Chat with Marc Stein
Marc Stein (8:01 PM)
Thanks for joining us at this late hour. Slightly new format on the chats this season. Along with general questions, we'll incorporate some Power Rankings discussion to make things more interactive. The Stein Line will now appear on Fridays. Mondays will feature the Power Rankings and a look at the week that was just completed and the week ahead. OK? Let's hit it ...
Now that Buss has proclaimed his love for Kobe, do you think that changes Kobe's stance in any way regarding next year? Even though he's opting out, in the end do you seem him resigning with the Lakers?
Marc Stein (8:04 PM)
Probably won't change his stance at all. Players at Kobe's level opt-out to get a longer, richer contract. But even before Buss said what he said, I didn't believe that the Lakers would entertain the idea of a Kobe trade. I just can't see it. And unless he's willing to take less money from a desirable team, I don't see him leaving in free agency, either. The only team with cap room that will interest Kobe is the Clips, but that's a pretty gutsy jump to make.
Dave (Olympia, WA)
Time to eat crow. The Sonics have laid your prognostications to dust (at least for 2 games anyway). Thanks for the #28 ranking! What better motivation could a team want, than to be ranked at least 15 spots lower than they should have been. Keep up the "good" work. Just curious why a team that went 18-12 after "the trade" and kept it's core group intact, would garner such disrespect from you.
Marc Stein (8:08 PM)
The Sonics did have a nice run after getting Ray, but I don't think they upgraded at all in the offseason -- I would have counted Collison, who I like more than I thought I would after watching some Team USA practices, but now he's out for the season. As good as Ray, Rashard and Brent Barry can all be together at times, I just don't see the Sonics going on many more 18-12 spurts with Radmanovic at PF (in the mighty West) and with the glut of unproductive centers Seattle has. And now with Ray out 6-to-8 weeks, the Sonics are far down my list of danger teams in the West. It will take more than a couple wins over the Clips to convince me.
Murf, Mission Viejo, CA
Why do people think the Kings are going to still do well without Webber? I mean sure they have Peja Bibby, and Jackson to pick up the slack, but their bench from years past is gone. I think they will be able to beat the least-talented teams, but when it comes to the strong contenders they will struggle. What is your take on this?
Marc Stein (8:11 PM)
Because they always do. For two seasons running they've been fabulous playing through injuries. If I were a Kings fan, my concern wouldn't be the shorter bench -- it would simply be that it's tough to keep winning when your stars are out. But last week, Vlade Divac played with tennis ball-sized swelling on his bad ankle. These ain't the Kings of three, four years ago. They're pretty gritty.
Muhammad K. Haque
How would you compare Gary Payton versus Jason Kidd i.e. how would you compare their strengths and their weaknesses. If you have been asked to make your own team, then whom would you pick?
Marc Stein (8:13 PM)
I'd take Kidd because he's younger, and because he's one of my favorite players for his all-around abilities, but Payton can still have one of his best seasons at 35 ... IF Kobe plays all year. Those guys are going to help each so much. Kobe will be stronger in the playoffs because GP can run the offense, and GP will be able to freelance on D like never before with Kobe at his side and Shaq behind him.
What happened to Dennis Rodman's comeback? Why wouldn't a team desperate for marketing, TV exposure, and ticket sales opportunities like the Hawks give him an opportunity. His presence alone would generate instant interest with fans, potential ticket buyers, and TV highlights, just wondering what he will do next. A team like Atlanta doesn't have anybody like that to market. Is it not worth damaging an organization's image or chemistry?
Marc Stein (8:16 PM)
C'mon, Brandon. I don't know if a championship contender would get fans in the house in the ATL -- I remember covering 'Nique's first game back at the Omni with the Clips and seeing empty seats. But I do know a fortysomething Rodman ain't the answer.
Jake (dunellen, nj)
What can we expect from the JVG-led Rockets in terms of wins?
Marc Stein (8:18 PM)
45-ish. I can't see the Rockets missing the playoffs again. Encouraging to me, at the start, is that Yao seems to be more of a presence defensively inside. Like the Jim Jax pickup, too. And when they get Piatkowski back they'll have the shooting that has been missing. Plus Cato at power forward is worth a try -- makes the Rockets pretty big. The Memphis loss was a serious downer, but I think the denizens of Clutch City can be cautiously optimistic.
