Chat with Michael Wallace
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, 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 Monday at 2 p.m. ET!
Michael Wallace (2:03 PM)
Thanks for joining me for another edition of the NBA chat. The Finals are in the books, and credit the San Antonio Spurs for winning their fifth title in dominant and historic fashion. They weren't going to be denied. Also congrats to the Heat on a fourth straight trip to the Finals. Now let me start with a question, assuming the core groups from these teams return, is there any reason to believe we won't be watching the Spurs-Heat battle for it all yet again next season?
Christian (Arlington, VA)
If you could be Pat Riley for a moment and choose to spend money on Carmelo Anthony or a couple of role players who would make the Heat deeper which way would you go? Thanks again.
Michael Wallace (2:04 PM)
I'd go with role players to make the team deeper. I'd start with an upgrade at point guard and center. But I also say this knowing full well that the Heat can't simply wave a wand and create the kind of salary cap space needed to make drastic upgrades without the LeBron, Wade and Bosh - or at least two of them - passing up major money to make something like that happen.
If we assume the Big 3 stay put in Miami, which team do you think would contend with them in the east next season? pacers? bulls? pistons? wizards?
Michael Wallace (2:06 PM)
Each one of those teams you mentioned is facing some serious offseason questions of their own. Will the Pacers bring back Lance Stephenson, and will Larry Bird retool things to give them a fresh shot at the Heat? What should anyone reasonably expect from Derrick Rose in Chicago, and what overhaul is that team facing as it enters free agency? The Pistons are a few seasons of house-cleaning away from seriously contending. And even the Wizards, the suprise team in the East, have to figure out what to do with two veteran free agents in Gortat and Ariza.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Will the Big 3 return to San Antonio next season?
Michael Wallace (2:07 PM)
Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard? Man, I really hope so. I want to see this team play together forever. Or for at least another season.
True or False? DWade can no longer be counted on as the 2nd best player on a championship team?
Michael Wallace (2:10 PM)
False. He was visibly more hurt last year in the Finals and still was the second-best player on the Heat. Wade is trying to convince folks that what he went through these last 12 months is an isolated incident with his knees, and not the result of long-term, demoralizing injuries. I'm not sure I'm buying that. But I also know that when he's right, he's still a top-15 player in this league. But I've said for two years now that it's time the Heat positioned Bosh to be the second option behind LeBron if this team is going to reach it's fullest potential again. We'll see.
Are you optimistic or pesimistic regarding the health/skill set of 2014-2015 Derrick Rose?
Michael Wallace (2:11 PM)
I'm total wait-and-see. I was hopeful last year and it felt like a shot to the gut, even as an objective NBA observer, when Rose went down again. I'm just not sure what his body will allow him to do at this stage. He's still young enough to have a solid NBA career. But there are so many questions. I'm hoping for the best again, but I'm not getting those hopes up too high.
Can you see a return of Chris Bosh to Toronto if LBJ opts out?
Michael Wallace (2:13 PM)
No. But I've always felt Bosh, if he ever truly wanted to go elsewhere, would be an ideal fit in Houston alongside Dwight. That's the only place in the league I could see the Texas native being tempted to go if he ever decides to open his options and look outside of Miami.
Derrick (Garden City)
Michael, do you think Lance Stephenson will be back with the Pacers and if not do you think the Bulls could be a possible destination?
Michael Wallace (2:15 PM)
I've always heard Charlotte had interest in Lance. I know Larry Bird loves him and will try to convince him to stay. But the Bulls would be an interesting fit for Lance. He handles the ball well enough to play either guard position, but lacks the outside shooting to make him an ideal fit beside a consistently healthy Derrrick Rose. I doubt the Bulls tear things down to bring in Lance, unless he comes on the cheap.
So now Lebron needs MORE help? I mean c'mon, shouldn't Lebron get some blame as well?
Michael Wallace (2:17 PM)
I'm not in the camp that believes the Heat need a major overhaul. Their core was good enough to run through the East and will be again next season. They need to get younger and more athletic. They need to groom some players to spell LeBron and Wade moving forward. They need Chris Bosh to play like a max-money player and take over the offense. If the Heat are desperate enough to think they need to tear up and start over around LeBron, it's a real shame. But I don't think Pat Riley and the team feels that way.
Linwood (Pentagon, Washington DC)
Would you consider Tim Duncan the best player of his era? To include players like Shaq and Kobe.
Michael Wallace (2:20 PM)
I consider Tim Duncan the Bill Russell of this era. Not as flashy and overwhelming as Shaq (Wilt) and not a dominant scorer like Kobe (Jerry West). But he's got the rings and respect to prove he's an all-time winner at the highest level who approached the game the right way.
Hey Michael, do you think Chicago or Houston would be a better fit for Carmelo?
