Steinmetz: Intriguing story lines this season

It’s finally here … hoops season.

Took too long, as always, but let’s take a look at a half-dozen topics heading into the 2007-08 NBA season:

» THE KOBE SITUATION: It’s obvious at this point the Los Angeles Lakers are in trouble. Kobe Bryant wants out and is displaying all the signs of a player who isn’t committed to the team he’s playing on.

That kind of issue doesn’t go away unless Bryant, himself, does. Of course, working out a trade for Bryant is dicey. The Lakers have to get enough for him and the team acquiring Bryant can’t give up too much for him.

In any event, the turmoil in the southland is good news for the Warriors.

» LEBRON, TOO: LeBron James, who led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals last season, is disappointed that general manager Danny Ferry didn’t do much this offseason. But you can make a case that Ferry is already the front-runner for Executive of the Year honors.

Why? Because he is firmly holding the line with Anderson Varejao. Sasha Pavlovic ended his holdout on Tuesday, but Varejao, who continues to hold out, is a role player, period. And he should be paid like one. Nice job, Danny.

» THE GREEN BACK: With one great big assist from Minnesota’s Kevin McHale, just like that, Boston is relevant again. The Celtics’ big three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce is now the best trio on the same team, even better than the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

If the Celtics can define their offensive pecking order and get any kind of play out of the point guard position, they’re a lock to make it to the Finals.

» ISSUES IN INDY: Admittedly, I’ll be keeping an eye on the Indiana Pacers, following closely the play of Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy. The Warriors got better after the January trade with the Pacers and Indiana got worse.

If Dunleavy and Murphy aren’t motivated after watching the Warriors’ playoff run in 2007 without them, then something’s wrong.

» STILL BELIEVING?: Were the Warriors a one-hit wonder or are they poised to become an NBA postseason mainstay? Baron Davis has the look of a player on the verge of a big year. If he has one, the Warriors will, too.

Hard as it is to believe, the Warriors will likely shoot more 3-pointers and score more points than last season. There will be games when the Warriors look invincible, rolling opponents with big first quarters and coasting to the finish. But there will also be nights when nothing goes down and the Warriors will look very, very bad.

There should be more of the former.

» DALLAS’ DEMONS: The Mavs were the victims of one of the biggest playoff upsets in history last season. They didn’t make any significant offseason moves. So, was last year just a fluke or are the Mavericks irreparably damaged?

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.

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