Marcus T Face (Portland, OR)
Marc- I've got a friend who's a die hard Jazz fan and refuses to accept that they run the chance of winning under 30 games this year. What's your take? Do you think Sloan is such a good coach that over 30 wins is possible?
Marc Stein (8:20 PM)
Sloan is a great coach and has nothing to prove, but 30 wins? The Jazz might not be as lowly as some folks (hello) predicted, and that's mainly because Jerry won't let them, but one Opening Night upset over Portland doesn't compute to 30 wins.
New York, NY
What to make of the Bucks' strong start? Ford will have ups and downs, but all of the other positions aren't any worse than on last year's playoff team. When you subract a me-first attitude and negative energy and add solid inside players and low expectations, why has everyone picked them to be so bad?
Marc Stein (8:25 PM)
They were picked low because all of Milwaukee's signings were role-player types and because Payton (and, thus, Ray Allen) left without compensation and because all of their best players (Mason, Redd, Tim Thomas) essentially play the same spot. No one doubted that the attitude would be better -- a housecleaning was needed after all the turmoil there in recent seasons. But with a rookie point guard and rookie coach and limited size, you're not going to see folks picking the Bucks to make the playoffs.
No team has stacked up as much talented, and "tradeable", players as the Mavericks. Do you see them making another blockbuster deal by the trade deadline, or do you think they will simply try (again) to win the championship by outscoring everyone else?
Marc Stein (8:29 PM)
The Mavs' preference is to go the rest of the season without having to swing another blockbuster, on the assumption that Nellie will have his rotation sorted out by playoff time. Dallas' theory is that they can deal with every big man except Shaq and Duncan and cause teams problems by playing five scorers at once. A LOT of wrinkles need to be smoothed out, but the Mavs are prepared to take a step back in the regular season if it means they're clicking in the spring. But, yeah. Dallas will still remain the Team Most Likely To Swing A Blockbuster and the players there know it.
F. Olivar Fremont, CA
If through out the season Lakers play the same way they played Warriors last night, then they're not gonna win championship. Warriors had only 7 or 8 players and half of them is not even big stars and Lakers had a hard time. With Lakers having those all star players, you would think that they would beat Warriors at least 20 points especially in their home court. We'll see when they meet again next month.
Marc Stein (8:31 PM)
Warriors hung with Dallas and L.A. without three starters. Not bad. As I said before the season, I like their bench better than the starting lineup with guys like Claxton, Cliffy and Cheaney. The good news for GS: Van Exel should be back this week. He worked out with Chris Mullin on Sunday in Oakland and is making progress. The onus is still on Richardson and Dunleavy (and Murphy when he returns from injury) to make up for the lost offense (Arenas and Jamison) but I've been saying all along that I think the Ws can make a run at No. 8.
Roger Lake Forest, IL
What do you see more likely - a coaching change or a trade to light a fire under the Bulls. They are playing nowhere near their potential and a trade (maybe Rose/Chandler) for a skilled veteran may be what the Dr. ordered.
Marc Stein (8:35 PM)
Frankly, it might take a coaching change. I found it curious that John Paxson is the one making critical statements in the media (about Curry's shorts, for example) instead of the coach. Cartwright is a fine man, but this group might need more of a high-intensity guy. Because it's absolutely shameful for them to lose a road game by 30 this early in the season, when playing better on the road is such an point of emphasis after last season.
What do you think the Grizzlies chances are of making it to the playoffs this year?
Marc Stein (8:38 PM)
Not very good, Jeremy. The West is still the West, and I don't think Pau has enough help. I also wonder how much longer the Hubie Honeymoon will continue. I like the Warriors better, and maybe even the Nuggets if Denver keeps playing like it is now.
Hey Marc, Juan Howard was supposed to be the missing link to an already talented Magic team. They still are struggling, what do you think the trouble is in O-town.
Marc Stein (8:39 PM)
I still think Juwan can help the Magic offensively, and I still think there is room in the starting lineup for Juwan and Drew Gooden. But the Magic has no at-the-rim deterrant. Doc's team is still very small and that takes its toll on T-Mac. It's taking a toll already.
