Chad Ford wrote:Impact players most likely to be moved
1. Amare Stoudemire, PF, Suns
In the Stoudemire saga, all of the following are true:
A. The Suns are trying to trade him;
B. The Suns are trying to sign him to a long-term extension;
C. Stoudemire is talking about "opting in" to the last year of his contract.
Let's break it down:
The Suns are still in active trade talks for Amare, with discussions initiated by both the Suns and other teams. The latest is that the Suns have talked to the Philadelphia 76ers about a swap of Stoudemire plus filler for Andre Iguodala and Samuel Dalembert.
While there are a lot of deals the Suns wouldn't do, this is one in which they're interested. It's the Sixers that are holding up the process, I'm told. While nothing's imminent, if Philadelphia GM Ed Stefanski sees an opportunity to unload Dalembert and thinks Stoudemire is the best player he can get, things could get hot quickly.
At the same time, the Suns are planning to make Stoudemire a contract offer in the next few days, according to a source close to the situation. As in every contract negotiation, the contract terms (years and dollar amount) are the main obstacles -- while Stoudemire might want a max contract, that's not what the Suns want to offer.
But I've been told there's another snag: Stoudemire wants a commitment from owner Robert Sarver that the Suns will continue to spend to get back into contention. Stoudemire doesn't want to commit to a team that's going to be in the lottery in future years. So unless the Suns blow Stoudemire away with their offer, they'll reach an agreement only if he is persuaded that the Suns are committed to further spending.
Another twist: Stoudemire came out Wednesday claiming that he was leaning toward not exercising the early termination option on his contract. While he talked about the financial benefits of doing so (he's due $17.7 million next season in the final year of his contract), there's another reason Stoudemire went public about this: He wants some control over where he might be traded to. Philly -- a struggling team that sees Stoudemire as more an asset with a potentially expiring contract than as a cornerstone -- would likely be less interested if Stoudemire were planning to play out his contract. Therefore, when Stoudemire heard about the possible trade with the 76ers, he expressed his reservations about being traded to Philadelphia by going public with his musings about staying with his contract. In other words, he's sending a warning to teams that might see him as nothing more than an expiring contract.
That aside, it seems likely Stoudemire will exercise his option to terminate his contract. If he doesn't, he's betting that he can (A) stay healthy and (B) fare well under the next collective bargaining agreement, which might be the rules of the game that shape Stoudemire's next contract if he doesn't exercise his option this year. Given his injury history and the determination of the owners to tighten up the next CBA, that's a huge risk.
2. Troy Murphy, F, Pacers
The Pacers are struggling and looking to the future for hope. They were poised to potentially trade Jeff Foster, but with Foster likely now out for the season, their focus moves to Murphy. With a number of contending teams interested in him, the Pacers seem to be in the right place to make a deal.
While Murphy may be overpaid, there are few bigs in the league who can rebound and spread the floor the way he can, which gives him value to a number of teams. The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to be the team with the most interest. If the Cavs can't land Antawn Jamison, Murphy appears to be their second option. At a minimum, the Pacers likely will be able to get back expiring contracts and one asset (either a draft pick or J.J. Hickson) for Murphy.
3. Kirk Hinrich, G, Bulls
The Bulls will have salary-cap space this summer, and they want more. If they can trade Hinrich and/or John Salmons for expiring contracts, they can make a pitch to both LeBron James and Chris Bosh this summer. Can you imagine a team with James, Bosh, Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah?
I guarantee you Chicago exec John Paxson can, and if Bosh isn't traded before the deadline, the Bulls appear to have a chance make it happen.
In the past few weeks, both the Celtics and the Lakers have shown interest in Hinrich. The Celtics could do a deal that would send Ray Allen for both Hinrich and Salmons, providing Boston ballhandling and depth on the wings and giving Chicago new hope for this summer. In any case, given all the chatter about Hinrich, I think the chances he'll be a Bull after Feb. 18 are increasingly slim.
