Plugging holes for contenders

Trade deadline passed, but teams can target free agents, buyout candidates

Updated: February 22, 2013, 8:40 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | ESPN Insider
Marc GasolAP Photo/Danny JohnstonWith contenders starved for bigs, Jermaine O'Neal could be desirable if he is bought out.

The NBA trade deadline came and went yesterday, with much pre-deadline analysis and much post-deadline disappointment. The lack of player movement has left even contending teams with roster holes to fill. With trades off the table until July, the only avenue for a team to improve its roster now is via the buyout/free-agent markets.

Those markets aren't generally known as the fulcrums upon which NBA titles are tilted. Nevertheless, it's entirely possible that some team -- between buyouts and free agents -- will pluck an overlooked gem from the rabble and reap dividends in the spring months to come.

Here's who's available, followed by what holes those players could fill for five contenders (according to Hollinger's Playoff odds):

Buyout candidates

Jermaine O'Neal: Says he wants to stay in Phoenix, but with legit title contenders starved for big men, he'd be crazy to do so.