Posted Aug 27 2010 6:59PM
For the time being, things are a little easier in the Big Easy. On one hand, Chris Paul has another option to go to in the Hornets offense with Trevor Ariza running the floor and filling a wing position. On the other hand, Paul no longer has to look over his shoulder and wonder if the team isn't grooming Darren Collison to be a younger, cheaper option at the point. It means all of the principal players in New Orleans are back on the same page, at least until the first three-game losing streak.
That's not necessarily the case in Denver, where Carmelo Anthony is showing reluctance to sign a three-year, $65-million contract extension offered by the Nuggets. Is it effects of the bubbly and the champagne toast offered by Paul at his wedding? Is it green-eyed envy of the Three Kings arrangement formed by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami? Is it just craving to get back to his East coast roots and a desire to play in the bright spotlight of New York?
Whatever the case, Melo and CP3 are not be the only players who have one eye on the door -- expiring contracts, bad fit, bad teams -- and could force a move. Here are five more:
Andre Iguodala: He's spent the summer doing a good job carving out his place and fitting in with the U.S. team as they enter the FIBA World Championships in Turkey. But it could be a whole different story back in Philadelphia when Iguodala and No. 2 pick in the draft Evan Turner try to fit into same position in the Sixers' lineup under new coach Doug Collins. There are times when he looks like he's ready to grow into the potential of the six-year, $80-million contract he signed in 2008, yet too many nights when he isn't the lead horse pulling the wagon. Will the experience being around the other stars with USA Basketball help him get a floundering Philly team to the next level or convince him that it's time to look elsewhere?
Monta Ellis: It's never a good sign when the new owner of the team (Joe Lacob) has a conversation with a newspaper reporter and touts David Lee and Stephen Curry as prime assets of the Warriors and does not mention your name. OK, OK, he went back after the fact and said he loves watching Ellis play, but it's still a situation that's worth watching. Last season did not exactly start out smoothly as Ellis criticized the direction of the team which, as usual, was nowhere. Now with new ownership, with Lee on hand to replace last year's promise of Anthony Randolph, Golden State is promising change. Again. With $44 million left on his contract, a lot of folks might like to clear the air of any potential conflict by moving the high-scoring guard. And one of them might be Ellis.
Richard Hamilton: The 2004 championship seems as far away as the Stone Age for Rip as he watches the Pistons often painfully try to fit Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey into the backcourt with him. Injuries limited him to 46 games and also contributed to a career-low 40.9 shooting percentage from the field and only 29.7 percent on 3-pointers. But even healthy, it's clear that the time in Detroit has passed for the 32-year-old who is still owed nearly $38 million. If he's not part of the future, then Rip is only spinning his wheels and could be desperately scratching that itch for a new home by the February trade deadline.
Baron Davis: Is the 31-year-old Davis going to be comfortable in the role of chaperone for a team so young they'd get carded going into an R-rated movie? He likes to get up and down the floor, playing at a wide open pace, but coach Vinny Del Negro never gave that freedom to Derrick Rose in Chicago and the reins could cause some chafing. How long might it take for Davis to want to take his talents -- which are still considerable -- to a place where he could make a real difference in the playoffs?
Antawn Jamison: Of course, new coach Byron Scott is promising that the Cavs will play hard and be entertaining and be competitive, just like last season. But it's like comparing a flight in a crop duster to the first class cabin on a wide body jet. It is hardly the ride that Jamison bought a ticket on a year ago. There will be lots of scoring opportunities and points in Cleveland, but even more frustrations and defeats. As the trade deadline draws near, the 34-year-old vet -- for the sake of his sanity -- could be jumping onto the emergency slide and running to a new destination.
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