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 (3:02 PM)
Thanks for joining me for this first playoff edition of the weekly chat. Glad to be here with you. We've already seen some very intriguing games just a couple of days into the postseason. And there's also been plenty of news developments throughout the league as well. Let's get straight to your questions and takes.
Why do people call Patrick Beverly a good defender? Besides tearing Westbrooke's knee he has stopped nobody of importance...
Michael Wallace (3:04 PM)
I believe Beverley is a really good defender and a headache for opponents to deal with because he's a bit insane on the court. His emotions and style can be over the top at times, but he plays with all heart and hustle. Houston is a much better team when he's on the court.
Cincy (Lincoln Park)
IMO - I think the most improved player award should go to someone who made unexpected improvements. Maybe Anthony David made the jump faster than most expected, but we did see this coming. I think the award should go to a player like Taj and Dragic who both made big improvements to their games at unlikely points in their careers. Taj went from an offensive liability to now getting double teamed on the post and averaging over 20 ppg when he starts. Dragic is scoring more with much better efficiency at 50/40 (most players efficiency goes down when they take on a larger offensive burden)? Thoughts?
Michael Wallace (3:05 PM)
I agree to an extent. But if we base it on your philosophy there, the league's most improved player would be Gerald Green. I mean, who saw that coming?
Why does the league feel the need to throw a technical at any player that shows emotion? As a fan, I want to see the player trying their hardest and getting emotionally into the game. If someone makes a huge play, I get pumped up and scream ? but the player can?t??
Michael Wallace (3:06 PM)
There is plenty of room for emotion in the game. But it shouldn't get to the point of obvious taunting or showing up an opponent. These are highly charged games and moments in the playoffs. The refs have a hard enough job as it is. There are certain ways to express that emotion without it getting too technical, if you know what I'm saying.
Cincy (Lincoln Park)
I can hardly sand to watch James Harden. He routinely flails he head back and arm out and every shot attempt. It is ruining the game when you can tell his number one goal most of the time is to draw and foul rather than make a shot.
Michael Wallace (3:07 PM)
Harden ranks among the league's leaders in free-throw attempts, so his antics are working well. He's also one of the most difficult players to defend because of his skillset and crafty play. He's an And-1 waiting to happen.
Is Hibbert Overrated? Besides that Miami series last year, what has he done?
Michael Wallace (3:10 PM)
The Miami series the past two years show what kind of potential this guy has. But at some point, you have to show some production to justify that potential. Hibbert is in a daze right now. He's always had confidence and psychological challenges with the game. It's pretty much now or never in terms of whether he will break through this and overcome those issues to reach the elite level of play he has in him.
Bob (Washington, D.C. )
Are the wizards the 2nd most talented team in the east right now, if so why are they never brought up as a possible destination for big name free agents, I would think the back court of wall and beal would be inviting to come play with
Michael Wallace (3:13 PM)
And I think the Wizards are in the midst of their coming-out party right now, especially if they can pull off the series win against Chicago. That team has all the pieces needed to be a real dark horse in the East. But will they be satisfied with just getting a win in Chicago, or will they get greedy and try to put the Bulls completely against the wall and shock the NBA? That's what I need to find out about these Wizards before I'm really ready to annoint them as a major force in the East.
Will we see closer games in the Warriors Clippers match up ala game 1. Or will we see a more clear cut dominance from clippers for rest of the series.
Michael Wallace (3:15 PM)
I think we see the Warriors answer with everything they have in Game 3. But they do have some obvious matchup problems with the Clippers that were exposed last night. Golden State doesn't have the depth to make this a truly physical series. They have to rely on their shooting, skill and speed as much as possible.
Rah-Steam (Hackensack, N.J.)
I know how talented he is but if they somehow lost in 1st or 2nd round, do you think OKC would consider trading Westbrook? A pass 1st pg can't be the best pairing of possibly the best scorer in NBA history IMO.
