Then there are the Jazz, which have been playing some of the best ball in the league, but still retain overlap at power forward with Paul Millsap and Carlos Boozer.
Although getting below the tax is a longshot in Utah, a Boozer trade could reduce the burden and would not be out of the question, because there is practically no way the Jazz can afford to re-sign him next summer as a free agent.
Similarly, although the Suns have little chance of sneaking back below the tax for cost-conscious owner Robert Sarver, there are machinations with Stoudemire that could lower the tax bill.
Then there is the old-school perspective to all of this, of trades based solely on the standings: Contenders looking to bolster, stragglers looking to shed.
From the latter group, it would appear highly unlikely that the Wizards will be featuring both Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison after the deadline. Clearly, Flip Saunders will be working with a different canvas next season. A selloff that gains Tracy McGrady's expiring contract could be among the options. (And, yes, there is no rule barring the Wizards from trading the rights to Gilbert Arenas, although his hideous contract probably would preclude such a move.)
Similarly, the Eddie Jordan marriage is not working in Philadelphia, which does not bode well for Andre Iguodala or Samuel Dalembert. The 76ers already have Iverson; is T-Mac the next part of the legends tour?
When it comes to selloffs, Troy Murphy in Indiana, Tayshaun Prince in Detroit and, possibly, the Clippers' Marcus Camby could be sent to greener pastures.
As for the buyers, Dallas hardly stands as the lone shaky contender.
Clearly something is off in Boston, which could find the answer in the return of Marquis Daniels, or which could pull the trigger with Ray Allen's expiring contract. Could James Posey II be in the offing?
Elsewhere in the East, Dan Gilbert appreciates the any-cost approach in retaining LeBron, which figures to keep Jamison and Iguodala on the Cavaliers' radar.
By contrast, despite the need to eventually upgrade on Derek Fisher, the Lakers appear to be moving toward cost containment, which could mean standing pat and waiting for Kobe to heal.
In the end, dollars, more than desperation and dominance, figure to dictate deadline decisions.
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
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