4. Caron Butler, G/F, Wizards
For weeks we've assumed that Antawn Jamison is the Wizard most likely to be moved, but that's not true, according to GMs who have had conversations with the Wizards. They say the team is reluctant to move Jamison, a franchise cornerstone.
Butler, on the other hand, is very much available, and the Wizards shouldn't have much trouble finding interest: Butler has only one year remaining on his contract and he can still play, at age 29 (he turns 30 on March 13).
One issue that could slow negotiations is the fact that the Wizards don't want to just give Butler away; they want both cap relief and a young asset. But that might be a heavy price in this market.
5. Andre Iguodala, G/F, Sixers
I've struggled to accept the idea that the 76ers would give away Iguodala, their best player, no matter how desperate they are to cut payroll. But in NBA front offices, the word is that he is very much available. Of course, Philly's hope is to get rid of the contract of Samuel Dalembert in such a deal.
A source told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Houston Rockets have recently renewed discussions with the 76ers about a deal involving Iguodala and Dalembert for the expiring contract of Tracy McGrady. And as I reported above, the Suns have also entered the mix, offering Amare Stoudemire for Iguodala and Dalembert. The Cavs and Dallas Mavericks have explored Iguodala deals as well.
Slowing discussions at the moment is the fact that the Sixers really want to get some talent back in such a deal. The Rockets have players to offer, and the Suns might be willing to throw in Leandro Barbosa, I'm told.
So while the Sixers are motivated to move Iguodala, I think it's going to take more than an expiring contract to land him in the end.
6. Tayshaun Prince, F, Pistons
The Pistons continue to be very active in trade discussions regarding Prince. While the team would prefer to move Richard Hamilton, I don't think they're going to be able to find a home for him given his enormous contract.
If the Pistons can swap Prince for some help in the paint, they've got to do it. There has been a growing focus on a potential Carlos Boozer-for-Prince swap. With both teams struggling to find another trade partner, will they ultimately fall into each other's arms?
7. Ray Allen, G, Celtics
Recently, Allen's name has surfaced in a number of rumors and potential deals for such players as Monta Ellis and Kirk Hinrich, and the Celtics are not denying that an Allen trade is a possibility.
On Wednesday, Celtics president Danny Ainge told a Boston radio station that it was "unlikely" that the team would trade Allen, and privately, a source in Boston is saying the same thing. But with the Celtics struggling, and with Allen holding a desirable expiring contract, trading him looks like Boston's best chance to refresh the team's efforts to contend for a title this season and beyond.
8. Nate Robinson, G, Knicks
After a stint in Mike D'Antoni's doghouse, Robinson is playing again and playing well. In fact, the word is that he's moving into the starting lineup.
Consider it an audition for his next home. The Knicks will move Nate if they can, especially if they can do so in a package deal that rids them of the contract of Eddy Curry or Jared Jeffries so the team can clear more salary-cap space for the summer.
9. Antawn Jamison, F, Wizards
Three weeks ago, Jamison appeared to be the player most likely to be traded. But the word from a number of GMs is that the Wizards are reluctant to trade him, particularly to the rival Cavs.
"They want a lot for him," one GM said. "A lot. Jamison is a good player, but he's old and makes a lot of money. No one is giving up a future superstar in return."
10. Samuel Dalembert, C, Sixers
For the most part Dalembert has been paired with Andre Iguodala in trade talks with the Rockets, Suns and Mavs. But there is a fair share of interest in Dalembert himself. Yes, he is overpaid, but his contract expires in 2011, he is a defensive force and he can run the floor.
While his 15 percent trade kicker is a problem, expect interest to continue to grow. Sacramento might be at the front of the line, given its trade assets and need for a defensive center.
11. Josh Howard, F, Mavericks
Howard, at age 29, is having the worst season of his career and has struggled to play alongside Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion. But other teams have interest because his contract has a team option for next year, which means a team can acquire him now and decide this summer whether to keep him as player, hold on to him as a 2011 expiring contract or decline the option and take the savings right away.
