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December 17, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (3:07 PM)

Greetings from Miami everyone, where it feels like I'm about 3,000 miles further to the Northwest. A bit damp out there today. Heat and Magic tonight, so I'll take any questions on that or anything else that's on your mind.

Darko Milicic (the Big Apple)

Why haven't things worked out in the NBA for me? When I get time, I generally play pretty well, right? That being the case, why don't I get more time!?

John Hollinger
  (3:09 PM)

Are we sure this isn't Chad posting under an alias? Sorry, Darko hasn't played well even when he's had the time. He looked terrible in the limited burn I saw him get with New York. He's been given about a hundred more chances than most other players and he's failed in all of them. Maybe KK Zadar or Buducnost Podgorica can get a better year out him next season and he'll become a useful backup in the Adriatic League.

Peter (Seattle)

Hi John. What sort of player do you think they Celtics could target as a mid-season acquisition? Or do they feel confident enough with what they've got?

John Hollinger
  (3:11 PM)

I wouldn't feel confident enough if I were them, just because the bench looks mighty slim from here. And you have to factor in the Daniels injury potential too -- there's no guarantee he's still standing in May. The most explosive thing they could do is deal Ray's expiring contract, but I don't see that happening. A more realistic approach would be to deal Scalabrine and Tony Allen for a useful $6 million player who can swing between 3 and 4.

Jerry (the rez)

Mike Woodson as Coach of the Year? Two straight years he's turned an alleged shoot-first, no-defense has-been into one of the league's best weapons off the bench.

John Hollinger
  (3:12 PM)

You raise a valid point -- he's milked more out of Flip Murray and Jamal Crawford than anybody thought possible. I don't see Woodson getting COY love unless the Hawks finish in the top two in the East. Otherwise there are too many happy stories in the West (Sac, Houston, OKC) competing for attention.

Matt (Oakland, CA)

Denver is very thin in the front court with 3 main rotation guys. What are their chances of aquiring another big man, and who should they be targeting?

John Hollinger
  (3:14 PM)

They're trying, let me put it that way. They were trying a year ago too, but the financial situation is more favorable for them this year because Kroenke's businesses are making money and most of his fellow owners aren't. So if they make a deal that requires them to take on more money for next season, it seems a bit more feasible. I think Brendan Haywood would be perfect for them, but I don't know if Washington is ready to get the dynamite out yet.

Mark (The Atl)

A useful $6M player who can swing between 3 and 4 - you just made every Knick fan ecstatic! Can we actually find JJ a new home? Decent defensively, and, er....

John Hollinger
  (3:16 PM)

Um, no. We have very different definitions of the word "useful." Cs would be looking for somebody to be a Posey-type floor spacer (but probably not Posey, who has been awful).

Mike (DC)

How stunned were you when you saw Cerrato was out with the Redskins

John Hollinger
  (3:17 PM)

Very odd... something I thought wouldn't happen no matter how hard I wished for it, and then it just sprung upon me out of the blue. Just hope they get some smart people in there now, but I worry that smart people won't work for Snyder.

Mike (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

I think the Lakers will take the west but many think that San Antonio will be their biggest challenge. I say it's going to be Denver what do you say?

John Hollinger
  (3:19 PM)

Having seen both teams in the past 72 hours, I'd go with Denver pretty strongly. I'm a little worried about the Spurs right now, but they have a 10-game stretch of cupcakes here where they can start feeling better about themselves. They better kill it, though, because their late-season schedule is brutal.

Marcos (Fort Lauderdale)

Do you see the Heat making any moves this year? What do you see happening for Miami in 2010? June 2011, who's the better team: Miami or Orlando?

John Hollinger
  (3:21 PM)

I think the Heat stand pat unless a whopper of a trade becomes available (i.e. Bosh). Otherwise they have to preserve the cap space for this summer and just try to squeeze as many wins as possible out of the current group. Too early to say yet whether Magic or Heat will be better a year from now, but the Heat would have to get a superstar free agent just to be in the conversation.

Jack (LA)

What did you think of Kobe's game winning shot ?

