With the NBA set to tip off its 2014-15 season, here are 10 stories basketball fans should keep an eye over the next few months.
In Cleveland: The new Big Three
LeBron James will team with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to form a new Big Three with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The pressure definitely will be on James to finally deliver a long-awaited championship to Cleveland. If James is able to do it this season, his move back home to Cleveland becomes legendary.
In Los Angeles: Kobe Bryant is back
Kobe Bryant returned from a torn Achilles last season but played in just six games before injuring his left knee and missing most of the season. Bryant appears to be healthy, but how much does he have left? Bryant will be looking for one last defining moment as his storied Lakers career winds down.
In Chicago: Rose returns
Derrick Rose barely was into his comeback from a torn left ACL when he tore the medial meniscus in his right knee in November 2013. That wiped out the rest of his season. But the Bulls point guard played for the U.S. national team over the summer and is primed to once again lead the Bulls.
In San Antonio: Spurs look for repeat
What do the Spurs do for an encore after dismantling LeBron James and the Heat in just five games in the NBA Finals? The Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is a year older. The West once again will be loaded. But never count out the Spurs. They always find a way.
In New York: A full season of Phil
Phil Jackson embarks on his first full season running the Knicks. The Zen Master’s to-do list: get the triangle offense up and going, start teaching Carmelo Anthony how to win a title, and keep the Knicks in a good salary cap situation to make a splash in free agency in the summer of 2015.
In Oakland: The Warriors' way
The Warriors are young, deep and talented. But can Golden State get through the vaunted West and make it to the NBA Finals? The Warriors will go as far as their fabulous backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson takes them.
In Miami: The Heat is on
With LeBron gone, what’s left in Miami? Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are back. The Heat also added free agent Luol Deng. But will it be enough? Miami could have a tough time getting one of the top four spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
In Oklahoma City: Thunderstruck
Oklahoma City will need to manage at least the first month of the regular season without superstar Kevin Durant, who recently had right foot surgery. The Thunder are expected to be one of the contenders in the West. But without Durant, Oklahoma City cannot afford to get into a big hole early in the treacherous West.
In Washington: Wizards are rising
Looking for a sleeper team that could take down the Cavaliers or Bulls? The Wizards could be it. John Wall and Bradley Beal form one of the league’s best backcourts. Beal, however, will miss two months with a fractured left wrist. Paul Pierce brings veteran leadership and championship experience.
In Los Angeles: A new start for Clippers
The Donald Sterling saga is in the past. New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is now in charge and it’s a fresh start for the franchise. The Clippers have the pieces (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and head coach Doc Rivers) to do some big things this season.