Start The Camp Countdown

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We can see the starting blocks now.

Training camp is around the corner.

The official start is still a few weeks away, but if you pop your head into the practice facility of just about any team today you’re guaranteed to see NBA players getting a head start on the 2010-11 season.

They realize what’s at stake. They know how important the first steps of a marathon can be for anyone with playoff or even loftier expectations.

Summer school is over folks — and don’t you wish the folks grading your papers in college were the same folks handing out these summer report cards around here (not a single F was delivered, not one)?

The pressure is on all around the league, on players, coaches and front office types that understand the time to make a move up the league’s food chain is now. Kobe Bryant and the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers were the only ones that could go into the summer with any feeling of satisfaction, knowing full well that the good vibrations could last for only so long.



It’s time to the make the donuts again, or close to it, and that means there are questions we need answered.

Five burning questions to start HT’s training camp countdown:

1. Can the Orlando Magic spoil the parade plans in Miami and Boston?

Magic fans have been pounding the HT inbox this summer arguing that their team is being left out of the conversation of title contenders this season. And they’re probably right. Most of the insiders we’ve spoken with this summer don’t hold the Magic in the same regard they did this time a year ago, when they were the reigning Eastern Conference champions and still smarting from that ’09 Finals defeat to the Lakers.

They still have the nucleus of a team that won 59 games, finished second to Cleveland in the East and had the second best overall record in the entire league. Dwight Howard is a year older and better, as is Jameer Nelson, and there aren’t any chemistry concerns for Stan Van Gundy, who won’t have to refer to the periodic table the way Doc Rivers and Erik Spoelstra will in Boston and Miami, respectively.

Yet, no one seems to be particularly high on the Magic after a relatively uneventful summerQuentin Richardson and Chris Duhon signed and J.J. Redick stayed while Matt Barnes, Adonal Foyle and Anthony Johnson departed.

An underdog tag could be exactly what the Magic need to motivate them this season. And of all the teams in the East that could play spoiler to a potential Heat-Celtics battle for the top spot, no one seems better equipped to do so than Orlando.


2. Is Yao Ming ready to revive the Rockets?

The nail-biting going on in Houston this summer and heading into training camp has been and is all about Yao Ming. No one is sure he’s going to be the same. There is a hope that he’ll be back to his All-Star form after yet another injury-riddled season destroyed any plans the Rockets had of contending in the Western Conference.

You can argue the most valuable player in the league all day long, but few players are as indispensable as Yao, who has played all 82 regular season games just once in his career. The Rockets entire season hinges on Yao’s health.

Rockets beat writer Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle breaks it down:

More than ever, Yao remains the key. The Rockets have plenty of good players. He can be great. In the past, he had Tracy McGrady around to share that load. There was a time the Rockets help those hopes for Steve Francis. Now, they have a deep roster with a fine mix of youth and experience. But for the Rockets to be a post-season factor, Yao will have to be special. He will have to be a force again, able to dominate or change defenses.

Asked if he could do that still, he laughed and said to ask again after the preseason, knowing he probably won’t know then either.

“I want to be,” he said. “That, I can tell you. I want to be.”

This is the burden that comes with being Yao Ming.

“Those (questions) followed me since I came to the NBA,” Yao said. “Sometimes it’s quiet because I played well. Sometimes it’s loud because I’m hurt or not playing well. I believe that will follow every player that is in the couple main guys in this league. That’s part of our life.

“The only thing, time will tell you which way it is.”



3. Is there life after LeBron in Cleveland?

The sheer confidence and optimism of the folks in Cleveland is inspiring. Between Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Chris Grant, new coach Byron Scott should have all the positive reinforcement he needs to kick off training camp. But the heart and soul of that franchise the past seven years has taken his talents to South Beach.  And it doesn’t matter how many times I hear Gilbert or Grant say that they’ve “moved on” or that they’ll “do things the right way” now that James is gone …

“We weren’t as focused on the long-term (before James left),” Gilbert told the News-Herald’s Bob Finnan. “We’ll build the right way. It’s absolutely refreshing and challenging and we’re all looking forward to building the Cleveland Cavaliers into a premier team. We didn’t achieve the ultimate goal (with James). It can’t be a one-person show. We have to have a team approach and a team effort to make it happen.”

