By: Eric Pincus
Deadline Day: Time for one last run through all 30 teams as the NBA's trade deadline is finally upon us! All deals must be in by 3:00pm Eastern although sometimes it takes a few hours for trades to be announced. More so than ever, it appears economics are directing player movement.
Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks have been pretty quiet at the deadline. This is a team that believes they can take the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and home court advantage into the first round. The way they challenged the Boston Celtics last playoffs, Atlanta is thinking they even have a shot at the Eastern Conference Finals. Additionally, they're below the luxury tax and have financial flexibility this summer with two free agents to consider in Mike Bibby and Marvin Williams (restricted).
Boston Celtics: Well over the luxury tax, the Celtics saved a few dollars by sending Sam Cassell to the . He's since been cut by the Kings but if he rejoins the Celtics, it'll be as an assistant coach. Frankly Boston was always planning on waiving Cassell, luxury tax or not, to make room for one more player to bolster their playoff run.
The turn of events in Oklahoma City could benefit Boston, who have long hoped that Joe Smith would be bought out by the Thunder and sign as a free agent. Now that the Tyson Chandler trade has been rescinded, that may be an option once again.
Other possibilities could be Robert Horry, P.J. Brown or Stephon Marbury.
When it comes to trade bait, the Celtics don't have much to offer. One name linked to Boston is Raja Bell of the Charlotte Bobcats but Coach Larry Brown is happy with his new roster and veteran shooting guard.
Charlotte Bobcats: Speaking of the Bobcats, they made their move in landing Vladimir Radmanovic from the Los Angeles Lakers. Since the trade, they've won three of four.
Charlotte came close to trading Raymond Felton earlier in the year but a D.J. Augustine injury gave Felton the opportunity to prove himself. Now the Bobcats are considering re-signing him as a restricted free agent this summer.
After inking Cartier Martin for the rest of the season, the Bobcats have a 14-man roster. Since they're well below the luxury tax, they could help another team make a salary cap swap similar to the Sacramento/Sam Cassell deal.
Nazr Mohammed is available but his contract is unfavorable. Otherwise it looks like the Bobcats are done tinkering.
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls finally completed a blockbuster deal in landing Brad Miller and John Salmons. Miller may not be the explosive, offensive inside threat the team had hoped to acquire in Amar'e Stoudemire, but he's a solid, versatile big man. Salmons is a three-position perimeter player who can score and defend.
It doesn't look like Chicago will find a taker for Larry Hughes, although the Washington Wizards may be faint hope.
The phone has rung off the hook for Kirk Hinrich, despite his multi-year deal but the Bulls have always leaned towards keeping him. With uncertainty regarding unrestricted free agent Ben Gordon this summer, Hinrich may be a steady player to keep alongside young stud Derrick Rose.
Still, the Bulls will answer the phone and listen for Hinrich pitches until the deadline expires. Maybe one will be rich enough for a change in course.
Cleveland Cavaliers: The plan was always to keep the roster together, considering how well the team has played this year. The Cavaliers are shopping Wally Szczerbiak with rookie J.J. Hickson as bait but they want an impact player back like Amar'e Stoudemire.
They're just not going to make a deal to make a deal. Names associated with Cleveland include Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson.
Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks have been actively shopping the Jerry Stackhouse who is only guaranteed $2 million of his $7.25 million contract next season. Brandon Bass hasn't been enough of an enticement coupled with Stackhouse.
Josh Howard can be had for the right piece but Dallas still values the forward to just let him go for less than value. Vince Carter could be an option but his lengthy contract could get in the way of any 2010 planning the Mavericks may have (Dirk Nowitzki has an early termination option).
All things being equal, the Mavericks may be better off sticking with Howard, whose 2010 salary is a team option.
Denver Nuggets: When did the Nuggets become the second best team in the Western Conference? They already made their big splash in acquiring Chauncey Billups. When they traded Chucky Atkins, that finally got the team under the luxury tax . . . so they're pretty comfortable right now as is.
The only readily available piece is Seven Hunter but there's not much of a demand for him since the Pistons aren't exactly looking to add long-term salary to the mix.
Detroit Pistons: One Western Conference executive mentioned privately a few months back that Detroit's move to land Allen Iverson was more about financial flexibility than winning now. If the Pistons with Iverson flourished, that'd be a bonus.
