1) LeBron James has built another “Big 3” in Los Angeles with Anthony Davis and JR Smith. If King James gets his advocacy campaign to work, then Chris Paul could be switching LA sides and former Celtics sharpshooter Rajon Rondo could be joining. The 5 players on the floor for the Purple & Gold would create one of the strongest lineups since, well, the Chicago Bulls lineups of the 90’s. Given that everyone stays healthy throughout the course of the season, it would be very hard not to see the Lakers repeat, giving them the title to pass Boston for the most NBA titles all-time.
2) Doc Rivers is no longer patrolling the sidelines in the Staples Center and the comedy act that was last season’s 3-1 lead to an awkward 4-3 loss to the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs is hopefully in the past. Rivers has headed to the City of Brotherly Love to try and get “The Process” to the next step and left the Clip Show in the hands of former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue. There is no equivocation that the Clippers roster is talent laden, however that talent looks more like the Oakland A’s during Moneyball, great in the regular season and can’t convert in the playoffs. The jury is also out on Tyronn Lue as a Head Coach. While Lue is without question a savvy basketball mind. He won his lone championship as a “coach” while being the interim at Cleveland with a team and roster that clearly was more led by LeBron James than anything or anyone else. If Lue is able to get the Clippers into a Western Conference battle against their roommates, then we might be able to discuss him as being a viable option for the future.
3) The Eastern Conference is an enigma! The Miami Heat were the 5-seed and went to the NBA Finals. They got there by progressing through the Bucks and Celtics who were the top two teams in the Conference during the regular season and everyone’s picks for a Conference Finals showdown. The Bucks had a bizarre but typical early exit. The Celtics on the other hand caught a disease of 2020 that was not COVID but something plaguing Boston sports teams. They went the way of the NHL’s Bruins who had phenomenal regular seasons and then just couldn’t find the gas pedal after the pause.
While Gordon Hayward is now gone and the C’s have $30 million of extra free-agency money they still have a returning trio of Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who should be able to propel them to another elite season in the East.