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December 19, 12:15 PM ET
Chat with Marc Stein

Marc Stein
  (5:30 PM)

Hello, all.

Marc Stein
  (5:31 PM)

Happy holidays to all. Let's dive in.

Marc Stein
  (5:32 PM)

Trades, Power Rankings, First Trimester awards. I'm sure you have questions on all of it.

Paul (Tempe, AZ)

So now can someone from ESPN finally call the Orlando Magic legit contenders? 21-6 doesn't seem like a fluke to me.

Marc Stein
  (5:34 PM)

They've been a top-five team in my rankings for at least 3-4 weeks. I don't I've been dissing them, although my inbox reads to the contrary. But if you're asking me to say I think they can beat Boston or Cleveland in a season, I don't. So it depends on what you mean by "legit."

Brian Levine (Orlando)

Umm...this is nitpicky, but do I need to remind you that Orlando is 21-4 after the 0-2 start, and that is with some significant injuries to deal with. And they just beat the Lakers. Sure, it was on the back night of a back-to-back roadie, but the Magic managed to win their recent back night out West. Is there any doubt that they play better defense than the Lakers? You're going to need better reasoning for ranking the Lakers higher other than 'I kinda like them' (I don't get paid to do this, therefore I'm allowed to be stupid).

Marc Stein
  (5:36 PM)

Brian is one of my most loyal commenters. So he gets the nod from an array of Magic Kingdom posters.

Marc Stein
  (5:38 PM)

I'm guessing this is a complaint about the Magic being No. 4 instead of No. 3. As much as we can pick on the Lakers for these -- after they just lost a back-to-back . . . and with L.A.'s defense slipping . . . and with Bynum looking a long way away from the guy who's supposed to make all the difference in a rematch with Boston -- I'm not going overlook the fact that the Lakers have beaten more winning teams than anyone in the league.

Marc Stein
  (5:39 PM)

I know that the Magic don't make their own schedule. But the fact remains that Orlando's two best wins were against teams playing the second night of a back-to-back on the road. It is a factor that I do take into account.

Alex (Orlando, FL)

Marc, aren't these power ranking reflecting the week prior? Wouldn't that automatically make the Magic (winners against the Spurs and Lakers) above the Lakers (losers against the Heat and Magic)? Am I wrong here?

Marc Stein
  (5:43 PM)

Yes. The previous week is a BIG part of the rankings, but just one of many things I take into account. I look back at the last week (and even a little farther) but also never take my eye of the future, which is why a team like San Antonio (one of the small handful out there that we know can win the championship) never falls as far as other teams with similar records.

Nick (Toronto)

Marc, I know you're plugged in. Can you let us in on any trade rumours out of Toronto?

Marc Stein
  (5:45 PM)

The one I heard strongest lately -- which I included in the Weekend Dime -- is Maccabi legend Anthony Parker and Graham (if memory serves) for OKC's Earl Watson. But I get the sense that the Raps want to see if they can come up with something bigger -- perhaps of the three-team variety -- before parting with their biggest expiring contract (Parker's).

Alex(Philly)

Happy Holidays Marc! Is $$ the only reason Eddie Jordan isn't coaching the Sixers right now?

Marc Stein
  (5:47 PM)

Don't think so. I get the sense that Philly is still weighing its options and considering multiple names and that the Kings are most into Jordan of the teams that have openings. But from everything I hear, The Thief of Baghdad himself wants to wait until the offseason before getting back in anyway.

Steve (Cleveland, OH)

When did these chats devolve into complaint fests about the power rankings and nothing else? How about talking about something more interesting? Like whether Granger and Harris have an opportunity to become real stars or are just picking up points where there's no one else to get them.

Marc Stein
  (5:50 PM)

"These chats?" Dont think so. My chat and Hollinger's? Sure. But here's how I look at it: Lots of people like to read the Power Rankings, so why not give them an opportunity to ask how and why their team ended up where it ended up.

Marc Stein
  (5:52 PM)

As for Granger and Harris, both of them had a lot of fans around the league and both of them have more fans now because of the way they're scoring. But your point is well-taken. When you're on a team with a .500 ceiling and fewer scoring options, you're obviously going to have more opportunities.

Steiny (NYC)

Can Nate Robinson win the Sixth Man Award?

Marc Stein
  (5:54 PM)

Doubt it. The competition in Texas alone is killer if Terry stays on the bench in Dallas, Manu is used more as a sixth man as the season unfolds and Artest stays in his new sixth man role. Don't think the Knicks are going to win enough.

Dwyane Wade (Miami, FL)

What's your problem? I'm clearly the front runner for MVP. Is it because of the 2006 Finals? Don't tell me you're still bitter about that.

Marc Stein
  (5:56 PM)

If you're going to try to pretend to be Dwyane, try to keep up with his current quotes. He just said he wouldn't put himself at the top of the MVP ballot because the Heat -- even though they're off to a nice little start -- are not and won't be an elite team this season.

