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November 12, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (12:05 PM)

Greetings from Orlando everyone. In an hour I'll be heading down the Florida Turnpike to Miami to see LeBron's current team play his next one. Just kidding, Cavs fans. But for the next hour I'm yours.

Brendan (Chicago)

John, with regards to this summer, what is the more difficult task, taking on the Clipper curse in LA, or playing under Jordan's shadow in Chicago?

John Hollinger
  (12:06 PM)

Clipper curse, by far. Jordan's shadow would be difficult, but others -- most notably Steve Young -- have overcome that type of thing. Nobody has overcome the Clippers being the Clippers.

Eli (Texas)

Do you see Tmac with the Rockets by the end of the season?

John Hollinger
  (12:07 PM)

I think there's a much better chance now that the Rockets are playing well. Daryl Morey will still deal him if there's a particular enticing offer on the table, but if he comes back reasonably healthy his scoring could really help, especially given Houston's thin wing rotation.

Cory (Indy)

Admit it John, Dahntay Jones' play has made him worth his contract and dont forget the 4th year is a team option

John Hollinger
  (12:10 PM)

You mean his 11.74 PER through 6 games now makes the deal a slam-dunk for the Pacers? Take his FT% down to his career average and he's the same terrible offensive player he's always been.

Noah (Los Angeles, CA)

Will the Suns have home court in the first round this year?

John Hollinger
  (12:12 PM)

A couple of factors are working strongly in their favor on that front. First, the Jazz and Hornets aren't nearly as good as we thought, or at least don't look it right now. Second, San Antonio isn't exactly going gangbusters either. So right now you're looking at Lakers, Portland, Denver, and Phoenix/Dallas as your top five. Obviously this will change as the year goes on, but it's fair to address the possibility.

Tyler (Oklahoma City)

John, what do you think of the Thunders' chance of picking up a player like Amare or Chris bosh next off season to make them a legitimate contender in the west??

John Hollinger
  (12:13 PM)

I don't think they want Amare, but Bosh is real possibility given the proximity to his Texas roots. Thunder may need to clear some additional cap to make it happen, but if it comes down to doing so they have the assets to pull it off.

John Hollinger
  (12:13 PM)

Before I go any further, everyone, just stop with the "will the best player on my team win MVP?" questions. It's eight games. I refuse to address this topic for another month.

Brett (ATL)

Over/under 50 wins for the Hawks? Why hasn't Marvin stepped it up another notch this year?

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

Would have bet heavily on the under before the season, but Hawks have looked very strong out of the gate. Difficult homestand coming up -- New Orleans, Portland, Miami, Houston -- will test the strength of their home-court advantage, which despite the lethargic crowds was the East's largest a year ago. As to Marvin, I'm as puzzled as you are. Teams has worked much better with Joe at the 3 and Crawford at the 2.

Casey (Madison)

Any chance that that Bucks keep playing over their heads and finish the year at .500?

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

A chance? Sure. A likelihood? Probably not. But Bucks and B. Jennings are one of the year's early surprises. Additionally, it's made all their other moves look better now that there isn't a glaring hole at the point -- so Warrick at $3 mil and Delfino/Ilyasova deals look less like wasted opportunities.

Gregg (Cleveland)

I know you said the playoff predictor would come out after a few weeks to build up the data set...any updates on when to expect that?

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

Next week folks, sources tell ESPN.com that we should have both Power Rankings and Playoff Odds.

Ben (NYC)

Any chance GSW moves Curry now that they realize small backcourts don't work?

John Hollinger
  (12:18 PM)

No chance. One of the chief sucker ploys they've used on their poor, abused fan base is selling hope, repeatedly. They do that by pumping up all their draft picks as the next big thing, at least until they turn on them like tigers on their young.

Ryan (OKC)

James Harden or Tyreke Evans?

John Hollinger
  (12:19 PM)

Not even a question right now. But Harden is easier to fit into OKC's system because Evans needs the ball and he wasn't going to get it in Oklahoma.

Luke (Chicago)

What's wrong with Derrick Rose? I know it's early, but so far, he has to be considered a disappointment

John Hollinger
  (12:21 PM)

He's a *mild* disappointment. Let's not get carried away. But I think the issue with the Bulls is that the lack of shooters is dragging down the output of everyone (except for Noah, because all those bricks are giving him a ton of put-backs). Hinrich and Salmons are the only decent 3-point shooters, and even at that I'm saying "decent", not excellent. That's the biggest thing they miss without Gordon.

Bryan (Toronto)

Do you believe The Raps have the pieces to defend adequately, or are they doomed to give up monstrous FG% and PPG numbers with the people/coach they have?

