Ten teams looking to trade
Here are the other teams that might be active before the Feb. 24 trade deadline
The NBA trade deadline is one week away, and with the exception of the six-month Carmelo Anthony saga, which is really humming the same tune over and over again, there hasn't been much in the way of new trade rumors.
That should change this weekend, as representatives from all 30 teams descend on Los Angeles for the All-Star break. In the past, All-Star Weekend has been a nice catalyst for trade talks. With so many GMs and owners in the same room, the ice gets broken and people start talking.
Two big obstacles stand in the way, of course. For starters, with so many teams having interest in Melo, teams are holding onto assets they might otherwise be willing to move. Second, the looming lockout and new CBA discussions have created an environment of caution for many owners. A number of teams have been unwilling to commit to taking on more money until they have a clearer view of how things will change under the new CBA. Owners may get some clarity when they sit down with the union as part of a weekend bargaining session, but it's unlikely they'll really know much more at this early stage.
So we've talked about Denver ad nauseam … but what about the other 29 teams in the league? Who else might make a non-Carmelo deal by the trade deadline?
Here are 10 teams with both the motivation and resources to make something happen.
The Mavs are having a great season, despite significant injury problems. The question is, do they have enough to overtake the Lakers and Spurs in the West? The general view is pessimistic. Not only does Dallas have a history of flaming out in the playoffs, but the team's offense has taken a hit since Caron Butler went down.
The Mavs brought in Peja Stojakovic to help, but if they can make a bigger deal before the deadline, they will. They have Butler's expiring contract as an asset, and could include Rodrigue Beaubois in a deal if they got back a significant player in return.
Much of the focus has been on players like Tayshaun Prince, Stephen Jackson and Antawn Jamison. If they make a deal, it will likely be for a veteran like this.
Houston really has needs just about everywhere, and sources say the Rockets have been very active contacting teams. A number of GMs have told ESPN.com that everyone on the Rockets' roster is available right now -- for the right price.
The Rockets' biggest need is at center, and they've looked at everyone from Samuel Dalembert to Chris Kaman to Marcus Camby. The team is also trying to pry away a small forward -- Carmelo Anthony has been at the top of their list, though they aren't willing to give away the farm for a guy who might be a short-term rental. The Pacers have soundly rebuffed their Danny Granger overtures. There is also a level of interest in the same three guys the Mavs have been pursuing and, if they're really desperate, they could spend a ton of money on hometown favorite Rashard Lewis. And they'd still like an elite point guard.
The question on everyone's mind right now is -- where are the Rockets going? They're currently in 11th place in the West -- and several games out of a No. 8 seed. Is GM Daryl Morey trying to put together a playoff team? Or is he blowing things up? He's sending mixed signals around the league right now, and the truth is he may be playing his hand both ways until he sees what his best move is going forward.
Portland Trail Blazers
It's been a rocky first year for new GM Rich Cho. Brandon Roy's knees are in bad shape. Greg Oden is out after yet another season-ending surgery. The up-and-coming young Blazers team we thought would battle for an NBA title now looks in danger of falling into mediocrity. They currently have a tenuous hold on the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
Like the Rockets, the question for the Blazers is, which way are they going? If the Blazers want to improve their playoff chances, the goal is to add veterans to the squad. But most of the rumblings involving the Blazers point in a different direction. With players like Andre Miller, Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla mentioned as the primary trade bait, it looks like the Blazers are likely eyeing a rebuilding process centered on LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.
The Blazers should find some interest in their veterans. Miller is still very cagey and capable, and his contract isn't guaranteed next season. Przybilla is an effective big man when healthy, and he's also in the last year of his deal. Camby is a bit more expensive, but he'd be a legitimate get for a team like the Thunder, who are looking for help in the middle.
New Orleans Hornets
You'd think a team that's owned by the NBA would be playing it safe until the league finds a more permanent owner. You'd be wrong.
Multiple sources say the Hornets have been among the most active teams in the past few weeks. They've not only tried to convince David West to sign an extension, but they've put out a number of feelers trying to land more scoring help and more size in the paint.
The team is trying to do all of this and remain relatively cap-neutral at the same time, meaning they don't want to take back any long-term deals. The goal is to try to make a deeper run in the playoffs as a way to convince West and Chris Paul to hang around longer.
So far, the Hornets' efforts haven't born fruit. But they've been trying. They've looked at a number of the same forwards and bigs that Dallas and Houston have.
