Steve Nash and 8 Players Who Will Flourish with a Change of Scenery
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While the grass isn't necessarily always going to be greener, sometimes there is no substitute for a change of scenery. For these nine players, this summer cracked open a brand-new chapter in their lives and it is all for the better.
Players often wear out their welcome in particular cities and need to move on in order to get their games back to an elite level. Players are traded or signed for big money in free agency and sometimes wind up playing for a host of teams before all is said and done.
Some of these players in particular found a need to move on this offseason and find a more comfortable situation. Others had no say in their change, but come time for the season to start, they will be thanking their lucky stars for this most recent change of scenery.
O.J. Mayo to the Dallas Mavericks
O.J. Mayo has needed to get out of Memphis for a while.
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The relationship between O.J. Mayo and the Memphis Grizzlies has been deteriorating for two years now. In 2010, Mayo lost his starting job and saw a 12-minute cut in his playing time coming off the bench.
He stopped producing at the high level that made him one of the top young guards in the game in his first two seasons. This opened the door for criticism that he didn't take very well.
His drop in production, coupled with a few off the court incidences including a 10-game suspension, led to a falling out with the Memphis fans.
The team did not extend him a qualifying offer and he signed a two-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks worth $8.5 million. The Mavericks recently let a lot of guard talent go with Jason Terry and Jason Kidd signing elsewhere. Vince Carter and Delonte West are also free agents.
There is a void of talent on Dallas' roster, particularly in the backcourt. Mayo should get a lot of playing time as the Mavericks hope he can regain his rookie and sophomore form.
Chris Kaman to the Dallas Mavericks
Chris Kaman did not want to play in New Orleans.
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Chris Kaman was never a part of New Orleans' long-term plans. He was a throw-in to ship Chris Paul to Los Angeles for Eric Gordon and a first round pick (Austin Rivers).
The Hornets made it well known that they had no intent on keeping Kaman when they wanted to deactivate him until a trade could be reached. That obviously rubbed him the wrong way, and an already fractured relationship was shattered.
New Orleans did not pursue Kaman in free agency, opening the door for him to be wooed by Dallas. He signed a one-year contract with the Mavericks worth $8 million. There he will be paired up with former Olympic teammate Dirk Nowitzki in the frontcourt.
Dallas has reloaded on the fly and whether it all works remains to be seen. However, they have done a good job retooling their team and Kaman is a big part of that along with O.J. Mayo and Elton Brand.
Kaman is back in a comfortable spot and should see a spike in his production, which wasn't all that bad with the Hornets.
Jason Terry to the Boston Celtics
Jason Terry will have less responsibility in Boston.
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On Tuesday, Jason Terry officially signed a contract with the Boston Celtics. After spending eight successful years in Dallas, the 34-year-old shooting guard will make his way to the Northeast.
The biggest benefit for Terry switching jerseys is the load he will have to bear. In Dallas, he was still playing over 30 minutes per game and jacking up more than 13 shots a night. In Boston, his responsibilities will be much less.
Instead of playing with Vince Carter and Jason Kidd, Terry will have three young guards to handle most of the load. Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Courtney Lee will receive the majority of the playing time and Terry will be counted on to hit the occasional big shot and lead the second unit.
The Mavericks are trying to rebuild on the fly and Terry needed to get out while he still has something left in the tank. He will be embraced in Boston as Ray Allen's replacement and after signing a three-year deal, he should be able to finish out his career in green.
Joe Johnson to the Brooklyn Nets
Joe Johnson won't have so much weight in Brooklyn.
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While Joe Johnson didn't choose his change of scenery, he will benefit from it all the same. Johnson had an up-and-down seven years in Atlanta, where he was the focal point of the franchise.
He scored in bunches during his time there and led the team to the postseason in five of those seven seasons. Yet, something never quite clicked.
There was the massive contract he signed two years ago. He followed that up by scoring fewer than 20 points per game for the first time since joining the Hawks.
There was also the incident between him and the fans at the Phillips Arena, followed by him being booed on his home court. All of this led to him being traded to Brooklyn earlier this month.
In Brooklyn, he will get to deal with a whole new group of fans, and the fresh start will do wonders for the shooting guard.
He will also be paired with an elite partner in the backcourt in Deron Williams and he should have even more offensive help than he did a lot of the time in Atlanta.
