Thanks to the odd couple of Isiah Thomas and Jerry Colangelo, the trade market has shifted into overdrive a month before the Feb.19 deadline.
Thomas, now running the Knicks, has operated with little subtlety. He has taken a chainsaw to the dead wood left by predecessor Scott Layden.
He found a willing trade partner in Colangelo, the Phoenix owner whose dreams of a championship contender disappeared quickly, thanks to underachieving stars and shortsighted personnel moves.
The eight-player deal the two worked has turned the NBA into the equivalent of a neighborhood yard sale.
Teams that were waiting until the trade deadline are feverishly working the phones, afraid of missing a big deal. Already, more trades have occurred this season than occurred in 2002-03.
Here are the hot spots:
New York: So is Thomas going to bring Portland's Rasheed Wallace to the Big Apple, or will he gamble on 7-foot-3 Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Darius Miles from Cleveland? Just about everybody from the old Knicks regime (Keith Van Horn, Kurt Thomas, Frank Williams) is available.
Indiana: Ron Artest probably is safe for the time being, at least until the next Rodman-esque display. Al Harrington, who doesn't quite grasp his role, and 6-11 spare part Scot Pollard are enticing commodities.
Orlando: Another lengthy losing streak has made everybody not named Tracy McGrady expendable. Juwan Howard is drawing significant interest, past underachievement notwithstanding. Expect Indiana and Minnesota to make strong pitches.
Golden State: Nick Van Exel may be talking his way out of Oakland.
Atlanta: The Hawks could shake things up in a big way, if new ownership takes charge soon. Guard Jason Terry stopped just short of demanding a trade last week. Shareef Abdur-Raheem, Theo Ratliff and Stephen Jackson have significant market value.
ON A ROLL: Not long ago, the Nets were losing and fighting. Now, they're winning and bowling. With his team having won four in a row and 13 of 16, coach Byron Scott canceled practice Wednesday and took his team to the local lanes. "It was us against them," said Scott, revealing that coaches and staff members competed against players. "Them" won, with Jason Kidd having the best game.
COACH EWING: When Patrick Ewing watches the Bucks, he becomes envious of Terry Porter.
Ewing, an assistant to Jeff Van Gundy in Houston after spending last season working under Doug Collins in Washington, wants to be an NBA coach.
"One day, hopefully one day soon," Ewing said. "I see Terry Porter's doing a fantastic job, and he only had one year of experience. This is my second."
Porter has led the Bucks to a record of 19-16, making them one of only six Eastern Conference teams with an above-.500 record.
Several former players in Ewing's age group, including Scott, Rick Carlisle and Maurice Cheeks, have become successful coaches. Ewing caught the coaching bug from sitting by former Magic coach Doc Rivers during Ewing's final season as a player.
"I'm enjoying it. It's a lot of work, but hey, that's life," Ewing said. "When I was playing, if you asked me if I'd be a coach the answer would have been no, but when I went down to Orlando, I got brainwashed."
AROUND THE RIM: Sacramento hates being called a bunch of crybabies. But the Kings also believe they are being manhandled by defenses and are putting together a tape to send to the league. ... In the quotable department, Houston's Maurice Taylor on his slimmed-down physique: "I haven't weighed 254 since Krispy Kreme franchised." ... When he turned 19 Tuesday, LeBron James took over the record for most points by that age. His 625 topped the 539 by Kobe Bryant, 451 by McGrady, 292 by Bill Willoughby and 185 by Jermaine O'Neal.
- Information from the Dallas Morning News, the Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press was used in this report.