A lot is expected of both Rose and the Bulls this season. The Bulls have everything you'd look for in a title contender - superstar, two or three All- Star-caliber guys, depth, defense, great coaching. Rose's health is paramount to this plan coming to fruition.
John Schuhmann's annual poll of all 30 GMs on NBA.com yielded many things that caught these eyes, but the one that really put these dwindling peepers on notice was: "Who is the toughest player in the NBA?"
Sure, he won the honor last year and only took home 31 percent of the vote this October, but Bryant finished first.
He'll have to show that toughness this season. Bryant is coming off a torn Achilles and a second trip to Germany, not for a sports car, or the bratwurst, but for a blood spinning procedure to help his knees.
Bryant is 35 and has a lot tread on his tires (he's played the equivalent of 2 1/2 extra regular seasons based on his playoff career). One thing is for sure, Bryant does not want to go out as a wounded star, nor does he want to go out limping into the seventh seed in the playoffs.
With Howard gone and Bryant not too upset over it - "I don't really give a (bleep)" - Kobe has a chance to make the Los Angeles Lakers relevant again. He tried to hand the baton to Howard as the flagship of the Lakers, but Howard wanted nothing to do with it.
Bryant and Pau Gasol are the focal points of the team one more time. Can they dominate like they used to? Probably not, but Bryant is on a mission to prove people wrong this season and that Bryant is going to be scary. Plus, he's a free agent at the end of the season.
This just adds up to a potentially remarkable Kobe Bryant season.
The last team to win three straight NBA titles was the Lakers squad of 2000-02. The Miami Heat are in position to do that this season and are the preseason favorites according to the league's GMs, Las Vegas, me, my dog and almost everyone with a pulse beating for the NBA.
The Heat didn't need much in the way of improvement. They lost Mike Miller, who caught fire in all of two games for them last season, and replaced him with Greg Oden and Michael Beasley. Those gentlemen were high picks whose careers fizzled due to bad knees and worse judgement, respectively.
You don't have to be Dr. Naismith to figure out the Heat are really good because they have the best player in the solar system in LeBron James and two top 20 guys in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Actually, it's mostly all because of James.
Which leads us to ...
THE FREE AGENT MARKET OF 2014
James can opt out of his deal with the Heat and hit the open market. He most likely will opt out and most likely won't announce where he signs on ESPN in front of a bunch of kids.
James, Carmelo Anthony and Bryant are the really big names who will be available in the summer of '14. Wade, Bosh, Luol Deng and Pau Gasol are a few more.
For some of those players, impending free agency is already a huge story. James doesn't want to talk about it, Melo is openly talking about it and Bryant is just assumed to be returning to the Lakers.
As soon as one of them has some sort of slump, or the team struggles a bit, questions will be something like this: "Is your future distracting you?"
The future of these men, which is all probably limited to about five teams, might be the biggest story line of this season.
Sadly, we'll all have to wait until June to get answers.