Most importantly, Johnson will no longer be the face and supposed leader of a franchise, something he never really had in him.
Jeremy Lin to the Houston Rockets
The Rockets have zero egos.
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In the end, a move to Houston might be the best thing for Jeremy Lin. In New York, he was certainly loved and respected by the fanbase, but it was probably not the best place for him to grow into the point guard he could be.
The Knicks have a lot of major egos stuffed into one locker room, and that type of thing can be hazardous to a young and inexperienced player. Lin was going to be charged with distributing the ball evenly between New York's list of stars as well as meshing with Jason Kidd.
In Houston, the Rockets have a team full of players trying to prove themselves, just like Lin. Instead of trying to grow with volatile personalities like Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, Lin will be playing on a young team full of rookies and sophomores.
It isn't New York, in terms of popularity, but Houston is a great place for Lin to continue his growth.
Ray Allen to the Miami Heat
Ray Allen's move to Miami was for the best.
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Ray Allen would have been totally fine re-signing in Boston this summer. Still, his change of scenery will benefit him as he slides to the end of his career.
In Boston, the team had to run set plays for Allen to get his shot off and they could take considerable time with him racing around numerous screens. This took a toll on his relationship with Rajon Rondo, who now runs the Celtics offense.
With his switch to Miami, the offense will run solely around two players who complement his game perfectly. Boston was a team of jump-shooters for the most part.
The Heat feature LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, two of the best players in the NBA at getting to the basket. This can collapse defenses and leave Allen open on the perimeter, where he is most dangerous.
I am still unsure where Allen will be both physically, with his ankles, and mentally, the backlash he is receiving in Boston. Either way, this move will help him perform better even at an advancing age.
Luis Scola to the Phoenix Suns
Luis Scola will enjoy his new home in Phoenix.
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The Houston Rockets are heading in a direction that does not include slow 32-year-old power forwards. Through the draft and free agency, they are either building a young and hungry team or trying desperately to trade for Dwight Howard. This team had no desire to keep Luis Scola.
If the Rockets are unable to pull off a miracle trade for Howard, they will be going into next season with a very young team. Scola doesn't necessarily fit in with that unit and will find his role in Phoenix much more fulfilling.
Scola is still a valuable piece to have on a team. He is a talented offensive big who can grab his share of rebounds as well. He will pair with Robin Lopez and Marcin Gortat in what will be one of the more interesting frontcourts in the NBA.
Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors
Kyle Lowry wanted out of Houston and is in a good spot with the Raptors.
Kyle Lowry wasn't fitting in with the Rockets and was at odds on what the future was at their point guard position. This set the stage for him being dealt to Toronto for a future first-rounder and Gary Forbes.
As the Rockets move in a different direction, Lowry is entering into a great situation in Toronto. The Raptors have added some valuable pieces this offseason and will also get Andrea Bargnani back from injury.
After allowing Jerryd Bayless to walk in free agency, there was an opening at the point guard spot which Lowry can fill with ease.
He will split time with Jose Calderon for the time being, but Spaniard has a large expiring contract that could be dealt. Either way, Lowry's unique all-around skill set will give him the edge on the Raptors.
He has improved considerably during his career and last season posted averages of 14.3 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. Lowry can also shoot the three well, something running mate DeMar DeRozan struggles with.
With all the changes and improvements the Raptors have made, they are a playoff contender. Houston may still be on the outside of the west.
Lowry will benefit from this move, because he has the opportunity to become the definitive point guard in Toronto within the next year and a good shot to make just his second postseason ever.
Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Lakers
Nash will be Kobe's new facilitator.
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There is very little not to like about Steve Nash; actually, there is almost nothing. He fought to the bitter end for a team that was not in contention. You have to feel good about him moving on to a legitimate contender in the Western Conference in the Lakers.
It just seemed like the right thing to do, for Nash to move on from Phoenix. He gave everything he had to the Suns, including two MVP seasons and a couple deep playoff runs. Phoenix needed to go in a new direction, though, and at 38 years old, Nash was not a part of their future.
He still has some game, though, and with all 10 of his fingers still naked, he will push to get Los Angeles back to the finals.
He finished second in the NBA in assists last season while playing with a below-average supporting cast. With Los Angeles, he will have two talented offensive bigs and, of course, Kobe Bryant. That alone should help make this change beneficial to Nash.