With the free-agency flurry finally subsiding, plenty of NBA teams are feeling pretty good about how they've addressed their biggest areas of need. But in a number of cases, the offseason's additions and subtractions have created some legitimate questions about rotations, minutes and roles.
Will the Houston Rockets continue sprinting up and down the floor now that Dwight Howard is the man in the middle?
What about the Golden State Warriors? How will they settle on a closing lineup with six players on the roster who deserve to be on the floor in crunch time?
And don't forget the Boston Celtics, who have to figure out whether holdover star Rajon Rondo has a place in their rebuilding plans.
The regular season is still more than three months away, but the pressing questions are already piling up for a handful of NBA teams.
The Boston Celtics hit the detonator on their latest dynasty by trading away Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for draft picks and a handful of scraps from the Brooklyn Nets, sending a clear signal that the rebuilding process was underway.
But when the dust settled on Boston's demolition, Rajon Rondo was left sitting among the rubble. And now the team has to decide if it should make him a part of its next era or use him to acquire even more future assets.
Rondo is one of the league's best point guards, but he's coming off of a torn ACL and is far from a perfect player. His broken jumper makes him something of an offensive liability against smarter defenses that simply sag off him and dare him to shoot. As NBA schemes have gotten more sophisticated, guards who can't stretch the floor, like Rondo, are losing value.
Despite his flaws, Rondo is a legitimate All-Star and easily the Celtics' best player. There are certainly worse options than building around him.
But it's going to be a challenge to keep the notoriously difficult point guard happy during a construction process that could take two or three seasons.
If Boston wants to get the maximum return for its greatest asset—and set itself up to bottom out this season—trading Rondo is something it'll have to consider.
The Houston Rockets ran harder than anyone last year, leading the NBA with a pace of 98.6 possessions per game. James Harden flourished in the chaos created by a relentless attack, three-point shots came fast and furious, and Houston's undersized forwards ran the floor like gazelles.
Given the players the Rockets had last year, pushing the pace was a sound strategy.
But now that Dwight Howard is signed up to wear Rockets red for four years, it's probably time for the team to take a look at whether or not its up-and-down style is the best way to maximize its new personnel.
For the clearest evidence that it's time for the Rockets to ditch their go-go attack, look no further than Howard's 2010-11 season with the Orlando Magic.
That year, Howard posted a career-best PER of 26.13 and totally dominated on both ends of the floor. D12 was a monster in the middle, surrounded by a cadre of perimeter snipers not unlike the one he'll be playing with in Houston this season.
But that Magic team, the one that featured the absolute best version of Howard, ranked 18th in the NBA with a pace of just 93.49 possessions per game.
Howard is a terrific athlete who should be extremely valuable in any system, but if the Rockets want to get the most out of their new big man, they're going to have to decide whether a complete stylistic overhaul is in order.
Based on what we've seen from Howard in the past, it looks like Houston might need to take its foot off the accelerator next season.
Victor Oladipo finished his four-game audition as a point guard for the Orlando Magic with mixed reviews.
During the Orlando Summer League, the No. 2 overall pick flashed the strength, quickness and ball-handling skills that could eventually make him an immensely valuable lead guard. But he also endured some growing pains.
Oladipo was sometimes impatient, often overly aggressive and always looking to attack. It was clear in summer league play that the game had not slowed down enough for him to function as a legitimate distributor. And chances are, he's never going to play like the NBA's prime facilitators. He averaged 19 points, five assists and 4.8 turnovers in those four summer league games.
But what Oladipo can be is an athletic dynamo who'll defend either guard spot and score at an efficient rate.
The Magic clearly have every intention of giving him a chance to prove he can run the point. With the reputation for being the hardest-working player in the draft, it's probably not smart to bet against Oladipo eventually wrestling the nuances of the position to a draw.
If he can serve as an average distributor, the rest of Oladipo's skills will make him a major threat and a viable franchise cornerstone. But it's far too early to know whether or not such growth is likely to occur.
Remember, though, nobody was certain Russell Westbrook would ever get a handle on the position, either. And that experiment turned out pretty well for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Acquiring free-agent talent at below-market value is never a bad thing, but by bringing in Andre Iguodala on a four-year, $48 million deal, the Golden State Warriors created one of the more intriguing lineup conundrums in the NBA.
The most immediate issue is who'll start at small forward. Harrison Barnes enjoyed a breakout during the 2013 playoffs that—under normal circumstances—would have led to him retaining his starting spot and taking on a much bigger role.
