And we’re just days away from the first official day of camp for some teams. You’ll get what you need by the weekend in places like Houston, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, Denver and Los Angeles.
With several teams set for international play, not everyone will wait until October to kick things off. Still, many of the lingering questions about the 2013-14 season will begin to be answered as the camps open around the league. Our man David Aldridge detailed many of those storylines in his Morning Tip yesterday (if you missed it), but this passage rings most true:
We’re going to find out if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat are fully prepared for the challenge that is trying to three-peat.
We’ll see if Dwight Howard and the young group of stars in Houston are the perfect fit the big fella (and the Rockets’ brass) believed them to be in free agency.
We’ll see exactly where stars like Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo and others are in their respective rehabilitation processes from injuries that wiped out some, and in Rose’s case the entire, 2012-13 season.
We’ll find out just how good the fit is for new coaches — Doc Rivers gets his fresh start in Los Angeles with the Clippers, Brian Shaw in Denver with the Nuggets, Brad Stevens in Boston with the Celtics and Jason Kidd takes the reigns in Brooklyn with the Nets, just to name a few — around the league.
The answers to all of those questions and plenty more is all just days away …
And, in case you forgot, here are some handy-dandy reference materials as you prep for training camps: Free Agent Tracker | Player movement | Offseason Report Cards
Oct. 1 — University of Georgia (Athens) and Philips Arena (Atlanta)
Keep an eye on: The Hawks completely overhauled the roster, leaving Al Horford as the center of attention on and off the court.
Oct. 1 — Salve Regina University (Newport, R.I.) and Celtics Practice Facility (Waltham, Mass.)
Keep an eye on: Danny Ainge‘s rebuilding project will have to take shape quickly with Rondo as the unquestioned leader of this bunch and Brad Stevens as the new bench maestro.
Oct. 1 — Duke University (Durham, N.C.)
Keep an eye on: Having camp on a college campus is fitting for the experiment that will be Jason Kidd coaching veteran stars Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Deron Williams.
Oct. 1 — Kimmel Arena (Ashville, N.C.)
Keep an eye on: For the sake of youngsters Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller, the Steve Clifford era has to be better than the brief Mike Dunlap experience.
Sept. 28 — the Berto Center (Deerfield, Ill.)
Keep an eye on: All eyes will be on Rose, as they should be. The Bulls’ fate this season rests on his triumphant return from the knee injury that cost him the entire 2012-13 season.
Oct. 1 — the Cleveland Clinic Courts (Independence, Ohio)
Keep an eye on: No one has seen free-agent big man Andrew Bynum or No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett in live action all summer, so camp will give us our first glimpse of the Cavaliers’ two biggest offseason additions. You better believe All-Star Kyrie Irving will be watching them both closely.
Oct. 1 — the Pistons Practice Facility (Auburn Hills, Mich.)
Keep an eye on: Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings give the Pistons an edge they’ve lacked in recent seasons, an edge that veteran Chauncey Billups will help smooth out over the course of the season.
Sept. 28 — Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis)
Keep an eye on: Paul George‘s contract extension should be finalized by the start of camp,