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NBA Trade Deadline Watch: Southeast Division

A look at each team in the Southeast Division and what they may be looking to do at February’s trade deadline.

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The NBA season is quickly headed toward the unofficial halfway point with the All-Star break just around the corner. As teams meet up at the midseason classic, trade talks could intensify with representatives from every team in New York for the All-Star festivities. By this point of the season, most teams have figured out if they’re looking to buy or sell at the deadline and will begin to work the phones accordingly.

Basketball Insiders will be running a new series this week that looks at each division and what those teams could do as the trade deadline looms. The Southeast Division is home to some teams that will likely be very active near the deadline, as well as a couple of teams could be staying relatively quiet. Listed under each team will be players on expiring deals, potential expiring deals and players that could be shopped.

Atlanta Hawks

Expiring deals: Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll, Elton Brand, John Jenkins and Pero Antic

Potential expiring deals: Mike Muscala

The Hawks have been one of best teams in the league in the first half of the season and are right behind the Golden State Warriors for the NBA’s best record. The Hawks came into this season opting to keep their team’s core together, only bringing in a couple of new pieces over the summer. The team felt they were comfortable with the players that they had and viewed their chemistry as their best asset. Based off of that same logic, it would appear that the team will likely stay quiet in terms of trades and keep that chemistry going, especially since it has proved to be so successful thus far.

Paul Millsap was one of the biggest questions heading into the season as his two-year deal is set to expire after this year. Many suggested before the season that the Hawks could look to trade Millsap at some point to get some sort of compensation for him rather than potentially losing him for nothing. But given how their season has gone, it is safe to say that Millsap and the rest of the team will likely be in Atlanta all season, barring injuries. This Hawks team is just too good to break up. The only kind of move that seems like a possibility for Atlanta is one that brings in a significant contributor without them having to part ways with any key players – like how the Memphis Grizzlies landed Jeff Green for Tayshaun Prince and a future first-round pick. If the Hawks want to go all-in on this season and try to make a title run, a move like that is possible, but don’t expect any changes to their core.

Charlotte Hornets

Expiring deals: Bismack Biyombo, Gary Neal, Jannero Pargo, Jeffrey Taylor and Jason Maxiell

Potential expiring deals: Al Jefferson and Gerald Henderson

Could be shopped: Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams, Gerald Henderson, Noah Vonleh and P.J. Hairston

The Charlotte Hornets have been linked to quite a few trade scenarios, but the one constant in these rumors seems to be Lance Stephenson. By just looking at Stephenson’s stats for this season, it’s clear that he isn’t playing to the standard he was in Indiana. Stephenson has been injured for a part of the season, but even when he has been on the court, he has looked lost. The latest rumor involving the Hornets would send Stephenson, Gerald Henderson and Marvin Williams to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Joe Johnson.

Johnson has been previously linked to Hornets owner Michael Jordan as Johnson is signed to the Jordan Brand and Jordan himself is said to covet him. The deal seems to make sense for both parties as the Nets will look to rid themselves of their largest contract with the team being up for sale while acquiring players in Stephenson, Henderson and Williams that could keep Brooklyn competitive. For the Hornets, the benefits are obvious since they get a former All-Star and proven scorer to add to their core. Henderson is due $6 million this season and holds a player option for $6 million next season while Williams is in the first year of a two-year, $14 million deal that he signed last summer. Williams is averaging a career-low 6.5 points this season while adding 4.5 rebounds per game.

The Hornets have also considered other trades to fill their void at point guard, since starter Kemba Walker will miss the next six weeks after opting to have knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the Hornets could target Ramon Sessions of the Sacramento Kings and Norris Cole of the Miami HEAT. In addition to acquiring a point guard, the team could also look to trade away Noah Vonleh or P.J. Hairston if it meant bringing in proven players that can help Charlotte win now and solidify a playoff spot.

