I am willing to admit this is the time of year where things kind of slow down in terms of the NBA. It seems far to early to start making predictions for the upcoming season. In terms of news, things have pretty much died off for now. All that said we have a good idea of what should be the major stories for the upcoming NBA Season. So here is my take on what people will be talking about.
The Brooklyn Nets : Just the fact they have moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn is a story in itself. Brooklyn has not had a pro sports team since the Brooklyn Dodgers back in the 50's. I imagine Jack Armstrong sitting in the stands rooting for them as a small boy. This is a big deal though and it should make the rivalry between the Nets and Knicks mean more than it ever has. Heading into this off-season many felt the Nets debut in Brooklyn was going to fall flat in terms of the on court product. Most felt Mark Cuban would swoop in and land Deron Williams and the Nets off-season would be an epic failure. This didn't happen of course and the Nets not only kept him but added Joe Johnson and a number of other interesting pieces to the puzzle. Among those former Raptors Kris Humphries who eventually re-signed with the Nets and Reggie Evans who they acquired in a sign and trade with the Clippers. Some think the Nets could go from all the way out of the playoffs to into the top 4 in the Eastern Conference. That is a big jump if they can actually pull it off. They might be as big a story as the Knicks when all is said and done. It was not a great summer for the Knicks as they saw a few players signed away and failed like the Raptors to acquire Steve Nash.
Is Linsanity For Real?: Seems a good time to mention Jeremy Lin, who said so long to New York for a big pay day in Houston. No doubt all eyes will be fixed on him to see if he can have the same kind of success with a much younger and inexperienced group in Houston. The contract he signed by almost all accounts is insane and the fact that in 3 years Jeremy Lin will be making the kind of money some big time proven NBA All-Stars make is kind of laughable. The Tim Tebow of the NBA does not have to worry about beating out anyone in Houston. They cleared the deck by trading Lowry to Toronto and seeing Goron Dragic walk. Kevin McCale has a tough job in front of him and the success of Lin will likely determine if he is still coaching in Houston when Lin is due all those big bucks in Houston.
Got One now can you get Two: Miami Heat and the defense of their NBA Title will always be a story. In fact the Heat champs or not are always a story. They have added some vets to the mix and can argue they are even stronger in defense of their NBA Title. Will Ray Allen find new life in Miami playing reduced minutes with the Big 3 on the floor making him a 4th option at times. It is going to be strange seeing his mom in a Heat Jersey. Lebron of course did not just promise Miami would win one title he promised they would win Not 4, Not 5 and so on. To get there though you need to reach number 2. James was a lone wolf in terms of his appearance at the Olympics as both Bosh and Wade took a pass on London due to injuries. I can only imagine the conversation between Lebron and Kobe when news broke of the Dwight Howard trade. It was often speculated that Lakers and Cavs could meet up in the NBA Finals for a generation . It never happened and we still wait to see if a Kobe vs Lebron final will be in the cards. Given the power both have behind them now it seems a more real possibility than ever. Just don't tell Kevin Durant or anyone on OKC that.
The Lake Show Is Back: The Lakers were the big winners of the off-season sweepstakes. First they swoop in out of no where and land Steve Nash. That was pretty good on it's own. They were not done though as the rumours of Superman II coming to L.A became reality. Kobe was a co-star in the original Superman movie along side Shaq and Phil Jackson. That group would be dominate and win a few championships to add to the Lakers impressive legacy. When Kobe Bryant is praising management in L.A you know they did something right. The Lakers looked like old news as the Thunder pretty much took care of them with out breaking much of a sweat in doing so. Just when you thought the torch had been passed the Lakers said not so fast. On paper with Nash running the show this could be just an insanely good basketball team. Much like when Miami former their Big Three of James, Bosh and Wade all of the talk is about what this group in L.A could potentially do? The key might be health though. Nash has his issues health wise as he is not getting any younger. Same is true for Kobe Bryant who even admitted that he sees the day when this will be Dwight's team after he is gone. Howard himself is coming off back issues. So Lakers better have signed a great massage therapist as well this off-season. This is a very interesting cast of characters and yes Ron Artest AKA Metta World Peace is still there. Miami and L.A will dominate the headlines this season as everyone looks for a reason these two teams are not destined to meet up in the NBA Finals.
Respect OKC: Not that anyone would admit this but the Lakers rise might be just what the OKC Thunder needed to remain motivated and focused. Kevin Durant stood out in a sea of stars on the U.S Dream Team in London. He unlike Kobe or Lebron had his boys along for the ride. Westbrook and Harden were also on that team of course. OKC made it to the NBA Finals and could not close the deal vs the Miami Heat. The normal nature for a team who has made the giant steps the the Thunder have is to become satisfied to a degree and think it will be easier now. Lakers by their off-season made that pretty much impossible to think now. I would venture to say most of the folks that supported OKC as the next dominate franchise for years to come to challenge the Heat have gone Hollywood. That is likely fine with Oklahoma City they represent a one sport town in which they rule everything. However more than that they represent an idealistic view of how people would like to see a team win a championship. They are built through the draft mostly and have done it the old fashion way. They didn't prey on small markets and go steal their stars. Ultimately it will be them fighting to retain the respect that they deserve. Scott Brooks as a coach can focus on the X's and O's as the motivation part has been taken care of by the Lakers.
In terms of here with the Raptors will save that for another day but it will be all about if these young pieces can over-achieve as the Atlantic Division form top to bottom on paper looks like one of the tougher divisions in the NBA. Note I am going be down in Toronto tomorrow actually working on some stuff for down the line in the DNB. So if there is not a blog tomorrow that is why. If you see someone that looks like me in Toronto tomorrow it may in fact be me. So feel free to say hello.