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November 6, 9:10 AM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (1:08 PM)

Greetings from Portland, where I've had better luck with the basketball (two last-second finishes in 48 hours) than the weather (garden variety Northwest dreary). Plenty of injuries and other news to discuss, so let's get to it.

Joel (Youngstown via Philly)

Is it panic time for the Spurs with the injuries to Parker and Manu? Outside of Duncan, their current rotation might be the worst in the NBA, right?

John Hollinger
  (1:10 PM)

Panic time might be a bit strong ... a bit. I'm worried about the Spurs, not only because they don't have two of the three stars but because they're defending terribly. They may be several games out of the playoffs by the time Tony and Manu come back ... and there's no guarantee that's the last injury they'll have. And remember, the Spurs were getting rolled by Miami before Parker got hurt ... I discussed San Antonio in today's PER diem (shameless plug) which will be up soon, but yes, i'm worried about them.

Josh Los Angeles, CA

How can you allow your boy Marc put the celtics in front of the lakers this week - i hope u have better sense.... hasn't he seen the tremendous defensive effort this year by the lakers?!?

John Hollinger
  (1:11 PM)

Stein can make a case for Boston until the Lakers win a game that involves staying at a hotel. As undeniably impressive as their start has been, their early schedule has been incredibly friendly.

Josh (Toronto)

What happened to your power rankings? it was interesting comparing just stats vs. steins thoughts.

John Hollinger
  (1:12 PM)

They're coming later this week. You need a few games first before they start making sense.

Adam (SF, CA)

But isn't this good for the Spurs...say they don't make the playoffs and become a lottery pick. We all know they need to get younger, this could be an opportunity to build a new dynasty around Parker, an aging Duncan, and some new young stud.

John Hollinger
  (1:13 PM)

I don't think picking in the 8-to-15 range really helps them that much -- look at the quality of players typically selected in that range. They'd have to win the lottery or come close to it to get somebody who is likely to make a major impact while Duncan and Manu are still in their primes.


Everybody is talking about the free agent market in 2010, but seriously, how many of those guys do you think will even make it to unrestricted free agency?? Even if they do, how many do you think will end up bolting to a new city?

John Hollinger
  (1:15 PM)

this is exactly why I think the Pistons are more likely to use their $$ in 2009 -- what if they sit on their hands for two years waiting to use the cap space and then get Kraused? Unless LBJ's people called and said "pssst .. get under the cap," there's just no reason for Detroit to wait on that sliver of a chance.

Michael(Los Angeles, CA)

The Warriors seem to be spiraling downward pretty quickly. Do we have any hope of getting an impact player back for Al...if so, who do you think we have a shot at?

John Hollinger
  (1:17 PM)

I wouldn't say "spiralling downward" as much as "missing Corey Maggette", especially in the Memphis game. They have some issues, as we expected, but they're not terrible. As far as Harrington goes, the obvious idea is to get a point guard, and it's just a question of who's available and has a palatable contract. Be interesting to see if they'd roll the dice on Tinsley.

Jerry (Texas)

Hollinger, was that a reference to Jerry Krause a while back when no free agent wanted to go to Chicago, post Jordan era?

John Hollinger
  (1:18 PM)

Either that or a reference to the maid on the early 80s TV series "Benson," played so elegantly by the long-forgotten Inga Swenson. You decide.

Josh (STL)

Love the new daily additions (PER Diem and Daily Gems). Any other new items you're going to unveil?

John Hollinger
  (1:19 PM)

Yes, but I'm keeping some of them under my hat because they depend on some back-end things that I can't control ... biggest thing is that power rankings and playoff odds will be launching in the next several days.

Jamicah (Atlanta,GA)

Are the Atlanta Hawks legit contenders to boston in the eastern conference?

John Hollinger
  (1:21 PM)

Whoa now ... I'm getting a lot of Hawks-related mail with subject headings involving words like "how's the crow taste" and "now you know" ... Yes, Atlanta looks way, way, WAY better defensively than we had any reason to expect, and they've played as well as anyone in the league through five games. But legit contenders is getting ahead of ourselves ... let's see how they play this week without Josh.

