Marlon Scott

Senior Staff Writer

The NBA trade deadline is eight days away; which means until midnight Thursday, Feb. 24, the general managers of all the NBA franchises will be trying to justify their paycheck.

Teams on the edge of contending in the playoffs are looking for a piece to make them contenders. Contenders are searching for the key to a championship. Even the teams at the bottom of the rankings are looking to rebuild by dumping contracts and unwanted veterans.

While there are myriad trade possibilities unfolding until the deadline, some story lines currently buzzing at the top of the list.

The word trade currently can’t be mentioned without the name Carmelo Anthony in the same sentence. The Denver Nugget forward is the hottest commodity on the market right now. However, it also appears to be the hardest trade to get done.

Rumors about offers from every contender in the league have surfaced at some point including a recent offer from the Lakers, which has subsequently been denied (apparently things have been discussed, but no offer was officially made). What has been confirmed is the New York Knicks are pushing the hardest to get Anthony.

Their most recent offer sent Knicks’ forward Wilson Chandler to Denver, Knicks’ power forward Anthony Randolph, center Eddy Curry to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Timberwolves’ guard Corey Brewer and a first round pick to Denver.

However, the Timberwolves who admitted they want Randolph from the Knicks, turned down the deal. In the meantime, Anthony is making over $17 million this year and has already been offered a 3-year, $65 million extension to stay in Denver. Anthony recently admitted he would consider the extension if a trade is not made by deadline.

As the deadline looms ahead, two things will not change. Anthony has the last word on any trade and the Knicks currently have the most to offer.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Cleveland Cavaliers are tying up phone lines to make moves to help them rebuild. Their most valuable option is forward Antawn Jamison. Jamison is averaging 17.6 points a game along with 6.6 rebounds, but he is 35 and tied to $30 million until 2012.

To balance the salary cap, another team would need to give up a marquee player, which Jamison is not worth or multiple players they can afford to lose. Cleveland is willing to sweeten the deal with guard Anthony Parker, but teams would rather deal for Parker alone which obviously leaves the Cavs with an aging Jamison when they want to instead rebuild with younger players.

One older player who is not going anywhere before deadline is 37-year old guard Steve Nash. Despite offers and fans wanting to unload Nash now in hopes of getting another piece to make a push for the championship this year. The Suns’ management have stated they will explore Nash’s value in the offseason.

While the Lakers have denied making any official offers to include center Andrew Bynam in a trade for Anthony, the rumors about trading forward Ron Artest have not dissipated. Artest is averaging only 8 points and 3 rebounds per game.

His defensive skills make him an asset for the team, but Artest has expressed unhappiness because he feels he has been the scapegoat for the Lakers troubles on the court. The question is what team wants the notoriously moody Artest?

The last three players on struggling teams who could move and tip the scales on a good team are forward Gerald Wallace, guard Stephen Jackson and guard Richard Hamilton. Wallace and Jackson are the Charlotte Bobcats top scorers. Jackson is the oldest member of the team at 32 and is due to make $8.5 million this year. Wallace is 28 and is due just under $10 million.

It is no secret Hamilton wants out of Detroit for a chance at another ring. He still has the ability to produce numbers to help an eighth seed in the playoffs looking for an edge.

However, he suffered a recent injury and has proven fragile in the past. He also comes at a hefty price with a contract paying $12.7 million a year until 2013. The Pistons may need to sweeten the deal with others like forward Tayshaun Prince.

These names are the top of a huge list of possibilities that will continue to grow and change as the deadline gets closer. The only sure thing is anything is possible until midnight, Thursday, Feb. 24. TAS