Only not on the court at the same time.
Two seasons ago, Gay missed the entire post season because of a shoulder injury. Randolph carried the eighth seeded Grizzlies to within a game of reaching the Western Conference finals.
When Gay returned, Memphis started the season slowly, dropping six of its first nine games, then won seven straight contests after Randolph was injured.
Once Randolph returned, he initially came in off the bench and the team climbed up the standings to finish fourth in the Western Conference as the team won 14 of their last 17 games.
The season ended suddenly, as Memphis allowed the Clippers to come back from a 27 point second half deficit in Game 1 and eventually fell in seven games.
Expectations have been raised, max salaries have been distributed and the 2012-13 season is when the Grizzlies have to transform from potential contender in the Western Conference into a serious threat.
So much of San Antonio’s success is predicated on Tony Parker’s ability to force defenses to collapse on him.
The four time All-Star almost had his career prematurely ended as a result of a fluke eye injury. A fight broke out in a New York City nightclub, bottles were thrown and shards of glass flew towards Parker.
Glass was embedded in his cornea, and according to Parker, he was two millimeters away of losing his eye.
Forced to play with goggles as the starting point guard for France in the summer Olympics, Parker led his team in scoring, but clearly wasn’t the same player.
Parker shot 40.7 percent from the field, nine percentage points below his career shooting average in 11 NBA seasons.
If the Spurs don’t have their floor general fully healthy, a return trip to the Western Conference finals may be unlikely.
Smart Move: There was never any doubt, but the Spurs made the right move by retaining Tim Duncan, signing him to a three-year $36 million extension last July. Only a few player are able to play their entire career with the same team. Even at the age of 36, Duncan remains one of the best power forwards in the league, after averaging 15.4 points and nine rebounds per game.
Questionable Move: San Antonio won its first 10 games of the post season, with the margin of victory in double digits for six of those contests. Oklahoma City responded with key production from role players to tie the series, then the combination of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant proved to be too much for another trip to the Finals. Instead of making a play to find a serviceable backup for Parker, or adding any player to their rotation, the Spurs stood pat while other teams retooled.
Watch Out For: A new face of the franchise. Coach Gregg Popovich isn’t one to heap praise on anyone, so when he tagged Kawhi Leonard the next cornerstone in San Antonio, it is to be taken seriously. Leonard shined during the playoffs, connecting on 45 percent of his 3-point attempts while averaging 8.6 point, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.
The importance of summer league play may be on display in Memphis.
Selby, listed as the third shooting guard on the depth chart for the Grizzlies, connected on 64.3 percent of his attempts from 3-point range and his 35 point effort against Washington was the highest registered by any player in the summer league.
Memphis averaged 95 points per game, the 20th best in the NBA and really needs a scoring punch out of its back court and following a strong showing in Las Vegas, Selby may have earned himself some playing time.
Smart Move: Questions about the team going forward have circled around the front office in Memphis, as the team reportedly offered Zach Randolph to the Lakers. Both Randolph and Rudy Gay begin the season without any lingering injury issues and deserve an opportunity to lead the team together.
Questionable Move: The Grizzlies had only one pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and used the 25th selection to add Tony Wroten to the roster. Wroten may become a serviceable player in the league, but with three point guards on the roster, he is an ill fit for Memphis.
Watch Out For: Constant pressure. The Grizzlies averaged a league-high 9.6 steals per game while the duo of point guard Mike Conley and shooting guard Tony Allen each finished in the top-5. Marc Gasol is the only true shot blocking threat on the team, so the key defensively will continue to be forcing turnovers.
The championship hangover was a reality in Dallas last season.
Following the lockout, the Mavericks opened up their season with three straight losses, allowing over 100 points to their opponent in each contest, and never really recovered.
Dallas finished with a 36-30 record and then was unceremoniously swept out of the playoffs by Oklahoma City.
The title defense never really started for the Mavericks and with Nowitzki’s time as an elite player limited, the playoff success has to come soon.
