Best- and Worst-Case NBA Trade Deadline Scenarios for Every Team

Alec NathanFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2013

Best- and Worst-Case NBA Trade Deadline Scenarios for Every Team

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    The NBA's trade deadline (Feb. 21) annually provides teams with an opportunity to acquire a star like Josh Smith or a key contributor like Eric Bledsoe, each of whom may be the final piece to a championship puzzle.

    However, as is often the case, there will be perceived winners and losers of every deadline deal.

    Although a trade may appear bad on the surface, it's important to remember that financial reasons often spark such controversial trades whether they appear to advance the best interest of your team or not.

     

    Note: Unless specified otherwise, all salaries retrieved from HoopsHype.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Best Case: Atlanta trades Josh Smith and gets equal value in return.

    Worst Case: Atlanta trades Smith for less than he's worth.

    For the Atlanta Hawks, talk at the trade deadline focuses solely on Josh Smith.

    An unrestricted free agent at season's end, Smith will be in search of the max dollars that are bestowed upon the league's most prominent names.

    However, ESPN's Marc Stein reports that Smith's desire to be paid like one of the league's top players could deter the Hawks from getting significant pieces in return:

    Atlanta general manager Danny Ferry, by all accounts, wants to avoid any salary that strays beyond this season unless the talent coming back is irresistible. Another factor: Josh Smith's recent declarations that he sees himself as a max player don't make it any easier to find a trade partner ready to take on the enigmatic swingman in fear of not being able to meet Smith's demands in free agency come July.

    The Hawks' reluctance to deal Smith for anything less than equal value and potential trade partners' wariness of paying him the max this summer could mean that a trade involving Smith will never materialize.

Boston Celtics

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    Best Case: Danny Ainge keeps his troops together.

    Worst Case: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are both dealt.

    One of the most popular trade rumors circulating this past week involves Kevin Garnett and the Los Angeles Clippers, as reported by Sporting News.

    And while dealing Garnett to L.A. sounds nice, it's easier in theory than it is in practice.

    Garnett is one of the few players in the NBA who has a no-trade clause built into his contract, and according to Shaun Powell, he will only waive that clause if the Celtics truly intend to blow up the franchise.

    Told Kevin Garnett will not waive no trade unless Pierce is dealt, and then only to LA. Lives in Malibu.

    — Shaun Powell (@Powell2daPeople) February 4, 2013

    Given the team's recent success, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which one or both of these stars are dealt.

Brooklyn Nets

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    Best Case: Nets snag a backup shooting guard.

    Worst Case: Kris Humphries sticks around.

    According to ESPN's Chris Broussard, the Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Bobcats have spoken about a potential Kris Humphries for Ben Gordon swap:

    Sources: Nets & Bobcats discussing Ben Gordon for Kris Humphries trade. Nothing imminent but talks ongoing. Story on espn.con shortly

    — Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 8, 2013

    Broussard goes on to note that the trade is an ideal move for the Nets. The salaries match, and Brooklyn desperately needs more offense to help a team that ranks 22nd in the NBA in points per game.

    A Gordon-for-Humphries trade works financially as both players make $12 million a year.

    The Nets' interest in Gordon stems from their need for better ways to space the floor. Ranked 21st in the league in 3-point shooting, Brooklyn regularly has seen opponents clog the lane.

    The emergence of forwards Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans has complicated Humphries' role, as his rebounding is no longer essential to the team's success. 

    With both players falling out of favor with their current teams, this move feels too logical not to happen.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Best Case: Bobcats swap Gordon for Humphries.

    Worst Case: Charlotte stands pat.

    As previously discussed, Chris Broussard of ESPN has reported that the Charlotte Bobcats and Brooklyn Nets have held discussions regarding a swap that would send Ben Gordon to Brooklyn in exchange for power forward Kris Humphries.

    In addition, Howard Beck of the New York Times reports that Charlotte has been the proactive party throughout trade talks:

    Of note: I'm told Charlotte proposed the deal. So it would appear it's up to the Nets to decide whether to pull the trigger.

    As many will recall, the Bobcats came up empty in their pursuit of Humphries this past summer, and they desperately need a big body along their front line.

    With Byron Mullens, Jeff Adrien, Tyrus Thomas, Bismack Biyombo and Hakim Warrick comprising the team's platoon at power forward, the Bobcats could do worse than acquiring a rebounder and defender of Humphries' caliber.

