Chat with John Hollinger
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, NBA columnist John Hollinger will stop by to share his thoughts on all of the NBA news.
Send your questions now and join Hollinger Thursday at noon ET!
John Hollinger (12:03 PM)
Greetings all. We're 12 hours away from living in a world where LeBron is a Certified Closer and we need something else to talk about. Fire away.
Dell Demps (The Big CapSpeasy)
With all of the Hornets' newfound cap space, should I pursue free agents or slow-play the rebuilding process like OKC?
John Hollinger (12:04 PM)
It all depends on who you can get to take it, right? By all mean inquire about Deron Williams, but I'm not sure if splurging on the next tier makes sense ... yet. A year from now it will, because they'll have more $$ under cap than they can possibly use on superstars. The CP-back-to-Nawlins angle has to be interesting to them too, even if it's still a long shot.
Drew (Chicago, IL)
When (and how) will people stop using rings to determine the greatness of a player? It's a team accomplishment. I don't care if LeBron never wins a ring, he's by far the best player of this generation, perhaps ever.
John Hollinger (12:06 PM)
It's one barometer, but I think you're correct that people overdo it. Equating Kobe with Jordan in the event he gets a sixth ring, for instance, strikes me as willfully ignorant of the surrounding context. And the opposite example would be Garnett, who was every bit as good as Tim Duncan and has 1/4 the rings because he spent most of his career on a team run by bozos.
Do you think Washington has a shot at the playoffs with their new potential lineup of Wall-Arisa-MKG-Nene-Okafor?
John Hollinger (12:08 PM)
A shot? I'll go as far as a shot. I don't think it's a particularly good shot, given that they were 28th in offense last year and managed to punt $20 million in cap without addressing that problem, and that they have a terrible coach, but yes, they have something of a shot. Also, they may draft Beal instead of MKG, which I think would be a terrible mistake, but there you go ...
TJ (New York)
Not concerning tonight, but if you can answer a question about the Knicks... Are they serious about Nash and what are some steps that you think must be done for the under-achieving Knicks
John Hollinger (12:09 PM)
Nash isn't happening. They would need to win a court case that they aren't going to win, and even after that several unlikely things would have to go in New York's favor, starting with nobody offering Nash more than the MLE. Move along, nothing to see here.
Is there anything that can stop LeBron from winning the MVP award for the next 3-4 years?
John Hollinger (12:10 PM)
Two things. The first is that guy wearing No. 35 for Oklahoma. But the second, bigger obstacle is voter fatigue. Just like we saw when Jordan lost out on a few ridiculous MVP votes, the constant search for a new, shiny object will work against LeBron.
What do you do if your John Paxson? I feel like he's stuck this year because he doesn't know what Rose he'll be getting back.
John Hollinger (12:11 PM)
I feel that way too. The Bulls were very good without Rose in the regular season a year ago, but the financial decisions are a lot harder this time around because the tax is becoming a major issue for them.
Shouldn't the Thunder at least explore putting Serge on LeBron? Yes KD wouldn't have an easy time with Bosh, but it's pick your poison right (they're really pretty similar in size)? Thabo is just way too small for Bron.
John Hollinger (12:12 PM)
That might be an interesting wrinkle, but I think two options they're likely to explore first are 1) fronting LeBron, and 2) playing zone. OKC hardly ever played zone this year but they have the bodies for it.
The Dude (Los Angeles)
With the new salary cap rules, how difficult will it be for OkC to remain an elite team?
John Hollinger (12:13 PM)
Next year won't be a problem, it's 2013-14 where it gets interesting. But you'll start reading tea leaves this fall, because Harden and Ibaka are due for extensions. If the Thunder extend both, they'll be in this for a long time.
Sachin (London, England)
In retrospect did the Jazz hurt their future by making the playoffs. Could a player selected in the 10-14 range have improved their outlook?
John Hollinger (12:14 PM)
Wouldn't have hurt, but I have this rated as a fairly weak draft and think they were probably looking at role players in that range.
Isiah Thomas (New York, NY)
I don't see anything wrong with the Wizards trade. They got some more long term contracts, hamstrung the franchise, and rebuilt a few other franchises. What's the problem here?
John Hollinger (12:15 PM)
Tentative 2012-13 Wizards slogan: Embrace Mediocrity!
Steven (DENVER )
Next coach of the Magic is? Thoughts on the Hennigan hire?