Unfortunately Detroit is in disarray. They've lost seven of their last 10 and face the San Antonio Spurs at home before a brutal road trip (Cleveland, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando and Boston). When they finally return home they get the Nuggets.
It'll take a below .500 team to play exceptionally well for the Pistons to miss out on the playoffs altogether but it is what is . . .
Detroit is gearing up to spend this coming summer, possibly on Carlos Boozer (should he opt out of his contract in Utah).
Kwame Brown for a last year, anyone?
Golden State: The Warriors are nearly healthy (still waiting on Andris Biedrins) and finally playing well. They made their big splash in acquiring guard Jamal Crawford from the New York Knicks. They're not expected to do much more.
Houston Rockets: How disappointing is it to hear that Tracy McGrady is done for the year. It typically takes about a year to get over microfracture surgery so McGrady could be out to start next season as well. Trading Tracy for the Los Angeles Clippers Baron Davis does not appear to be a viable option.
Basically the Rockets are in turmoil. Ron Artest is potentially available but he's not really considered a conservative investment around the league.
Don't be surprised if the Rockets do something before the deadline but it's not quite clear what exactly there is to do? Calls for Carl Landry haven't enticed Houston to date.
One thing is for certain, the Rockets are going to make sure they have plenty of salary cap space in 2010 to both keep Yao Ming and add a new (and hopefully more durable) star next to the big men.
Indiana Pacers: The have been operating with a sky-high payroll for years. While they could easily be a buyer with Rasho Nesterovic's expiring contract and the team option on Marquis Daniel's 2009/10 salary.
Instead, it appears they're learning towards reaping the financial benefit themselves . . . that is, unless someone wants to take Jamaal Tinsley off their hands.
Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers have received plenty of calls for Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman but well-placed sources say nothing has compelled them so far to change course.
General Manager Mike Dunleavy has repeated many times that he believes the Clippers have arguably the top front court in the league when healthy.
Now if they can just get on the floor together considering Zach Randolph is suspended (two games), Marcus Camby is sick (inner ear infection) and Chris Kaman isn't due back for another couple of weeks (foot).
There has been some buzz that LA has buyer's remorse with Baron Davis (and vice versa) but that's unconfirmed and is unlikely to be resolved by Thursday.
Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers weren't getting anything significant out of Chris Mihm, so General Manager Mitch Kupchak cashed him out on Wednesday to save a couple of million. LA had already relieved some of their financial burden by sending out Radmanovic.
There's no room in the rotation for LA to utilize the newly opened roster spot. Other than a nice sentiment, there's probably no real drive at this point to sign free agent Robert Horry as insurance. It's not completely off the radar . . . just unlikely.
Adam Morrison makes a bit too much to develop but there doesn't appear to be any teams looking to send an expiring contract for a player still trying to recapture his game after an ACL tear.
Media-wide calls that LA trade for Shaquille O'Neal didn't take into consideration the economic realities making that impossible (next year's budget). Besides, there's a very good chance that Kobe Bryant opts out and re-signs this summer. Would he be so inclined to stay if Shaq was back in town?
Survey says . . . no way.
Memphis Grizzlies: It's quiet in Memphis as they wait to do their damage in the offseason, armed with plenty of cap room.
Miami HEAT: The HEAT are under the luxury tax by a hair. They shed Marcus Banks from their 2010 payroll. Whether or not Jermaine O'Neal brings them success over the next two years is secondary to keeping Dwyane Wade and adding an All-Star like Chris Bosh beside him.
Miami appears to be done tinkering.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have a very attractive piece in Richard Jefferson. Since his contract likely runs past the summer of 2010 (early termination option), Milwaukee may be inclined to move him considering Michael Redd is out for the year and Andrew Bogut is down at least another six weeks.
The Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers may be the favorites should the Bucks decide to deal.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves have reportedly pursued Kirk Hinrich, which makes a ton of sense alongside combo guard Randy Foye. It just doesn't look like Chicago is willing to move him tomorrow for expiring contracts. Perhaps the Bulls have a change of heart but otherwise the Wolves appear to be set for now.
Mike Miller is an intriguing asset for a number of teams but word is he's likely to be shopped at the NBA Draft.
We'll see if Chicago or Minnesota's positions change overnight.
