The NBA season officially begins Tuesday with a pair of games before a full slate on Wednesday. As everyone has written in the past couple of months, the league is truly wide open this year with new favorites and a whole lot of uncertainty.
Embrace the mystery. That’s usually hard for an opinion dealer like me: there’s an allure in trying to figure out who’s real and who isn’t, what’s sustainable and what’s fleeting. But embracing the mystery, discovering discovery is something I’m working to do this season. This newsletter will be a vessel for that: less certainty, more pondering about what we’re seeing unfold.
There’s a lot to be excited about, and there will surely be a lot to lament. The preseason saga between the NBA and China is inauspicious on the off-court issues, and the Zion Williamson injury is menacing. But LeBron has a co-star, the Clippers are title favorites, Stephen Curry is unleashed, Russell Westbrook has a new home, Giannis is locked, the Sixers are enormous, and there’s something interesting to watch in like 27 of the 29 NBA markets.
All times ET.
Pelicans at Raptors, 8 p.m., TNT
Lakers at Clippers, 10:30 p.m., TNT
Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame
Jordan did a rare media interview (hawking a tequila brand created by a small group of NBA franchisees, can we call it La Collucion?) and made news by claiming (perhaps in jest) that Stephen Curry isn’t yet a Hall of Famer. Technically speaking, this is true. And perhaps that’s the joke.
Or perhaps Jordan is like the absolute most curmudgeonly of the old heads who is absurdly frugal with his compliments for players who came after him, and a bad talent evaluator to boot. Who would actually be in a Michael Jordan Hall of Fame, after all? MJ, David Thompson, like 10 UNC dudes, Scottie Pippen, Bill Cartwright, Bird & Magic, maybe Hakeem and Karl Malone? Ron Harper? There’s no way anyone born after 1985 would make MJ’s Hall of Fame.
It’s still funny, though.
Money! Money! Money! Jaylen Brown inked a four-year extension over $100 million. Buddy Hield took an incentive-laden, front-loaded agreement for $84-106 million. Domantas Sabonis took a $74 million deal. Dejounte Murray inked a $64 million contract. Taurean Prince took a shorter, smaller deal from the Nets. Players really snapped up those offers, locking in future salaries at the current salary cap. The restricted free agent market next summer is going to be pretty limited.
Mike Prada on how the Kings were right about Hield all along.
Ricky O’Donnell on the Celtics’ rookie class already looking great.
It took Whitney Medworth like two seconds to figure out that Thingamajig on this season of The Masked Singer is Victor Oladipo. Which is to say, yes, Oladipo is out there singing Kacey Musgraves songs in a monster costume on a network game show. And he didn’t even make that old Rolling Stone G.O.A.T. singers ranking!
Alex Wong got the headline of the century on his excellent New York Times piece on Kevin Love’s Instagram summer.
Behind the scenes on trying to figure out how to schedule the Lakers and Clippers at STAPLES Center this season. Just wait until the playoffs!
Kevin Arnovitz on how the Spencer Dinwiddie securitization would actually work, if it happens.
Adam Silver doesn’t sound like a commissioner ready to abandon the China revenue stream over what has happened. Howard Beck on what the future holds.
Yes, Doc Rivers, yes, bring up the fact that the Lakers claim titles won in Minnesota in the ‘40s and ‘50s to diminish their achievements. Yesssss.
Be excellent to each other.