Top Five Storylines As NBA Teams Set To Open Training Camp | It’s Sad That The League Has To Force Superstars To Play

It’s that time of year. NBA training camps open up on Sept. 26 and the first preseason games begin on Oct. 5. As we gear up for what should be a great season, what are the biggest storylines in the league with camp just ahead?

1. The new rest policy

Or as the league calls it, “player participation policy.” Words are important, and you should pay close attention to them.

The league is working on securing a new broadcast deal, which means they need to demonstrate to potential partners how valuable the property is. In this league that means star players must play, at all costs.

Smart teams that have older star players and have developed a trust with those players and the medical and performance teams, will find ways around the policy for their players to get the rest they need.

Teams that don’t prioritize sports science, work in concert with their players, and act haphazardly will get fined.

2. Will the Miami Heat finally land Damian Lillard?

According to report,s Lillard will not report to any training camp other than for the Heat, his preferred trade destination, or his current team the Portland Trail Blazers.

Lillard and his agent Aaron Goodwin made a trade demand of the Blazers this offseason that hasn’t yet come to fruition. The Blazers are holding out for a better package, so either the Heat find a way to sweeten the deal or Lillard will be in the Pacific Northwest. He is under contract through the 2026-27 season.

It will be interesting to see how both Lillard and the Blazers play this out publicly through the media and how it impacts the on-court play.

3. Will James Harden get out of Philly?

Harden sent shock waves across the league over the summer while he was in Asia when he called his former buddy, Daryl Morey, the current Sixers president of basketball operations, a liar. Harden said he would never be a part of an organization that Morey is running.

Fast-forward and he’s opted into the final year of his deal and his trade demand to the Los Angeles Clippers has not been fulfilled.

“[The Clippers] tried to trade for James Harden, and that deal didn’t happen,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on “The Hoop Collective.” “And from what I understand, it was the Clippers who said, ‘OK, there’s no deal here. We’re gonna move on.’ And while I assume that they could certainly make a deal midseason, I assume that this is what they’re gonna go with.”

Morey is known to be comfortable with atmospheres and situations being uncomfortable. He expects Harden to report to camp and fulfill the final year of his contract. A trade will only be made if Morey believes he is getting back significant value.

With Joel Embiid appearing to be non-committal about his future in Philadelphia, the team breaking in a new head coach, things will be very tense this season.

4. Will 2019 draft classmates Ja Morant and Zion Williamson leave the past behind?

For different reasons, this is a pivotal season for both young men. Let’s start with Morant.

On the court he’s brilliant, though still has room to get better. He needs to improve his three-point shooting and his floater. Still, he’s a two-time All-Star, an All-NBA selection and the face of the Memphis Grizzlies franchise.

But the biggest concern is his maturity away from the court. He was involved in numerous incidents over the past couple years involving guns and negative behavior. He’ll be serving a 25-game suspension to start the season.

Let’s hope that he has begun to get the help he needs to manage his life better and continues to do so.

Williamson has barely played during his four seasons in the league. Despite his limited availability due to injury, he’s still a two-time All-Star and when he does play one of the best players in the league.

He is beginning the first year of a five year $197 million contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans. The team would like to see him play at least 65 games this season. Something he has yet to do in his young career.

There have been questions about his diet, commitment to his body when he’s injured, the influence of his family in his decision-making, and his personal relationship choices.

It’s a lot for a young man who is only 23. But he needs to take control of his life in all aspects and prioritize what matters most. All eyes will be on him this season.

5. Will the Denver Nuggets be hungry to repeat?

It’s not easy winning an NBA championship. Eleven teams have yet to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy as we are set to begin the 78th NBA season.

Teams have to be very good and they need luck. In league history the NBA title has been successfully defended 23 times. The last team was the 2018 Golden State Warriors.

We’ll be able to tell early how committed Denver is to repeating. It won’t necessarily be by having the best record by Christmas. But how they perform against the league’s other elite teams will tell us a lot.

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