Michael Wallace (2:21 PM)
Assuming you can keep Noah and Rose is at least healthy enough to play a full season, it's Chicago. Carmelo would have an easier path in the East, a clear target in the Heat and a defensive-minded team to cover his shortcomings. Houston would be great for video-game purposes. But you'd have three guys who need to take 20 shots a game to feel they're being effective.
Keith Bernes Jr (Cleveland) [via mobile]
If the cavs make some good decisions in the off season is it possible Lebron James will return home
Michael Wallace (2:22 PM)
When was the last time the Cavs made some good decisions in the offseason, starting with the draft?
How does Miami get better in the offseason? Wade, Allen, Bosh, Lewis didn't look good and being on the downhill side of the career are not going to have a better year next year. If Lebron opts out - How does Miami convince him that the team has the opportunity to improve?
Michael Wallace (2:24 PM)
It almost sounds as if Miami just got bounced in the first or second round of the playoffs. That's not the case. They need to tweak, not tear up the blueprint. If LeBron doesn't want to buy into that notion and decides to leave, then the Heat should thank him for his services and both sides can move on with the ut-most respect. I'd really like to get a clear understanding from LeBron what he wants and expects from Wade and Bosh moving forward.
If Kevin Love wants money, all-star appearances and playoff appearances/victories, moving East seems like the right idea, but there aren't a lot of good fits (good teams with cap space or great assets for a trade) except maybe Chicago. Am I missing someone?
Michael Wallace (2:26 PM)
Boston has assets and players to make an interesting offer to Minnesota, as does Cleveland. But would Love be any closer to competing for a title on those teams than he is in Minnesota right away, I seriously doubt it.
What is considered the worst possible offseason for Miami? Wade and Bosh opting in and Lebron opting out? Stuck on the hook for Wade's and Bosh's inflated salaries while also losing their best player?
Michael Wallace (2:28 PM)
Clearly. But that team would, provided there's at least a decent replacement to fill LeBron's spot, still finish in the top four of the East next year.
Is it possible we probably will never see another San Antonio Spurs run ever? When you look at this team and core group of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili and what they have done for over 10 years and being dominant winning at least 50 games per season and 4 titles together who else can hold up like that.
Michael Wallace (2:30 PM)
Not under the current collective bargaining agreement. The Spurs have mastered the process, and have gotten total cooperation from Duncan and Ginobili these past few years on their contracts. They also developed guys like Patty Mills, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green. On top of that, they made smart moves to draft/acquire Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw. The Spurs don't make many mistakes. Period. We won't see that level of consistent superiority again for some time.
Will we see Kawhi continue to surge or have his finals performances been a fluke?
Michael Wallace (2:33 PM)
That depends on whether players like Duncan, Parker and Ginobili stick around. The Spurs are a true team. They are balanced. On any given night, any one of about six players could lead them in scoring. Kawhi is on the rise and has the kind of attitude and approach that will make him a success in that system for years to come.
Boy, when's the last time we seen such domination in the Finals? I don't mean how many games it took, but how thoroughly a team got outplayed in each game. The 2007 Spurs-Cavs Finals maybe?
Michael Wallace (2:34 PM)
Or the Lakers-Magic in 2009. That one comes to mind as well, although this was one of the most lopsided Finals in NBA history when you look at all of the numbers from the Spurs. A true clinic.
Does Miami have a play book? I keep reading how good of a coach Spoelstra is, but it looks like they don't run any actual plays. It seems like it is just "give the ball to Lebron or Wade and move around and try to get open" kind of an offense.
Michael Wallace (2:36 PM)
And yet it's led the four straight trips to the Finals and two championships. The Heat's offense is more complex than that. They just don't always get to it. This series wasn't about how bad they were offensively. They couldn't stop anything defensively. Not one thing.
John (Redondo, CA)
Are the Bulls or Rockets a legit landing spot for LeBron?
Michael Wallace (2:39 PM)
Going to the Rockets would be like rewinding the clock with the Heat. LeBron would be completely dominant as a catalyst and facilitator playing alongside Harden and Howard. They're the team that's in the most comparable position to what the Heat created in the summer of 2010. I don't think LeBron is leaving Miami. But man, that potential Houston team would be so dynamic.
Do the Hornets have any chance to bring in a big name guy or get involved in the Love/Melo sweepstakes, or are they just too small of a market to convince guys to sign long-term?
Michael Wallace (2:42 PM)
Michael Jordan, as an owner, has to prove he's serious about contending over the course of several years. That requires paying out big contracts. The move to get Al Jefferson was definitely a step in the right direction. They have to keep building gradually like that. It's hard to see a guy like Carmelo leaving New York and bypassing Houston, Chicago or L.A. to go to Charlotte. More likely, the Hornets will have to take the sort of path Oklahoma City took. They have to hit some of those trips to the lottery at some point.