The Raptors and Kings have been rumored to have the most interest.
12. Kevin Martin, G, Kings
The Kings continue to say they want to get a good look at how well star rookie Tyreke Evans and Martin can coexist. But so far it hasn't been pretty: Sacramento is 2-13 when Martin and Evans have started in the backcourt together.
Martin has played better lately, but the team was 14-18 when he was out with an injury. So ultimately, I think the Kings will be willing to deal. The team is still under a financial crunch and this is no longer Martin's team.
A deal of Martin and Andres Nocioni for Ray Allen, for instance, would give the Kings great payroll flexibility going forward.
13. Al Jefferson, PF, Timberwolves
Timberwolves president David Kahn insists that Minnesota has no interest in moving Al Jefferson.
Other GMs around the league are equally convinced that Jefferson is available for the right offer, especially if the Wolves can get a big man in return.
14. Devin Harris, PG, Nets
With New Jersey hitting bottom and Harris having a very disappointing season, the Nets have explored trading him.
If the Nets knew they could get John Wall in the draft, they would probably trade Harris now. While they would consider moving him anyway, the latest word is that the Nets are planning to hold on to Harris until they see what happens in the May 18 draft lottery, when the Nets will likely have a 25 percent chance of getting the top pick.
15. Chris Bosh, PF, Raptors
There is a growing consensus that Bosh is staying in Toronto, until this summer, at least. Several sources around the league have said that Bosh trade talk has stalled in the past few weeks, thanks in large part to the Raptors' recent success on the court. The team is winning, and Bosh has been terrific.
The Raptors are currently fifth in the East and hoping for bigger things this season. With the Raptors on a roll, if Bryan Colangelo believes he has a chance to keep Bosh, then the incentive to move him now (instead of this summer) is reduced. And it sounds like Colangelo is gaining confidence that he can persuade Bosh to stay.
1. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, C, Cavs
Cleveland might be the most motivated team in the league to do a deal, given that the stakes include a title this season and keeping LeBron James this summer.
They want a stretch 4 and have an extra big with both Ilgauskas and Shaquille O'Neal on board. Another team could acquire Big Z's expiring contract (nearly $12 million) and might be willing to waive him, allowing him to rejoin the Cavs.
2. Tracy McGrady, G, Rockets
While it's unclear what McGrady has left as a player, his contract makes him a superstar at the trade deadline: A team trading for T-Mac can wipe $22 million off its 2010-11 books.
The Rockets are still trying to figure out how to use this asset -- is it a trade piece or an expiring contract to benefit their own cap situation?
The hottest McGrady rumor involves the potential acquisition of Andre Iguodala (along with Samuel Dalembert). If they can get a player of Iguodala's talent for McGrady, that might be too much for the Rockets to pass up.
3. Carlos Boozer, F/C, Jazz
The Jazz would move Boozer, but the offers they've heard haven't been enticing enough. The team is red-hot, Boozer is playing well and his expiring contract will help the Jazz reduce payroll next season, so there is no reason to give him away.
To make a deal, Utah would like a quality starter in return. While the rumor mill has focused on a Boozer-for-Tayshaun Prince trade, both sides say there's nothing to it.
Given all the factors involved, it seems likely Boozer will remain with the Jazz until the summer.
4. Brendan Haywood, C, Wizards
With the Portland Trail Blazers, the Houston Rockets and other teams in need of a big man, it could be Haywood, not Butler or Jamison, who departs the Wizards first. Washington needs more than just cap relief to move Haywood's expiring contract, but not much more.
5. Kenny Thomas, PF, Kings
After a quick takeoff, the Kings have fallen back to earth, and they still want to cut payroll. They've been trying to move Andres Nocioni, with Thomas' $8.8 million expiring contract as bait.