Chat with John Hollinger
Send your questions now and join John in The Show Thursday at 11:30 a.m. ET.
John Hollinger (11:40 AM)
I said before the season I'd be going to Utah for the Finals, and I was right! ... I'm in Salt Lake City airport right now waiting for my connection to LA. We've got about an hour to kill before I board, so let's chat...
Do you see jj redick getting any playing time this series? Or do the magic stick with the same rotation they had in the cavs series?
John Hollinger (11:41 AM)
I could see Redick playing if Stan wants to put another shooter on the floor in Alston's place -- If Fisher or Brown is out there he can put Redick on him and not worry much. If it's Farmar, forget it.
LaMar Odom (LA)
Will i show up this year, or will I fold with Gasol like last year's Finals?
John Hollinger (11:42 AM)
I actually thought Lamar got a lot of undue criticism in last year's Finals. Look back at his #s -- he wasn't that bad. But yes, he's a key guy this year, since I expect he'll be finishing games even if he isn't starting them.
Ray, Berkeley CA
Do you think the Lakers will go to the hack-a-Dwight?
John Hollinger (11:43 AM)
Unlikely since they can't afford to pick up fouls on their bigs. The exception is if Mbenga or Powell is in at the 5 -- then it's hack a way, baby. But I can't imagine Phil using those guys much because it gives Howard free reign to roam on D.
Freddy (Santa Ana)
Who do you think can defend Kobe better. Pietrus, Lee or someone else?
John Hollinger (11:44 AM)
Peitrus has the best combination of size and quickness -- you really want size on Kobe since so much of what he does these days is shooting jumpers over defenders. However, Pietrus can be faked off his feet, and I think Kobe will get some easy free throws off him that way.
Charly (Memphis, TN)
So realistically how much will Jameer Nelson impact this series? I wouldn't think his contributions will make much difference due to him being out of game shape, but perhaps this is not the case?
John Hollinger (11:44 AM)
I'm not expecting much either, but given the enormous numbers he put up on L.A. in the regular season and the Lakers' obvious weakness against quick point guards, I suppose Magic fans can't help feeling excited about his potential return.
Phat (Lakewood, California)
Suppose Dwight and Kobe do recieve those two techs, and are suspended in the same game. Which, do you think is the better team without their superstar?
John Hollinger (11:45 AM)
It's all about the value of the replacement. I'd say Gortat is playing better than Vujacic right now, so it would be advantage Orlando.
Mickey (Hermosa Beach, CA)
John, Who is the first guard off the bench for the Lakers? Brown? Does Farmar see any PT in this series?
John Hollinger (11:46 AM)
I think Farmar may see a LOT of PT in this series, actually. His main shortcoming is his suspect defense, but if he's guarding Rafer Alston and Anthony Johnson then it's not a big worry. If Jameer comes back, it's a different story.
Aaron (Vista, ca)
Wait...you think that Redick is fast or quick enough to guard Shannon Brown? Tell me you're joking Holli?
John Hollinger (11:47 AM)
If the Lakers want to take the ball away from Kobe to let Shannon Brown try to create off the dribble, the Magic will be more than happy to oblige.
Rob (Portland, OR)
Better off-day attraction, Disney World, or Disney Land?
John Hollinger (11:49 AM)
Only been to the one in Orlando, so I can't answer that, and I'm pretty certain I won't be going to either during this year's Finals. I'd say L.A. is the much better off-day city actually -- Disney is pretty far from O-town and downtown Orlando is pretty dead.
John, lots of people think that Kobe will score like 35+ a game, because Orlando doesn't have anybody that can check him, what are your thoughts?
John Hollinger (11:50 AM)
I'd be surprised if he scored that high, because actually Orlando has two very capable wing defenders in Lee and Pietrus, plus Howard waiting for him at the rim.
John Hollinger (11:50 AM)
This is a good time to remind everyone that Orlando was the best defensive team in the league in the regular season. For some reason folks have had an amazingly difficult time accepting this.
Do you honestly believe the cavaliers would have beaten the Celtics with KG and Powe??
John Hollinger (11:51 AM)
Yes, the Cavaliers would have -- much better match-up for them than the Magic were, in part because Cleveland basically built its team to beat Boston.
Chris Baker, England
The Finals 2-3-2 format isn't fair and needs to change, and I know this debate will arise over the coming days too. Agree? What's wrong with keeping it 2-2-1-1-1?
John Hollinger (11:52 AM)
The order of the games is totally, completely irrelevant. The onlyt hing 2-2-1-1-1 would do is nearly kill everyone when they went on their fourth cross-country flight in six days to come home from Game 7.
Jeff Van Gundy (LA)
Am I going to make it through this series without suffering a heart attack?
John Hollinger (11:53 AM)
I think the safe thing would be for Jeff to emulate Bill Walton routine and pretend his family member isn't on the court at all, even when he's figuring prominently in the action. Not sure he's as capable of that, though.
Are you expecting bigger numbers from Gasol or Odom this series?
John Hollinger (11:54 AM)
Gasol, of course. He'll be a tough cover for either Howard or Lewis.
