Hope this format is OK
Who should have their bags packed just in case?By Chris Sheridan
February is here, and the trade deadline is only three weeks away.
The Ron Artest trade allowed the flood gates to open a bit, and we've seen the seven-player Boston-Minnesota megadeal, the Nikoloz Tskitishvili mini-deal and the Hornets' showering of second-round picks to bring Aaron Williams and Steven Hunter to Oklahoma City.
There is no shortage of teams trying to balance their immediate needs with their long-term goals, but two franchises -- Chicago and Denver -- stand out for their foot-dragging.
We're past the midpoint of the season, and the Bulls haven't acquired any type of size that would allow them to compete in the postseason, nor have the Nuggets addressed their gaping hole at shooting guard.
Larry Brown hasn't shamed Isiah Thomas into making any of the moves he's been trying to broker over the phone, and Steve Francis has turned up his play in Orlando to such a degree that the Magic are rethinking plans to move him.
With one super-elite team in the East, Detroit, and two powerhouses in the West, San Antonio and Dallas, perhaps there's a subconscious sentiment running through the other 27 front offices that this season is a lost cause no matter what they do, so maybe it's better to put off any risky personnel moves until the summer. But that won't stop GMs and personnel directors from burning their cell phone minutes, and there are several role players and veterans with expiring contracts who stand a good chance of being dealt before the Feb. 23 deadline.
A team-by-team look:
Status report: On pace to double last season's victory total, but still a case study in long-term NBA ineptitude.
Concerns: Having given away two first-rounders in the Joe Johnson deal, the Hawks want a No. 1 pick and a starter back in any trade for Al Harrington. Otherwise, they'll wait and see what their sign-and-trade options are when Harrington becomes a free agent.
Most likely to be traded: Tony Delk, who hasn't played an entire minute all season, has a moveable expiring contract of just under $3 million.
Status report: There are some folks floating the theory that the acquisition of Wally Szczerbiak is a precursor to the departure of Paul Pierce, which Danny Ainge insists is not true.
Concerns: Trying to work a pair of 21-year-olds into the rotation at the power forward and center positions. Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins will test the patience of both the fans and the front office.
Most likely to be traded: Michael Olowokandi. The Celtics could move him straight up for another expiring contract. Under NBA trade rules, he cannot be packaged with another Celtics player.
Status report: Emeka Okafor's slow recovery from an ankle injury and the team's current 13-game losing streak has turned this season into a lost cause, not that it was ever going to amount to anything anyway.
Concerns: The longer Brevin Knight stays in Charlotte, the more minutes he takes away from Raymond Felton. Okafor, Felton, Sean May and Primoz Brezec appear to be the only keepers Charlotte has assembled through 1½ seasons.
Most likely to be traded: Knight could be moved to the Cavs, who are not sold on keeping Eric Snow as their No. 1 point guard.
Status report: Have three weeks to decide whether to make a big trade now or proceed with plans to go $18 million under the salary cap, making them the No. 1 player in a weak free agent market and a facilitator for every three- and four-team trade imaginable.
Concerns: Also have to decide if this season of transition should include the acquisition of a center who can help them get back to the playoffs.
Most likely to be traded: Tim Thomas. Has an expiring $14 million contract, and his agent wants him moved to a place where he can reestablish some value.
Status report: The impression they're giving is that they're a much better team than they were last season, but they have the same record as they had one year ago when they folded in the late stages of the season.
Concerns: Free agent signees Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall have not lived up to expectations, and Drew Gooden could leave as a free agent.
Most likely to be traded: Jones. The self-proclaimed world's best shooter bombed when he went into the starting lineup in place of Larry Hughes, and the fans in Cleveland don't like him. There's a market for a player who made 225 3-pointers last season, even if he's made only 79 this season. Gooden is also being shopped.
Status report: The only big issue facing the franchise in the immediate future is Ben Wallace's free agency, but he's expected to stay as long as the Pistons make him the highest-paid player on the team.
Concerns: There aren't many when you're 38-6, but Joe Dumars would like to bring in one more frontcourt player to have as insurance behind the Wallaces and Tayshaun Prince.
Most likely to be traded: Darko Milicic. He's still an intriguing commodity to a few rebuilding teams, and the Pistons will never really have a use for him.
Status report: Finally put the Ron Artest Era behind them, and now must find a way to turn around a second straight miserable, yet salvageable, season.
Concerns: It'll be mid- to late-March by the time they get a chance to see Peja Stojakovic and Jermaine O'Neal on the court together, which shouldn't be too late to make a run at the No. 6 seed in the East.
Most likely to be traded: Scot Pollard. Has an expiring $6.3 million contract.
Status report: Pat Riley recently expressed some doubts about the wisdom of going past the trade deadline with Gerald Fitch as the third-string point guard behind Jason Williams and Gary Payton, but don't bet the farm on Riley trading for someone better. He almost never makes midseason trades.
Concerns: Health and chemistry are the biggest issues at play in South Beach, and the Heat have the rest of the regular season to work those things out.
Most likely to be traded: We'd have said Michael Doleac two months ago, but his agent says a trade is highly unlikely. If Riley could get an upgrade for Jason Kapono, he'd consider it.
Status report: Went 7-10 in January, a step backward after a promising start to the season. Not fooling themselves into thinking they can knock off the Pistons, but setting their sights past the first round of the playoffs.
Concerns: Add the name of Bobby Simmons to the list of players whose production dropped significantly in their first season after signing a long-term contract, although he's shown signs of turning it around lately.
Most likely to be traded: Reece Gaines. The Bucks are happy with pretty much everyone else on the roster.
NEW JERSEY NETS
Status report: Still starting the banged up and unproductive Jason Collins at power forward, but also still sitting on a pair of No. 1 picks that Rod Thorn would gladly give away in return for an impact big man.
Concerns: A lack of offensive rebounding, the absence of a steady contributor off the bench.
Most likely to be traded: Lamond Murray. There are still a few GMs who believe Murray can provide some instant offense off the bench, which he has rarely done for the Nets. Could be packaged with Zoran Planinic and a No. 1 pick.
NEW YORK KNICKS
Status report: A complete and utter mess, with team president Isiah Thomas under fire, coach Larry Brown ripping his team as quitters, and a roster stocked with underperforming, overpaid players no other teams want.
Concerns: Thomas was certain he'd be able to use the expiring contracts of Antonio Davis and Penny Hardaway as trade chips, but there's doubt whether ownership will allow him to deal them for players with longer deals.
Most likely to be traded: Jamal Crawford. His out-of-control, turnover-prone style does not mesh with Brown's ideals, and Crawford can't or won't change.
Status report: All was supposed to be rosy between Steve Francis and the higher-ups in the organization following their clear-the-air meeting two weeks ago, but some teams believe the Magic will still try to move him before the deadline.
Concerns: The team is losing quite a bit of money, and there's still a difference of opinions within the organization on whether Francis is the right player to build Dwight Howard's team around.
Most likely to be traded: Kelvin Cato. In the final year of his contract, he's behind Mario Kasun on the depth chart and is almost certain to be moved to a playoff-caliber team seeking size.
Status report: Meandering through Year 10 of the Allen Iverson era, still wondering whether it's possible to put the pieces around him to win a title.
Concerns: Attendance at the Wachovia Center is an embarrassing fourth-worst in the league, and the partnership of Webber and Iverson still hasn't clicked one year after the blockbuster trade with Sacramento. General manager Billy King is seeking to trade for a player who will add defense and toughness.
Most likely to be traded: Kevin Ollie. There are teams that would be willing to take on Ollie's remaining two seasons ($3.2 and $3.4 million) to add a steady backup floor general with 38 games of playoff experience. This might be the rare year when King stands pat at the deadline, having moved Hunter to the Hornets on Wednesday.
Status report: Must decide soon whether to trade Mike James or risk losing him with nothing in return, a la Donyell Marshall, when he becomes a free agent this summer.
Concerns: Jalen Rose's $17 million salary for next season is the quintessential cap killer, and interim GM Wayne Embry will have to throw in more than a No. 1 pick to get someone to take Rose off his hands.
Most likely to be traded: Eric Williams. Of the three players acquired in the Vince Carter deal, he's the only one left. Embry is looking to accommodate his wish to be dealt.
Status report: Have won eight of 12 since bottoming out, and coach Eddie Jordan has received a phone call of support from owner Abe Pollin. Ernie Grunfeld makes moves at the trade deadline more often than he doesn't, so expect to see at least a minor shakeup.
Concerns: None of the Wizards' three building blocks, Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, is much of a defender, and there's very little low-post presence.
Most likely to be traded: Antonio Daniels was miscast here after he left Seattle as a free agent, and he could be packaged with a big man, Michael Ruffin or Etan Thomas, if the Wizards got back a player they felt was an upgrade.
Status report: No team in the NBA is playing better right now, so there's no need to shake things up too much. The Mavericks were always a fixture in trade deadline deals over the past half-decade, but Mark Cuban has altered his ownership philosophy and is no longer willing to take on added payroll and luxury tax costs as he once was.