Miami HEAT:

Expiring deals: Norris Cole and Justin Hamilton

Potential expiring deals: Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Shawne Williams, Hassan Whiteside and James Ennis

Could be shopped: Norris Cole, Luol Deng and Chris Andersen

The rumors surrounding the Miami HEAT appear to include Norris Cole and Luol Deng. Cole has been on the trading block for the majority of the season. The team drafted Shabazz Napier in the first round of the draft to be their floor general of the future and they gave Mario Chalmers a two-year contract over the summer. Chalmers is owed $4 million this season and $4.3 next season and could be hard to move given the size of that contract. Cole seems to be the odd man out and, as previously mentioned, could be an option for the Hornets to consider given the injury to Walker.

While many teams have been linked to having interest in Deng, the HEAT may not opt to move him if they don’t like the offers on the table. Deng has a player option for next season and could walk, so the HEAT will continue to listen to offers. Like the Hornets, the HEAT won’t make a move for the sake of making a move. The team knows Deng could become very attractive at the deadline for a playoff team wanting one more piece to make a strong push, so they’ll keep their options open. The HEAT will likely take the same approach with Chris Andersen and possibly flip him to another team if it allows them to acquire meaningful assets.

The HEAT also have several players on non-guaranteed contracts they could package into deals, including Shawne Williams, Hassan Whiteside and James Ennis. Although at this point, with his outstanding play as of late, it’s fair to say that Whiteside is safe in Miami despite only being guaranteed through this season.

Orlando Magic:

Expiring deals: Tobias Harris, Willie Green and Kyle O’Quinn

Potential expiring deals: Ben Gordon, Luke Ridnour, Devyn Marble and Dewayne Dedmon

Could be shopped: Tobias Harris, Maurice Harkless, Luke Ridnour and Andrew Nicholson

The Magic will be an interesting team to keep an eye through the end of the trade deadline. The team has plenty of pieces they can part with if they are offered the right return. The biggest name to keep an eye on is Tobias Harris. If the Magic feel like he could command a contract they’d be unwilling to match this summer when he’s a restricted free agent, they could trade him and get something in return for him versus losing him for nothing.

Teams searching for veterans could also call the Magic regarding Willie Green, Ben Gordon or Luke Ridnour. These players were signed during the summer, when the Magic were optimistic about their chances heading into the season and hoped to make the playoffs. Now, it appears they’ll be lottery bound once again so those veterans could be moved. If the Hornets prove unsuccessful in acquiring Sessions or Cole, they could turn to Ridnour to be their backup point guard. The Magic might also feel inclined to part ways with little used players in Maurice Harkless or Andrew Nicholson, although our own Alex Kennedy reports that Magic GM Rob Hennigan is asking for a lot in return since he still really values them (and believes a new head coach may get more out of them). The Magic are certainly a team to watch though since they have so many players who could be attractive to other teams.

Washington Wizards:

Expiring deals: Andre Miller, Kevin Seraphin, Drew Gooden and Rasual Butler

Potential expiring deals: Paul Pierce and Garrett Temple

Could be shopped: Kris Humphries

It seems like if the Washington Wizards make a move, it’d be small and possibly just through free agency. The Wizards have been linked heavily to free agent Ray Allen, as it’s been reported by our own Alex Kennedy that they’ve been one of the most persistent clubs in the league to inquire about Allen. While the Wizards may not seem likely to make a move, they’re surely listening to any offers that come their way.

One name that has been thrown out the Wizards could target is Jameer Nelson. The 10-year vet is now with his third team in this season alone, but it’s said the Wizards could use his experience and combo guard skills for the playoffs. It’s unclear if the Nuggets would be willing to part with Nelson, but the Wizards have a number of expiring deals they could include to entice Denver. It’s worth noting that Nelson was nearly traded to the Wizards last season, but they acquired Andre Miller instead and their talks with the Orlando Magic died shortly after.

This time of year is always interesting with the large amount of trade rumors that surface. While sometimes the rumors prove to be valid, other times they are nothing more than pure speculation or conversations that happened long ago and are no longer ongoing. As the the trade deadline approaches, teams will be working the phones to see how they can improve and these players listed could be among those moved.

Cody Taylor is an NBA writer in his fourth season with Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and NCAA out of Orlando and Miami.

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