Rob (Salt Lake)

Marc, with Deron and Boozer missing time to injuries, the Jazz need representation to the All-Star game. Is Millsap a possibility considering his string of 15 consecutive double-doubles?

Marc Stein
  (5:59 PM)

Teams are not guaranteed an All-Star. Knowing how long it takes the coaches picking reserves to vote for a young player -- Melo is just one recent example -- I'd say Millsap has little to no shot.

Yosi (Los Angeles)

Happy Chanukah!

Marc Stein
  (6:01 PM)

Chag Samayach to you and yours.

Steve (PA)

Does Yi belong on the allstar ballot?

Marc Stein
  (6:07 PM)

I had the great privilege of being on the All-Star ballot committee for the first time. And I was strongly in favor of Yi being on there. He came into the season as one of the three most important players on the Nets. You could certainly argue now that Lopez has passed him, but the Nets traded Jefferson (one of their most important players in recent years) to get. It would have been totally unfair, in my view you, to exclude Yi because the system employed by the league creates the possibility that he'll be voted in thanks to a slew of Internet votes from China. Based on the rules of ballot assembly -- each team must have three All-Stars -- there was no question to me that Yi had to be one of Jersey's three.

Chat Junkies

Where did you go??

Marc Stein
  (6:08 PM)

Am I typing too fast again? My apologies. (I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that my connection seems to be a bit dodgy tonight.)

SprungOnSports (Long Island)

Can you describe the potential impact of LeBron signing an extension with the Cavs after the season? There would be a lot of unhappy Knicks fans like myself.

Marc Stein
  (6:16 PM)

Can't promise that Knicks fans won't be unhappy in 2010, but I don't think you have to worry about 2009. LeBron said what he said -- and I'm sure he'll consider every option on the table -- but I don't see any way he signs an extension this summer. We covered this in the Weekend Dime about a month ago. LeBron, Bosh and Wade are eligible for extensions in mid-July and the smartest play for all of them is to opt out in 2010 and expand their options before deciding what to do.

Garrison (Oklahoma City)

I read today that OKC officially inked Nenad Krstic to an offer sheet today. Do you think the Nets will match the offer and what do you think of Krstic and this signing?

Marc Stein
  (6:18 PM)

All signs points to no on the Nets matching, so this is a coup for the OKCs. Don't see them winning many free-agent battles in the summertime so this was a nice score, with the added bonus of having seen Krstic play in Russia this season, so his recovery from injury problems is already underway.

Chicago (Illinois)

How can you give Mayo the First Trimester ROY over Rose? Rose is a better all-around player who tries to get everyone involved. Mayo is just a scorer. I hope your decision wasn't based solely on the fact that Mayo leads all rookies in scoring.

Marc Stein
  (6:22 PM)

Nope. That's not it. Mayo has been super efficient as a 20-point scorer, which is rare territory for rookies. He's been a much better 3-point shooter so far than anyone imagined. And don't forget that Rose is also surrounded by more established players, which has to make his transition to the NBA somewhat easier. The Grizz have been starting three rookies. Their point guard play has been a mess. It's far from an ideal situation -- Mayo is closer to being a veteran than a rookie on that team because the Grizz are so young -- and he's really been special offensively so far. I saw Mayo in his first NBA exhibition and, let me tell you, his progress from then to now is considerable. But we're still talking about a marginal difference between them . . . and I'll admit that the lack of national attention O.J. gets playing in a market like Memphis, fair or not, factored into my thinking. I wanted to give him some recognition now because, let's face it, Rose has a huge advantage in the ROY race playing in a market like Chicago and on a team that will probably be in the playoff hunt all season. In short: I don't think Mayo has been sufficiently recognized for his fine start and giving him ROFT status was my opportunity to address that.

Chris, Salt Lake City Utah

What will the Jazz do with Boozer? Is he tradeable with the "injury" or do they just let him walk? What about AK47? Any trade interest from other teams or is his contract too big? Thanks

Marc Stein
  (6:27 PM)

As with Marion in Miami, teams are going to have some pause trading for Boozer because they can't be sure they can re-sign him this summer. Just be glad that, in Millsap, it would appear that the Jazz have a ready-made replacement. They could be so much worse off.

Marc Stein
  (6:28 PM)

Jay (Toronto)

Marc, who will turn it around first - City or the Raptors?

Marc Stein
  (6:33 PM)

Have to say City. No salary cap in the Premiership. As much as I wanted to heave myself off the nearest bridge Sunday morning after we absorbed yet another humiliating defeat at the Hawthorns, City have the resources to buy their way out of trouble, at a time when other teams in the league are going to have to sell. The Raps don't have that luxury. They gambled on Jermaine -- a gamble I loved -- but now that it's not working out as planned they're short of pieces to make further changes. Will Colangelo give in and make Bargnani available? So far he hasn't -- and I'm not even sure how much Bargnani would fetch at this point -- but that might be the only way for the Raps to make another big move.

Marc Stein
  (6:34 PM)

We'll do it again next Monday everyone. In the meantime, enjoy the five-game slate on Christmas Day. I'm ready right now.