1.) Houston Rockets
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. GM Daryl Morey has been looking at potential deals since the start of the season, even acquiring Terrence Williams from the New Jersey Nets while in-season. Now, a big man is the key ingredient he is looking for. Any takers out there on the trade front? Word is they have been eying Nene for the last month or so. If a potential deal is to go down, it would most likely involve their 2012 first-round pick they acquired from the Knicks and a combination of Chase Budinger, Jordan Hill, Patrick Patterson and Aaron Brooks. If they can’t acquire Nene, perhaps the Clippers would be willing to let Chris Kaman go for the right price. Also, keep an eye on an O.J. Mayo for Courtney Lee swap. The only thing that might be holding this one back is now with Rudy Gay out for the next month, Mayo might need to step in and fill his role as a go-to scorer.
2.) Portland Trail Blazers
Portland needs to make a move, and fast, if they are serious about contending this year. The obvious trading chip for them is Andre Miller and there is talk that a potential three-team trade involving Portland, New Jersey and Denver, with the key piece being Melo, could go down. In it, Portland would look to acquire Devin Harris and Anthony Morrow. Another juicy rumor has them offering up Dante Cunningham and a 2nd-rounder for Sixers PF Marreese Speights, although Philadelphia sounds not too keen on the initial offer. Perhaps, a deal could be reached with that one with another piece or two involved; the bottom line is that it’s almost an inevitability that the Trail Blazers add at least one key piece to their roster before the deadline. Keep an eye on Ramon Sessions as well. He’s a name that has begun to circulate as a potential Trail Blazers pick-up.
3.) Chicago Bulls
This team is desperate for SG/SF help and has been making inquiries for a while now. One name that keeps popping up is J.R. Smith. In Chicago, I believe he would excel greatly, as he is the type of quick scorer the Bulls covet. The problem here is that Chicago might have a problem with Smith and his character issues. The Bulls have great chemistry and might be reluctant to acquire a player who could potentially mess that up. Also, Courtney Lee has been mentioned here for quite a while now. I just don’t see what Houston would want in return. Taj Gibson perhaps? I’m not sure Chicago would be willing to give that up and the Rockets seem set at power forward. Omer Asik is another name that could be involved in a trade for Lee, as the Rockets are size-starved and Asik is a legit 7-footer. Stay tuned with that one.
4.) New Orleans Hornets
With this team setting itself up for a playoff berth, acquiring another piece seems probable. The only reluctance here might be the fact that the Hornets will not go over the luxury tax. Their biggest trade piece involves a $15 million trade player exception. With that, a deal involving Antawn Jamison or the aforementioned J.R. Smith could be doable. Jamison, due $28 million over the next two years, would probably have to have some of his contract “picked up” by Cleveland in order for a trade to the Big Easy to be plausible. However, if Cleveland is willing to do this, I think New Orleans is his #1 option. Also, it would make the Hornets an even better team; keep an eye on New Orleans acquiring a back-up center as well.
5.) Boston Celtics
Ah, yes, the “sleeper” of the 5. Boston has been pretty quiet on the trade front, but there is reason to believe that they are looking hard for talent in order to pad their depth for the playoffs. The name to watch, I believe, is Grant Hill. On a team that looks to not make the playoffs in Phoenix, Hill would be a great piece to add to an already good defensive team in Boston. Also, Anthony Parker might be a name to look closely at. He would be a great shooter to help add spacing to the floor for big men Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis (and Shaq, if healthy). I know most might believe the C’s aren’t looking for help, but I would almost bet that they make something happen at the deadline.
*Other teams to closely monitor are the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies and Utah Jazz. All 4 teams seem poised to look for upgrades at the trade deadline.