Michael Wallace (3:17 PM)
I'm sure you meant a "shoot first" point guard. But the Thunder are a tough squad to read when it comes to trades and roster moves. They are loyal to the guys they draft and develop, for the most part. And they've locked in with Westbrook and Durant for better or worse. Let's see how this series plays out and revisit.
Bill (Kharkov, Ukraine)
Did Dallas expose San Antonio a bit? I mean by staying home on the shooters and switching on everything they opened up "mismatches" that invited Parker and Duncan to score in the paint. Yet, the rest of that deadly team was not involved. Given the mileage on Duncan and Parker, it's reasonable to expect that if they have to do all the heavy lifting, they'll wear down. It might not be enough to save the Mavs but surely the Clippers, Thunder and Heat must like what they see in Rick Carlisle's scheme. Thanks for answering.
Michael Wallace (3:18 PM)
I'll go as far as to say that Dallas had it figured out for the better part of three and a half quarters. But San Antonio is a team that finish down the stretch as well as blow teams out. You have to beat them for 48 minutes in order to really beat them. It will be interesting to see how Dallas comes out in Game 2.
Are the Bobcats set up to improve over the next couple years?
Michael Wallace (3:20 PM)
Absolutely. These next two seasons will really tell us how committed Michael Jordan is as an owner to putting together a contending team in the East. The window is there. Chicago could be a team in transition this offseason, Indiana might implode, Brookyn is in a win-now mode and Miami has some very tough decisions to make moving forward. There's a chance for teams like Washington, Charlotte and a healthy Atlanta team to make up some ground in the East in the next couple of years by making smart moves.
Do the Hawks have a legit chance to beat the Pacers? If so, what kind of chance do they have going forward?
Michael Wallace (3:22 PM)
No disrespect to the Hawks. But the Pacers have a legit shot at beating the Pacers. We've seen them do a bang-up job on themselves for the better part of two months now. The Hawks are a scrappy, nothing-to-lose sort of team. But let's not forget that it was only a couple of weeks ago when they were in the midst of losing something like 23 of 30 games.
Best coach for the Pistons? Hollins or Karl?
Michael Wallace (3:23 PM)
Between Hollins, Karl, Woodson and the Van Gundy brothers, there are some great potential candidates out there for jobs.
James (Seattle )
Who has the most unguardable shot in the league? I'm taking Dirk's one leg fadeaway.
Michael Wallace (3:23 PM)
Yes, it's either that or Steph Curry's pull-up from anywhere in the building.
If you were Steve Kerr, wouldn't you wait a few weeks to see what more attractive coaching jobs open up? (Houston, Golden St. and maybe OKC)
Michael Wallace (3:25 PM)
No, you lock in with Phil, get the job security you need by being his handpicked guy and relatively no pressure to finish any higher than fourth in the East. Just getting the Knicks into the playoffs might get you in the Coach of the Year running and a contract extension.
Are we being too hard on Paul George? Did we forget he's not even 25 yet.
Michael Wallace (3:26 PM)
Kevin Durant is also that age, and has kept it together pretty well. He's also been to the Finals and won mutiple scoring titles. Yes, George is a different player, but he has that kind of talent and potential. The question is will he get out of his own way and allow it to manifest as quickly as possible?
Michael, please tell me why the knicks should bring back melo? i feel in my opinion hes a great scorer but we not an elite player. Don't see him ever bringing the Knicks a championship. isnt it best to move forward without him? 2015 is coming!
Michael Wallace (3:28 PM)
I think he's an elite player. I don't, however, think he does as much as he could to make his teammates better. We're getting to the point where Melo needs to get desperate and take his game up one more level. If he doesn't, there's nothing wrong with being grouped in there with Barkley, Dominique and Karl. But even Barkley and Karl at least got to the NBA Finals.
Not trying to be judgmental, just collecting data --- how many non-Heat Raptors games have you watched this year?
Michael Wallace (3:30 PM)
I'd say I've watched at least every team play at least 15 times this year. At the very least.