John Hollinger
  (3:23 PM)

Tremendous shot. Bucks are kicking themselves for all the missed opportunities -- the missed FT by Bogut at the end of regulation, the two by Ilyasova in OT, the two empty trips in the last minute of OT. Since I know what question is next, yes, I thought it was a charge when he ran into Bogut, and even if it had been a block I'm dubious that it was a valid continuation (thought he traveled after the contact and before putting shot up). But Bucks also blew a bunch of chances that would have made the refs irrelevant.

Frank (Philadelphia)

Even though this year is sunk, what move can the Sixers make to help themselves for the future? Brand is pretty much untradeable, but what about moving Iguodala? To me, he just doesn't seem to fit as both his and Thaddeus Young's best position is the 3.

John Hollinger
  (3:24 PM)

Disagree entirely, I think Young is much better as a 4 and that's the reason for bringing Brand off the bench. I'd like to see Philly go a step further and starter either Speights or Brand at 5 and bench Dalembert.

Eli (Bosh-Ton)

Hey JohnAny chance the Raps could trade Hedo at this point? Would anyone take him with that contract or am I dreaming that we could dump him for Ray Allen's expiring? I'm getting mighty sick of him smiling at all times while his team is getting pummelled, not to mention the fact that he shot warmups with the Magic in last nights pregame shootaround, the guys gotta go!!! Thanks.

John Hollinger
  (3:26 PM)

the only way you'll be able to trade him is if you want to get 30 cents on the dollar back ... either that or you're trading him for somebody else's disappointment. Speaking of which, here's one crazy thought I just had: Turkoglu for Andre Miller.

Greg (London, UK)

Do you think Brook Lopez shall be come a max-contract type player in the NBA?

John Hollinger
  (3:27 PM)

If you look at the contracts that even mediocre big men have earned in this league, then you have to conclude that Lopez has a great shot of getting a max deal when his rookie contract expires. If he doesn't get the full max he'll get something close to it.

Joey (SC)

I have a dream John: What would it take for Dwayne Wade and Chris Paul to be on the same team in the NBA?

John Hollinger
  (3:28 PM)

It would take the Hornets being absolute morons, and they're not, so it ain't happening. And I don't think those two would be good together, actually, as they both need the ball in their hands a lot.

LebronJohn (CT)

Tiger Woods was the AP athlete of the decade. If you had to pick the best NBA player of the 2000's thus far, would it be Kobe? Shaq? Duncan? Someone else?

John Hollinger
  (3:29 PM)

Tim Duncan, hands down. Not the sexy answer, but if you're looking at effectiveness and winning there's no defensible alternate conclusion.

Joel (Philly via Youngtown)

What's the Cavs' biggest issue? Mike Brown's nonsensical rotation? Getting Delonte West right? Wasting minutes on Z? Not playing more small ball with Lebron at the 4?

John Hollinger
  (3:31 PM)

Two things affecting the Cavs right now compared to last year: 1) West, who was really good last year, 2) Z got older. It happens. That said, they definitely need to use LeBron more as a 4.

Anders (Toronto)

Predictions for tonights Magic-Heat matchup?

John Hollinger
  (3:32 PM)

I would install the Magic as a slight favorite; they're a better team but they're on a road back-to-back, plus the Heat already beat them once in Orlando.

Don Nelson (Oakland, CA)

Hello, National Media! I'm trying to get fired! Anyone there? Hello?

John Hollinger
  (3:34 PM)

I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see that team. Monta Ellis is channeling Allen Iverson circa 1998 and everyone else is just hoping they can touch the ball once a quarter or so.

Lior (Houston)

There is a lot of chatter about TMAC trades on basketball sites. Why would the Rockets trade him and take bad long term contract in return? I would buy him out or let his contract expire and have the cap space next year. Also have some money to extend scola 2010, Landry & Brooks in 2011.

John Hollinger
  (3:35 PM)

Rockets are NOT going to take back money in a McGrady deal; to get his expiring contract would require surrendering a real basketball player. At this point nobody is prepared to do that, but as the year wears on and certain disappointing teams look to cut salary (coughWashingtoncough) that situation may change.

phletchuer (CA)

Duncan is a great answer to that question, but "no defensible alternate conclusion?" Kobe and Shaq have more rings during that span.

John Hollinger
  (3:37 PM)

Duncan was the only one to win as his team's sole All-Star. He was the only one whose teams won 50+ every year in the decade. He was the only one who didn't go through a stretch where the "Me" clearly trumped the "We." About the only negatives I can come up with are that he didn't make many highlight plays and he didn't play in L.A. That shouldn't be the criteria.

