Chat with Michael Wilbon
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN's Michael Wilbon stops by to chat and share his thoughts on the sports world.
Wilbon, a longtime Washington Post sports columnist, is co-host of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption, the popular weekday sports debate and discussion program, as well as an NBA studio analyst for both ESPN and ABC. A pioneer in sports journalism, Wilbon was one of the first sports writers to broaden his success beyond newspapers to include television, radio and other media.
Send your questions now and join Wilbon Monday at 1 p.m. ET!
michael wilbon (1:08 PM)
Hi Everybody...Just coming back from rain-drenched NYC, arriving in rain-drenched Washington, D.C. and thankful not all the shuttle flights were cancelled. The Delta Shuttle, which I've loyally taken for its entire existence, which is more than 20 years, has become a useless piece of junk. The Delta Shuttle now operates when it's 70 degrees and clear, and otherwise it's about 50-50. Drizzle? Forget it. "Sorry, we just cancelled, it's raining." Luckily, the U.S. Air Shuttle, which I'm about to switch over to, has planes that don't melt in the rain so I'm here...Anyway, now that I've had that rant, let's jump into mostly NBA, maybe some college hoops, maybe a little PGA...
Satch (Hartford, CT)
Hi Michael, So ... are you still scratching your head about the Celtics trade, or does Danny Ainge know something that maybe the rest of us don't?
michael wilbon (1:15 PM)
The more I think about Kendrick Perkins/Nate Washington for Jeff Green the more I'm confused about this trade. I don't like it for either team, actually. The Celtics negate their size advantage by dealing Perkins and Oklahoma City clearly misses Green...I mean the REALLY miss Jeff Green. Is Perkins going to be as effective for Ok City as he has been playing with Kevin Garnett? I can't see that at all. Green facilitates so much, or did with Durant and Westbrook. Okay, I don't want to be knee-jerk about this, but my first reaction is, Wow, this stinks for both teams. We'll see. Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers ain't crazy. They're smart men, astute men. I HAVE to give them some benefit of the doubt because they've earned it over time...but where we sit now I just can't see how losing Perkins is going to help the Celtics now. I don't care about next year (Ainge has to) because the Celtics should be living in the here-and-now. Trade Perk over the summer if you think he wants too much money. There will be takers over the summer for him. But win now with him....That's just me. I don't get this...
What are the odds that your Bulls pass Miami for the second spot in the East? Do you think we'll see Heat-Knicks in playoffs? Even after last night, I'd still have Heat in 5, but would make for good TV talk.
michael wilbon (1:23 PM)
I've been thinking about this since the All-Star break because Miami has such a brutal schedule coming up...Though the Bulls have a patch as well where it looks like three losses in four games or something like that, the Heat simply doesn't play the top teams well and doesn't play the close games as well as we thought. Yeah, I think the Bulls could pass Miami. Heck, they have the same number of losses, 17. It seems unthinkable on one hand, given that Miami has three All-Stars and two future first-ballot Hall of Famers. But the Bulls are a team in every sense, so far. Kornheiser even compared them to his beloved Knicks of the early 1970s because of the way they play...I think it's going to be really tight, a game or two separating Boston, Miami and Chicago...I could see any order. BUT I think it could matter that the Bulls players say openly they want the No. 1 seed...Should make for a nice finish, especially now that the Celtics may struggle for five or six games post-Perkins trade...
Is Chauncey Billups a good pick-and-roll point guard? Watching the 3 knicks games since the trade, I see Amare trying to run the pick-and-roll, dropping down into the paint, and Billups seems to alway pass the ball to another player on the wing. Is this just an issue of getting used to playing with a low post scorer, or is Billups just not that type of point guard?
michael wilbon (1:25 PM)
I think it's just that Billups got used to running the pick-and-pop with a completely different kind of player, Rasheed Wallace, who doesn't set up in ANY of the spots or move in the same ways that Amare Stoudemire does. I figured it would take a dozen to 15 games for them to figure out that stuff. And when they do the Knicks should be very, very difficult to stop because you simply cannot double Amare when Chauncey can kill you with the three-ball and Carmelo is on the wing...It's a wow, offensively and yes, Chauncey will run it just fine. I wonder if the Knicks, since the trade, have even had a full practice together...