Michael, do you think the Bulls' "obsession" with the Heat (and to a lesser extent, the Pacers) causes them to lose focus when they play somebody other than those two teams? Washington probably has more talent across the board, but I cannot imagine the Bulls ever letting up for a second in a playoff game against Miami or Indiana like they did the other day.
Michael Wallace (3:32 PM)
Sometimes, it just comes down to having the players you need to make shots at the end of close games in the fourth quarter. This is not a new challenge for the Bulls. But they're facing a team in Washington that has multiple scoring options in that stretch, a veteran bench and two bigs who can put pressure on Noah in the paint. This isn't about obsession with the Heat or Pacers. This is about having your hands full right now with the team in front of you.
I know it's early to say, but what do you see being the best lineup move that Spoelstra can make if the Heat face the Nets in the next round? Other than Dwade playing, is there a chess move you can see that would help the Heat counter what is clearly a matchup problem with Brooklyn? Thanks!
Michael Wallace (3:32 PM)
Way, way too early for that one. Check back with me when the second-round series are set. Toronto is still very much in this series against the Nets.
Phil (Reston, VA)
There has been a lot of talk about the unproven Steve Kerr coachig in NYC. But don't you think Phil is savvy enough to wait and see happens in the Bay Area first. The local Boy returning home to resurrect the Knicks is box office and would create s buzz around the team , don't you think?
Michael Wallace (3:34 PM)
That local boy/box office impact stuff only works for so long. Remeber Marbury? Remember Melo? Remember Meta? The Knicks made their PR move by landing Phil. Now there has to be proof of some more substance to go with all that style and buzz.
Game 1, bad calls for both Clips and Dubs. Game 2, Clips get all the calls. Game 3, does it even out and do the DUbs get the calls that game? if yes, then maybe the rest of the series can be called evenly.
Michael Wallace (3:35 PM)
Or, the players can decide the outcome of these games and limit, as much as possible, the impact of the officiating.
Best landing spot for Melo that's not New York?
Michael Wallace (3:36 PM)
Somehow, some way, Dallas.
Why do you think the NBA chose to single out one call in the Rockets/Blazers opener when the whole game was rife with poor/missed calls. To me it seems as if they are opening themselves to favoritism jeers when they do this instead of acknowledging poor officiating in general
Michael Wallace (3:38 PM)
I agree that these issued statements on officiating mishaps might only make matters worse, especially if there's no residual punishment or corrective measure taken. As I tweeted last night (@wallacenba_espn for the shameless plug) what the NBA is doing is stating the obvious. We already know the refs miss a few or make a few bad calls each game.
Ben (New Orleans)
What do you believe was the key to Memphis winning the game last night? And do you believe they have the talent to defeat the Thunder?
Michael Wallace (3:41 PM)
I thought the key was a better use of the bench and not wearing out the starters. I also do believe Memphis can win this series. I didn't pick that to happen. But I also said coming in that Memphis and Dallas would be dangerous because they've been playing playoff basketball for the better part of three weeks leading into the postseason. OKC and San Antonio would be able to simply ease their way into these series.
Lane (Kukuihaele, HI)
It's not a playoff question but here goes. Now that Rick Adleman has announced his retirement could Rick Pitino be a candidate to replace him? Rick's son is the head coach of the U of Minn. His former center Dieng is there. Kevin Love is there. Corey Brewer who played for Billy Donavan, a former Pitino assistant is also there. Pitino has a lot of former assistants at big college programs and "feeder" programs are in place. In your opinion is Pitino as T-wolves head coach a possibility???
Michael Wallace (3:44 PM)
You have the whole six degrees of seperation thing going there. But it's up to Rick. He's done the NBA thing and didn't really enjoy it all that much as he thought he would. He has nothing else to prove on the NBA level. If he came back, I don't think it would be to take a rebuilding job that might be three or four years away from title contention, with the star player possibly leaving next year.
Before we declare anything about the Wizards/Bulls series lets not forget the Nets blowout win in game 1 last year.
