NBA Trade Talk: 5 Players Who Will Be Dealt by the Deadline

Avi Wolfman-ArentCorrespondent IIJanuary 18, 2012

NBA Trade Talk: 5 Players Who Will Be Dealt by the Deadline

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    Well, that escalated quickly.

    A few blinks, a couple of weeks and we've reached the quarter pole of a truncated 2012 NBA season. That means trade talk will shift from "preliminary" to "do the damn thang" over the next few weeks.

    When it does, expect these five players to move. They'll be strangers in a strange land before the March 15 deadline passes.

O.J. Mayo

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    The Memphis Grizzlies began to de-O.J. Mayo themselves last year.

    They cut his minutes, removed him from the starting lineup and, short of trading him, made it as clear as possible that they no longer wanted him dominating their offense.

    The trend continued into the early part of this season, and by March, they'll be 100 percent Mayo-free.

    An offense-starved team like the New Jersey Nets seem a likely candidate for Mayo's services. The Nets need his scoring ability to keep Deron Williams engaged and prevent their house of cards from crumbling before Dwight Howard saves the day.

Andre Miller

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    As the season settles and roles begin to solidify, many an NBA player finds himself unhappy with his lot.

    Many accept it and move forward. Some grumble.

    Andre Miller is a grumbler.

    He recently told Fox Sports he wants to start and doesn't see himself staying in Denver beyond this season. With the stellar play of All-Star candidate Ty Lawson at point, the Nuggets needn't wait for Miller to show himself the door.

    Expect the Nuggets to link up with a team like the Los Angeles Lakers or New York Knicks—depending on Baron Davis' health—and move Miller for picks or bench depth.

Mo Williams

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    Disgruntled veteran point guard, part deux.

    Like Andre Miller in Denver, Mo Williams isn't happy riding the pine for the Los Angeles Clippers.

    The Clips haven't much use for him either, what with Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups patrolling the point.

    Lob City could use a lock down defender or a capable two-guard, and Williams is still young enough (29 years old) and a good enough player to attract a nice return. With the team off to an encouraging start, the Clips figure to tinker with their roster down the home stretch. Williams offers them needed leverage in that pursuit.

Paul Pierce

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    Hard as it is to imagine Paul Pierce in new threads, the 4-8 Celtics are running out of alternatives.

    It's either deal Pierce and use the return to build a new team around Rajon Rondo, or hope this group recovers in time to make a late playoff push.

    With each loss, the latter possibility grows more and more distant. Even in a so-so division, Boston lacks the legs to keep pace.

    The sharks can smell the blood, and GM Danny Ainge has already heard from several other teams inquiring about Pierce's availability. Even at 34, Pierce's scoring know-how will draw deep interest and stiff competition.

    I wouldn't call Pierce's departure a sure thing at this point—and yes, I'm aware that contradicts the guidelines of this list—but it grows more likely by the day.

Dwight Howard

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    We've reached the inevitable moment of panic in the Dwight Howard saga.

    NOTHING IS HAPPENING! OH GOD! ORLANDO IS GOING TO KEEP HIM! BURN EVERYTHING!

    It's the natural evolution of these things. They always hit a point where it appears an "impasse" or "disconnect" will dismantle the whole endeavor.

    But the bottom line hasn't changed. Dwight Howard will not play for the Orlando Magic next year, which means it's in Orlando's best interest to trade him this year.

    GM Otis Smith will take his time and shop for the best deal, but in the end, that's his only real option.