Market forces: Big names who could be available in a trade
The NBA's free-agent market is drying up quickly, at least as far as marquee players are concerned. Elton Brand (Sixers), Baron Davis (Clippers) and Corey Maggette (Warriors) have changed uniforms. Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison have re-upped with the Wizards.
There are still some quality restricted free agents out there, including Josh Smith, Emeka Okafor, Luol Deng, Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis and Ben Gordon. However, those players do not control their own fate. Their current clubs can match any offer they might receive.
For most teams looking to add a key player, it's time to start checking out the trade market. Already this offseason we have seen two significant deals: Jermaine O'Neal to Toronto for T.J. Ford, and Marcus Camby to the Clippers. There could be a few more as teams try to either find that missing piece to push them over the top, or try to create more flexibility for a future move (as the Nuggets did in unloading Camby without receiving a player in return).
Here's a look at some big names who could be on the move this summer. In order to keep the field manageable, we won't include those players whose names have been mentioned but who have almost zero chance to be dealt. In other words, we'll leave off Tracy McGrady, Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade. Instead, we'll just go with players who for one reason or another realistically could be available if the right package comes along.
Vince Carter: The Nets already have sent out two of the Big Three, dealing Jason Kidd (Mavericks) and Richard Jefferson (Bucks) over the past five months. Carter could be next as New Jersey goes about clearing cap space for a possible run at LeBron James in two years. Carter, 31, has a huge contract (three more years, $49 million), but he is also a seven-time All-Star who averaged 21.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists last season.
Shawn Marion: The 30-year-old forward is among the most versatile players in the game and a four-time All-Star. He's also in the final year of a contract that pays him $17.2 million, and is likely going to seek a max-type deal next summer. The Heat might decide to move him now for help at point guard or in the low post rather than risk losing him for nothing. The Lakers and Warriors have been mentioned as possibilities.
Lamar Odom: This year's Finals showed that the Lakers need to get tougher on the interior, and Odom is easier to replace than the 7-foot Pau Gasol. His contract (one more year, $14.6 million) also makes him attractive to other suitors. He could end up back with Pat Riley in Miami, where he spent the 2003-04 season, or up the road in Sacramento.
Ron Artest: The 6-foot-7 swingman is talented, but his volatility has to frighten the rebuilding Kings. It didn't help that Artest recently came out and said he made a mistake by not opting out of his contract that pays him $7.4 million next season. Whether the Kings and Lakers pull the trigger on a long-rumored Odom-for-Artest deal remains to be seen, but Sacramento president Geoff Petrie will surely think about it.
Andrei Kirilenko: Thanks to his strong bounce-back campaign in 2007-08, you don't hear his name mentioned in trade rumors as often as a year ago. But the Jazz can't be too thrilled with the prospect of paying Kirilenko $49 million over the next three years. With Deron Williams due for a contract extension this summer, and Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur eligible to become free agents in '09, Utah could use some payroll relief.
Stephon Marbury: His past three seasons in New York have been a huge disappointment, and he clearly does not fit in the team's plans. The Knicks would rather trade him than buy him out of the last year and $21.9 million on his deal, but they don't want to take back any more bad contracts. Still, some team (the Heat?) might be willing to take a chance on a player who once averaged 20 points and eight assists on a regular basis.
Al Harrington: The versatile Warriors forward fell out of favor with coach Don Nelson last season, and became mostly a role player. Golden State could use Harrington to try to get another big man or to acquire a point guard to help replace the departed Baron Davis.
Rasheed Wallace: Pistons boss Joe Dumars has made no secret that he's looking to make major changes. 'Sheed's reputation will scare off some, but he has only one more year ($13.7 million) left on his contract. How about a reunion with Larry Brown in Charlotte?
Michael Redd: The Bucks were expected to dangle Redd this summer as new general manager John Hammond goes about trying to rebuild the team. But after acquiring Richard Jefferson from the Nets, the likelihood went down. Still, if the Bucks do explore a deal, the Cavs have long been interested in getting the former Ohio State star to help take some of the scoring load off LeBron James.