By Chris Mannix
February 17, 2011
Team-By-Team Trade Outlook
With a superstar on the market, a flood of expiring contracts and trade exceptions also in play and collective bargaining uncertainty as a backdrop, the trading season will be interesting to watch. As the Feb. 24 deadline approaches, here's a look at each team's trade potential. (All payroll figures are from
Western Conference
Dallas Mavericks
Team Payroll: $84.8 million
Potential Trade Assets: Caron Butler, Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi, $4.3 million trade exception
The Mavericks are a sleeper team in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes. Dallas can offer Butler's $10.6 million expiring contract and young talent in Beaubois and Mahinmi, who in the last week has supplanted Brendan Haywood as Tyson Chandler's backup. The free-spending Mavs might even be willing to take on one of the Nuggets' bad contracts (Al Harrington, Renaldo Balkman) in a deal. Still, Jason Terry told reporters this week that the Mavs, who have won 12 of 13, don't need a deal. He might be right. Besides, Dallas' best addition might be the dynamic Beaubois, who made his season debut Wednesday in his return from foot surgery.
Denver Nuggets
Team Payroll: $83.5 million
Potential Trade Assets: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, J.R. Smith, Nene, Al Harrington
"Once this 'Melo deal goes down," a rival executive said, "there is going to be a fire sale in Denver." The Nuggets' objective in any deal (including Anthony) is young talent, short contracts and draft picks. That's why multiple sources believe Denver will continue to try to engage New Jersey before pulling the trigger on an Anthony deal. The Nuggets face a difficult decision with Nene, who is in the last year of his deal. It is unlikely that Nene will want to be part of a long-term rebuilding process in Denver, and the Nuggets may be forced to deal him if they are not willing to overpay to keep him in the offseason.
Golden State Warriors
Team Payroll: $66.9 million
Potential Trade Assets: Monta Ellis, Stephen Curry, Brandan Wright, $2 million trade exception
At the impetus of new owner Joe Lacob, the Warriors have been actively pursuing deals. They inquired about Nene and have told teams they will listen to offers for either Ellis or Curry. Part of the reason: Golden State knows that with Ellis and David Lee tied to big-money deals until at least 2013, a trade may be the only way to bring in an accomplished star. Still, a lesser deal involving Wright, who has not lived up to expectations in three year with the Warriors, is more likely.
Houston Rockets
Team Payroll: $73.8 million
Potential Trade Assets Yao Ming, Shane Battier, Jared Jeffries, Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, Courtney Lee, $6.3 million trade exception
The Rockets have been busy, inquiring about stars Carmelo Anthony and Steve Nash while dangling the expiring contracts of Yao (70 percent of which is covered by insurance), Battier and Jeffries, as well as Lee. A source said the Rockets are still in the mix for Anthony, but even if they don't get him, they're determined to use their assets to acquire veteran talent. A center is the No. 1 priority -- like the Warriors, Houston asked about Nene recently -- as the Rockets feel a quality pivot would solve many of their problems. GM Daryl Morey has never been a fan of free agency, preferring to restock through trades. Expect Houston to be very active during the next week.
Los Angeles Clippers
Team Payroll: $53.9 million
Potential Trade Assets: Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Rasual Butler
The emergence of DeAndre Jordan as an athletic complement to Blake Griffin has made Kaman expendable. Coach Vinny Del Negro acknowledged earlier this month that the team was open to dealing Kaman, who is owed $12.7 million next season in the final year of his deal. A source said the Clippers are interested in Portland's Andre Miller.
Los Angeles Lakers
Team Payroll: $90.4 million
Potential Trade Assets: Andrew Bynum, Ron Artest, Shannon Brown
According to a league source connected to the talks, negotiations for a Bynum-Carmelo deal are "dormant, but not dead," although executives around the league are skeptical that L.A. would surrender a dominant inside presence like Bynum even for a talent like Anthony. Still, there is said to be a divide in the Lakers' front office about Bynum's value. In addition, sources said L.A. was rebuffed earlier this month in its pursuit of Washington's Kirk Hinrich, while Artest-Gerald Wallace talks with Charlotte went nowhere.
