Key questions to ponder as training camps begin this week:

Is Shaq in shape? If O'Neal's arthritic right big toe is sound
and his weight is down, he can stabilize the Lakers during the
tumult surrounding Kobe Bryant.

How will Rick Carlisle differ from Isiah Thomas? To do what
Thomas couldn't--advance through the playoffs--the new Pacers
coach must establish a steady rotation.

Is Vin Baker back? The former All-Star center, 10 pounds lighter
and recovering from alcoholism, could help the Celtics regain
home court advantage in the East.

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH O'Neal