Expiring contracts…who’s got ’em?

The NBA trade deadline is less than a month away, so it’s a good time to talk expiring contracts. These are players that are in the final year of their deals, which makes them trade fodder for teams looking to cut salary this summer. I’ll list each player by contract size, whether or not he can still play, and discuss the possibility that they’ll be traded by the trade deadline. I’ll also dig into the strategy that their current teams should and/or could be utilizing when considering a trade.

All salary data is from HoopsHype, and I’ll assume – given the bad economy – that the cap will stay at about $59 million next season. (In fact, it might even be lowered.)

Allen Iverson, Pistons
Salary: $21.9 million
Detroit is 20-15 since trading for AI, and considering the franchises successful run over the past few season, that’s disappointing. But the Pistons didn’t make this trade to acquire AI, they made the trade to rid themselves of Chauncey Billups’ contract, which runs through 2011. Was this wise? Probably not, at least in the short term. Billups is one of the top point guards in the league and is doing great things with his new team. But since the Pistons like what Rodney Stuckey can do (and justifiably so), Billups became expendable. GM Joe Dumars made the deal to give the team the financial flexibility to retool the roster over the next two summers, and with Iverson and Rasheed Wallace coming off the books, the Pistons will have about $26 million to spend this summer. They could opt to sign Carlos Boozer, but would likely have to pony up big bucks to do so. He would probably start at $14 million, so that would leave $12 million to re-sign the 34 year-old Wallace or another center. The team could conceivably sign Boozer, then wait a year, let Rip Hamilton’s contract expire, and then sign Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire in the summer of 2010, giving the team a core of Stuckey, Boozer, Tayshaun Prince and either Bosh or Stoudemire to build around. Not bad. Considering the main reason the Pistons traded for AI was to cut salary, the chances of them trading him (and taking on salary in return) aren’t good. (Though a Marion-for-Iverson swap might help both teams in the short term.)
Chances of being traded: Low

Jason Kidd, Mavs
Salary: $21.3 million
Ah the Mavs. Every time I see Kidd’s name I think of Devin Harris and the 22 points and six assists he’s averaging this season for the Nets. That was a horrible trade (even at the time) and the Mavs aren’t any better now than they were a season ago. Unless they buck the odds and make a run to the Finals, that trade will go down as one of the worst of recent memory. (Don’t forget that the Mavs threw in two first round picks as well.) Anyway, it seems unlikely that anyone would want Kidd’s giant salary at this point. He’s still an above average starting point guard, but that’s about it. He could help a team make a playoff run – Miami jumps to mind – but his value is limited after this season. A Marion/Kidd trade is unlikely because that would leave the Mavs without a dependable point guard for their own postseason run. My guess is that Dallas stands pat, the Mavs are ushered out of the first round of the playoffs, and he signs elsewhere next season (or maybe re-signs with the Mavs for much, much less).
Chances of being traded: Low

Stephon Marbury, Knicks
Salary: $20.8 million
What’s there to write about Starbury that hasn’t already been written? The Knicks don’t want him, but no one else does either, so the parties need to come to a buyout agreement to end the stalemate. If that happens, it looks like the Celtics are willing to roll the dice and give him an opportunity to resurrect his career. The Heat need a point guard and would seem like another possibility, but that’s pure conjecture.
Chances of being traded: Slim

Shawn Marion, Heat
Salary: $17.2 million
Of all the guys on this list, the Matrix has the most trade buzz surrounding him. His production is down and he just doesn’t seem like a good fit in Miami. The Heat need a center and a point guard, and are reportedly considering a deal that would send Marion to Toronto for Jermaine O’Neal. The Heat might opt to take on O’Neal’s contract (which runs through the 2010 season) because they no longer see Boozer as a good fit, since he plays the same position as Michael Beasley. The ultimate goal is to sign Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire in the summer of 2010, and acquiring O’Neal would give them an inside presence for the next two seasons, assuming he can stay healthy. Marion is a valuable trade commodity because he still has some good basketball in him and has the type of complementary game that fits well with others.
Chances of being traded: High

Mike Bibby, Hawks
Salary: $15.2 million
Bibby is staying put. The Hawks are in the thick of the playoff race in the East and Bibby’s resurgence is a big reason why. He could be playing well because he’s in a contract year, but he also has had a season to get comfortable in Atlanta. Either way, the Hawks aren’t going to move him before the deadline unless they’re offered a deal they can’t refuse.
Chances of being traded: Slim

Rasheed Wallace, Pistons
Salary: $13.7 million
Wallace is 34 and his game seems to be fading. His PER (14.54) indicates that he’s just an average starting center at this point of his career. Still, he could be useful to another team for a playoff run, though he’s just as useful to the Pistons, so it is unlikely that they’ll move him.
Chances of being traded: Low

