There hasn't been a lot of trade talk -- apart from the just-completed 'Melo-drama -- because of uncertainty about the next collective bargaining agreement. Many GMs are reticent to gamble in normal times, but in this pre-lockout climate they can't be sure how the new CBA will affect their business. The last thing they want to do is make a major move that turns out to have an unexpectedly negative impact next year, especially with every owner watching finances so closely amid the negotiations with the players union.
Here's a look at what may be in store for the Thursday trade deadline.
Dallas Mavericks. They can move Caron Butler's expiring $10.6 million salary, but should they? They're already dealing with reinforcements: Dribble-drive guard Rodrigue Beaubois returned to the rotation last week and three-point shooter Peja Stojakovic has been averaging 20 minutes per game while playing himself into shape. Since Dirk Nowitzki's return from a midseason knee injury, the Mavs have gone 13-1 to return to second place in the West (apart from the 13 games of Nowitzki's absence and recovery, they're a terrific 37-6 this season). Would a trade enhance their postseason chances, or would it disrupt their chemistry? Another consideration: Butler insists he'll recover from knee surgery to help them in the playoffs.
New Orleans Hornets. Having done excellent work already to upgrade his team, rookie GM Dell Demps is seeking to make another deal to upgrade the bench for the playoffs. Cleveland's Antawn Jamison is a potential target, but the Hornets are in the peculiar situation of being co-owned by the 29 teams with whom they are talking trade.
Boston Celtics. They can't win a championship without a backup small forward to replace Marquis Daniels, who is out indefinitely after suffering a bruised spinal cord. They need someone with size to help engage LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, but the Celtics have little to offer in a trade. So they'll probably be looking to acquire a perimeter veteran like 6-6 Anthony Parker of the Cavaliers, or else seek buyout help from someone like Rasual Butler, the Clippers' 6-7 swingman with excellent three-point range.
Miami Heat. Couldn't they use another big man as well as a point guard? A longstanding rumor has them picking up Eddy Curry once he has been bought out after the deadline. They'll also be in the running for power forward Troy Murphy, should he be bought out by the Nets or by the team that trades for him. The competition for Murphy will be enormous, with the Magic, Celtics and Mavericks among his bidders.
Los Angeles Lakers. The return of Matt Barnes could help them become less reliant on Ron Artest, but they could use more help at point guard to complement Derek Fisher. A trade is highly unlikely as coach Phil Jackson doesn't like midseason moves, and they won't be able to unload Artest's contract anyway.
Orlando Magic. They need size, and Murphy would be an excellent fit because he is a rebounder whose three-point shooting would replicate the contributions of Rashard Lewis. But after completing a pair of big trades in December, GM Otis Smith has been insisting that the Magic need to worry less about adding more pieces and focus more on galvanizing their existing resources.
Chicago Bulls. Maybe they could use another shooter in the backcourt, but the Bulls are expected to be cautious. Another scorer means fewer attempts for MVP candidate Derrick Rose. Their remarkable chemistry figures to be enhanced by the imminent return of center Joakim Noah, who can be viewed as a midseason acquisition when he returns from his right thumb injury.
Atlanta Hawks. A two-way performer like Kirk Hinrich would toughen their backcourt at the defensive end. But offering Marvin Williams or Mike Bibby isn't likely to get it done for the Hawks, who need to make a move in order to create hope for reaching the conference finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers. They're seeking to dismantle their pre-"Decision" roster in exchange for draft picks and assets with which to rebuild. The Cavs could use the $14.5 million trade exception from LeBron James' departure to acquire a first-rounder, and there has been interest in Jamison and Parker.
Portland Trail Blazers. Coach Nate McMillan has turned water into wine by transforming his injured team into a 32-24 playoff contender, and yet the Blazers know there is no championship future with this roster. Rivals expect them to move Marcus Camby, and imagine his impact on the championship race if he were to join any of the contenders (except for the Lakers, who are heavily stocked with 7-footers)? It will be more difficult for them to move Andre Miller, who has played a huge role in their success this year.
Houston Rockets. They're likely to make a deal. Yao Ming's expiring contract is a moveable asset, as are Aaron Brooks and Shane Battier. The Rockets could use a center to launch their post-Yao era, and wouldn't Camby fill in nicely there?
Memphis Grizzlies. They are starving for a spot in the playoffs, Rudy Gay is out for a month with a shoulder injury and O.J. Mayo is available. The Grizzlies will take your call if you have something to offer.
Milwaukee Bucks. This injury-ruined team remains just 3.5 games out of the playoffs, but Keyon Dooling is among the assets that could be moved. The Bucks need to consider deals that will improve them for the longterm, because there isn't much hope for recovering a worthwhile result from this lost season.
Detroit Pistons. They would love to move Richard Hamilton's contract, but there have been no takers: Not only is he guaranteed $21.5 million over the next two seasons, but his sophisticated move-without-the-ball style isn't easily incorporated into many offenses. He would be a terrific fit off the bench for the Celtics, who run similar plays for Ray Allen, but Boston won't want to take on that money.
Charlotte Bobcats. Charlotte has achieved stability by extending coach Paul Silas into next season, but the Bobcats would still like to get off their commitments to Stephen Jackson or Boris Diaw. Jackson especially could help a lot of teams, but his contract is prohibitive going into the next CBA.