LOS ANGELES (AFP) — The Golden State Warriors will be chasing their fifth title since 2015 when the new National Basketball Association campaign tips off on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) after one of the most turbulent off-seasons in years.
The Warriors, who returned to the pinnacle of basketball in June with an NBA Finals series victory over the Boston Celtics, open the defense of their title in San Francisco against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics, meanwhile, host the Philadelphia 76ers in the other opening fixture of the 82-game regular season that reaches its conclusion next April.
The Warriors embark on their campaign under a cloud of locker-room discontent.
The franchise was plunged into turmoil earlier this month after it emerged that defensive star Draymond Green had punched out teammate Jordan Poole in practice.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the bust-up is the biggest crisis of his reign as coach and uniting the locker room following the controversy is his priority.
Warriors talisman Stephen Curry, meanwhile, helped broker clear-the-air talks between Green and Poole.
“How we handle this situation is important,” Curry said.
“How Draymond responds to the space that he needs to come back with the right frame of mind on doing the work, coming with the right energy, making it about the team — all those things are important.”
Off-season turmoil has been a feature of several of the franchises who might normally expect to be challenging the Warriors this season.
The Celtics’ pre-season preparations were upended by the stunning one-season suspension of coach Ime Udoka last month.
Udoka, one of the brightest coaching talents in the NBA, was suspended after reports of an improper intimate relationship with a female staff member.
The Brooklyn Nets, meanwhile, head into the new campaign with unease surrounding the status of Kevin Durant.
Durant requested a trade in June while US media reported that the 34-year-old, 12-time NBA All-Star had given team owner Joe Tsai an ultimatum — either fire Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks or let him leave the club.
The standoff appeared to have been resolved in August when the Nets said Durant would remain with the team following talks with management.
“Families go through things like this,” Nash said in September.
“You go through adversity. You go through disagreements.”