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NBA Daily: NBA Situations To Watch

With the 2018-19 NBA Schedule set to drop in the coming weeks, there are some situations worth paying attention to, especially as we get closer to the start of the season.

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Situation Watch

With the announcement of the NBA regular season just around the corner, there are a few situations worth watching as things start to ramp up and some of them could shift the balance of power in the NBA.

The 76ers’ GM Search

The Philadelphia 76ers made it clear when they parted ways with former president Bryan Colangelo that they would take their time in finding their next leader. Many were skeptical that the 76ers wouldn’t act quickly, given they had so much cap flexibility and such a unique window to add a major free agent, but true to their initial word the 76ers haven’t been in any hurry to make a hire.

The 76ers did make a run at Rockets’ executive Daryl Morey, but that apparently was a very short conversation. The 76ers have tried to lure away a few other major names, according to sources, but like their pursuit of Morey, they never got very far.

The 76ers do not have a timetable to make a hire and seem quite comfortable with head coach Brett Brown calling the shots in the short term, with the existing staff under Colangelo still in place and running the day to day.

The 76ers have also made it clear they are not renewing their consulting agreement with the elder Jerry Colangelo and have made it clear that whomever they tap to lead the team into the future will have complete control, which was part of their initial pitch to other executives who have jobs already.

The Sixers have been making changes to their scouting staff with the existing leadership making those decisions, another indication of the 76ers’ lack of urgency in making a hire.

Will The Wizards Come Together?

On the surface, the Los Angeles Lakers look to have the most “eclectic” roster in the NBA. However, in NBA circles the locker room being talked about the most might be the Washington Wizards.

The Wizards have no shortage of talent, and if it all clicks together, they could be one of the better teams in the East, possibly even the second-best team in terms of talent behind the Boston Celtics. The problem for the Wizards is no one seems to believe they can click together, specifically franchise cornerstones Bradley Beal and John Wall.

Sources close to the situation point to the Wizards’ continued injuries as their biggest obstacle to gelling together as a group. But watching how the group played without Wall for much of the second half of last year, it’s hard not to buy-in to the notion that the style of play that suits the Wizards roster may not suit Wall.

Add in newly signed free agent center Dwight Howard, and the confusion in NBA circles on how this comes together isn’t hard to process.

On paper the Wizards have a pretty impressive roster; the question remains, will all parties involved check their individual egos and goals and become the team the Wizards front office has bet on them becoming?

How Much Leeway Is Left In Portland?

Portland Trail Blazers’ President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey made it clear recently that he was not open to breaking up his star-studded backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. His public proclamations only re-enforce what was coming out of NBA circles, and that was that Olshey seemed ready to go down with this back-court ship.

The problem all executives in the NBA face is patience from ownership only lasts so long. Olshey is entering his seventh season at the helm of the Blazers, and while they did end last season with 49 wins and the third seed in the West, it’s hard to imagine the Blazers closing ground in a tough Western Conference without someone emerging as a third star or something unexpected happening with some of their youth.

The Blazers extended Olshey’s contract last summer, giving them the option of keeping him in place through 2021. The question becomes, will ownership in Portland accept being the third or fourth best team in the West with almost no wiggle room to improve?

Things are lining up for this to be a big season for the Blazers on a number of fronts, especially if the rest of the West improves more than the Blazers do.

Warriors Won’t Last Forever

Looking at the Golden State Warriors’ roster, it’s hard to imagine they won’t win the 2018-19 NBA Championship. Barring some kind of crazy series of injuries, the Warriors have a loaded roster in the primes of their respective careers, with no serious challenger in sight.

The amusing thing about the Warriors is that while the common narrative is they’ll stay together until the wheels fall off, the end of the road could be closer than anyone is expecting. The only current Warrior under contract beyond the 2019-20 season is All-Star Steph Curry. Klay Thompson hits unrestricted free agency next July, Draymond Green the July after that. Current Finals MVP Kevin Durant signed another one-and-one deal this summer, again giving him the option to ink a new deal or walk away next July as well.

The way the NBA salary cap system works gives the Warriors unlimited spending power in keeping their own free agents, especially if they will pay the Luxury Tax that comes with multiple Max level contracts. With a new state of the art building – Mission Bay’s Chase Center – scheduled to open before the start of the 2019–20 NBA season, the Warriors have brand new revenue streams coming into the team to justify a record-setting payroll if they want to spend.

The question facing the Warriors may be bigger than the cost to keep the team together, though. Will all of the guys in the boat today want to be there in 12 months, 24 months or 36 months when it’s their time to choose as unrestricted players?

Everyone is saying all the right things about how magical being in the Finals every year is, but even the best of dynasty teams come apart over individual goals at some point. The Warriors seem to be the unstoppable force of the NBA, but so did the Miami HEAT with LeBron James, and the Bulls with Michael Jordan before that. Eventually, it will come to an end for the Warriors; the question isn’t if it happens, its simply when?

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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