All good things must come to an end.
So it is in life, as well as in the NBA.
Whether it be due to trades, free agency, bad contracts, or simply aging and diminishing skills, all NBA teams eventually decline from their peak performances.
And as the wild 2010 off-season comes to an end, it seems apparent that some teams will be on the decline immediately or they will be in the near future.
So here are 10 such teams, the 10 NBA franchises on the decline.
The New Orleans Hornets are a bit of a tricky one, as they find themselves on this list based upon the speculation that their three-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul will leave their team via free agency in 2012 or that he will force a trade before that time.
And Paul's departure would certainly be devastating for the Hornets, as they have only made the playoffs in two of his five years with the club (although he was injured for a substantial portion of last season).
What's more Peja Stojakovic is getting old and the man who was to become CP3's successor at point, promising young talent Darren Collison, was dealt to the Indiana Pacers in a multi-team deal earlier this offseason.
And this franchise, even with Paul, has a ton of uncertainty surrounding its future. Paul himself even stated that this was his belief earlier in the week.
Therefore, as long as the speculation surrounding Paul's imminent departure from NO has any base to it, the Hornets will certainly look to become a team on the decline.
During the summer of 2010, the Charlotte Bobcats lost two starters: point guard Raymond Felton to the New York Knicks via free agency and center Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks through a trade.
Therefore, the team will be left with D.J. Augustin at point and either Nazr Mohammed or DeSagana Diop at center, so consequently, both replacements have the potential to be a liability for this team.
And even though the Bobcats report that Augustine appears to be stepping up to this new challenge, he has yet to prove it on the court.
Furthermore, the team's two undisputed leaders, Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace both could be causes for concern in the future.
Jackson, at 32, is is getting up there in age for an NBA player. And despite the fact that he put together an impressive year in 2009-10, the question will be how long he can continue to enjoy such success.
Wallace, on the other hand, is a tough player who competes with reckless abandon. However, this style of play has often caused him problems, resulting in his suffering of severe injuries such as a grade-three concussion, a collapsed lung, a broken rib, and a separated shoulder. Therefore, his history forces one to be aware of the fact that his next severe injury could be his last.
And without either Jackson or Wallace at full strength, the Bobcats will surely be in trouble.
So, barring anything drastic, like the breakout of acquisition Tyrus Thomas, look for the Bobcats to decline in 2010-11, failing to match their playoff performance of the previous year.
In 2009-10, the Memphis Grizzlies finished with a record of 40-42, a full 16 wins more than the previous season.
The Grizzlies were then successful in re-signing their young star Rudy Gay this past offseason.
However, retaining him came at a high cost, to the tune of five years and $84 million—quite a hefty price tag when one considers that Gay has never even been an All-Star.
And by committing to such a contract, Memphis has severely limited their future cap flexibility.
After the 2010-11 season, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley all will become free agents, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that one or more of them may not be returning.
Furthermore, OJ Mayo's contract is up in 2012, and the Grizz must be ready to offer him a large chunk of money to stay as well.
Therefore, by signing Gay to such a massive contract, Memphis will likely lose some of the players who helped the team to improve as drastically as it did last season.
So their recent improvement may peak this year, as the Grizzlies look to begin a decline in the near future.
During the 2009-10 NBA season, the Minnesota Timberwolves were dreadful, finishing 15-67.
Then, during the offseason, they traded the player who was their leading scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker, Al Jefferson.
Also discarded were key rotation players Ryan Gomes, Ramon Sessions, and Ryan Hollins.
Sure, the T-wolves made some other moves too, bringing in the likes of Martell Webster, Michael Beasley, Luke Ridnour, Anthony Tolliver, and drafting Wes Johnson, but will that be enough to turn things around?
In short, no, it will not.
Instead, Minnesota will continue to toil in the depths of the lottery for the foreseeable future, continuing their steady decline, which has occurred since the departure of Kevin Garnett.
Carlos Boozer was chief among the key players who left the Utah Jazz during the summer of 2010. However, the Jazz also lost other key players, such as Ronnie Brewer, Wesley Matthews, and Kyle Korver.
In return, they only brought in the aging role players Raja Bell and Earl Watson, in addition to Al Jefferson, who cost the team two future first round draft picks and former first-rounder Kosta Koufas—an expensive and risky price. Moreover, it is being reported that Jefferson has now showed up to the team 15 pounds overweight.
Further complicating the team's cloudy future is the fact that star point guard Deron Williams could leave the team in 2012 as a free agent.