But teams don't pay All-Star free agents to come off the pine, so Iguodala's slot in the first unit is practically set in stone. Problem solved.
What has yet to be determined, though, is which five Warriors will be on the floor to finish games.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Iguodala should be crunch-time locks. But the other two slots are going to be filled by some combination of Barnes, David Lee and Andrew Bogut.
During the postseason, the Warriors proved they could be a frighteningly dominant defensive team when Bogut was at his best. He was nearly as integral as Curry was in the Warriors' first-round throttling of the Denver Nuggets. When Bogut is in good health (an exceedingly rare occurrence), the Dubs boast a championship-caliber defense.
If Golden State needs stops down the stretch, it'll be best equipped to get them with Bogut in the paint.
Barnes made major strides as a stretch 4 in place of the injured Lee in the playoffs, so there's also a strong case for using him as a small-ball power forward to close out games. Of course, that leaves Lee, who'll make $14 million next year and is the only real post-up threat on the roster, as the odd man out.
Game-to-game matchups or an injury to one of the Warriors' top six players could sort this whole mess out rather simply. But there's also a strong chance the Dubs leave a very good player on the bench during crucial moments next year.
In the grand scheme of things, that's not a bad problem to have.
As of this writing, there are no indications that the Los Angeles Lakers have designs on tanking in the 2013-14 season. And because there are even fewer indications the team is remotely close to being a championship contender, Kobe Bryant's post-recovery role with the club is going to be fascinating.
On the one hand, Bryant is going to want to return with a fury, proving his doubters wrong and retaining his alpha-dog status as he moves further into NBA senior citizenship. In his mind, the Lakers are probably a title threat.
On the other, the Lakers have a vested interest in keeping No. 24 relatively fresh for a potentially revamped superteam in the 2014-15 season.
With enough money to sign two max players next summer (assuming Bryant doesn't ask for the moon in contract negotiations), it would behoove the Lakers to limit their star's chances at injury this year. In doing so, they'd theoretically be able to expect two or three more solid seasons from Bryant as the team transitions into a new era.
Everything from Bryant's return date to his role is up in the air right now. Given what we know of the Mamba's competitive fire and stubbornness, it's going to be almost impossible to dissuade him from returning on his own terms.
But if the Lakers have an eye on preparing for the future, they're going to have to be very careful about how much say they allow Bryant to have on the terms of his comeback.
For the second season in a row, the Miami Heat won an NBA title last year. And for the second season in a row, they did it with a frightfully inconsistent and painfully hobbled Dwyane Wade.
This year, the Heat are going to have to find a way to limit D-Wade's minutes during the regular season so he can perform at his best when it matters. Wade's best, by the way, is still pretty darn impressive.
During the 2012-13 season, Wade averaged 21.2 points, 5.1 assists and five rebounds on a career-high 52 percent shooting. His PER of 24.04 was nowhere near his career high, but it was still good enough to rank seventh in the NBA.
But when the playoffs rolled around, Wade's accumulated bumps and bruises conspired to turn him into a shell of himself. He couldn't get to the rim consistently, all but abandoned his jumper and saw his free-throw rate plummet.
In fact, after posting a net rating of plus-13 points per 100 possessions during the regular season, Wade's net value dipped to just plus-3.6 during the playoffs. And in the Finals, Wade became a massive negative for Miami, posting a net rating of minus-7.8 points per 100 possessions in seven games against the San Antonio Spurs (per NBA.com).
The evidence proves it: Wade simply can't hold up over a full season.
Perhaps if the Heat trim the shooting guard's minutes from the 34.7 per game he averaged last year, there's a chance he won't undergo the same injury-related decline he has endured the past two years. The Spurs have extended Tim Duncan's career by doing roughly the same thing, so there's a precedent for this approach.
But there's a problem.
Ray Allen will be 38 when the 2013-14 season starts and can't be counted on for more than the 25.8 minutes per game he logged last year. Summer league standout James Ennis is an option, but championship-caliber teams don't typically hand major roles over to second-round rookies.
Plus, Mike Miller is gone via the amnesty provision and Shane Battier wore down even more than Wade did last year. Short of slotting Norris Cole into some kind of hybrid guard position, the Heat don't have any real options to take the stress off Wade.
Miami must find a way to give Wade a break. If it can't, his inevitable late-season collapse could cost his team a title.