The Season Of … Uncertainty?


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –
We’ve been watching that countdown to tipoff clock on the front of NBA.com for days, weeks even, just staring at the numbers ticking away.

With the ground beneath our feet seemingly changing by the second in the final days leading up to Tuesday night’s start of the regular season, the one constant we thought we could be sure of is the teams that make up the league’s 1 percent.

But we’re not completely sure how to rank the elite now that James Harden and Jeremy Lin will share a backcourt in Houston after Oklahoma City Thunder traded the reigning KIA Sixth Man of the Year to the Rockets Saturday night. It was the most shocking and final blow in a week that left us punch drunk from stunning (some more than others) news.

The balance of power hasn’t been shifted or anything. We all know that the Miami Heat, Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics make up the theoretical 1 percent. They’ll all kick this season off in the same positions in which they finished the last one.

Sure, it was a drama-filled last week before the start of the regular season. From the news that NBA Commissioner David Stern would be stepping down on Feb. 1, 2014 after 30 years on the job, and will be succeeded by Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, to the weekend stunner from Oklahoma City, the hits just kept coming.

On the eve of one of the most anticipated seasons we can remember, so much seems to be in flux.

For months the Lakers worried that Dwight Howard might not be ready to play in the opener as his lower back healed from April surgery and yet it’s Kobe Bryant (foot) who could watch from the sideline in street clothes, more from Dave McMenamin from the ESPNLosAngeles.com:

“I don’t know, I have my doubts,” said Pau Gasol, Bryant’s longest-tenured teammate on the roster. “I hope we (have him in the lineup). … He hasn’t been able to practice for six days. He’s been off that foot for six days, and it’s no joke. I don’t remember the last time that he took that many days off exercising. He might do stuff in the weight room and might do stuff without putting weight on the foot, but it’s a little bit concerning.”

Bryant did not speak to reporters Sunday, but Howard said the lingering injury had Bryant in a bad mood.

“He hasn’t really talked about it,” Howard said. “I know he’s a little down right now. He seems down because he can’t get out there and practice with us. He’s trying to nurse his foot.”

As planned, Bryant was re-evaluated by team trainer Gary Vitti and the rest of the medical staff over the weekend, including undergoing an MRI, according to Lakers coach Mike Brown. The MRI merely confirmed a strain and contusion of Bryant’s foot, Lakers spokesman John Black said.

“We’ll see how he is (Monday) and what he cannot do or can do out on the floor and then kind of go from there,” Brown said.

That unsettling feeling extends to the rest of the league, particularly the other teams challenging to join that elite fray. The Knicks were supposed to be making a move up the Eastern Conference food chain this season, but that was before Amar’e Stoudemire‘s knee injury became an issue.

Stoudemire’s injury is a dark cloud for a Knicks team fighting for supremacy in its own town, now that the Brooklyn Nets are competing for headlines and eyeballs in and around New York City.

The news that Stoudemire is headed for a second opinion on his knee doesn’t bode well for the Knicks, as Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com explains:

The Knicks’ original timetable stated that Stoudemire would miss anywhere from the first four to 11 days of the season.

Tweeted Stoudemire’s agent, Happy Walters, on Saturday: “To all of the Knicks fans sending me messages… Stat will be fine. He’s working w/ team trainers – will b back ASAP.

“No 1 wants to b out there after working all summer on his game more than Stat, himself.”

The Knicks open the regular season on the road Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets.

Stoudemire first injured his knee in a practice collision with teammate Chris Copeland. The Knicks originally called it a bone bruise but following an MRI, it was later determined that Stoudemire had ruptured a popliteal cyst behind his left knee.

Stoudemire’s left knee has been an issue in the past. He underwent microfracture surgery in October 2005, but bounced back well from the procedure.

One NBA team doctor told ESPNNewYork.com that Stoudemire was the best example of a player regaining his form after microfracture surgery.

Still, the procedure can be a red flag for teams. Stoudemire’s contract with the Knicks — a five-year, $100 million pact — is uninsured because of his history of knee issues.

We won’t even get into all of the uncertainty in Chicago and when Derrick Rose will return to the court for a Bulls team that we can no longer keep among the league’s elite.

None of this diminishes our excitement for the start of the regular season. As always, we’re more than ready for the real games to get started.

But we’d be lying if we said we weren’t just a little bit anxious about what’s to come …

17 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    The way I see it New York is a good solid team. Felton and Kidd is wwwaaayyy better than Lin. Lin is just a average Nba player who had that 1 good game…anyway the Knicks have good solid players like J.r Smith, Iman Shumpert, Tyson Chandler, Carmelo, Amare, Ronnie Brewer etc i exepect them to atleast get to the second round of the playoffs. Melo saying ” MY time is coming” uhhh yea it is just find a way to beat the Heat, Thunder, Celtics, Lakers, Spurs,Clippers and you got it.