Chicago Bulls

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    Best Case: Derrick Rose returns, Bulls deal for J.J. Redick.

    Worst Case: Bulls trade Boozer for Bargnani.

    This has flown under the radar in recent weeks, but Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy has mentioned the Chicago Bulls as a possible landing spot for Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick: 

    The Chicago Bulls are one team that has been linked to Redick. The Bulls were the team that extended a three-year, $19 million offer sheet to Redick in 2010, and they may pursue him again before the trade deadline.

    Redick's stock has soared this season, as he's shown a larger commitment to improving his game on the defensive end while maintaining his always-lethal stroke from beyond the arc.

    However, given the hefty price tag that may accompany him, the Bulls may have to hope Derrick Rose returns at close to 100 percent and move forward from there.

    On the flip side, there may be an unpopular move in the Bulls' future.

    According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Bulls and Raptors have engaged in discussions regarding a potential swap of Carlos Boozer and Andrea Bargnani:

    Just going online: ESPN sources say Bulls & Raptors have had exploratory talks on potential trade featuring Carlos Boozer & Andrea Bargnani

    Although this could be a positive trade for Chicago in that it could help space the floor a bit more, Bargnani's skills don't exactly mesh with coach Tom Thibodeau's system.

    Bargnani is a poor defender, and his ability to defend on the blocks is questionable.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Best Case: Cleveland signs Greg Oden.

    Worst Case: Oden takes less money and signs with Miami.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers' season took a turn for the worse when Anderson Varejao was ruled out for the year, leaving the team with little depth in the frontcourt.

    With Varejao done, the Cavs can sign center Greg Oden, who has been linked as a possibility, to improve their depth for next season.

    According to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports, Cleveland is viewed as one of the leaders in the clubhouse for Oden's services: 

    Miami would likely offer a deal for minimum salary while the Cavs could pay up to nearly $4 million. The Boston Celtics are another team that has expressed interest, but the source said that Oden is leaning towards making a comeback with either Cleveland or Miami.

    And, in a more recent development, Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal is reporting that the Cavs may be prepared to offer Oden a two-year deal:

    "The Cavs are expected to offer free agent center Greg Oden a two-year contract with a team option for a third year after the Feb. 21 trade deadline passes, a league source said."

    Oden's arrival would certainly complicate the roles of Tyler Zeller and Marreese Speights, but it feels like a gamble worth making for the league's 10th-worst rebounding team.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Best Case: Mavericks shed salary.

    Worst Case: Dallas can't find takers for Shawn Marion and Vince Carter.

    It's no secret that Mark Cuban is hoping to make a run at Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard this summer. To do so, he needs to get rid of some burdensome contracts.

    According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas, that's exactly what Cuban has in mind:

    Memo to the rest of the NBA: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is in "Let's Make a Deal" mode.

    "We're letting everybody know that the "Bank of Cuban" is open," Cuban said Monday night, a couple of days after declaring that there was a "100 percent chance" the Mavs would aggressively pursue trade opportunities before the Feb. 21 deadline.

    When thinking of players that would make sense for the Mavs to deal, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter come to mind.

    Carter is on the books for a shade over $3 million next season, while Marion is due more than $9 million in 2013-14.

    Given the plethora of expiring deals the Mavs currently have on the books, dealing Marion and Carter would surely make them players for Howard and other big-name free agents.

Denver Nuggets

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    Best Case: Nuggets deal Timofey Mozgov.

    Worst Case: Denver makes no moves.

    Denver Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov has seen his role dwindle in his second full season out West, as he's managed just 10.3 minutes per game in 29 appearances this season.

    Given Mozgov's inability to find regular minutes over any of the talented bigs listed ahead of him on the depth chart, a mutual split between the Russian and the Nuggets makes too much sense not to happen.

    According to the Denver Post, a deal could very well be on the horizon:

    In less than a month, Timofey Mozgov is unlikely to be with the Nuggets. Since the beginning of the year, calls from other NBA teams have come rolling in concerning a trade for Mozgov more than for any other player on the Denver roster, and for two reasons.

    Now, the Nuggets could do worse than hold on to Mozgov, but ultimately, a trade would help ease tensions and give Mozgov an opportunity to thrive elsewhere.

Detroit Pistons

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    Best Case: Pistons deal Will Bynum to Oklahoma City.

