Chat with Michael Wallace
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, NBA reporter Michael Wallace stops by to chat about the latest news from around the league.
In addition to writing about the NBA, Wallace is also a frequent contributor to the "Heat Index" and the TrueHoop Network. Prior to working for ESPN, Wallace spent more than a decade covering the ACC, SEC, NFL and the NBA for other publications.
Send your questions now and join Wallace Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Michael Wallace (3:01 PM)
Thanks for joining me for the final pre-playoff edition of the NBA chat. Looking forward to taking your questions and responding to your takes. Let's get right to it.
Beasley did a great job yesterday against Washington. Do you think Spo should put Beas into the rotation for the Playoffs?
Michael Wallace (3:03 PM)
I wouldn't overstate Beasley's impact in that game yesterday. The Heat were horrible. No question about that. But they were also shorthanded, with LeBron James and Chris Bosh sitting out. Those circumstances opened the door to playing time for Beasley, and even then, he wasn't the first or second player off the bench. Will there be a time in the postseason when the Heat will need his scoring punch? I believe so. But there is still something missing there with the trust between Spoelstra and Beasley, when it comes to a sustainable role in the rotation.
Hi,Mike a huge fan of yours ,been a Heat fan for 25 years .A question , do you think the Heat are playing the path of least resistances of you think the issues are 100% real .I will understand either way because the 2001 Lakers got the same issues .thanks
Michael Wallace (3:05 PM)
I do think this is the Heat's most vulnerable team since the Big 3 came together in 2010. There are some real issues this team must address. Their perimeter defense is shoddy, they're older, they're mentally and physically drained from playing well into June the past three years. But they get to hit the refresh button this week with the start of the playoffs. That should energize this prideful team. But it will be far from a cakewalk to the Finals regardless which route they take.
Hi Michael, which Bulls player do you think has a better chance of winning an award, Noah for DPOY or Gibson for 6th man?
Michael Wallace (3:07 PM)
I'd say Noah, although both are worthy of recognition. I have a defensive player of the year ballot from the NBA's official voting site. Noah was one of my top three choices for DPOY. I did not have a Sixth-man ballot, and I do not envy the guys who got one. That will be a difficult choice.
AM (New York)
What teams do you think have the highest chance of pulling off a playoff upset?
Michael Wallace (3:10 PM)
Technically, I won't consider anything that transpires in the West to be an upset, when you look at how the Grizzlies and Mavericks have had to play these past few weeks just to get into the field. But to answer your question, I was leaning toward Golden State until the Bogut injury. That team can either get dumped in the first round or make it to the conference finals, and neither result would be a surprise to me.
Michael Wallace (3:12 PM)
Overall, Dumars has done a respectable job in Detroit and is one of the league's really good guys. But this was clearly a case of staying on too long and reaching too desperately to regain the glory that franchise enjoyed a decade ago with all the runs to the conference Finals and beyond. But that said, I'm a huge Hollins fan and believe he would be a great choice as a coach. They also need to do something to make that roster a more efficient fit. Monroe is the most likely chip to be used, but that won't do it alone.
Michael, now that Joe D is out in Detroit ahead of what is yet another rebuilding offseason, what do you see as Pistons management doing on the coaching and trade/free agency market? Lionel Hollins is a popular name, and I have to imagine they'll try to sign and trade Greg Monroe for a starting caliber wing that can spread the floor, no?
Michael Wallace (3:13 PM)
Overall, Dumars has done a respectable job in Detroit and is one of the league's really good guys. But this was clearly a case of staying on too long and reaching too desperately to regain the glory that franchise enjoyed a decade ago with all the runs to the conference Finals and beyond. But that said, I'm a huge Hollins fan and believe he would be a great choice as a coach. They also need to do something to make that roster a more efficient fit. Monroe is the likely chip to be used, but that won't do it alone.
hello [via mobile]
what chance do you give for the clippers to win it all. if healthy i think they can beat anbody
Michael Wallace (3:15 PM)
True, but I could day the same for about four or five teams in the playoffs this season. The Clippers are in that boat where they are as good as any of the top contenders, but not clearly better than any one of them in particular. That's why this postseason will be epic from start to finish. There will be a championship-caliber team or two that won't even make the conference finals.
Is Gregg Popovich in the hall of fame, if not why do you think he is not?
Michael Wallace (3:16 PM)
Easiest answer of the day. Absolutely, he is. In fact, he's closing in on the Mount Rushmore of basketball coaches on all levels.