Michael Wallace (3:45 PM)
Agree. No one is declaring anything. That's why the Bulls-Wizards, to me, is the most intriguing series in the first round of the playoffs. And there are some very intriguing series across the board, so that's saying something.
Jeff (Tampa, FL)
How crucial is a productive and healthy postseason to the future of Dwyane Wade as well as the Big 3 in South Beach?
Michael Wallace (3:47 PM)
Heat owner Micky Arison went on a radio show yesterday and essentially said he believes there's a 100 percent chance things stay in place next season with Wade, LeBron and Bosh. All three players have suggested they want to remain in Miami, or can't really see right now why they wouldn't be here moving forward. Until that changes, I don't know what else to base it on. Wade being healthy throughout the playoffs would go a long way in establishing the confidence of the team and fan base in him moving ahead.
Does LBJ have another MVP in him? Injuries/age factor in perhaps...
Michael Wallace (3:48 PM)
I don't see a huge drop-off coming for LeBron for at least a few more years. That said, Durant has already caught up in the MVP race and Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and James Harden won't be too far behind soon.
In regards to your Patrick Beverly comment above, does heart and hustle mean pulling, grabbing, bending the rules of the game?
Michael Wallace (3:50 PM)
He's got five fouls to get away with doing whatever it takes for him to do his job until he's disqualified. He's an aggressive player who doesn't back down and uses any edge he can get. His a smaller Rodman and Artest/Metta in that regard. If he's on your team, you love it. If he's playing against your team, he's the dirtiest player in the league. I get it.
Would Boozer, Dunleavy, the Bulls two first-round picks this draft, and two future first-round picks (one being Sacramento's) be almost enough to get Melo if it's that or the Knicks lose him for nothing? I feel like 4 picks is better than nothing
Michael Wallace (3:51 PM)
Call me dumb, but I wouldn't give up that if I'm the Bulls. And I'm not even sure I'd take that if I'm the Knicks.
What is your take on the Jazz coaching situation? Who do you think they should go after - known name or unproven newbie?
Michael Wallace (3:54 PM)
It's a shame, but they missed out on Hornacek by a year. He would have been great there. I think they have to go young with a coach that's willing to take time - and be given time - to grow with this team a bit. This team is not a quick-fix away from getting back into the thick of the conference title race. Ultimately, I'm a fan of giving it back to Jerry Sloan and letting him go out on his own terms, the right way this time.
Is Amare's contract still the most untradeable in the NBA?
Michael Wallace (3:55 PM)
Not anymore. There's only a year left on it, I believe. So it's essentially an expiring contract that could get some other teams out of longer-term bad deals they're in now.
Will there ever be a NBA Team in Vegas?
Michael Wallace (3:56 PM)
They'd be next in line after Seattle, as far as I'm concerned.
Michael, you just said New York and no pressure in the same sentence...Don't you think if Kerr doesn't start well all of NY is going to be asking for Phil to comedown and coach??
Michael Wallace (3:57 PM)
They can ask for it all they want. But if I'm Kerr, I'm asking for a five-year contract to give me the leverage needed to get through the rebuild.
Do you think the pacers regret not getting the second seed? Seems like the better match ups by far
Michael Wallace (3:58 PM)
It wouldn't matter. They're losing to themselves right now. It doesn't matter which side of the bracket you're on if you can't seem to get out of your own way.
Ben (New orleans)
How will Kobe an Derrick rose recover next year? Will they resume how they were playing before injury?
Michael Wallace (4:01 PM)
Rose is now two knee surgeries in right now. He's younger, so you have to believe he'd have a better shot of returning to form. Kobe's had several breakdowns physically the past few years. The one thing they have in common is that their days of being the absolute best player on their team might be over. They need help.
Michael Wallace (4:01 PM)
And on that note, my time is up folks. Thanks for all of the questions and takes. I look forward to chatting again next week. Until then, take care and peace - MW.