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Scott Howard-Cooper

Carmelo Anthony's desire to play under the big city lights isn't one shared by every NBA player.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Appeal of bright lights, big cities not for every player

Posted Feb 25 2011 10:00AM

It's not always about getting to the big city, by the way. Players from the diverse backgrounds of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili do fine in San Antonio, and Bosh was in a worldly place like Toronto -- before he hit the escape button. Saying stars push for the bright lights is an oversimplification. Kevin Durant, having already won legions with the low-key contract announcement in the summer as LeBron James staged a PR nightmare, didn't care about market size in Oklahoma City. He cared about market quality.

• Of course it makes the NBA look bad and the league has reason to be concerned as its stars take increasing control of the trade market. But, enough is enough of making players into villains. They aren't breaking any rules. They didn't even get into the grey area of the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh signing. They're maximizing guidelines the owners helped create in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement -- the same thing most owners probably did in business to help build a financial empire.


Bad teams walking away from lottery picks is tough, but the Clippers' logic in shipping their 2011 first-rounder to Cleveland in the Baron Davis-Mo Williams deal is understandable. For one thing, it's the cost of getting out from under Davis' bloated contract. For another, Los Angeles is playing two rookies now, Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe, has a pair of first-round picks in 2012, and '11 is a bad Draft. It only gets painful if the pick lands in the top three. Then, the Clips have the realization the trade cost them the chance to address positional needs with Kyrie Irving (point guard) or Terrence Jones (small forward).

• The strange-but-true is that trading Davis at the first opportunity to get anything of substance in return involves a risk for the Clippers. His improved play, in conjunction with improved conditioning, had been an important part of the Clippers' surge after the 1-13 start -- just as he developed good chemistry with Blake Griffin. Feeling threatened at being left behind by the accelerating Griffin/Eric Gordon bandwagon prompted Davis to focus, only to have it increase his trade value and result in a move to the Cavs. That'll teach him to get in shape.

• Great observation by Arash Markazi of After the Summer of LeBron and the trade of Carmelo, the only 2003 draftees still with their original franchise are Chris Kaman, David West, Nick Collison, Luke Walton and Wade -- an amazing notion for such a successful class. It isn't a team-driven turnover, of course. The stars got happy feet. Plus, Markazi notes, the Lakers played the Jazz, Rockets and Nuggets in the 2009 Western Conference playoffs, and look at those rosters less than two years later. Add the Jazz and Suns, a couple of the '10 postseason opponents, into the wonder as well.

"There's four players who are going to decide this year's championship," Kings analyst Bill Walton said. "Kobe, LeBron, KG and Manu. Lakers and Celtics are the best team, but Miami and San Antonio, they can get it done."

Trade deadline winner: New Jersey. Landing Williams to play point guard and help lead the promotional push into Brooklyn was as bold a move as it was out of nowhere. It was a steep price -- Harris, Derrick Favors, two first-rounders -- but the Nets were going to give up more for Carmelo Anthony, and Williams is more valuable than Anthony. Plus, interest from the neighborhood rival may have forced New York to increase its bid for 'Melo, a chance for the Nets to stick it to the Knicks as a consolation prize.

Trade deadline loser: New Jersey. Superstars apparently didn't get the company memo on the new world order. The Nets whiffed on big names in free agency and now missed on Anthony. They had a better offer than the Knicks, but the Nuggets had to deal with New York because Anthony wouldn't commit to signing in New Jersey. They might be moving to a new arena in Brooklyn, they might have a new owner who is aggressive and looking to spend, but the Nets still need a new image as much as a desirable destination.

What Just Became Clear With the Perspective of Time I: The Mavericks were right and pretty much everybody else was wrong. That was true on Feb. 19, 2008, when they traded promise-filled Devin Harris to the Nets for aging Jason Kidd, headliners in a deal that involved other players and picks, and it was proven accurate once and for all this week. The Mavs were criticized for surrendering the future at point guard, except that, come to think of it, they didn't. Kidd remains one of the best passers in the game and has improved as a 3-point shooter. New Jersey, meanwhile, just traded Harris to the Jazz in the Deron Williams deal. Kidd had a longer run, and as a major contributor on a better team, long after Dallas was supposed to been regretting the deal.

What Just Became Clear With the Perspective of Time II: Jerry Buss staring down Kobe Bryant is more impressive than in the summer of 2007, now that we have seen teams deal franchise cornerstones in a pre-emptive strike of free agency 16 months away. Bryant wasn't making eyes with other destinations either. He was leaving prairies of scorched Earth around the Lakers in screaming for an exit. Buss wouldn't fold. History changed.

So, what do you suppose Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul will talk about?

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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