Two of the NBA’s biggest off-season questions — about the future of Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell — have been answered.

But while the Brooklyn Nets appear to be on track to return with their current core intact, the drama at Barclays Center is far from over.

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Will the Durant-Nets partnership last until the end of the season after such a public discussion of discontent this summer? Can Ben Simmons, who has yet to debut with his new team as he was traded to Brooklyn before the February trade deadline, make an immediate impact?

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The Nets, as they did last season, will no doubt continue to make headlines. So are the Los Angeles Lakers, who are welcoming a new fiery point guard. Can Russell Westbrook, immersed in trade rumors all summer, now coexist with Patrick Beverley in the same backcourt?

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Our NBA insiders explore the questions they want answered throughout training camp and into the 2022-2023 season, including what’s in store for defending champion youth, key players returning from injury with the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls and also MVP. contenders who played big minutes at EuroBasket.

KD? Kyrie? Simmons? Will everything be okay in Brooklyn?

Where is it:

  • Kevin Durant: Withdrew his trade request on August 24th.

  • Kyrie Irving: signed the fourth year of his contract on June 27.

  • Ben Simmons: Did not play since the 76ers’ loss in Game 7 of the 2021 Eastern Semi-Finals.

Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but the Nets have a few questions hovering over them ahead of the season.

Durant remains in the shadows for now, and Brooklyn is confident his off-season drama could give way to a basketball win. The organization has revolved around Durant since he signed three years ago, but it’s unclear if the relationship will last the entire season, let alone the four years left on his contract.

We haven’t heard much about Simmons this summer, who will be out for 16 months when the Nets kick off their season in Brooklyn against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 19.

In May, the Nets announced that Simmons had undergone a successful microdiscectomy, shortly after the Nets lost in the first round to the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics. Brooklyn expects Simmons to “fully recover before the start of training camp.”

More than any other NBA team, the Nets are defined by a series of ifs. But if Durant, Irving and Simmons are available and take to the court this season at the Barclays Center, the Nets could be the title contenders they were meant to be in 2021-22.

In theory, Simmons is the perfect player to play alongside Durant and Irving. Simmons is a three-point-generating force who, according to research by Sportzshala Stats & Information, has hit 996 three-pointers in his career, the second most in the NBA from 2017-18 to 2020-21 behind Russell Westbrook.

A lineup of Simmons, Durant, Irving, Joe Harris and Seth Curry, while easy on defense, can be a devastating offensive unit if Simmons creates open views. According to Second Spectrum tracking, 371 players have completed 150 wide-open triples over the past five seasons. Harris, Curry and Duran are in the top four for such attempts.

— Tim Bontemps and Nick Friedell

What’s next for Russ, Pat Bev and the Lakers?

Where is it:

  • Last year’s woes: In his rookie season with the Lakers, Russell Westbrook had his worst offensive season since 2010.

  • Adding Pat Bev: On July 6, the Lakers traded for Patrick Beverley to share time with Westbrook at point guard.

  • New agent: On July 15, Westbrook fired his longtime agent Tad Fouche from Wasserman due to “irreconcilable differences”.

The Lakers may have an awkward first day of training camp. There is a clear history between Westbrook and Beverley’s off-season acquisition, although Westbrook’s presence and help with the towel at Beverley’s opening press conference suggests both defensemen are ready to quell any past differences.

After hearing his name in trade rumors all summer long, it looks like Westbrook isn’t going anywhere, judging by LeBron James’ Twitter post that he “can’t wait to get out this season!!” and comments from new coach Darwin Ham showing support for the 33-year-old defender.

Assuming the trade doesn’t go through, Ham and his staff should revive the superstar trio of Westbrook, James and Anthony Davis after it failed to come together during last season, finishing 11th in the Western Conference. (Ham is also tasked with maximizing Westbrook when the ball is in James’ hands.)

Apart from LeBron’s tweet, how will the relationship between him and Westbrook develop? (Remember that awkward summer league moment when they sat at opposite ends of the court?)