This is in addition to the fact that it's already thought that forward Andrei Kirilenko will likely be gone after his contract expires at the end of the 2010-11 season.
Therefore, the Jazz may see much more of their talent depart, while they are stuck with an average roster and few early draft picks—a surefire recipe for a drastic decline.
Amar'e Stoudemire left the Phoenix Suns during the 2010 offseason, signing a $100 million contract with the New York Knicks.
Additionally, former Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa was sent from the team in a move which brought disgruntled forward Hedo Turkoglu from the Toronto Raptors to the Suns.
Finally, Phoenix was able to acquire Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress, while also drafting productive college forward Gani Lawal.
Overall, their offseason doesn't sound too bad, losing an All-Star power forward and a bench scorer and replacing them with a number of serviceable players. Sounds like the team will only be slightly less talented than last season, right?
The Phoenix Suns have two of the leagues oldest active players in Steve Nash, 36, and Grant Hill, who will be turning 38 on October 5.
In a league where the average age is about 27, it would be unreasonable to expect these two veterans to be able to continue playing at a high level for too much longer.
Consequently, when such a drop in play comes to occur, retirement will likely become a serious option.
And a Phoenix team without Nash will certainly be on the decline.
It has often been said that, as long as the San Antonio Spurs have Tim Duncan, they will be contenders.
However, with an aging Duncan and shaky supporting cast, this may no longer be the case.
It can even be argued that the Spurs have been on the decline for a little while now, since their regular season record has continued to gradually worsen since they last won the NBA Championship four seasons ago.
Furthermore, there have been whispers that the team is shopping former Finals MVP Tony Parker. Such a trade would emaciate their already-thin backcourt, making George Hill the only player on the roster with experience at the point.
Moreover, in addition to Duncan, many other crucial players are aging. Manu Ginobili is 33 and injury-prone, Richard Jefferson is 30 and averaged his lowest point total per game since his rookie season, and Antonio McDyess will be 36 before the start of the regular season.
And even though rookie Tiago Splitter and sophomore DeJuan Blair will help to add some much-needed frontcout depth, the team's age and the potential Tony Paker trade will be too much for this franchise.
After two decades (with a few hiccups) near the top of the league, the San Antonio Spurs will now finally be on the decline.
Heading into 2010-11, both Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu are no longer members of the Toronto Raptors.
Needless to say, losing two players of that caliber is enormously difficult to overcome.
And even though Toronto has two solid point guards (Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon), a promising young two (DeMar DeRozan), and a solid young center (Andrea Bargnani), there will be way for this team to match the accomplishments of the past few seasons.
Dark days are likely ahead for the Raptors, and therefore, it is safe to say that the Toronto is now on the decline.
The Carmelo Anthony-Denver Nuggets trade saga has been dominating the headlines through the latter end the this year's NBA offseason—and for good reason.
After all, it's not often that one of the league's top five players becomes available.
And even though the recent Melo to the New Jersey Nets, four-way deal fell through, it still seems likely that he'll be moved at some point.
However, Anthony is not all the Nuggets stand to lose, as they have put JR Smith on the trading block and Kenyon Martin, whose contract expires after the season, will likely leave after stating his discontent with the Denver's signing of Al Harrington.
Furthermore, veteran point guard Chauncey Billups is now 34 and will likely begin to see his skill diminish.
So whenever Anthony is likely moved, others will follow, and the Nuggets will enter a decline, likely beginning a rebuilding effort led by Ty Lawson.
LeBron James' talent is rivalled only by a few in the history of the NBA.
Consequently, replacing the two-time MVP is impossible, which is bad news for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
When James ran off to Miami, he left the Cavailers in an awful situation, as they had previously overspent on players (Antawn Jamison, $11.6 million, Daniel Gibson, $4.1 million, Mo Williams, $8.8 million) in a desperate attempt to surround him with talent.
Now the Cavs will be left to deal with the aftermath, since their salary is near the cap limit and they no longer have a legitimate No. 1 option on their team, but rather the remnants of a supporting cast.
Their leaders will likely be a 34-year-old Jamison, Williams, who will probably attempt to take on the role of primary scorer, the young and talented JJ Hickson, and Anderson Varejao—a group which won't frighten anyone in the newly improved Eastern Conference.
Therefore, this roster will struggle to make the playoffs.
So, due to the decision made by LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers are clearly now on the decline, and they will likely be declining more any other team in 2010-11.