The defining story of the offseason could have been LeBron
James's return to his home state's Cleveland Cavaliers, where the
game's most popular player hopes to ease the pain from his defection
in 2010, but instead racism dominated headlines.
However, with Donald Sterling having sold the Los Angeles Clippers
and Bruce Levenson disposing of his share of the Atlanta Hawks, both
over racist comments, the focus can now finally return to the
Thankfully for the NBA, there is no shortage of tantalizing
storylines to keep fans focused throughout the 2014-15 season that
tips off Tuesday with three games, including the reigning champion
San Antonio Spurs hosting the Dallas Mavericks.
James' quest to bring a long-awaited NBA title to Cleveland, the
return of Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose after two
substantial leg injuries and whether five-time champion Kobe Bryant
has a final act up his sleeve for the Los Angeles Lakers are just a
taste of the stories fans will be following.
There is also plenty of interest in how the post-LeBron Miami Heat,
coming off a lopsided loss to the Spurs in the NBA Finals, will
perform now that the team's Big Three has been reduced to Dwyane
Wade and Chris Bosh.
Fans of the Indiana Pacers, who fell to Miami in the Eastern
Conference finals the last two seasons, will be willing All-Star
Paul George back to health after he suffered a broken leg that could
force him to miss the entire season.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant will miss at least
the first month of the season while recovering from a fracture in
his right foot and when he returns will be expected to get the
Oklahoma City Thunder positioned for a title run.
Durant, set to become a free agent after the 2015-16 season, led the
Thunder to the NBA Finals in 2012 but untimely injuries to team
mates derailed his team's title hopes in each of their next two
[to top of second column]
The Clippers, with coach Doc Rivers signed to a five-year extension,
are eager to focus solely on basketball following a second-round
playoff loss last season that came just weeks after Sterling's
James was unable to deliver a title to Cleveland during the first
seven years of his career but, after a four-year spell in Miami that
included two NBA titles, returns to a much stronger Cavaliers team
that includes Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
To get Love, Cleveland traded Canadians Andrew Wiggins and Anthony
Bennett, first overall draft picks in 2014 and 2013, respectively,
to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a three-team deal that
With several teams likely to garner much of the attention during the
82-game season, it could surprisingly leave the champion Spurs
flying under the radar, a possibility that will not faze the
The Spurs, a team with great depth and led by evergreen forward Tim
Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, will raise their title banner
to the rafters on Tuesday before setting out on a season they hope
ends with a sixth NBA title.
Which team is left standing will not be known until the conclusion
of the championship series in June, but for now the NBA looks poised
to be a winner after enduring an offseason that did little to help
market its appeal.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Mark
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.