All that sounds good, but it doesn’t erase the sobering fact that James is gone, leaving a gaping hole in the entire operation that simply cannot be replaced by hopes and dreams.

As interesting as training camp is going to be in Miami, it should be even more intriguing in Cleveland, where Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao and the rest of the Cavaliers will attempt to pick up the pieces from the summer.


4. Is this the year the Clippers get it together?

After speaking to Baron Davis on the Hang Time Podcast this summer, we examined the Los Angeles Clippers roster and determined that this is the year that they finally get it right and make a playoff move in the Western Conference.

We know, you think we’ve gone mad. It’s a natural reaction any time the words “Clippers” and “playoffs” are used in the same sentence. But we wouldn’t have brought it up if we didn’t believe strongly in our theory. Much like our infatuation with the Hang Time Grizzlies last season, the Clippers strike us as a team on the rise.

So what if the Grizzlies missed out on the playoffs last year (small fact that sort of torpedoes our research, but just roll with it, please). They made a push. And that’s what we think the Clippers will do this season with veteran anchors Davis and Chris Kaman, joined by rising young talents like Eric Gordon (a stud for the U.S. National team in Turkey), the forgotten rookie Blake Griffin, the underrated DeAndre Jordan and rookie swingman Al-Farouq Aminu and solid role players like Rasual Butler and Randy Foye.

Davis didn’t want to make any bold predictions about the Clippers’ playoff prospects this season when we spoke to him on the podcast. So we don’t want to heap to many crazy expectations on them here. But if Vinny Del Negro can manage things properly, this is a team poised to at least make some noise in the West this season.


5. Is Milwaukee’s best going to be good enough?

You better believe it.

We’ve been warning people for months now to Fear the Deer. And the Bucks just keep piling up the reasons for us to believe that’s more than just a catchy playoff slogan.

Combine their finish last season (regular season and the playoffs) and a fantastic summer, per my main man and’s own Steve Aschburner, and the only teams in the Eastern Conference that project ahead of them are the Heat, Celtics and Magic and perhaps the Bulls (whose offseason looks good on paper but we have to see it all in action before giving it the HT seal of approval).

The Bucks are the team that’s going to surprise a lot of people this season with their ability to play inside and out, now that they’ll have Andrew Bogut back with better pieces around him inside.

Bucks coach Scott Skiles knows exactly what he’s working with in Brandon Jennings now, his stellar rookie season in the books and a summer of work in the team’s offseason program boosting the outlook for an even better sophomore season. Adding a veteran like Keyon Dooling to back him up keeps the Luke Ridnour safety net in place, but we’re not sure it’s nearly as critical this time around.

Jennings proved in the playoffs that he was more than ready for the step up in competition that comes with the postseason and the increased intensity.

And now the Bucks have an improved supporting cast to assist Jennings, John Salmons and Bogut, the unquestioned leader of this team for the firs time since he entered the league.

Uncertainty in Cleveland, Indiana and Detroit has opened the door in the Central Division.

All the Bucks have to do is run through it.



  1. Chasles Abimana says:

    all i know is the lakers are gonna win again cuz the Eastern conference is gonna be crazy during teh playoffs but in teh west no one can stop the Lakers KOBE!!!!!!



  3. cbow says:

    The Magic had the second best record in the League last year and went undefeated in the first two rounds of the playoffs (the only team to do that) and they got better in the off season picking up a passer/defender like Duhon who can also shoot the 3 and Q Rich who in my opinion is a much greater threat offensively than the wife beating Barnes and he is nearly as good of a defender (just doesn’t get under his opponents skin as much). I would not count the Magic out at all in the ECF discussions. They have been there two years in a row to no avail and they have a lot riding on them this year with the new arena and the all star game being held their in 2012. They are veteraned yet youthful and improved in every respect since last season. watch out yall thats all im saying…

  4. adamwasser says:

    The east will be really exciting to watch especially come playoof time. Like the west was last year, the eastern conference playoffs will be all about matchups. If the 76ers make it they will be a 7 or 8 seed. If they are a 7 seven seed it will be interesting to see Dalembert battle (I think he is a top 5 center in the East) with Howard on D and brand has a ALOT to prove this year. Orlando is an underdog for a contender. There has been nothing ever like the miami squad which suprsingly has a solid supporting cast.