I was wondering if you could tell me what kind of player Darko will be! How long do you think it will take him to be a real dominating all-star!!Thanks
Marc Stein (8:42 PM)
I have no doubts that he'll eventually be outstanding, but it's going to be a while before we see it. Pistons are taking advantage of all their veteran size to bring Darko along SLOWLY. The kid wants to get out on the floor and prove himself, but the Pistons prefer to let him work now in practice against Ben, Campbell and Okur and give him a couple months (or more) to get acclimated. Can't argue with the strategy. Good luxury to have.
Marc, you're usually pretty rational, and I understand its impossible to be perfect in your rankings. However, just a few games into the season, you've made an inexcusable mistake. How can the Cavs at 0-3 be ranked higher than the Sonics who are one of four undefeated teams? Who cares if they've played the Clippers and the Cavs were on the road in the West. THe Cavs haven't proved themselves to be able to win yet, and the Sonics have. LeBron's output doesn't equal power rankings prestige.
Marc Stein (8:49 PM)
My rankings, especially in the first week, aren't totally about won-loss records, or else I could just rearrange the standings and be done with it. I like to factor in developments that either give a team a boost or sap some life out the squad. The Cavs started with a brutal trip, and LeBron had a fabulous start, and he alone impressed me more than the Sonics beating the Clippers twice. Rashard and Ronald Murray were indeed impressive, but, sorry. Seattle, too, probably would have gone 0-3 on a Sacto-Phoenix-Portland opening jaunt.
Kevin (Kansas City)
I don't usually respond to these things, but I felt compelled because I thought you would listen. I'm sick of the media constantly ripping Tim Floyd for accepting an NBA coaching job with a terrible team in Chicago. Most media types refuse to accept the argument that he just had bad players with the Bulls. Fine. But then they go on to argue that any success he has in New Orleans is because he has great players, not because he is a good coach (see this week's Power Rankings as an example). Doesn't this seem to be a major double standard? If the players don't get the majority of blame for his losses, then why do they the majority of the credit for his wins? It seems like Phil Jackson gets a ton of (deserved) credit for coaching good teams to greatness, so shouldn't Floyd get the same props if the Hornets do well this year? I'm not saying Floyd is a great or even good NBA coach. It hasn't been proven. But Floyd was the sacrificial lamb during the really bad years in Chicago and doesn't deserve a lot of the criticism he gets. Thanks.
Marc Stein (8:53 PM)
Like you said, it hasn't been proven. No question Floyd was put in a no-win position with the Bulls, but there was also legitimate criticism of Floyd's coaching during his time there and understandable skepticism when the Hornets fired Silas (their most successful coach ever and very popular with the players) to bring in Floyd. But I can assure you that, if the Hornets keep winning -- especially without Mash for the next 6-to-8 weeks -- Floyd will get his kudos.
In your rankings your mention that the Knicks cant afford to lose Houston and Mcdysse. Would it really matter? I am a Knick fan and 2 games into the season already willing to concede and play drafting that center from Uconn.
Marc Stein (8:54 PM)
That's the spirit.
Doury (Buffalo, NY)
What do you think of the new-look, new-attitude Raptors? Vince looks good and the playoffs look like a definite possibility in the Least.
Marc Stein (8:58 PM)
I'm a big Bosh fan, but I really don't see much new-looking about the Raps. They're depending on Vince to be healthy and productive and I see that O'Neill has gone back to Jerome Williams after it looked like he was out of favor in the preseason. Raps are certainly in the playoff mix, like most everyone in the East, but three games is too early to make a judgment.
What do you think of Keegan leaving Anelka out of the side against Southhampton? Could cause problems. And do you think Man City will maintain their position in the top 5? Also, what did you think of Shane Heals debut for the Spurs? Thanks
Marc Stein (9:00 PM)
Makes me nervous. Anelka has been been so good and Fowler just scored a wonder goal and, City being City, both are suddenly in trouble with the manager. I'm as nervous as the Spurs are about their PG situation with Parker injured. Heal is a fiery guy, which means Pop likes him, but he's not a long-term answer as an NBA point.
Marc Stein (9:01 PM)
Thanks for all the good questions, everyone. We'll plan to do this every Monday during the regular season. Power Rankings and Chat every Monday. See you next week.