Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

December 10, 12:00 PM ET
John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (12:02 PM)

Greetings everyone. Lots going on these days so lets get right to the questions.

Dan (Chicago)

I've been anti-VDN since he was picked, and I'm all for throwing him out in the cold any day now. What are the Bulls options as far as replacements? I would think they need someone established in the league to attract any talent this summer. Thanks.

John Hollinger
  (12:05 PM)

Dan -- If they fire VDN (that's short-hand for Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro if you're wondering), they'll almost certainly promote assistant Bernie Bickerstaff as interim coach. They probably wouldn't look for a permanent solution til after the season.

John Hollinger
  (12:06 PM)

Sorry about that -- had a couple tech issues and couldn't see my replies posting. Think we've got it under control now.

Sean (Philly)

So the Sixers have dropped 11 in a row and anyone who knows anything about basketball knows that Allen Iverson is not the answer (no pun intended). What do they do? Brand and Dalembert are virtually unmovable, so do they try to move Igudala? Maybe something with the Rockets for McGrady?

John Hollinger
  (12:08 PM)

Of course he's not the answer. If he was the answer they wouldn't have been able to get him for the minimum 20 games into the season. He's a stopgap solution until Williams returns. Sixers real problems are at other end -- Eddie Jordan has never coached defense and apparently decided Philly wasn't the place he'd start.

Sokol (Las Vegas NM)

Please tell me, aren't timeouts strategic....Jazz fans are getting sick of Sloan not stopping momentum and runs with a time out.Please tell me who is the most effective coaches ever in using timeouts.?

John Hollinger
  (12:10 PM)

Ultimate irony ... their opponent was the coach perhaps most famous for rarely taking timeouts during a run by the other side. I was so thrown by the Jazz wearing Alabama-Birmingham's uniforms that I could scarcely notice the lack of timeouts. In all seriousness, I've always felt timeouts were best hoarded til the end unless there was a dire need to use them sooner.

Devin (SLC)

Jazz are 5 really bad quarters away from being 17-4, right? right? Please? Talented, yes. What is missing here?

John Hollinger
  (12:11 PM)

Every team in the league can make a similar statement Devin. And what about five good quarters away from being 7-14? Jazz's scoring margin says they're right about where they should be. I think the problems are 1) the lack of shooting, and 2) the injuries on the wings.

John (Houston)

How much longer can the Spurs use the "we haven't had time to gel as a team" excuse before Spurs fans have to start wondering if Ginobili and Jefferson don't really complement each other well?

John Hollinger
  (12:13 PM)

If I were a Spurs fan, I would be ecstatic if the answer was just "they don't complement each other," as opposed to "they both suddenly got really old." But I want to hold my fire for another couple of games here and make sure Manu's had enough time to get back in a flow.

Mike (Raleigh )

Should Gerald Wallace be an All Star?

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

No. He's rebounding amazingly well but his other #s are down from previous years. Likely East All-Star team is Wade, Bosh, LeBron and nine players from the Celtics, Magic and Hawks.

barry (cleveland)

Can the Cavs afford to wait until close to the trade deadline to try and make a move involving Z and or Wally as a sign and trade? And if they try and make a move sooner than later who is realistically "available" out there that could help the Cavs?

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

Yes, they can afford to wait. At the absolute worst they're going to be 4th in the East. The more patient they are, the more talent that might come available, so it pays to be patient.

Matt (Chicago)

Hey John, Should I be worried about Rose's development? He seemed to be more willing to distribute last night than you are giving him credit for (at least in the 1st half). Is it a system problem more than anything?

John Hollinger
  (12:18 PM)

Yes to both. I'd be worried about his development -- I don't think he sees the court as well as you'd like a PG to and he's not a good enough shooter to get defenses stretched out on screen-rolls. But the system isn't exactly cutting edge and the lack of shooting makes the Bulls easy to guard.

Dave (SLC)

Are the Jazz doomed to be mediocre?

John Hollinger
  (12:19 PM)

Reality check: There are many teams who would love to b 12-9 right now. But I don't see the Jazz challenging for the conference title, if that's where you're going with this.

Frank (Dalllas)

Professor Hollinger, as of right now, barring a trade, are the Dallas Mavericks a better team than the Spurs?

John Hollinger
  (12:20 PM)

Would have to say that, yes. Spurs' ceiling remains high, possibly higher than Dallas's, but too many ifs regarding San Antonio right now.

Matt (Portland)

Do you think Roy and Aldridge have become complacent after signing long-term contracts?

John Hollinger
  (12:21 PM)

I actually think they've become impatient. They want so badly for all the good stuff to start happening that everyone's told them is coming, that even minor doses of adversity have been really frustrating for them. Roy needs to re-learn how to play off the ball -- he's actually really good catch-and-shooting off screens but rarely does it, and that type of thing could make Miller-Roy a lot more workable.

