View Full Version : NBA training camp packing plenty of story lines

09-08-2010, 09:58 AM
The NBA does training camp differently. Centers and forwards do not report early, unlike pitchers and catchers. Players aren't put through a series of time trials for the mile run (football). Nor do they get up and the crack of dawn for a long jog on a lonely country road (boxing).

For the most part, there's very little drama. The rosters are virtually set, camp runs about two weeks and most "news" already happened a few months ago, during the draft and free agency.

But as camp approaches, there are some subplots simmering, enough to make for an interesting stretch in October. Here are a few:

Pistons on the brink
You can't find a great franchise that's crashed harder in the last five years than the Pistons. Where there were once sellouts, there's now empty seats. Whereas the Pistons once owned the Detroit sports scene, there's now apathy. Once upon a time, Joe Dumars had the right touch; now, that touch looks like lead. Ownership under Bill Davidson was strong and healthy. Ownership under Karen Davidson, his widow, is temporary until another buyer is found. Tom Wilson ran the Pistons with a clever hand, and now, there's uncertainty at the top. As they prepare to begin camp, the Pistons find themselves in a fractured state, dealing with the controversial death of a beloved ex-public relations exec (Matt Dobek) and wondering when and if the good times will ever return. How can they put a positive spin on 2010-11 under these circumstances?

Jamal Crawford and Hawks
He wants a contract extension and yet you wonder if the Hawks, mindful of the luxury tax, are done spending big. They just gave Joe Johnson the richest free agent deal of the summer and must negotiate soon with Al Horford, their other All-Star. Crawford is too much of a good guy to be a distraction in camp, but still, his mood bears watching if he and the Hawks don't reach an agreement. The Hawks surrendered a portion of their financial flexibility two summers ago when they extended Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia and Mike Bibby.

Shaq takes Boston by storm
Already, the Big Clam Chowda has made a well-received appearance in Harvard Square and crashed a wedding at a Hub hotel. The Boston media has fallen for his charm, for good reason, because Shaq is fun (his prime-time TV show, Shaq Vs., was a summer hit). And while he managed to hold his own in a dance contest with Justin Bieber, can he hold it together for 15 minutes a night until January, when Kendrick Perkins recovers?

Chris Paul's mood
Trevor Ariza hasn't meant this much to anybody since he helped the Lakers win a title two years ago. A summer of posturing between Paul and the new Hornets administration was resolved -- or was it? -- once the Hornets swung a deal for Ariza, who didn't exactly set Houston on fire last season after signing as a free agent. Will Ariza flourish in a system that will lean on his considerable skills as a finisher? Or will he shoot under 40 percent again and cause Paul to ask for another summit meeting with the higher ups? Camp will tell.

Andrew Bynum's health
Although the Lakers say he'll be limited in camp, Bynum's summer surgery to repair a partially torn ligament went well. But we've heard this before. Bynum is a very good center, someone who could become an All-Star if he can get through a season without a hiccup. Given his history of surgeries, can we expect his body to hold it together? In a five-year career, four were interrupted by injury. He really hasn't had a chance to fully develop. The Lakers managed to win back-to-back titles largely without him, but they can roll the dice only so long. If Bynum stays healthy, do you like the Lakers' Big Three (Kobe, Pau, Bynum) more than Miami's?

Don Nelson's future
Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, the Warriors' new owners, are busy taking notes and plotting the future for Golden State. It'll be a surprise if Nellie is included in the grand plans. This could very well be the final camp of his coaching career before he rides off into the Hawaiian sunset. Perhaps of bigger concern to the Warriors, in the long term, is whether Stephen Curry, coming off a summer with USA Basketball, will be fresh for camp and the start of the season.

J.J. Redick and Vince Carter
Is a changing of the guard imminent in Orlando? Well, the answer is yes; the issue is whether it happens soon or later. Carter is coming off a poor postseason, while Redick comes to camp bringing confidence and a $19 million deal. The starting position isn't as important as the fourth-quarter minutes. Redick managed to steal some of those minutes against Boston in the conference finals and seems ripe to do it again. But this is a contract year for Carter, a time when players find a second wind.

The return of Agent Zero
Everyone is saying the right thing about Gilbert Arenas and the lessons of the past and how he fits on a team that just grabbed John Wall with the first pick in the draft. If only it were that easy. Camp will give us a first look at how that dynamic will or won't work. Both players are better off with the ball, so initially anyway, this looks like a classic clash, one that Arenas can't win no matter how well he plays. The Wizards' future clearly lies with Wall, and Arenas must either conform or else. His hefty contract makes him tough to trade, unless the Wizards are willing to take back money or lesser players (or both) in exchange.

Contrast between Cavs and Heat
Training camp will be a noisy affair in Miami, with media flocking from all corners and expectations soaring through the roof. Meanwhile, all will be quiet in Cleveland, where the Cavs are now just another team, and a rebuilding one at that. All because LeBron James decided to take his talents to South Beach. Yes, the fortunes of two franchises flipped just like that. While Miami is busy plotting up ways for its Big Three to develop chemistry, the Cavs will weigh whether to go forward with their existing roster or break it up by midseason in order to start fresh next summer. What a difference a year makes.

Last days of Carmelo Anthony?
Can you imagine Melo, with a straight face, on the first day of camp, explaining how happy he is to be in Denver? That is, if he's still in Denver the first day.


09-08-2010, 10:00 AM
I took Redick in my fantasy this year hope he kills it:D. Also where is agent 0 gunna land? or could he stay a wizard

09-08-2010, 10:24 AM
I took Redick in my fantasy this year hope he kills it:D. Also where is agent 0 gunna land? or could he stay a wizard

he will draw his guns at Wall when there's a discussion about who gets to play more minutes :guns:
he will drop a 'dime' in Wall's shoes every time Wall scores more points in a game. :)

seriously, the Knicks might wana upgrade their PG position (Felton) and aquire Arenas?? just a hunch since the Knicks apparently don't care about bad contracts...maybe trade the expiring Curry + Felton?