ESPN Insider breaks down some teams and what they could do and how they could do it. So here's the list:
New Jersey Nets
Why? Because the defending Eastern Conference champs are just 7-11. Without Alonzo Mourning or Dikembe Mutombo, the team is very vulnerable in the middle. With a looming sale, at some point the team is going to have to think about cutting some costs.
How? The only obvious answer is to move Kenyon Martin. Martin becomes a restricted free agent next summer, and it has become pretty clear the Nets aren't interested in throwing huge amounts of cash his way. Their payroll is already out of control as it is. Maybe it's time to see if the Nets can reunite Martin with Eddie Jordan. A trade of Martin and Kerry Kittles to Washington for Jerry Stackhouse, Kwame Brown and Brevin Knight seems to make sense for everyone. The trade gives the Nets good players and cap relief. After that, the Nets may have to hunker down and wait for Serbian center Nenad Kristic to wash ashore this summer.
Why? The trade for Jalen Rose and Donyell Marshall will address their scoring woes, but it left a gaping hole in the middle of their defense. For now, rookie Chris Bosh is manning the middle. But on most nights, that's not a favorable matchup for the Raptors.
How? The Raptors still have assets that could be moved. Several teams have shown interest in Morris Peterson and Michael Bradley, who both happen to be in the last year of their deals. A Peterson-for-Michael Doleac swap seems to make a lot of sense for both the Raptors and Knicks.
New York Knicks
Why? With the return of Antonio McDyess, the Knicks have some spare parts they could move. They have a shot at the playoffs right now, but with a little extra juice, they could be a contender.
How? The Knicks, for the first time in awhile, have some tradeable assets. Charlie Ward is playing well and is in the last year of his contract. Kurt Thomas is among the league leaders in rebounding, and plenty of teams have interest in Doleac, who just so happens to be in the last year of his deal, too. Could a combo of Ward and Doleac help the Knicks swing a deal for a younger player like Derek Anderson? With the Blazers looking for cap space, they'd seriously consider a deal like that.
Why? There's no one on the team right now supporting Paul Pierce on the offensive end. The loss of Antoine Walker has Pierce facing triple-teams on a nightly basis. New team president Danny Ainge knows his team lacks the talent to be competitive and is aggressively pursuing trades.
How? The Celtics were in the mix for both Donyell Marshall and Bonzi Wells but couldn't pull enough together to get a trade done. Their three most tradeable assets right now are Eric Williams, Chris Mills and Tony Battie. Williams and Mills are in the last year of their deals, making them attractive. Battie can play center and makes a reasonable amount of cash. Pool them together, and the Celtics have $16.4 million worth of tradeable salaries and around $11 million in cap relief for a team looking to save some money. If the Celtics were willing to throw in a No. 1 pick, wouldn't Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ricky Davis for Williams, Mills and Battie make some sense? The Celtics would get some serious offensive firepower, and the Cavs could get $15 million under the cap next year and subtract two players who don't seem to fit in Paul Silas' system.
Why? They're in the midst of a 17-game losing streak. Need we say more?
How? That's a tough one. The Magic don't want to trade Tracy McGrady, and they can't trade Grant Hill. That accounts for more than half their payroll. Their best chance at making something happen would be to package Juwan Howard (eligible to be traded Dec. 15) and Gordan Giricek for either a center or a point guard. Could that combo get them either Brent Barry or Jerome James from Seattle?
Why? LeBron James is already the best player on the team. But where's his help? Right now, Carlos Boozer is the only other Cav who really looks like a keeper. The Cavs have the second-worst record in the East, and coach Paul Silas is starting to lose his patience.
How? The one thing the Cavs do have is assets. Ricky Davis, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Darius Miles and Chris Mihm are all attractive trade bait. I don't think they should trade all of them, but moving one or two for cap room isn't a bad idea.
Why? Opportunity. The Sonics are playing well, but once Ray Allen comes back, they'll have a logjam in the backcourt. They need help at the four and five and seem to have the assets to make a trade work.
How? With Ronald Murray looking like the point guard of the future, the should Sonics package Brent Barry with one of their overpaid big men and bring in a legit power forward to help out Vladimir Radmanovic. Two trades that still make sense? Barry for the Pacers' Al Harrington or a combo of Barry, Jerome James and Radmanovic for the Hawks' Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
Why? Despite its undeniable success, the team is going to need help in the backcourt if it plans to go deep in the playoffs. Once Jonathan Bender returns, the Pacers will have a serious frontcourt logjam.
How? In the past, Austin Croshere was the trade bait. However, Rick Carlisle likes him, and with Croshere's big contract, he's tough to trade, anyway. The Pacers love Al Harrington and claim they haven't given up on Jamaal Tinsley, but if they could package those guys and get a top-notch combo guard like Brent Barry or a point guard like Eric Snow, they'd have to consider it.
Why? Because they're going nowhere fast. With new ownership now in place, it's just a matter of time before Steve Belkin & Co. start cutting payroll and rebuilding the team.
How? There's a lot of interest in Abdur-Rahim and Theo Ratliff. If the Hawks can get cap room, draft picks and young prospects in return, will they bite?