Ben (St. Paul)

Don't you think the Wolves should run and gun? Al and Love can rebound, Love has a great outlet pass, Brewer, Foye, and Telfair can run the break, and Miller can trail for the transition 3.

John Hollinger
  (1:23 PM)

I think Telfair is their only good transition player, perhaps McCants too, so I'm guessing that Love's outlet skills are largely wasted on this team. Love seemed to me to be pressing a little on Saturday, perhaps because he was playing for the hometown folks -- Minnesota played a lot better with Smith out there.

Pak (the Cleve)

Stein moved Cavs from 9th to 3rd, is he overreacting?

John Hollinger
  (1:24 PM)

No, Cleveland had a nice week, they deserve a high ranking. While we're talking Cavs, I had a McDyess question in here too -- it really comes down to how much tax they want to pay. Cavs can use a big chunk of their midlevel to outbid Detroit, but it costs them double and they're already paying tax out the wazoo.

Jimbo (Chootiya, PA)

What in the name of Elton Brand is going on with my 76ers? Are they missing a 3 point sniper so badly? If so, who should they trade for?

John Hollinger
  (1:25 PM)

I think we have a few different things going on -- Miller usually struggles in November, Brand is being too nice while he tries to fit in, and Iggy is having some trouble figuring out what his role is supposed to be. They'll be fine in the big picture, but it might be like last year where it takes half a season before they really hit their stride.

Gary (New York)

Kobe for Defensive Player of the Year?

John Hollinger
  (1:26 PM)

Gotta see the Lakers in person before I can even get near answering that one. I think Josh Smith might have my early vote, but now he's laid up for a month

Bart Cleveland

John, as a Cavs fan I have had to read about a thousand articles about how LeBron is going here and going there but no one seems to notice that the Cavs are going to have as much cap space as anyone in 2010. Isn't it possible that LeBron could convince another superstar (Bosh maybe) to come play with him in Cleveland??

John Hollinger
  (1:28 PM)

yes, some folks have alluded to that possibility. I think if Bosh leaves T-dot, though, it would be to go back to Texas -- all three teams can have $$ if I remember right.

David (Baltimore)

The Lakers are #1 and #2 in defensive and offensive efficiency. Has that ever happened before?

John Hollinger
  (1:28 PM)

'96 Bulls. And they were in that spot after 82 games with 41 on the road, not after five games with one on the road.

JR, Smith, Denver

4 points, count em, 4 points!!!! Making you look good my man, now excuse me please, I have to go get another tat now, and I think there's still some open skin left on my butt.

John Hollinger
  (1:29 PM)

Yes, the J.R. Smith bandwagon does appear in danger of careening off the cliff with me as the only passenger. I still think the trade opens some things up for him, but he played terrible last night.

Disco (Chicago)

How much pain is TMAC playing in right now?

John Hollinger
  (1:30 PM)

what's funny is that he looked great in the game here on Thursday. Maybe something got tweaked on the flight to LA or something, because he was terrible in both games down there.

john (new york)

Is it too early to declare the Knicks the favorite in the East?

John Hollinger
  (1:30 PM)

And the award for irrational early-season exuberance goes to ....

Joe (The Bay)

John, did you see Tracy McGrady's 1-11, 3pt stinker last night? Are we seeing that death rattle of the once great T-Mac?

John Hollinger
  (1:31 PM)

Just a quick follow-up -- McGrady, historically, has played horribly in November. If he's still having these games in mid-December, then I'd be worried.

Steven (Toronto)

What's Bosh been eating these days? How worried should I be of him bolting in less then 2 years?

John Hollinger
  (1:32 PM)

Glad you brought this up -- i watched the Charlotte game yesterday and Bosh was superb at both ends, as he's been every time I've watched the Raps. If he's not MVP caliber he's getting darn close.

Riboflavin (Portland, Or)

So after watching two exciting wins by the Blazers, what are your impressions of the team? Rudy sure is fun to watch, eh?

John Hollinger
  (1:33 PM)

Rudy is better than I thought he'd be (I was high on him long term but thought he'd need longer to hit his stride). Blazers in general, however, have most of the same issues as a year ago, and I think they're headed for about the same record.

Joe (Grand Rapids, MI)

Spurs = last in defensive efficiency? Never thought I would see that in the Duncan era.

John Hollinger
  (1:33 PM)

I'm dumbfounded. Haven't seen much of them yet so I'm not sure what the issue is.

Mike (Porterville, CA)

off the subject In'n'out burger is the best.

John Hollinger
  (1:35 PM)

Burger discussions are for Stein. Here we discuss microbrews and caffeine. Speaking of which, the Bridgeport Ebenezer I had the other night was decent ... but less hearty than I expect from a Christmas beer. Moving along ...

Steve Kerr (Phoenix, AZ)

Last week you said you were not in awe of my team. Has our 3-1 trip with Shaq looking like it is 1999 changed your mind as of yet?

John Hollinger
  (1:37 PM)

Shaq has indeed looked mighty impressive so far, and Amare's game against Indy was other-worldly. I still think they're the 5 seed out West when it's all said and done, but let's not write the Suns' obit just yet.

John Hollinger
  (1:37 PM)

And Dragic has the worst PER of any player with at least 100 minutes. So if they ever get around to replacing him, that will improve the team too.

Matt (Atlanta)

I suppose I could understand you predicting the Hawks to not make the playoffs this season. However, how can you justify predicting the Hawks to finish 13th in the East? 13th? Seriously, make a case!

John Hollinger
  (1:38 PM)

i had a very small gap between 7 and 13 -- just 10 games -- so the 13th made it sounds worse than it was -- I had them going 31-51, which normally won't put a team 13th.

Brian (NJ)

What does the good start tell us about the Knicks? Small sample size, or does this team actually have 8 seed potential?

John Hollinger
  (1:41 PM)

i wouldn't get too worked up yet.. They've only played two road games and seemingly every opponent has had a key injury; and for the year they've given up more than they've scored. While this is a dramatic improvement on what came before it, I still doubt this team can make a run at No. 8

Sean (Detroit)

How good do you think the Pistons will be when AI gets acclimated to the team?

John Hollinger
  (1:43 PM)

I'm worried that answer is "not as good as they used to be." Iverson's best skill is his shot-creating ability -- but the Pistons didn't really need that.

Nate (Raleigh)

Looks like your prediction of the East beating the West head to head this year is holding up so far. East is 15-7 in the early going.

John Hollinger
  (1:44 PM)

Woo-hoo, i got something right! West has been even worse than I thought, with Dallas and San Anto being unexpectedly poor and Clips struggling with injuries. L.A. and Hornets are really only teams that have played up to their reps, and Griz are only ones that have exceeded expectations.

Pak (the Cleve):

you almost sounds angry with the way lakers are playing so far? I think kobe is going for DPOY, he played scary good in the 2 games i watched!

John Hollinger
  (1:45 PM)

Not at all -- they looked unbelievable in the Portland game. I'm just trying to calm everyone down a little -- we still got 77 more of these things left to play.

Jada (CT)

Speaking of Telfair, he looks like he may have finally embraced the role of true PG. Do you think he can be a legit starting PG in the NBA?

John Hollinger
  (1:46 PM)

He's a legit backup PG, certainly, but I don't know if he shoots well enough to start -- actually, it was funny, the Blazer fans (familiar with his Telfair from his tour there) were screaming "let him shoot" a couple times when a defender raced out to him on a rotation.

Abe (Minneapolis)

Brewer and Miller are solid in transition, no?

John Hollinger
  (1:48 PM)

Brewer is great flying in from the wing if he's set up, but he can't dribble. Actually Carney is good in transition but he's not playing much. Miller -- just as a trailer shooting 3s.


What can we expect from the Kings after their 0-4 trip and now this 3-0 homestand.

John Hollinger
  (1:50 PM)

I think their season is going to look more like the road trip unfortunately -- they beat three bad teams at home and were absolutely hammered on the road. Defensively, they're awful. However, the two rookies -- Thompson and Brown -- have been better than advertised, so that's helpful.

Brian (McLean, VA)

Andris Biedrins = potential all-star THIS season- true or false

John Hollinger
  (1:51 PM)

I think it's possible he makes the all-Star team this year, yes, because he's played extremely well. But for that to happen GST has to get some more wins...