    Worst Case: Detroit finds no takers for Bynum's expiring deal.

    Having already acquired Jose Calderon from the Toronto Raptors in a trade that shook up the NBA landscape, it would be surprising if the Detroit Pistons made another significant move.

    However, according to SheridanHoops, Bynum may be sought after by several teams at the deadline:

    With the Pistons in rebuilding mode, and the Thunder in win-now mode, don’t be surprised if there is a fit here. Oklahoma City owns one of the league’s most valuable non-player trade assets — the rights to Toronto’s No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft (Top 3 protected), which the Thunder obtained from Houston in the Harden trade.

    Dealing Bynum is an ideal move for the Pistons, as the 30-year-old's contract is set to expire at season's end.

    And if it turns out Detroit can obtain the rights to Toronto's top-three protected pick (as Sheridan mentions), the Pistons could have a bright future ahead of them, with Calderon, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe already in house.

Golden State Warriors

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    Best Case: Warriors deal for frontcourt depth.

    Worst Case: Injuries mount, Golden State fails to make a deal.

    Trade rumors involving the Golden State Warriors have been few and far between this winter—one of the many perks of having a winning record in a competitive Western Conference.

    However, the San Jose Mercury News has mentioned in the past that the Warriors could be interested in adding frontcourt depth.

    If a team like Denver approaches Golden State trying to get rid of a frontcourt body like Timofey Mozgov, perhaps the Warriors will be able to capitalize on the Nuggets' desperation.

    Just don't expect Golden State to make a deal for the sake of making one.

Houston Rockets

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    Best Case: Daryl Morey deals for Danny Granger.

    Worst Case: Houston forced to wait until summer to make a splash.

    The Houston Rockets are seemingly always in the discussion when it comes to big-name players on the trade block, and a new, surprisingly big name has been linked to the Rockets in recent days.

    According to Hoopsworld, the Rockets have interest in trading for Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger:

    Count the Houston Rockets among the teams who would happily help the Pacers move on from Granger, as one executive close to the situation in Indiana recently told HOOPSWORLD he thought Rockets GM Daryl Morey had it on his daily to-do list to call and ask the Pacers if they were ready to part with Granger yet.

    Snagging Granger would be a major coup for a Rockets team that is in the mix for one of the Western Conference's final playoff spots. However, even if the Rockets are shut out at the deadline, it's clear that they'll be big players in free agency this summer.

Indiana Pacers

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    Best Case: Danny Granger returns at full strength.

    Worst Case: Granger dealt in deadline shocker.

    Danny Granger's name has cropped up in trade rumors recently, most notably in connection to the Houston Rockets.

    And although the Rockets possess some nice young assets, it would be hard to envision a scenario in which the Indiana Pacers would receive players of equal value in return for Granger.

    However, according to Hoopsworld, the Pacers may be willing to deal Granger over concerns that he's not durable enough:

    Internally, the Pacers have some doubts about the condition of Granger’s knee, and whether or not he will ever be able to sustain a high level of play for 82 games plus the playoffs. That, together with George’s phenomenal play, have them pondering whether it might not be best to cash Granger in now and turn the team over to George. With George coming off of the best two months of his career and steadily improving, that would seem to make a great deal of sense.

    With the Pacers looking like a threat to make a run deep into the NBA playoffs, trading one of their key offensive pieces (although he has yet to suit up this season) could end up being detrimental to any championship aspirations Frank Vogel's squad may have.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Best Case: Clippers deal for veteran frontcourt presence.

    Worst Case: Clippers can't get assets in return for Eric Bledsoe.

    The Los Angeles Clippers have hit a rough patch after coasting through much of October, November and December.

    Recent injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin made it quite evident that L.A. needs to add a veteran presence, ideally in the frontcourt, who can provide some offensive stability for a lengthy postseason run.

    That's why it made sense when Sporting News reported the Clippers were interested in packaging Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler in a deal for Kevin Garnett.

    It's starting to look more and more like Bledsoe won't be returning next season, as the Clippers won't have the financial flexibility to pay him what he wants or deserves.

    Getting the most for Bledsoe while they can will be key, even if it means dealing him for slightly less than what he's truly worth.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Best Case: Lakers remain intact, make playoff push.

    Worst Case: Dwight Howard inexplicably dealt.

    With Pau Gasol down and possibly out for the remainder of the season, any potential deals involving the Spaniard must now be thrown out the window.