Jonas Jerebko (Kinna, Sweden)

Can I keep this up? Is it ok for me to secretly want my teammate Tayshaun Prince to get traded? These Viking Helmets in "Jerebko Row" make me feel right at home, not sure about the bananas though. Also, this Rookie of the Year Award.... I think I want that!

John Hollinger
  (12:23 PM)

Let's not get crazy here. But the Pistons are getting far more return on the Jerebko pick than we thought possible in year 1 -- remember, this was supposed to be a long-term play. He's a good athlete and role player and is increasing his offensive output.

Justin (Phildelphia)

Hey John. Big fan here. As a Hawks fan, I'm downright giddy about our start. But while I'm happy Woodson has another creator to rely on in Crawford, I'm still worried about JJ's excessive dribbling and one-on-one play and I think we'll need one more offensive option to compete effectively in the playoffs. Who's # on the Hawks should Woodson call more often to develop that third option?

John Hollinger
  (12:26 PM)

I think you're absolutely correct that JJ has been indulging a bit much in the 1-on-1 play. But the fact is the Hawks run isolations as much as anyone when they're not running, so whomever is getting the play calls will look like he's going 1-on-1 a lot. That said, I wouldn't mind seeing more post touches for Horford and Smith.

Paco (LA)

Your thoughts on Donaghy?

John Hollinger
  (12:28 PM)

He has no credibility, as TrueHoop already demonstrated by back-testing some of his claims, and some of the allegedly provocative stuff he did claim -- wait, you mean likes and dislikes develop between certain players and officials? This is crazy! -- wasn't exactly breaking news. I think the league has a serious perception problem, and the # of people that buy the conspiracy theories (not just ones involving Donaghy) helps show it, but that's the extent of the issue.

Hal (New Orleans)

Quietly, the Hornets have gone 7-3 in their last 10, undefeated following cp3's return (even though you can tell he's not healthy) and went 4-4 without him. This team is scrappy and finding scoring from the rook thornton at the 2 is certainly helping. How do you see them going forward?

John Hollinger
  (12:29 PM)

Stealth playoff contender, though I can't seem them getting more than a low playoff seed even with CP. Obviously the key was playing the young guys that Byron wouldn't, as Collison and Thornton have helped immensely. Also can't wait to see Diogu get back into action, I think he could really aid that second unit.

Andrew (Chicago)

The Bulls season is a lost cause - at best they limp into the playoffs and win a game. Why not do something risky like hire Pippen as coach for the rest of the season?

John Hollinger
  (12:30 PM)

Because the last two times they hired coaches without NBA experience (VDN, Floyd) it worked out so great for them? No thanks.

Haywood Phillips (NYC)

Is the Lakers defensive efficiency (2nd right now) due to a Ron Artest factor, learning from two straight NBA final runs, or an interaction between the two? Other factors?

John Hollinger
  (12:32 PM)

Well, there's also "Not playing any road games" -- I'm sure their ranking might sink a little when the schedule gets more challenging after Christmas. That said, L.A.'s defensive results with Bynum last year were also outstanding, so it shouldn't come as a big shock to see the Lakers rank so highly. Artest helps too, obviously, but I think Bynum is the bigger factor.

Gregory (New York)

Everyone on tv keeps putting Boston over the Magic> How? Even with all the people that have missed time the Magic have posted the same record, and won the one meeting so far in the season. Are the Celtics actually better then the Magic?

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

I think the Magic are better and have thought so since training camp, so you're asking the wrong guy. Celtics have championship mystique in their favor, but their bench was seriously overrated coming into this season. And hey, did you see Marquis Daniels is hurt? Who could have seen that coming?

Casey (Atlanta)

Will Joe Johnson wake up and sign an extension?

John Hollinger
  (12:34 PM)

Why would he when he can get an extra year on a max deal after this season and shop around to see if he can play with another superstar? Incentives all favor waiting in this case.

Jeff (Portland)

Why do Steve Blake play SO MANY minutes for the Blazers when they have better players on the bench?

John Hollinger
  (12:36 PM)

Brandon Roy loves playing with Blake and McMillan has given Roy a lot of rope, but they need to look really hard at this. Blake is a backup. Period. If Blazers are going anywhere this year, and I'm not necessarily sure they are, it will be with either Miller or Bayless running point

Jason (Phoenix)

Do you know how the NBA schedule is setup? I am amazed at the number of back-to-back games the Suns have played on the road against good (and rested) teams. They have been lucky that otherwise they have played mediocre teams in such a road heavy schedule.