If Baron Davis is bought out by the Cavs, do you think he would want to join the Knicks or Heat?
michael wilbon (1:26 PM)
I like Baron Davis a ton, but I can't see the Knicks having any interest, not with Chauncey already there...And with LeBron and D-Wade already needing the ball, how is there space for B-Diddy who also needs it...Can't see it.
Just as the Celtics thought Orlando no longer posed a large enough threat they deal Perkins. Now D12 seems to have lit a fire under this team. How afraid should the Celtics be of a potential matchup?
michael wilbon (1:30 PM)
I think you make a good point, that Boston gave away the size advantage that scared Miami and Orlando. Look, I was IN the Miami locker room just after the trade; I KNOW the Heat players are thrilled. And if you're Orlando, and you've got ONE big man, one, how can you not be more encouraged about playing the Celtics? What Boston did against Orlando was pretty much single-cover Howard because they could with Perk or KG...and keep the other defenders tight on the Orlando shooters...I guess they could ask KG to do that, go by himself on Howard, but for an entire series? Again, I know Doc Rivers enough to know he has some tricks up his sleeve. Doc was a crafty player his entire career and is the same as a coach. But seems to me the deal nullified Boston's clear and undisputed advantage in frontcourt size.
Are the Nuggets better now? Gallinari, Chandler, Felton can play! and a handfull of first round picks!!
michael wilbon (1:32 PM)
No. They'll battle and George should have fun coaching this bunch after the stress of this season. But great players rule the NBA. Look up the list of champs and finalists and see how many got there without a truly great player. The Pistons of 2004, yes. Ensemble cast. Anybody else? I don't think so. Championship players are led by top five, top seven players. And Carmelo right now is that...I think Denver will make the playoffs, which would be a nice story, but better? Carmelo led the Nuggets to the conference finals two years ago. Will that happen this year? No chance that I can see.
Might Billups be the unsung hero of the Knicks/Nuggets deal for the Knicks?
michael wilbon (1:35 PM)
People were writing and talking like Billups was some throw-in, which is absurd. I know he's getting older and his days of dominating long stretches of the season are behind him. But you've got two great players to do that in Amare and Carmelo. You tell me Chauncey can't run the Knicks and hit big shots? I'm not buying that. I think the Knicks problem will be playing consistently good defense and rebounding. But Billups is a totally underrated person in this deal and the Knicks should be thrilled they got him. One of the reasons the analysis that the Knicks overpaid is ludicrous is the upgrade at two positions: small forward (Carmelo over Galinari) and point guard (Billups over Raymond Felton)...
who is this Rasual Butler cat? i barely know him, but what role does he play on the Bulls? Does he start, is he a sixth man, what should we make of this?
michael wilbon (1:39 PM)
I look at Butler as insurance. You can give him some of Bogans' minutes, though not at the start of the game. His biggest asset is probably his versatility. He could spell Luol Deng for a few minutes every night at small forward, which could be important since Deng has been among the top five players all year in minutes played...It's a subtle addition, a tweak, but certainly not a move meant to rock the boat in any way. The Bulls love the group they've got and don't want to disturb it. Not only have Gar Forman and John Paxson made that clear, but the players I've talked to have made it clear as well that they like the group, that they love having zero knuckleheads and loafers...and having a team full of guys everybody trusts. Talk about chemistry...
Sigurdur Einar Einarsson (Iceland)
I dont think people understand what a big win it was for the Lakers last night. The game was just like a playoff game and know the Lakers have the season series over Thunder. They dont like to play them again in the playoffs with out home court(and Perk playing). Know Thunder are number 4 in the west and they could finish there and play the Spurs in the 2 round(that would be a great series to watch). The Lakers would take Dallas over Thunder anyday.
michael wilbon (1:44 PM)
Most of what you conclude is dead-on. But not the last part. The Lakers would NOT rather play Dallas than Oklahoma City. Have you listened to Kobe Bryant over the last couple of years? I have. Dallas is different this season because of Tyson Chandler. He does the dirty work the Mavs didn't have anybody to do in recent years. Now, Dirk doesn't have to worry about that stuff. I asked Dirk last week and he told me this team has some post-season attributes it didn't have in past seasons. Now, the big problem is Caron Butler's injury because he's the guy the Mavs need to guard Kobe. There's talk of Butler being ready for the second round, which is as early as the Mavs could play each other in the playoffs. Butler is already running on any underwater treadmill and says he's pain free. I thought this was going to be a stretch, but Butler is one of the toughest guys in the league and if he can play he'll be out there...Dallas might pose a bigger threat to the Lakers than the Spurs...
