How to shop for bargain-bin ballers
Originally Published: February 22, 2006By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
It's trade deadline time, and for most of the past few days we've been focusing on the usual suspects -- players whom teams have been targeting for most of the season. You know the lineup by heart now. Step forward, Mr. Francis. You too, Mr. Hardaway. And, hey, over there in the knee brace -- would that be Mr. Nene? While those players deserve our attention because they're at the eye of the deadline storm, there is also a more interesting subset of players -- what I call, for lack of a better term, the "stealth available guys." These players aren't being shopped actively by their teams, so it's not a given that any of them finds a new club. However, if another club has enough interest and makes a good offer, all bets are off. In fact, two guys from my original list -- Darko Milicic and Chris Wilcox -- already have been relocated. I like this list for another reason too: Teams that focus on what they're obtaining, rather than what they're getting rid of, tend to make better trades. If you're making calls around the league to unload a headache such as Steve Francis, you're dealing from a position of weakness. But if you take a shine to one of the following players and have a spare part that interests his current team, you'll be coming from a position of strength and may be able to score a good player on the cheap. So without further ado, here are 12 guys who aren't necessarily on the market, but still could be yours if the price is right: Jamal Crawford, New York: The Knicks already have included him in several proposals, but it's not necessarily because they want to be rid of him -- it's to sweeten the pot for the team that takes Penny Hardaway off their hands. And despite his horrendous shot selection and inattentive defense, Crawford still has value on the right team. He's a scorer who can play both guard spots, he's only 25, he's missed only 15 games the past four years and, for a Knick, his contract isn't that bad. Plus, even with the poor shot selection, this is the second straight year his true shooting percentage has been respectable. So any team that has backcourt needs and an overrated, overpaid quasi-star to dangle in front of Isiah should try to pry Crawford loose.