin or any of the other big-time players on the market. The Rockets are driving a hard bargain now, because they know how attractive the financial relief McGrady proves is to struggling teams like Washington and Philadelphia (and because they have their own long-term financial issues to worry about), but if they were willing to take on some bad contracts to make the salaries work (e.g. Samuel Dalembert from Philadelphia, Andres Nocioni from Sacramento or Mike James from Washington) or surrender some of their young players (which is what the Wizards want), they could get a real stud player. Right now, that doesn't appear to be the case, but for the sake of us fans, I hope it eventually is. Iguodala is a perfect fit here (Houston needs a perimeter creator in the worst way) and a major upgrade over Trevor Ariza, while Butler would help too without creating too many long-term money problems.
Houston also has several interesting young players that they'll inevitably overvalue, as well as some smaller expiring contracts. They have some cap room this summer, but that's only if they let several key players (Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes, even Carl Landry) go, so if they were smart, they'd try to get something for those players now. They could also save them for sign-and-trades this summer, though, or they could do nothing because Daryl Morey loves his plucky overachievers.
In case you didn't notice, I'm really hoping Houston does something big at the trade deadline. Screw financial issues and your precious young sleepers, swing a big deal Daryl!
Team Weaknesses: Outside shooting, perimeter defense
Projected 2010 cap room: $-12 million ($2 million in tax room)
Untouchables: Jrue Holiday
Potentially on the block: Elton Brand ($15 million this year, three more years, player option for third), Andre Iguodala ($12.2 million this year, four more years, player option for fourth), Samuel Dalembert ($12 million this year, one more year),
Expiring Contracts: None
Prospects: Thaddeus Young, Marreese Speights, Louis Williams Jason Smith,
Good trade partners: Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Minnesota, Phoenix, Sacramento.
Possible targets: Tracy McGrady's expiring contract, Ray Allen's expiring contract, any other big expiring contracts.
Perhaps the biggest sellers on the market, considering Washington's ownership flux right now. SB Nation's Liberty Ballers e-mails in to remind everyone that GM Ed Stafanski says nobody is untouchable. Elton Brand's contract remains radioactive, so he's probably not going anywhere. Otherwise, everyone's fair game, except maybe rookie Jrue Holiday. Yes, even Thaddeus Young. Jordan Sams from Liberty Ballers says he could see Young getting traded 10 times before Holiday.
The real prize of this fire sale is Andre Iguodala. Iguodala isn't for everybody. His poor outside shooting is a killer for many teams. But if you have a great outside shooter, Iguodala is a major acquisition. He's a phenomenal passer, a potential lockdown defender when he doesn't have a major scoring burden to shoulder and a great teammate skilled in little things like post entry passes and movement without the ball. The problem is his contract, which, at four years and 56 million, is hefty considering player salaries could really go down in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Even with his salary, I'm surprised more teams aren't looking into Iguodala. Houston's interested, and Cleveland is thinking about It, but that's it. Dallas is scared off by his contract, even though Iguodala is perfect for them as a guy who runs the break and defends top perimeter threats. Even with his salary, teams like Minnesota (see above), Phoenix (to get something for Amare) and Boston (if Paul Pierce's injury is a nagging problem) have got to think about this guy.
Status: Major seller
Team Weaknesses: Interior defense, depth, perimeter scoring
Projected 2010 cap room: $13 million, without Amare Stoudemire
Untouchables: Steve Nash
Potentially on the block: Amare Stoudemire ($16.4 million this year, player option for next year), Jason Richardson ($13.3 million this year, one more year left), Leandro Barbosa ($6.6 million this year, two more years left, player option on second year)
Expiring Contracts: Stoudemire
Prospects: Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Robin Lopez, Earl Clark,
Good trade partners: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Golden State, Houston, Memphis, Miami, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Antonio, Washington
Possible targets: Tyrus Thomas, Zydrunas Ilgauskas' contract, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Andris Biedrins, Tracy McGrady's contract, Rudy Gay, Yi Jianlian, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Martin, Manu Ginobili's contract, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison
The Amare Stoudemire stuff has been well-documented everywhere. Basically, the Suns don't seem willing to sign Amare to a contract extension, so they're looking to see if they can trade him for something instead of losing him for nothing. They're hoping that teams surrender key young players for Stoudemire now instead of trying to be one of the many teams likely to be interested in signing him outright during the offseason.