John Hollinger
  (12:22 PM)

I do not believe they have the pieces, no. In a best-case scenario I suppose they could finish around, say, 20th, in Defensive Efficiency. As long as they're commited to starting Bargnani at the five, Turkoglu at the 3 and Calderon at the 1 they're going to be flammable.

Pathik (Chicago)

What do the Bulls have to give the Jazz to get Boozer?

John Hollinger
  (12:23 PM)

I expect Boozer rumors to heat up now that Utah is struggling, but it's difficult to construct a deal that really helps alleviate Utah's luxury tax problem. It's going to take some serious creativity and multiple teams, at least one of whom has trade exceptions and/or cap space, to make this thing work.

ClipperFan (Echo Park)

Could Griffin's chance to win RoY be effected by being out so long?

John Hollinger
  (12:24 PM)

Absolutely, especially since Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans have taken over in the hype wars and Chris Kaman isn't making it easy for the Clips to hand a starting spot to Griffin.

Gregg (Cleveland)

What do you think about Hickson getting consistent burn with the starters? He could be a good match-up with Lewis once he returns (not that Andy was terrible in that one)

John Hollinger
  (12:25 PM)

Hickson can hit a 15-footer, so that pairing made a lot of sense and was a good adjsutment by Mike Brown. I expect we may see more of him as the year goes on, because Z is really struggling. I hate to say this about such a quality guy, but at the same time I have to be honest -- he looks finished.

Jim (Ft Wayne)

John, Larry Bird was almost universally excoriated for his off-season moves, and yet nearly every single one has shown the positives he expected without the negatives that analysts warned about. Why are the experts so quick to criticize the less-than-blockbuster moves of GMs?

John Hollinger
  (12:27 PM)

Wow, the Pacer Kool-Aid drinkers are out in full force today. Three words folks: Knicks. Wizards. Warriors.

Teflonaccountant (Chicago)

Do you think Salmons will opt-in after this year, given his poor start to the season? And if so, how does it the Bulls cap situation next year? Could it cost them a max FA or would they still be able to work it out with a sign and trade? Thanks.

John Hollinger
  (12:28 PM)

As near as I can tell it won't matter at all, as long as they don't make a qualifying offer to Tyrus Thomas -- which I don't expect them to.

Ben (NYC)

Give Speights some love!

John Hollinger
  (12:29 PM)

This is crazy. He's playing sooooooooo much better than Brand or Dalembert that it's inevitable Eddie Jordan will have to make a change, but when you're dealing with high-paid veterans like that it can turn into a locker-room issue. The longer he waits to pull the trigger, though, the more the season gets away from them -- the Sixers can't play all their games against the Knicks and Nets.

Scott (Santa Barbara, CA)

Should the Clips look to make a move for a starting SF? They have some nice trade pieces in Kaman, Camby, other expiring contracts and future picks. Who could they realistically get to help out?

John Hollinger
  (12:31 PM)

The need is obvious, but the big question is timing -- do they try to land a small forward in free agency (can you think of any that might be available?) or do they jump the gun and trade for somebody else's castaways before then? I think the patient strategy has the much higher upside in this case, which is why the Clips probably won't make a strong move to address SF til after the season. Only exception would be trade for another player with an expiring deal to get them through the season.

Ben (NYC)

Bargnani vs Gallinari - who wins this 3 point contest?

John Hollinger
  (12:32 PM)

Gallinari, definitely. Bargnani is a better athlete and a better scorer, but off the catch I'm comparatively more scared of Gallinari.

Vinnie (ATL)

Where is the best place in Atlanta to watch a game? I like the beer selection at Taco Mac, but am tired of the place.

John Hollinger
  (12:32 PM)

Hartsfield, because you can catch a flight to a city with NBA fans and watch the game there.

Ariel (Albany, NY)

I am a Knicks fan. Oy Vey! Please tell me that the Knicks are not as bad as their 1-8 record. What do we have to look forward to? Will Lil' Eddy Curry help?

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

Unforunately, they are every bit as bad as their record and I'm having a hard time seeing how Curry would help it. What will make a huge difference, however, is when Nate Robinson comes back from his injury, especially since Duhon can't get out of his own way right now.

Jim (Boston)

Thoughts on the Cavs after taking 5 of the last 6?

John Hollinger
  (12:35 PM)

They're figuring it out, slowly. I'm still unsure what this team's ceiling is, especially if West's instability prevents him from being a contributor, but last night was the first time I really felt like I was watching last year's Cavs.

Heath (Dallas)

Are the Lakers being extra cautious with Pau or should we fear something serious?