    The Bucks are on the rise. amare on the knicks wants to prove he can do it without Nash. ALso for the Knicks, last year was a critically development year for Chandler, but he missed preseason and the beginning of the season because of an injury. The Pacers were also banged up last year and now they got collison, a point who will be better all around then Marc Jacson (all due respect to his passing abilities but Jackson wasn’t reliable for anythin else; btw did anyone
    see Hibbert’s kickboxing workout rotuine? Hibbert may be a surprise center this season due to his condition keep in mind he already is one of the better passing centers in the league.

    The hawks have alot to prove; they were so close to the elit elevel last year but had a flat in the playoffs, not to dissimlar from the way the Magic had a flat against the Celtics, which is a series the Magic should have won if u base it on talent . These are two teams that would be elite if the played with more discipline because there starting 5s from are the most talented. Yes, Miami has wade, bosh, and james, and yes the bulls have rose, noah, and boozer, and yes, u have the celtics, but I mean the best for accumulative talent positions 1 through 5 in terms of of capable defense and the ability to spread the floor in the halcourt or run on offense.

    Lastly, perhaps the wizards will be a surprise team to push for the playoffs and make things interesting should Wall be an immediate impact and if josh howard, blatche, thorton, and areans gel together.

    I don’t know know why Detroit was predicted above to make the playoffs, and I don’t expect much out of the raptors or cavaliers, but all of the other teams in the east should be at least pushing for a playoff spot.

    THIS IS THE YEAR FOR THE SHOW TO RETURN TO THE EAST COAST!!! At least this is true until the finals since the lakers are the supreme team of the west, and while they are not too far ahead of the elite teams of the east, they still are ahead of the rest of the league nontheless until some even some of the other contenders spin some heads round round.

  5. Ali Duyar says:

    Ersan Ilyasova will make breakout season for Bucks.Book it.

  6. crx says:

    Between Boston Celtics, and the Miami Heat will be the top dawgs for the east. Boston might be old but there still proven strong to make it back to the Finals. It will be interesting to watch how things work out this season but I think Orlando Magic and Chicago Bulls may fight it out for the third spot.

  7. MiamiFan1995 says:

    I think this year is going to good. OKC is a threat in the west…u cnt forget the Lakers and Spurs but in the East Miami will dominate….celtics will get to ECF but Miami will win ECF. LeBron will lead Miami to its 2nd ring.(i said led miami he wint carry miami like he carried cavs for 7 yrs)

  8. ghassan says:

    this season will be epic , so many stories going on ; the anticepation has been building the entire summer and know we are here . the only year that i can remmber like this one is when Shaq joined the heat , you couldn’t wait to see MIA vs LA ,and now the hype is at an all time high .so set back ,relax and enjoy the ride because it would be the year WHEN AMAZING FINALLY HAPPENS.

  9. ghassan says:

    this season will be epic , so many stories going on ; the anticepation has been building the entire summer and know we are here . the only year that i can remmber like this one is when Shaq joined the heat , you couldn’t wait to see MIA vs LA ,and know the hype is at an all time high .so set back ,relax and enjoy the ride because it would be the year WHEN AMAZING FINALLY HAPPENS.

  10. TDOT FAN says:

    Damn Toronto Raptors i swear their cursed… We are like training camp every great player starts in TORONTO then friggin leaves us for the States…..Vince Carter, TMac, Bosh, like wtf man…..

  11. TDOT FAN says:

    MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES??? LMAO lolll common KillaG …what are you expecting from them???

  12. Killa G says:

    Yall just DONT sleep on the MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES!