This atmosphere is nothing new for Westbrook, who throughout his career has been motivated by perceived snub or criticism. Trade disputes have now been replaced by chatter about how he and Beverley can’t coexist in the Lakers’ backcourt.

— Ohm Young Misuk

Injuries of Lonzo Ball and Chris Middleton: at what stage of recovery are each of them?

Where is it:

  • Ball: Injured his knee on January 14, he is not expected to return at the start of the season.

  • Middleton: On April 20, he suffered a knee injury and had wrist surgery in early July. He is expected to return at the start of the season.

Both the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks avoided major offseason changes, believing their full, healthy rosters could compete in the East.

Had Middleton not slipped on his way to the basket during their first round series against the Bulls, resulting in a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, forcing him to miss the last 10 playoff games, Milwaukee believes what it would be was on the way to another NBA Finals.

Middleton, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist during the off-season, is expected to be ready closer to the start of the regular season. The Bucks are known for their cautious approach to injuries, so expect Milwaukee to prioritize Middleton to recover ahead of the stretch and playoffs, even if that means early in the 2022-23 season.

Meanwhile, the Bulls’ season took a turn for the worse much earlier than their divisional rivals.

On Jan. 14, Chicago was 27-13 and the top seed in the East prior to Lonzo Ball’s left knee injury. He finished 19–23 and lost in the first round five games without him. In January, Ball underwent arthroscopic surgery, but every attempt to get him ready for a game towards the end of the season ended in failure.

More recently, during the summer league, Bulls vice president Arturas Karnisovas acknowledged that Ball’s health is improving, but “probably not at the rate we’d like” and the team doubts he’ll be ready for the start of the season. The organization remains unclear on Ball’s status and how long his knee problems will persist.

— Jamal Collier

Are the youth of the Warriors ready to take action?

Where is it:

  • Jonathan Cuminga: Showed bursts of adaptation to the Warriors system late in his rookie season; averaging 16.9 minutes per game in 2021/22.

  • Moses Moody: Led the Warriors in summer league scoring in Las Vegas (16.3 ppg).

  • James Wiseman: Injured his knee in April 2021 and missed all of last season.

Last season, the Warriors enjoyed the privilege of gradually bringing their younger players with them on their journey to an NBA title.

Kuminga and Moody got small and sporadic opportunities as rookies, filling in for injured players during the season and even getting some starter chances. Golden State’s depth has allowed sophomore player Wiseman to take his time recovering from a right knee meniscus injury that saw him miss the entire 2021–22 season.

Champions no longer have that luxury.

The departures of Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson, Nemanja Bielica and Damion Lee will no doubt force three young Golden State players to take on expanded roles.

The Warriors want Kuminga to use his athleticism to his advantage, most notably his slasher and finisher skills. Toward the end of last season, he demonstrated an ability to make contact and get to the free throw line, as evidenced by a 10-of-12 on the streak in a crushing victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in late February and a 7-for-10 effort against the Memphis Grizzlies. in late March.

Golden State presents Moody as a power forward who can use his 7-foot wingspan defensively. As a rookie, Moody shot from range with 36.4% accuracy, over two attempts per game.

Exactly what Wiseman can do remains open to question. He lacks a selection of his younger teammates, but Wiseman has had a solid league summer and provided insight into how the Warriors want to use him: as a prototype under the rim guard who changes shots and grabs rebounds. Offensively, he will mostly live near the ring, but the team will not discourage him from letting him fly from behind the arc on open attempts.

— Kendra Andrews

How will EuroBasket affect Giannis, Luka and Joker? Should teams worry about wear and tear?

Where is it:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo: Played 108 minutes in four matches for Greece.

  • Luka Doncic: Played 164 minutes in five matches for Slovenia.

  • Nikola Jokic: Played 124 minutes in five matches for Serbia.

More than two dozen NBA players represented their countries in the latest part of EuroBasket, the FIBA ​​European Continental Championship, including three members of last year’s NBA First Team: Antetokounmpo, Doncic and Jokic, all of whose teams were eliminated before the semi-finals.

The extra run of star players heading into the season could be worrisome, especially with the addition of qualifiers this year for next…