The 2013 NBA regular season is just over one month away from commencing. With this in mind, the rational thought would be that the league is short on news as the preseason approaches and rosters are set.
In the immortal words of Lee Corso: Not so fast, my friend! The NBA is ripe with drama.
From players recovering from injuries to organizations making changes up top, there has been no shortage of controversy and discussion. Even as the season nears, some of the biggest names in basketball remain in the news.
Here's everything you need to know about what's transpiring in the NBA.
New York Knicks Name New General Manager
The New York Knicks have long been criticized for the handling of major decisions. From the infamous Isiah Thomas era to the equally disappointing Mike D'Antoni tenure, New York has experienced trouble with its coaching staff and upper management.
According to a press release via the Knicks organization, New York has replaced general manager Glen Grunwald with Steve Mills.
“I am pleased to be able to welcome Steve [Mills] back to the Knicks. He is a well-respected sports executive with a strong background in basketball, as well as a familiarity with NBA operations and our company. We look forward to his leadership and believe he is the right person to help us reach our ultimate goal of winning an NBA Championship,” said James Dolan, executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company.
“We are grateful for Glen’s many years of valuable service and pleased that he will remain with the organization.”
Grunwald has been moved to an advisory role.
This is a puzzling move for a variety of reasons, specifically the timing of the switch. Grunwald has created the team we see today, making every move during free agency and at the NBA draft, and is now being replaced before the Knicks can even see how the moves work out.
There really isn't another way to describe the change.
Mills, a former professional basketball player, has made a career out of being a financial specialist, serving as the COO for Madison Square Garden from 2003 to 2009. Since then, he's been a partner in Magic Johnson Enterprises and helped to create the Athletes & Entertainers Wealth Management Group, LLC.
Now, he will be trusted with making basketball decisions for a New York team that Grunwald led to its first 50-win season since 2000. Talk about a blindside hit.
Mitch Kupchak Opens Up on Kobe
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak spoke with reporters at a recent press conference, and Kobe Bryant inevitably became a topic of conversation. The 17-year veteran has been recovering from Achilles tendon surgery, and his status for opening night has been unconfirmed.
"Some guys, like myself when I hurt my knee, I always had a limp. You won't be able to tell [with Kobe]," said Kupchak, a rough-hewn power forward in his NBA playing days. "But he is 35 and his game has been evolving anyway in the last two or three years."
"When he does come back … and we're down by two or we're down by three, the Kobe that we know and love is going to take the last shot," Kupchak said. "He may be limping and he may be dragging his leg but he will take that last shot."
Did you expect anything different?
Bryant may be 35 and recovering from a severe injury, but he's still one of the greatest clutch performers in NBA history. Even if his minutes are limited through three quarters, Kobe needs to have the ball in his hands during the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for Lakers fans, it'll take time for Bryant to get healthy and return—time that LA cannot waste as it looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2012-13 campaign.
Rajon Rondo Status Update
During the 2012-13 NBA regular season, the Boston Celtics suffered a devastating loss when point guard Rajon Rondo fell victim to a torn ACL. He proceeded to miss the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs, and his status for 2013-14 remains up in the air.
Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, said a timeline remains unclear for Rondo’s return — it’s week to week, he said — but Ainge did hint in a radio interview that Rondo might not play until December.
“I don’t think we would ever succumb to the pressure of bringing back a player from an ACL too soon,” Ainge said before the Shamrock Foundation’s sixth annual Teeing up For Kids Golf Tournament at Wollaston GC in Milton.
“We’ve got to do what’s right for him. He’s young (27); maybe if he was 37 and it was his last year, but he’s still so young. And he’s our best player. We can’t afford to make any mistakes in judgment on when to bring him back.”
Rondo suffered the injury in January of 2013.
The Celtics are entering a season that has been labeled as a rebuilding process. Rondo is a genuine superstar, but the supporting cast is filled with young players, unproven talents and above-30 contributors who aren't quite stars.
While Rondo's return is one of the most highly anticipated events of the 2013-14 season, there isn't much urgency in Boston. An NBA championship is a pipe dream until proved otherwise, and Rondo will only be as effective as his health permits.
Assuming Boston is going to keep Rondo on the roster, there's nothing to be but patient.