  13. NBA Fan says:

    sure this will be an anticipated year, but to be honest, my favorite playoff year was back in 2009, with all the overtime. Overtime to me is a drug in a way where its so exciting and depressing that i long for it, and i always cant wait for the end of a game to see some overtime where everyone is tired but ready to claw and scratch for a win. Also my next favorite thing is when the game gets decided by a buzzer beater a, a bad pass, a lucky shot, 2010 only had 1 overtime game… deperessing

    • ghassan says:

      actually i think 2006 was far better ,with so many close games and so many games going to overtime and so many guys going wild and going for 40+ and 50+ as will ,and so many matchups going to game 6 and 7, 2009 was good but not like 2006.

  14. @ anthony says:

    Woah, i just heard you say the bucks are a better defensive team than the bulls.

    alright lets just get this straight.

    Center: Joakim Noah-Have you seen the defensive presence this guy is?
    Pf: Carlos boozer: No he is not a good defensive player bur an All-Star can get to work when it matters
    Sf: Luol deng: A 17 ppg guy who is an excellent defense player.
    Sg: Ronnie brewer- This guy is one of the best perimeter defenders in the game today.Remember deron williams reaction when he left?
    pg: D-Rose: He just keeps getting better and better.


    The likes of Kurt Thomas, taj gibson and cj watson make up an excellent defensive rotation.

    • Why the Bucks will win the centrel division

      Center: Andrew Bogut-Best young center in the game besides dwight howard
      Pf: Drew Gooden-Solid veteran, good defender as well
      Sf:Corey Maggette- Gets to the line and is a huge scoring threat, lacks D though
      Sg;John Salmons- A diamond given to the Bucks by the not sosmart Bulls, great scorer and pretty solid defender
      Pg: Brandon Jennings- Great defender very speedy, and can average about 2 steals a game, and a good scorer and a beats at assists.

      Bench: Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino, Luc Mbah-a-Moute, Earl Boykins, Keyon Dooling, John Brockman, Larry Sanders”steal of the draft” Bucks have major depth!

      Bucks are just more solid period and will get 1st in da division. Bulls will get 2nd in da division.

  15. memi says:

    i dont know but no one is talking about portland that much i mean oden was injured and so was roy and they still had an amazing season they could have a chance of winning it this year too dont doubt them and everyone was talking about newyork was going to be amazing but they really didnt do that much i dont think they will have a chance to even make the playoffs

  16. JudahS says:

    A HEALTHY Celtics starters will rip Magic anyday of the year. Miami will grab Eastern conference title. Miami, Boston, Magic, Bulls will definetly go past the first round. As far as the west goes, Miami will win the Nba finals against the Lakers or Thunders.

    • Joseph says:

      Anybody that would count out the Boston Celtics knows absolutely nothing about basketball. In 1969 those old men were supposed to get clobbered by the Lakers. It was Bill Russell’s last year and those seasoned veterans beat the Lakers and spoiled an obnoxious party of thousands of balloons planned by the Lakers when they won game seven. The Celtics saw this insulting memo and won the game. It was glorious. Nothing can be substituted for experience.

      This past year the Celtics got healthy at the right time and surprised everybody except Doc Rivers and themselves. Had Kendrick Perkins not gotten hurt game seven would have been a Celtic victory. Their defense was unbelieveable and had they been able to get a few more rebounds they would be hanging banner number 18.

      This group of intelligent veterans cannot be counted out if they remain healthy. They park their egos at the door and play team ball. I expect to see them in the Finals one more time.

      I can’t wait to see Miami crash and burn. Let’s see how they share the ball and who will take the last shot when it matters.

  17. That Guy says:

    i have a question for you guys wouldnt it be better if the cavaliers get a shooter like idk maybe AI?

    • Zanzabar says:

      Unfortunately AI is just the type of player an owner like Gilbert would choose. Do not get me wrong I am a fan of AI from way back and believe like others that pound for pound he was the best player in the NBA. He is way past it now, but that wouldn’t stop Gilbert for trying to wring the last bit of gate drawing power out of AI. That is his pattern. His idea of improving a team is to get one star then bring in an older named player to ‘cement’ the team. There is seems to be no longevity component in his plans for the Cavaliers

  18. Lakers says:

    I love to watch basketball and play. I can’t wait for the regular season to start, so the lakers can dominant again. I want to watch some basketballllllll.