Smart Move: A return to his hometown was not enough for the Mavericks to land point guard Deron Williams. The team was able to retool for this season, adding O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman and Darren Collison, all expected to start. Making the move especially wise for Dallas, is Collison has a qualifying offer after the year, Mayo has a player option and Kaman becomes an unrestricted free agent. Each player could be brought back with a new contract, or all could be moved if their performance is poor.
Questionable Move: For the second straight year, the Mavericks let a key contributor from their championship run leave in free agency without even making an offer. Jason Terry left to join the Celtics after Dallas failed to match a three-year $15 million contract offer. Months after winning the first title in franchise history, the Mavericks let Tyson Chandler sign with New York without making an offer. Continuity is a key for any franchise and if player believe an organization shows no loyalty, such as the Mavericks, free agents may become reluctant to sign there.
Watch Out For: Scoring boom from Mayo. A forgotten piece in Memphis, Mayo proved to be a prolific scorer during his rookie season, as he averaged 18.5 points and shot 38.4 percent from 3-point range. As the Grizzlies began to run their offense more through their forwards, Mayo’s role was reduced and he was even sent to the bench. Dallas brought him in to become the second scoring option for the team. When defenses double team Nowitzki, Mayo is going to become the primary beneficiary.
A year ago, New Orleans reluctantly traded away its superstar point guard.
The Hornets weren’t going to let the prized player in return just walk away last summer.
The contract was matched by New Orleans anyway, even though he missed 57 games last season because of a knee injury.
Gordon now believes he can lead a young team into the post season. For that to happen, the Hornets need him to become one of the top shooting guards in the league, exactly what is expected after matching the offer from Phoenix.
Smart Move: Of course selecting Anthony Davis with the top overall pick was a wise decision, but pairing him with Austin Rivers gives the Hornets two potential stars to play alongside Gordon. Rivers averaged 15.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists during his lone season at Duke. The prolific scorer has to make the adjustment into a point guard, much like Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City. The Hornets now have three potential All-Stars on the roster, all under the age of 24.
Questionable Move: The Hornets let Chris Kaman go to Dallas as a free agent, dealt Gustavo Ayon to upgrade their power forward position and brought in Robin Lopez to serve as a backup. Davis now faces intense pressure to produce, as Lopez, the 15th overall pick of the 2008 draft, has never nine points, five rebounds or more than one block per game during his four-year career.
Watch Out For: Shot blocks. The Hornets averaged 4.8 blocks per game as a team last season, the same amount Davis rejected per game as a freshman at Kentucky. Kaman served as the team leader, swatting away 1.6 attempts per game. Davis is the best shot blocking prospect to enter the NBA in over two decades. The all-time rookie record for blocks per game is 5.0, averaged by Manute Bol during the 1985-86 season.
Few superstars are ever just available for the taking and Houston scrambled to land a dominant center.
When their pursuit of an All-Star caliber center ended, the team then targeted two restricted free agents, offering back loaded deals and forcing opposing general managers to either let budding players walk, or potentially face steep luxury tax penalties.
The rebuilding project in Houston has just begun and with just $22.9 million committed for 2012-13, the fourth fewest in the league, the major moves are likely to come next summer.
Smart Move: By offering back loaded contracts to Bulls center Omer Asik and Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, each for three-years for $25 million, the Rockets were able to bring in young talent at a reasonable price for the next two seasons. If either player doesn’t live up to expectations, their expiring contracts becomes an enticing bargaining chip after two seasons.
Questionable Move: Out of all the players released as a result of the amnesty clause, Luis Scola was easily the most talented player of the group. Houston was attempting to clear additional cap space to land Howard and any other contracts Orlando wanted to rid itself of, but after the trade fell through, the Rockets ended up releasing a starting power forward for no reason.
Watch Out For: A blockbuster trade. Houston general manger Darly Morey is still awaiting a trip to the superstar store and he is determined to rebuild his team in the same way of all the championship contenders. The Rockets have plenty of young talent, after selecting three times in the first round and Kevin Martin’s $12.9 million expiring deal.