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Insider: Target Practice

Legend
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Insider: Target Practice

So here's an early Top 10 Most Likely to be Traded List as we slog through the summer of David Lee's Personal Economic Recession:

McGrady
1. Tracy McGrady, Rockets
Remember last February how the Portland Trail Blazers were describing Raef LaFrentz's expiring deal as a "super-expiring" contract, because not only was it coming off the books; insurance was paying the tab. The Blazers ended up valuing it too high and were unable to move it for Vince Carter or Richard Jefferson, so it'll be interesting to see how much value Rockets GM Daryl Morey will place on McGrady's expiring deal. (Currently, Houston's front office is calling it a "super-duper expiring contract.")

McGrady's $23.2 million salary will come off the books in the summer of '10, and McGrady (don't laugh here) could make the difference for a legit title contender (OK, we take that back, history permits you to laugh) if he's back from microfracture surgery by January and can show something in the weeks leading up to the deadline.

Curry
2. Eddy Curry, Knicks
Donnie Walsh will be in uber-desperation mode by the trade deadline, and he'll give the chubby kid away for a bag of basketballs if he's able to take back expiring contracts that'll enable him to go after a second max-level free agent next July. The chubby part will be key, however, because although Curry reportedly showed up 30 pounds lighter when he checked in with the Knicks in Vegas, he declined their request to play in summer league games. Team insiders say he has another 20 pounds to go -- at a minimum -- before he's down near his listed weight of 285.

Richardson
3. Quentin Richardson, Timberwolves
This, of course, assumes that Richardson has not been dealt elsewhere by February -- which we should probably expect to happen given the fact that the guy has been traded three times already this summer, all the deals involving some of the league's most downtrodden teams and biggest busts of the past decade. To quote Bill Simmons' most recent and super-entertaining NBA column, "Basically, you can tie every single bad thing that happened in the NBA this past decade to Richardson with 10 or fewer words [and Simmons references Darko Milicic, Zach Randolph, the Knicks-Nuggets brawl, Anucha Browne Sanders, Ruben Patterson, Donald Sterling, Robert Sarver and more in backing up that statement]. Call it Two Degrees of Quentin Richardson."

Thomas
4. Kenny Thomas, Kings
The Knicks were checking up on him earlier this summer while second-guessing themselves for not acquiring him last January when they could have had his 2010 expiring contract in exchange for Nate Robinson (not D-Antoni's favorite all-time player) and Jared Jeffries, who, along with his cap-killing sidekick, Curry, combine to take up nearly 40 percent of the Knicks' 2010-11 cap.

If I am Geoff Petrie, by February the price of acquiring Thomas in a Jeffries dump will have escalated, and I'll be asking for Jordan Hill in the package, too. I'd also ask for the Knicks' upcoming No.1 pick, but that lottery-bound prize is long gone, Isiah Thomas having sent it to Phoenix in the Stephon Marbury deal. If Walsh ever dangles his '12 pick, maybe he can get someone to take Curry/Jeffries.

Johnson
5. Anthony Johnson, Magic
Back in 2000, Johnson was the only player to be dealt on trade deadline day, going from Atlanta to Orlando for a conditional future second-round draft pick. Stan Van Gundy had no use for him in the Finals after AJ had been a rock for the Magic through the first three rounds of the playoffs (Yes, Stan had to play Jameer Nelson. But couldn't AJ have gotten a sniff when Rafer Alston was struggling?), and somebody in contention and playing on tilt will want some veteran insurance at the point (that could be you, Bryan Colangelo, when you look down your bench and take a long, hard gaze at Roko Ukic. Just be prepared to throw in a healthy chunk of cash to help Magic owner Rich DeVos tackle his luxury-tax tab). We also should note here that the Miami Heat have a $4.26 million trade exception (Marcus Banks) that expires next Feb. 15, and Portland has a $2.9 million exception (Ike Diogu) that expires Feb 18.

Battie
6. Tony Battie, Nets
As we approach the midpoint of the Summer of Gortat, let us all pause for a minute to recall how Marcin Gortat was such an offensive liability in the Twin Towers alignment Stan Van Gundy used in the Finals that he instead turned to Battie, who was jettisoned in the Vince Carter trade. Battie has an expiring $6.3 million deal, and there will be interest from undersized legit contenders (the Lakers post-Odom?) willing to toss $3 million in cash the Nets' way. (On a related and half-serious note, by mid-February we also expect the layoff-happy Nets to have fewer total front-office employees than roster spots). Battie can still bang, and he can still knock down the 19-footer.

