There's only one month left in this season's NBA trade derby. With the biggest summer of free agency since 2000 coming up, there could either be tons of high-level activity ... or small moves only. Time will tell.
In the meantime, let's take a look at 10 players that, due to their contracts, health and/or quality, will be quite difficult to move at the deadline, no matter how badly their teams want to lose them.
You'll note there aren't any 2011 expiring contracts on the list. It's becoming clear at least a handful of teams will sit out Destination 2010 in hopes of taking advantage of a new collective bargaining agreement in 2011, so immediate cap space isn't as much of a concern as it was once thought to be. So Eddy Curry? Jared Jeffries? Dan Gadzuric? Count your blessings.
10. Rasheed Wallace, Celtics. For a player so many thought would be the answer to Boston's prayers just a couple months ago, things have turned quickly. Wallace signed a three-year mid-level deal last summer, with the third year (2011-12) a player option. (He'll take it, I imagine.) That'll put Boston on the hook for $13 million over the next two seasons, which isn't the worst thing in the world, even if he's shooting 29.9 percent from three-point range while taking five of them per game. Now add in his trade kicker, some 15 percent of his salary due up front. If you trade him at the deadline this season, the new team is paying up $1.2 million to cover that (the option season isn't included), and the salary cap commitment in 2010-11 goes up to $7 million. Did we mention he holds every world record for technical fouls and isn't considered the easiest guy to play with? We did? Good.
9. Corey Maggette, Warriors. Maggs has quietly avenged his name in Oakland this season, averaging 20 points a game while leading the league in True Shooting percentage at the halfway point. But no one expects Maggette to keep it up, and the $32 million remaining on his contract after this season is poison, considering the free agent options available at lower prices. If the Warriors can take advantage of a starry-eyed buyer quickly, they should, because this gem will shatter before too long.
8. DeSagana Diop, Bobcats. The Mavericks gave Diop his ridiculous contract in 2008, then traded him to Charlotte for the similarly overpaid Matt Carroll. The difference? Carroll's contract shrinks over time, while Diop's gets only fatter and fatter. Diop (who, despite being a defensive specialist playing on a defensive-minded team for a defensive-minded coach, has played fewer than 200 minutes through half the season) is due nearly $21 million through 2013.
7. Vince Carter, Magic. Carter has been a massive disappointment in Orlando, and truth be told the shine was already completely off before New Jersey sent him south in June. Carter is due $17 million in 2010-11, and $4 million in 2011-12 if he's waived after the '10-11 season. (Got that?) While the commitment isn't troubling in terms of length, the size of next season's salary is a bit much to take, even for clubs looking to sit out the 2010 bonanza. The market for Carter at that pay rate is ridiculously small.
6. Rashard Lewis, Magic. Lewis is quite good, but his salary is HOLY GOD THAT'S INSANE, and Lewis is not HOLY GOD THAT'S INSANE good. After this season, Lewis is still owed $50-63 million over three seasons, depending on whether he hits some incentives. For some perspective, the contract LeBron James signs this summer will pay him roughly $56 million over the next three seasons.
5. Luke Walton, Lakers. Walton's presence near the top of this list may surprise given his relative small salary commitment (less than $17 million over three seasons after this year). But a continuous $5 million drain on the cap for a point forward who alternately can't get off the bench and can't get out of the training room is problematic. For a team not spending well over the luxury tax, he'd be a minor anchor -- 1/10th of the salary cap for a 12th man.
4. Rip Hamilton, Pistons. "With the No. 2 pick in the 2003 NBA draft, the Detroit Pistons select ... Darko Milicic" will NEVER be surpassed as Joe Dumars's greatest (basketball) mistake. But unnecessarily extending Hamilton in the fall of 2008 is No. 2 with a bullet. Hamilton's contract would have expired in 2010, but Dumars decided to tack on additional three years at $34 million guaranteed ... for no apparent reason other than he wanted to prove everyone the Pistons weren't waving a white flag by swapping Chauncey Billups and Antonio McDyess for Allen Iverson. Age is clearly catching up with Hamilton -- this season and last have been his worst as a Piston, and he turns 32 in February. He could start for a handful of teams, but you could get a much better player on the open market for what Detroit's paying Rip.
3. Elton Brand, Sixers. After essentially two seasons on the shelf due to injury, Brand has climbed back on the bull and ... lost his starting job to a raw second-year player? Yep. Brand has started half his games with Philadelphia this season, offering up 13/6 in 30 minutes of play. Not exactly what Ed Stefanski had in mind when he signed the former star in 2008. Brand turns 31 by season's end, already has 25,000 NBA minutes on the treads, and is owed more than $51 million over the next three seasons.
2. Baron Davis, Clippers. L.A.'s funky point guard has bounced back from a catastrophic virgin season, but he's still a drain on the Clippers' chances many nights. Davis is shooting 40 percent. Sadly, that's not buoyed by a large share of made three-pointers: on average he takes four bombs a game ... and hits one. (That's not a good percentage, for you arithmephobes out there.) But hey! He has less than three turnovers a night now, and averages more than one points per shot taken (things which could not be said last season). After this season, Davis is owed $41.6 million over the next three years. He will turn 31 years old in April.
1. Gilbert Arenas, Wizards. You don't need a windsock in a hurricane; it's easy to explain why Washington will have immense trouble trading Arenas until it can work out some sort of contract-shortening arrangement. Arenas will likely miss the balance of this season, and possibly part of next season. In two months of play, he didn't come close to showing that he has his old explosiveness -- explosiveness which was the hallmark of his game -- back. And he's paid $80 million over four years beginning in October. As it stands, Arenas is the nearest thing to untradable we've seen in recent NBA history.