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 (3:00 PM)
Thanks for joining me for this week's NBA chat. Considering all of the impressive performances around the league last night, there's no better time to chat all things NBA than right now. Let's get straight to your questions and takes.
Michael, love your chats. If the suns are given an option to choose between Bledsoe and Dragic, who would they go for and why?
Michael Wallace (3:02 PM)
Tough call. I'm not sure they would put themselves in a position where they would have to choose. Right now, Dragic is playing and his stock is rising. Bledsoe is sidelined and there are questions, legit questions, about how this injury setback might affect him moving forward. It's easier to go with the guy who has gotten you this far, but NBA business is far more complicated than that.
Shouldn't Tyson Chandler get some heat for some of the Knicks bad play? Or, has he just "mailed-it-in" as well?
Michael Wallace (3:05 PM)
Considering he's only a couple of seasons removed from Defensive Player of the Year, it certainly seems like Chandler's drop-off in terms of impact suggests he's far from the player he was not so long ago. But the Knicks problems don't discriminate. It's an equal opportunity meltdown we're seeing right now. A combination of injuries, off-court issues and finger-pointing have derailed this season. There are also some ill-fitting parts throughout that roster.
Al (Des Moines)
You cover the third most most obnoxious franchise in the league (Lakers, Knicks, Heat). Tell me something that will make me not feel so mad when Miami wins another 'ship this year.
Michael Wallace (3:07 PM)
That training camp for whatever team you root for will open only about 90 days after you would have to watch the Heat's championship parade.
Are there (or have there been) any discussions to eliminate the mid-season buy-out? Or at least not allow those players to be eligible for the playoffs? I'm a Spurs fan, so my own team has benefited from this practice a number of times - but it just doesn't seem equitable to the teams with these assets that no one wants to trade for because they'll be bought out just after the trade deadline. Anyhow, just spit-balling. Thoughts?
Michael Wallace (3:10 PM)
I don't see the buyout situation as a major problem in the league. All three parties tend to get what they want in the transaction. The team trading the player dumps someone, or a salary, they no longer want. For a small price, the player buys his way out of a bad situation with the team he was just traded to in the deal. And the team that acquired said player and buys him out, gets a savings on the salary cap or luxury tax. From a competitive standpoint, you have to realize that there's a reason why these players are available at this stage of the season. They're either on the decline or simply aren't the impact players they were expected to be.
Within the realm of possibility, what's LeBron's ceiling as far as points in a game and points per game?
Michael Wallace (3:12 PM)
That's hard to tell. He's a player who is instinctively a facilitator. There's just something about him that wants to keep his teammates involved as much as possible. Michael and Kobe were natural, cold-blooded scorers. LeBron is capable of that type of game, but not necessarily comfortable in that mentality. He could score 65 in a game and probably average 35 or 36 if he really set out to do so and stayed healthy for the duration of a season.
Who do you foresee the Heat signing into their last roster spot now that Caron Butler signed with OKC.
Michael Wallace (3:14 PM)
Pat Riley mentioned a few days ago that they did pursue a couple of bought-out players, but they couldn't promise them the role they sought. Miami could very well sort through a couple of young prospects and try to get an advanced and extended look at those type of players heading into the offseason. One way or another, this roster will change next season, even if it's just replacing a handful of mid-30-year-old veterans hanging around.
KC (Houston, TX)
As a Rockets fan, I'm looking forward to tonight's game vs. the Heat. On paper - are the Rockets a bad matchup for the Heat? How do you pre-analyze this game going into tonight?
Michael Wallace (3:16 PM)
I don't believe it's a bad matchup at all, although Houston has lost seven in a row to Miami. But this is the Heat's first look at this team with the Dwight-Harden combo. If Miami has a weakness, it's defending aggressive big men in the paint and attacking point guards. Another weakness is defending the 3-point line on a consistent basis. Houston has all three of those elements, so it should make for an interesting clash.
