The February 24 trade deadline still looms in the not-so-distant future, but already trade season is in full swing.
While most rumors circulating focused on either Carmelo Anthony or Andre Iguodala, the Orlando Magic surprised almost everybody when they completely re-tooled their roster. By adding Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas, Orlando pushed all its chips into the middle and dared others to match.
This deal could be the domino that starts a series of trades and, given the uncertainty of next season, many teams with aging veterans could pull out all the stops to make one final title run.
A few players have been stealing the headlines, but here we examine 15 under-the-radar names that could pay big dividends for a lucky team.
When the Nuggets trade Carmelo Anthony—and believe me, this is not a question of if but a matter of when—Chauncey Billups will be next. The former All-Star point guard is due just over $27 million over the next two seasons, which may be too steep for a team that is entering a rebuilding phase.
Although his numbers are down, teams would jump at the chance to trade for a player who can stretch a defense while knocking down clutch shots and providing veteran leadership.
Considering the Nuggets have a stud point guard wasting away on the bench in Ty Lawson, trading away Chauncey for expiring contracts and a draft pick seems like an easy decision.
Potential suitors could include the Atlanta Hawks or any number of Eastern Conference teams vying for the seventh and eighth spots in the playoffs.
The Nuggets have been looking to deal Smith for a long time based on his effect on team chemistry and they could be willing to ship him out of town for pennies on the dollar, regardless of whether they have dealt Carmelo Anthony or not.
Despite Smith’s negative impact on team morale, he is young, talented and has an expiring contract. Some team may be willing to take a chance on Smith knowing that it could release him with little financial impact if he becomes a drain on his new team.
Athletic 25-year-olds with phenomenal range aren’t typically placed on the trade block, so I predict some team would take a risk on Smith.
Rasual Butler is a great example of a player who could have a meaningful role on a playoff team. The 31-year-old swingman is out of place on this young and rebuilding Clippers team, but he is a proven outside shooter who is quite adept at stretching defenses.
Butler is in the last season of a contract that pays him $2.4 million, making him a low-cost, low-risk option. A second-round draft pick and an expiring contract would be enough to pry Butler away from the Clippers, although I’m sure LA would be even happier with some cap relief via a trade exception.
Butler would have no shortage of suitors, including teams like Orlando, Miami, Chicago, Dallas and Utah. He’s an affordable dead-eye shooter that plays solid defensive. Few teams would be uninterested in his services.
Rumor has it that the Charlotte management is ready to completely blow up the roster. Larry Brown has been very disappointed with his team and even star player Gerald Wallace has heard his name surface in trade rumors.
With that said, don’t be surprised if Stephen Jackson finds himself with a new home this season. The 6’8" wing has a hefty contract (three years remaining at $27.7 million), but would bring tremendous versatility to whichever team acquired him.
The 32-year-old Jackson’s numbers are down this season but he still provides a well-rounded stat line with 17, 4 and 4 per game. The Mavericks have never been shy about taking on bloated contracts and could be amongst the teams that come calling if Jackson becomes available.
Tayshaun Prince is in the final season of a five-year, $49 million contract and will likely be dealt before the February trade deadline. The Pistons are floundering this season and would be happy to trade Prince for either young players or, in all likelihood, draft picks.
Prince’s length and foot speed make him a phenomenal defender and his near triple-double last night (28, 12 and 8 with 3 blocks) shows his versatility.
The 30-year-old Prince does not fit into the Pistons' long-term plans and will likely not return next season. If that were the case, Joe Dumars would be wise to add value for the 6’9" forward right now.
Although Tayshaun’s large contract could make constructing a deal difficult, there is little doubt in my mind that some crafty GM will make it work. An Eddy Curry and Toney Douglas for Tayshaun Price trade could work for both sides. The Pistons would swap expiring contracts while adding a promising young guard, while the Knicks would gain a multi-talented forward that could play either forward position and provide a defensive stopper—something the Knicks are in dire need of.
For New York, this deal would hinge on a few things. The Knicks would either have to construct a different package for Carmelo Anthony or wait until the offseason to sign the high-scoring forward. However, because Prince has an expiring contract, he would not hurt the team's chances of signing Carmelo in free agency.
