Rudy Gobert’s positive COVID-19 test sure feels like a lifetime ago now, huh?
The last seven months have been a complete whirlwind in the NBA world, and the wild ride continues Dec. 22 when the 2020-21 season begins in empty gyms across the country. With the highly successful bubble experiment behind them, the NBA hopes it can safely and successfully stage something resembling a normal season even as the pandemic continues around them.
It was just about two months ago exactly — Oct. 11 — the Los Angeles Lakers dispatched the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. That’s a quick turnaround for a lot of teams who fought for the title “last season” and hope to do so again this year.
That being said, here are some teams who might be negatively affected by the short turnaround.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have two things going against them: age and complacency. The Lakers have the oldest roster in the NBA, and they really don’t have much to prove after winning the title a few months ago. More specifically, they certainly don’t have anything to prove in January, February or March. It makes sense to ease veteran stars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis back into the fold. Maybe the Lakers aren’t hurt by the short turnaround, per se, but don’t be surprised if they start slow.
It’s not like the Sixers’ turnaround has been that short. Boston knocked out Philly in four games in the first round in the bubble. But the 76ers probably could have used a little more offseason to square away its new operation, led by general manager Daryl Morey and head coach Doc Rivers. The transitional period might become even more difficult, at least temporarily, if and when the 76ers trade for Houston Rockets superstar James Harden.
Similarly, the Rockets are a bit of a mess right now. James Harden, by all reporting, wants out and wants out fast. As mentioned, Morey is gone, so they’re in the midst of a natural rebuild as it is. That much was clear by the decision to trade Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards. It’s possible John Wall regains his superstar status in Texas, but that injury history is hard to ignore. Even if he’s healthy, how does he fit what new head coach Stephen Silas wants to do? Will Silas even be a good coach? There are just so many questions for Houston to answer, and it feels like the uncertainty bloomed overnight.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens remarked earlier this week about the unique position players are in, returning to camp after about 50 days. Stevens’ team is in a more difficult position than most, as they’re dealing with a good bit of roster turnover, all things considered. Perhaps losing Gordon Hayward will be a good thing in the long run when it comes to divvying up touches, but he’s still a former All-Star, and now Stevens must figure out a new rotation. Part of that process includes deciding how newcomers Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague fit into the mix. The biggest issue, though, is the lingering knee problems for Kemba Walker that will cost him the start of the season. Although with Walker, it’s hard to say how much time would actually be enough for his seemingly chronic knee to be ready.