Chris (Tennesee)

John you've answered more questions about the Timberwolves than any other team today. Can you answer a question about my Grizzlies. How good is OJ Mayo going to be? He reminds me of more skilled, less athletic D wade. The kid is unreal, what is his ceiling?

John Hollinger
  (1:53 PM)

Honestly, I haven't sen a lot of the Griz -- most I saw of them was the second half of the game at GST, and that was more Gay's night. OJ can shoot, but between the extremely low FT rate and the high turnovers he's been a pretty inefficient offensive player so far.

Mel (Dallas)

Has there ever been a deeper rookie class? More rookies than I can keep track of are contributing.

John Hollinger
  (1:55 PM)

I was thinking the same thing -- it's rare to see so many rooks making a positive impact so early in the year. And Oden hasn't even scored a point yet. Should make for quite a ROY battle.

Joe (Charlotte, NC)

Do you think any superstar will ever want to play for the Bobcats?

John Hollinger
  (1:56 PM)

You mean besides Michael Jordan? Seriously, a better question is -- do the Bobcats know enough about what they're doing to put themselves in position to GET a superstar? That's the one I have serious doubts about.

Greg (Indiana)

I know its only been 6 games so far, but which team has benefitted more from the TJ/Oneal trade?

John Hollinger
  (1:57 PM)

Clearly Indy. O'Neal has still been fairly up and down for the Raps, and I'm not sure he's 100%.

Brandon Roy (Portland, OR)

After watching me drive the dagger into two squads, what do you think about my team's chances to make the playoffs now?

John Hollinger
  (1:58 PM)

About the same as before. Quick reminder: You're supposed to beat Minnesota at home. Doing it in the final seconds is exciting, yes, but not a great indicator of quality going forward.

Adam Morrison (Charlotte)

Aren't I a superstar? I was taken third after all.

John Hollinger
  (1:58 PM)

No, but apparently you're a comedian.

Matt (Memphis, TN)

O.J. Mayo is shooting 44% from the field, averaging 19 pts, 5 rebs, 2 assists and 3 Turnovers so far this season. That doesnt seem that inefficient to me.

John Hollinger
  (2:00 PM)

He's creating shots, but the easiest points are lay-ups and free throws and he generates very few of those -- for himself or for his teammates.

Anthony Eversole (Logan, Utah)

How badly do the Jazz need Dwill back?

John Hollinger
  (2:02 PM)

More than their record indicates -- Utah benefitted from a very soft early-season slate but it gets a lot tougher starting tomorrow in Philly.


The Bulls seem lost with Vinnie letting Rose do what ever. How much will it hurt to have Kirk out seeing how he seemed to be playing well.

John Hollinger
  (2:04 PM)

Having Kirk out may actually clear up some things in the guard rotation -- now Ben and Thabo can get their minutes and Hughes has a role as the fourth guard between when he returns and his next injury. The big negatives with Hinrich out are 1) they can't afford another guard injury, 2) they lose their best backcourt defender, and 3) it's now a lot harder for Chicago to make a trade.

Bill (Carmel)

Watching the Grizz at GS (and checking the boxes this year), Lowry continues to outplay Conley - So how long until Lowry gets the starts he deserves (Wallace eats his mis-fire 1st draft pick) or Lowry escapes Memphis?

John Hollinger
  (2:06 PM)

I couldn't agree more on Lowry -- he's been fantastic, and I think he'd get All-Defense consideration if the Griz were on anybody's radar. I thought Conley could have a breakout year but it ain't happening; at some point Memphis is going to have to confront this honestly, but they may want to give Conley more than six games to prove himself.

Patrick (Chico, CA)

As a denizen of Chico, CA, (the hometown of Sierra Nevada Brewery) I would like to know your opinion as to why microbreweries often go over the top when adding hop to their beers.

John Hollinger
  (2:08 PM)

I wish I knew ... most things are better in moderation, and beer is the perfect example. And on that happy note, I'm out of time. Be sure to check out Per Diem today on the Parker-less Spurs, and be sure to join me next week at 3 in here, when I'll report on the Deschutes Jubilale that's sitting in the fridge.