LOS ANGELES -- As they watched
As he begins his 14th season with the Lakers, Bryant is once again the key piece in L.A.'s championship puzzle. But it's Artest who has the potential to complete that puzzle -- or turn it upside down. On paper, Artest represents a significant upgrade to the departed
Here are some other questions teams are facing as they open training camp.
Question: How will the Cavs integrate
You can't pick up an article about the Cavs without reading a quote from
Carter is a better scorer than Turkoglu and is nearly his equal in fourth-quarter production (4.7 points per game for Carter, 5.3 for Turkoglu). He's also one of the best pick-and-roll players in the league. But Carter doesn't have Turkoglu's passing skills or the size to create mismatches at small forward.
All eyes will be on KG's balky knee. The Celtics say Garnett is healthy after missing the last 25 games of the regular season and the entire playoffs with a knee sprain; they will need him to be 100 percent if they plan on making another run at an NBA title.
To compensate for the loss of Carter, Nets coach
Question: How will
As big an issue as the point guard situation is (
Question: Can Kuester earn the players' respect?
We've seen it before -- a rookie coach comes in and is immediately run over in the locker room. But Kuester has a long track record as an assistant and familiarity with Pistons veterans
Question: How small will
The Bucks have myriad issues --
The Hawks thought they were set at point guard -- that was until the Cavaliers used
Gordon's explosive scoring and clutch shooting won't be missed as much if Deng returns to form. After missing the last 22 games of the regular season with a stress fracture Deng is healthy and will need to be the 18.8 point/7.1 rebound player he was in '06-'07 for the Bulls to be successful.
Chandler played only 45 games last season while battling an arthritic ankle the required surgery in the offseason. He also had his troublesome left toe operated on. If healthy, Chandler is a strong rebounder who plays the pick-and-roll as well as any big man in the league. If not, Charlotte gave
Question: How quickly (if at all) will the
Question: How healthy is
Dunleavy was limited to only 18 games last season with a knee injury, which effectively crippled the Pacers' season. A sprain on his troublesome right knee will keep him out of the season opener. But the Pacers need to get him back in the lineup quickly.
Question: Who is going to help
Adding another point guard seemed to be a foregone conclusion after Duhon faded badly down the stretch last season. But the Knicks struck out with
With Arenas out of the lineup for most of last season, the Wizards plummeted to the bottom of the conference standings. Now that he's back healthy, Washington is expected to contend for one of the top-four seeds. Saunders is used to handling superstars (Garnett,
Question: How will Artest affect the team chemistry?
With Artest on board the Lakers can -- at least on paper -- play big (Bryant-Artest-Odom-Gasol-Bynum) or small (Gasol-Artest-Bryant). It will be incumbent on
The athletic Jefferson adds a new dynamic to a team that is used to having relatively unathletic players at his position. The Spurs aren't used to playing a lot in transition but with Jefferson and
Question: How will the Nuggets replace
The departure of Jones and Kleiza via free agency left Denver with a void in the toughness department. They will try to fill that void with
Question: Who is the starting point guard?
Brooks emerged as a rising star after the Rockets traded
Question: Where does
Marion has been penciled in as the team's starting small forward but that will require
Question: Emeka Okafor and
There is a reason the Hornets were considered a team on the rise after the '07-'08 season. When healthy, Paul and Chandler were a devastating pick-and-roll combination. Okafor isn't as athletic around the rim but he's a more polished offensive player who should be able to ease the offensive burden on Paul and
Question: How will the
It was widely assumed that Boozer would be traded in the offseason after the Jazz committed $32 million to
Question: Is Nash happy?
The Suns have consulted Nash on every personnel move they have made this offseason and handed him a $22 million extension on top of that. But Nash may not be happy finishing his career with a team that isn't expected to contend for anything in the next few years.
Question: How will the
Question: Who is the starting point guard (Take II)?
Timberwolves GM has made no secret that
Memphis hasn't ahd any discernable threat in the low post since Gasol was shipped out of town. On paper Randolph fills that need -- provided he doesn't alienate his coaches and teammates with his ball hogging tendencies first.
Question: Who will emerge as the starting shooting guard?
The Clippers cleared the path for Griffin when they traded Randolph in the offseason.
Few scouts doubt that Evans will become a star -- but at what position? Evans was explosive in the open floor at the NBA's summer league but questions remain whether he has the playmaking skills to be a point guard. The question won't be decided in training camp but Evans will get a shot at earning the spot.