Why is everyone insisting that Wade's poor play was because of his knee's? He looked healthy to me. From my view he just played poorly. Seems like the media is making excuses for him with the knee stuff. What's your take?
Michael Wallace (2:43 PM)
Shameless plug; check out my piece today on ESPN.com about Wade. There was clearly something wrong with Wade. He had no lift, really, and very little rhythm. If you saw him during breaks in play, he basically hobbled around on the court, constantly kicking his legs and stretching to generate some sort of juice in them. It never arrived in this series after he played so well in the conference finals against the Pacers.
Kleber (Sao Paulo)
Should we rephrase the saying "offense wins games, defense wins championships" to "hero ball wins games, team play wins championships"?
Michael Wallace (2:44 PM)
The Celtics created the big 3 model and the Heat copied it to four finals and two championships. The next model for winning championships is stars taking less money to have deeper teams. Hello Melo? Pau Gasol?, Pierce?
Michael Wallace (2:45 PM)
There's a difference between taking less money than taking less than market value for the chance to win and opting out of $40-plus million dollars on a contract to do so. I think that's where some people get it twisted.
Granted I feel the Spurs would have won the series anyway, but I was very disappointed that with 6-7 minutes in the game last night the coaches had Lebron on the Bench and basically gave up. Beasley was given them a couple solid possessions. Don't you feel the Heat Gave-up when it was still possible to come back? Key word "possible" not probably.
Michael Wallace (2:49 PM)
They didn't give up. They were beaten down. Plain and simple. LeBron pushed all game long to try to generate something. He didn't get the help he needed. Miami never really threatened the Spurs in any of the final three games of this series.
John S. (Manila)
With how the Heat team is designed, I really believe that won't work anymore. The bench is too empty. Same with OKC. I'd take the Spurs again next year!
Michael Wallace (2:49 PM)
And the funny thing about this is that the Spurs were pushed to Game 7 against Dallas in the first round. Crazy how matchups go sometimes.
Why so much hatred towards Lebron by the general public? If my biggest "mistake" in life still raised millions of dollars for the underprivileged, I'd be pretty darn happy.
Michael Wallace (2:51 PM)
LeBron has plenty of respect and fans, too. When you're the best player in the game, you tend to be polarizing. When you make some of the career decisions LeBron makes, you open yourself up for scrutiny and criticism. That's his existence. What I've seen over the past four years is how comfortable and confident he's grown in who and what he is as a player and as a man.
Does Andre Drummond become an All-Star next season?
Michael Wallace (2:53 PM)
Stan Van Gundy has himself a baby version of Dwight Howard if plays this correctly. And I think Drummond has far more natural skill than Howard did. That's going to be fun to watch as Drummond develops in Van Gundy's system.
Lebron's best chance to win, convince Melo to join him on the Cavs
Michael Wallace (2:54 PM)
I actually, seriously laughed at that one. Still laughing. Nothing's impossible, I guess.
Could you see the Knicks making a big trade this offseason, or are they going to punt the 2014-2015 season in hopes of clearing the books of Stoudemire, Chandler, and Bargnani?
Michael Wallace (2:55 PM)
Depends on what Carmelo does. Reports are he's inclined to opt out of his final year and $23.3 million left on his contract. But it also looks like he'll hold the Knicks hostage these next couple of weeks with his looming decision after that. If he goes, then the Knicks have some major decisions to make.
Assuming the Pistons roster stays the same, how many wins do you foresee next season with Stan Van at the helm?
Michael Wallace (2:57 PM)
I thought they were a playoff team in the East last year. They should have been. That tells you how much they drastically underachieved, even despite the coaching bungle. But that team should be a 45-win team as is. If they get another shooter and balance the roster out just a bit more, they'll get to that total next season.
Tim Duncan clearly is a one of a kind dominant player. For instance when Shaq retired he had declined so much over the previous several season where he just came off the bench and it wasn't a surprise when he left but Duncan has been a force consistently throughout his career and still has probably a couple solid years left.
Michael Wallace (3:00 PM)
I totally agree, and was glad to hear Duncan suggest last night that he still feels he can contribute at a high level. He joked that he would walk away when his kids tell him it's time to go. This Spurs team still has a championship window that gives them a chance to do something they've never done with Duncan on board. Repeat as champions.
Michael Wallace (3:02 PM)
And on that note, it's the perfect time to bring another chat to a close. The Spurs get the final word. It was a joy to watch the way they played. These are the two best teams in the league, and I think there's a gap between them and the rest of the league. But the Spurs are the story, and should be. The Heat have decisions and tweaks to make. But what a great playoff run it's been this season. Thanks so much for your continued support for the chat during my hour on the scene. Take care. Until next time, peace - MW