NBA moves: Carmelo Anthony not the only big name coming up

Having survived the hype for the free agent Class of 2010, hopefully by changing channels …

Who's up for the hype for the Class of 2011? If you aren't, you had better change channels again or turn the page, because it's here, along with that for the '12 class.

The NBA preseason is usually a down time for trades, but this fall is more like the summer of 2011, moved up.

The Carmelo Anthony watch — which may stand down for a few days, weeks or months after Denver almost traded him to New Jersey — is only the start.

Anthony is locked up until next summer, which isn't opportune since the bazaar may be called on account of lockout.

With the Nuggets, run by Wal-Mart heirs in the same thrifty style, slow to come up with an extension offer, Anthony decided to move his free agent summer up to this fall to get his money before a new labor agreement could cut it down, and relocate to a glamour market, like all the other guys were doing.

Not that Anthony could have missed it with so many of those guys — including LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire — in New York for Melo's wedding in July.

That was how James' ESPN special, cueing the national gag reflex, wound up at that Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn. It was a limo drive away.

Three days after James said he was going to Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Melo was wed in a you-had-to-be-there ceremony, not just because it was part of bride La La Vasquez Anthony's VH1 reality series, "La La's Full-Court Wedding."

Topping the Lamar Odom- Khloe Kardashian nuptials, theirs included Chris Paul's wedding toast, reportedly saying he, Melo and Amare would "form our own Big Three."

That would have been with the Knicks, Amare's new team.

La La apparently has future series in mind. The Anthonys have a list of glamour markets they'd go to — New York, Chicago, Los Angeles — and nowhere else.

That raises the question of just what the glamour markets would be getting.

If Anthony is a great young scorer, he's not James or Dwyane Wade. With Melo, the operative word isn't "great" but "young."

Paul, on the other hand, is on the James-Wade- Kobe Bryant level. When someone that good is available — even if it's not until 2012 — the ground trembles.

Unlike James, who took it to the end on a good team in Cleveland, Paul is staring into the abyss with the Hornets.

With the Hornets' win total going 56-49-37, management dumping salary, not to mention his favorite, coach Byron Scott, Paul broke a long silence in June, telling ESPN's Chris Broussard: "If we're not committed to winning and trying to get better so we can contend with the Lakers, the Celtics and all these other top teams, then I'm open to being traded."

The Hornets seemed open to trading him, with GM Jeff Bower refusing to deny reports of talks with Orlando ("We have the duty to listen and have dialogue with teams about all of our players.")

It was left to newly arrived coach Monty Williams to protest that Paul wasn't going anywhere.

Amid the resulting furor, owner George Shinn announced Paul wasn't going anywhere.

Bower then resigned, perhaps upset at being told to see what they could get, then being hung out to dry.

Now Paul issues cheery non-denial denials. "Everyone is always going to talk and make different inquiries about different things going on," he said. "But now it's time to play. My biggest thing is, I haven't changed. I'm the same person. I'm at a happy place."

The Hornets would be in a happier place if they could get Paul back in the playoffs, and if no one mentions the situation, both long shots.

"This is going to be the last time I talk about it," Williams said on his first media day as a coach, "because, to be honest, it's getting old."

Unfortunately, they have their same little team, facing last season's playoff teams and improved rivals for any opening (Houston, Memphis, Sacramento, the Clippers).

On the other hand, there could be openings.

With the Nuggets, 2009 West finalists, close to taking rookie Derrick Favors, a No. 3 overall pick and Andrei Kirilenko's expiring $17.8 million contract for Anthony, it's clear the teams understand this is a fire sale.

Also, they can smell the smoke.

This Denver team was volatile enough in the best of times. With Kenyon Martin unhappy at not being offered an extension, J.R. Smith being J.R. Smith (accused of choking players in pickup game, no charges filed) and Chauncey Billups saying he wants out if everyone else leaves, those quiet days are over.

mheisler@tribune.com

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