Amid the hype surrounding NBA free agency this offseason, the trade market will be one of the less talked about aspects of player movement. Despite the incredible players that could potentially find new homes as a result of free agency, trades should be discussed a bit more prominently.
Looking at the great players that moved via trade over the last two decades—Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Elton Brand, Tracy McGrady, among others—it is clear that obtaining a star player this way can be fairly easy.
While it is highly unlikely that any stars on par with the ones mentioned above will be traded this offseason, the market is likely to be hot as teams attempt to shed salary and others try to find quality players to fill their rosters after a disappointing free agency period.
Whether it is an upgrade at a position or simply a need for salary relief, there will be countless teams looking to get rid of players, and, given the number of teams under the cap, there will be many suitors.
Without further ado, here are the five most likely high-profile players to be traded this offseason.
After the Pistons drafted and signed three players who play his position last offseason, the writing appears to be on the wall for Tayshaun Prince. To his credit, he has been a terrific defender and solid point forward for the last eight seasons in Detroit.
Given their organizational depth in long, skinny "tweeners" and their inability to find a reliable big man, the Pistons will likely float his name into the trade market this summer. In return, they will try to find someone who can complement the solid perimeter core of Richard Hamilton, Rodney Stuckey, and Ben Gordon.
While Jonas Jerebko will not replicate his production and defensive prowess, he showed the potential last season to be a great player in his own right. The upgrade the Pistons could make by adding a post player would be well worth it.
The Pistons slumped to their second straight trip to the lottery after an incredible run, and they learned they will not go far without a dependable big man. Looking at their roster, Prince is about the only player that could net them that post player.
Headlining a 2009 free agency class that may go down as one of the most disappointing in NBA history, Turkoglu signed a lucrative five-year deal in excess of $50 million. He chose the cosmopolitan Toronto over the rainy Portland because of his wife's preference.
How quickly things can change.
Less than a year after the signing, Turkoglu has already asked for a trade out of Canada, infuriating the fans who watched Turkoglu mail in games as he struggled at both ends of the floor.
With the Raptors trying to rebuild their team, considering the potential loss of star forward Chris Bosh, they will likely honor his request and try to find a replacement for Bosh.
If a team thinks he can replicate the success he had with the Orlando Magic, they will be tempted to take a flier on Turkoglu, who can be a game-changer in the right situation.
Ever since David Robinson's retirement, the Spurs have struggled mightily to find another big man to complement Tim Duncan and ease the load on his back. Before this year, they have had few truly valuable trade chips that were expendable.
After George Hill's impressive season, in which he showed off his ability to run the offense in Parker's absence, the Spurs finally have a trade piece not completely essential to the team.
Playing one of the hardest positions to fill in the league, Parker will attract many suitors if he becomes available this summer. Already rumored to be in pursuit of Parker, Indiana makes sense because of their cache of expiring contracts and a lottery pick.
Given the three years left on Manu Ginobili's contract and Duncan's untouchability, Parker is the only player they have that could net them a productive big man.
Sitting on the bench behind the best point guard in the league, Darren Collison was not expected to make a big impact in his rookie season out of UCLA. However, after Chris Paul missed extended time for the first time in his career, Collison performed admirably, averaging 19 points and nine assists as the starter.
Despite his tremendous play in Paul's absence, there is no doubt that, when healthy, Paul is the superior player. While the Hornets' front office continues to say that the two can play together, playing two small guards together would be a huge defensive liability.
Trading Collison would be the Hornets' best hope of getting out of their financial troubles. Moving him along with one of their toxic contracts (Peja Stojakovic or James Posey) to a team with cap space would get them under the tax line for this year and free up money to sign or acquire the solid reserve big man they have needed for so long.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have two very promising big men in Kevin Love and Al Jefferson. The only problem is that neither one can defend centers. The situation got so bad that they acquired Darko Milicic, who couldn't make it with the Knicks, and started him.
He performed admirably as the center, and it became abundantly clear that one of their power forwards will be traded this offseason. The Timberwolves will continue their rebuilding effort after the departure of Kevin Garnett.
If they can acquire either a big man who can guard centers or a scoring wing player, they will have to pull the trigger on the deal, as Milicic and Ryan Gomes are likely not the starters of the future at their respective positions.