    Attention will surely turn to Dwight Howard, but Mitch Kupchak has made assurances that the free-agent-to-be will be donning purple and gold for the remainder of the season.

    Trade rumors will undoubtedly crop up, but take them all with several grains of salt. With reports (via FoxSports Florida) surfacing that L.A. has been Howard's preferred destination all along, signs are beginning to point to him re-upping in the offseason.

    Despite the struggles and controversies that have circulated around the Lakers' most prominent players, no big shakeup appears imminent.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Best Case: Memphis adds a minor piece.

    Worst Case: Zach Randolph is dealt.

    According to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Memphis Grizzlies appear to be done making big splashes. Tillery said there's a "50/50" chance the Grizzlies add a big or shooter via trade exception but that it's unlikely there will be any major moves.

    And according to Tillery, that means all trade talks involving Zach Randolph have been tabled as the team searches for continuity after dealing Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors:

    ZBo was in trade talks earlier this season. Team brass told ZBo yesterday that he won’t be moved this season.Focus is on rallying the troops

    — Ronald Tillery (@CAGrizBlog) February 8, 2013

    A clear worst-case scenario involves the Grizzlies inexplicably pulling the trigger on a deal involving Randolph (as theorized by Chad Ford in this ESPN.com chat), as that would signal that the front office fully intends on rebuilding and restructuring the franchise.

    Ideally, Memphis will be able to add a swingman or versatile guard with the trade exceptions it has stockpiled.

    The latest name to crop up in connection with Memphis, per Ric Bucher, is Boston Celtics guard Courtney Lee.

Miami Heat

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    Best Case: Heat secure Greg Oden for 2013-14.

    Worst Case: Miami holds off on trades at deadline.

    Given the current state of the Miami Heat, there are very few, if any, moves that the team would be interested or capable of making.

    Pat Riley has assembled a stable of complementary veteran shooters around his three superstars, and the team is thriving.

    However, one area in which the Heat need to improve is rebounding, where they currently rank dead last in the NBA.

    One solution to that problem may be signing free-agent center Greg Oden, who is set to return to the floor for the 2013-14 season.

    According to Jeff Goodman of CBSSports, the Heat are firmly in the running for Oden:

    The 7-foot Oden, who hasn't played since Dec. 5, 2009 due to multiple knee injuries, is hoping to take a visit down to Miami to meet with Pat Riley and the Heat in the next week, a source told CBSSports.com.

    Miami would likely offer a deal for minimum salary while the Cavs could pay up to nearly $4 million. The Boston Celtics are another team that has expressed interest, but the source said that Oden is leaning towards making a comeback with either Cleveland or Miami.

    If Oden wants to win, the Heat are his likely destination. But if he's looking to resurrect his career in the form of significant minutes and production, he would be better suited on a team like Cleveland.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Best Case: Bucks trade for J.J. Redick.

    Worst Case: Bucks stand pat, make playoff push.

    According to tweets from ESPN's Marc Stein, the Milwaukee Bucks are one of several teams making a play for Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick:

    Weekend Dime addendum: Milwaukee now in mix for Magic's JJ Redick. Bucks, I'm told, assessing their ability to retain sharpshooter long term

    — Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 9, 2013

    To meet asking price for Redick -- expiring(s) and a future first-round pick -- Bucks naturally wanna know they can retain free agent-to-be

    — Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 9, 2013

    Based on Stein's reporting, Samuel Dalembert, Beno Udrih and Mike Dunleavy would fit the bill.

    Grabbing Redick would be a major coup for the Bucks, who are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff chase and continue to improve with each passing week.

    Given the Bucks' stout defensive front line and their dynamic backcourt, acquiring Redick could make Milwaukee a threat to make some serious noise in the playoffs.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Best Case: T'Wolves get rid of Luke Ridnour.

    Worst Case: Minnesota fails to make a move.

    According to SheridanHoops, it's looking quite probable that the Minnesota Timberwolves will trade point guard Luke Ridnour before the deadline:

    Luke Ridnour is being shopped by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and a league source told SheridanHoops.com “there is a good chance” the 10th-year point guard will be dealt before the Feb. 21 trade deadline.

    Like several other teams across the Association, the Timberwolves are stocked with talented players at the point guard position, which has made Ridnour expendable.

