Many questions exist about players and teams at the top of the Pacific Division:
Will Scottie Pippen fit in better with Portland than he did in Houston? He has a lot of talent to work with, but does he have the ability to lead the Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals?
Is new coach Phil Jackson the answer to the chemistry problems that have plagued the Lakers the past few years? Shaquille O'Neal may be the best center in the league, but he was frustrated last year with guard Kobe Bryant, whom he thought took too many shots.
Was Sacramento for real, and is newly acquired shooting guard Nick Anderson the final piece to their puzzle? Chris Webber, Jason Williams and Vlade Divac return for a Kings team that pushed the Jazz to a fifth game in the first round of the playoffs and became what was perhaps the NBA's most exciting team last year.
Is Penny Hardaway going to fit in in Phoenix, which already had point guard Jason Kidd and power forward Tom Gugliotta before importing Hardaway from Orlando during the summer?
In the low end of the division, Seattle traded every key player except Gary Payton and Vin Baker, adding center Horace Grant and swingman Brent Barry. Golden State acquired former all-star point guard Mookie Blaylock, hoping he can get the ball to an otherwise unspectacular group of players. The Los Angeles Clippers drafted forward Lamar Odom, who may be the only excitement the team has as it moves into the Staples Center along with the Lakers.
Golden State Warriors
Last season: 21-29 (6th)
Did not make playoffs.
Added: G Mookie Blaylock (trade with Hawks), F Mark Davis (free agent, Heat), F Bill Curley (free agent, Timberwolves), G Tim Legler (free agent, Wizards), G Vonteego Cummings (Pittsburgh).
Lost: G Bimbo Coles and F Duane Ferrell (traded to Hawks), G Tony Delk (free agent, Kings), C Felton Spencer (free agent, Spurs), G Muggsy Bogues (free agent, Raptors).
Coach: P.J. Carlesimo, third season, 40-92.
Keys to success: A consistent playing rotation. Small forward Donyell Marshall was second on the team in scoring with 11 points per game but averaged only 26 minutes. Antawn Jamison was a disappointment, averaging 9.6 points and 6.4 rebounds. The team hopes John Starks and Blaylock form a consistent back court.
Los Angeles Clippers
Last season: 9-41 (7th)
Did not make playoffs.
Added: F Lamar Odom (Rhode Island), G Eric Murdock (trade with Nets), G Derek Anderson (trade with Cavaliers).
Lost: F Rodney Rogers (free agent, Suns), G Darrick Martin (free agent, Kings), F Lamond Murray (traded to Cavaliers), C Lorenzen Wright (traded to Hawks), G Sherman Douglas (free agent), C Stojko Vrankovic (free agent).
Coach: Chris Ford, second season, 9-41.
Keys to success: The Clippers are expected to finish last, but they have talent: Odom can play five positions. Maurice Taylor emerged as one of the league's best power forwards but he made it clear he wants to be traded. C Michael Olowokandi was a disappointment, averaging 8.9 points and 7.9 rebounds a game.
Los Angeles Lakers
Last season: 31-19 (2nd)
Lost to Spurs in second round.
Added: F A.C. Green (trade with Mavericks), G Ron Harper (free agent, Bulls), C John Salley (free agent), G Devean George (Augsburg).
Lost: F J.R. Reid (free agent, Bucks), C Sean Rooks (traded to Mavericks), G Derek Harper (traded to Pistons), F Ruben Patterson (free agent, SuperSonics).
Coach: Phil Jackson, first year.
Keys to success: Can Jackson find a way for C Shaquille O'Neal, G Kobe Bryant and F Glen Rice to co-exist in the team's offense? O'Neal showed up at Bryant's 21st birthday party in an effort to patch up any differences the pair had. But Rice is unhappy with his contract, which is in its last year, and would like to be traded. Bryant starts the season on the bench with a broken hand.
Last season: 27-23 (4th)
Lost to Trail Blazers in first round.
Added: G Penny Hardaway (trade with Magic), F Shawn Marion (UNLV), F Rodney Rogers (free agent, Clippers), F Corie Blount (free agent, Cavaliers), C Oliver Miller (free agent, Kings), G Todd Day (free agent).
Lost: F Danny Manning and F Pat Garrity (traded to Magic), F George McCloud (free agent, Suns), C Joe Kleine (free agent, Trail Blazers), F Chris Morris (free agent).
Coach: Danny Ainge, fourth season, 123-83.
Key to success: Whether they traded for the moody, inconsistent Hardaway of the past two seasons or the versatile, potential superstar he was in 1995. Hardaway was suspended for the first regular season game for throwing a punch at Miami's Rex Walters in an exhibition game. Rex Chapman (also suspended one game in the incident) must shoot better than his 36 percent of last season.
Portland Trail Blazers
Last season: 35-15 (1st)
Lost to Spurs in Western finals.
Added: F Scottie Pippen (trade with Rockets), G Steve Smith (trade with Hawks), F Detlef Schrempf (free agent, SuperSonics).
Lost: C Kelvin Cato, F Stacey Augmon and F Carlos Rogers (traded to Rockets), G Isaiah Rider and G Jim Jackson (traded to Hawks).
Coach: Mike Dunleavy, third season, 81-51.
Keys to success: It remains to be seen if the moves to acquire Smith and Pippen will ruin what was a good mix or spur the team to the NBA Finals. Schrempf is a solid small forward, but he could be nearing the end of his career and has had foot injuries. Dunleavy was able to keep Rasheed Wallace and Brian Grant happy last year as they shared time at power forward.
Last season: 27-23 (3rd)
Lost to Jazz in first round.
Added: G Nick Anderson (trade with Magic), G Darrick Martin (free agent, Clippers), G Tony Delk (free agent, Warriors), F Tyrone Corbin (free agent, Hawks), C Bill Wennington (free agent, Bulls).
Lost: Vernon Maxwell (free agent, SuperSonics), G Tariq Abdul-Wahid (traded to Magic), C Oliver Miller (free agent, Suns).
Coach: Rick Adelman, second season, 27-23.
Keys to success: Point guard Jason Williams was the league's most exciting rookie last year, but was so inconsistent at times that he was benched for the fourth quarter of Game 5 against the Jazz. The Kings also had depth problems last year, which they hope they've alleviated by signing Delk, Corbin and Wennington.
Last season: 25-25 (5th)
Did not make playoffs.
Added: F Horace Grant (trade with Magic), F-C Greg Foster (free agent, Jazz), F Ruben Patterson (free agent, Lakers), F Chuck Person (free agent, Hornets), G Brent Barry (trade with Bulls), G Vernon Maxwell (free agent, Kings).
Lost: F Detlef Schrempf (free agent, Blazers), F Don MacLean, F Dale Ellis and F Billy Owens (traded to Magic), F Aaron Williams (free agent, Wizards), C Olden Polynice (free agent, Jazz).
Coach: Paul Westphal, second season, 25-25.
Keys to success: Vin Baker signed a long-term contract in the offseason. He and Gary Payton have new teammates to adjust to, including Grant, who is being asked to play center. The team is also counting on Barry and Maxwell to score.