- Chad Ford, ESPN Senior Writer
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While a few significant players, like Shawn Marion, were dealt, the trade deadline was a dud for the most part. With Amare Stoudemire, Vince Carter and Shaquille O'Neal all mentioned prominently in possible trades, we were left wanting more.
The good news is that we're only two months away from more trading action. Once the regular season ends and teams are eliminated from the playoffs, trade season will reopen. Teams will then be able to trade until July 1, which marks the beginning of the trade moratorium, and after July 7.
A number of GMs around the league are already predicting a busy trade season this summer. And it will likely continue to revolve around teams trying to get their financial houses in order.
"There were so many deals that I think got pretty close," one NBA executive said. "I think we all have a handle on what other teams need and want. Teams have more breathing room in the summer to make things happen. There are still a lot of teams who need major fixes to their payroll."
Given what we learned at the trade deadline about what teams are willing to sell and what they'd like to buy, here are the top players who could be changing uniforms this summer.
1. Vince Carter, Nets
The Nets were very close to moving Carter at the deadline. How close? One source told me the Nets agreed to send two future firsts (Dallas' and Golden State's) along with Carter to the Blazers for Raef LaFrentz. The Blazers, however, turned them down.
Expect the Nets to pick up the trade talks again this summer. They need to clear Carter's salary off their books.
2. Kirk Hinrich, Bulls
The Bulls flirted with sending Hinrich to the Timberwolves before the trade deadline, but they didn't like what they were offered in return. The current thinking is that Hinrich can rebuild some of his trade value during the remainder of the season and the Bulls can try again this summer.
They'd like expiring contracts and at least one asset (a pick or a young player) in return. But at the end of the day, I think they'd settle for the cap relief. If they can get Hinrich off the books, they could make a run at Chris Bosh in the summer of 2010.
3. Jerry Stackhouse, Mavericks
Stackhouse is slated to make $7.2 million next season, but only $2 million of his salary is guaranteed. For teams looking to clear some immediate cap space or get some luxury tax relief, he'll be very popular. Look for a few teams trying to save money -- like the Suns, Hornets, Wizards and Bucks -- to make a hard run at him.
4. Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw, Blazers
Blake and Outlaw are in a similar position to Stackhouse. Together they are slated to make $7.6 million next season. However, their salaries are not guaranteed for the season. That means a team could trade for Blake and Outlaw and, if it were to waive them, cut $7.6 million from its payroll. Both players have big roles on the Blazers, but Kevin Pritchard could be inclined to trade them if the package was sweet enough.
5. Richard Jefferson, Bucks
The Bucks thought they had a chance to move Jefferson before the deadline -- the Blazers, Cavs and Spurs all showed some interest -- but nothing happened. Now they have a dilemma this summer. Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions will be restricted free agents, and with Andrew Bogut's extension kicking in this summer, they can't afford all of those players. Something will have to give.
Expect the Bucks to shop Jefferson hard in the summer. If they can get a 2010 expiring contract in return, that might convince owner Herb Kohl to spend on Villanueva and Sessions.
6. Tyson Chandler, Hornets
The Hornets are in a tough pinch because they will exceed the luxury tax threshold next year once Chris Paul's new contract kicks in. They traded Chandler to Oklahoma City, but the Thunder rescinded the deal based on some concerns about Chandler's turf toe injury.
The Hornets (and Chandler) don't believe his injury issues are significant and they'll try to trade him again as soon as the season is over. Expect them to target Indiana and Dallas.
7. Chris Kaman, Clippers
While teams remain more interested in Marcus Camby, both because he's a better player and because his contract expires in the summer of 2010, the guy the Clippers would prefer to move is Kaman.
Kaman's contract (three years, $34 million left after this season) is a tough sell, but he's a big guy who can play. With so many teams hurting in the middle, someone might take a chance on him.
8. Earl Watson, Thunder
Watson has a lot of value for two reasons. First, his contract expires in the summer of 2010. Second, he's a point guard who can help anchor a team for a season.
The Thunder are moving in a direction where they don't need Watson anymore, so I expect that he'll be moved if they can get a pick or a young player in return.
9. Amare Stoudemire, Suns
The Suns shopped Stoudemire hard until the last week of the trade deadline, then pulled back after firing Terry Porter. In two games under new coach Alvin Gentry, Stoudemire looked great. But then came Friday's news that he could miss the rest of the season because of an eye injury.
The Suns still desperately need to clear roughly $7-8 million in cap space this summer. And if they can't find a new home for Shaq, Stoudemire could be back on the block. However, with Stoudemire expected to hit free agency in 2010, teams may not be willing to give up much for a one-year rental.
10. Chris Bosh, Raptors
Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo swatted away a number of Bosh rumors in February, but he knows he has a tough decision to make at some point. With Bosh expected to opt out in 2010, the Raptors know there's a good shot he'll leave for a team better positioned to win -- New York, Miami and Chicago all come to mind.
If Colangelo trades him this summer, he could get back an important piece to help rebuild his team. But if he waits and rolls the dice that he'll be able to re-sign him, and then loses Bosh for nothing, the Raptors will take a major step backward.
I said there was only a 5 percent chance of him being traded at the deadline. I'd increase that to 25 percent this summer.
Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.
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