From contenders to ????

Originally Published: October 28, 2004
By Chad Ford | NBA Insider
The glory days have faded. The future has never been more uncertain.

That's the fate of a number of once-proud teams as they embark on the 2004-05 season.

Just one year ago, the Nets were the two-time defending Eastern Conference champs. But after losing both Kenyon Martin and Kerry Kittles this summer, there are legitimate questions concerning whether they'll even make the playoffs.

The Knicks, too, used to be a surefire pick to go deep in the playoffs until the team hit trouble the past couple of seasons. Isiah Thomas took over the team last season and made enormous changes. The faces are all new, but are Isiah's kids really an improvement?

New Sixers head coach Jim O'Brien becomes Allen Iverson's fourth coach in little over a year. Can he help the Sixers regain the glory that they once enjoyed under Larry Brown or is he just presiding over the end of the Iverson Era in Philly?

The Hornets were a perennial playoff contender in the East the past five years. But can new head coach Byron Scott save this sinking ship? Now that they're stuck in the Western Conference, the prospects don't look too good.

ESPN the Magazine's Ric Bucher believes that the Sacramento Kings' window may have finally closed. Here's Insider's season preview of four other once proud teams that seem to have lost their luster.

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer