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October 3, 7:53 AM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (3:05 PM)

Greetings everyone -- back at Hollinger HQ after spending the weekend with the Hornets and enjoying an unexpectedly delicious catfish po'boy at the airport. Let's talk preseason or whatever else is on your mind.

Drew (Atlanta)

Mr. Hollinger, I see you in the CNN center getting food before Hawks games all the time. After your Hawks team preview though, your presence will only make me sad. If i see you at the home opener, will you tell me a secret about this Hawk's team that will cheer me up?

John Hollinger
  (3:07 PM)

I don't know why anybody gets the media buffet there when they can just walk into CNN Center and have about 20 different options to choose from. But I digress. The secret about the Hawks team is that if the starters play 375 games they can get back into the playoffs. But they have to keep all five healthy, because once they get into that bench it's ugly.

Oden (Rose Garden)

You know I have enough chips on my shoulder right? But to say my presence this season is good for a one game difference from last season? Now I have a buffalo chip on my shoulder!

John Hollinger
  (3:09 PM)

Lots of Blazers fans complaining about the projection. Here's the disconnect: If Oden had been out fo this season too, how many games would you have Portland pegged to win? My answer would be in the low-to-mid-30s. So saying Oden adds only one win is putting words in my mouth -- it's more like he offsets what otherwise would have been a regression.

Alex: (SLC, UT)

TJ Ford in Indiana? Does he become a top 8 pg in that system? And does Marc Gasol get the starting spot in Memphis?

John Hollinger
  (3:10 PM)

I think Ford has a chance to have a monster year if he stays healthy (always a big if with him, of course). Ford's per-minute #s last year were fantastic, especially pre-injury, and the increase in both minutes and pace are going to give his stats a huge boost.

thomas (atlanta)

Is it wrong that I expect the wheels to completely come off on the wizards? and that when they do they won't be good for like five years becuase of the Agent Zero contract?

John Hollinger
  (3:11 PM)

Can't see the wheels completely coming off unless there was another catastrophic injury. More like a mild disappointment. Washington is in the mix for those last two playoff spots in the East with about five other teams, but I'm thinking they'll fall a few games short.

Jon (Marrakech)

I see you're a huge fan of Thaddeus Young and seemed surprisingly cool on Mike Conley. If you were choosing between them, who'd you pick? PG's a tougher spot to fill than the wing, no? How would your top five from last year's draft look if you could do it over?

John Hollinger
  (3:12 PM)

Actually I think Conley is an excellent breakout candidate this year. But if I had to re-draft I'd take Young third after Durant and Oden -- he was that good last year.

brandon robbins (birmingham Alabama)

Did you know J. Nelson was shooting almost 50% from 3 the final 24 games of last season and the playoffs... Even if you hate pietrus you have to think Nelson, Howard, Lewis and Turk are enough for 3rd in the east... Don't forget Battie knows defense.

John Hollinger
  (3:15 PM)

It's possible they get 3rd -- I have them missing it by four games. But you can construct an argument like that for lots of teams -- take player X's best stretch of the season, add in player Y, assume everyone stays healthy, lather and rinse. That's why 98% of the stuff you read in preseason is almost comically optimistic; there was a piece today by a guy in Denver that takes the cake in that department -- he basically said that losing Marcus Camby will improve their defense.

Brandon (Halifax)

Does redick finally get moved this year

John Hollinger
  (3:16 PM)

One has to think it's possible, but where, and for what? I don't think they want to trade him unless they can get a first in return, and who's willing to do that right now?

Alok Shah (Iowa City)

How do you see the Lamar Odom situation eventually being resolved? Is a trade for a more conventional '3' inevitable?

John Hollinger
  (3:16 PM)

I don't know about inevitable, but I give it some pretty strong odds, yes. Odom-for-Carter is going to be on a lot of people's tongue's between now and February, that's for certain.


Thaddeus 3rd huh? Did you see Horeford almost average a double double last year?

John Hollinger
  (3:17 PM)

Yes, I saw lots and lots of Horford. He's a good one, but Young is younger and his ceiling is way higher.

Yo Yo

I could see Philly biting on Redick. He's exactly what they need. By the way, when are the player evaluations coming out?

John Hollinger
  (3:18 PM)

I could see that too, but only if he came cheaply. The player evaluations will be out in the next day or two.

Jack (Chicago, IL)

Would Tinsley in Denver have been a good fit?

John Hollinger
  (3:19 PM)

It all would come down to how well he could guard 2s -- he'd have to since AI would be defending the opposing point guard. It would have been interesting, and I suppose it still might happen, but I think that third year on the contract is just too great a burden to take on right now.

Alex, Minneapolis

Just sayin.. if you were the Wolevs, wouldn't you at least inquire if Philly needs 2 deadeye 3pt shooters on the off chance that they don't realize how good Young is going to be?

John Hollinger
  (3:20 PM)

They realize it, trust me. Who do you think is running things over there, Kevin McHale?

John Hollinger
  (3:21 PM)

But the Wolves looked good last night ... putting four 3-point shooters around Al Jefferson is going to make them an offensive juggernaut. Too bad they can't stop anybody.

Kyle (Chicago)

The only reason the Bulls collapsed last year was because of the trade rumors and contract negotiations and whatnot. They were picked to win the East last year, failed horribly...but they aren't a much different team than they were in 07. Why are their chances low for a playoff appearence?

John Hollinger
  (3:24 PM)

I'll speak for myself -- my pick last year was predicated on Chicago being a top-two defense and a middle of the pack offense, and they weren't close to that in either category. It wasn't just the contracts -- Hinrich bombed, Big Ben proved he was a bust, and the young guys didn't progress as much as I'd projected. So this year, I'm adjusting my expectations accordingly.

justin (denver,co)

Why would Denver take Tinsley, when they were specifically making/not making moves (note: camby, najera, etc) to get UNDER the luxory tax. Tinsley would pur them back over by a lot. Kroenke doesn't want to pay extra for a poor basketball team in the wake of already owning a declining hockey franchise as well.

John Hollinger
  (3:25 PM)

Actually there's no luxury tax impact -- Hunter and Atkins make just as much as Tinsley. They aren't under the tax, by the way, but can get under if they trade Iverson by the deadline and take back only $15 million or so in contracts. Don't be surprised if they go that route if they're under .500 in February.

Paul (Cleveland, OH)

Did you factor in the Cavs devastatingly bad health last year into your prediction? It seems they have to stay heathier this year doesn't it?

John Hollinger
  (3:26 PM)

They had some injuries, but I wouldn't call it devastating -- the one guy that matters played 75 games, and Z was healthy too. Cavs were fortunate to win 45 a year ago, so picking them to win 47 entails a bigger jump than it may seem.

Derrick Rose (Chicago)

Wait, you're adjusting your Bulls projections to what, saying those players are going to bomb further this season for no reason? That doesn't really make sense. Explain!

John Hollinger
  (3:28 PM)

No... I'm just saying I'm not making the same projection just because they have most of the same players. Chicago has its work cut out finding an identity on offense and getting stops in the frontcourt.

Baron Davis (Los Angeles, CA)

You got us ranked below the Twolves... what's up with that?

John Hollinger
  (3:32 PM)

Lots of Clips fans upset with me. Of course, they were upset when I picked them to win 41 games two years ago. They won 40. And they were upset when I picked them to win 20 games last year. They won 23. Not saying I have a crystal ball this time, but I think I've been pretty on target with this club. They have a bunch of half-decent wings but no real quality starters, they have depth issues in the frontcourt behind two injury-prone starters, and Baron and Dunleavy is going to be an interesting mix to say the least.


Why did Sacramento get such a terrible record? Even when they didn't have all of their players, they played hard and won many, many games that they shouldn't have.

John Hollinger
  (3:34 PM)

Let's run through the three main points: They were 26th in Defensive Efficiency WITH Artest -- how bad will they be without him? Based on the Fluke Rule, Miller has a 90% chance of regressing. And while Martin's great, who's the second-best player here? Salmons? Garcia? Find me a team with a less palatable No. 2 outside the state of Oklahoma.

Dellis (Washington DC)

The Wizards pounded the Celtics 3 out of 4 times last year. Was this a fluke?

John Hollinger
  (3:36 PM)

Not as big a fluke as Atlanta beating them 3 times out of 7. But seriously, you shouldn't read much into regular-season head-to-head; in addition to the puny sample size, there are just too many variables with travel and injuries and what not.

Eugene (Sherman Oaks)

Hey John, I know you get too many laker questions already, but please, VC on the Lakers? Really? How does the no D, shakey jumpshot, declining athleticism, of VC stretch the floor?

John Hollinger
  (3:37 PM)

Shaky jump shot? I beg to differ. VC can shoot it, and if he doesn't have to create all his Js for himself that fact will become much more obvious.

Clark (Durham, NC)

What can we learn from preseason games? Anything?

John Hollinger
  (3:38 PM)

It's so hard because the good players all are pacing themselves while the young guys are going a hundred miles an hour. I like it more for just reading a team's general vibe than for the particular results.

John Hollinger
  (3:38 PM)

Unless you lose at home by 40 to the T'wolves. Then you should be worried.

James (east L.)

Thoughts on Amir Johnson starting? Does anyone have a better top 3 off the bench then Detroit with Stuckey, Maxiell and McDyess?

John Hollinger
  (3:39 PM)

I like Johnson a lot, but for this year expect plenty of 3-minute cameos -- with his foul rate he's going to have trouble making it through the first quarter before he picks up a second foul.

Phil (Woodland Hills, CA)

Odom and a draft pick for Tayshaun and Amir Johnson. Who kills this deal?

John Hollinger
  (3:40 PM)

You mean besides the Pistons?

Trieu (Cambridge, MA)

So, I guess your presence in NO means the Hornets will be hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy next summer?

John Hollinger
  (3:41 PM)

I've been trying to stay quite about this, but the Hornets are indeed trying for the Hollinger Training Camp Four-Peat. For three years in a row, the first team I saw in preseason went on to win the championship -- Miami in 2005, San Antonio in 2006, and Boston last year. So maybe I should revise that Hornets pick.

George (Seattle, WA)

Your aware that Elton Brand played eight games last year and is pushing 30, right? Let me say that again: Elton Brand, the two-time all-star. Not Garnett, not Tim Duncan, not Shaq. This gives the 6ers, a 42-win team last year, the edge over the Cavs? Don't make me laugh, Hollinger. HA.

John Hollinger
  (3:43 PM)

Well, Philly had a better point differential than Cleveland a year ago, so even without Brand you could argue they were better. The difference is that the Cavs will be a much tougher out in the playoffs because they can play LeBron 48 minutes if they have to.

JR(Hagerstown, MD)

I feel the Wizards are very underrated by ESPN and the basketball world. They say they wont make the playoffs. I say they are a contender in the east, even if a darkhorse. What do you think?

John Hollinger
  (3:44 PM)

Well, I under-picked them a year ago, and then when I picked them to win the playoffs they flamed out against Cleveland, so my recent track record on Wizards picks isn't real strong. That said, Gilbert is gonna miss a big chunk of the year, and when he gets back there's no guarantee he's the same player.

Blazers Training Camp 2009

Will you visit us next year?

John Hollinger
  (3:46 PM)

If New Orleans wins it this year I might be sifting through some very compelling offers next fall. Any team having camp in Hawaii will automatically have the inside track.

Rudy (Portland, OR)

Portland would be a 30-win team without Oden??? Wow! I'm pretty sure they were a 41-win team without Oden last year!!! And they young core of talent is a year older, wiser, and better. And they are arguably the deepest team in the NBA. They would eclipse their mark from last year again this year without Oden, and with him, they'll easily win atleast 48-50.