  2. andrew says:

    nothing would change from this year to the past 20 years its either the spurs,lakers,heat,celtics ,bulls win a champtioship…..tell me one team out of this group that can pull this off i see people mentioning rockets ,denve, indiana etc… this team are just playoff materials not championship materials…….experience wins champtionship youth ddont win champtionshipsr

  3. Paulo says:

    I believe this is a reference to the 1% used by the Occupy Wall Street movement, not a statistic.

  4. midrange man says:

    Great article seku. As always.

  5. Melo says:

    Those teams don’t make up the top 1%, they make up the top 17%. Ger your math right.

  6. vern says:

    I agree, you can’t count those aging teams out, if they’re in basketball shape they have a chance. The Heat are still the team to beat, OKC will still be coming for anyone in their path, even without Harden. I think they may be better with the guys they just got. I watched Boston practice and it’s looks to me like they mean business, and KG is definitely not a corpse. I think that whoever a persons favorite team is this season,will see improvements. I think 80-85% of the teams are going to be exciting to watch, especially in the first month or so when everyone thinks they can win it all.Me myself can’t wait to sit in front of my TV .

  7. john doe says:

    shut up step stool your comments are trash

    • wong says:

      Jeremy Lin is best point guard in whole league and he still a rookie./ If it weren’t for him nba wouldn’t even be worth watching you stupid man. Your racist and completely clueless about basketball

      • K says:

        Jeremy Lin is what? Wow! Nice to have an opinion! Just for GP (general purposes), what are you basing your opinion on regarding Lin being the best point guard in the whole league? Lin had an amazing 8-10 game stretch last season and that was it! Outside of those 8-10 games, what has Lin done to be considered even in the top 5 amongest point guards in the league? When your talking about players like Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Raja Rondo, Kryie Erving, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams, Lin’s now teammate (James Harden) who can play the point or the two guard. Not to mention Tony Parker, John Walls, hell even the kid out in LA with the Clippers (Eric Bledsoe) could be ahead of Lin. Not saying that Lin isn’t a good player but to say he’s the best point league in the whole league after just 8-10 good games last year is a little premature! But it’s ok to have an opinion!

  8. Abdel says:

    pre-session could be an indicator of some intresting changes , for the Rocket they were dominiate with their young explosive (must be a surprise even to their G.M) and before the trade , line. Lackers was one of the weakest team out there … DH and KB cant do much to improve that .. Miami is a clear power house… otherwise .. i am not expecting your top 1 percent to do much .

  9. FAN says:

    I agree totally, i am an Laker fan, but am uncertain about or age. Reminds me of the year we lost to the pistons even with all the superstars we had then. Age is an important factor for many teams but you definetly cant count any team out. I said it last year in the opener. Its all about who wants it more. Heat look real good this year to repeat. OKC I had hopes in but I dont know what they were thinking getting rid of Hardin. Last year against LA Hardin is who really crippled them. This season will be interesting and im ready to get things going. Good luck to all teams and especially the Lakers…….Kobe get you one more before its too late.

    • Game Time says:

      Actually it was Westbrook who did the most damage against the Lakers. Harden however made OKC’s bench more efficient than the Lakers. People are taking his trade as a bigger hit than it really is. Kevin Martin is a proven scorer and will fit in just fine with OKC.

  10. steppx says:

    Interesting article actually. I think the theoretical one percent is a fantasy now. Age has caught up with boston, LA, and new york …and maybe eventually the spurs (Pop resting so many guys last year is starting to seem very smart). Its the changing of the guard. OKC, Denver, and Indiana……..all younger are ready to take over. Miami is the boss. But they are vulnerable, too. Not from age so much, but that too. Boston has a patched up Pierce and the corpse of KG. Knicks are the oldeest team in NBA history. And LA has a very old lineup, with one guy coming off a back injury. Is Nash an all star at 39? Doesnt look it so far. Its going to be interesting.

    • Real Speak says:

      While age is a forever pressing issue with said teams, the notion that the “theoretical one percent is a fantasy” is just not accurate, this one percent is a reality. I can understand a resentment for the title favorites remaining consistent year after year in celtics,spurs, lakers and heat but this is not without reason. And to count out players who have gotten it done season after season in: kobe bryant, steve nash, tim duncan, the corpse of kevin garnett you speak of, even paul pierce would be a silly mistake. Agreed, age will ultimately dictate the dominance of these teams and players for they will not forever (even soon) be the faces of their franchise, but it best be understood that they are still regarded as the elite, despite their age, due to their ability to compete not because of team loyalty, or over rated hype of washed up players. This is no mistake