    Another interesting name to monitor in regard to the T'Wolves is forward Derrick Williams, who was reportedly being shopped back in January (via 1500 ESPN Twin Cities):

    The most likely player to be sent elsewhere is forward Derrick Williams. Multiple team and league sources say he's being shopped heavily.

    The Wolves' target is unknown, but there are guys who can be ruled out. They don't have interest in Portland's J.J. Hickson, who in the final year of his deal is available. They also don't have interest in Atlanta's Josh Smith, who is being shopped

    So while it's not yet clear who's being eyed as compensation, it appears as if the Timberwolves are priming themselves to make a slew of moves at the deadline.

New Orleans Hornets

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    Best Case: Hornets keep young core together.

    Worst Case: New Orleans deals Eric Gordon.

    The New Orleans Hornets have a dynamic, young core comprised of Greivis Vasquez, Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.

    The good news is that Sam Amick of USA Today is reporting that the team's core is likely to remain intact through the remainder of this season.

    However, Gordon knows that the NBA is a business and tells Amick that he's well aware things can change in an instant:

    "You never know what could happen," Gordon told USA TODAY Sports by phone when asked if he now sees New Orleans as the long-term spot for him. "The main thing right now is to really focus on this team. After thinking about my injuries and everything, everything is year by year with me. I have to focus on this year. I don't know what's going to happen. You never know what's going to happen."

    Although New Orleans is sitting in the cellar of the Western Conference, it has the right collection of players to compete in the long term.

    Adding depth through the draft this summer will be key to making a playoff push next season, which feels possible given Vasquez and Davis' progression.

New York Knicks

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    Best Case: New York snags Jared Dudley for cheap.

    Worst Case: Knicks deal Iman Shumpert.

    Despite being loaded with shooters off of the bench, it appears as if the New York Knicks may be in the market for one more.

    According to Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy, the Knicks are intrigued with the Phoenix Suns' Jared Dudley:

    Source says the New York Knicks have some interest in Jared Dudley. No word on who they would offer or if talks have taken place.

    — Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) February 9, 2013

    Dudley could be a nice add for the Knicks, as he's a shooter capable of providing a spark off of the bench. So far this season, Dudley is shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from beyond the arc.

    However, Dudley's value as an aging shooter is only so great, and according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Suns are interested in one of the Knicks' best young assets, Iman Shumpert.

    Dealing a young, defensive-minded player of Shumpert's caliber for a shooter like Dudley feels pricey, so if another, more realistic deal for the Suns guard presents itself, perhaps the Knicks will jump at the opportunity to add him.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Best Case: Thunder acquire Will Bynum.

    Worst Case: No moves made by OKC.

    As previously discussed, the folks at SheridanHoops feel that it's a pretty safe bet that Will Bynum will be dealt in advance of the league's trade deadline.

    According to Chris Sheridan, Bynum makes loads of sense for an Oklahoma City Thunder team that could use his ball-handling skills:

    Thunder coach Scott Brooks has used backups Eric Maynor and Reggie Jackson sparingly (both average less than 11 minutes per game), and one of the side effects of trading away James Harden was removing a player who took some of the distribution and ball-handling duties away from the turnover-prone Westbrook, allowing him to spend more time off the ball.

    Bynum is an experienced and reliable guard, one whose offensive game could provide the Thunder's second unit with a nice spark.

    Another positive to adding Bynum is that his contract is up at the end of the season, thus allowing the Thunder to add him without fear of financial penalty.

Orlando Magic

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    Best Case: Orlando capitalizes on J.J. Redick's peak value.

    Worst Case: Orlando gambles and holds on to Redick.

    Rumors involving the Orlando Magic over the past few weeks have centered around J.J. Redick, but as Hoopsworld's Alex Kennedy mentions, it's starting to look like the Magic will stand pat at the deadline:

    A major transaction involving pending free agent J.J. Redick does not appear to be coming, despite dozens of teams trying to pry him out of Orlando. Sources close to the process say Redick has expressed a desire to sign a new deal in Orlando or at least work through a sign-and-trade in exchange for not being dealt at the deadline and the Magic seem open to that.

    Given Redick's expiring contract, teams may be reluctant to shell out major pieces in order to acquire the three-point specialist. And based on Kennedy's reporting, the Magic don't seem to be too impressed with offers they've received regarding Redick.

