Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

November 20, 1:03 PM ET
Chat with Marc Stein

Marc Stein
  (5:01 PM)

Hello, all.

Marc Stein
  (5:01 PM)

Thanks for joining us.

Spencer (Tempe, AZ)

Cleveland thanks you for a little love in the Power Rankings. Any chance you can do something about the non-stop Lebron-to-NY talk on ESPN, though? I know I'm getting ahead of myself here, but will Lebron really take the PR risk of leaving one of the best teams in the NBA just for the spotlight of NY? Won't he come off as a just a little greedy?

Marc Stein
  (5:03 PM)

I'm pretty sure "PR risk" is the last thing on his mind. He'll be criticized or second-guessed no matter where he goes (or stays) and only winning championships will turn the heat down.

Ryan

Can you not talk about a player whose pending free agency is TWO YEARS AWAY? Is the league OK with the Knicks just playing out these games while they charge $100 a ticket until 2010? And why on Earth are you talking about this? There will be nothing out there but speculation and BS for at least 18 months that we can all do without. Here's an idea . . . talk about something that is important to the 2008-2009 season.

Marc Stein
  (5:05 PM)

Sorry, Ryan. But when teams are making trades two years in advance just for a SHOT at LeBron -- Detroit as well as New York -- it has to be considered an important part of the 2008-09 season.

Marc Stein
  (5:06 PM)

The Knicks, furthermore, are positioned to "get away with this" better than most teams because they will play a fun style that gives the fans something to get into. That's their theory, anyway.

Brad (Salt Lake City)

I am ashamed of you, Steiny. You didn't mention in your Heat comment in the rankings how unbelievably well Wade has been playing. I hate to say it, but without him Miami would be on pace for a 14-win season.

Marc Stein
  (5:07 PM)

Wanted to give Spoelstra some spotlight because he's off to a pretty solid start. No slight intended to D-Wade, who not only is playing at a ridiculous statistical level but also has our gratitude for playing through an ankle injury when half the league seems to be on the shelf with ankle issues.

John (Boston)

Are your rankings basically done on feel or is there some sort of formula like with Hollinger's rankings?

Marc Stein
  (5:12 PM)

There is no mathematical formula. And there is indeed some personal "feel" throw in. I also factor in things -- like injuries and the various controversies that permeate locker rooms -- that the forumlaic rankings don't. The best summation is that the rankings are done with a 50/50 eye on current form/strength of schedule/etc. and then the other half on a team's overall "power" with respect to their title-contending potential.

Matt (Boston)

Can you explain the Zach Randolph trade from the Clips' perspective? They *have* to trade one of their three big men for this to make any sense, don't they?

Marc Stein
  (5:13 PM)

Yes. And I think they will eventually trade one of the bigs even if they keep insisting that they're not trading one of them. As for why they made the trade, confused as some of us are, it's fairly obvious why. The Clips looked at it a lot like the Marcus Camby deal . . . that they were getting a good player without giving up anything of consequence and couldn't say no.

John (Chicago)

Why is it so hard for you to admit the Lakers are the top team in the league right now? They can't control how "weak" their schedule is, so please stop using that as an excuse to give Boston the top spot

Marc Stein
  (5:19 PM)

Why is it so hard for countless emailers and chat participants to accept that, in my estimation, Boston starting 13-2 while playing a busier and tougher schedule and getting everyone's best game as defending champs is more worthy of No. 1 on Nov. 24? I'm only applying the exact same standards used early last season when Boston didn't move up to No. 1 until its schedule got tougher. People act like the Celtics are 9-6 or something.

Nathan (Boulder, CO)

Wow. The Nuglets fourth?? Did you watch that game against the Lakers?

Marc Stein
  (5:20 PM)

As stated in the rankings, Denver was somewhat of a default choice at No. 4 in spite of its good record since acquiring Chauncey. The top three have separated themselves and there simply is no obvious No. 4 at the moment. Everything below the top three is in flux.

Tony (Chicago)

You use the SOS argument, but then why are the Bulls -- having by far played the hardest schedule in the NBA so far -- so low in your rankings? They're lower than teams with slightly better records that have played cupcake schedules thus far.

Marc Stein
  (5:22 PM)

Because strength of schedule is only one of the things I look at. And while I didn't expect Chicago to win four or five games on the Circus Trip, I also didn't expect them to give up 115 points in every game.

Scott (Santa Barbara, CA)

The Clips need a shooting guard. What about a Camby for Mike Miller deal? Or a Kaman for either Jason Richardson or Richard Hamilton deal?

Marc Stein
  (5:24 PM)

A deal featuring Kaman in exchange for Jason Richardson makes sense to me. Bobcats like Kaman. Clips NEED someone on the wing like J-Rich, who I'm guessing wouldn't mind reuniting with Baron. Yet we repeat: Clips say that Kaman, for the moment, is NOT available.

Charles

Shaq is the only max contract to win a championship after switching cities? Another center comes to mind: Kareen Abdul-Jabbar.

Marc Stein
  (5:26 PM)

Max contract FREE AGENT. Kareem was traded. If we're only talking max free agents who switched teams and won it all, Shaq is the list.

Saad (Miami, FL)

Did you just refer to Zach Randolph as a good player? That was a joke, right?

Marc Stein
  (5:27 PM)

He hasn't changed your opinion even a little with how he's started the season? As a fellow lefty, I probably cut Zach more slack than most. But he has been most impressive in D'Antoni's system, which wasn't exactly the consensus going in.

Patrick (Dallas)

Ginobili returns tonight. Think the Spurs are better in the long run because of the extended burn for Mason and Hill early on?

Marc Stein
  (5:28 PM)

You already know the answer. Hill, especially, benefited immeasurably from these 12 games.

Tom (Cleveland)

Dan Gilbert takes on more payroll than anyone else not named Cuban. He upgrades the Cleveland facilities, making them second to NONE. Danny Ferry makes not one but TWO huge deals, WITHIN THE DIVISION no less, to make the team significantly better. Mike Brown, one of the more unpopular coaches in recent history, get his superstar to buy into DEFENSE FIRST. And the Cleveland people, mired in gloomy economic conditions, have shown up enough for the Cavs to be THIRD in the NBA in attendance. And what does Cleveland get for all this? Non-stop articles about how LeBron is too good for this town and how NY -- the franchise that has done next to NOTHING right -- deserves him. Good work, guys.

Marc Stein
  (5:31 PM)

I understand every sentiment, Tom. And as I've stated repeatedly, I hope LBJ stays. It's a better story if he stays with his hometown team and ends up as the guy who FINALLY beats the Cleveland curse. But the most coveted young player in the game is going to be a free agent and keeps saying he's going to look at every option, while teams around the league are already manuevering to try to steal him away. How are we supposed to ignore all that?

Erik (Greenwich, CT)

How do you objectively balance the MVP race between LeBron and Kobe. KB has continued to mature as a team player and has five teammates averaging 10+ ppg. He's shooting less but has expanded his game, getting more blocks and steals than last year. As the reigning MVP, should KB really be penalized for playing fewer minutes due to blow-outs when he's playing team ball? On the other hand, LBJ has better stats than Kobe -- although he plays five more minutes per game -- and is on an elite team as well. What will be the deciding factor at the end of the season assuming the trend continues?

Marc Stein
  (5:33 PM)

Can't answer this one yet, Erik. It's going to be VERY interesting if we get to April and the Lakers are still winning like they have been . . . and if the Cavs are also in the 60-win range. Could be one of the toughest MVP calls ever, although I know we say that every year.

Mark (Oregon)

Can the Wiz really justify firing Eddie Jordan? They have so many injuries. That's why they're so bad.

Marc Stein
  (5:37 PM)

Yes and no. Looks to me like The Thief of Baghdad -- which will always be the first thing that pops into my head when I see Eddie Jordan because I can still hear the one and only Chick Hearn calling him that on Laker broadcasts from when I was kid -- was a victim of his own success. I know I have to qualify the word "success," because the Wiz only won one playoff series during Jordan's tenure. But it's also true that Jordan's teams were almost never whole and, until now, had always coped well with their inevitable injuries. You'd struggle to remember the last time that the Wiz had their full complement of players, but the flip side of that is that Jordan's bosses had come to expect .500 ball (or something closer to it) no matter who was out. Even The Thief himself said on the eve of his dismissal that he expected more from this group, admitting that "never in our wildest dreams" did the Wiz imagine starting out 1-10. Jordan understandably got a lot of sympathy from peers around the league when this happened so soon, because he's a popular guy who won consistently in the regular season even though his teams were frequently short-handed. Yet I can't sit here and say that I was shocked or outraged that the Wiz did this now. Yes: Jordan did just have his contract extended by one year in September. Yes: A lot of us have underestimated the absence of Brendan Haywood for a team that has major defensive issues even when Haywood is out there. But the fight that we've seen from this group in the face of injuries wasn't the same as it's been in years past and appeared to be dwindling. So management decided it was new-voice time, given that Jordan began the season with the longest tenure of any Eastern Conference coach. It happens.

Marc Stein
  (5:41 PM)

(For the record: I asked Eddie about this once and he told me that it was actually Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who dubbed him The Thief of Baghdad. Chick is the one who made it stick. The irony, of course, is that Jordan got that nickname for his fast hands on D, whereas his defensive rep as a coach is less than flattering.)

Tim (Chicago)

If Devin Harris isn't an Eastern Conference All-Star it will be a travesty. Discuss...

Marc Stein
  (5:42 PM)

If he keeps averaging 23, I don't think there will be a discussion.

Edmonton

Could you envision a scenerio that Bosh stays in Toronto and brings James to Canada? I believe that the Raps will have the cap room and don't forget that they already have an excellent GM along with some good pieces now (Calderon).

Marc Stein
  (5:45 PM)

Sorry, Edmonton. Hard to imagine that one, because I'm guessing LeBron doesn't love Toronto as much as me. The more likely scenario: Toronto is going to make a trade or three to try to improve the current team -- while maintaining as much 2010 flexibility as possible -- to convince Bosh that he should stay.

Sam (Los Angeles)

Hey Marky Marc!! Do you think firing P.J. Carlesimo will have any effect on the Thunder's season?

Marc Stein
  (5:47 PM)

You'd like to think, at the minimum, that Durant's shot selection improves drastically so we can bear watching Thunder games again.

Jason: (Santa Rosa, CA)

No one has mentioned what they think of Golden State gaining Crawford from the Knicks. I don't see it improving us. Do you believe this may be a precursor to another trade?

Marc Stein
  (5:49 PM)

You would have to think so. Crawford, Monta, Captain Jack, Maggette and Biedrins, as the five best players, form a very SMALL team with no clear-cut facilitator. This can't be the Warriors' idea of an ideal mix. But I'd also say that the move in isolation -- a player in Harrington who wanted out in exchange for a high-scoring combo guard who presumably meshes well next to another combo guard in Ellis -- does make some sense.

Jerry (Texas)

Do you believe Jalen Rose when he said that both Lebron and Bosh will be Knicks in 2010?

Marc Stein
  (5:52 PM)

I believe that Jalen heard that from very credible sources, just as he said on the air. But my take on this has always been that, even if LeBron has a plan at this point, it 's a plan that can be amended because things are too fluid. Too much can happen in the next 580-plus days for him to lock into ANYTHING. Yet as for the notion that LeBron and Bosh will wind up on the same team in 2010, I'd say lots of folks around the league expect that. I know that the Cavs, in their attempts to keep LeBron, have the same vision and hope to sign Bosh to play next to LBJ at the Q.

Chuck (San Francisco)

Don't the Warriors WANT a small team, though? Biedrins strikes me as the center Nelson always wanted. A shorter, more athletic combination of Manute Bol and Shawn Bradley.

Marc Stein
  (5:52 PM)

Not THAT small. The Warriors signed Ronny Turiaf, for example, because they know there are times that Biedrins needs a beefier sidekick.

Ray (San Antonio)

Looking forward to Thanksgiving, Steiny? What's your favorite Thanksgiving pie?

Marc Stein
  (5:54 PM)

Honestly? This might strike you as the shocker of the week . . . but I do not like ANY of the traditional Thanksgiving foods. Never have. And since I always work on Thanksgiving to get the Weekend Dime ready, I will be sending the wife and kids to a traditional Thanksgiving feast with Mrs. Line's parents so I can stay focused on the WD and watch the TNT games now that the NBA has restored its Thanksgiving Day doubleheader. Don't worry, though. I should be able to sustain myself on Bob's Steak and Chop House leftovers from the night before.

Gonzalez, Dallas

More impressive: City trouncing Arsenal 3-nil or your boy Hatton putting the hurt on in Vegas?

Marc Stein
  (5:56 PM)

BOTH. It was a glorious Saturday in the media room from start to finish. Please tell me you saw Robinho's goal. A sweeter finish you could not wish to see.

Marc Stein
  (5:57 PM)

Back next Monday, friends. Thanks for all the questions and Happy Thanksgiving to all.