Greetings from Los Angeles. Santa Monica to be specific. We'll have lots of original content for you to consume today, but lets start the day off with what others have produced.
• First up, a video preview of tonight's game from NBA.com.
• Jason Quick, The Oregonian: Two days before the Trail Blazers' first practice, and one day before the team would greet reporters for its annual media day, a season of potential took its first significant step.
It was somewhat of a secret start to the season, as coach Nate McMillan invited the cornerstones of the franchise -- Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden -- to his West Linn house for dinner.
"The whole hype," Roy said, "was that Coach Nate was cooking."
Throughout the night, they talked finances. They talked football. But mostly, the subject of conversation was themselves: to one another, about one another, for one another.
In Trail Blazers parlance, it was a meeting of the Super Heroes.
• Chris Colston, USA Today: Oden, who does not wear a knee brace, says the toughest thing about the surgery is answering the same question over and over.
"I've just heard that so much — how's your knee?" he says. "It doesn't get on my nerves, but it's like, 'I just answered this five minutes ago.' "
Oden estimates that, before surgery, he could leap as high as 12 feet, 4 inches.
The best he can do now is touch the top border of the shooter's square on the backboard. But that's been good enough.
• Bethlehem Shoals, The Sporting News Blog: The NBA starts now -- well, later today -- and already, two major storylines will waft pass our noses like so much burning cinnamon. I'm not talking about Mo Williams era in Cleveland (they're playing Boston), or the debut of Derrick Rose (platoon, anyone?). No, the game we're all waiting on tonight is Lakers/Blazers, which features the next two great true centers in battle. Forget Kobe, we want to see the return of Andrew Bynum and, finally, Greg Oden in an NBA setting.
• Brian Hendrickson, The Columbian: Batum may hold the greatest potential to offer unexpected value that could create big changes on this team. The Blazers knew essentially what to expect from newcomers like Oden and Fernandez. But Batum was supposed to need a couple development seasons before becoming a significant contributor. A solid preseason has altered that view, though, and Batum’s long wingspan, quick feet and activity on the floor give Portland new defensive options at small forward for pressuring on the perimeter, rebounding and constricting passing lanes. If Batum proves capable of earning a spot in the rotation, he could add an unexpected dimension to Portland’s defense.
Broderick Turner and Mike Bresnahan, The L.A. Times: Is the Lakers' rotation set yet?
"Um, not even close," Derek Fisher said, smiling.
That's because the Mad Scientist, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, still is in his laboratory tinkering with his formulas.
The team has played eight exhibition games and yet nothing is definitive.
The Lakers open the season tonight at Staples Center against the Portland Trail Blazers, and Monday, Jackson still wasn't forthcoming about his starting lineup.
"No, I won't say I've settled," Jackson said, "but I have a good idea, a real good idea."
• Mark Heisler, The L.A. Times: It's still early for Greg Oden, 20; Brandon Roy, 24; LaMarcus Aldridge, 23, and today's young Trail Blazers, but the place once known as Rip City pulses with the old fervor.
"[Coach] Nate McMillan and I talk about this all the time," General Manager Kevin Pritchard said. "We know we have a young team. We want to get better every single month and hopefully by April, we'll see where these young guys are."
In the best part, the young players aren't just good, they're nice, so fans can again watch the news without fear of heartbreak of embarrassment.
• The Tacoma News Tribune: With the NBA no longer in our backyard, those longing to quench their pro hoops thirst need to drive two hours south to Portland.
That’s the bad news. And that’s probably fine for some Sonics fans, who understandably would like to tell NBA commissioner David Stern to take his league and stick it where the sun don’t shine.
However, there’s good news for us pro basketball addicts looking for our NBA fix. We’ll get our money’s worth in the Rose City.