    However, if the right deal comes along, perhaps Rob Hennigan will pull the trigger, knowing Redick would like to re-sign with Orlando in the offseason.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Best Case: Andrew Bynum returns, no moves made.

    Worst Case: Evan Turner dealt.

    The Philadelphia 76ers have been in wait-and-see mode all season long, anxiously awaiting the return of center Andrew Bynum. However, Bynum's return date is still very much up in the air.

    Another uncertainty surrounding the Sixers appears to be future of former No. 2 overall pick Evan Turner.

    According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Sixers have been working the phones, exploring possible deals for Turner:

    The Sixers, sources say, are open to a shakeup as they continue to wait for the return of Andrew Bynum to give All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday some badly needed help. And I'm told Philly, as such, is shopping (or at least making calls to gauge the value of) swingman Evan Turner.

    Now, while Turner has not lived up to the standards typically set for No. 2 overall picks, he's shown gradual improvement over his first three seasons.

    The problem with Turner is that he's easily discouraged, and he is more susceptible than most to falling into big slumps.

    Ultimately, dealing Turner would feel like a premature move, as we've yet to see what the core of Jrue Holiday, Turner, Thaddeus Young and Bynum are capable of.

Phoenix Suns

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    Best Case: Phoenix steals Josh Smith from Atlanta.

    Worst Case: Suns lose Smith sweepstakes.

    The Phoenix suns are one of a handful of teams known to be interested in Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith.

    According to Hoopsworld, the Suns are in pursuit of Smith and have a collection of players who could be appealing to the Hawks in a potential trade package:

    Phoenix has attractive assets, particularly Marcin Gortat, who could play alongside Al Horford and give the Hawks one of the best frontcourts in the Eastern Conference. They also have Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley as well as the expiring contracts of Wes Johnson, Shannon Brown (whose 2013-14 salary is non-guaranteed), Sebastian Telfair and Jermaine O’Neal. Phoenix also has several first-round picks – their own pick and two additional first-round picks that they acquired in the Nash trade with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Johnson trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    It should also be noted that the Suns aren't afraid to throw big money at big-time ballers, as they signed Eric Gordon to a max offer sheet this past summer before he re-signed with the New Orleans Hornets.

    Given the team's track record of looking to secure big names with even bigger dollars, perhaps Phoenix is one of the few spots where Smith could receive the max contract he desires.

    An encouraging sign for the Suns comes in the form of a report from NBA.com's David Aldridge, who notes that Smith may walk this summer if he doesn't get the max contract he feels he deserves:

    Smith, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution late last month that he believes he's a max player, which would mean he'd be in line for a five-year deal worth around $93.5 million from Atlanta.

    But the Hawks, which expect to be major players next summer in free agency or through trades, do not want to tie up that kind of money going forward.

    Smith, according to a source, is prepared to move on, outside of the contract discussions.

    If the Hawks are in the business of getting the most for Smith while they still have him, they could do worse than dealing him to Phoenix.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Best Case: Blazers keep J.J. Hickson for playoff push.

    Worst Case: Portland deals Hickson.

    The Portland Trail Blazers find themselves on the fringe of the Western Conference playoff discussion, which means they are more likely to be buyers than sellers at the trade deadline.

    And while most of the Blazers' young assets appear locked into the team's long-term plans, there's one player who isn't.

    Newly converted center J.J. Hickson is playing in the final year of his deal and could be an appealing chip that contenders look to trade for.

    According to Jeff Caplan of NBA.com, even if Hickson isn't dealt at the deadline, he knows he'll be sought after this summer:

    It’s the kind of production that will put Hickson, 24, atop many teams’ offseason shopping lists when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.

    “I’d be lying if I wasn’t looking forward to it, but that’s something I’ll get more excited about when that period hits,” Hickson said. “It’s something that me and my agent will talk about, but right now I’m just worried about playing basketball and trying to make these playoffs.”

    For now it appears as if Hickson is safe, and while that's best for the team in the short term, the team's long-term prospects of retaining him don't appear to be strong.

Sacramento Kings

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    Best Case: Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins stay put.

    Worst Case: One of the young pieces is shipped out.

    The worst-case scenario for the Sacramento Kings appears to be close to becoming a reality, with the franchise poised to move to Seattle for the 2013-14 season.

    And fortunately for Kings fans, it appears as if the team has no intentions of moving any of their young building blocks—namely Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins.

