Top Storylines of The Upcoming 2012-13 NBA Season
What NBA Stories to Follow in 2012-13
The 2012-13 NBA season is now close at hand.
It was only a few months ago that the Miami Heat were holding a championship parade on the city’s Biscayne Boulevard after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in five NBA Finals games. Since then several teams have made moves to catch up to Miami and Oklahoma City.
From the Los Angeles Lakers landing Steve Nash in free agency and Dwight Howard via trade to the Boston Celtics trying to stave off Father Time, the NBA landscape has changed drastically due to the draft and off season signings and trades.
The Heat didn’t sit pat either like in 2006 when the franchise won its first NBA title. The team added to their perimeter arsenal when it landed Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis in free agency to complement their ‘Big 3’ of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Along with players changing jerseys the specter of teams changing cities is hanging over small markets like Sacramento due to financial hardships and owner incompetence.
The biggest move of all though belongs to the former New Jersey Nets as they start a new era in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center to do something the franchise has wanted to do since its inception, battle the New York Knicks for the fans of New York City on equal ground.
Now with the season tipping off in less than three weeks here is a look at the storylines that will stand out as the NBA begins a new year.
#7: Is This The Last Season For The Kings in Sacramento?
One of the most compelling stories in recent NBA history has centered on the Sacramento Kings and the efforts of the team owners, the Maloof brothers, to move the team to Anaheim.
Initially the Maloofs wanted a brand new arena to be built in Sacramento with them paying as little for it as possible. However, their personal financial situation has worsened to the point that they have been actively seeking a venue that would actually pay them to host the Kings. They found a suitor in the Honda Center and were taking the steps to move the team.
Sacramento residents, who remember the plight of the residents of Seattle before that city lost an NBA franchise very well, chose to fight back.
Last season it appeared that the story would have a happy ending. Former NBA player and current Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson reached an agreement with the Maloofs on financing a new arena in the city on March only to have the brothers back out.
Now the clock is ticking once again. The Maloofs know they have burned any bridges they had left with the city and Sacramento residents know that the current fiscal condition of the city and the state of California are not on their side.
Adding intrigue to the situation is the city government of Seattle recently voting to approve a tentative agreement to build a new sports complex in hopes of attracting NBA and NHL teams.
#6: Will The Borough of Brooklyn Buy Into The Nets?
The Nets have always wanted to call New York their home, but have been thwarted in some shape or fashion throughout their history.
That ends this season when the team will start calling the Barclays Center home. The brand new arena is located in what interestingly can be called the city’s most individualistic borough, Brooklyn.
In their move to Brooklyn the Nets have completely changed their image from their team logo and colors to the roster itself. The team hopes that being the first major sports franchise to call the borough home since the Los Angeles Dodgers will appeal to the independent zeal of its residents.
The Nets will still face controversy in their inaugural Brooklyn due to how their new home was built. Many Brooklyn residents and community activists had tried to stop construction of the Barclays Center in the courts but were unsuccessful. Recently new protests by the same community groups have been held because of what they view as promises of jobs and affordable housing made by proponents of the arena being broken.
#5: Knicks vs Nets: Battle For New York City’s Basketball Soul
The Knicks have enjoyed an almost completely unchallenged reign as the main basketball franchise in New York throughout their history. Even when the ABA wanted to have their own team in the city the Knicks bullied any venue that would host the team. Eventually the ABA would have that team and it became the New York Nets.
The Knicks and Nets have almost always been at war either on the basketball court or in an actual courtroom. In both instances the Knicks have normally come out on top with them relegating the Nets to at first Long Island and then New Jersey.
That will change this season with the Nets finally achieving their goal of having a home in the city.
Normally the fact that the Nets will be in Brooklyn shouldn’t scare the Knicks. However, with the Nets having revamped their roster along the previous decade of incompetence from Isiah Thomas there is an actual reason for the Knicks to worry.
Should the Nets have a better season than the Knicks it won’t surprise anyone if some New Yorkers put away their blue and orange to don the black and white. After all New York, like any other city, loves winners.
#4: Is This The Swan Song For The Boston Celtics?
While accomplishing that goal in their first season together, that Boston trio wasn’t able to replicate that success as age and questionable front office moves set upon the franchise.
Now with their ‘Big 3’ era ended by Allen going to Miami, Pierce and Garnett face a tough task ahead. Even with new blood in veterans Jason Terry and Darko Milicic along with rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo on the roster, it doesn’t change the fact that time is catching up to the Celtics.
Boston has a tough road ahead just in their division with two revamped teams in the Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, not to mention the already star loaded yet older Knicks.
What will be most interesting is what Pierce and Garnett will do after the season ends as both have made it known that they will retire at the same time.
#3: Can The New Look Los Angeles Lakers Work?
There is a saying in the NBA that the Lakers don’t ever rebuild, they just reload.
That saying looks to be proven true as the team was able to sign Nash by using the trade exemption it received in the Lamar Odom trade and pulled off a four team deal to land Howard.
The question is now whether the team will look as good on the floor as they do on paper.
Several factors will go into this. There is the overall health of Nash that will be evaluated closely. There is the new Princeton offense that head coach Mike Brown has instituted. There is the time it will take for Howard to fully come back from back surgery. Finally there is the question of whether Kobe Bryant will fully buy into the program.
#2: Will The ‘Dwightmare’ Drama Come Back to Life?
When the Lakers traded for Howard, it was viewed as the perfect situation for the best pick-&-roll center in the NBA.
However, as with all situations involving Howard, not everything is certain.
Howard did himself no favors when he essentially held the Orlando Magic hostage for two years while trying to bully his way onto the Nets. He initially also had the Lakers high on his list but that changed when Bryant reportedly told Howard that he would be at most the third option in LA.
If a similar situation happens again there is no telling what Howard, who is in the final year of his contract, will do.
Knowing Howard’s desire to be the main guy on the team, should that situation happen again it won’t be surprising to find him demanding a trade to Brooklyn after January 16. That date is when Nets center Brook Lopez will once again be able to be traded.
#1: Can The Miami Heat Repeat as NBA Champions?
It’s always hard to win just one NBA championship. It’s even harder to win back to back championships.
That’s what the Heat hope to do when they start the season.
Unlike in the 2006-07 year when Miami returned with the entire team intact, team president Pat Riley reloaded by signing Allen and Lewis to strengthen their bench and perimeter shooting.
The Heat made another adjustment in making Bosh their full time center, a move that proved successful in the last year’s playoffs.
The journey will have a tough start though as Wade and Allen are still recovering from off season surgeries and Lewis is still getting his legs back due to his own knee ailments.
Miami does have the benefit of playing in a real weak division due to the Howard trade. As far as the Eastern Conference, competition for the Heat is somewhat slim. The Chicago Bulls are without Derrick Rose and with a much different bench. The Celtics are another year older. The Knicks chose to become older. The Indiana Pacers seem to be currently the top competition in the East for Miami, but they still lack an actual superstar.
The biggest obstacles for the Heat's chances at repeating as NBA championship are the Thunder and the Lakers. Miami knows it can beat one of the two, the other will be more of the mystery.