Malcolm (Hamilton, NZ)
Everyone is falling over themselves with Lebrons 61 point game and some are saying it now puts him back in the MVP race lead - forgetting that Durant when he was on his scoring binge would have reached 60 in a game except his team was winning so his coach took him out - whereas Lebron got to stay in and keep gunning to reach 60 in a blowout game - which is fine as 60 is a milestone level - but its just one game
Michael Wallace (3:18 PM)
There's a lot of debate about this topic going around today. It's to be expected in this day and age of the 24-hour sports media cycle. But the bottom line is that Durant pulled out to an impressive lead in the MVP race with a remarkable January. LeBron closed the gap in February and has set up what's expected to be a close finish in the voting going down the stretch. That's all any true basketball fan can ask for when it comes to this debate. I've still go KD ahead based on the way he's played over the course of 55 games.
I have been an MKG supporter since he was in college. By the eye test and looking at the stats, he is a very good defender. How has his man scored 60 pts twice this season? I might could understand if he was contributing on the offensive end but he is not. Is it time for the Cats to cut bait and trade for anything they can get?
Michael Wallace (3:23 PM)
Both LeBron and Carmelo took advantage of the young kid in their respective 60-point games. But there's no way you can rest all of the blame or responsibility on one defender. No one is stopping any great offensive player one-on-one anymore. That was an epic team failure on the Bobcats part, but it was also James shooting at a stunning clip. You can't do much when a guy is pulling up from the scorer's table to take 3s.
Do you like the idea of a 4 point line? What about widening the court? I am in favor of both.
Michael Wallace (3:24 PM)
I'm in favor of neither. I didn't like the idea of raising the basket to 12 feet either when that was tossed out several years back. There's nothing wrong with the game right now, other than about 2-to-4 too many teams and too many unprepared prospects coming into the game instead of using an extra year of college seasoning to be better suited to make the jump.
Think Henson will ever get a shot at starting C this season for Bucks?
Michael Wallace (3:27 PM)
If so, they are running out of time. Henson is not an NBA center. He's barely a power forward. What he is is long, athletic and skilled. He's sort of a poor man's Anthony Davis. The Bucks just paid Larry Sanders to be the face of that franchise, and it seems to have backfired in a major way this season. Eventually, a decision must be made on Sanders moving forward. But they will need to add a bigger, more physical body at center to help Henson in the post area beyond Zaza.
List factors for biggest to least who bear responsibility for the Knicks horrible season. Please elaborate on why. Also will Melo leave and are the Bulls a good fit?
Michael Wallace (3:31 PM)
As I've mentioned before, this only an hour-long chat. I could go on for days and days about the Knicks issues. First and foremost, Carmelo Anthony has not expanded his game enough to involve his teammates. He can put up 40 easily. His rebounding has improved. But where are the 7, 9, 12 assists games? Where is the creativity within the offense. Where is the defense that played a huge role in their winning seaons the past two years? Injuries have derailed this team from the outset. There are also some guys that just don't fit well. A top-to-bottom facelift is needed in New York, I believe.
Michael Wallace (3:37 PM)
Sorry, had to step away for a few minutes to do a Sportscenter update on tonight's Heat-Rockets game. Now, back to your questions.
Leo(Phoenix) [via mobile]
Who do you think will not make the playoffs ? Golden State, Phoenix, Dallas, or Memphis ?
Michael Wallace (3:40 PM)
Memphis is on the outside looking in right now. But those four teams are all within 1.5 games of one another going into tonight. On the surface, as impressed as I am with what Phoenix has been able to do this season, I think they're the team that falls out of the mix. At some point, experience will play a factor. Memphis has been derailed this season by injuries, but are returning to form in time for a final push. I think Dallas holds on as well.
Sam (Cincinnati, OH)
Thinking back, how difficult is it going to be win a championship in this era based on a Detroit "Bad Boys Era" team with a Thomas, Dumars, Laimbeer, Rodman, Aguirre core?
Michael Wallace (3:42 PM)
The game has changed so much since the late 80s and early 90s. The rules don't allow for defensively physical and aggressive teams like that to thrive as much as they did back then. But that's what made those Bad Boys Pistons a special group. You tend to appreciate them more the farther you get away from era in which they played.
Coach Spolestra recently won Coach of the Month. I still feel as if he doesn't get the credit he deserves. Most people point to the fact that he coaches the "Big Three". Put it in perspective. How great of a coach is Spo?
