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February 20, 12:44 PM ET
Chat with Marc Stein

  (5:10 PM)

Marc will be by at 5:30 p.m. ET to take your questions!

Marc Stein
  (5:30 PM)

Hello, all. The trade deadline has passed but the chats continue. Let's go . . .

Chuck (San Francisco)

What's the deal with Joe Smith? And why are the Celtics always considered the front runners to get him? He has a good relationship with the Cavs from being part of the playoff run last year, including a couple good friends from playing last year. Plus the Cavs have their mid-leveland can outspend the Celtics for him.

Marc Stein
  (5:31 PM)

Joe Smith and KG are super close. And the Celts are the defending champs. That's why they're always linked with Joe Smith. However . . .

Marc Stein
  (5:32 PM)

Smith has to get his buyout first. Leading up to the deadline, there were strong rumblings that the Thunder wanted to keep him if they didn't trade him away. But I'm sure Joe would rather play for a contender at this point -- and you would expect such rumblings to circulate because teams don't aren't going to admit they're open to buyouts and give away all their leverage -- so most GMs out there still expect him to wind up on the open market. That said . . .

Marc Stein
  (5:33 PM)

If Boston signs Mikki Moore tomorrow, which seems to be the leaguewide consensus, can the Celts afford to burn both their open roster spots on big men when they've lost Tony Allen and felt a need to pursue Marbury even before Allen got hurt? Would Joe Smith even want to go to Boston if the Celts have already signed Mikki Moore when Cleveland (where he also has friends) and San Antonio would want him just as much? We will probably need the whole week to get those answers.

Marc Stein
  (5:34 PM)

As long as buyouts are completed by 11:59 p.m. Sunday, players who get those buyouts are eligible to play in the playoffs for someone else. So it might take all week to sort this stuff out.

Chuck (San Francisco)

Are the Kings going to buy out Drew Gooden?

Marc Stein
  (5:36 PM)

Signals are again mixed . . . but again you have to say that is part of the buyout game. Gooden is from that area and is also saddled with a groin problem right now, so there are reasons to suggest that a buyout is not automatic. Yet I would still say that the expectation from rival GMs is that Gooden winds up on the open market before Sunday. If so, as with Mikki Moore and Joe Smith, several contenders will be interested.

Karthik (Houston, TX)

Also, do you think there are any veterans on the Rockets radar as they make their stretch run? (maybe a Robert Horry? Sam Cassel?)

Marc Stein
  (5:38 PM)

Talked to Horry on Friday and he told me (full interview appears in the Weekend Dime) that he has not talked to a single team about coming back and that he isn't even sure he feels "right" about joining a team this late in the year. I suspect, however, that he can be swayed if a team expresses serious interest. As for Sam I Am . . . I get the feeling he still wants to play. He can take his time picking the next destination because he was waived by SAC long before March 1.

Steiny (NYC)

What is the latest on Stephon Marbury and the Knicks?

Marc Stein
  (5:41 PM)

Hopefully we'll get some sort of clarity after Tuesday's arbitration hearing, but the Celts remain pessimistic that a buyout will actually happen before Sunday.

Marc Stein
  (5:42 PM)

Something else we touched on in the Weekend Dime: Stephen A had an interesting report on ESPNews last week about a couple Celtics vets challenging Marbury to take the pay cut and show the world that he can be a contributor on a championship team. I wish he would. Steph to Boston would certainly liven up March.

Dan - Ocala, FL

Would you consider Orlando officially one piece away from being a serious title contender next year when Jameer is back? (Assuming they retain Hedo) I would say PG, SG, C, SF all in great shape.

Marc Stein
  (5:44 PM)

Re-sign Hedo first, then we'll talk. For all the good things Orlando has going, Brother Hedo might be No. 2 behind Dwight in terms of importance.

Stephen (Salem, OR)

Did the Blazers drop the ball by not moving Raef LaFrentz's contract?

Marc Stein
  (5:48 PM)

Absolutely yes in my view. They've lost tons of cap room to upgrade because of the D-Miles saga. They've got one of the few owners willing to spend and take on money. So that was a huge chip to add talent that is now unavailable to them. I'm sure the Blazers would insist that they didn't pull the trigger because teams were also trying to get a first-round pick out of them or because they felt no need to rush into a move when trades will be available to them later. But, again, with an owner who's willing to spend -- now and later -- I say it would have been better to use the Raef chip. But Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard clearly did not want to part with any of his top youngsters. It's not only Aldridge who was never made available. We repeatedly heard leading up to the deadline that even Bayless was pretty much off limits. Maybe future deals will develop that are even more enticing than what was on the table this month, but Portland can no longer put together that Raef-Outlaw-Bayless package that was so appealing.