Michael, there has been much talk amongst fans and even analysts that the Heat preferred the 2 seed because it would allow them to only have to go through 1 of the "tough 3": Brooklyn, Chicago, and Indiana (if the seedings as of today even hold through Wednesday, which they may not). As a Heat fan, I definitely worry more about Chicago and Brooklyn....they are not intimidated at all by us and (especially) Chicago only cares about beating us. But do the players actually "worry" or care about who they match up with? They are professional athletes who have to believe every time they take the court that they can beat anyone. What do they care who they face?
Michael Wallace (3:18 PM)
The problem with that logic is that the "if" factor is still far too fluid, even with two nights left in the regular season, to start plotting and planning to place in a specific spot. It's the media and analyst who are doing all of this pontificating. Believe me when I say they're (we're) making far more of this than the players or coaches with the Heat. A two-time defending champion with the best player in the league doesn't "hope" to avoid anyone. Far too much pride for that. Are the Heat flawed a bit? Sure. But are they worrying about playing one team or another? No way.
Ramiro (Salinas, CA)
Can Steph Curry win an MVP Award in the future?
Michael Wallace (3:20 PM)
He's got MVP-level talent. But so do about eight other players in the league right now. I don't see LeBron or Durant giving up the top spots on that mountain anytime soon. And now, you've also got Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis closing in fast on that exclusive, elite club.
If Derrick Rose never returns back to form, will he be considered a bust or will that MVP save him from that label?
Michael Wallace (3:22 PM)
No. He'll never be considered a bust - at least not by objective, reasonable people. There were a lot of players in that No. 1 overall pick alumni who failed far more miserably than Rose. And it's not even close. I don't think we've seen the last of this young man at an elite level just yet, though. So don't count him out. I certainly won't.
brandon (waco tx)
IF KD doesn't win the MVP do you think its gonna shock the sports world.
Michael Wallace (3:25 PM)
The 'Sports World' is never shocked by anything anymore. Too much stuff going on all over the globe. I do think the MVP voting will be closer than many expect. But Durant deserves it this year. If he doesn't win it, it would be a surprise. But I'm sure fans in Bucharest and Bangkok will get over it pretty quickly.
Jeremy (Fort Madison, IA)
The Suns are out of the playoffs... the Hawks are in.(drop mic... punch wall) The NBA, where amazingly stupid happens.
Michael Wallace (3:26 PM)
This is something that happens almost every year. At some point, I think new commissioner Adam Silver will make a tweak to the playoffs and make sure the best 16 teams are in the field.
Do you think Damian Lillard is worthy of the third highest shoe contract in the NBA (behind LeBron and D-Rose)?
Michael Wallace (3:29 PM)
There's really no way to gauge those kind of things. But Lillard is going to be a major star in this league for a long time. If he can't sell shoes, I'm sure the company will make an adjustment. But I don't fault the young fella for getting anything he can, because he's already outplayed his rookie-scale contract two years into the league and won't get the kind of money he deserves from the NBA for a little while longer.
Howard (Los Angeles)
Where do you see Pau Gasol next year and in which role (Starter, 6th man?)
Michael Wallace (3:32 PM)
If Pau played just about anywhere else aside from Los Angeles, he'd have been put out to pasture by now from an attention standpoint. He's still good enough to be a solid role player, perhaps even a starter on certain teams. But I'd like to see him end up in San Antonio or Dallas to play beside Duncan or Dirk as they chase another title or two before they're all through.
Angel (New York)
A lot of focus on Indiana's recent slump but shouldn't the bigger story be the Heat not getting the top seed even with such a slump from Pacers. The Heat have been just as bad.
Michael Wallace (3:34 PM)
The Heat have been physically injured. The Pacers have been emotionally shaken. I'm not sure which of the two situations is easier to fix. But I think both of these teams will use the first two rounds of the playoffs to sharpen up and provide the great showdown in the conference finals many hvae come to expect all along. They'll just have to work a lot harder to get there than we thought.
Hi Michael. After the Suns loss last Saturday night to the Mavericks, I locked myself in my room, drank, listened to depressing music, cried and then drank some more. Will the hurt of seeing the Suns miss the playoffs ever go away?
Michael Wallace (3:35 PM)
I think you've got the wrong chat. Those problems rise to the level of Oprah or Dr. Phil's chats on another site somewhere.
Whoever ends up with the #1 pick, Cavs trade Kyrie Irving and draft Wiggins/Parker/Embiid while still owning the 8th or 9th pick. Dion can finally flourish, we can stop trying to depict cryptic tweets on Kyrie's long term plans, and we can lower expectations a little in order to properly develop. Thoughts?
Michael Wallace (3:37 PM)
Okay, if that works for you. But think about it. When was the last time someone traded the No. 1 overall pick for a player? Especially a player who struggles to stay healthy despite all his talent? I wouldn't bank on that scenario playing out.
