One key player was traded, another wanted to be, and the star center with a history of knee problems needed more surgery.
No sweat, right?
Not to the Phoenix Suns, who say none of their off-season issues was worth fretting over and have spent the early part of the NBA season proving it.
"To be honest with you, those are things I don't worry about, because I can't control them," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "So I don't spend time on that. There's so much stuff I can worry about, can control, that I don't have time to worry about those other things. If it's meant to be, it's meant to be."
"And I knew that we had a lot of talent ... no matter what, we were going to be good."
The Suns sure have been, surging to their usual spot atop the Pacific Division with one of the NBA's best records. But there was a time when that didn't seem to be guaranteed.
Phoenix traded forward Kurt Thomas to Seattle in July, a move designed to cut salary that also left the Suns without their best perhaps only defensive option against San Antonio's Tim Duncan.
Two months later, four-time All-Star Shawn Marion told two local reporters he wanted to be traded, even though he's the Suns' highest-paid player. Then All-NBA center Amare Stoudemire, who missed almost all of the 2005-06 season after surgeries on both knees, had an arthroscopic procedure done on his right knee the day training camp opened and missed a few weeks.
Through it all, the Suns apparently just shrugged their shoulders.
"We have a brain trust that knows what they're doing and some of the guys that were involved in some of that stuff are good guys at heart, so I never really thought that there would be a situation that got to be too much of a distraction," guard Raja Bell said. "You can't help but see it on 'SportsCenter,' but other than that I didn't really follow it." ...
Rashard Lewis knows opposing teams will no longer be caught off guard when Orlando comes to town. Not after the Magic's NBA-best 11-2 start away from home, including a thrilling 123-117 overtime win at Golden State on Monday night before returning to Florida.
"It's good to win a lot of games on the road," Lewis said. "I don't think they're surprised now."
First-year coach Stan Van Gundy has his club playing with such a confidence that the players know they will be in games late, even if it means overcoming a deficit in the waning minutes. Guard Jameer Nelson appreciates Van Gundy's willingness to keep sending him out there as he works to find his timing and consistency.
"We want to get better every day and win the game," Nelson said. "We had a lot of opportunities to get down on ourselves. But that's not the type of character we have on this team." ...
Times have been tough lately in New York and Philadelphia, but fans of those teams get a reminder of better days this week.
The Knicks and 76ers were among the teams participating in the NBA's "Heritage Week," which began Friday and runs through Dec. 14. Nine teams will wear throwback uniforms, with New York being outfitted in home uniforms from the 1972-73 season and the 76ers from the 1982-83 campaign. Those were the years of the last championship for both franchises. ...
When word of the Tim Donaghy scandal got out, there were some initial fears that fans were going to turn away from the NBA. That hasn't been the case so far.
Early season ratings have been up by quite a bit in some places as the fans have returned following an occasionally rocky offseason that included referee Donaghy admitting he bet on games...
This from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News: "I doubt that Miami's Pat Riley and Shaquille O'Neal would have ever come to blows. But if their altercation in practice had escalated recently, I would have put my money on the Big Fella as long as he wasn't standing on the free throw line when he threw his punch." ...
Tracy McGrady is aware of what needs to happen for his Rockets to be a contender. "I can go out and get 40. Yao can play great. It's really not going to matter. Until everybody else contributes, we get bench production, we'll be a mediocre team," McGrady said. ...
The Dallas Morning News points out that if the wins by 18 coaches with their current teams were added up, they would still fall 35 victories short of what Jerry Sloan has done all by himself with the Jazz. Those 18 coaches are Seattle's P.J. Carlesimo, Memphis' Marc Iavaroni, Charlotte's Sam Vincent, Sacramento's Reggie Theus, Indiana's Jim O'Brien, Houston's Rick Adelman, Milwaukee's Larry Krystowiak, Minnesota's Randy Whittman, Orlando's Stan Van Gundy, New York's Isiah Thomas, Portland's Nate McMillan, Atlanta's Mike Woodson, Philadelphia's Maurice Cheeks, New Orlean's Byron Scott, Cleveland's Mike Brown, Boston's Doc Rivers, Toronto's Sam Mitchell and Detroit's Flip Saunders.