NBA: 10 Burning Questions at the 2018 All-Star Break
Plenty of story lines heading into the break. We name and discuss the most biggest ones from the season so far.
The 82-game NBA regular season is a grind and although it doesn't feature as the mathematical midway point of the season, the All-Star Weekend does come as a good break for everybody, even for the players and coaches that are a part of the weekend's festivities.
However, this year's All-Star is slightly different from any other year, with two major changes. The quite obvious one is the roster selection for the weekend finale - the All-Star Game - but another underrated change is the shifting of the league's mid-season trade deadline. Earlier it used to be 3 PM on the first Thursday after the All-Star Sunday, whereas, this year it is 10 days before that same mark.
The deadline doesn't normally have anything to do with the weekend, but that changed with last year's trade that saw DeMarcus Cousins being shipped to the New Orleans Pelicans. He was apparently told of the deal while answering questions at the postgame media interaction on Sunday night.
This year's deadline has infused the league with more storylines with the most prominent one surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers - Are they now favorites in the East? And do they have a chance against the reigning champions - the Golden State Warriors?
However, those questions aren't even on this list. There is no one factor that defines being on this list, instead, it's a combination of factors involving - big name teams, big-name players, success or disappointing stories of the league so far and topical issues.
Note: There is no particular order to these
#10 What's with the Kawhi Leonard situation in San Antonio?
This is really strange.
Kawhi Leonard had sprained his ankle a couple of times in Game 1 of the 2017 Conference Finals and was thus forced out of the series. Heading into the following training camp, his rehab for his right quadriceps injury wasn't going as planned and forced him to miss the first 27 games of the 2017-18 season. It's important to note that Leonard had also missed a few games this season due to a partial tear in his left shoulder.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had said in prior interviews that he had no clue what was wrong with Leonard's rehab as he took considerably longer than veteran teammate Tony Parker, who returned from the same injury (quads) much before Leonard did.
Till it was about the injury, which is weird too, nobody really pressed the panic button but the team's coverage really took flight when the news of the strained relationship between the player and team came out. About a month back, there were reports that 2014 NBA Finals MVP Leonard's relationship with the team was strained due to his current injury rehab.
This is not something you normally hear coming out of an organization like the Spurs. The franchise has been the definition of success, winning, sacrifice and a no ego attitude over the last two decades.
The Spurs organization hold their cards close so not all details are received through sources or leaks, which makes this matter more interesting because the team has not made anything official other Popovich stating that the team was going to be conservative in its approach and keep Leonard out of action till there was any headway made in his rehab.