No guarantees here
Matt Geiger, forward/center, Philadelphia 76ers: A funny thing has happened since he signed his six-year, $48 million deal. He actually thinks he's an $8-million-a-year player.
Shawn Bradley, center, Dallas Mavericks: At what point does this 7-foot-6 string bean stop becoming a project? When his career's over, he'll be remembered as much as Yinka Dare.
Shawn Kemp, forward, Cleveland Cavaliers: liers: Before signing his $100 million contract, Kemp was always in shape and possessed tremendous athletic ability. The only way he'll lead this team now is at lunch, after reporting to camp at 303 pounds.
Marcus Camby, forward, New York Knicks: He gets a golden opportunity with a trade to New York, yet fails to come to camp with the proper work ethic.
Jim McIlvaine, center, New Jersey Nets: A $5-million-a-year bust, averaging just 3.2 points and 3.3 rebounds last season with Seattle.
Most improved teams
Houston Rockets: With Scottie Pippen, the Rockets now have three players -- Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley -- named among the NBA's all-time 50 greatest. The problem is, who's going to get them the ball?
New York Knicks: Big winners in the competition to acquire Latrell Sprewell. But the more subtle changes -- the additions of outside shooter Dennis Scott and defensive specialist David Wingate -- will make up for the fact this team has no power forward.
Phoenix Suns: Sure, the loss of McDyess was a shock. But Tom Gugliotta is a versatile power forward, and Luc Longley gives the team veteran experience at center.
Games to watch
Houston at Los Angeles Lakers (tonight): Old School vs. New School. Many say the Rockets are the team to beat, with the addition of Scottie Pippen giving Houston three of the NBA's all-time top 50 players. With Shaquille O'Neal, Eddie Jones and Kobe Bryant, the youthful Lakers say their time is now.
Miami at New York (Sunday): All kind of subplots here -- Alonzo Mourning vs. Larry Johnson; Mourning vs. Jeff Van Gundy; Van Gundy vs. Pat Riley. A potentially explosive way for NBC to start the season.
Denver at Phoenix (Sunday): The Phoenix organization -- from management to players -- felt betrayed after Antonio McDyess left after one season to return to the Nuggets. A shot at payback, with new forward Tom Gugliotta, comes early for the Suns.
Sacramento at Washington (Feb. 25): Chris Webber was supposed to be the franchise player when he came to Washington in 1994. There was a huge mural of him painted on the side of a building across the street from the MCI Center. He'll return to Washington with revenge on his mind, just as he did against Golden State when he first was traded to the Bullets.
Los Angeles Lakers at Utah (March 7): The two teams will first meet on Sunday in Los Angeles, but by this time both should be rounding into form, with the game likely giving an indication of which team will be favored in the Western Conference playoffs.
Pub Date: 2/05/99