Shaquille O'Neal and all the other big names stayed put on trade deadline day, with owners perhaps scared of making moves that added salary in an uncertain economic climate.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were among the suitors that reportedly reached out to Phoenix to inquire about O'Neal, but they couldn't close a deal for him or any other big man they sought to battle defending NBA champion Boston.
Amare Stoudemire and Vince Carter headlined the stars who had space on the rumor mill in recent weeks but went nowhere, with teams having to balance a player's impact on the court with his effect on the wallet.
"If anybody hasn't figured out that the economy is hitting every company in the country and in the world, they're not very bright," Dallas owner Mark Cuban said Wednesday. "Of course it's hitting everybody and everybody has to be considerate of it."
The Suns were believed to be one of the teams considering financial-based moves during a disappointing season. But after Phoenix fired Terry Porter on Monday and scored 140 points in consecutive wins under new coach Alvin Gentry, owner Robert Sarver gave the go-ahead to keep the team together.
"We could have made moves to save money and, given the economy and our payroll, that would have been understandable," general manager Steve Kerr said, "but he stepped up and allowed us to move forward with what we have."
The only top contender to make an upgrade was Orlando, which landed Rafer Alston from Houston in a three-team deal that also included Memphis. The Magic needed a point guard to replace All-Star Jameer Nelson, who they announced had season-ending shoulder injury Thursday.
_The Chicago Bulls traded unhappy guard Larry Hughes to the New York Knicks for Tim Thomas, Jerome James and Anthony Roberson. Chicago also traded guard Thabo Sefolosha to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 2009 first-round draft pick.
_The Knicks also acquired Chris Wilcox from Oklahoma City for Malik Rose and cash considerations in a swap of forwards with expiring contracts.
_The Minnesota Timberwolves shipped Rashad McCants and center Calvin Booth to Sacramento for forward Shelden Williams and point guard Bobby Brown.
_The Boston Celtics traded center Patrick O'Bryant to Toronto as part of a three-team trade also involving Sacramento. The Celtics acquired a future conditional second-round draft pick from the Kings, who received guard Will Solomon from Toronto and cash considerations from Boston.
The Kings also waived Mikki Moore after continuing their salary cap purge with their third trade in a week. Sacramento sent Brad Miller and John Salmons to the Bulls on Wednesday for Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Michael Ruffin and Cedric Simmons. The Kings immediately sent Ruffin to Portland for Ike Diogu and cash.
Most deals were based on money, a trend that figures to resume this summer.
"The economic situation is definitely a factor right now in the NBA. It's not just the NBA, it's the country. It's the world," 76ers president Ed Stefanski said. "We're in uncharted waters here. We'll have to see how this all works out. I think it definitely had a factor in the trade deadline. We'll see what happens in the summer and free agency."
Days after commissioner David Stern said during his All-Star press conference that upcoming salary caps would decrease because of the financial crisis, the NBA sent a memo to its teams this week with specific warnings. The league said expectations for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 caps would be lower than this season's $58.68 million.
That could threaten teams who want to be players in the summer of 2010, when LeBron James is expected to lead a stellar free agent class. Before the markets collapsed, the salary cap for 2010-11 was expected to be about $63.1 million.
Now, the league predicted, it could drop to $56.5 million. That set up a trade market in which there were more sellers than buyers.
"Teams are trying to get under the cap," Knicks president Donnie Walsh said this week. "Teams are trying to lose (salary)."
AP Sports writers Jaime Aron in Dallas, Bob Baum in Phoenix and Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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