The NBA season has just about reached its midway point, and this is the time when the best teams look to separate themselves even further from the rest of the league.
While it's only February, many teams have their sights set on late June. In order to make such aspirations a reality, already-contending teams will look to put the finishing touches on their roster.
A handful of championship hopefuls are only in need of a minor addition, while others require a more high-profile kicker to put them over the top.
As the March 15 deadline nears, curiosity will continue to peak as the league's elite attempt to cap off their playoff-bound rosters.
With Jason Collins out until March and Al Horford sidelined until at least mid-April, the surprise Atlanta Hawks are in need of some serious help down low. That's a service Chris Kaman could provide.
The New Orleans Hornets removed Kaman from the chopping block, but for a rebuilding team hungry for draft picks, don't expect that to last very long.
Although Atlanta is fresh off signing Erick Dampier, it has minutes available to Kaman that New Orleans does not, at least not consistently. The Hawks also have the ability send a backup center in Zaza Pachulia, expiring contract in Kirk Hinrich and a first-round draft pick in exchange for the former All-Star.
While Atlanta is certainly playoff-bound, acquiring Kaman would make them even more of a threat to come out of the East.
Dallas doesn't have the assets to acquire Williams or Howard before free agency, but Calderon is a different story. The Toronto Raptors are open to moving their star point man and with Jason Kidd fading by the game, Calderon provides a crafty solution.
While the Mavericks don't have a wealth of assets, they could offer a future first-round pick and the expiring contract of Kidd. Toronto is also sorely in need of perimeter defense, so the prospect of it accepting Shawn Marion and a future pick is not out of the question either.
Like Kidd, Calderon is great at creating for his teammates, but unlike Kidd, he is in his prime and poses more of a scoring threat, thus giving Dirk Nowitzki and company a better shot at defending their title.
In order to retain Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic must prove they are committed to building a title contender, and acquiring Rajon Rondo would do just that.
Orlando is thin on assets, but the fact that the Boston Celtics are the ones exploring all trade possibilities for Rondo is a plus for the Magic.
Boston's pursuit of Pau Gasol suggests that the team is in the market for a high-scoring big man to succeed Kevin Garnett. Orlando has one of those in Ryan Anderson, and can also send back a point guard in Jameer Nelson.
Nelson has struggled this season, but between him and Celtics favorite Avery Bradley, the point guard duties would be more than handled. For the Magic, Rondo gives Howard a top-tier point guard to run with, as well as a player Orlando can build around should he leave.
The Celtics may not be high on Rondo, but the Magic would be, as he renders them unquestionable contenders.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been linked to a premature Amar'e Stoudemire pursuit and also continue to ponder amnestying former All-Star Elton Brand. Either way, there seems to be an opening at power forward, and Paul Millsap is a viable candidate to fill it.
The Utah Jazz briefly entertained the idea of dealing Paul Millsap, but such inclinations have subsided. However, with a plethora of young low-post talent and the team finally starting to show its true colors, the Jazz must commit themselves to rebuilding, and that includes dealing Millsap.
Utah is in need of some scoring and rebounding assistance on the perimeter, and the 76ers have two great solutions in either Andre Iguodala or Thaddeus Young, the latter of which cannot be traded until March 1st.
Iguodala could also serve as a point man for the Jazz and with his declining production, Philadelphia may not be opposed to moving him. Young, on the other hand, supports the youth movement in Utah, providing scoring, rebounding, defense, mountains of potential and the salary to facilitate a straight-up deal. A first-round pick or two second-round picks would likely have to grease Utah's hands as well.
For the 76ers, Millsap gives them a dominant and durable low-post presence that could help propel them deep into the playoffs.
And that's reason enough to pull the trigger.
Should the Los Angeles Lakers decide to pull the trigger on a potential Pau Gasol-for-Rajon Rondo deal, they don't necessarily get better, only different. That's why Ramon Sessions is the ideal target.
Thanks to a trade exception obtained in the Lamar Odom trade, the Lakers could take on Sessions without having to relinquish the undervalued Gasol, and that's huge.
Los Angeles has expressed an interest in obtaining Sessions, but until Dwight Howard's situation is resolved, it's likely all personnel moves will be put on hold. That being said, there are few point guards on the block that are as talented as Sessions, and even fewer Los Angeles can afford.
With the emergence of Jeremy Lin, we have seen how the integration of a competent floor general can rejuvenate a staggering squad, and the Lakers are in a similar boat.
If the Lakers wish to make a serious push for another NBA title, they must attempt to resolve their point guard issues without sacrificing size.