New Jersey Nets: If there's a "star" to be moved Thursday, it's probably Vince Carter. The problem for New Jersey is that his deal goes on too long (past 2010) - which is their fault considering they just recently signed him to the big contract.
He's been linked to the Cavaliers, Blazers and even the San Antonio Spurs. It's not clear exactly how San Antonio would come up with enough outgoing salary for Vince (or Richard Jefferson for that matter).
New Orleans Hornets: There probably isn't time for Plan B - sending off Peja Stojakovic, Morris Peterson, Antonio Daniels and/or Rasual Butler away for expiring contracts. Tyson Chandler failing the physical in Oklahoma City means he's not going anywhere.
The Hornets have significant luxury tax issues next season but they'll have to find another way to reduce it.
In the long run, if Chandler can get healthy, New Orleans will probably be more competitive this season without the trade.
Wonder if the Celtics have called, trying to land James Posey?!?
New York Knicks: Barring a last minute Shaquille O'Neal for Stephon Marbury trade (which would be an unlikely stunner), the Knicks appear to be quiet. The priority is obviously saving 2010 cap space for LeBron James. In the meantime, they're likely to hold onto both David Lee and Nate Robinson.
There's really no reason to write two talented players off because they might be too costly in the future. Considering most teams won't have cap room to work with, both Lee and Robinson may not be too expensive after all.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Oops! Scramble time. Any other back burner deals for Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox?
Orlando Magic: The Magic will address Hedo Turkoglu and his opt-out/free agency status this summer. In the meantime, there don't appear to be any serious takers for Brian Cook at this point.
Philadelphia 76ers: Andre Miller will be a free agent this summer. The Sixers are finally back to the style of ball they played last year and Miller is a key part of that. Decisions on Dre will be made in June and July, not February.
Phoenix Suns: All that noise and the Suns look like they're holding firm. Coach Alvin Gentry is a solid guy who has gotten the team off to a great start albeit against the struggling LA Clippers.
Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers are looking at small forwards now that it looks like Amar'e Stoudemire is staying in Phoenix. With insurance paying for a bulk of Raef LaFrentz salary, he represents about a $5 million savings or whoever acquires him. Of course Portland reaps that benefit if they don't trade him.
While the Blazers won't have as much cap space as they had hoped (since Darius Miles came out of retirement), Portland does have some room to work with.
With the more cost-effective John Salmons is out of the picture but Richard Jefferson or Vince Carter could be the answer.
Bait would include players like Channing Frye, Travis Outlaw and Sergio Rodriguez in addition to LaFrentz.
Sacramento Kings: The Kings are rebuilding taking on Drew Gooden's expiring contract while dumping Brad Miller and Salmons. They picked up a hefty investment in Andres Nocioni who is a nice face-up forward.
If Sacramento could find a way to dump Kenny Thomas and Beno Udrih - they certainly would but after the Bulls trade, they're probably set.
San Antonio Spurs: The big question is the status of Manu Ginobili who has an ankle injury. There is plenty of buzz going around that Manu could be out awhile but that's unconfirmed.
To make a deal, the Spurs want to hold onto Roger Mason and George Hill who have been positive contributors but are said to be interested in adding an offensive-minded three.
It could cost Bruce Bowen and Fabricio Oberto who both are only guaranteed half of their $4.0 and $3.8 million deals next year, respectively. Another piece going out could be Ime Udoka - or even free agent Robert Horry, via sign and trade.
Other than cap relief and possibly Mason or Hill, the Spurs don't have a lot to offer. To land Carter or Jefferson they may have to pray for a Kwame-style salary dump.
Toronto Raptors: That should be it for the Raptors. They just need a healthy Chris Bosh to see if the Andrea Bargnani, Shawn Marion and Bosh front court works together.
Before Bosh becomes a free agent, the Raptors have to find a way to add a high scoring guard to the mix.
Utah Jazz: The Utah Jazz/Carlos Boozer relationship doesn't look it'll have a long shelf life but it'll likely last beyond the trade deadline.
Washington Wizards: Keep calling for Antawn Jamison or Caron Butler, word is the Wizards aren't going to move either. Teams interested include the Cavaliers, Blazers and even the Spurs . . . but nothing looks feasible heading into Thursday.
It'll all be over soon enough . . .