Memphis Grizzlies
Team Payroll: $67 million
Potential Trade Assets: Hasheem Thabeet, Zach Randolph, O.J. Mayo
The Grizzlies have been fielding calls for Mayo, who wasn't missed much while he served a 10-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy. SI reported in November that Randolph, an impending free agent, was pushing the Grizzlies' front office for a deal to Detroit, and veteran writer Sam Smith reported that the Magic had expressed an interest in Randolph. The player the Grizzlies have been peddling the most is Thabeet, the former No. 2 pick who has been a bust. "He's got no value, in my opinion," an NBA personnel scout said. "But it only takes one team to like him."
Minnesota Timberwolves
Team Payroll: $45.6 million
Potential Trade Assets: Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer, Sebastian Telfair, Martell Webster
The Wolves want Anthony Randolph from New York and are open to acquiring Eddy Curry in a salary dump. Several teams have called Minnesota to gauge GM David Kahn's interest in using the Timberwolves' $12 million in cap space in a multiteam deal. reported last week that Minnesota inquired about Steve Nash, though the Suns insist Nash isn't going anywhere. Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio continues to generate interest and Timberwolves executives have been overseas scouting him the last few weeks. One point guard -- Rubio or Flynn -- will eventually have to go.
New Orleans Hornets
Team Payroll: $65.7 million
Potential Trade Assets: David West, Marcus Banks, Jason Smith, $9.7 million trade exception
GM Dell Demps said recently that the Hornets, who are owned by the NBA, would likely exceed the luxury tax (they are about $5 million under the threshold) only if it meant acquiring a "home-run hitter." Translation: Carmelo Anthony. New Orleans, which has lost nine of 11, is exploring deals for a backup center and small forward. Trade rumors continue to swirl around Chris Paul, but it's unlikely the All-Star point guard will be traded while the league is running the team.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Team Payroll: $58 million
Potential Trade Assets: Jeff Green, Nick Collison, Morris Peterson
Collison has an interesting contract. He will make $13.3 million this season but his salary drops to $3.3 million next season, $2.9 million in '12-13, $2.6 million in '13-14 and $2.2 million in '14-15. The Thunder are not sold on Jeff Green as the answer at power forward, either. However, Oklahoma City ranks as the least likely team to make a move, as conservative GM Sam Presti still values development over the urgency of winning now. Besides, OKC will have a chance to make big upgrades this summer (when big men like Kendrick Perkins are free agents) and in 2013, when Kevin Love will be available and the Thunder's core players (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden) will still be in their mid-20s.
Phoenix Suns
Team Payroll: $65.9 million
Potential Trade Assets: Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Mickael Pietrus
Though Nash's agent, Bill Duffy, told that it might "be prudent for the Suns to start looking at their long-term future in the summer," the Suns continue to deny any interest in trading their franchise player. Boston would love to deal for Hill, but the Celtics don't have much to offer.
Portland Trail Blazers
Team Payroll: $72.9 million
Potential Trade Assets: Marcus Camby, Andre Miller, Joel Przybilla, Nicolas Batum
Portland is at a crossroads. Brandon Roy's knee problems are career threatening and there is a feeling within the organization that new GM Rich Cho may look to rebuild. That would mean trading Miller, who has high value, and either Camby or Przybilla, both attractive to size-starved teams. Batum has drawn interest, but the Blazers prefer to keep the 22-year-old small forward as part of a core that includes LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews.
Sacramento Kings
Team Payroll: $44.6 million
Potential Trade Assets: Samuel Dalembert, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson, Omri Casspi
The Kings have no interest in dealing DeMarcus Cousins, whose behavior has (justifiably) drawn criticism. Sacramento still believes in the rookie's considerable talent. The Kings has plenty of holes and lots of financial flexibility with their league-low payroll. But their plan remains to stay under the salary cap for next summer, when they will have less than $30 million committed to player salaries.
San Antonio Spurs
Team Payroll: $69 million
Potential Trade Assets: Tiago Splitter
San Antonio has a deep roster, great chemistry and the best record in basketball. Any moves the Spurs make will be minor, like the recent signing of sharpshooter Steve Novak to a 10-day contract.
Utah Jazz
Team Payroll: $77 million
Potential Trade Assets: Andrei Kirilenko
The Jazz have a big chip in Kirilenko's $17.8 million expiring contract that they have dangled in pursuit of another scorer, according to two sources. Utah has a lot of things to consider over the next week, like the fact that it's over the luxury-tax line and has lost 13 of 17 (including three in a row since Tyrone Corbin replaced Jerry Sloan) to fall into a tie for eighth in the West.

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