You really the think the order of the games is irrelevant? I'm sure you're aware the home team has NEVER won the middle 3 games in a row before.
John Hollinger (11:55 AM)
Miami, 2006. Detroit, 2004. Try again.
Alan (Rogers, AR)
My friend and I have discussed how you really need 3 all-stars to win the finals, and 2 of them have to play out of their mind to win. Any thoughts on these teams?
John Hollinger (11:57 AM)
The "3 All-Stars' model is the popular one in the wake of the Spurs and Celtics, but team have also won with two stars and a bunch of filler (Heat, Lakers), or with an ensemble cast of almost-stars (Pistons, Sonics), or with one epic star and a bunch of decent-but-not-great surrounding parts (Spurs in 03, Rockets) ... there are a lot of different ways to get the math to work and have it add up to a championship caliber team.
Do the Magic have any chance to win the finals?
John Hollinger (11:59 AM)
Of course they do. I think the Lakers have a better chance, obviously, but nobody should be shocked if Orlando wins.
Do you really think that Gasol can handle Howard in the paint, seeing as how Gasol got man-handled last year by Garnett?
John Hollinger (12:00 PM)
Not one-on-one -- the Lakers will have to send him double-teams. But Gasol can be very effective attacking Howard at the other end -- put him in serious foul trouble when they met in Feb. 08 while Bynum was out.
James (Athens, GA)
Is Alston not a fast, quick guard? How would you describe him? Why won't he pose problems for LA?
John Hollinger (12:00 PM)
Not especially, and especially not if you can play ten feet off him and dare him to shoot. Alston is the guy they're going to dare to beat them.
If the order of the games is completely irrelevant would you be happy with 3-4 format? Only 1 cross-country flight needed then
John Hollinger (12:01 PM)
Wouldn't matter to me, but I imagine the road team would be bummed that they'd have no chance at all of winning it in front of their own fans.
John what team do you see makeing the next step next season and getting to the Finals?
John Hollinger (12:02 PM)
Good chance we could have a rematch, but I also think Cleveland has a great shot at breaking through, and in the West if Denver uses its trade exception it could be a game-changer.
Do you think the previous wins mean anything since the Lakers did not have Farmar or Brown to assist Fisher in the front court. Fisher played an average 40 minutes.
John Hollinger (12:03 PM)
It cuts both ways -- the Magic were starting Keith Bogans. But the main protagonists were the same, so I think the regular-season meetings would be very relevant if Nelson were to come back.
Andres (Puerto Rico)
How can you say that Lee and Pietrus are capable defender when Lebron light them up all series, even with Howard protecting the rim. And Kobe is just as good as Lebron.
John Hollinger (12:04 PM)
Agree on the first point, not on the second. But part of the reason LeBron got his #s was because Orlando didn't send the other guys much help -- they basically schemed to let LeBron get his and shut down the role players.
Dont you think that Boston, with the big 3 will make only Final push for the Finals?
John Hollinger (12:05 PM)
You're right, way too early to write off Boston. The race in the East should be very interesting next year, especially with Chicago and Washington looming as sleepers.
"Cleveland has a great shot at breaking through"...how? What can they do this offseason to prepare for ANY team, and not just the Celtics?
John Hollinger (12:06 PM)
Remember, they have $$ to throw around at a time when a lot of teams are looking to shed salary, so they'll be able to do some things.
Who is Odom going to cover? And do the Lakers have anyone else who can stop either Lewis or Turkoglu?
John Hollinger (12:07 PM)
Odom will cover Lewis, Ariza and Kobe will cover Turkoglu, I doubt Walton gets much time against either (they'll try to hide him on Lee or Pietrus I'm guessing). Bigger question is whether Pau can guard Lewis at the start of games.
Mike (Irvine, CA)
the east should be interesting but if Denver doesnt pay up to keep the roster together will the Lakers again be HEAVY favorites to win the west? dont say Houston because it is NOT possible they stay healthy.
John Hollinger (12:08 PM)
I think the Lakers will be heavy favorites regardless. Biggest threat besides Denver probably comes from Portland.
Nanch (Portland OR)
Should the Lakers lose this series, do they keep the nucleus of Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum together?
John Hollinger (12:09 PM)
Absolutely. If they lose it won't be those guys that go ... but you might see them make different decisions regrading Odom and Ariza, and shop in earnest for an upgrade at point guard.
Are you going to rethink giving Cavs the advantage by playing Lebron 48min. Seems like a 40min Lebron is more effective as a 48min Lebron. The Dude had nothing left towards the end of Game 6 other than charity from the refs.
John Hollinger (12:10 PM)
Yes, that was one of the big surprises from this postseason -- first time I've seen LeBron out of games. Last year he was playing the whole game against Boston without any trouble.
Why Portland? They are basically a jump-shooting team, w/no inside presence, i don't think they will be as relevant in the playoffs...
John Hollinger (12:12 PM)
And yet they were leading the league in offensive efficiency for much of the season -- Blazers' problem isn't offense. If they make some moves to upgrade the D and perhaps the point guard spot -- and they have the assets and flexibility to do it -- then they'll be a bear next year.
That's 'cause I'm really 32. You're just seeing the years catch up to me...