Sam (Salt Lake)

Larry Miller's genious was in the power he's given to Sloan. Sloan can bench a star if they aren't playing. It doesn't matter what the salary is. A player will get traded if they turn on the coach before the owner fires the coach. When will owners learn from his example, rather than caving to the me-first players out there?

Marc Stein
  (5:52 PM)

A lot of what you say is true. But it also helps when your star players completely support the coach. The Jazz are just like San Antonio in that regard, to use a Pop-ism. Tim Duncan has given Popovich his total support from Day 1 and that is the foundation for the Spurs' culture you hear so much about. It was the same way in Utah. Larry Miller, Sloan, Karl Malone and John Stockton were always on the same page . . . provided you can look past the famous contract squabbles Miller and Mailman use to have. You need that for a coach to have longevity in this crazy league.

Mike Lake Oswego, Oregon

With Boozer back and Larry Miller passing away, is there a team out there with more emotional encouragement then the Jazz? Because Utah has stuck around without having their starting five on the floor once until tonight, do you believe they have a chance at the three seed by the end of the regular season?

Marc Stein
  (5:56 PM)

I'm going to try to keep Larry Miller's passing and the on-court stuff separate. Just doesn't feel right to be making those connections.

Marc Stein
  (5:57 PM)

What I will say, looking purely at the team's recent play and Boozer's return, is that I screwed up today and should have nudged Utah up to seventh in the Monday rankings. Given the injuries K-Mart (back) and Nene (knee) have picked up, even though they appear to be minor, I imagine that Denver is looking over its shoulder at the Jazz.

Patrick (Portland, OR)

Kevin Pritchard said that MULTIPLE (like 6) players came to him directly and said that they didn't want to trade ANYONE and that they wanted to prove that they could get it done with the team they already have. Considering the youth on the roster (4 rookies, no one over 29 in the rotation), their current spot in the standings (#4 in the tough West), and their rapid improvement (10 win increases for 3 consecutive years), why wouldn't you want to see what you have for a full season before making a major deal? Given the current economy in the NBA, it seems like making a bad deal for an overpriced "star", like Vince or Jefferson, would be the easiest way to disrupt all the good mojo the Blazers have going.

Marc Stein
  (6:01 PM)

Because that Raef chip was so valuable and because young teams don't win big in this league. You need guys who have been there to do major playoff damage. The Bulls built a team from the ground up, but that had that Jordan guy. Portland doesn't have an MJ in its midst, with apologies to Brandon Roy. Why not grab the first of multiple veterans Portland is bound to need to realize its future ambitions?

Jon Mano (Dallas)

Kornheiser mentioned this on PTI -- he didn't think the cancellation of the Tyson Chandler trade passed the smell test. In other words, he thought maybe someone from the NBA pressured it to be cancelled because it was such a negative for New Orleans (and the city) given it was just for cap reasons. Your thoughts?

Marc Stein
  (6:04 PM)

Did Tony really say this? I didn't see that episode of PTI. Tony K is one of my all-time favorites -- and it's certainly a first-rate conspiracy theory -- but even for a conspiracy theory that's aggressive. Why would the league get involved after the fact? No way. However . . .

Marc Stein
  (6:05 PM)

This remains one of the most fascinating stories in the league for me. OKC's GM (Sam Presti) has loved Chandler for years. This deal was an absolute steal for them. They have to believe that Chandler's toe is seriously messed up to walk away from a deal like that. As one rival GM put it: "That trade was a 10."

Matt, Cincinnati, OH

Most of your Pistons comments have been geared toward Iverson. Please know that Curry's incompetence has more to do with the Pistons (lack of) success than Iverson's arrival. He's easily the worst coach in the NBA.

Marc Stein
  (6:09 PM)

You are certainly not the first to voice that opinion. Curry has generated some pretty lukewarm reviews. But you can also make the case that judging him on this season alone isn't the fairest. Joe D knew this season had the potential to be very, very painful. I know it's a shock to the system for most Pistons fans, but I still think you'll be happier going forward with that flexibility to make changes than you would have been keeping Chauncey and losing in the second round or the East finals again. That team, as constituted, was no better than No. 4 in the East. Maybe No. 3 on experience.

Zack (LA)

This trade deadline was quite a bore. Do you see some big names changing teams at next year's deadline since so many of them will be in the last year of their contracts?

Marc Stein
  (6:11 PM)

You won't have to wait until next February to see big names being shopped. At the draft, this summer, next season . . . big names will continue to be offered up by cost-cutting owners because of the economy. Big names actually changing teams is another matter. A gambler such as Mark Cuban might be willing to take a risk and take on some salary when players from the Vince Carter/Richard Jefferson class are shopped again. But we also have to pass along this week's warning we got from one GM that we're probably looking at an offseason with 25 teams trying to slash payroll and only a couple teams operating as buyers. Which ain't great for those of us rooting for trades. As for your first point . . .

