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Second-Tier Stars Could Be on the Move at the Deadline

Will Dwight Howard be traded before the March 15 deadline? I remain unconvinced. Otis Smith will hang on to Howard unless/until it becomes clear that the all-star center has completely ruled out re-signing with the Magic... and let's bear in mind, he'd have to give up something on the order of $100 million over the life of his next contract to do that.

The idea of playing with Deron Williams in a shiny new arena in downtown Brooklyn is nice. But is it THAT nice?

But even if Howard is taken off the market, that doesn't necessarily mean we'll have a quiet trade deadline. Who else could be on the move by March 15th, and how can fantasy owners take advantage?

The Lakers
This team needs an infusion of new blood. And fast. Pau Gasol has been a good soldier for much of this season, even after he was included in the aborted Chris Paul trade... but he seems like the odd man out. That makes him an excellent "buy low" candidate... play up the uncertainty angle in trade discussions and hope his current owner doesn't realize that Gasol would be the featured scorer on just about any team but the Lakers (or Heat, or Thunder).

Andrew Bogut
According to a report by ESPN's Marc Stein, the Bucks have started listening to offers for Bogut - but are insisting that any deal also include disgruntled guard/forward Stephen Jackson. Why the change? Bogut's injuries are a big factor, as is the fact that, like Jackson, he has apparently become less than thrilled with coach Scott Skiles and his abrasive style.

Stein went on to suggest the Wizards as a potential trade partner, and a deal involving JaVale McGee. Of course, the idea of "Pierre" with Skiles might be even funnier than the idea that he and Jackson were ever going to co-exist peacefully.

Reading between the lines, I can't help but wonder if Bucks management is also becoming disenchanted with Skiles. That's a situation worth watching; a coaching change and more fantasy-friendly system could mean a big boost in value for players like Bogut and Brandon Jennings next season.

Josh Smith
Atlanta's Josh Smith is reportedly unhappy and asking for a trade. He doesn't have a ton of leverage - he's not slated to hit free agency until summer 2013.

The Hawks are in an awkward spot right now. They can't fairly assess the team with Al Horford sidelined for the year; many believe they'd be a top-three team in the East if they were at full strength. At the same time, their salary situation is going to get very ugly over the next few years as Joe Johnson gets older.

The Warriors seem to be involved in every trade rumor, so it's no surprise that Golden State has been mentioned as a potential destination for both Johnson and Smith.

The Rockets
Daryl Morey's attempts to re-shape his roster in the offseason fell through when David Stern vetoed the proposed Lakers/Hornets/Rockets iteration of the Chris Paul trade. He's apparently still looking to make moves, and could be an aggressive shopper at the deadline.

One of the players Houston could be offering is Kyle Lowry. That makes Goran Dragic a really nice "buy low" candidate between now and the deadline. If Lowry is moved and Dragic takes over the starting job, his value will go through the roof.

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