The problem for the Hornets is what they are (or aren't) offering in return. A number of teams would love to get their hands on West, but so far GM Dell Demps hasn't been willing to put him on the block. That leaves a number of yawners like Marcus Banks' expiring contract and former first-round picks like Quincy Pondexter and Jason Smith as their trade bait.
The Pacers are 7-3 since Frank Vogel took over as the head coach and now contenders for the East's eighth seed. The Pacers' goal was to make the playoffs this year and then tinker with the team in the summer (they'll have considerable cap space). So far it looks like Larry Bird is close to achieving his goal.
But don't count the Pacers out of the trade talks just yet. While it's unlikely they'll trade their star, Danny Granger, they do have a number of expiring contracts of players (Mike Dunleavy, T.J. Ford, Jeff Foster) who can help veteran teams. They also have young players like Brandon Rush, Josh McRoberts and possibly Tyler Hansbrough that they'd move for the right player.
The Pacers know they aren't a top free-agent destination, and if they can land a player or two now that will help the team long-term (preferably another 4 who can score in the post), they won't be afraid to pull the trigger.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has been promising change and at this point, his own players and fans are begging him for it. The problem is the Cavs don't have great assets. Anderson Varejao was their best chip, but he's out for the season with an injury. J.J. Hickson still has plenty of suitors, but the Cavs want to use him as part of the rebuilding project. Everyone else on the roster doesn't get anyone too excited.
Antawn Jamison has some buzz, but he'll probably be more valuable next season when he's on the last year of his contract. Mo Williams and Ramon Sessions also have generated some interest.
The guy most likely to move before the deadline is Anthony Parker. With teams like the Bulls pining for a veteran shooting guard, the Cavs should be able to get something for him now before losing him for nothing this summer.
New York Knicks
Donnie Walsh has been characteristically cool on adding Carmelo Anthony to the team. While the Knicks would love to have him, so far Walsh has held his ground on gutting the team to get him. It's a wise move. Melo won't put the Knicks over the top in the East, and if Walsh uses all the team's assets to get him, he won't be able to add the additional pieces it will take to win a championship.
If the Knicks don't land Melo, look for them to try to add a few veterans to the mix to help their chances in the playoffs this year. Walsh has been looking primarily for a big man and has shown interest in Przybilla as well as in the Pacers' Jeff Foster. He has Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry's expiring contract as trade bait, and might be willing to include a little more for the right player.
The main criterion for Walsh? The players he adds must be veterans and have deals that expire by the summer of 2012 so his team can make a run at Deron Williams, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard.
New Jersey Nets
The Nets have been the primary pursuers of Carmelo Anthony. And as Chris Broussard reported Wednesday and we called weeks ago, the Nets are still in the hunt for Melo despite the fact that their owner very publicly halted the talks.
The Nets have been exploring other options as well. Primarily the team has been trying to find a home for Troy Murphy and his expiring contract. But they've also been quietly hunting around the league for another star using the same package of Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, expiring contracts and draft picks they offered the Nuggets.
Should one of the other teams in the league that's nervous about losing one of its stars in free agency of 2012 decide to bite, the Nets will be ready to make a deal. It's a long shot, but when you have all the assets the Nets have, you can't count them out.
GM Kevin O'Connor is one of the more conservative GMs in the league, but his hand may be forced a bit here. With Jerry Sloan out, Deron Williams grumbling and the team sliding down the standings in the West, he may have to do something now to convince Williams not to bolt the team in 2012. Adding a wing to the mix that can score and shoot the ball is a top priority.
Andrei Kirilenko is the team's best trading chip. His contract is expiring and he's still a productive veteran. The Jazz have never wanted to let him go -- his influence every night is felt in ways that the box score can't capture. But with Mehmet Okur ailing and Minnesota owning Utah's protected first-round pick … they don't have many other options.
We could've included a number of other teams in here, but we'll end with the Grizzlies for a couple of reasons. One, it looks like O.J. Mayo continues to be on the block, with sources saying the Grizzlies will make a deal if they can find one that gets them back a young talent and a good draft pick. Two, Zach Randolph is heading into free agency this summer and it's unlikely the Grizzlies want to pay both him and restricted free agent Marc Gasol big money. That could lead the Grizzlies to be big players at the deadline.
But the emphasis is on could. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley and GM Chris Wallace are notoriously tough to work with at the trade deadline, and the team is currently battling Portland, New Orleans, Denver, Utah and Phoenix for the final playoff spots. That could be enough to convince them to stand pat and wait until the summer to figure out what to do next.