Honest question (and I say this as an admitted Heat hater)--do you think most players in the league "like" LeBron. As incredible as he is, it's not a Jordan or Tiger in golf situation where players can point to him and say "by virtue of existing, that guy made me wealthier many times over." Just curious as to how you think he is perceived amongst competitors.
Michael Wallace (3:40 PM)
I don't think there's a collective or consensus thought on LeBron - or any star player - throughout the league. I keep hearing about how Blake is the most despised player in the league. I haven't heard many players say anything about him in a private setting. As far as LeBron, I think comtemporaries his age and younger admire him and respect what he's done as the player they're judged by or once looked up. Veterans his age and older don't show him that same outward affection and appreciatioin, because they made their own way through the league to get to where they are.
What do you think of the Blazer's chances against the Rockets? Do you see Lamarcus Aldridge or Damian Lillard being more crucial to the team's hopes at making a playoff run?
Michael Wallace (3:42 PM)
That would be the biggest toss-up of any series in the first round. I would be just as thrilled to see Lillard/Aldridge and Harden/Howard direct everyone else off the court and just play two on two in a best-of-seven series, make it take it style.
Lebron's looked lazy with rebounds and defending dribble drives. Do you think players can easily turn up the effort, or do these bad habits actually become difficult to correct when the playoffs start?
Michael Wallace (3:46 PM)
Put it this way, does your focus, effort and execution change a bit when your boss is two feet away than when he's far off in the corner office with the door closed? Even the most committed and hardest working people on the planet know there are times when they can flip the switch on and off. LeBron knows what's at stake starting next weekend. There have been more pockets of inconsistent play in his game this season than any I can remember in recent years. But there's also been 30 months of basketball he's played over four seasons, including two titles and four total MVP trophies. If anyone knows when to hit that switch, it's LeBron.
Russell S (Raleigh NC)
Should Frank Vogel wipe the Pacers' memory of their end of the regular season (ala "Men in Black") before the playoffs start?
Michael Wallace (3:48 PM)
Considering the fragile psychological state many of the Pacers have been in recently, I'm not sure there's a need to play any more mind games. They need to find an offense as quickly as possible, and that will fix a lot of their problems. They're still an elite team that is capapble of playing in the NBA Finals. He just has to remind them of that, and show them tape of how they walked off the court in Game 7 against Miami in the conference finals last season. If that doesn't jar them into action, I'm not sure what will.
A lot of people have touched on it, but do you think LeBron leaves the Heat if they don't win the championship this year?
Michael Wallace (3:50 PM)
I don't believe he's developed that ultimatum in his mind. If they fall short in the NBA Finals, that's far more encouraging than losing in the second round, obviously. I do think he'll want to see a strong plan from Pat Riley and Micky Arison about what this team might look like in two or three years, with him having a strong say in the direction of the franchise, before he makes any decision.
Perry (Cooper city ,fl) [via mobile]
Will Miami Heat play Greg Oden in the post season ? Or do you think him bring injury so long it just not working out playing this season?
Michael Wallace (3:51 PM)
I didn't believe it on March 26, when Roy Hibbert assaulted Oden in the Pacers victory. But we haven't seen Oden play since. I'm more convinced now that this experiment might be over in Miami, at least for this season.
Who do you predict to win the 2014 NBA champioship?
Michael Wallace (3:56 PM)
I've got the Heat and Spurs to have a rematch in the Finals, minus the Ray-to-the-rescue moment this time around. But I'm not totally committed to those participants in the Finals. We'll see.
Dill (Notre Dame)
5 seconds left, your team is down 1 with the ball. Which player in the playoffs would you want taking the shot for your team?
Michael Wallace (3:57 PM)
DeAndre Jordan.Just kidding. Can you really go wrong with Stephen Curry?
Tom (New York)
Are the Knicks the most embarrassing franchise in sports?
Michael Wallace (3:58 PM)
I live in Miami. So the Marlins are defending champs when it comes to that distinction.
Is anyone giving the Raptors any chance of making some noise in the playoffs? Lots of talk about the Nets and Bulls but nothing about the Raptors.
Michael Wallace (4:00 PM)
They're the best truly untold story of the season. Phoenix got all of the love as the underdog that could. Toronto has been largely overlooked. Raptors have put themselves in a position to change that now. Let's see what they do with the postseason spotlight.
Michael Wallace (4:01 PM)
That's my time for this week, folks. Thanks for all of your questions. I appreciate the weekly interest in this format. Let's do it again a week from today. Until then, take care. Peace-MW