NBA AM: Storylines Headed Into Training Camp

Is Steve Kerr an upgrade over Mark Jackson? Is Chandler Parsons a glorified role player? Is Minny better off without Kevin Love?

Lang Greene profile picture
Updated 12 months ago on
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Casual fans will undoubtedly be watching the trajectories of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami HEAT this season since LeBron James’ decision to head back home via free agency sent shockwaves through the league. While Miami did a solid job, considering the circumstances, of retooling their roster after James’ departure, the Cavaliers will enter the season as the favorites in the Eastern Conference – if not the league as a whole.

But the Cavaliers-HEAT storyline isn’t the only worth paying attention as we prepare to head into training camp. There are plenty of instances of drama worth keeping an eye on this season.

Let’s take a look at a few:

Can Steve Kerr push the Golden State Warriors over the hump?

Here’s what we know: Golden State executives grew weary of former head coach Mark Jackson’s behind the scene antics and decided to dismiss the coach and walk in an entirely different direction. Enter Steve Kerr, a former general manager and NBA champion during his playing career. Kerr has no head coaching experience but Warriors’ officials deem him to be a better fit for their strategic vision. But here’s what else we know: The Warriors players had a very strong chemistry built with Jackson and most would run through a brick wall for him.

Chemistry is an underrated aspect of today’s NBA. The players loved Jackson. Ownership wasn’t as enamored. Leadership is fully onboard with Kerr, but will the players now follow suit? This is a risky position for Golden State because anything less than what Jackson accomplished for the Warriors will be deemed a failure.

Are the Minnesota Timberwolves better off without Kevin Love?

The Cleveland Cavaliers stamped themselves into the title contention discussion by acquiring All-Star forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves. The price was steep though as Cleveland sent the past two No. 1 overall picks, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, to Minnesota.

All in all, the Timberwolves received Bennett, Wiggins, veteran forward Thaddeus Young (Sixers) and a future first round pick for their franchise player. On paper, it was a good haul for a star player everyone knew was disgruntled and bent on testing free agency next summer.

The deal seemingly helps Cleveland and Minnesota. The Timberwolves never finished .500 or better with Love in the fold as their leading man. In Cleveland, Love will be asked to be the second or third option and is poised to thrive in this role.

Cleveland may win the short term version of this, but keep an eye on Minnesota a few years down the road when the young pups start to truly come into their own.

Chandler Parsons versus the Houston Rockets

Parsons, a talented forward, bolted Houston in free agency back in July and headed to play for the division rival Dallas Mavericks. When asked about his former teammate’s defection All-Star guard James Harden told the Philippines Star he and Dwight Howard were the cornerstones in Houston, while everyone else were role players or pieces.

Needless to say, Parsons didn’t take those words lightly and also responded via the media setting up an interesting storyline for future Rockets-Mavericks encounters. The teams meet four times this season and it isn’t inconceivable for these two teams to match up with each other early in the playoffs.

Hornets’ rookie forward, Noah Vonleh, out two months

After years toiling in the league’s basement, the Charlotte Hornets reached the playoffs last season. The performance capped off a year in which the team seemingly made all of the right moves such as signing big man Al Jefferson in free agency and hiring head coach Steve Clifford.

Heading into training camp the Hornets face a new set of questions. Such as was letting power forward Josh McRoberts walk in free agency to Miami a good decision. Charlotte did manage to sign veteran forward Marvin Williams early in the summer who could fill a few of those minutes. But for the most part the team was going to rely on its youth movement of Cody Zeller, Bismack Biyombo and Noah Vonleh to vie for the lion’s share of minutes at the position.

However one of those players could be hindered early on due to injury.

Vonleh, ninth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, underwent successful surgery on Tuesday to repair a sports hernia suffered during a recent workout. The surgery, performed in Charlotte by Dr. B. Todd Henneford, is expected to keep Vonleh on the shelf for approximately 6-8 weeks.

Vonleh, Big Ten Freshman of the Year at Indiana University last season, showed promise during summer league play in July, but Clifford planned to usher the rooking into the league at a slower pace. With this injury the developmental process could prove to be longer as the forward works himself back into shape.

Tracy McGrady planning a NBA comeback?

The last we heard from seven-time All-Star Tracy McGrady he was developing his craft as a minor league pitcher. McGrady has reportedly put down his visions of dominating the baseball mound and may be attempting to land another shot in the NBA.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, McGrady worked with Bryant three days per week over a period of time during the month of August. Due to an already planned basketball tour in China, McGrady won’t be around to fight for a roster spot during training camp.

For now, McGrady is keeping the door open but likely won’t make a decision until he returns from China.

“Yes, I was working out with K.B. to get in shape and see how my body feels,” McGrady confirmed in the Yahoo! Sports report.  “The comeback will not happen, unless I have the drive whenever I get back.”

McGrady last played in the NBA during the 2013 season with the San Antonio Spurs where he made six appearances during the team’s NBA Finals run. McGrady failed to score a single point during this span.  McGrady has a 19.6 points per game career scoring average over 16 seasons. He is most known for his time in Houston and Orlando where he became regarded as one of the league’s most feared scorers.


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Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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