John Hollinger
  (12:38 PM)

How funny ... my best friend is a diehard Suns fan and has been pounding me with emails about how unfair Phoenix's early schedule is. They've definitely looked a bit tired lately, but one thing I'll point out is that it's not necessarily a bad thing to have games like "at LA" and "at Denver" as the tail end of a B-to-B, if you buy the idea that those are games they're at least 85% likely to lose anyway.

Mark (Westchester NY)

Has Brandon Jennings struggles been a result of: a young player getting too much media attention, just one of those slumps every player goes through along the course of the season, or are teams just keying in on him after the 55?

John Hollinger
  (12:40 PM)

How about -- he was obviously going to regress to the mean and not shoot 50% on off-the-dribble 3s all season. Can I get a vote for that one?

Brett (ATL)

3 Hawks in the All Star game?

John Hollinger
  (12:40 PM)

could happen -- Horford as backup C (main comp is Brook Lopez, who will be killed by Nets record), Josh Smith and Joe Johnson.

Roberto (Miami, Fl)

Has the gap closed between Beasley and Rose this season? Don't you think that if Beasley didn't have Wade, he could be putting better number than Rose.

John Hollinger
  (12:42 PM)

Better question -- can we get a recount yet on last year's ROY vote? I argued for Brook Lopez at the time, and the gap has seriously widened since.

John (Toronto)

Thoughts of the Raptors recent play? (last nights game not included)

John Hollinger
  (12:43 PM)

Unfortunately, last night counts. Raps are still threatening to go down as the worst defensive team in history, which makes it tough to win consistently. I will continue to openly question Triano until I see better results at that end.

Matt (College Station)

I should be studying for finals, but I find myself reading your chat. Do you know if the NBA has a flex setup in the schedule where they can make games nationally televised if they aren't already? It is ridiculous to me that the Rockets don't have one national game.

John Hollinger
  (12:44 PM)

Yes, they do, and they've already invoked it to put Milwaukee on the air. I suspect they'll do the same for Houston. Rockets, by the way, were livid about the 0 national TV appearances, especially since several lesser teams got at least one TV game.

Tommy (Orlando, FL)

Is too much emphasis put on "Assists per Game?" PGs like Jameer get criticized for not having a high assist average while playing on such a potent team. But, with so many offensive weapons, shouldn't the PG "run" the offense and not just focus on getting the ball to the scorer, but ensure a fluid, ball-moving offense? Same could be said for other PGs...

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

A lot of times PGs on great teams will have low assist #s, because most of those teams have wings or bigs that you can run most of the offense through. This is why the pass-first point guard thing is a bit of a fallacy -- teams win all the time with low-assist PGs whose main role is to score.

John Hollinger
  (12:47 PM)

[Late edit: Spparently this question never posted. Reader asked about Golden State not calling plays for Morrow]. The Warriors run one play. It's called Monta Ellis dribbles up the court and tries to get his own shot, and passes the ball only if Plan A fails. Whomever catches the ball operates with the same plan. Rinse, lather and repeat.

Gloria (Italy)

Bobcats: Are they trying to trade Augustin for big man? And playoff-bound?

John Hollinger
  (12:48 PM)

Oh, you mean like Brook Lopez? The guy they passed on because LB fell in love with Augustin on draft day? Or more like Ajinca, the guy LB fell in love with the year before? If I'm a Bobcats fan, the last thing I want is Larry making personnel moves involving young guys.

Victor (Chicago)

John wassup with the Rose hate? You were unfairly harsh on him in your article last night comparing him to Francis when he's obviously in a situation that is not tailored for him. I mean what do you want him to be? When he tries to be a scorer he's Francis and when he tries to get others involved he's not seeing the court well. Does anyone know WHO they want Rose to be?

John Hollinger
  (12:50 PM)

I think Rose will be a much better player than Francis and he doesn't pound the ball nearly as much, but I'm worried that he's starting to follow that trajectory. He has to improve as a shooter and see the game better, and he can't just run into the screener and give up on D. It's fair to wonder if a more experienced coach could get him to that point more quickly.

Garrett (CA)

Do you see the Kings trading Kevin Martin for a solid player and a pick this year?

John Hollinger
  (12:51 PM)

It's a fair question to ask out loud, but I'm told that the Kings want to keep Martin and play him and Evans together in the backcourt.

Brad (Encino)

Why are you hating on the Lakers D? What makes you think that going on the road is going to make their d worse?

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

Besides the fact that every team, without fail, plays better at home and worse on the road? Sorry, this is master-of-the-obvious stuff -- L.A.'s results are unlikely to look quite as strong when they play more games outside Staples.

Garrett (CA)

The Kings didn't start out with any Nationaly Televised games this year, but ESPN just picked one up for Saturday. I didn't Know that could happen.

