In our series on the NBA schedule breakdown for 2014, today, we look at the top 10 stories that will be the most intriguing this coming season, as well as some stories that may not be on the radar right now, but could bubble down the line.
This is the point in the NBA calendar where most of the main rosters are all taken care of, & with the season kicking off in 10 weeks (wow, can’t believe fall is coming so quickly), here are some of the big storylines to keep track of for the 2014-15 NBA season.
Can the Cavs win an NBA Championship with a new “Big 3” in LeBron, Kyrie & Kevin Love?
When LeBron James made the decision to come back to the hometown Cleveland Cavs after 4 years & 2 NBA Championships with the Miami Heat, it was automatically assumed by many that the Cavs would be the top contender coming out of the NBA Eastern Conference for the championship.
Then, the belief got stronger once Kevin Love agreed to be traded to the Cavs & possibly sign a long-term extension to play along with LeBron & Kyrie Irving. Now that the Cavs are going to be on national TV almost every single week this upcoming season, the question becomes can LeBron, who is basically working on a series of one-year contracts, lead the Cavs to an NBA championship in year one?
James has said that he wants the fans to know that it is a process in terms of learning how to win, but James knows what it takes now & he will be the leader to bring the team together & take them to heights they never knew they had, & know that there is no ceiling on their growth because of the youth movement.
How do the Indiana Pacers move on without Paul George?
As you all know by now, Pacers F Paul George was lost for the season after a brutal leg injury while having a scrimmage with the Team USA basketball squad preparing for the FIBA World Cup.
George was the clear star & main scorer for the franchise, who basically stumbled through the playoff run last year before the Miami Heat finished off their dreams of getting back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000.
While Pacers president Larry Bird may try to say all of the right things in that they will be “competitive” & willing to work hard all season, the best move would be for the Pacers to tank the season & get a top draft pick, along with George coming back next season. The team already lost Lance Stephenson to free agency, via signing with the Charlotte Hornets. Roy Hibbert has been named in many trade talks recently & his playoff performance was abysmal at best.
The Pacers will need to decide who they are going to be this season – a contender, a pretender or a team treading water until 2015-16.
Is Kobe Bryant Finished as a Star Player with the Los Angeles Lakers?
The last two seasons have been brutal for Kobe Bryant, dealing with ACL injuries. Bryant tried to come back last season, but was gone after about 5 games. He didn’t look like himself & he absolutely rushed back to quickly.
But, now what he is coming back to? He is coming back to a team that is truly mediocre at best, especially now that Pau Gasol, the only other dominant scoring option on the team last year, is now with the Chicago Bulls.
Kobe is coming back to the Lakers because his ego & pride tells him that he can lead the team back to the NBA Finals, which if one player could singularly do it in the league, it would be Kobe. But even though his personal physical shape might be okay, the team around him is just not what its supposed to be to be a playoff contender at this point.
Steve Nash has admittedly exercised his player option simply because of the money & to probably deal with the divorce situation with his wife in Arizona. Nick Young is not a player you can build a franchise around & someone that Kobe probably doesn’t have tons of love or respect for because of his self-grandizing style as “Swaggy P.” Julius Randle is a rookie from Kentucky, but does have some promise for the future.
Yes, Kobe is getting paid for his years of service with the Lakers organization, but its difficult not to wonder if the team could have saved some big money if they just let Bryant play out his time & move on into retirement or into the team front office. A question that could also pop up throughout the season – if Bryant stays healthy, how will he enjoy playing for Byron Scott, a Lakers legend but hasn’t won a championship in the NBA as a coach?
Does Phil Jackson Have The Magic Touch To Get The New York Knicks An NBA Championship?
Last year, Phil Jackson was hired to be the president of basketball operations for the New York Knicks, a team who completely fell off the grid after a second-round playoff berth in 2012-13, when they won 54 games.
The team did not respond to coach Mike Woodson, & when Jackson was hired, it basically spelled the end of Woodson’s tenure. Was it all his fault? No. The Knicks were injured at key positions, & were trying to have a youth movement & play around the skills of Carmelo Anthony.
This year, the Knicks have made some great moves to get more young players in the lineup, & next season, the contracts of Amar’e Stoudamire & J.R. Smith will be off the books, which will allow the team to spend some serious money in terms of bringing in more help around Anthony, which was no doubt one of the main selling points that Jackson had to push to ‘Melo when he was on the free agent tour this summer.
If Anthony can take what Jackson says to heart & really embraces the triangle system that Jackson & new head coach Derek Fisher will probably implement, with the young talent like Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert & others around him, Anthony can get the Knicks turned into the right direction & be a stronger overall leader on & off the court.