Speaking of transitions, let's see how the Phoenix Suns do with Shaquille O'Neal getting a full training camp next to Amare Stoudemire, along with the transition that comes with the departure of Mike D'Antoni and the more traditional coaching style of Terry Porter. Steve Nash will be 35 at the All-Star break, and we really don't know how young players like Leandro Barbosa and Boris Diaw will respond. This will be a different team.
The same goes for the Los Angeles Clippers, who thought they were going to add free agent point guard Baron Davis to the team with the possibility of retaining both Elton Brand and Corey Maggette. Instead, they got Davis, and lost both. They did steal Marcus Camby from the Nuggets to establish a formidable post duo with Chris Kaman, but they lack depth and overall talent.
In the same breath, the Golden State Warriors lost Davis, gained Maggette, but suddenly will start the season without budding young star Monta Ellis to a severe ankle injury from a moped accident. And there's always the interminable question of where Stephen Jackson's head is this season as well. Meanwhile, how long before Don Nelson bows out and heads for Maui again?
That leaves us with Reggie Theus' second season with the Sacramento King. They unloaded Artest and don't have much left in the talent pool except for a bunch of young guys like Kevin Martin, Francisco Garcia and Quincy Douby -- with developing point guard Beno Udrih huge in the equation. And there's always the hope that Brad Miller plays a full season at center and maybe helps young Spencer Hawes develop. But this remains a team in transition.
The prevailing question lingering over the Utah Jazz is will Jerry Sloan retire from the game as the most revered coach ever to win neither an NBA title, nor a coach of the year award. They've got the tools again, with superior point guard Deron Williams, potent Carlos Boozer, and talented front court players Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur. They should dominate the division, but something else has to happen for them to get to the next level.
It's hard to know what to make of the Portland Trail Blazers, other than Kevin Pritchard and Nate McMillan have put together an amazing array of very young talent around 20-year-old center Greg Oden, LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. Adding star Spaniard Rudy Fernandez and top draft choice Jerryd Bayless just adds to the tough decisions. It makes some people wonder if expectations are too high and if they should unload some of that young talent in exchange for a veteran leader.
One team that had no problem unloading veterans was the Denver Nuggets. Strangely enough, this defensively-challenged group lost their two best defensive players -- Marcus Camby and Eduardo Najera. So that means coach George Karl will let loose his dynamic scoring trio of Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith to shoot and score at will. They'll be fun, but frustrated again.
We'll see what is to be with the Minnesota Timberwolves in their reconstruction from the Garnett trade of a year ago. Yes, Al Jefferson looks like a star, plus they dealt Memphis the rights to O.J. Mayo for talented but cumbersome rookie Kevin Love and all-around talent Mike Miller. They should be better, but improvement from 22 wins isn't saying much.
And lastly, there may be a clap of Thunder, the team that like lightning moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City in what is an embarrassment for everyone involved. Nonetheless, there will be the future of 2008 rookie of the year Kevin Durant on display, with Jeff Green and not much else, as the former Sonics are coming off their worst season in franchise history.