John Hollinger
  (12:52 PM)

See, Houston fans? It can happen to you too.

Chris (Toronto)

Jose Calderon is terrible, why did you ever think he was good?

John Hollinger
  (12:54 PM)

Well, he was good. And offensively, he still is. But man is he awful on defense. I'm having trouble believing that hamstring injury last year fully healed. He's probably the worst defensive PG in the league right now.

raymond (MD)

The Bulls are a terrible team. Why were they picked up to be on so many Nationally Televised games.

John Hollinger
  (12:56 PM)

Nobody thought they'd be this bad, and a lot of folks thought D. Rose would ascend toward stardom. Unfortunately the TV schedule is heavily dependent on prognotistications that don't always turn out to be accurate.

Kyle (New York, Ny)

I heard rumors about Al Harrington for Tryus Thomas. Have you heard anything about this? I was hoping the Knicks keep Al in their long term plans

John Hollinger
  (12:57 PM)

It's essentially tweedledee for tweedledum -- neither player will stay around beyond this season as both have expiring deals. Harrington could really help Chicago with his shooting and scoring, but I'm struggling to say the same for Thomas in New York's system.

Ben (Portland)

John, do the Blazers have to make a deal this year? KP has struggled to complete in season trades so far, but with only 9 healthy players and really only 6 healthy rotation playres left he has to make something happen right? Would Orlando give up Bass? Or Washington give up Miller for what the Blazers can offer?

John Hollinger
  (12:58 PM)

Blazers will look really hard at any deal for a stretch 4 who can replace what Outlaw was giving them. That's the big priority right now. I also think they wouldn't mind dealing for a true 3, and it's my sneaking suspicion that if Caron Butler came available they'd say yes in a nanosecond.

Garrett (CA)

Kevin Love or Jason Thompson?

John Hollinger
  (1:00 PM)

Love, hands down. He's a tremendous talent, imagine Brad Miller but with a prodigious rebound rate and you have some idea of his ability. Thompson will be a nice player for the next decade or so, but Love will be a star.

Jim (Boston)

Should Iguodala be an all-star this year? Gotta think he's the best SF in the east after LBJ and maybe Granger. But he'll probably get pushed out by Pierce.

John Hollinger
  (1:02 PM)

His team's record will eliminate him from consideration. Pierce, Bosh, LeBron and J-Smith will be the first four forwards taken; Garnett and Rashard Lewis are likely to make it as well.

Javier (NY)

Why is everyone hatting on the Knicks for passing on Jennings when the "experts" (Ford, Bilas, Thorpe, Hollinder) had him in the 10-15 range as a prospect. Don't any of you guys have any pride in your work? Thanks John

John Hollinger
  (1:03 PM)

My big issue isn't that the Knicks passed on Jennings, but that they took a guy I had rated very low (Jordan Hill). Didn't like that selection at all. If NY didn't like Jennings they could have taken Lawson.

chris (minneapolis)

Okay so now that its been a little while, who do you think got the best of the OJ Mayo Kevin Love trade so far?

John Hollinger
  (1:05 PM)

Liked it better for Minnesota at the time and still do now. May go down as one of only two trades in McHale's tenure that he won, with the Cassell deal with Milwaukee being the other.

Danny (Philly)

Has Ed Stefanski done a deceptively terrible job with the Sixers? He was hired because Billy King was abominable, but Stefanski has made some pretty terrible decisions recently. Is his job in danger at all?

John Hollinger
  (1:07 PM)

Not even close to danger yet, and go through his moves blow by blow and it's not that bad -- the Brand signing blew up in his face, but everybody was on board with that move. The drafts -- Speights, Holiday -- look really solid. I'm not crazy about Eddie Jordan's work so far and the Iguodala contract is pricey for what they're getting, but Sixers' biggest problem is having hands tied by tax constraints and lack of revenue. That's how they lost Miller.

Marcos (Puerto Rico)

In Bill Simmons book he has Nash rank ahead of Kidd and Payton in the list of all-time greats, what you think about that?

John Hollinger
  (1:09 PM)

With each passing day, I become more convinced that Payton is the second-most underrated player of all time. (Bob Pettit is safely ensconced at No. 1). Great defender, superstar production, but played in the wrong time zone and only got to the Finals once in his prime. Clearly a far better player than Nash or Kidd.

John T (Eagan, MN)

I'd throw getting Tom Gugliotta for Donyell Marshall in there as well as a win for McHale. By my math, that makes him 3-79.

John Hollinger
  (1:10 PM)

Good point. And on that happy note, it's time for me to get some sunlight. Thanks for all the great questions everyone and we'll do this again next week.