  19. Rip Greenfire says:

    This is a season that will start off with a bang and will probably end with one. So many teams have retooled and are ready to fight for the finals, while others played it safe and kept a solid nucleus. With the exception of a few teams, all the teams have a good reason to become playoff contenders. I know the Lakers seem unstoppable, but the East have gotten tougher, and you can’t count the Nuggets, Mavricks, Spurs, or Thunder out of it either. Who will win, I don’t know, but I’m gonna be watching the whole way.

  20. Destry White says:

    FEAR THE DEER!!! I am a Spurs fan but I certainly have my eye on the Bucks. Corey Maggette was an excellent add in that he can score many ways and rebound well for a 2 or 3. Larry Sanders- I almost cried when the Spurs didn’t get to draft him. I watched Larry at VCU for the past two years and he has JUST started his development. Look for him to block/alter many shots and have plenty of alley oops coming his way. He’s extremely athletic and could probably out run Iverson in his prime. Drew Gooden helps beef up the front line. Should be an exciting year for Bucks fans…

    • zzanzabar says:

      I think that the biggest change in the Bucks will be the teams they will be able to beat. For a long time the Bucks were a team that would struggle with the lower bottom feeders of both conferences and occasionally win a game against the elite teams. Now I see them regularly defeating the lower teams and winning more games against the elite. Although I tend to agree with JONK that they will make the playoffs but not get beyond the 2nd or 3rd round.

  21. jonk says:

    1. Orlando will not spoil anything because when the playoff comes, they will leave D. Howard to fight alone like how Lewis and Carter were no shows
    2.Even if Yao is healthy heading to the playoffs..can they beat LA??? probably not
    3. Cavaliers are a joke..they were great in the regular season, but in the playoff it was Lebron or no one…did anyone even show up to help the guy..where was Mo Williams?? where was Jamison?? and Gilbert had the nerve to blame James and call him a quiter..he was the only player fighting back against the celtics…i dont blame him for leaving at all
    4.If Clippers dont make the playoff this year, they really are cursed…lol
    5.Bucks will make the playoff, but they’re still not getting past the first round…Heat,Celtic,Magic,Bulls, and probably the Hawks, would still beat them…Bucks wont win 50 games either, teams in both conference are more locked wins.
    Detroit and phili will get the last two spots in the East…Pistons are healthy this year, and phili made the playoff two yrs ago with a bad squad and the young guys will have a break out season ( holiday and maybe turner)…..Sorry Wall, but Arenas is selfish and so is the rest of wizards

    • QuestionMark says:

      Even though Carter and Lewis were a no show, you forget Jameer Nelson played pretty well, Dwight Howard and Nelson were the two go- to- guys for the Magic, and some times Barnes shined. Everything else I fully agree with, since I am a Magic and Raptors fan, and since there is no chance for Melo to go to the Raptors, Im hoping the Magic can get Melo or Crawford, If I were the Magic GM, I would trade Carter for either one, 1. Melo is amazing and much better than Carter, 2. Crawford can hit 3s more consistently than Carter and can drive the ball like Carter, also If Crawford comes he will be more consistent than in Atlanta because He wont be the only one shooting of the bench, or if he starts, in Atlanta off the bench he was the only one that actually shot more than 10 field goals, if he starts in Orlando he will get less chances but will be more consistent since Dwight can open him up or Nelson, also there is the 3point shooting of Nelson, Lewis, Richardson, Redick, etc, so Crawford will fit right in. But right now, Im hoping Melo comes because we have no good starter at SF, and a Melo and Howard Duo will be one of the most dominant in the league.

    • dont eat junk food says:

      i agree with most of the things you said, though i do beg to differ on some of the things you mentioned. for me, it’s hard to imagine Orlando going to the finals next season with Miami and Boston in front of them, but it’s not entirely improbable either. If the Miami experiment fails and Howard, Carter, and Lewis can get it together and become difference makers (Howard particularly on the offensive end), they will challenge Boston for the eastern conference title. i agree that Bucks will make some noise, but likely wont get past the first round (unless they somehow get matched up with Atlanta or worser teams, which is highly unlikely). i think the last two spot in the east will be a fight between Charlotte, New York, and perhaps Indianan. if Philli can get it together, they might also make a run for the playoff, but i highly doubt that.