    According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Evans would be the more likely candidate to be shipped out, but the team's impending move appears to be putting all moves on hold:

    A couple of teams consulted have volunteered the notion that Kings GM Geoff Petrie is ready to move Evans, but you have to wonder how much shot-calling Petrie can do at the minute. The greater likelihood is that the Kings don't do anything at this deadline unless it saves money or comes in cash neutral.

    Obviously the true best-case scenario is that Sacramento finds a way to retain its beloved franchise, but at the moment it appears it'll need to settle for the next best thing, which is keeping the team together for the remainder of the season.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Best Case: Spurs deal for Al Jefferson.

    Worst Case: R.C. Buford stays quiet at deadline.

    According to SheridanHoops, the San Antonio Spurs are the favorites to acquire Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson:

    But figuring out who is available is not rocket science if you speak to the right people, and I speak to a lot of plugged-in people on a regular basis.

    Here is the latest they are telling me: The San Antonio Spurs are the front-runners to land Al Jefferson in a trade with the Utah Jazz – and they are frontrunners like Secretariat was in the 1973 Belmont Stakes.

    Should the Spurs follow through on this deal, they may become the favorites to come out of the Western Conference in a few months.

    Jefferson gives Gregg Popovich a legitimate center to pair up with Tim Duncan, and according to Chris Sheridan, the Spurs would only be sacrificing Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills, Stephen Jackson and an overseas prospect in order to acquire the coveted big.

Toronto Raptors

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    Best Case: Toronto rids itself of Andrea Bargnani.

    Worst Case: Raptors find no takers for Bargnani.

    Now that Bryan Colangelo and the Toronto Raptors have completed the first step of their trade deadline master plan, it's time to move on to the second phase, which apparently involves trading Andrea Bargnani.

    According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Raptors and Chicago Bulls have had preliminary discussions regarding a Bargnani for Carlos Boozer swap:

    Just going online: ESPN sources say Bulls & Raptors have had exploratory talks on potential trade featuring Carlos Boozer & Andrea Bargnani

    — Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 7, 2013

    However, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, that trade is unlikely to happen:

    Told Bulls initiated. And unlikely. RT @espnsteinline: Sources say Bulls, Raptors have had talks on trade featuring Boozer, Bargnani.

    — K.C Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 7, 2013

    Even if the talks between the Bulls and Raptors amount to nothing, the Raptors have to be encouraged that there is a market developing for the Italian's services.

    By trading Ed Davis to Memphis in the Rudy Gay deal a few weeks back, the Raptors put themselves in a position of need at power forward.

    Perhaps they will find one not named Carlos Boozer within the next 10 days.

Utah Jazz

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    Best Case: Utah deals Al Jefferson, receives generous compensation from Spurs.

    Worst Case: Utah can't find deals for Jefferson or Paul Millsap.

    The Utah Jazz are poised to be one of the most active teams at the league's trade deadline, as frontcourt studs Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are both playing on contracts that are set to expire at season's end.

    SheridanHoops has already reported that the San Antonio Spurs are firmly in the lead for Jefferson's services, with an appealing package of players being sent from Texas to Utah in the swap.

    The worst thing the Jazz could do at the deadline is stand pat, but it appears as if they've already thrown that option out the window and are emerging as the proactive party in trade talks.

    Should Jefferson ultimately get dealt, it will be interesting to see if the Jazz become willing to move on from Millsap, who figures to be a sought-after commodity this summer.

Washington Wizards

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    Best Case: Jordan Crawford is dealt.

    Worst Case: Wiz make no moves at deadline. 

    Trade rumors involving the Washington Wizards haven't been prevalent in recent months, but there is one player who could be dealt soon.

    According to Hoopsworld, Jordan Crawford is the one player that NBA teams see as a viable asset available for trade on the Wizards roster:

    More than a few league sources peg Jordan Crawford as the chip that is drawing the most interest in return from the Wizards. Crawford is an impact scorer from the bench in the mold of a Jason Terry or Jamal Crawford. He also doesn’t earn much by NBA standards, scheduled to earn just $1.19 million this season.

    And if you're a contender in need of a spark off of the bench, why not take a shot on Crawford? He's fallen out of favor with head coach Randy Wittman in recent weeks and is sitting behind Garrett Temple and Bradley Beal on the team's depth chart.

    Crawford has played 26 minutes over his last four games, including a DNP-CD against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.