2. Steve Nash, Lakers: Nash agreed to come to Los Angeles for one final shot at an NBA title. The two-time MVP is 38, and there is concern whether he can continue to play at a high level, even with all those weapons around him. Nash should rise to the occasion.
3. Ray Allen, Heat: Allen left the Celtics to sign with the rival Heat and will come off the bench, the same role he would not accept with the Celtics. The Heat were looking for another shooter and veteran presence, and Allen will fill those roles. You wonder whether he could have done the same thing in Boston.
POTENTIAL BUSTS WITH NEW TEAMS
1. Andrew Bynum, 76ers: He did not participate in training camp because of knee problems and the 76ers say they won’t play him until he’s pain free. That might be months. He is the 76ers’ primary threat in the paint, but his desire to fulfill his potential has always been questioned. What will Philly fans say?
2. Jeremy Lin, Rockets: Is he really an $8 million-per-year player or just a name to put fans in seats in Houston? Lin will no longer carry the upstart label with the Rockets and will be relied upon to lead a young team. That’s a big responsibility for someone who has played just 35 meaningful games in his NBA career, although the addition of James Harden should ease the burden.
3. Brandon Roy, Timberwolves: Through no fault of his own, Roy might not make it because of knees that forced him to retire from the Portland Trail Blazers in December. He signed a two-year deal with the Timberwolves, his knees feeling rejuvenated. But then again, Roy hasn’t endured the pounding of an NBA season and he’ll have to prove he can play at a high level.
TOP STORY LINES
1. Can the Heat repeat? Miami brought back the core of the 2012 title team and added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. In 2007, the defending champion Heat were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs because they were so inconsistent. Can LeBron encourage teammates to end the banquet circuit?
2. Will the Lakers return to the Finals with Nash and Howard? General manager Mitch Kupchak nabbed Howard and Nash through trades to capitalize on Kobe Bryant’s remaining years. The team is unquestionably interesting, but the bench is questionable. Can Bryant still lead the league in scoring despite his age (34) and responsibilities?
3. Will the Knicks emerge as a factor with an older roster? To remain relevant, the Knicks acquired Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Rasheed Wallace, and Kurt Thomas. Although they are loaded with big names, are they loaded with talent? And is Atlanta castoff Mike Woodson the right coach to lead them?
COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT
1. Vinny Del Negro: The Clippers underachieved last season, losing to the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs. And if this year’s club, with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, fails to get off to a positive start or barely makesthe playoffs, Del Negro could be dumped for a more experienced, high-profile coach.
2. Alvin Gentry: The Suns have been stuck the past few years with aging players and a lack of talent. Now the team is rebuilding and Gentry is in charge of leading the Suns back to respectability. If they struggle or the youngsters don’t develop, he could be gone.
3. Scott Skiles: The Bucks held on to him for another season, which happens to be the final one of his contract. If his hard-charging style doesn’t result in a rapid start, he could be the first coach to go. The Bucks have disappointed the past two seasons.