Marc Stein
  (6:16 PM)

I do have to contest the "quite a bore" stuff. That's a cliche to me. It's reached the point that I almost expect to hear complaints about how boring the deadline was no matter what happens. I totally understand the disappointment of not seeing a deadline-day biggie. Or the frustrations with the motivations teams had on some of the deals discussed. But boring it was not. This has been one of the most active trade seasons I can remember. Don't forget that it all started one week into the season when the Allen Iverson-for-Chauncey Billups deal went down. We've had legit chatter and action since November, resulting in a pretty substantial flurry of deals in the end, when most years you hear about teams refusing to even think about deals until the deadline gets close. Now would it have been a better deadline if Shaquille O'Neal or Carter had been moved on the final day? Or if the Shawn Marion-for-Jermaine O'Neal deal happened five days later than it did? Or if the money talk wasn't driving so much? Most definitely. But I can't see how Trade Deadline 2009 can be dismissed as a bore when we saw six trades on deadline day as well as Shaq and Vince in play until the buzzer.

Ludwig (Germany)

Why didn't the robinson to the kings trade go through? Isn't it good that the kings did't aquire him since he's not even the starter in NY?

Marc Stein
  (6:18 PM)

The Knicks couldn't bear to part with their most popular player, who has also become a pretty productive player. But if the cap comes down as far as the league projects for the summer of 2010, I wonder if the Knicks are going to regret not shedding Jared Jeffries' contract when they had the chance. The Knicks have to find a taker for Eddy Curry and/or Jeffries in the next year-plus. Not a given by any means.

Robert, San Antonio, TX

Why didn't the Spurs attempt to try to make another under the radar steal. All the news around the Alamo City was centered on making big home run like trades for guys like Vinsanity, Sheed, RJ and Camby. They never go for the big time trade, why this year?

Marc Stein
  (6:21 PM)

How can you complain about a run at Camby? The Spurs thought they were close at the deadline to getting him from the Clips, even though it would have cost them George Hill and my man Bruce Bowen. You wouldn't want Camby in black and silver?

MarkButter in SoCal

Can understand your reply to Matt in Cinci. But Curry looks lost out there for the Pistons. It looked like the team quit on him yesterday. Even with the trade for AI, this team certainly has more than enough to be above .500 in the east. The fact they ain't is a reflection on Curry. Pain is pain. And the pain is Curry.

Marc Stein
  (6:25 PM)

If Curry was the wrong choice, Joe D will change it when he has the roster fixed. He's taking a lot of heat these days for breaking up that team -- and Joe D has to turn that flexibility he has now into a top free agent like Boozer (or someone at that level) to justify the decision -- but the one tihng no one can dispute about Joe D is that he is as aggressive as any GM in the league when it comes to admitting a mistake and fixing it.


Talk is cheap, Stein. We want action. Big trades. Not Brad Miller and John Salmons going to Chicago.

Marc Stein
  (6:26 PM)

I hear you. And I'm right there with you. I'd love blockbusters at every deadline. Trade Deadline 2008 was unforgettably history-making with Pau, Shaq and Kidd all on the move. But I repeat: Stuff's been happening this trade season since the first week in November. Deadline day in 2007, when there were only three deals and none bigger than Portland sending Juan Dixon to Toronto for Fred Jones . . . <i>that</i> was boring. Let's not get mixed up about the real letdown here, which is the realization that so much of this was economy-driven and that so few teams are making basketball trades these days. <i>That's</i> a problem. Seeing New Orleans just try to give away Tyson Chandler without even getting a first-round draft pick back . . . <i>that's</i> demoralizing. Of course, as Cuban pointed out recently, how are NBA folks supposed to be immune from suffocating concerns about finances if these fears have everyone in every business and household in the world fretting and sweating?

Mike, San Francisco

I really enjoyed your loooong podcast with Bill Simmons and Ric Bucher. When's the next one?

Marc Stein
  (6:27 PM)

No word yet. Simmons has been awful quiet since J-Kidd danced all over the Nets last week.

Darnell, NYC

Marc, how happy were you to see City end Liverpool's chances at a domestic league title?

Marc Stein
  (6:29 PM)

Wasn't so worried about the implications for Liverpool or U----d or anyone else. Just grateful to get through an away day with a point. The road has not been kind to the Blues. BUT WE WILL STILL FINISH in a European place. Maybe even move up to sixth given all the injuries problems Everton are having. You heard it here first.

Marc Stein
  (6:30 PM)

Thanks as always for joining us in Chatland. We'll be back next Monday to do it again and see how many buyout guys we actually have.