Seth Pollack over at SB Nation's Bright Side of the Sun has done a better job breaking down Amare stuff than I could ever do. Read Pollack's thoughts on potentially trading Amare to the Heat, Bulls, Nets and Warriors. A couple other teams to watch: Detroit, who could trade Tayshaun Prince and some prospects; Philadelphia, who could trade Iguodala as a way to get some financial relief and also have tons of prospects; Washington, who could give Phoenix Caron Butler and Randy Foye; and San Antonio, who was rumored to be considering a bid for Stoudemire. We all thought Amare would get traded last year, so I wouldn't say Amare leaving is a certainty, but there's definitely just as good a chance now as there was then.
As for other players, Seth says not to expect much. Phoenix would love to trade Jason Richardson, but his contract is a problem. Leandro Barbosa might also be traded, but he's been hurt. Phoenix's young players don't hold a ton of value, and besides, Phoenix wants to get younger, not older.
Team Weaknesses: Point guard play, perimeter defense, shooting, team speed
Projected 2010 cap room: $-0.5 million ($13.5 million in luxury tax room)
Untouchables: JaVale McGe
Potentially on the block: Antawn Jamison ($11.6 million this year, two more years left), Caron Butler ($9.8 million this year, one more year left)
Expiring Contracts: Mike Miller ($9.8 million), Mike James ($6.5 million), Brendan Haywood ($6 million), Fabricio Oberto ($1.9 million
Prospects: Andray Blatche, Nick Young
Good trade partners: Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Houston, LA Clippers, Miami, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, Utah
Possible targets: Tracy McGrady's expiring contract, Rudy Fernandez, J.J. Hickson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas' expiring contract, Marcus Camby's expiring contract, any other big expiring contracts, Amare Stoudemire, any other mid-level prospects
The Wizards are widely considered to be the hub of the 2010 NBA Trade Deadline. Three potential monkey wrenches: the cloudy ownership situation (the transition between Abe Pollin and Ted Leonsis isn't going as smoothly as anticipated, meaning there's nobody really to sign off on any moves), the lack of clarity with Gilbert Arenas and GM Ernie Grunfeld's tendency to ask for too much in deals. That said, chances are at least one key Wizard leaves by the deadline.
The two biggest contracts on the team outside of Arenas are Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler. Jamison's been far more productive this year, but his contract is also bigger and longer. Cleveland would love to pry Jamison away, but the Wizards want more than Zydrunas Ilgauskas' contract back. Otherwise, the market's pretty soft for Jamison because of his price. Butler, despite his poor play this year, has a friendlier contract, so there's more interest in him. The Wizards have been talking with Houston a lot about a potential Butler + pieces for Tracy McGrady deal, and Phoenix was rumored to offer Amare Stoudemire for Butler and others, so Butler has a market.
In terms of tradeable assets, though, both those guys might take a backseat to Brendan Haywood. Haywood's an expiring contract, and at this stage of his career, he might want to get the heck out of DC and into a winning situation. Tons of Western Conference contenders need size to go up against the Lakers, and Haywood offers it. Washington might move him now so they don't lose him for nothing in the offseason. If they're serious, they'll get lots of calls.
There you have it. The NBA Trade Deadline, covered from all angles. Now watch as something completely unexpected happens.
*: Has a one-year contract, meaning he can veto any trade he's involved in.
**: Base-year compensation player. For more on BYC players, read this.