Concerns: There still might not be enough of a defensive presence in the low post to contain Tim Duncan in a playoff series, and Erick Dampier has lost his starting job to DeSagana Diop.
Most likely to be traded: Dampier is still owed $57 million over the next five seasons, and they'd move him to get out from under that contract. Good luck finding a taker, though.
Status report: Still deeply flawed in the backcourt, just as they've been for two seasons, and had been using their backup point guard, Earl Watson, as the starting shooting guard until switching back to Greg Buckner on Wednesday night.
Concerns: There has been nothing special about the Nuggets after they began the season with such high hopes following their strong finish under George Karl. The players have been waiting for weeks for a trade to go down, and no one but Carmelo Anthony can rest easily until Feb. 23 passes.
Most likely to be traded: It's still Watson, though there's not as much interest in him as the Nuggets would have people believe.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Status report: The relationship between Baron Davis and coach Mike Montgomery has moved to the front burner, and that situation needs to be resolved before Chris Mullin can do any tinkering to the roster.
Concerns: After all but making Ike Diogu an untouchable in their trade talks with the Pacers, the Warriors have moved him back to the bench while moving Adonal Foyle back into the starting five. Diogu has made only five field goals in his last eight games.
Most likely to be traded: The Warriors don't have much use for 34-year-old Calbert Cheaney, who missed 10 straight games with a thigh injury but was expected back Wednesday night. Could be packaged with Zarko Cabarkapa to acquire a mid-level salary player.
Status report: Any other coach sitting 13 games under .500 with a roster expected to contend for the conference title would be a goner by now, but the Rockets have chosen to stick with Jeff Van Gundy. Injuries that have sidelined Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming for extended stretches have provided an excuse, but the fans are staying away from what has to be considered the most underachieving team in the conference.
Concerns: McGrady's back could give out at any minute, torpedoing a season already marked by significant injuries that have sidelined Rafer Alston, Bob Sura, Jon Barry and others. This team was built to win now, so patience is in short supply.
Most likely to be traded: Stromile Swift has been a disappointing free agent signing, and he didn't help his status by arriving late for shootaround Wednesday.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Status report: The news was promising when Corey Maggette's foot cast came off, the Clips moving a step closer to getting his 20-point production back in the lineup before the Lakers creep too much closer in the standings.
Concerns: They've leveled off since coming out of the gate so strong, and they're still at least one player away from being a serious threat to escape the first round of the playoffs.
Most likely to be traded: Chris Wilcox, whose likeliest destination through a trade remains New Jersey.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Status report: Tried to stay in the mix for Ron Artest right up until the very end, and some believed agent Mark Stevens made his phone call to the Kings that temporarily killed the Artest trade as a last-ditch effort to keep the Lakers in the mix.
Concerns: Kobe Bryant is running the show there, not Phil Jackson, and the caliber of some of the players surrounding him in the starting lineup is not the stuff legitimate championship contenders are made of.
Most likely to be traded: Devean George, in the final year of his contract and contributing very little off the bench. He's got championship-round experience, however, a quality valued by a few elite teams.
Status report: Were able to acquire a new starting point guard, Chucky Atkins, without having to make a trade. When was the last time anyone saw that happen in midseason?
Concerns: The only thing that infuriates Jerry West more than unsubstantiated Internet trade rumors is his team's inability to rebound. Only the Raptors do it worse.
Most likely to be traded: Lorenzen Wright is not a favorite of the front office, but the Grizz need his size too much to simply give him away. His $7.7 contract expires at the end of this season.
Status report: The departure of Wally Szczerbiak had the underpublicized short-term effect of placating Kevin Garnett, who plans to reassess his long-term commitment to the Timberwolves over the summer.
Concerns: Marko Jaric has been a disappointment at point guard, and Troy Hudson's and Trenton Hassell's long-term contracts make them undesirable on the trade market.
Most likely to be traded: Marcus Banks had 20 points and six assists against his former team when the Wolves defeated the Celtics, but it appeared to be a clear instance of showcasing. Banks was almost rerouted to Seattle for Flip Murray as part of the seven-player Boston-Minnesota deal, but the Sonics pulled out after Luke Ridnour was injured.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
Status report: For the league's most surprising .500 team, the deals to bring in Aaron Williams and Steven Hunter signaled a commitment to make a push for a playoff spot this season.
Concerns: General manager Jeff Bower is seeking a third-string point guard to have as insurance in case of an injury to Chris Paul or Speedy Claxton. No one else on the current roster can adequately perform playmaking duties in a pinch.