John Hollinger (12:17 PM)
I liked the Hennigan hire; he's quite young but he's going to have an actual plan rather than just shooting money out of a firehose and hoping it works. Given the Spurs/Thunder connections, I wonder if somebody from the Popovich tree -- Mike Budenholzer perhaps -- will emerge as a candidate in Orlando, but a lot depends on how much power Alex Martins retains and how much will be placed with Hennigan.
Should the Pacers offer something to NOLA for Gordon in a sign and trade instead of just signing him to an offer sheet and crossing their fingers?
John Hollinger (12:18 PM)
I think given the Hornets' recent moves they'll abandon that approach entirely. New Orleans clearing the decks in that trade with Washington basically ensures that no Gordon offer sheet can hurt them. I don't think the Pacers can tie up their cap for seven days with that.
James (Seattle )
I don't see how Thunder could keep Harden and Ibaka because they will already be at 50 plus million with Durant, Collison, Westbrook, Perkins and others. Could they still sign them both to max contracts?
John Hollinger (12:19 PM)
They can, but they would need to either suck it up and pay the tax, or amnesty Perkins.
Any chance the Grizzlies get a big name this offseason?
John Hollinger (12:20 PM)
Most likely scenario is trading Rudy Gay for another second-tier star who makes slightly less money, which would give them a little more wiggle room under the tax. So, depends on what you call 'big' names I guess.
Is it possible that this year's Derek Fisher is the worst player to ever receive 25 minutes per game in the Finals? He truly adds nothing to the team.
John Hollinger (12:20 PM)
How quickly we forget the Mike Bibby Era in Miami.
James (Dallas, TX)
You killed the Wiz for their trade...but didn't they need some smart professional veterans? They still have young players like Wall, Crawford, the 3rd pick, Seraphin, Booker, and Singleton who can all still get a lot better.
John Hollinger (12:21 PM)
Sure, they just didn't need to tie up $20 million of their 2013 cap to get them.
John Wall (Washington, DC)
I'm confused...how are these two mediocre players supposed to raise my basketball IQ?
John Hollinger (12:23 PM)
At least they'll space the floor for you with their shooting.
DAVID STERN NEW CBA (only 3 days to match) (CORRECTION)
the new cba gives a team only 3 days to match and not 7.
Would you be shocked to see Dwight Howard dealt on draft day?
John Hollinger (12:24 PM)
yes, for two reasons. First, Rob Hennigan has only been on the job for a few hours, so it seems a bit rash. Second and more importantly, any trade will be much easier to consummate after July 1, especially if it involves the Nets.
The Dude (Los Angeles)
Shouldn't Stern have blocked the Wizards deal for the good of the League? And yes, I'm still mad about the cancellation of the CP3 trade.
John Hollinger (12:25 PM)
They were laughing too hard to say anything.
Do the Raptors have a legitimate shot at signing Steve Nash?
John Hollinger (12:26 PM)
I think they do, yes, but I still think the Phoenix Suns have the best chance of anybody. Unless Deron Williams goes there.
Dion Waiters - potential to be D-Wade Lite?
John Hollinger (12:28 PM)
I'd say that's the ceiling yes, but realistically you're probably getting more along the lines of a better Marcus Thornton. He projects as a long-term starter at a position where finding talent isn't as easy as people think, but again, I'm not blown away by the talent in this draft.
NENE can teach Wall and the other youngsters how to refuse to play hurt.
Ernie Grunfeld (Washington, DC (FOR LIFE))
Do you think Simmons can do the Atrocious GM Summit again? I was livid that I was not involved the first time!
Charlie (Orange County, CA)
Are the Lakers a top 4 team in the west next year as constructed?
John Hollinger (12:29 PM)
Barely hanging on, but I suspect we'll see some changes this summer, especially at the power forward spot. Beyond that, let's withhold judgment til we've seen how they reshuffle the deck.
John (Santa Barbara, CA)
Jared Sullinger, solid NBA pro or overmatched at the next level?
John Hollinger (12:30 PM)
Oh, he'll get numbers, I just wonder if he'll give them up just as easily. The comparisons I might use with him are guys like Carlos Boozer or Gary Trent.
Chances Miami wins a title next year?
John Hollinger (12:32 PM)
They'll go into next year as slight favorites over OKC if they finish things off tonight. And those two will be humungous favorites over the other 28 teams. Given San Antonio's age, I'd say this is biggest gap we've seen between No. 2 and No. 3 in ages.
What's Enes Kanter's potential as a player?