John Hollinger
  (3:49 PM)

I think a lot of Blazer fans think that way, which is why I brought the point up. They're excited about the young guards, and so am I -- but rookie guards normally struggle, and they're replacing two productive players in Jack and Jones. They're excited about the other young guys, but Portland also got unusually strong years from a couple older guys (Blake, Pzybilla) that aren't likely to repeat, and whlle they had a few injuries they were more healthy than most. They also had the point differential of a 37-win team, not a 41. So that's where the disparity is between what a lot of Blazer fans project and what I'm projecting.

Dan (NY)

Which fans take perceived slights the hardest: Portland, Utah or Toronto?

John Hollinger
  (3:50 PM)

Utah and Toronto are unusually sensitive, yes. Portland a bit less so. Laker fans are prickly too, but perhaps I notice it more because there are just so darn many of them.

Jay (Bronx, New York)

so yea what do you think of miami going into the season?

John Hollinger
  (3:52 PM)

I'm not sure what to think. They're a real interesting team because they could do just about anything and I wouldn't be that surprised. I picked 39-43, but that estimate varied ten games to either side depending on what I assumed about Wade's health and Beasley's production.

tom (Houston)

Golden State has a crowded roster right now. Who is getting cut before the season starts?

John Hollinger
  (3:54 PM)

Well, it may be even more crowded -- Nelly told me Sunday that Rob Kurz has been a big surprise in camp. I still don't think he'll make the team, though. I'm guessing Morrow makes it and that Dickau, Dowell, Kurz and Nelson are his cuts. He said they'll do some trimming before they go to China, so it's coming soon.

Jesse (San Antonio)

Hawaii?! Spurs have held training camps in the Virgin Islands and France...That's gotta be worth something.

John Hollinger
  (3:56 PM)

Ha ... I dropped in on the one in France (was on vacation at the time), that was nice. Lyon was fun, kind of like Paris without Americans.

Ron, LA

Reports from Laker camp is that Bynum and Gasol cant get it together at the same time. To early to worry?

John Hollinger
  (3:57 PM)

too early, yes, but something to be monitored -- LA could have some spacing issues with that frontcourt. By the way, how about Jazz-Lakers for the preseason opener tonight? Conference finals preview, anyone?

Big E (Houston, TX)

Did you attend the Hornets/Warriors game? How was Julian Wright looking out there?

John Hollinger
  (3:58 PM)

He was definitely the best-looking Wright on the floor. I had high hopes for Golden State's Brandan but he was totally outclassed by Julian. I think Julian could figure into the backup point guard picture at some point -- I'm not feeling the Mike James - Devin Brown thing, even though neither embarrassed himself on Sunday.

Galway (San Francisco)

It's not a conference finals preview because Portland's going to knock LA out in the first round.

John Hollinger
  (4:00 PM)

Blazer fans are a little giddy about Mr. Oden's debut this evening. I don't expect him to play long, but it will be great to see him actually in a uniform.

Love, Toronto

Got anything to say on the Raptors?

John Hollinger
  (4:01 PM)

Yes, watch Kapono and his ratio of 3s to 2s. If he's not taking half his shots from behind the arc he's not worth the rotation spot.

Scott Skiles (Milwaukee, WI)

Hey John, how long will I last before I want to kill Charlie Villanueva?

John Hollinger
  (4:01 PM)

I mentioned they lost at home to the T'wolves by 40 last night, right? I suppose it can only get better from here though.

PD (Los Angeles)

Besides its fancy restaurants, Lyon is nothing special. Go to Grenoble and the surrounding mountains during the early fall or late spring. Or better yet, the Loire Valley. I expect a full report next year!

John Hollinger
  (4:02 PM)

i went to Chamonix on that trip and it was unbelievable -- so yes, I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendation. But enough about me....

Tony (SA Riverwalk)

Before you go, tell us what you really think about NBA refs?

John Hollinger
  (4:04 PM)

Unfairly maligned. They do a great job and for some reason everybody wants to presume things are rigged, in ways they don't do in football or baseball even though the calls are just as subjective.

John Hollinger
  (4:05 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have, but thanks again for all the great questions and we'll do this at the same time next week.