If the Knicks needed to keep Curry’s expiring contract to land Anthony, NY could also offer the expiring contracts of Kelenna Azubuike, Roger Mason and Timofey Mozgov (who has three years left at a reasonable $3.5 million per season).
Josh Howard played his first game of the season on Saturday against Miami, recording 13 points and four rebounds in just 22 minutes off the bench. The 30-year-old Howard signed a one-year deal worth $3 million in the offseason, but he does not seem to fit into the plans of the rebuilding Wizards—especially since acquiring fellow small forward Rashard Lewis.
Howard is a proven performer with a very affordable salary, making him a very attractive trade target. He could make a valuable addition to the Hawks while Joe Johnson recuperates, but he would also strengthen the bench of any number of teams.
Although Howard’s trade value is low right now after coming off an injury, a few productive weeks could change all of that.
If you’re looking to gauge Howard’s trade value, I would speculate that another expiring contract and second round pick would be enough to pry Howard away from Washington.
Calderon is a long shot to be traded based on his colossal contract (three years remaining at $29.2 million) but could be dealt for by a desperate team. Calderon is a good decision maker, with great vision and good range from deep.
On the season, the 29-year-old Spaniard is averaging 10 and 7 on 48-percent shooting (including 44 percent from downtown). Toronto would be willing to deal away its starting point guard to get out from under his oversized contract and open up playing time for the promising Jerryd Bayless.
Perhaps the Raptors won’t be able to find an expiring contract, but like the Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas trade, they could get trade Calderon for a player with one less year remaining on a contract. Most top teams already have top-notch point guards in place, but Calderon could make a superb sixth man.
If the Pacers are serious about making a playoff push, they could swap the two years and just over $14 million remaining on James Posey’s contract for Jose Calderon. The Raptors would save $2 million per year for the next two seasons and $10.5 million in 2012-2013. The Pacers would add a veteran presence who could play alongside incumbent point guard Darren Collison or simply spell him off the bench.
It’s a risky play for Indiana as the Pacers would take on a lot of salary with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement still unclear, but the upgrade of Calderon over Posey (6 and 3.5 this season) could be worth it.
After averaging 15 and 10 a season ago, Troy Murphy is in a state of basketball purgatory in New Jersey. Not only is Murphy stuck behind starter Kris Humphries, but he is also below rookie Derrick Favors on the depth chart. As a result, Mad Dog Murphy is averaging just 16 minutes per game with only four points and four rebounds per game.
Originally Murphy was supposed to stretch the defense for Brook Lopez to bang inside, but that plan quickly went the way of the dodo. With Lopez playing on the perimeter, the Nets need a banger inside and that is Humphries, not Murphy.
The former Big East Player of the Year still has great value based on his ability to knock down the three-ball at 6’11". Murphy has an expiring contract and could either be dealt as part of a blockbuster trade (Carmelo perhaps) or for a trade exception and conditional draft pick.
Telfair has been quietly productive this season, averaging 7.7 points and 3.6 assists in just 21 minutes per game. However, with Jonny Flynn returning from injury, Telfair has been relegated to third-string point guard.
Telfair has an expiring $2.7 million contract and has been linked to the Knicks. A potential trade of Roger Mason ($1.4 million expiring) and Bill Walker could entice David Kahn and would provide a solid backup point guard for Raymond Felton and the Knicks.
Whether Jeffries is part of a blockbuster trade that brings a star like Iguodala to Houston or he is dealt alone for a team seeking a tremendous defender, all signs point to Jared Jeffries being dealt. The 6’11" forward can guard nearly anybody on the floor and with a $6.8 million expiring contract, provides a low risk to any interested team.
While a top team would love to add a versatile defender like Jeffries, not many teams have contracts that match up well. Houston would not likely deal away Jeffries unless it added a high quality player or a series of low-cost players and expiring contracts.
Houston has lots of young players with upside (or as Hubie Brown prefers, tremendous upside potential) and could be a suitor for many potential trade targets, including Steve Nash and Andre Iguodala.
The Rockets could use an athletic wing, and a deal consisting of Jarred Jeffries, Jordan Hill and Courtney Lee could be enough to convince the Sixers to dump Iguodala and his swollen contract down south.