Mike (Raleigh, NC)
What in particular should the Cavs be looking to do, roster wise, this off season? Z is a heralded Cavalier that has been there forever, but I can't believe how much of a liability he was in the Orlando series.
John Hollinger (12:15 PM)
Yes, they should mainly target the frontcourt -- get a 5 who can defend Dwight Howard (they're going to be seeing a lot of the Magic the next few years), get a mobile 4 who can shoot and defend other perimeter 4s (perhaps Rasheed Wallace on a midlevel deal?), and limit Zs minutes in the regular season so he has more juice left for the playoffs.
Kobe Bryant (LA)
You have to be bias not to pick me as the best after I take home the Finals MVP trophy.
John Hollinger (12:16 PM)
Presumably you thought Paul Pierce was the best a year ago.... No???
Mac Jason (Manila, Phil)
Do you think Kobe needs to win this series/championship to validate his career?
John Hollinger (12:17 PM)
Absolutely not. But it would provide the one accolade he's missing -- best player on a champion.
Any good restaurants in SLC?
John Hollinger (12:17 PM)
I found a good breakfast joint last time I stayed here, but as for the airport I think Sbarro is about as high-brow as it gets.
Lincoln Nguyen (San Jose,CA)
Will we see Kobe in the low post against the smaller Lee?
John Hollinger (12:18 PM)
I do believe he'll try to post up Lee, but not sure he'll be attacking Pietrus from down there.
Freddy (Santa Ana, CA)
Is traveling the only downside to your job?
John Hollinger (12:19 PM)
Who says it's a downside? I love to travel.
Al (Chicago, IL)
How far do you think the Bulls can go in the playoffs next season?
John Hollinger (12:20 PM)
It's going to be tough to get past the second round with the top three of Cleveland, Boston and Orlando seemingly locked into those spots.
All this talk about Rasheed Wallace going to Cleveland why wouldnt the Magic sign him?
John Hollinger (12:22 PM)
Tax issues. Magic aren't in as good a position to pay it as the Cavs are, and will probably have to go over just to keep Hedo. I don't see them spending much additional money, and in fact they'll probably lose Gortat.
If the Lakers win, do they keep both Odom and Ariza? If they lose, who goes?
John Hollinger (12:22 PM)
They may keep both anyway, though Odom will need to take a paycut. Each is pretty integral to what L.A. does.
hey John. Any way you can open up your insider articles to the public? :P
John Hollinger (12:23 PM)
Thanks for the reminder -- I meant to tell folks that the Per Diem changed to Insider this week. Sorry for any troubles that's causing you.
I&#1502; John Denton's new article he mentions that Dwight will have this summer for himself, and not for team USA. He can develop some offensive moves. Isn't this a huge deal?
John Hollinger (12:24 PM)
We'll see ... he's bee in the league four years and still hasn't developed any move of substance, and it's hard to blame that solely on his Team USA obligations.
Does PJax retire if he wins the title to pass Red? If so, who's a good replacement? I think B Scott would be a good choice.
John Hollinger (12:25 PM)
Fair question to ask and one I honestly don't know the answer to. Kurt Rambis may be a successor as well, with Coach K looming as a wild card.
David: (SF, CA)
Will the Per Diem be public after this week or do you prefer us to read only the first 30% of your work?
John Hollinger (12:26 PM)
Per Diem will be on hiatus after the Finals until next season ... not as much need for daily columns in mid-August.
John you dont have to lie we all know theres nothing good in Salt Lake City including your pre season pick the Jazz!
John Hollinger (12:27 PM)
Good to see the two Rocky Mountain cities still hate each other. Would have loved to have seen a Jazz-Nuggets series, maybe we'll get one next year.
John, A quick FYI tell the chatters to pay for the insider. It's money well spent. I been in insider for more than 3 years. Thanks.
John Hollinger (12:27 PM)
Sure, I'll gladly help you shill for us.
John Hollinger (12:28 PM)
Speaking of which, today's piece should be up any minute now.
Younger Lee (Los Angeles)
What kind of pay cut for Odom? He pretty much said that he only wants to play for a team near the ocean. We talking 7 mil?
John Hollinger (12:29 PM)
Not sure. The ocean thing would seem to limit his options but money has been known to change minds. Also, there's a 30% chance that somebody like Utah or Minnesota can convince him they're on the ocean.
Bill Simmons called Shannon Brown the best random fit for the Triangle offense since Brian Shaw. Can the Laker presumably keep him, Odom and Ariza ?
John Hollinger (12:30 PM)
Not expecting a bidding war for Brown, let's put it that way. And L.A. will spend to keep their rotation guys.
Near the ocean or near the candystore. Either one works for me.
John Hollinger (12:31 PM)
Good point. Philly's proximity to Hershey could be an underrated advantage.
What do you do in the offseason?
John Hollinger (12:32 PM)
More writing than I do during the season it seems. Between the draft,free agency, and the player profiles and team previews, I'm busy until training camp starts.
John Hollinger (12:33 PM)
Alright folks, it's time to get on the plane to LA. Thanks for helping me pass the time and we'll do this again next week from O-town prior to Game 4.