Like it or not, the Summer of 2010 created a new precedent in the NBA. When mega-stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh decided to team up in Miami to form "the Big Three" – a term used too liberally these days – it opened the door for other NBA stars to think about forming a "Big Three" elsewhere to compete with the likes of the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.
It happened last season with the Carmelo Anthony Saga, and continues this off-season with the ongoing Dwight Howard Problem. Stars in small markets, with little-to-no supporting cast, are in search for better situations, better teammates, bigger markets, and ultimately a better chance to win a championship, build their personal brand, or both.
Exhibit A: Chris Paul
The 26 year-old Paul was just named the League's best point guard and the fourth-best player overall by ESPN's #NBARank, where 91 of ESPN's "experts" ranked every NBA player.
Paul's team has only won 50+ games and made it past the first round of the playoffs once during his six-year NBA career – both criminally low for the fourth-best player in the League. The constant burden of carrying the Hornets has had its ill-effects on Paul, who's dealt with various injuries throughout his career.
Although he won't come right out and say it, Chris Paul probably wants out of New Orleans. If that's the case, Carmelo Anthony wants Paul to join Amar'e Stoudemire and himself in New York, and he isn't afraid to say it:
"If it works out and he comes here and they allow him to come here, you'll see a smile from ear to ear," Anthony said during an appearance in Greenwich Village. "It's not just me. It's everybody [in New York]. If he decides to leave New Orleans and goes somewhere else, they'll be feeling the same way I'm feeling."
Paul's current contract expires in 2012, a year in which the Knicks will only have three players under contract – Anthony, Stoudemire and Renaldo Balkman. With no CBA currently in place and the lockout in full effect it's difficult to forecast the exact scenario, but if both parties are truly interested it looks like there's a realistic chance Chris Paul could be rockin' Knickerbocker blue alongside Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, to start the 2012-13 season.
Much like the Heat in 2010, the Knicks would be financially strapped with Paul, Melo and Amar'e locked into monster contracts. However; as we've seen with both the 2010 Heat and 2007 Celtics, once a "big three" is in place, players flock to play alongside three studs for less money, especially if it means the chance of playing for a title and being a part of the national spotlight.
A Paul-Melo-Amar'e trifecta may run into some of the same problems the Heat encountered – lack of a pecking order, an insane amount of pressure and constant criticism. Also, as dynamic of scoring a trio the three would be, two thirds of the equation aren't exactly known for their defense – something you need to win an NBA championship. However; in the previously mentioned #NBARank Paul, Melo and Amar'e are ranked fourth, twelfth and thirteenth respectively.
As we know the Heat "Big Three" experiment did not result in a championship during their first year of existence, but if there's an opportunity to have three of the top 13 NBA players on the same team, all in their prime, you'd be crazy to pass it up. It's a stars league, and it doesn't get much more star-studded than CP3, Melo and STAT. Add a spot-up shooter at the two (Landry Fields) and rebounding/defensive-minded center alongside the "big three" and it becomes a potent starting five.
From the New York Post:
"I won't say he has his eye on his New York, but I know conversely New York has its eye on Chris," said [Earl] Monroe. "If he chooses to leave New Orleans, I hope he does come here. They've spent long time waiting. It would be great with [Amar'e] Stoudemire, 'Melo and adding someone like Paul, it would be a great asset."
Monroe spoke briefly with Paul in Winston-Salem. But Paul's toast at Anthony's wedding in the summer of 2010 of forming a Big Apple 3 was a pretty good hint.