John Hollinger (12:33 PM)
I think he can be a lot better than he showed last year. He has a good pick-and-pop game that the Jazz kept under wraps because they wanted him cracking heads under the basket. If they get a coach who values offensive spacing and gives him some freedom I think he can really expand his offensive game. But right now they're forcing him to be a poor man's Zaza Pachulia.
Are the Jazz a player away from being the only legiimate threat OKC will face the next 4-5 years?
John Hollinger (12:34 PM)
I think Memphis has to be in that discussion as well, and of course all these teams angling for Dwight Howard will immediately become part of the conversation if they get him. But yes, Utah is in great shape to rival the Thunder going forward.
How much do you think Omer Asik will be offered in FA and will the Bulls match it?
John Hollinger (12:35 PM)
I'll answer the second question first -- they'll match unless he gets a ridiculous offer. I think he's more likely to get in the MLE range.
Is there such a thing as a poor man's Zaza Pachulia?
John Hollinger (12:36 PM)
I take it you never saw Esteban Batista play. Although he was really more of a homeless man's Zaza Pachulia.
The Bulls (Chicago)
Why aren't we a close third for next year, even considering Rose's injury?
John Hollinger (12:37 PM)
Because I'm considering Rose's injury. He has a long rehab and isn't going to be good as new on his first day back. And I'd argue that in a postseason series, the Bulls weren't as good as Miami even before the injury.
Who do you think is 2nd to Davis?
John Hollinger (12:38 PM)
Thomas Robinson to me has a rock-solid case as the No. 2 pick. Athletic two-way big who can probably play some five down the line; not sure if he's an All-Star but a very low risk prospect.
Steve (East Palo Alto)
Why no love for Denver? I think they will be right in there competing with the OKC for years. More so than Utah. They have young talented players and a top tier coach.
John Hollinger (12:39 PM)
I think Denver will have a very good team for several years. Still need a couple moves to get anywhere near OKC's level, however. Right now when they play the Thunder the three best players are on the other team, and it's not even close. That's a tough disadvantage to overcome.
If you were running the sixers, would you try and trade Iggy and/or turner and get younger. Better to lose a bit more next season than always be an easy out in the playoffs
John Hollinger (12:40 PM)
I think they need to look hard at trading Turner while people are under the mistaken impression that he's good. Unfortunately, I think they'll end up trading Iggy instead.
The new Bobcats coach is he A) smart hire outside of the box B) MJ just being cheap
John Hollinger (12:41 PM)
I'm not sure it has to be one or the other. Based on the sudden swerve off the Brian Shaw highway, I'm guessing the other candidates wanted too much money. But Dunlap is also well-respected. Given that this team is going to get its brains beat in regardless, I can see the logic in not going overboard paying the coach.
Do you ever run all the top Euroleague players through your draft rater to see who would transfer well to the NBA?
John Hollinger (12:42 PM)
yes, that's how I come up with the Euros translated PER for the Draft Rater. (Except for prospects like Evan Fournier who didn't play in the Euroleague last year). Not surprisingly, it says the best player in Europe right now is Andrei Kirilenko.
Funny how in the Denver/OKC games, while the three best players were on the other team, OKC still needed an epic night to win one game and failed to close out against Denver at home near the end of the season when they were trying to avoid the Mavs
John Hollinger (12:45 PM)
Not as funny in a playoff game when OKC plays those three guys five extra minutes each and tilts the balance in their favor, like they did in the first round in 2011.
So what is going to happen with Nash?
John Hollinger (12:47 PM)
Huge question. I think Dallas immediately becomes a huge threat to sign him if they strike out on D-Will. Toronto will makes its best pitch for him, and Phoenix obviously has an advantage with its training staff. Then you get into longer shots -- taking less $ with Miami, or somebody like Portland or even Boston jumping in. But most likely, I'd handicap it Phoenix first, Toronto second, Dallas third.
Carlos (Miami, Fl)
Who comes to Miami this offseason? Camby, Nash, R. Allen???
John Hollinger (12:48 PM)
There is a lot of discussion about Ray Allen coming here, especially if they amnesty Mike Miller (or if Miller retires). He'd have to take quite a pay cut to do it, though.
It is a long shot, but how good of a fit is D-Will in PHX if Nash doesn't resign? Gorat is very underrated and the Suns have plenty of cap room moving forward to build a nice team around Williams.
John Hollinger (12:49 PM)
Believe me, the Suns are very aware of this, and of the fact that Williams lives in San Diego and loves golf. File this under "it's crazy, but it just might work ..."
