Stephon, Caron, Jason on the blockBy Chad Ford
Tired of hearing about Michael Redd and Joe Johnson?
Wishing your team, over the cap and out of the running for major free agents, could still make major improvements this summer?
Keep hope alive. NBA general managers are predicting a robust trading season once the July player movement moratorium is lifted.
New rules in the collective bargaining agreement allow teams an extra 10 percent wiggle room (from 15 to 25 percent) when trading salaries, allowing for more trade possibilities. And, with the possibility of waiving one player and having him removed from the cap for luxury tax purposes, more owners may be willing to take on a bad deal.
After calling around the league and talking to numerous GMs, here's a look at 10 big names (not including free agents) who could be traded this summer.
Stephon Marbury, PG, New York Knicks
Knicks president Isiah Thomas went nuts over Tuesday's column (and a New York Times report) stating that Isiah was willing to trade Marbury.
The team that gets Stephon Marbury in a trade comes up short in the win column.
"That is so far from the truth," Thomas told reporters, in an angry tone, at a press conference after the Knicks' first summer league game. "And I'm ashamed for you guys that you even have to ask me that, because there is absolutely no truth to it at all."
Marbury has "never been in play," and the Knicks will "never put him in play," according to Isiah.
That's sharply at odds with what several NBA executives have told Insider over the course of the last week.
Thomas also took issue with the use of other, unnamed executives as sources.
"Tell the GM, whoever the GM is, to put his name on it," Thomas said.
Knicks fans likewise were displeased at suggestions that Thomas would be willing to trade Marbury to get Samuel Dalembert in a sign-and-trade. They were even more shocked at the possibility of trading him to Atlanta for Al Harrington, Tony Delk and Jason Collier.
The funny thing is, trading Marbury is a move the Knicks should make. A trade for Dalembert (which I'm told Sixers GM Billy King has zero interest in) would help the Knicks here and now. That trade would add a shot blocker, put Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson at the point and give the Knicks a good chance at the playoffs.
A potential Hawks trade would be more about the future. By moving Marbury for players like Harrington, Delk and Collier (all in the last year of their contracts), Isiah could be on the verge of the previously unthinkable -- cap room. If Marbury were moved and Thomas could resist the urge to throw a max deal at every free agent that bats his eyes at him, the Knicks would be around $20 million under the cap going into the summer of 2007.
That just happens to be the summer that LeBron James becomes a restricted free agent, with his full free agency to follow a year later. Given what we know about the huge endorsement kickers James would get by playing in a big market like New York, combined with the chaos in Cleveland right now, it isn't a stretch to think that the Knicks would be real players in the LeBron market, provided they can get their house in order.
If Thomas really is going to hold firm on his pledge to "never" put Marbury in play, he's going to have to do something else to ease what's turning out to be a major logjam in the backcourt. The Knicks have Marbury, Jamal Crawford, Quentin Richardson, Allan Houston, Penny Hardaway and Nate Robinson, making a total of $66 million.
Houston will likely be waived using the new "amnesty" rule set up in the new CBA. Hardaway is in the last year of his contract, which makes him a tradable piece. But even with those two players eventually out of the picture, the Knicks logjam is still fairly significant and Crawford will be unhappy if he has to come off the bench.
The rumblings are getting louder that Paul has worn out his welcome in Boston.
Paul Pierce, SG, Boston Celtics
Danny Ainge, and now head coach Doc Rivers, have both, on the record, said that Pierce isn't going anywhere. Nevertheless his name has appeared in constant trade rumors and several GMs Insider has spoken with say that the Celtics have made Pierce available at the right price.
The fact that the Celtics had produced promotional materials with and without Pierce's image in it right before the draft lead credence to the theory.
While a Marbury trade makes sense for the Knicks, I'm not sure that a Pierce trade works for the Celtics right now. The team already has a plethora of young prospects: seven, to be exact. Two of those, Al Jefferson and Gerald Green, have star potential. What the Celtics need are veterans who can show them how to win. I think that probably behooves the Celtics to keep Pierce on board, and possibly even re-sign Antoine Walker if he'll agree to a reasonable contract.