What's your analysis of the upcoming draft. How weak is it? Alec Burks, Terrence Jones, Perry Jones, Kyrie Irving, any of these names strike you as great?
michael wilbon (1:50 PM)
Great question. I don't see a great player in college basketball today, and more important than what I see or don't see is what scouts don't see. They think this is one of the stinkiest drafts in years and years.It's one reason teams are so willing to part with their first-round picks this year in trades for veterans...I like Sullinger, I like the kid from Texas Tristan Thompson, the high-flying freshman forward. I really like Jimmer Fredette. I like Kyle Singler...But love? My favorite player is Nolan Smith, and I think he might be NBA-ready...But first-pick ready? I don't know. It's the reason the tournament should be great as well, because the teams, like the players, are so closely bunched...
you onboard with the spurs winning the finals?
michael wilbon (1:57 PM)
Hmmm, I'm undecided...I know that's a punk take for a columnist...But I've thought since January 1 there are four teams that could win the NBA Championship this year: Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and San Antonio...I think we have to put the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls on that list now, even though teams rarely go from not a threat to getting to the Finals. Right now, I think we're still looking at Celtics-Lakers, but I'm less convinced of that than I was two months ago...partly because veteran players I trust have told me, "Stop with the Spurs...They're not as good as they were when they were a defense-first team." I'm swayed by what other top players tell me, especially when I hear the EXACT SAME reasons from guys who don't even talk to each other. It's scary when that happens. If I'm handicapping finalists in the west right now it's Lakers then Mavs/Spurs tied...I know that's a total punk out but I've got to see the next two weeks as teams jockey for position...
What are your thoughts about the Sixers, who have really put a nice stretch of play together?
michael wilbon (1:59 PM)
Doug Collins has done some job, hasn't he? Weren't the Sixers something like 3-14 to start the season? And now they're over .500. If the Knicks had lost that game to Miami last night they'd have dropped to the 7th spot in the west, one behind the 76ers...No way people would have had the 76ers fighting for the sixth spot, but this is the difference a good coach can make and Doug Collins is such a fine coach. You know that Elton Brand is averaging more rebounds than Amare Stoudemire? Doug is getting the max out of his team and they're a threat now...
Andrew (Orland Park)
Thoughts on ours Bears recent cuts? (Tommie Harris, Hillenmeyer & Shafer)
michael wilbon (2:01 PM)
These are kinds of predictable cuts in the NFL, big-name veteran players who have been important parts of teams...these are the kinds of cost-saving cuts you don't have in the NBA, for sure. I'm a Tommie Harris fan, but injuries so reduced his production, which is also typical in the NBA. Hillenmeyer, remember, missed an entire year with that concussion and the Bears had good linebacker play all season, so they probably just don't want to take the risk...Sad to see them both go. They were really critical to the 2006 Super Bowl run...
With all of the roster moves that other teams made this week, do you think the Bulls are better or worse off in the east?
michael wilbon (2:04 PM)
I'd love to have seen Memphis say yes to trading OJ Mayo to the Bulls for draft picks. That would have been a wow, though it would take time to fit him in...I think the Bulls and Heat stand to benefit from the Celtics trading Kendrick Perkins...Right now, in terms of talent, it's Celtics/Heat/Bulls, but talent alone can trump a team of guys who really love playing together, which seems to be the Bulls' strength, after Rose, of course....the Bulls certainly are not worse off, unless they have to play a hot Knicks team in the first round...
Why can't you be interesting like Russillo?
michael wilbon (2:04 PM)
Why can't you be smart like Russillo?
Caleb Stout (North Carolina)
I watched the Knicks vs. Heat last night. Who do you think, if those two teams played again in a 7 game series, would come out victorious
michael wilbon (2:05 PM)
Good question...I think Miami would win but it would take six or seven games...I'd LOVE to see that as a first-round series...how juicy would that be...
michael wilbon (2:07 PM)
Okay playas, I gotta run and prepare for PTI now...Thanks for chatting...Gotta get ready to do battle with Kornheiser...Same time, same channel next week gang...Thank you...