Commentary

Trade Watch: Top big men on the block

Originally Published: January 29, 2009
By Chad Ford | ESPN.com

Jermaine O'NealAP Photo/David ZalubowskiHeath concerns and a high salary tamp down interest in Jermaine O'Neal.
On Tuesday we broke down the top point guards on the trading block and on Wednesday we did the same for the top wings. Today we turn to the bigs -- power forwards and centers. They are typically the most coveted prizes in any deal, and because of that, blockbuster trades involving elite big men just don't happen very often. Still, there's an unusual amount of buzz this season concerning some pretty impressive ones.

We spoke with a number of NBA general managers and player agents to get a take on who might be moved before the Feb. 19 trade deadline. Here's our take on who's available.

Top bigs on the block

Jermaine O'Neal, Raptors
O'Neal was traded last June. And now, with this trade deadline swirling, he is at the center of the storm again. The Raptors are ready to move him and develop Andrea Bargnani at the 5. But can the Raptors find someone willing to pay the injury-prone O'Neal $30 million over the next season and a half?

The Heat have shown the most interest. The Knicks and the Bulls also might make some sense.

Chance of trade: 60 percent



Marcus Camby, Clippers
Camby has been a strange fit in Los Angeles from the start. And with Zach Randolph now at the 4 and Chris Kaman also at the 5, Camby's long-term fit is a question mark.

Given his appeal around the league as a rebounding and shot-blocking machine, he's drawing a lot of inquiries. A number of teams would love to have him, especially when you factor in that his salary will drop to less than $10 million next season. With the Clippers trying to save money any way they can, you've got to believe Camby has a good shot of moving before Feb. 19.

Chance of trade: 55 percent



Raef LaFrentz, Blazers
LaFrentz has what NBA GMs are calling a "super-expiring contract." Not only does his $12.7 million salary come off the books this summer, but insurance is paying 80 percent of it. Add in that the Blazers have other young players like Sergio Rodriguez, Channing Frye and Travis Outlaw whom they could throw in a deal, and a team looking to clear some cap space and develop young talent would have to take a hard look at a deal with Portland.

The biggest question surrounding a Blazers deal at the moment: Does any GM in the league really want to do Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard any favors after his team threatened to sue all the owners in the league over the Darius Miles fiasco? More than one GM has told me no.

Chance of trade: 50 percent



Brad Miller, Kings
Miller is big and can still be productive when he's healthy. While he's overpaid, the good news is that his contract is done in 2010. The Kings are willing to move him to create more time for Spencer Hawes. So do we have a taker?

A team like the Pacers would be an obvious fit, but they can't afford to take on his salary. The Heat have been eyeing Miller. Ditto for the Bulls. But will trading for Miller really put either team over the top?

Chance of trade: 45 percent



David Lee, Knicks
Lee has been fantastic this season in Mike D'Antoni's system. The problem is the Knicks can't afford to pay him this summer when he hits restricted free agency. So the team is trying to figure out a way to either move another big contract like Eddy Curry's or (at the very least) Jared Jeffries'. If they can't, they might have no choice but to move Lee.

It will be a blow to the Knicks' rebuilding effort, but signing him to a deal worth $8 million a year could blow their chances of having enough room to lure LeBron James and someone else in 2010.

Chance of trade: 40 percent



Antawn Jamison, Wizards
Jamison signed a four-year, $50 million extension this past summer. Jamison has been solid, but his team is terrible, and the Wizards are showing no signs of pulling out of this tailspin.

If they can package Jamison's contract with Etan Thomas' or Darius Songaila's for an expiring deal, it would save them a lot of money in the long run.

Chance of trade: 35 percent



Charlie Villanueva, Bucks
Villanueva was on the block before Michael Redd tore his ACL. Now the team might have no choice but to keep him around. Without him, the entire scoring load would fall on Richard Jefferson and Andrew Bogut. Villanueva is having the best season of his career and looks promising enough that the Bucks probably won't trade him.

However, there is a caveat. Given the financial situation of small-market teams like the Bucks, can they afford to keep him? Their payroll is at $64 million next season before they decide what to do with Villanueva and Ramon Sessions. Will Herb Kohl be willing to fork over the cash for a team that looks like a borderline playoff team? If the answer is no, it's better to trade him now and package him with a salary they want to get rid of or trade him for assets.

