If these teams tip wrong way, watch out below

BY foxsports • September 30, 2009

The predicaments facing each NBA franchise generally vary from season to season.

Two popular exceptions are the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies, who — through dizzying and consistent experience with the agony of defeat — generally proceed along history's path wearing the same challenges every year.

While winning and losing will greatly assist in defining the directions taken by other franchises, the approaching season's results may have even greater consequences for eight teams.

Please note that while Ron Artest and Rasheed Wallace should have considerable impact on what occurs for their new employers, those teams are not on this list. Not yet. The following roll will be called in order of where these potential tipping points are aligned as training camps begin.

Cleveland Cavaliers

The franchise that was just lousy enough to land LeBron James shortly after his high school graduation may need to be just fabulous enough to keep him home and avoid organizational catastrophe.

But even though his mother seems convinced he'll stick around after this season, LeBron hasn't exactly defined what qualities the Cavs must demonstrate to convince him to re-enlist.

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If they rebound from last year's playoff collapse against Orlando and snag the O'Brien Trophy, will the superstar consider his work done in Cleveland and seek challenges elsewhere? Would a near-miss inspire him to come back and finish what he started? Would it provoke a move to, oh, New York, where the difference in salary would (in theory) be overcome by endorsement potential? How much more endorsing can one man really do?

It will be interesting to see how the Cavs' big maneuver to assist LeBron — the hiring of Shaquille O'Neal — affects his opinion of the franchise's ability to put a title team around him. While Shaq is working on the last year of his contract, he'll attempt to be the good soldier and allow James to dominate the attention ... if Shaq's cartoon-ish ego can be held in check.

This will be a fun reality show.

Phoenix Suns

Another free-agent-in-waiting is Amare Stoudemire, whose eye injury sabotaged the Suns' ability to rally and keep their playoff run alive last season.

Amare and a re-upped veteran Steve Nash are strategically on board with head coach Alvin Gentry, who has embraced the hyper-drive philosophy of former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni.

But even with Stoudemire and Nash operating at full offensive capacity, the Suns may not be good enough to inspire the locals to show up and watch. And if the Suns aren't clicking as the trade deadline nears, do they deal Amare before he bolts for nothing or move Nash while he's relatively marketable (and under a fat contract)?

The answers will be held by general manager Steve Kerr and owner/advocate Robert Sarver, who make up yet another potentially fluid partnership; even though Kerr is a Sarver guy, would their perceived dismantling of the D'Antoni-Fastbreak Complex lead to Kerr's either being let go or motivated to leave front-office work for a return to television analysis?

This should be another fun reality show.