By Jason Wojciechowski on October 29, 2006 at 7:39 PM
I opened up ESPN's NBA page just now to make sure that the basketball season really was starting tomorrow (it's not - it starts Tuesday), and I see that Red Auerbach passed away on Saturday. He was such an NBA fixture, despite being 89 years old, that it kind of seemed like he'd just keep on keeping on forever.
Even with that black cloud in mind, I'm excited for the start of the season. The Lakers are in deep trouble to start the year: they have a great schedule in terms of how many home games they have, but they'll be hard-pressed to take advantage of it because Phil Jackson is probably just getting back into the swing of things now (and might not even make the trip up to Oakland for the Lakers' second game) after missing a lot of training camp recovering from surgery, Kobe's knee still hurts, and the top two centers (Kwame and Chris Mihm) are both hurt (leaving Andrew Bynum to fill the breach).
Plus, Smush Parker is still a starter.
My hopes for the season: Sasha Vujacic plays his way past Smush by the thirtieth game of the season; Kwame Brown builds on a solid playoff series against Phoenix; Chris Mihm becomes one of the best bench big men in the game (the man has some skills and there's no real reason why he couldn't be an excellent role player); Ronny Turiaf does everything for this team that Brian Grant was supposed to; and Luke Walton figures out some way to compensate for his physical limitations on defense so that he can be on the floor when it matters.
Unfortunately, I think none of those scenarios are terribly likely. If I had to pick one to bet the farm on, it'd be Mihm.