Power Rankings: Billups would be a steal in Melo deal

by | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
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Updated Jan. 11

If the three-team Carmelo Anthony blockbuster goes down anywhere close to how it's being reported, it's clear who the big winner will be: The fourth team.

Make no mistake about it: The Nets would be much improved the instant Anthony decides to sign a contract extension and assure New Jersey it's more than just a three-month layover.

Several teams have shown interest in acquiring Chauncey Billups. (Getty Images)  
Several teams have shown interest in acquiring Chauncey Billups. (Getty Images)  
The Nuggets, who are in serious disarray as we speak, would get a nice jump-start on a new life with, in essence, three first-round picks, including one (Derrick Favors) who already has a taste of the NBA.

And the Pistons, who are no better off long-term than the Nuggets but have yet to grasp this, would finally acknowledge a fire sale is the fastest track to a brighter future.

But nobody would be as well off as the team that lands Chauncey Billups basically for nothing.

Without question, Billups is the man to watch in this deal. If he, as reported, insists upon a buyout from his next employer, his availability on the free-agent market would figure to impact the 2011 NBA race a whole lot more than Anthony would on a middle-of-the-pack Eastern team.

Imagine Billups, having pocketed $5 million just to earn the most envious status in basketball, out there on the open market, available for just a veterans' minimum contract ...

 He'd make Miami not only the sure-thing champion but also potentially one of the greatest teams of all-time.

 He'd move in alongside Kobe Bryant and give the Lakers a Bigger Three than Miami's.

 He'd transform the Bulls' weakness (backcourt mate for Derrick Rose) into a strength.

 And he'd give Atlanta the boost it needs to join the league's elite, allowing the Hawks to deal Mike Bibby for another big-time piece.

Billups' decision not only could tilt the balance toward one of the current contenders, but also prompt the others to counter with a bold move. With no cap space available, the response probably would come in the form of a buyout player as well.

Today, let's look at the type of potential buyout candidates who could be a player in the 2011 race, and which teams (the sellers) could play a significant role in others' championship pursuit.

The buyout binge begins with a new team sitting atop the CBSSports.com NBA Power Rankings: The Heat. Yep, the same guys who would be rated the early favorite to land Billups if he were given the ability to choose.

RANK TEAM MOVE (LW)
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