Wally Szczerbiak, Cavs
Salary: $13.0 million
Wally is becoming one of those players that are more famous for their contracts than they are for their ability. Sure, he’ll make a few shots and post the occasional nice game, but his PER (11.35) proves that he is a shell of the player he once was. The Cavs seem reluctant to fix something that’s not broken, but maybe the 17-point lambasting they took at the hands of the Lakers will convince them that they should continue to try to make the team better. Since he’s clearly on the decline, whatever team that’s interested in trading for Szczerbiak would want to do one thing – cut salary. That means whomever the Cavs would be getting in return would probably be a bit overpaid and in a long term contract. This could affect the Cavs’ ability to potentially sign a player like Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire in the summer of 2010. Cleveland is in a tough position, however. They (probably) need to make a run to the Finals in the next two seasons to keep LeBron, but they don’t want to do anything drastic that would limit their options in 2010 when they could potentially pair their superstar with the likes of Bosh or Stoudemire. Ideally, the Cavs would move Wally to add a good player who has a contract that expires in 2010 or earlier. That’s going to be tough to do since there won’t be much incentive for the trade partner to strike a deal.
Chances of being traded: Moderate

Raef LaFrentz, Blazers
Salary: $12.7 million
Portland needs a point guard and they could use LaFrentz’s expiring salary to acquire one. But their trade partner would need to be a non-playoff team looking to cut salary, and there aren’t too many of those out there. The Blazers might be content to let LaFrentz’s salary expire and put themselves in position to make a splash this summer or next.
Chances of being traded: Low

Steve Nash, Suns
Salary: $12.3 million
The Suns are a playoff team and Nash is still a key cog in that machine. He is not going anywhere this season, but the team holds his option for another year, so if the Suns flame out in the playoffs again, it might be time to blow this thing up.
Chances of being traded: Slim

Carlos Boozer, Jazz
Salary: $11.6 million
Boozer has a player option for another year, but he has already stated that he plans to opt out after the season. He has missed much of this season with injury, and just had arthroscopic surgery on his knee. He hopes to be back by the All-Star break, which is right before the trade deadline. Utah wants him back, but there’s a reasonable possibility that he’ll sign elsewhere. Miami no longer seems to think he’s a good fit (since they view Michael Beasley as a power forward), so Boozer’s biggest suitor has probably been crossed off the list. The Jazz are in a tough spot because they think they can re-sign him – and they may be able to. But that means they probably won’t get too involved in any trade discussions. With the Heat (likely) bowing out, the chances that the Jazz can re-sign him have increased, which means they are likely to wait until the end of the season to deal with him. At 27, he’s right in the middle of his prime and is one of those players that are likely to command a max contract, but with his injury history, he probably isn’t worth one. The Jazz may have to pony up max dollars out of fear that he’ll sign elsewhere.
Chances of being traded: Slim

Lamar Odom, Lakers
Salary: $11.4 million
The Lakers seem content to stand pat as this current rotation has resulted in one of the league’s best records. But Odom is coming off the bench and is having the worst statistical season of his career. Since he can’t shoot, they can’t play Odom alongside Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, so one of the three have to sit in crunch time. Lately, it’s been Odom getting those minutes (and Bynum on the bench), so the team clearly trusts him down the stretch. If they elect not to trade him and they don’t ultimately win a title, then they would have missed an opportunity to add someone like Ron Artest (last season) or Shawn Marion (this season?), who may have put them over the hump. In that event, Odom would be likely to sign elsewhere because the Lakers aren’t going to pay a reserve what he’ll be asking.
Chances of being traded: Low

Andre Miller, Sixers
Salary: $10.0 million
When Philly got off to a slow start, there was some talk that the Sixers might move Miller since he’s in the last year of his contract. But since Brand went down with an injury, the team is 9-7 and during a recent seven-game win streak, Miller averaged 17.0 points, 6.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. The addition of Brand hasn’t gone as smoothly as hoped, but the Sixers are currently in the playoff hunt and the franchise will want to see how this group finishes the season. Good point guards are hard to find, so there’s no real reason to move Miller at this point.
Chances of being traded: Low

Ron Artest, Rockets
Salary: $8.4 million
Artest isn’t going anywhere. The Rockets are in the thick of the playoff hunt and they’ll need his toughness in the postseason.
Chances of being traded: Slim

Other players with expiring contracts: Rasho Nesterovic (Pacers, $8.4 million); Malik Rose (Knicks, $7.6 million); Drew Gooden (Bulls, $7.1 million); Marquis Daniels (Pacers, $6.9 million); Chris Wilcox (Thunder, $6.8 million); Bobby Jackson (Kings, $6.1 million); Stromile Swift (Nets, $6.2 million); Desmond Mason (Thunder, $5.3 million); Joe Smith (Thunder, $4.8 million); Anthony Parker (Raptors, $4.6 million); Damon Jones (Bucks, $4.5 million)

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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