Lakers, Clippers take center stage as NBA season tips off

first_img• How Coach Frank Vogel’s “sabbatical” year spent visiting college and NBA coaches around the nation rejuvenated him for the Lakers job• Entering his third season, ambitious young Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has switched agencies, signed a shoe deal and is looking out for additional business opportunities.• With both teams in demand for national TV appearances, the NBA and Staples Center had a tougher time than ever mapping out the schedules for the Lakers and Clippers• LeBron James, Anthony Davis thought they might lure Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers• Lakers play down rivalry angles going into opener against Clippers• In his second stint with the Lakers, Dwight Howard promises more accountability• Veteran guard Avery Bradley is eager to prove himself, ready to “show the world that I’m the best perimeter defender in the NBA.”• LeBron James and the Lakers have been doing their best to make Anthony Davis feel comfortable and in control going into a critical season• The Lakers have plenty of competition in their guard rotation• Anthony Davis, Lakers believe having multiple shot-blockers will aid their identity• A closer look at the Lakers’ projected roster, including two-way contract playersCLIPPERS• In Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers have added a self-made superstar who keeps getting better• Can the Clippers seize their moment and challenge the Lakers for L.A.’s basketball soul?• The Lakers and Clippers in contention at the same time has the eyes of the league on L.A.• Against the Clippers’ defense this season, the drive to Staples Center might be the easy part• Is there any reason to doubt, L.A.’s clearly a basketball town?• Given their decades of futility and mismanagement, it’s hard for some to fathom … the Clippers favored to win a championship?• When three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams speaks, his words carry weight• Clippers hope a “brotherhood” built through group texts, fishing trips and paintball outings will prepare them for whatever adversity comes their way• Clippers rookie Terance Mann is soaking up his time around Kawhi Leonard, Paul George• Patrick Beverley wants you to know: Kawhi Leonard is cool but he’s “not quiet”• The Clippers plan to retain the gritty team persona that helped attract a pair of All-Stars• Patrick Beverley is the face of a new Clippers ticket initiative that will give between 50 and 200 fans an opportunity to purchase $10 tickets for all 41 of the team’s home games this season.• A closer look at the Clippers’ projected roster, including two-way contract players Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AROUND THE LEAGUESTACKED OUT WEST: Beyond the Lakers and Clippers, Houston reunited James Harden with Russell Westbrook. Denver and Utah bring back strong cores, Portland might have the league’s best backcourt and Golden State doesn’t sound ready to go away, even if Klay Thompson is now expected to miss the entire season. Here’s a team-by-team preview of the Western Conference.TWO-TEAM RACE IN EAST? Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks were a couple wins from beating Toronto. The Philadelphia 76ers were perhaps a couple bounces from doing it one round earlier. Neither team was good enough to finish the job last season, but both think this is their time after Leonard returned to the Western Conference. They look like the favorites to represent the East in the NBA Finals – where they might have to deal with Leonard again. Here’s a team-by-team preview of the Eastern Conference.CRACKING DOWN ON FAN BEHAVIOR: After high-profile incidents involving Russell Westbrook, DeMarcus Cousins, Kyle Lowry and others last season – including ones involving racist taunts – zero tolerance for abusive or hateful behavior is now to become the NBA’s policy going forward. The league is changing and toughening its code of conduct for fans, especially putting those in closest proximity to the players and the court on alert that anything over the line will lead to ejections and possibly more. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersSCNG beat reporters Kyle Goon and Mirjam Swanson have been covering both teams since before those seismic roster changes, and they’ve spent the months since writing about a variety of topics, giving our readers a chance to get to know some of the personalities who will take center stage this season, and the challenges both sides might face along the way.Before that first jump ball is tossed, here’s another chance to catch up on some of what you might have missed:LAKERS• United with the teammate they both publicly wished for, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are expected to have each other’s backs as Lakers teammates, sharing the workload while holding each other accountable.• Father Time, as the saying goes, is undefeated. The question for LeBron James – and for a Lakers franchise hoping his championship window is still open – is how long can he stave off the inevitable? The dress rehearsals are over. Tuesday night, one of the most anticipated seasons in recent NBA history tips off, and the Lakers and Clippers, intracity rivals who underwent headline-grabbing offseason changes, find themselves on the short list of contenders for the 2019-20 championship going into their season opener at Staples Center.Neither side will be at full strength on Tuesday, the Clippers without All-Star forward Paul George and the Lakers without rising young star Kyle Kuzma, but it’s still a game that should give each side an early indication of how they might measure up and how they might go about countering certain matchups.Having landed two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and George in one stunning July night, the Clippers open the season as the prohibitive favorite to win their first league title, both according to oddsmakers in Las Vegas and the annual poll of NBA general managers. When George returns, they’ll become a team with frightening potential on defense, especially on the perimeter.The Lakers got four-time league MVP LeBron James the elite running mate he wanted, shipping away a slew of players and draft picks to unite him with big man Anthony Davis amid the hope that their mutual desire to play together results in unbeatable chemistry on the court. Even if it takes them some time to gel, a refreshed James knows it’s all about positioning themselves to be at their best in April, May and June.last_img read more