Emery (Rye, NY)
Ramon Sessions a possible target for the Knicks if Lin gets a huge offer elsewhere? Not too much else on the menu for point guards (not counting D. Williams and Nash) this summer, and they've gotta fill that spot with someone. Did Sessions' playoff performance hurt his value enough for the Knicks to get him for the MLE?
John Hollinger (12:51 PM)
Lin can't get a huge offer someplace else; he's limited to the MLE and the Knicks can match it, plus they'd be insane to let a cash cow like that walk out the door. As a result, you're worrying about a near-zero likelihood scenario. As for Sessions, however, I do think he'll be an MLE guy this summer or close to it. Obviously his agent thinks so too.
Korry (Chalmette, LA)
Which middling free agent do you think Billy King will give the Travis Outlaw 5yr/35mil contract to?
John Hollinger (12:54 PM)
Ersan Ilyasova is the leader in the clubhouse, but I wouldn't count out Jameer Nelson either. This is going to be a tremendous competition among agents to get to the New Jersey trough first.
John, If you were the Spurs what big man would you target? Kaman, Landry, Mcgee or etc?
John Hollinger (12:56 PM)
I'd argue the Spurs biggest need is for a stretch 4 who can guard 3s (like, say, Kevin Durant) when the opponent goes small. That's killed them in two of the past three postseasons because Bonner can't do it and it's asking too much of Jacko at this point in his career.
Carlos Boozer or Garry Trent? Couldn't the same thing be said of 95% of NBA prospects? They'll either be a borderline All-Star or a benchwarmer?
John Hollinger (12:57 PM)
Short-ish power forwards who score around the basket and can hit a face-up mid-range jumper, but are defensive liabilities and get hurt a lot. Boozer represents the high side of that archetype, Trent the low side.
True or False: If the Spurs had made the Finals, we'd be talking about SAS closing this thing out in Game 5 tonight.
John Hollinger (12:58 PM)
No, but I do think the Spurs were a more difficult match-up for Miami. The Heat are basically Oklahoma City's kryptonite -- the Thunder have no post players to take advantage of Miami's Bosh-Battier frontcourt, the Heat have three wing defenders to guard OKC's scorers, and Miami's smallball screws up OKC's starting five defensively.
Ersan had a 20.55 PER last yr and is still young. I would think that would be a good signing...
John Hollinger (12:59 PM)
He was very good last year, yes. I am somewhat dubious he can keep playing that well, but we shall see...
Mark (Gibraltar, MI)
Why is no one talking about the T-Wolves? Rubio-Love-Williams-Pekovic core is very interesting and is loaded with potential. Add a name or two and they are contenders in the near future?
John Hollinger (1:00 PM)
They aren't going to be players in free agency and don't have a high draft pick, so there's not a ton to discuss right now. But yes, there's a lot to like there and I do think they probably break into the West's top 8 this year.
So Spoelstra might not have a job if the Spurs would have made the finals?
John Hollinger (1:01 PM)
News flash: Spoelstra was keeping his gig either way.
Rod Thorn (NJ/Philly)
Hey! I gave Outlaw that beautiful contract, don't give credit to Billy!
John Hollinger (1:02 PM)
Johan Petro thanks you for that reminder.
Brandon (Phoenix, AZ)
One series win now all of the sudden the Thunder can't beat the Heat? Come on.
John Hollinger (1:03 PM)
No, I actually still think the Thunder can win this series, but there's no question they're particularly unsuited to take advantage of Miami's weaknesses. The one I left out is that they never play zone, which would have saved them from the ritual abuse LeBron handed out on his post-ups in Game 4.
Ramon (Los Angleles )
Would Arthur be the stretch 4 that the Spurs could use?
John Hollinger (1:04 PM)
Like him a lot, but he's also a restricted free agent.
Andrew (Santa Barbara)
If OKC lose, given that they have almost no flexibility with regard to changing player personnel, will Brooks be canned by default, as it were?
John Hollinger (1:05 PM)
Brooks is actually a free agent after the season, but I can't imagine OKC letting him walk. Remember, we're one series removed from Brooks running circles around Gregg Popovich; he's done things with his lineups in the Finals that I'd argue have been sub-optimal, but his positives vastly outweigh the negatives.
John Hollinger (1:07 PM)
Folks that's all the time I have, but thanks again for all the great questions. We'll do this again a week from now leading into the draft. In the meantime, here's today's Per Diem on the Thunder's 3-point woes in the Finals:http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs/2012/story/_/page/PERDiem-120621/nba-finals-oklahoma-city-thunder-3-point-shooting-woes
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