Training camps for most NBA teams open Tuesday, and with the season fast approaching, here’s 10 items of note as the league heads into the 2018-19 campaign:

gettyimages 944998430 As Training Camps Open, Heres 10 NBA Stories Worth Noting

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – APRIL 11: Jimmy Butler #23 and Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrate in the final minute of overtime of the game against the Denver Nuggets on April 11, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves defeated the Nuggets 112-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

JIMMY BUTLER

As media days were ending Monday, Jimmy Butler was still with the Minnesota Timberwolves. It’s temporary. The first big saga of the 2018-19 season is Butler and his trade request. “Our job is to seek out the best opportunity for us,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “If something’s good for us, then we’re interested in doing it. If not, we’re ready to move forward the other way.” A slew of teams — including Miami, Cleveland, Brooklyn and more — have interest, as would be expected when talking about a four-time All-Star.

gettyimages 1039548406 As Training Camps Open, Heres 10 NBA Stories Worth Noting

OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 24: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors poses for a picture during the Golden State Warriors media day on September 24, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

GOLDEN STATE

The Warriors have won three of the last four NBA titles and added DeMarcus Cousins over the summer, making a great roster even greater. But Cousins, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and more could all be free agents next July 1, meaning Golden State may be changing more than its address (the Warriors are moving into a new arena in 2019) after this season. “The idea is to really focus on how lucky we are to be here together in this era, this time and place. We’re well aware it’s not going to last forever,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

THE EAST

For the first time since 2010, the Eastern Conference team in the NBA Finals will not be led by LeBron James — since he’s now with the Los Angeles Lakers. So while Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia are clearly good, the East race is as open as it has been in a decade. James helped Miami win the East from 2011 through 2014, and Cleveland in each of the last four seasons. “A ‘LeBron-less East.’ That’s a good way to put it,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s gone. He got a lot of players cut, traded, coaches fired.”

VINCE CARTER

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ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 24: Vince Carter #15 of the Atlanta Hawks poses for portraits during media day at Emory Sports Medicine Complex on September 24, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Carter is now with Atlanta, his eighth NBA team. He has an Olympic gold medal from 2000, but no NBA championship yet — though instead of ring-chasing in a season where he’s turning 42, Carter decided to join a young team in Atlanta and simultaneously be a player and a mentor. “I’m trying to wring the towel all the way out,” Carter said. The Hawks might not have a great chance at the playoffs this season, but if they get there and Carter plays, he would become the third-oldest player to appear in a postseason game.

STREAKING SPURS

gettyimages 950114242 As Training Camps Open, Heres 10 NBA Stories Worth Noting

SAN ANTONIO,TX – APRIL 22 : Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs congratulates Dejounte Murray #5 after a basket against the Golden State Warriors In the second half of Game Four of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 22 , 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)

San Antonio has been to the playoffs in each of the last 21 seasons. The NBA record is 22 straight, set by Philadelphia from 1950 through 1971. If the Spurs get there this season, it’ll be the first time they do so without any of their Big Three — Tim Duncan (retired two years ago), Manu Ginobili (retired this summer) or Tony Parker (now in Charlotte) — on the roster. “It’s a great opportunity for a new challenge,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who took Ginobili along for San Antonio’s preseason coaching retreat last week and picked his brain on strategy for the coming season.

MVP WATCH

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NBA star Stephen Curry answers journalists questions during a demonstration as he coaches children in Paris on September 13, 2018. (Photo by Eric Feferberg / AFP) (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

There are seven active MVPs in the NBA right now — LeBron James has won it four times, Stephen Curry twice, and Dirk Nowitzki, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and reigning MVP James Harden all have claimed the award once. All seven now play in the Western Conference, and Harden plans to do his part to keep the trophy on that side of the league. “I’ve got to take it to another level,” the Houston star said. “Every single year, I’ve got to improve and make sure that I’m a leader.”

WELCOME, ROOKIES

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TARRYTOWN, NY – AUGUST 12: DeAndre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns poses for a portrait during the 2018 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot at MSG Training Center on August 12, 2018 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

No. 1 overall draft pick Deandre Ayton goes into his rookie season with the Phoenix Suns with a rookie (at least, an NBA rookie) coach in Igor Kokoskov. Suns star Devin Booker raves about what he’s already learned from Kokoskov, and Ayton is duly impressed so far as well. “Coach Igor is a smart coach, a very smart coach,” the Suns’ new center said. “He’s all about fundamentals and really taking your time in the post, taking care of your body and really all about conditioning ,as well and studying the game.”

WAITING GAME

gettyimages 876430374 As Training Camps Open, Heres 10 NBA Stories Worth Noting

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 19: DeMarre Carroll #9 of the Brooklyn Nets defends against Omri Casspi #18 of the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter during their game at Barclays Center on November 19, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Memphis veteran Omri Casspi enters this season with a distinction nobody wants — no player in the NBA right now has been in more regular-season games without playing in a single playoff contest. Casspi has been in 552 games, none of them of the postseason variety, and that makes his playoff drought 17 games longer than Golden State’s DeMarcus Cousins. But Casspi has made a career out of being patient; the first Israeli to play in the NBA remembers a time when few people thought he’d ever reach the league. “If you believe in yourself, good things will happen,” Casspi said.

LEBRON’S SALARY

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EL SEGUNDO, CA – SEPTEMBER 24: LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers during the Los Angeles Lakers Media Day at the UCLA Health Training Center on September 24, 2018 in El Segundo, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

It’s hard to find an NBA all-time list of anything where the Lakers’ LeBron James isn’t one of the leaders, and that includes earnings. James will pass Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki and climb to No. 4 on the league’s career salary list this season, the $35.5 million he’ll be getting in his first season with Los Angeles pushing him to about $270 million for his 16 seasons. He’s on pace to pass Shaquille O’Neal for the No. 3 spot in the 2019-20 season, and would then pass Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett for the No. 1 all-time spot in 2020-21.

LAST DANCES

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DALLAS, TX – SEPTEMBER 21: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks poses for a portrait during the Dallas Mavericks Media Day held at American Airlines Center on September 21, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

This will be the 21st and possibly final season for Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, and two guys he faced in the 2006 and 2011 NBA Finals against Miami are among those who are going into a season for the last time. Dwyane Wade said earlier this month that this was his “last dance,” and Heat forward Udonis Haslem made the announcement Monday that his 16th season is his finale.

 

© 2018 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. TMS

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