Interest in Golden State center is there

As the NBA's trade deadline approaches, few players are drawing more interest than Golden State's Clifford Robinson.

League sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that "more than five teams" are considering bids for Robinson and that the 38-year-old is "almost certain" to be moved by the Warriors before the Feb. 24 deadline.

Robinson, at this stage of his career, is a defensive specialist who can guard big men of various sizes and still occupy defenses occasionally with his shooting range. Minnesota's Kevin Garnett once described Robinson as "hands-down the best defensive player in the league."

After unexpectedly emerging as the Warriors' starting center for much of the season, the 6-foot-10, 240-pounder also holds appeal in the trade market because his salary is reasonable ($5.3 million) and because his contract expires at season's end.

New Jersey has shown interest in Robinson for weeks, even before the Nets began to climb in the Atlantic Division standings behind a rejuvenated Vince Carter. It remains to be seen if the Nets are prepared to add another center after claiming Elden Campbell on waivers, but sources say they'll face competition from a clutch of Western Conference clubs if they do continue to pursue Robinson.

San Antonio, Houston and Minnesota are also among the interested, according to sources. The Spurs have been particularly active in the search for frontcourt depth, as they await word on a possible comeback by Karl Malone.

Yet with Malone unsure if he wants to make another title run or stay retired, and with Toronto said to be increasingly reluctant to move Donyell Marshall, Robinson could become their best option. The Spurs, also looking to trim payroll, have had veteran forward Malik Rose on the trading block since last season, which creates the possibility of a Rose-for-Robinson swap if the Warriors are willing to absorb Rose's contract.

Cleveland and Miami, meanwhile, are the East playoff contenders looking hardest for depth on the front line.

Robinson is expected to return to Golden State's lineup Friday at New Orleans after completing a five-game suspension for noncompliance with the league's drug policy.

According to agent Brad Marshall, Robinson received the suspension not for substance abuse but for missing a check-in phone call required by the aftercare guidelines of Robinson's marijuana suspension in 2001.

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.