John Hollinger
  (12:36 PM)

I'm not close enough to the situation to know, but hamstring injuries can and do drag on, especially for bigs -- witness Carlos Boozer's troubles with that injury a few years ago. Phil was being facetious when he said Christmas, but they thought he'd be back this week and he's nowhere close.

Matt (Westbrook, ME)

Is Chris Paul going to go insane before the end of the year? I'm starting to feel bad for him.

John Hollinger
  (12:37 PM)

You mean because he has the best PER in history and his team is 3-6? You think that might have him a bit frustrated? I'm very anxious to see him in the ATL on Saturday and see what his state of mind is.

George (los angeles)

Hey John, what do you think of Portland's new starting lineup? It seems to be working so far albeit the competition hasn't been that stiff. They're scoring more points though.

John Hollinger
  (12:38 PM)

It's a shake-things-up move. I don't think there's any chance they play the entire season this way, but it's a good way to acclimate Roy to playing with Miller while keeping his security blanket (Blake) around.

Cautiously Optimistic (Phoenix)

See what can happen when The Suns are allowed to harness a decent bench? D'Antoni must want to be sick.

John Hollinger
  (12:39 PM)

Remember, leaving wasn't D'Antoni's idea -- it was Kerr/Sarver trying to turn the Suns into the Spurs. Glad to see they've rejected that idea and gone back to the original plan. Too many execs are too stubborn about sticking with decisions that clearly aren't working; I give Kerr a lot of credit for admitting he made a horrible mistake and completely reversing field.

Chris (Phoenix)

Have you noticed how great The Suns bench is so far? I mean, this and the rebounding is ALL we Suns fans wanted in the SSOL days.

John Hollinger
  (12:40 PM)

To expand on this last point, Jared Dudley was HUGE in the Philly game. Enormous. Basically won the game for them. His inclusion as a throw-in to the Richardson deal is yet another reason why the Bobcats need to clean house.

Wesley (Philly)

Is there ANY possibility Brand could be moved somewhere (other than the bench)?

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

Easy two-step plan for trading Brand: 1) Wait for Isiah to get another job; 2) call Isiah. Short of that, there's no chance whatsoever unless it's a trash-for-trash trade that takes on somebody else's garbage.

kyle (los angeles)

how is dahntay jones's 15pts, 5 reb, 46%FG, and 81%FT in 33 min make him a terrible offensive player? pacers are getting more out of him than denver did.

John Hollinger
  (12:43 PM)

1) he has one of the worst TO rates and lowest AST rates at his position. I don't have Pure Point #s in front of me but he's definitely in the bottom five among shooting guards. 2) 46% isn't good if all of them are 2s, which they are. 3) As I noted above, there is no chance that he finishes the year at 81% from the line.

Jeff (NY, NY)

Are you shocked at how good Brandon Jennings is this early? All the knocks on him, can't shoot, too skinny, seem to be way off the mark. Last night-he schooled Chauncey Billups. Some scouts/gms must be kicking themselves.

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

Shocked, shocked, shocked. I talked to somebody last night who saw him in summer league and said he was completely blown away; in retrospect, I remember reading all the glowing reviews, but I'm so conditioned to ignoring summer league results that I paid no attention to it whatsoever. In the past watching summer league has only made me dumber; Jennings is proving the exception.

Danny (Los Angeles)

So what do you think Denver's biggest problem is? Coach Karl not being able to get his team to run plays on offense. Denver's defense or Mello's unwillingness to not pass out of double teams

John Hollinger
  (12:47 PM)

How about "playing a bunch of road games without two starters". Relax, they'll be fine once they get J.Earl back into the mix and Karl finally gives up on playing Carter so much.

Earl (Foxboro)

One of the worst TO rates and lowest AST rates at his position sounds a lot like Vince Carter.

John Hollinger
  (12:48 PM)

Carter has one of the best TO rates actually at just 5.2, but his AST ratio is nowhere near what it was in Jersey last year. We'll see if that's just early-season variation or a durable change.

B Dubs (Carrboro, NC)

Hi John,You mention the Bobcats needing to clean house, which seems to be true personnel-wise and front-office-wise. How would you go about rebuilding this team -- any pieces you see as keepers?

John Hollinger
  (12:50 PM)

Sure. Their core players aren't that old -- believe Diaw-Chandler-Wallace are all 27 and I like Augustin as a game-changing penetrator. Felton is useful if he'll work for cheap. But there is no star talent whatsoever and it's killing them offensively.

