So we heard all year about Raef Lafrentz's and Wally Szczerbiak's contracts being use as trade bait near the deadline. Well, nothing came of those two, but two years ago the Celtics used Theo Ratliff's contract (and a slew of young talent and picks) to acquire Kevin Garnett. So here's a list of teams and players with expiring contracts that could be used next year...

Cleveland Cavaliers-Shaquille O'Neal-$20 million, Zydrunas Ilgauskas-$11.8 million
Miami Heat-Jermaine O'Neal-$23 million
New Jersey Nets-Tony Battie-$6.6 million, Bobby Simmons-$12.2 million
New York Knicks-Eddy Curry-$10 million, Al Harrington $10.1 million, Larry Hughes-$13 million, Darko Milicic-$7.7 million, Cuttino Mobley-$9.5 million (partially guaranteed)
Washington Wizards-Mike James-$6.4 million, Mike Miller-$9.8 million, Brendan Haywood-$6 million
Dallas Mavericks-Erick Dampier-$12.1 million, Greg Buckner-$4.1 million (partially guaranteed)
Minnesota Timberwolves-Brian Cardinal-$6.7 million
Sacramento Kings-Kenny Thomas-$8.7 million (partially guaranteed)

Partially guaranteed contracts are the most appealing, because they are either only covered partially, up to a certain date or are some of the contract is covered by insurance companies a la Raef Lafrentz's.

Cleveland and New York are the most appealing. Some teams could get rid of players and have to add in some long term contracts to get these guys while Cleveland or NY gets some big talent in return. Like, say, Zydrunas Ilgauskas (and pieces) for Rip Hamilton. New York is stacked with expirings, they could essentially trade some of their expirings for talent and let the rest expire for free agency. We could see an entire new team in NY in 2010. Who wouldn't like Sessions, Wade, Chandler, Bosh and a center with Douglas, and Gallinari off the bench. If they're patient, that could be an extremely good team in the very near future.
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