Updated: January 10, 2013, 1:30 AM ET

Around The Association

Top 10 NBA 'Trade Chips'

By Joe Kaiser
ESPN Insider

The NBA trade deadline of Feb. 21 is just over six weeks away, and as contending teams look to improve their rosters for a push to the playoffs, the trade talk is already starting to pick up.

Memphis' Rudy Gay was the hot topic yesterday, but others like Anderson Varejao, Marcin Gortat, Jose Calderon and J.J. Redick have all frequently been mentioned as well in recent weeks. But when you talk trades, you can't just focus on the big names.

What you really have to do is consider quite a few of the smaller pieces, the guys that make such deals work. You look for young guys with some upside, underpaid guys who offer value, underused veterans or just backups looking for an opportunity to start or more minutes. These aren't trade centerpieces -- they're "trade chips," if you will.

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Black Mamba vs. Big Fundamental

By ESPN.com
What do you most appreciate about Kobe Bryant?

Gutierrez: I've always appreciated his work ethic above all. His desire to perfect every element of his offensive game means there's no shot he hasn't practiced. You can feel almost as good about him tossing up a left-handed hook as you do him shooting a fadeaway because you know he's hit that shot a thousand times on the practice court.

McNeill: The attention to detail. Kobe's game is like one of those handmade, high-quality items you buy, where years after your purchase you keep noticing the little details that make it so good. That's Kobe. The footwork, body control, pump fakes -- his skill level is so much higher than most players, it's no wonder he's still playing at an elite level.

Nowell: His magician status. Kobe has consistently combined volume shooting with historic charisma to create the appearance of a legend no matter what deeper analysis might suggest. This quality has made him one of the most absorbing, entertaining players of my lifetime.

Soriano: The unyielding drive to continue to improve and the work it has inspired him to devote to his game and keep his body in peak condition all these years. For all the greatness bestowed upon him through his 6-foot-6 frame and lineage, Kobe has also put in the hours to make himself the all-time great he is.

Varner: That he's the best pure scorer the league has ever seen. He's a great basketball player in all respects, but when one thinks of Kobe, they first think of his unmatched ability to get a hoop.

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