We're 1 month away from the Feb. 19 NBA trade deadline. That's 1 month until (and yes I'm being overly dramatic) Danny Ferry makes perhaps his most important decision to date as Cavs GM.
With that in mind, it's time to evaluate the players that might be available and the pieces the Cavs might be able to put together to get them. Keep in mind, the Cavs have about $20 million in expiring deals that they could move if so inclined. For the sake of thoroughness, we'll go team-by-team and look at every possibility.
The Contenders: These teams won't be selling this February.
1. Atlanta - At 24-16 and in 4th place in the East, they won't be selling.
2. Boston - I'm gonna go out on a limb and say they won't be selling. No big loss though because beyond Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and Rondo, they're total garbage. They only way they can improve is if someone gets bought out and signs with them which, given the fact that God loves Boston, will probably happen.
3. Denver - With Billups, they have a shot, albeit a small one, to contend out West.
4. Detroit - The Iverson trade made them a lot less threatening but they will still be a very annoying playoff out.
5. Houston - Bill Simmons spoke about this team on a recent podcast and said he thinks they could be selling. I'm gonna say no way. It just wouldn't make any sense. Why trade McGrady for 50 cents on the dollar when you can try to throw a haymaker in the playoffs and then just move him as an expiring deal next year? Houston may very well blow up their core at next year's deadline but they're just good enough when healthy to give it one more shot.
6. LA Lakers - Obviously not selling.
7. New Orleans - Self-explanatory
8. Orlando - Id.
9. Portland - Might make a trade but won't be dumping guys for expiring deals.
10 San Antonio - One or two more years to make a run as constructed.
The Bubble Teams: These teams could be sellers depending on what happens over the next month.
11. Dallas - They're 24-17 and 8th in the West but they've got a bloated payroll and aren't getting any younger. Stackhouse and his $7 million dollar salary for next year could be moved but that is of no interest to the Cavs. Nowitzki has 2 more years at about $19 million per left on his deal and would be a great fit for Cleveland but it's unlikely that Cuban will part with him, at least for another year. Obviously it would be nice to have Jason Kidd but a) it would make no sense for Dallas to trade an expiring deal for more expiring deals, and b) I doubt the team wants to make such a blatant concession that they traded and all-star for a corpse in the deal that sent Devin Harris to New Jersey. Overall, not a good trading partner.
12. Miami - They might move Shawn Marion but it won't be to the Cavs. Again, expiring for expirings doesn't make sense. If they move him, it will be for young players and picks.
13. Milwaukee - It's hard to predict what Bucks managment is thinking because this franchise is such a rudderless ship. Everything they've done over the last year has made absolutely no sense. In theory, they could look to move Mike Redd but I'm not convinced it would be in the Cavs' best interest to deal for him. He's almost 30, his contract runs for two more years in the $16 million a year range, and he plays the same position that Delonte' West is currently playing quite well. Would he be an upgrade at the position? Of course. Do you want to roll the dice on the Lebron era with him? That's a tougher call but I'm inclined to say no. Plus, although I have no source for this, I remember hearing rumors that part of the reason Mo Williams was traded out of Milwaukee was because he and Redd didn't get along too well. If that's the case, it's an automatic deal killer. Richard Jefferson might be available (or he may be untouchable...its just impossible to tell with this franchise) but again, you have to ask yourself the same question: Is this a guy on whom you'd be willing to let the whole thing ride? Considering that every time I see him, all I can think about is him murdering the Olympic team, and he just so happens to be the same guy that was traded for Yi, my answer is no. Dan Gadzuric could probably be had for the price of one Eric Snow. Unfortunately, I'd rather be forced to play Snow in a wheelchair than pay Dan Gadzuric $7 million a year for two more years.
14. New Jersey - This....this is a fascinating team given the contract status of one Mr. Vince Carter. The 19-22 Nets currently sit in 9th place in the Eastern conference. Even they probably realize that they have no chance of contending this year, or, most likely, next. Given that Carter has 3 more years at upwards of $15 million a season left on his moronic deal, if they Nets are smart, they'll look to move him. You'd have to consider this trade from both perspectives.
If you're a Cavs fan, the thought of Carter doing his tin-man routine in a playoff game with the future of Lebron and basketball in Cleveland hanging in the balance has to make you sick. I remember during the 06 Nets series, I vowed that if the day ever came that Carter suited up for the Cavs, that would be the day I ceased being a fan. Now......I still hate Carter. I hate that he's a total Giner. I hate that he pulled one of the all-time biggest dick moves in NBA history when he sulked his way out of Toronto. I hate everything about him...(don't say it, don't say it) BUT HE COULD BE THE FINAL PIECE! I want to vomit all over my computer just seeing that on the screen but it just might be true. The guy is putting up 21.5 a night and shooting almost 40% from deep on a crappy team. What could he do as the second option on a really good Cavs team? How would you like having Carter and Mo Williams running the offense when Lebron has to sit? Given Carter's contract and the fact that he's as close to radioactive as any non-batshit-crazy player in the league, trading for him would be the gamble of all gambles. If the Atlantic Yards project weren't currently about as likely to happen as a Browns Superbowl, and Lebron going there in 2010 was still a legitimate possibility, the move would be even riskier. This summer, when I heard rumors that Ferry was trying to acquire Carter, I wanted him to be fired immediately. Now, deep down, in a place I don't like to talk about at parties, I secretly want it to happen. Ok, now I'm queezy.
From the Nets perspective, if you're still holding out hope of landing Lebron, trading Carter is looking more and more dangerous. It was one thing this summer when trading Carter and his contract would've been the equivalent of sending the Cavs smallpox blankets. But now, with the Cavs a clearcut contender and Carter having an all-star calliber season, it would be a huge gamble (this is of course assuming that if the Cavs win a title, Lebron is staying). From a basketball standpoint, keeping Carter doesn't make much sense. Still, if the Nets turned the Cavs down this summer, they're very unlikely to do the deal now. My guess is that Carter will stay put this year and then get moved for expirings and picks next year.
15. Philadelphia - Hey, nice job on that Elton Brand signing Philly. Giving a second-level player coming off a catastrophic injury franchise player money is always a can't miss. You're sure to get years of enjoyment out of that move. There really isn't much here to interest the Cavs. Andre Miller would make a nice addition but it's the whole expiring for expiring problem again. Sam Dalembert is probably available. What's that? You're not interested? Alright then, I'll move on.
16. Phoenix - Steve Kerr is awefully lucky that the media loves him because he has completely destroyed this team. Now...they're a mess. Nash is slowing down, Amare is a headcase, and Shaq is a cap-sucking black hole. There isn't anything here to peak the Cavs' interest.
17. Toronto - Another delusional franchise that traded for the "missing piece" not realizing that a) they were about 3 "missing pieces" away from contending and b) the piece they traded for was broken. Now, they'd probably listen to offers for Jermaine O'Neal but there's no fit here. His deal is expiring and the Raptors will be looking for young players and picks if they move him.
So we've covered two categories and 17 teams and only 1 player appears to make any sense for both the Cavs and his current employer...and that man just happens to be one of the most disgusting players in NBA history.
In the next couple of days, we'll take a look at the remaining 13 NBA teams that we can expect to be selling next month.