Posted Feb 13 2011 11:20AM
The Celtics can use another wing off the bench with Marquis Daniels out. The Mavericks, sans Caron Butler, could possibly use one, too.
Is Orlando ready to pull off another blockbuster to gain ground in the Eastern Conference? Magic general manager Otis Smith isn't afraid to shake it up. The Trail Blazers could be angling for something huge. Everyone is on the block in Houston.
The moving parts and possibilities going into the trade deadline are endless. Title hopefuls are searching for that piece to put them over the top. Pretenders aspire to move into the contender ranks. Also-rans are trying to shed unwanted veterans and bad contracts.
Through it all, one overriding theme trumps all else in the days leading to Feb. 24.
"It's all about Carmelo," said Steve Kerr, current TNT analyst and former Phoenix general manager.
The cloud of Carmelo Anthony's future has hovered over the league since last summer. New Jersey came and went. Other teams -- Mavericks, Rockets -- would pull the trigger on a rental. The Los Angeles Lakers' rumor was sexy, but quickly fizzled. Denver's three-year extension for $65 million is now a possibility, according to 'Melo himself, if he's not dealt in by the deadline.
And then there's always New York.
"I don't think the Knicks have enough," said Kerr, noting that free agency is a more likely Anthony-to-New York vehicle. "The whole Minnesota three-way trade looked like a disaster for Minnesota. I don't know why they would do that. They were just facilitating a deal for New York."
Whether it gets done with 'Melo, a number of others could be on the move. O.J. Mayo (Memphis), Antawn Jamison (Cleveland), Troy Murphy (New Jersey), Eddy Curry (New York), Andre Miller (Portland), Corey Maggette (Milwaukee), and Detroit teammates Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are among those actively being shopped, according to league sources.
What about Steve Nash? Kerr certainly knows the situation with the Suns, and the rumors don't seem to subside regarding a 37-year-old point guard still playing at the level that led to back-to-back MVPs.
"No way," Kerr said. "The thing about Nash is he really is the franchise."
The contracts of those mentioned above not named Nash would necessitate blockbuster-type deals, just because of the money involved. Several of the serious title contenders are probably in the market for more subtle moves to fill a few holes.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has said the defending East champs are looking after Daniels suffered a bruised spine. Boston hasn't put on a timetable on how long Daniels will be out, but Kerr worked the Celtics-Lakers game this past Thursday and said the injury to the highly-valued reserve is likely significant.
"There's a pretty good chance he's done for the year," Kerr said. "They're pretty thin at the backup 3. Even when Delonte West comes back, he's more of a combo guard. I think Boston would love to get backup 3. I don't know who that would be."
It would have to be someone with some length who is willing to fit a role and play defense. One player that could make sense is swingman Rasual Butler, who's sitting at the end of the Los Angeles Clippers bench and has a reasonable contract ($2.4 million).
San Antonio and Orlando are two teams often mentioned as needing size. The Spurs complement Tim Duncan with undersized centers/power forwards in DeJuan Blair, Antonio McDyess and Matt Bonner, and a rookie 7-footer Tiago Splitter struggling to get his footing.
San Antonio is also cruising along with the league's best record.
"They likely won't get anybody who would play ahead of Splitter," Kerr said. "Splitter is hardly getting any minutes, but who do they get to come in? Splitter has now been there half a year and he's familiar with the system and what they're trying to do.
"That's the tricky part with these things. When you say who we can get, you have to get somebody better than who you already have on the bench. I don't see anybody out there better than Splitter for San Antonio."
The cupboard really looked bare for the Magic behind Dwight Howard, especially while Brandon Bass was out. (Bass planned to return to the lineup Sunday against the Lakers.) Smith, one of the league's more active general managers, has already traded for Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas this season.
"Those trades made them better, but not good enough," Kerr said. "They're going to win more games because of it, but they're still not good enough to beat Boston or Miami or Chicago, in my mind.
"You go down their bench and it's like the smallest team I've seen in my life. I think Orlando is definitely looking for size. And considering their recent struggles after making such huge moves, they wouldn't shy away from making another one. They're almost chasing a bad hand."
Much like the Spurs, Kerr doesn't anticipate Dallas doing anything sizeable, despite Mark Cuban's history of deadline doozies. Kerr noted that the Mavericks' backcourt of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, along with the eventual return of Roddy Beaubois, is a strength that's been able to mask the loss of Butler.
"They look good at the guard spot and they've got a $60-million backup center (Brendan Haywood), so the only position you think they could fortify would be that wing spot," Kerr said. "Cuban is the type of guy that would go after Rip or Tayshaun. It's a question of how they would get that done."
The Mavericks have already made one noteworthy addition by signing free agent Peja Stojakovic, who was bought out by Toronto. A number of veterans in the last year of their contracts could also reach free agency if they're not moved by the deadline. Murphy is a likely buyout candidate with the Nets as long as he isn't traded.
Most teams don't have Cuban's resources when considering the financial implications of any possible trade. The next collective bargaining agreement is an obstacle, as teams in many cases are wary of picking up new contracts.
Paul Allen's Blazers, under first-year GM Rich Cho, could be an exception. Portland is riddled with injuries once again and residing in the lower half of the West playoff picture. Miller and Marcus Camby are potential chips. Some have suggested that Brandon Roy, who's set to return this week, could also be in play.
"That's one team that I can see make a move," Kerr said. "They're saddled with some bad, long-term deals. I could see them doing something. Cho when he got there made a pretty big deal about how there was going to be change, and they've been waiting for change and nothing's happened."
As for where 'Melo eventually ends up, Kerr's guess is probably as good as anyone else's. Well, probably a little better.
"I would lean," he said, "and not that confidently in the camp that he stays in Denver."
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