Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Trade Watch: Top big men on the block
By Chad Ford
With the trade deadline less than 10 days away, we're entering crunch time. Calls are flying fast and furious.
Here's an updated look at the top 10 bigs most likely to be moved by Feb. 19.
This information comes largely from two sources: GMs who tell us what other teams are offering them, and NBA player agents who often play important roles in getting their clients moved this time of year.
|Amare Stoudemire and Shaq could be on the move as the Phoenix Suns seek change.|
Top bigs on the block
Amare Stoudemire, Suns
The Suns are the most talented mess in basketball. Some nights, they look like they can beat anyone. Other nights, they get outplayed by less-talented teams like the Knicks. A lot of this has to do with a general malaise that has overcome the team. The Suns loved playing for Mike D'Antoni and the freedom he gave them. Terry Porter? Not so much.
Last week, the Suns decided they need a change and began talking to teams about a potential Stoudemire trade. A number of teams are interested, and it looks like the price tag is a big expiring contract and several young assets (either players or draft picks). Stoudemire will become a free agent in 2010, which is holding teams back from offering the farm for him. But the signs all point to him being moved, sooner rather than later.
One thing my Suns source has made clear: They won't wait until the day of the deadline to make a deal. Once they get offered what they want, they'll pull the trigger.
Chance of trade: 80 percent
Raef LaFrentz, Trail Blazers
LaFrentz has what NBA GMs are calling a "super-expiring contract." Not only does his $12.7 million salary come off the books this summer, but insurance is paying 80 percent of it. Add in that the Blazers have other young players like Sergio Rodriguez, Channing Frye and Travis Outlaw whom they could throw in a deal, and a team looking to clear some cap space and develop young talent would have to take a hard look at a deal with Portland.
With more and more NBA owners looking for some relief from the financial storm, Kevin Pritchard and Co. look to be in great shape if they want to make a deal.
Chance of trade: 60 percent
Tyson Chandler, Hornets
Word leaked last week that the Hornets had conversations with the Heat about a Shawn Marion-for-Chandler swap. Apparently the Hornets aren't as high on him as they were a year ago, and they could be in trouble with the luxury tax next season and need to clear some room.
Chandler, when healthy, is one of the best rebounders and shot-blockers in the league. I wouldn't be shocked to see Chandler return to his old team in Chicago. The Pistons and the Pacers also are possibilities.
Chance of trade: 55 percent
Jermaine O'Neal, Raptors
O'Neal was traded this past June. And now, with the trade deadline swirling, he is at the center of the storm again. The Raptors are ready to move him and develop Andrea Bargnani at the 5. But can the Raptors find someone willing to pay the injury-prone O'Neal $30 million over the next season and a half?
The Heat have shown the most interest. The Knicks and the Bulls also might make some sense.
Chance of trade: 50 percent
Brad Miller, Kings
Miller is big and still can be productive when he's healthy. While he's overpaid, the good news is his contract is done in 2010. The Kings are willing to move him to create more playing time for Spencer Hawes. So do they have a taker?
A team like the Pacers would be an obvious fit, but they can't afford to take on his salary. The Heat have been eyeing Miller. Ditto for the Bulls. But will trading for Miller really put either team over the top?
Chance of trade: 45 percent
Shaquille O'Neal, Suns
Stoudemire isn't the only Suns big on the block. Phoenix also is looking at potential Shaq trades. The goal with moving Shaq is to try to find a team willing to give up an expiring contract in return. If the Suns can make that happen, they can be much more discerning with what they take back for Stoudemire.
Of course, Shaq is a harder sell. Not many owners want to pay the $21 million owed to him next season. But with his strong play this season, someone might take a shot.
Chance of trade: 40 percent
David Lee, Knicks
Lee has been fantastic this season in Mike D'Antoni's system. The problem is the Knicks can't afford to pay him this summer when he hits restricted free agency. So the team is trying to figure out a way to either move another big contract like Eddy Curry's or, at the very least, Jared Jeffries'. If they can't, they might have no choice but to move Lee.
But signing him to a deal worth $8 million a season could blow their chances of having enough room to lure LeBron James and someone else in 2010.
Chance of trade: 35 percent
Antawn Jamison, Wizards
Jamison signed a four-year, $50 million extension this past summer. While he has been solid, the Wizards have been terrible and they are showing no signs of pulling out of this tailspin.
If they can package Jamison's contract with Etan Thomas' or Darius Songaila's for an expiring deal, it will save them a lot of money in the long run.
Chance of trade: 30 percent
Charlie Villanueva, Bucks
Villanueva was on the block before Michael Redd tore his ACL and Andrew Bogut went out for eight weeks with a back injury. So now the team might have no choice but to keep him around. Without him, the entire scoring load would fall on Richard Jefferson.
Villanueva is having the best season of his career and looks promising enough that the Bucks probably won't trade him. However, there is a caveat. Given the financial situation of small-market teams like the Bucks, can they afford to keep him? Their payroll is at $64 million next season before they have to decide what to do with Villanueva and Ramon Sessions in free agency. Will Herb Kohl be willing to fork over the cash for a team that looks like a borderline playoff team? If the answer is no, it will be better to trade him now and package him with a salary they want to get rid of. Or they could trade him for assets.
Chance of trade: 25 percent
Chris Bosh, Raptors
Speaking of messes, the one in Toronto might be the stickiest. It's looking clearer to outside observers that Bosh is pretty set on testing the free-agent waters in the summer of 2010. Given what the Raptors have and what other teams will have to offer, it's not a stretch to say the chances of the Raptors retaining him don't look so good right now.
That leaves GM Bryan Colangelo in a tough position. Trade him and get criticized for giving away the franchise player. Don't trade him and get criticized for not being able to re-sign him. If the Raptors could get a blockbuster offer for Bosh, they probably would have to entertain it. Anything short of that, and I think Colangelo will take his chances.
Chance of trade: 5 percent
Others who might be moved: Marvin Williams, Hawks; Rasheed Wallace, Pistons; Samuel Dalembert, Sixers; Marcus Camby, Clippers; Carlos Boozer, Jazz; Eddy Curry, Knicks; Darko Milicic, Grizzlies; Chris Wilcox, Thunder; Joe Smith, Thunder; Channing Frye, Blazers; Ike Diogu, Blazers; Sean May, Bobcats; Drew Gooden, Bulls; Tyrus Thomas, Bulls; Joakim Noah, Bulls; Rasho Nesterovic, Pacers; Jeff Foster, Pacers.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.