Most likely to be traded: Either of their European sharpshooters, Bostjan Nachbar or Arvydas Macijauskas.
Status report: Not much to be upset about here, with Boris Diaw turning into the throw-in of the decade and Amare Stoudemire making steady progress recovering from knee surgery.
Concerns: Their level of success in the postseason will be largely determined by the health of Stoudemire, who will not be rushed back. Kurt Thomas has contributed little, but the front office sees that as a byproduct of Stoudemire's absence.
Most likely to be traded: Jim Jackson, who has sat out the past 15 games, is an expendable and available veteran with an expiring contract.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
Status report: The season-long quest to find a new home for Ruben Patterson has been fruitless thus far, though the Knicks could still pull off a trade for Patterson and/or Theo Ratliff.
Concerns: A transitional year has already gone down the tubes in the first season under coach Nate McMillan. This once-steady franchise is about to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.
Most likely to be traded: The front-runner remains Patterson, though his checkered past (He'd have to register as a sex offender if he were traded to a team in Florida) is seriously limiting the number of potential suitors.
Status report: The panic button has already been pushed by the Maloofs, who now must sit back and wait to see whether the Ron Artest trade was a wise move.
Concerns: Teams are already packing their defenses in and daring the new Peja-less Kings to beat them from the outside.
Most likely to be traded: Corliss Williamson is the odd man out in Sacramento's forward rotation, but he'd be a nice fit off the bench for a lot of teams. His contract (expires after he makes $6.5 million next season) is not a hindrance.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Status report: Plenty of contentment among the defending NBA champs, who traditionally turn it on in March and April and hit their peak during the postseason. There's no reason to think this year would be any different.
Concerns: As far as trades go, there's a danger of doing more harm than good if they decide to trade Nazr Mohammed, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, for a lesser talent.
Most likely to be traded: No one on the roster is being shopped, but the Spurs might be persuaded to part with the rights to Argentine forward Luis Scola, who remains under contract to a team in Spain for two more seasons after this one, with a prohibitive buyout.
Status report: A sinking ship, with Danny Fortson joining the Reggie Evans "Trade Me" brigade. Vladimir Radmanovic and Flip Murray are future goners, too, on the Western Conference's most underperforming team.
Concerns: Radmanovic, Evans and Murray have the right to veto any trade, though Murray would be far less likely to exercise that right than the others. Fortson's reputation has been so damaged by his ongoing feud with the referees, he's almost untouchable.
Most likely to be traded: Murray, the only one of the three with trade vetoes who does not expect to sign for more than $5 million when he becomes a free agent.
Status report: Valentine's Day will mark the one-year anniversary of the last time Carlos Boozer suited up for a game, with the Jazz being extra cautious after he aggravated his hamstring injury in two previous comeback attempts. His trade value has been so weakened that the Jazz cannot move him for an equal player.
Concerns: The worst 3-point shooting team in the league, they're also third from the bottom in scoring.
Most likely to be traded: What they lack is what Devin Brown was supposed to have provided, but hasn't.
Chris Sheridan, a national NBA reporter for the past decade, covers the league for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Chris, click here.
Pollard is probably the LEAST likely to be traded.
Donnie is rubbing his hands and saying
"6 million off the books"
"6 million off the books"
"6 million off the books"
"6 million off the books"
No kidding. That's silly IMO to think we'd trade Scot. That thing probably should have listed Jack and AJ.
Yeah, for the most part Sheridan just looked at teams' rosters and listed the player at the end of his contract as likely to be traded: Scot Pollard, Lorenzen Wright, Devean George, Michael Olowokandi, Jim Jackson, Chris Wilcox,, Calbert Cheaney, Tom Thomas, Tony Delk, Kelvin Cato.
Some are legit, but c'mon - do a little homework, Chris.
"I'll always be a part of Donnie Walsh."
-Ron Artest, Denver Post, 12.28.05
Another pathetic Insider article. I'd be mighty angry if I paid for this junk.
Pollard probably won't be traded now that his buddy Peja is on the squad. They want to keep Peja happy so he'll want to re-sign next summer so Scott isn't going anywhere.
As long as he's healthy I think he can definitely contribute. Although, I wouldn't mind trading him for Kelvin Cato or Lorenzen Wright (basically a swap of expiring contracts).
Get well soon Jax!!!We're past the midpoint of the season, and the Bulls haven't acquired any type of size that would allow them to compete in the postseason, nor have the Nuggets addressed their gaping hole at shooting guard.