Dampier
7. Erick Dampier, Mavericks
Mark Cuban has been dying to get rid of him since not long after the fateful summer of 2004 in which he ended up with the 7-footer as his consolation prize after refusing to match what the Phoenix Suns were offering Steve Nash. Dampier's $13.1 million salary for 2010-11 is non-guaranteed, so teams seeking to clear cap space should be willing to pay a premium to acquire an expiring deal of this size. (Remember, the Nets had to toss in building block Ryan Anderson to get Orlando to take Carter's contract off their hands.) This, of course, assumes that Cuban's Core of Geriatrics hasn't broken down by mid-February.

Chandler
8. Wilson Chandler, Knicks
Hate to keep getting back to all these Knicks possibilities, but unless and until Donnie Walsh refocuses his sights on the summer of '11, he will be diligent in his efforts to clear cap space for a second heavy hitter in the summer of '10. In late June, New York could have had Jeffries and Chandler off its '10-11 cap in exchange for the No. 5 pick (which became Ricky Rubio) and Etan Thomas, but Washington bailed when the Knicks tried to make it a bigger deal. Of the six players Walsh has under contract for '10-11 (Curry, Jeffries, Chandler, Jordan Hill, Toney Douglas and Danilo Gallinari), only the Italian kid is considered untouchable. Chandler has some actual value, and to a lesser degree so do Chris Duhon (expiring $6.03 contract) and the insurance-covered expiring deal belonging to Cuttino Mobley ($9.5 million).

Mohammed
9. Nazr Mohammed, Bobcats
At some point in February, Larry Brown should hit the 90 percent mark in terms of turning over his entire roster since coming aboard last fall. It remains to be seen whether owner Bob Johnson, who is selling the franchise, will ante up enough coin later this summer to sign Raymond Felton to an extension (the talks are currently described as "stalemated"), so he could be in play, too, by the time February rolls around. But Mohammed seems a better bet to be dealt, with the market for backup big men always a bit more robust when contenders believe they are only one spare 7-footer away from a championship.

Alston
10. Rafer Alston, Nets
He has an expiring $5.25 million deal, and he'll be as available as he was in Houston last January should some contending team lose its point guard to an injury, After all, plugging in Skip worked for the Magic last season, and you'd imagine at some point next season one of the title contenders is going to have a key injury hole to fill before the playoffs. New Jersey also has Bobby Simmons ($10.6 million), Trenton Hassell ($4.3 million) and Sean Williams ($1.6 million) on expiring deals.


gatorheels
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I wish the Knicks could

I wish the Knicks could trade Jefferies, Duhon, & Chandler

Who in the world would want Mohammed? ha I wouldn't

Giving up Hill would be too much just too get an expiring contract in Kenny Thomas IMO. If I'm the Knicks I don't trade Hill.

Knicksboy34
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Sene got Wavied today.

Sene got Wavied today.

Narc
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I hope the Knicks dont trade

I hope the Knicks dont trade Wilson Chandler. He has a good amount of potential. If he can improve his ball handling, he might be able to move to the 2 spot.

Knicksboy34
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he's gonna play SG this

he's gonna play SG this season

The UnderKanter
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Booze should be traded as well

What about Booze. He should be traded as well, most likely by the trade deadline, if not then he will join the talented free agent class of 2010.

AlexBoii
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Camby

I think Marcus Camby is a prime candidate to be traded as well this season. The Clippers, though bound to make great strides this year are going to roll with a young team going foward. He's also on the final year of his deal, well experienced veteran, and a defensive leader. My prediction is he will be traded to Orlando for Marcin Gortat and JJ Reddick once Gortat becomes trade eligible, simply due to the fact there's is no way he can live up to his contract value expectations long term backing up Howard. Orlando would recognized that, and trade for a player ready to win now. L.A. would land there C for the future, because I believe Kaman would be traded eventually, as him and coach Dunleavy don't see eye-to-eye.

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