All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge and highly versatile wing Nicolas Batum have been joined by budding star Damian Lillard in a new core that is taking Portland places (Image | Getty)
On November 13th 2013, the Portland Trail Blazers entertained the Phoenix Suns at the recently renamed Moda Center (rest in peace, Rose Garden) in a matchup of two teams widely expected to tank this season, with eight or 10 other teams, in search of landing top spot in the best NBA Draft in a decade.
Except the Suns, who had beaten Portland on NBA opening night in the desert, were 4-2 by then and had only lost in road games against Oklahoma City and San Antonio, both times by seven points or fewer.Portland, meanwhile, were 5-2 and were on their way to building an early-season 11-game winning streak which propelled them to the summit of the Western Conference.
David West’s decision to stay in Indiana maintains the Pacers’ status as second-best in the East
In Part One of our countdown of the NBA’s top movers this summer, we reviewed the likely impacts of the arrivals of Carl Landry, Jose Calderon, JR Smith and others in their new (or old) destinations.
While each of those players brings an impactful signing to their new club, the men we have left on the list are all potential season-altering deals. Here are the top ten free agents most likely to shape the 2013-14 NBA season…
Chauncey Billups is one of several players returning to a former home in 2013 free agency (Image | ABC)
Free-agent season is often the most unpredictable month of the NBA calendar. Mixed in with the inevitable re-signings and weeks-long dramas that everyone loses interest in are a clutch of utterly unpredictable stories of new arrivals (and homecomings) that change the landscape of the league.
With that in mind, we’ve picked out the top 20 free agent moves of the summer so far.
They had to work far harder for it than last time, but the Miami Heat are NBA Champions once again (Image | Reuters)
In the final two rounds of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, the Miami Heat won back-to-back games just once. Pegged back three times by the gutsy Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, and thrice trailing the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals, the Heat traded wins with their opponents throughout the final four weeks of the season.
Until it mattered most.
LeBron James’ ability to improve on his near perfect stats every season continues to confound NBA fans and pundits alike (Image | Getty)
“King James” is somewhat of a fitting name for Miami Heat All-Star LeBron James given his recent string of performances. He is blowing the NBA apart, revolutionising what the people conceive possible on the basketball court.
He has always been the prodigy of the NBA – the one – in the Neo sense, but since he finally won his first title last year he has been metaphorically stopping bullets. After cruising through the opening months of the season, James has begun to turn up the heat.
Kobe Bryant, long notable on Twitter by his absense, is trying to put his arrival on the site to good use (Image | Getty)
The Los Angeles Lakers are currently in the middle of arguably their worst season for a generation, but there is one piece of heartening news to come from the franchise, and it is a lot more important than whether the Lakers make the NBA playoffs or not.
Star player Kobe Bryant has been a recent addition to the legion of athletes on Twitter. I don’t follow Bryant myself, but – at the time of writing – there are over 1.3 million people who do. It’s no surprise to learn that famous sports stars on Twitter are often used as lightning rods for gentle teasing, or that ghastly word, “banter”.
Tayshaun Prince (left) and Rudy Gay are two of the three players trading places for the first time (Image | US Presswire)
The Memphis Grizzlies have already made one massive step backwards in the trade market since Christmas, by sending Marreese Speights and Josh Selby to Cleveland in return for D-Leaguer Jon Leuer, but this week they all but sealed their departure from the category of “Western Conference elite” by dealing Rudy Gay to Toronto in the biggest trade of the season so far.
Pau Gasol is on his way to a permanent reserve role as the Lakers seek a more energetic starting five (Image | Getty)
Pau Gasol is finally back to productivity following his struggles with injuries over the past couple weeks. So the obvious response from Laker coach Mike D’Antoni? Bench him.
The All-Star forward is being shuffled out to make room for Earl Clark, averaging five points a game, in a somewhat baffling attempt to provide more energy in the starting five. On first impressions last night, it looked like the wrong call altogether.
University of Kentucky teammates Anthony Davis (left) and MIchael Kidd-Gilchrist followed up their NCAA crown by becoming the top two overall picks in the 2012 NBA Draft (Image | SMTDaily.com)
There was plenty of pre-season hype surrounding the Draft Class of 2012 when the draft was made back in June. The likes of number one pick Anthony Davis and his new New Orleans teammate Austin Rivers (#10 pick), Charlotte’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (#2), Portland duo Meyers Leonard (#11) and particularly Damian Lillard (#6), and a host of others have already made their mark on the league in the new season.
Quitting | David Stern (right) will step down as commissioner of the NBA 30 years after taking the job. Long-term protégé Adam Silver has already been elected as his successor (Image | Getty)
It is difficult to grasp quite how far the NBA has come in the almost thirty years that David Stern has been at the helm.
Stern became commissioner in 1984, when the league could not even get its championship series televised. Today, the NBA is a $5 billion business with a truly global appeal.
Stern will retire on 1st February 2014, 30 years to the day after he took charge. The 70-year-old commissioner will hand the reigns over to his deputy of six years, Adam Silver.