Jamaal Magloire, C, New Orleans Hornets
The Hornets offered him to the Raptors in a deal that Raptors GM Rob Babcock turned down. The Hornets wanted the Raptors two first round picks and Babcock came to the questionable conclusion that draft picks Charlie Villanueva and Joey Graham would be more valuable to the franchise than what they desperately needed -- a veteran, All-Star-caliber center to play alongside Chris Bosh.
Magloire has stated publicly and privately that he wants out of New Orleans. The Hornets granted Baron Davis his trade request near the trade deadline in February and appear to be willing to give Magloire the same courtesy.
Other teams, including the Knicks, Lakers, Timberwolves and Hawks, have shown interest in Magloire. He's a base-year player, meaning that any trade for Magloire probably cannot happen until July 29. But with it looking like the league may draw out the moratorium process anyway, that shouldn't be a big deterrent.
Steve Francis, G, Orlando Magic
Francis had an up-and-down year for Orlando last season. His numbers jumped back up to near All-Star levels after a down season in Houston, but midway through the year the team seemed to sour on him a bit and made the relationship rockier by moving him off the point to the shooting guard position. The fact that they've been actively pursuing point guards in the draft and in free agency is pretty telling when you consider they also have Jameer Nelson on the roster.
The problem is that there isn't a robust market for Francis at the moment. Many GMs no longer believe he's a point guard and he's a bit undersized at the two. Unless a team with cap room like the Hawks, Clippers or Cavs comes to the table, the Magic may have no choice but to make it work next year with Francis running the show. That Tracy McGrady trade is looking worse by the day.
Nene, PF, Denver Nuggets
Nene has been less than happy with the team ever since they signed Kenyon Martin last summer. This is a contract year for him and he wants to play. The Nuggets have kept him around as insurance should the always fragile Marcus Camby go down. Ironically it was Nene who spent most of the season on the injured list last season.
Now, Denver faces a different problem. Nene is looking for a big extension and the Nuggets have their reservations about giving it to him, especially if he's going to be backing up Martin and Camby. Meanwhile, the team is desperately searching for a sweet-shooting two guard to make defenses honest.
There's been talk in the media over the past few days that the Nuggets might agree to a swap with the Kings for Cuttino Mobley. That's a great move for the Kings if they can make it happen, but I doubt the Nuggets are that desperate for a two guard. Mobley's a good shooter, but Nene has a lot more value on the open market. They'd also consider a swap for Joe Johnson, but the Suns are very unlikely to bite.
Al Harrington, F, Atlanta Hawks
Harrington was the odd man out the minute the Hawks decided to draft Marvin Williams last week. Harrington was a mild disappointment to the Hawks last season and appears to be more comfortable in a supporting role.
The Hawks are using him as bait in an attempt to lure several restricted free agents (Samuel Dalembert, Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler) to the team via sign-and-trades. The most talked-about scenario has them sending Harrington to Chicago for Curry.
Wally Szczerbiak and Sam Cassell, Minnesota Timberwolves
Wolves vice president Kevin McHale promised big changes this year. Obviously not retaining Latrell Sprewell is a big move, at least symbolically. But there are more moves to come. The team has shopped both Szczerbiak and Cassell, hoping to shake things up more.
Szczerbiak has generated some interest in New York, Portland and New Orleans. The Wolves would love to do something with Portland that gets them Darius Miles or Shareef Abdur Rahim in a sign-and-trade.
Cassell has received less interest, though there's been talk that a deal with Memphis for Jason Williams is a possibility.
Caron Butler, SF, Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak took NBA writers to task for mentioning Butler's name in trade rumors before the draft, but a handful of GMs report that he's available.
He probably has to be if the Lakers are going to make any significant changes to their roster this summer. Right now, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom are serving as the foundation. Butler, who many teams still covet, is the most expendable piece.
The Hornets and Bobcats have both shown a lot of interest in Butler.
Jason Williams, PG, Memphis Grizzlies
He was the team's golden child under Hubie Brown last season but resorted back to his old problem-child persona this season. Williams bumped heads constantly with new head coach Mike Fratello and ended the season on a pretty awful note.
The Grizzlies are trying to trade him, along with Bonzi Wells, but have struggled to find takers. While no one questions Williams' talent, he's a difficult guy to handle, both on and off the court. The team talked trade with the Wolves earlier in the season but so far nothing has come of it.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider