The 2013 NBA regular season is less than three weeks away and the preseason is featuring a number of international ventures. As the games head to countries such as China, England and the Philippines, the basketball community is expanding.
The more things change, the more they're staying the same as reports are emerging from around the league. Whether injury-related or touching upon the future of NBA superstars, there's an undeniable sense of uncertainty across the league.
The question is, what are those reports and what should you make of them?
Kobe Bryant is Fat
He said it, not me.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant said that he needs to get in shape. As anyone familiar with Bryant knows, he used a different phrase than that, but the message was clear.
More important than his weight, however, is the update on his health:
"I just keep it all open right now," Bryant said Wednesday before joining the Los Angeles Lakers on their flight to Las Vegas for a preseason game. "I don't know why you guys are so hell-bent on timelines. It's like the most ridiculous thing to me. It's entertaining. When I'm ready, I'm ready.
"I need to get my fat a** in shape," Bryant said. "Six months of eating whatever the hell I wanted to eat and not running has caught up to me a little bit. So, I got to get in shape."
Bryant went on to say that it'll take him three weeks to get into game shape.
At this point, all signs point towards Bryant being unavailable for the Lakers' regular season opener on Tuesday Oct. 29 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Some may be disappointed, but the fact that Kobe is anywhere close to ready should be encouraging.
Take away his reputation as a warrior and Bryant is a 35-year-old man attempting to recover from a devastating torn Achilles tendon injury. If he does return for the season opener, it'd be exactly 200 days between the date of his injury, Apr. 12, and the date of his return, Oct. 29.
That number is unprecedented for a player of Bryant's age. Be happy the Lakers legend is going to be available at all after tearing his Achilles.
Amar'e Stoudemire Targeting Season Opener
During the 2010-11 NBA regular season, New York Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire was the front-runner to win league MVP. Many fans and analysts forget that truth, but upon the Knicks' trade for Carmelo Anthony, STAT's usage decreased, and his status as an MVP candidate was all but eliminated.
In the two seasons since then, Stoudemire has played in 76 of a possible 148 regular season games.
According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, Stoudemire is working to return for the Knicks' regular season opener on Wednesday Oct. 30. The 30-year-old is currently recovering from a lingering knee injury that limited him to 27 games in 2012-13.
STAT believes that he could be ready for 2013-14 before the preseason is over.
"It’s definitely a possibility,’’ Stoudemire said of playing in the opener. “It’s matter of how strong my legs are. I’m working my butt off to gain strength. Hopefully I’ll be ready by the season opener."
"If everything keeps progressing the way it has been, there’s a lot of great news how I felt. If that continues, I look forward to playing before the preseason is up."
What type of player does Stoudemire believe he can be when healthy? The same superstar that he was before the injuries.
It's certainly possible.
The issue isn't STAT's ability but the Knicks' depth.
The Knicks have padded the interior with multiple big-name players, creating a rotation of Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin. Each of those players commands a high number of minutes, and all can be highly effective players in Mike Woodson's system.
Don't think that means STAT is incapable of rediscovering his star status.
During the 2012-13 NBA regular season, Stoudemire averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 rebounds on 57.7 percent shooting in 23.5 minutes for a Player Efficiency Rating of 22.16. During his most recent full season, he posted 25.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.9 blocks.
Anyone who thinks there's a better interior scorer on this roster than Stoudemire is just plain wrong. It's all about staying healthy.
Rajon Rondo Doesn't Want Trade
The Boston Celtics have entered a perceived rebuilding process by trading Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. Seeing as those were three of the four most high-profile players on Boston's roster, it's not hard to see why that belief has been materialized.
According to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England, franchise player Rajon Rondo doesn't want to be the next big-name to depart.
"I love it here. The fans are great here. And Danny [Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations] has been straightforward with me. This is my team. Why would I want to leave? Why would I want out? I never really backed away from a challenge. This would be a challenge. I'm looking forward to working with coach [Brad] Stevens. It's a brand new start for us as a team. A lot of new players and a lot of young guys willing to listen, so I'm very excited about that."
Rondo's been involved in his fair share of rumors, but if it were up to him, he'd remain in Boston.
The comical aspect of the Celtics' supposed rebuilding process is the fact that, by trading KG and Pierce, Boston did what many have been asking for: it created a more athletic core. That lack of athleticism has been the key to Boston's shortcomings, as Rondo thrives in pushing the pace but lacked the necessary weapons to do so.
Now, Rondo will move forward with an explosive perimeter that includes Avery Bradley, MarShon Brooks, Jordan Crawford, Jeff Green, Courtney Lee and Gerald Wallace.
Bradley is one of the best on-ball defenders in the NBA; Wallace is a transition menace; and both Crawford and Lee can shoot the three-ball. Brooks is the X-Factor, as he possesses high upside as a scorer, and when healthy, will flash that in Boston.
As for Green, he averaged 17.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 blocks per game on a slash line of .493/.439/.798 after the All-Star Break. During the 2013 NBA playoffs, Green posted averages of 20.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists on a slash line of .435/.455/.844.
There's one superstar, one rising star and a defensive specialist on Boston's perimeter, yet people think that Boston will fail to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference? Rondo's right: why wouldn't he stay?