The New Jersey Nets have an interest in O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies, but have been unable to bring any rumored deal to fruition, an obstacle the Los Angeles Clippers can help both parties overcome.
Memphis is intent on receiving a first-round pick in return for Mayo, which the Nets are willing to give up, but are not keen on the other pieces New Jersey is dangling in Jordan Farmar and Anthony Morrow.
Morrow is a lights-out three-point shooter, which is a weapon the Clippers could use after Chauncey Billups was sidelined for the season. If the Nets send Morrow to the Clippers and a first-round pick to the Grizzlies, Los Angeles could send Randy Foye and a second-rounder to Memphis, which would, in turn, send Mayo to New Jersey.
The Nets get a potential star in Mayo, while the Grizzlies receive the coveted draft pick and expiring contract of Foye, who would replace Mayo's scoring. Foye, while a fine shooter, doesn't factor into the Clippers' long-term plans.
Morrow, on the other hand, is younger and a better outside shooter who would thrive alongside Chris Paul, in addition to being a better fit inside Los Angeles' fast-paced system.
It's impossible to replace what Billups brought to the table in terms of clutch shooting, but Morrow is as close as the Clippers will come.
Even though Andray Blatche is currently sidelined with a calf injury, he seems to have worn out his welcome with the Washington Wizards, and he could perhaps find a home with the San Antonio Spurs.
With Tim Duncan on his last legs, the Spurs need to get younger in the low post. Blatche, while unproven and borderline lazy, can play minutes at the 4 and 5 and adds a pinch of youthful exuberance to the roster.
The Wizards attempted to orchestrate a Blatche-for-Tyrus Thomas trade with the Charlotte Bobcats, so it's clear taking back an expiring contract isn't important. Washington also has a plethora of options at the 4, so taking back a power forward isn't a necessity either.
San Antonio could send Richard Jefferson in a straight-up swap, and while his contract is undesirable, it comes off the books a year before Blatche's would. Jefferson is also an upgrade over the disaster that is Rashard Lewis.
Taking on Blatche would be a gamble, but playing for a contender would motivate him to perform at a higher level, thus shoring up the middle in San Antonio for years to come.
The Bulls would undoubtedly be willing to part with Carlos Boozer, but would also have to part with Luol Deng as well to make it worthwhile for Los Angeles.
Additionally, Chicago would have to take back a bloated contract like Metta World Peace's or Steve Blake's to make salaries match.
For the Lakers, dealing Gasol for a point guard doesn't make sense, but trading him for a competent small forward and a former All-Star big man with some offense left in him might.
The Bulls are one of the best teams in the NBA, and it's always tough to justify blowing up a roster under those circumstances, but Gasol is one of the best big men in the game.
Deng would be missed, but Gasol's presence will more than make up for it, as he and Joakim Noah would form one of the most formidable low-post tandems in the league.
With Eric Maynor out for the season and Thabo Sefolosha expected to miss extended time, Toney Douglas would add some needed depth to the Oklahoma City Thunder's backcourt.
Douglas' early-season struggles have now led him to be buried on the New York Knicks bench behind Jeremy Lin, Mike Bibby and Baron Davis, once he returns. He has never been more expendable in New York, and therefore could be had at a reasonable price.
The Thunder have a trade exception they could send to the Knicks in exchange for Douglas, but if New York is looking for tangible assets in return, point guard Royal Ivey and a second-round draft pick may do the trick.
While Douglas has played subpar basketball thus far, he may thrive in a low-pressure backup role. He can play at the 1 or 2 and adds even more depth to an already deep roster.
The Miami Heat are in desperate need of a center, but are thin on assets, making Chris Kaman's $14 million contract nearly impossible to acquire without touching the big three.
That's why they should set their sights on Chris Andersen, whom the Denver Nuggets just recently put on the chopping block.
Andersen's production isn't anything to get excited about, but he is the low-post defensive presence the Heat so desperately crave. And while he is not known for his offense, he is not nearly as inept on that end as Joel Anthony.
In order to land Andersen, the Heat may have to relinquish either Mike Miller or Udonis Haslem. Depending on how desperate the Nuggets are to rid themselves of the center, though, Miami could dangle two cheaper big men in Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman, along with a second-round draft pick.
Even if it takes Haslem or Miller, though, it's an avenue worth exploring.
Andersen does not factor into Denver's long-term plans, but could prove to be a real asset for the Heat as they look to obtain the ever-elusive Larry O'Brien trophy.