Kevin (Mn)

Evans, Harden, Holiday? Who cares all the best PGs were drafted by the T-Wolves! Can Johnny Flynn win ROY - it looks like he'll get points and minutes (and his PER pretty decent too)

John Hollinger
  (12:51 PM)

The media will seriously discount Flynn's numbers because of the Wolves' awfulness. Though Rambis is doing a good job of discounting Flynn's numbers all by himself with this triangle silliness.

JR (SLC)

Is the titanic sinking?

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

No, far from it -- Isiah is here to save the day. Remember, Utah has the Knicks' first-round pick, which seems likely to be in the top five, and once Boozer goes (whether by trade or FA) they'll have more cap flexibility going forward. With the young pieces they still have there, they should be fine. But they DO need more shooters, desperately, and a frontcourt player who can defend.

Paul (Tehachapi)

What do you mean by triangle silliness? Is Rambis doing something different than what Phil is doing?

John Hollinger
  (12:54 PM)

Yes, he's making the first mistake of coaching -- fitting personnel to the system rather than the system to the personnel. He's got two pick-and-roll point guards and isn't using their strengths.

Josh (Knoxville, TN)

San Antonio isn't going gangbusters, but they did just beat Dallas pretty handily w/o Duncan and Parker. Do you really think Popovich can't figure out how to make all the pieces fit and they'll wind up a sub-4 seed? Or do you just think Popovich won't care about the seed?

John Hollinger
  (12:55 PM)

I think they'll probably get it figured out and finish in the top five, yes; remember, they struggled like this at the start of last year too. All I was saying above is that the Suns can legitimately take part in the discussion about which four teams will have home court in the first round.

Mike (Raleigh, NC)

The Cavs had a lot of success with LeBron setting the pick and roll last night. Why did Mike Brown just figure this out now? Where was it all last year?

John Hollinger
  (12:56 PM)

So you'd rather not have the ball in his hands? The Cavs have run this from time to time, but unless you have a torrid Mo Williams against a struggling defender, it's usually not worth the trouble.

Tragic (Phoenix)

Am I crazy John, or did you praise me? Did you see I was the game-leading rebounder last night?

John Hollinger
  (12:58 PM)

Tragic also had six turnovers unfortunately, which put a damper on that 14-7-7 line off the bench. I still think he might be better off as a 2 where he doesn't have to worry about tedious things like running the offense, but he's looked a lot better this year than last.

Justin (Sacramento, CA)

Early impressions of Westphal coaching in Sac? I see a good coach really getting through to a young team.

John Hollinger
  (12:59 PM)

Once he got past the Desmond Mason silliness and figured out who his best players were, things have really started clicking. He has a strong track record with young players, which is why I liked the hire originally, and it seems guys like Thompson, Hawes and even Udrih are progressing this year.

J (Milwaukee)

I think that you have underestimated Skiles and the Bucks for the last two years. They were doing really well last year until the injury bug hit hard. And this year, you picked them to be one of the worst teams in the league. Aside from Jennings where else have the Bucks played well, position wise?

John Hollinger
  (1:01 PM)

Oh how we forget. I was leading the Bucks bandwagon until around the 40-game mark last year, because they were much better than their record at that point. But with all the changes this year I didn't see them as likely to keep it up. Obviously Jennings and a healthy (so far) Bogut make them better than we thought, but I'm still taking it with a few grains of salt since it's only five games

Freddy (Orange County)

Do you think the Lakers will try to move Morrisons contract before the trade deadline? and if they do what can they get in return? Maybe they could package Fish and Morrison and bring a solid PG in?

John Hollinger
  (1:03 PM)

I don't think they'll trade Fisher -- they value him too much for his D on big guards and locker room presence. Morrison, though, is a card I expect to see played. Phil likes big guards who can shoot a little; I think C.J. Watson might be a nice fit there, even though he's less of a defender than they would probably like.

Joe (Cleveland, OH)

Would LeBron leaving make Cleveland the most tortured and cursed sports city of all time?

John Hollinger
  (1:04 PM)

Definitely in the discussion, although Seattle has been giving them a run for their money lately.

JP Money (Cleveland)

Thoughts on Iverson to Cleveland?

John Hollinger
  (1:04 PM)

I'd rather not. Would be about the worst move I could possibly imagine.

Matt (College of Dupage)

Would you put Noah as the back up all star center in the east right now? I think he has surpassed Rose as the best player on the Bulls.

John Hollinger
  (1:06 PM)

East backup center will be a very interesting debate this year. Noah has established himself as a candidate in the early going, but Al Horford and Andrew Bogut have too. Also, Shaq could screw the whole thing up by getting more votes than Howard.

John Hollinger
  (1:07 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have but thanks again for all the great questions. I'll be checking in during the Heat-Cavs game on our live Daily Dime page.