  22. anthony says:

    Fear the Deer indeed. A lot of people seem to think Chicago did better in the offseason just becasue they added bigger names than did Milwaukee. But honestly, the Bucks really put the rest of the league on notice this summer, if not at the end of last season, that they are here to compete. They made noise in the playoffs, even without Bogut in the lineup. And we all know that they would have beaten Atlanta with a healthy squad. They are better defensively than Chicago and WILL win the division. It’s our time now.

    • terry says:

      ive been a bulls fan all my life and if you look at chicago’s amazing roster, i know from expierence that my bulls will win the division over the bucks. Yeah the bucks will probably win about 48 or 50 this season but the bulls will come out on top this season. Here are both teams possible starters:

      derrick rose 20.8 ppg 6 apg last season. Brandon jennings: 15.5 ppg 5.7 apg
      ronnie brewer 8.8 ppg 2.7 apg 1.6 steals john salmons: 15.6 2.7 apg 1.3 steals per game
      luol deng: 17.8 ppg 2.0 apg 7 rpg corey maggete 19.8 ppg 5.0 rpg 2.5 apg
      carlos boozer 19.8 ppg 11.3 rpg ersan illisova 10.4 ppg 6.4 rpg 1.0 apg
      joakim noah 10.7 ppg 11.0 rpg andrew bogut 15.9 ppg 10.5 rpg

      Chi town wins everytime

  23. A FAN says:

    The Miami Heat buddy! Can’t wait to see wade and the new boys in action. They have alot of talent this season, they just have to work on getting their chemistry and timing together. And no, i am not a bandwagon fan! so dont hate on my comment! Been a heat fan since 04 and through that ruff season where they won just 15 wins. All of yall clown azz haters can go find something else to do with your free time

  24. Samdon Jennings says:

    So excited to see what the Bucks can do this season. Who knows, if Brandon and Bogut continue to improve, and Salmons remains solid, they might make a conference final.

  25. zzanzabar says:

    I can truly say that this is, at least for me, the most anticipated start of the NBA that I can remember in a long, LONG time. No matter what your favorite team or what you feel about your favorite player to love (or hate), if you like basketball then this year will be epic (or a epic fail) either way.

    Just think about it there have been monumental shifts in teams fortunes, players home courts, and the potential for once injury sidelined players to step up and make a difference (Oden, Yao). There are TONS of questions to be answered:

    Is the East finally better than the West (I so no, but so what)? Will Miami REALLY be a Juggernaut (or just a naught)? C’mon everyone has got to admit there are now match-up that everyone just cannot wait to see (Orlando vs Miami, Miami vs Chicago, Boston vs Chicago, Lakers vs Everyone).

    And don’t forget the upcoming TRADES! You know that there are some potentially blockbuster trades YET to come (once certain requirements are met) with teams jostling each other for position or deciding to get SOMETHING for a player ready for free agency (you know who).

    I used to view the beginning of the NBA season sort of as a long preseason before the playoffs, with no individual game meaning all that much. Now watching the entire season will be a JOY. Never has home court loomed to be as important as it will seem to be this year. With the specter of a lockout looming at the end of the season, this might be the grand finale for the NBA as we now know it, so everyone buckle up, strap yourself in, or do whatever it is you do because this will be one hellva ride!!

    • Jake says:

      Well said Zzanabar. Personally I’m one of those freaks who can’t get enough of NBA basketball so I always enjoy the regular season anyway. This year should be especially good though with all the changes that have taken place this summer. I think the NBA has come to the end of an era (or maybe period would be a better word). For the last five years or so the league has been fairly contiguous, but that is coming to an end now.

      • Zanzabar says:

        The ‘end of an era’ statement could not be more true. This is the first time to my memory where young free agent players made decisions about their future with each other first. You saw the same thing with the so-called Laker ‘super team’ with Malone, Patton group, but they were all past their prime and gave me the impression they made their decisions independently. I think this will usher in an era of ‘player summits’ in the future.

    • SheGame says:

      VERY WELL said Zzanzabar!! I couldnt have wrote that better. I agree with in every facet of it. All I can say is…. Im READY!