2012 NBA Season Preview

The 2012-2013 season for the National Basketball Association is finally underway a hectic summer.

The 2012 NBA offseason was one of the most chaotic in recent memory. Raymond Felton had been traded from the Portland Trail Blazers along with power forward Kurt Thomas, and in return the Knicks sent forward Jared Jeffries. Felton had been a disappointment while playing with the Blazers and didn’t quite mesh with the system and struggled from mid-season on. The Blazers acquired guard Damian Lillard from Weber State College in the draft along with big man Myers Leonard from Illinois. Along with the rookie acquisitions, the Blazers hired Mavericks assistant coach Terry Stotts to lead them after the firing of Nate McMillan last march. Stotts has a career record of 115-168 and previously coached the Milwaukee Bucks.

The previously named New Jersey Nets moved across the Hudson river to Brooklyn.

Thanks to super-star rap artist Jay-Z, who paid $4.5 million in his share of ownership, he was the main advocator for the teams relocation.

Center Dwight Howard had seemingly demanded the Orlando Magic to trade him to Brooklyn so he could join All-Star point guard Deron Williams and shooting guard Joe Johnson. While the Magic had offers to receive Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, both centers, they rejected trade after trade until the Lakers chimed in. After weeks of shuffling and confusion, Howard was sent to the Lakers in a four team trade that included the Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, and the Magic.

Notable players that were included in the trade, include All-Star center Andrew Bynum, who packed his bags and moved from Hollywood to Philadelphia. The Denver Nuggets received shooting guard Andre Igoudola from Philadelphia, and the Magic received Aaron Afflalo, Al Harrington and other lesser known players including Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, Josh McRoberts,and Christian Eyenga..

It’s not just Howard alongside five time world champion and potential legend Kobe Bryant; Steve Nash also joined the Lakers in free agency from the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers front five rivals any other in the Western Conference but with all of that talent, they’re flawed. Bryant and Nash are nearing the end of their careers and may not be in L.A. for more than two years. Mike Brown, head coach of the Lakers, was recently fired by L.A. after starting off the season 1-4. The Lakers, in a surprising move, hired former Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni instead of legendary and previous Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Jackson won five NBA titles in L.A. and retired before the 2011-2012 season.

“Too bad they couldn’t get Phil Jackson,” said Sophomore, Henry Li, “He was a great coach but it’s going to be interesting because D’Antoni used to coach Nash in Phoenix.”

The previous Western Conference champions, Oklahoma City, made little noise over the summer, but didn’t need to. Superstar Kevin Durant is just reaching his prime and is joined by guard Russell Westbrook, power forward Serge Ibaka and newcomers Kevin Martin and rookie Jeremy Lamb. Durant has led the league in scoring three times and has made a name of himself since being drafted in 2007. OKC was dominated in the NBA finals four games to one but have a bright future ahead of them.

On Oct. 27, shooting guard James Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets for guards Kevin Martin and rookie Jeremy Lamb.

“I don’t think the Thunder should’ve traded him. Houston really needs him though,” said Li.

The New York Knicks took center stage mid-February with point guard Jeremy Lin coming out of nowhere and leading the Knicks into playoff contention. They beat teams like the Lakers and the Mavericks while Lin dominated American news. Soon after, he suffered a season ending knee injury and faded back into the unknown.

Over the summer, Lin signed a three year, $25 million deal with one of his former teams, the Houston Rockets. He had previously been cut by the Rockets before joining the Knicks. The Knicks could have matched the offer to keep Lin, but decided to move on with guards Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd. Kidd signed as a free agent during the summer after previously playing alongside future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki and winning the title in Dallas.

In the eastern conference, the Miami Heat has reloaded and are ready to defend its title won last June. The Heat acquired all time three point leader Ray Allen to back up an already elite shooting team. Along with that, Rashard Lewis, small forward, joined the team to add depth to the forward position.

“As of right now, I think Miami is going to win the NBA title. But if the Lakers get better when Nash come back and fits with the coach, they might be able to challenge them,” said Li.

Despite the loss of Allen, the Celtics added long range shooter Jason Terry from the Mavericks in an attempt to make up the lack of three point shooting ability. Jeff Green also returned from missing all of last season with a heart issue and adds youth to an already aging roster. Despite the lack of youth, the Celtics missed the finals by one game and their expectations are high.

A surprise team last year, the Pacers gave Miami a challenge during the second round of the playoffs. Center Roy Hibbert and forward Danny Granger add physical play and with no true superstar on the team, anyone can step up and contribute.

The Nets appear to be back after years of failure and embarrassment. Despite not being able to acquire Dwight Howard, Joe Johnson was traded to Brooklyn and added depth for a depleted shooting guard/small forward position. Gerald Wallace, who was traded at the deadline in mid-march from the Blazers, adds a tough, physical play style and irritates players on offense. In the offseason, Brook Lopez signed a four year, $61 million extension to stay with the Nets and attempt to lead the Nets back into playoff contention along side All Star Deron Williams.

The Chicago Bulls were devastated when Derrick Rose went down in the playoffs injuring his left knee, ending Chicago’s run at an NBA title. Rose isn’t expected back until January but the Bulls have performed well without him, with coach Tom Thibodeau resorting to All Stars Carlos Boozer, power forward, Luol Deng, small forward, and Richard Hamilton, shooting guard.

With the tumultuous off-season and constant trade news, the NBA hopes to return to normality and get back to business as soon as possible.