The NBA champion Dallas Mavericks opened training camp on Friday, but like all the league's teams their excitement at finally getting on court was tempered by uncertainty.
A day after owners and players ratified a new 10-year contract to end a lockout that delayed the scheduled November 1 start of the season to December 25, players and coaches had to get down to the business of training even as executives got down the business of trading.
"We're world champions," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We're excited about that."
But the Mavericks will have to come up with a replacement for defensive leader Tyson Chandler, who was headed to New York on Friday after agreeing to a deal with the Knicks.
"We got what everybody wanted New York to get, which was a big man," forward Carmelo Anthony said. "Tyson, he's established himself as a dominant force on the defensive end, he showed that on the biggest stage in sports last year in the championship."
But the deal wasn't quite done. The Knicks still had to make salary cap room before they could make it official and were expected to trade France's Ronny Turiaf and waive Chauncey Billups using the amnesty clause in the new contract. That would mean Billups' $14.2 million salary wouldn't count against their salary cap or luxury tax.
Similar stories abounded around the league.
The Miami Heat took the practice court with just six available players as contracts were worked out for point guard Mario Chalmers, swingman James Jones and forward Juwon Howard.
"It's good to be back on the court, to hear the balls bouncing and see your teammates," said Miami forward LeBron James, whose Heat team fell to the Mavericks in last season's championship series.
"It's a great day to be back."
There was lingering buzz on Friday over the NBA's decision to nix the New Orleans Hornets' plan to trade star guard Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-team deal that would have also included a Houston Rockets team rebuilding in the wake of their star Yao Ming's retirement earlier this year.
Paul turned up to train in New Orleans, while the Lakers' Spanish import Pau Gasol, who was reportedly to have gone to Houston in the deal, was at camp in Los Angeles.
Paul, who will be a free agent next season and has declined to ink a contract extension, could yet be traded by the Hornets.
"We're talking about everything. Everything is on the table," Hornets general manager Dell Demps said.
Trade talk also surrounded Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, a three-time NBA defensive player of the year, who was reported to be seeking a trade to New Jersey.
Magic chief executive officer Alex Martins said the club haven't filed tampering charges with the NBA against any team for interference with Howard, who was reported to have met with Nets representatives.
"Well there aren't any tampering charges," Martins said. "What I would say to that is that Dwight is under contract with us and our rules in the league are very explicit about the fact when a player's under contract with the team, other teams are not allowed to contact the player or player's representative about them.
"And if that's been voided in any way, we'll deal with it to the fullest extent that the NBA constitution allows."
The Magic were in the midst of making a deal to acquire Glen Davis from Boston for Brandon Bass, and they, too, took advantage of the new amnesty clause to waive veteran Gilbert Arenas.