As the NHL remains on ice with its ongoing lockout, the NBA looks to heat up the coming months with a plethora of hot stories burning this offseason. From a super face lift to the Los Angeles Lakers to a burning desire to remain champions in Miami, there is certainly not a shortage of stories igniting the NBA landscape. On behalf of 990wbob.com, I have compiled the five hottest NBA topics as we get ready to tip off the 2012-2013 NBA season.
5. Los Angeles Clippers: This time last year the Clippers were sitting at the top of the NBA hot stove pulling off a stunning trade to bring in all world point guard Chris Paul to pair with high flying wing man Blake Griffin. After a disappointing finish to the first year of the CP3 era in LA, the Clippers added six man specialists Jamal Crawford to add to the fire power of Lob City. They also added veterans Grant Hill and Lamar Odom to the fold. Hill would love to end a stellar career by making one final push for a championship with this high powered Clipper lineup; however Odom is coming off of his worst and most embarrassing season with Dallas and is in dire need of reclaiming his form which made him a consistent 6th man of the year candidate. Can this LA home coming be the missing ingredient to the success of Lob City, or will the western conference be too strong for Blake Griffin, CP3 and company to overcome?
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had the greatest season to date last year as they guided the Thunder to the western conference championship. Certainly there is no shame in losing to the king; however OKC is looking to shake off the disappointment of a second place NBA finish. The way this team is loaded with young talent, the sky seems to be the limit, the Thunder were even able to add to their collection of young dynamic talent by drafting forward Perry Jones. Although this move may give rise to the trading of sharpshooter James Harden' as it may be cheaper to keep this upstart draft steal than to resign Harden to a big money deal with Durant, Westbrook and Perkins already on the books with big money commitments.
3. Boston Celtics: Well Boston's big three gave it all they had last season, coming within one game of keeping LeBron and company ring-less in south beach. After flaming out against the heat, the Celtics made some proactive changes. They said good bye to Ray Allen, who gave them five years of outstanding play at the two guard position. Allen's departure may have left Boston fans with a bitter taste in their mouths, but with a solid offseason the Celtics are looking to gear up for yet another deep run in the eastern conference. Garnett and Pierce are clearly the locker room leaders, however this Celtic team will only go as far as Rajon Rondo takes them. Rondo's talents include a fantastic ability to keep a fast paced offensive attack going. With the emergence and hopefully speedy recovery of Avery Bradley at the two guard position, this should provide the Celtics with a lethal offensive and defensive presence alongside Rondo. Danny Ainge did a masterful job retooling his bench, including the signing of former sixth man of the year and NBA champ Jason Terry, who should providing some sharp shooting that was lost in Allen's departure. The drafting of Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo will provide some much needed youthful presence to what had been an aging team. The biggest addition to the team may come with the return of forward Jeff Green. Green has been the subject of much ridicule after being traded for Kendrick Perkins two seasons ago. He is looking to silence the haters and prove his worth to the team, after being resigned to a very generous deal; Green has 40 million reasons to be an x factor to 2012-2013 Celtics.
2. Miami Heat: After finally adding a championship to his multiple MVP Awards and Gold Medals, LeBron James is actually remarkably off of the radar going into his first title defense. With the downfall of the Orlando Magic, the competition in the Eastern conference seems to be few and far between. The Celtics were their greatest test last season and seem to be the only true threat to the Heat once again. Former Celtic Ray Allen may look to instill some regret in the minds of Bostonians, as open shots should be plentiful playing alongside Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James. LeBron’s words of “Not one, not two, not six, not seven" were infamous legacy scaring words that followed the king for his first two years in south beach. A successful title defense will do wonders in the King’s efforts to purify his legacy, and perhaps LeBron will finally have a date with destiny and face Kobe and those new look Lakers in the finals.
1. Los Angeles Lakers: After back to back seasons of early playoff exits, the Lakers have assembled a cast truly worthy of the Hollywood spot light. They substitute problem child Andrew Bynum with the greatest defensive center in the Association Dwight Howard. They add assist Jedi master Steve Nash in search of a championship ring to end a hall of fame career, they even add former UNC star Antawn Jamison to a list of forwards including Pau Gasol and Meta World Peace. Certainly you can't buy a championship; the Lakers found that out the hard way when adding Karl Malone and Gary Payton to a team coming off of a three straight titles provided them with a bitter defeat to the Pistons in the Finals. Will history repeat itself, or will LA's offseason moves heat up the NBA season in route to a dream finals matchup against Miami?
- Joe Passarrelli
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