It is amazing the way 2009 is breezing by. It doesn’t feel like it’s been four months since the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers were battling for the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy. The 2009-2010 NBA season is less than two weeks away and it is the “Lake Show’s” turn to wear the bull’s eye. When the newly crowned NBA champions look into their rear view window this season, they will see 29 NBA teams gearing up to take their title.
This off-season was interesting as players found new homes for 2009. Oklahoma’s All-American standout player Blake Griffin made most of the NBA draft headlines as being the #1 overall pick of the Los Angeles Clippers. The 6′ 10″, 248 pound power forward should offer a much needed low-post presence for the struggling Clippers. Tyler Hansbrough, who help the University of North Carolina win the 2009 NCAA championship, was selected 13th overall by the Indiana Pacers. Hansbrough’s energy and work ethic are major assets for the Pacers. Rookies such as sharp shooter Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors), Ty Lawson (Minnesota Timberwolves), Hasheem Thabeet (Memphis Grizzlies), and Tyreke Evans (Sacramento Kings) should all help their teams in the future.
The drama of free agency this summer was exciting. We saw Shaq joined forces with Lebron James in Cleveland. The Shaq signing not only gives the Cavaliers hopes of winning a championship, but it could also ensure “KING JAMES” stay in Cleveland. The Boston Celtics upgraded their team by acquiring Rasheed Wallace from Detroit. In my opinion, this pickup automatically makes the Celtics “Top Dog” in the East. My beloved Lakers parted ways with fan favorite Trevor Ariza, who went to the Houston Rockets, but got Ron Artest in return. Even though L.A. wouldn’t have won the championship without Ariza’s play, Artest is the smarter choice. Artest can do everything on the court that Ariza can do, but better. If Rasheed’s addition to the C’s put them on top of the East, “Ron Ron” as his friends call him, makes the “Lake Show” favorites to repeat. How ’bout them Spurs? San Antonio not only picked up Richard Jefferson, but they snagged Antonio McDyess. Both players are extremely talented and versatile, which makes them strong contenders in the Western Conference. The Orlando Magic, reigning Eastern Conference Champions, traded for high flyer Vince Carter. Vince, “The Human Highlight Reel”, will give the Magic a realistic chance to defend the east crown, but failure to re-sign Hedo Turkoglu (Toronto Raptors), could come back to haunt the Magic. If Mark Cuban thinks that the aquisition of Shawn Marion and bringing back an old Jason Kidd makes his Dallas Mavericks a contender, he’s in for a rude awakening. The “Matrix” and his new team, Dallas will have rough times this year. The Western Conference is too loaded and the Mavs will fold under the pressure.
So what will happen this season? Will a fully healthy Gilbert Arenas get back to the “Agent Zero” we’ve come to know? Is Manu Ginobili durable enough to play 82 games for the Spurs? How strong is Kevin Garnett’s knee and will it hold up come playoff time? Did Memphis make the right move by signing Allen Iverson? Can he share the ball? Now that Flip Saunders is in the Nation’s Capital, can he turn the ‘Wiz Kids” into winners? Did Kurt Rambis make a mistake in leaving the Lakers to coach the awful Timberwolves? What about the replacement referees? How long will it take for the NBA and the referee’s union to reach a deal? The regular referees struggled to get calls right, now the players have to deal with replacements? I’m curious to see how many fines and suspensions the NBA will hand out to players and coaches when the “Scab” officials make questionable calls altering the outcome of games. Can the Lakers repeat and if not, who will dethrone them? Will Ron Ron behave or cause mischief? With these questions…it’s going will be very interesting to see how things unfold this season. Let the games begin!
By Keith Madyun