LeBron James‘ departure from Cleveland seems to have set off a reaction in the NBA. After LeBron officially left his hometown team, in what was seen by many as the ultimate betrayal, other stars have been not-so-subtly expressing their desire for a change of location.
While there are still many throwback franchise players as my colleague Austin Burton wrote the other day, just as many, if not more players are likely to jump ship via trade or free agency. Here are 10 stars who won’t finish their career with the team they play for now:
1. Monta Ellis — Ellis is a great fit for the Warriors and their offense. He possesses incredible quickness and great scoring instincts. Even though he fits in well in Golden State, he has publicly grumbled about the team on a couple of occasions and been mentioned in trade rumors frequently. While I don’t see him leaving while Don Nelson is still the coache, once Nellie and his offense retire, Ellis will probably be on his way out of town.
2. Chris Paul — Ever since going to LeBron’s Skills Academy in Akron, the once-classy CP3 has been doing his best impersonation of “The King.” For a guy who was so instrumental in bringing the Hornets back to prominence in New Orleans after Katrina, and someone who has given a great deal to that community, I’m surprised at his actions recently. He let LeBron’s team of advisers, including “Worldwide Wes,” shop him around the League despite being represented by another agency, then left his original agency shortly thereafter for LeBron’s management firm — and now has done everything short of publicly demand a trade. There is no way the new Hornets’ brass suddenly gets CP3 on board with the team’s direction, and with his injury history, the Hornets will trade him ASAP while he’s still healthy.
3. Danny Granger — While the Pacers’ last star, Reggie Miller, spent his whole career in Indiana, Granger won’t be doing the same. Danny has not requested a trade, and signed a five-year contract extension in 2008, but his future is not with the Pacers. In his entire career there the Pacers have: (1) failed to find a remotely decent second scorer to relieve some pressure of him, (2) been decimated with injuries, and (3) now face possible relocation in a few years. All this will eventually catch up to Granger, and get him into another uniform.
4. Carmelo Anthony — There is a reason Anthony has not signed the three-year, $65 million contract extension the Nuggets have offered him. That extension is a lot more money per year than Anthony could make after the new CBA goes through, so his hesitance to sign indicates he is at least seriously considering a new team. I suspect Anthony won’t take the extension, and will sign elsewhere next summer.
5. Andre Iguodala — Reports are that Iguodala is on the market, which is only somewhat surprising. With Jrue Holiday’s impressive showing in Summer League and Evan Turner now on board, Iggy may be seeing the ball a lot less in Philadelphia. For a player who needs the ball in his hands a lot to be effective, he will be better suited somewhere. He has a ridiculously expensive contract, but someone will take his talent even if it is overpriced.
6. Tony Parker — Parker is not the biggest star on his team, but he is still a star nonetheless. Rumors have it that Parker wants to be traded out of San Antonio (with New York as a possible destination) and that the Spurs have been shopping him. With George Hill emerging as a very good point guard, it is only a matter of time before he becomes the starter in San Antonio. The only question with Parker is will he be traded this year or just sign elsewhere as a free agent next summer.
7. O.J. Mayo — The Grizzlies signed Rudy Gay to an $82 million contract this summer, and Mayo has had similar production to Gay in his short career. When Mayo becomes a restricted free agent in two years, I assume he will want the Grizz to give him close to what they gave Gay, but that would be fiscally irresponsible and overpaying at its finest. With incoming rookie Xavier Henry on board (assuming his contract issues work out), I figure by the time Mayo becomes a free agent, Henry will be ready to take his starting spot.
8. Richard Hamilton — Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace (after a short time away) are the only three Pistons remaining from the team’s most recent glory days where they reached the Eastern Conference Finals for six straight seasons. Despite being a loyal citizen and key part of the Pistons’ teams of the 2000′s, Hamilton has been shopped heavily the last few years. With Ben Gordon on board at $11 million per season for the next four years, and Rodney Stuckey going nowhere, Hamilton won’t finish his career in Detroit.
9. Kevin Love — With Al Jefferson now gone, Love becomes the face of Minnesota’s franchise. While some might see that as a role to embrace, Love probably doesn’t see it that way. The Wolves have no direction whatsoever and in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, and no hope of a playoff berth any time soon. As soon as Love becomes a restricted free agent in two years, he will get out of Minneapolis as fast as he can.
10. Gilbert Arenas — Arenas has burned too many bridges in the Wizards organization to stay there long-term. He called out Ernie Grunfeld last year, and was portrayed as a pariah after his locker room gun incident. With John Wall now clearly the face of the franchise, the Wiz are building their team around him, and while they might try to showcase Arenas early this season to increase his trade value, he won’t be there for much longer.