If the Cavaliers fall too far out of the playoff picture, I would not be surprised to see veterans and role players being dealt left and right. One player that could be swapped on the cheap is Jamario Moon.
Moon is a solid perimeter defender with vast athleticism and an economical expiring contract. He would make a great addition to one of the aging playoff contenders like San Antonio.
A trade of Moon for little-used rookie James Anderson and cash would provide the Spurs with a young, athletic perimeter defender to cover the likes of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, while Cleveland would free cap room and add a 2010 first-round pick.
If Cleveland continues losing, as many of us believe they will, Cleveland could be big sellers at the trade deadline. Considering Jamison is already stuck on the bench behind J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao, it seems highly probable that the former Tar Heel would be among the first to go.
Jamison still has two years remaining on his contract at $28.4 million, making him grossly overpaid. Still, teams are typically willing to overextend themselves if they are getting a quality player and if the duration of his contract isn’t too long.
With Indiana in dire need of a quality power forward (I mean, come on, the Pacers have started Josh McRoberts this year), they could be a potential trade partner with the Cavs.
A trade of Jeff Foster (one year remaining at $6.6 million), James Posey ($7.1 million per for the next two seasons) and two second-round draft picks would shave just over $6 million off the team's payroll next season and allow the team to make moves in free agency.
AK47 has an absolutely mammoth expiring contract ($17.8 million) that the Jazz could parlay into a superstar player. On the flip side, if the Jazz falter and fall out of playoff contention, Kirilenko could be dealt to a playoff contender for another expiring contract—saving Utah million of dollars in the process.
One trade that peaked my interest involved the previously mentioned Charlotte Bobcats. The Jazz could load up if they dealt Kirilenko and a first-round draft pick to Charlotte in exchange for Gerald Wallace and Tyrus Thomas. The Jazz would take on a lot of salary, with Wallace being owed $21 million over the next two years with a player option and Thomas being owed $40 million over the next five seasons. Still, Utah would add great depth to the frontcourt and would be free to deal Mehmet Okur.
The Jazz would gain one of the league’s unheralded stars in Gerald Wallace, who currently averages 17, 8 and 2.5 with over a block and steal per game. They would also add the former fourth-overall pick in the 2006 draft in Thomas, an athletic power forward with crazy athleticism and absurd potential.
Although many consider a Thomas a bust, his per 36 averages of 20 and 10 with 2.7 blocks this season tell a far different story.
For Charlotte, the purpose is simple. It’s a salary dump. The Bobcats would clear up over $60 million in salaries including almost $18 million next season.
The deal would leave Utah strapped for cash, but a starting frontcourt of Gerald Wallace, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson with Thomas off the bench would provide both terrific post scoring and tremendous defense in the paint.
Since acquiring Landry as the centerpiece in the Kevin Martin trade last season, the undersized power forward has been somewhat disappointing. After averaging 18 points per game with the Kings a season ago, Landry has seen his minutes dwindle, field-goal percentage drop and scoring take a massive hit.
Now averaging just 11.8 points per game, Landry will likely continue to see that figure go down as rookie DeMarcus Cousins begins earning more and more minutes at the four.
Landry is in the final year of his contract and likely does not fit into the long-term plans of a Kings team that is overstocked at the forward positions. With such a small base salary of $3 million, I anticipate that Landry will be swapped for a draft pick.
Andrew Bogut has been banged up all season for an already undersized Bucks team. A swap of Chris Douglas-Roberts, Jon Brockman and a second-round pick would serve both teams well.
Another player that doesn’t fit into Sacramento’s long-term plans could be an impact player for another team. Dalembert is due $13.5 million in the final season of his contract. While it’s unlikely a playoff-caliber team has the contracts necessary to acquire Dalembert, it’s not impossible.
Dalembert is still a solid rebounder and shot blocker and would make a great addition to either of the now-undersized Florida teams. A trade of Brandon Bass, Earl Clark and the $6.3 million trade exception acquired from trading away Marcin Gortat could be used to add Dalembert.
Dalembert would provide a shot-blocking presence whenever Howard needed rest or got himself into foul trouble. Sacramento would add a young and inexpensive player in Earl Clark, a low-cost forward in Bass and a ton of cap room from the trade exception. Talk about a win-win.