Chance of trade: 30 percent



Carlos Boozer, Jazz
Boozer and the Jazz are in a predicament. Boozer was planning to opt out this summer, but an injury has put that plan in doubt. Meanwhile, Paul Millsap has turned into a borderline All-Star and hits restricted free agency this summer. Can the Jazz afford to keep both Boozer and Millsap? Most GMs don't think so, with several expecting Millsap to get an offer that exceeds the midlevel exception.

With the Jazz's payroll for next season coming very close to the luxury-tax threshold without factoring in Millsap's likely new contract, there's a problem. Several GMs are adamant that the Jazz will move Boozer. The problem is, no one wants to give up anything for him until they know he's healthy and know what his intentions are this summer. Whether that all gets resolved by the trade deadline or whether it spills over into the summer remains to be seen.

Chance of trade: 25 percent



Elton Brand, Sixers
The Sixers are experiencing quite a bit of buyer's remorse after giving Brand an $80 million contract this past summer. Brand has been awful in the early going. To make matters worse, he struggles to play the style the rest of the team wants to play. More and more, it's looking like a bad fit for both parties. I've heard rumblings over the past few weeks that the Sixers would let Brand go for expiring contracts and a future pick -- a pretty small price for the most coveted free agent of last summer.

But will anyone want to take on his contract at this point? The Heat's Pat Riley has always been a fan. The Pistons are looking for a dominant big, too. A Chicago homecoming isn't out of the question either. And the Cavs might be willing to roll the dice, although that's a lot of money to gamble with. Will any GM or owner in the league have the guts to pull the trigger?

Chance of trade: 20 percent



Marvin Williams, Hawks
Williams starts at the 3 for the Hawks but can also play the 4 in a small-ball lineup. He is the guy the Hawks infamously took instead of Chris Paul in 2005.

While Williams has been solid, he hasn't been great. And the Hawks will have a tough decision to make with him hitting restricted free agency this summer. The team already is cash-strapped. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith have huge deals. Mike Bibby will also be a free agent. Ditto for Josh Childress. And sooner than later, they're going to have to pay Al Horford.

All of that has led to some rumblings around the league that Williams is available in return for a lottery pick and a little cap relief. My source in Atlanta denies it, but it's something to keep an eye on.

Chance of trade: 15 percent



Amare Stoudemire, Suns
The Suns are the most talented mess in basketball. Some nights, they look like they can beat anyone. Other nights, they get outplayed by the Knicks. A lot of this has to do with a general malaise that has overcome the team. The Suns loved playing for Mike D'Antoni and the freedom he gave them. Terry Porter? Not so much.

Stoudemire will become a free agent in 2010, and if things keep going south in Phoenix, the Suns stand a big chance of losing him. So GM Steve Kerr has a tough call to make. Do they fire the coach and bring in someone who can make the players happier? Or do they blow up the team and start rebuilding? If it's the latter, virtually every team in the league will be lined up for Stoudemire.

Chance of trade: 10 percent



Chris Bosh, Raptors
Speaking of messes, the one in Toronto might be the stickiest. It's looking clearer to outside observers that Bosh is pretty set on testing the free-agent waters in the summer of 2010. Given what the Raptors have and what other teams will have to offer, it's not a stretch to say the chances of the Raptors retaining him don't look so good right now.

That leaves GM Bryan Colangelo in a tough position. Trade him and get criticized for giving away the franchise player. Don't trade him and get criticized for not being able to re-sign him. If the Raptors could get a blockbuster offer for Bosh, they probably would have to entertain it. Anything short of that and I think Colangelo will take his chances.

Chance of trade: 5 percent

Others who might be moved: Rasheed Wallace, Pistons; Samuel Dalembert, Sixers; Eddy Curry, Knicks; Darko Milicic, Grizzlies; Chris Wilcox, Thunder; Joe Smith, Thunder; Channing Frye, Blazers; Ike Diogu, Blazers; Sean May, Bobcats; Drew Gooden, Bulls; Tyrus Thomas, Bulls; Joakim Noah, Bulls; Rasho Nesterovic, Pacers; Jeff Foster, Pacers.

Chad Ford covers the NBA for ESPN Insider.

Chad Ford

Senior Writer, NBA Insider