Michael Wallace (3:43 PM)
LeBron was already a two-time MVP. He became an even better player and champion in Miami. Spoelstra deserves credit for going to a system that allowed three perennial All-Stars and future Hall of Fame talents to reach the peak of their performance - while all playing together.
Can the Celtics build around Rondo and Sullinger thru free agency and a top 5 lottery pick?
Michael Wallace (3:45 PM)
Who exactly would that Celtics team end up catching in the next three seasons? They need far more than that. Boston is like Detroit. Filled with prospects and individual talent, but it just doesn't quite mesh and you never know which direction they're trying to go.
Andrew (West Va.)
Hey mike! With addition of C.Butler what kind of PT can we now expect from R.Jackson,Lamb and lefty off the bench? Thanks
Michael Wallace (3:47 PM)
I really like the Butler pickup for OKC. I think he brings a credibility and voice of leadership and experience to that team. Initially, it would seem like Lamb's minutes might take an initial hit. But with the minutes restriction in play on Westbrook and his knee, there is a way to work it out without diminishing anyone's role too much.
Ryan (Dallas) [via mobile]
Where do you see the Mavs in 3 years?
Michael Wallace (3:49 PM)
I'm not even sure where I see them after this season, especially if they don't make some sort of surprising run deep into the playoffs. It might be time for Dallas to do for Dirk what Minnesota did for KG by sending him to Boston. The good thing about Dirk, though, was that he got Dallas to two Finals and won a ring already. Maybe that's enough for him to finish out his career there sort of the way Bird and Magic did with their respective teams entering the leaner years.
Dennis (Omaha, ne)
Do you see the Lakers getting enough impact players to make the playoffs next year? What are your thoughts?
Michael Wallace (3:52 PM)
Yes, they should be a playoff team if Nash comes back and can get through at least half of the season, if Kobe is back to being Kobe and if they can land a quality free agent (don't rule out Carmelo). But those are three of the biggest "ifs" Lakers fans might ever experience.
Hi, Michael. Love the chats. What do you think happens to Chicago in the off season? Boozer let go? Trade? Melo?
Michael Wallace (3:55 PM)
I've said this from the very start of this Melo speculation. I will be surprised if Melo and Thibs are in Chicago together. I just can't see it. I tend to believe he would be better off in Los Angeles. But that's also a lot to walk away from, considering how hard he worked and pleaded to get to New York in the first place. Boozer has had a decent season, at least early on. I think he does get let go via amnesty. You can do a lot with Noah, Melo and a relatively healthy D-Rose. I see why some in Chicago are so hopeful. But I still consider it a longshot.
Will the eastern conference get better next year?
Michael Wallace (3:56 PM)
If these players in the lottery are the locks many experts think they are, the East will benefit because its teams will be the ones doing most of the picking, perhaps.
Any concern about Miami's questionable post defense? As happy as Miami is about Lebron's level right now, they should be equally concerned about Jefferson going for 38/19 and having his way with Bosh. Attacking Miami inside is a sustainable strategy. Having Lebron score 40 each game is not. Is this Indiana's recipe for success?
Michael Wallace (3:58 PM)
I tend to agree. But despite those shortcomings, the Heat have sustained their way to two straight titles doing it their way.
As strong as Spo is, I always lean towards Coach Thibs. That guy has his team convinced they can win a championship (even though they can't) and playing with persistent, maximum effort. He is like Rudy, as a coach.
Michael Wallace (3:59 PM)
Thibs is the best regular-season coach in the game when it comes to getting something out of a roster that just never seems to be whole.
Kevin (Austin, TX)
Spurs are up to full strength - Parker is looking fresh, and surprisingly, Ginobili has played in 48 games - Avg. 12/4/3 and shooting over 45% from the field. How deep do you think this squad goes should they all avoid getting shelved?
Michael Wallace (4:00 PM)
I've learned to never count out the Spurs. Pop always figures out a way to get the best out of that team at the right time. They know what they're doing, and they're gearing up for another long postseason run. I have far more questions about other teams in the West than I do about San Antonio.
Michael Wallace (4:01 PM)
That's my time for the week. Thanks so much for sharing the past hour with me and talking about the NBA. There's a lot going on and the best is still in front of us. Let's do this again next week. Until then, be safe. Peace - MW