Tyrone (St Petersburg)

If the Lakers and Celtics played a 7 game series now who would you pick to win?

John Hollinger
  (3:38 PM)

If we tipped off tonight I would go with Boston; I just don't think L.A. is playing that well right now compared to what their ceiling is. I still suspect L.A. will be the better team in June.

Tom (MPLS)

Would Ryan Gomes fit the bill of that "3-4 floor spacer" The Celtics are looking for?

John Hollinger
  (3:39 PM)

Not a bad one, and familiar with Boston's system to boot. I don't think Minny's in any hurry to trade him though.

gregg (cleveland, oh)

john, can you explain the permissibility of signing wally to a non-guaranteed contract and then including him in a package? is there any "fraud" test stern would administer to such a trade? utah (or other against-the-tax-teams) might salivate over such a deal, no?

John Hollinger
  (3:40 PM)

Can't do it. First year has to be guaranteed.

Mike (Cleveland)

Do you think the Wizards move any of the big 3 (Jamison, Arenas and Butler) and where do you think they could end up?

John Hollinger
  (3:40 PM)

Yes, I think we could see a fire sale by the Wizards. But that's still an "if" not a "when" because we don't know how the ownership transition will affect their financial planning.

Chip (Cleveland)

Last year the Cavs cleaned up against everyone but the elites. This year they have been much better against the better teams in the league but have slipped up against the weaker teams. Does this mean anything at all?

John Hollinger
  (3:42 PM)

I suspect it may, because as you surely noticed in last year's playoffs their inability to match up with Orlando caught up with them. This year the Cavs are more capable of playing different styles and different opponents, so it's quite possible they'll have a worse regular season but a more successful postseason.

Jason (Columbus)

I'm still quietly hoping Yao Ming signs with the Cavs next summer. There was more news this week from a Chinese investor who indicated he thought it would be best for LBJ to stay in Cle. Any chance this is setting up for to be a win-win for Cle. fans?

John Hollinger
  (3:44 PM)

This is a nonexistent possibility. Yao would opt out of $17 million in Houston to sign for the Mid-level in Cleveland? Please. I know China is relatively new to this market economy stuff, but I think Yao can figure out which of those two options make more sense.

Jared (Alberta)

Hi John. What's wrong with D-Wade? He's looked like a shadow of himself from last year.

John Hollinger
  (3:45 PM)

I hope to have a better answer after tonight. His shooting percentages are down from every spot in the court, but his mid-range shooting numbers in particular are WAY down from a year ago.

Joe (Seattle)

Your thoughts on Beasley after your pro prospect formula said he'd be far and away the best pro from the 2008 class? I know it's early but he's not where I expected.

John Hollinger
  (3:46 PM)

He's not what I expected either, particularly on the boards. I do think he needs to be a full-time 4 to maximize his offensive gifts, because when he drives from the elbow against 4s nobody is quick enough to stay with him. Against 3s that advantage isn't there, and he becomes just another guy.

Chris (Smith)

Do you tweet?

John Hollinger
  (3:47 PM)

@johnhollinger

Anthony S. (Devon, PA)

Please give me a glimmer of hope regarding Jrue Holiday. Please?

John Hollinger
  (3:48 PM)

I think he's going to be a superb defender and I've had scouts tell me the same thing. Remember, he's the youngest player in the league. I would rather have had Lawson, but I understand why they went with Holiday.

Jay (Tacoma, WA)

With Boozer's good play, are other teams more likely to up their trade offers? Or are the Jazz more likely to just ride it out, win as much as they can, and risk seeing him walk in July?

John Hollinger
  (3:49 PM)

I see the latter scenario, because the reality is that it's tough to come up with a truly fair offer for Boozer that doesn't paint the Jazz into just as deep a luxury tax corner next season. The best option is to just let him have his contract year and then see the money fall off the books.

gregg (cleveland, oh)

john, i agree ferry built this team with interchangeable personnel that can be mixed & matched based on opponent. my question: is mike brown up to the task of actually executing those changes? based on his static rotations early in the season, my guess is no. i think such a rotation is a little too outside-the-box for him

John Hollinger
  (3:51 PM)

I was a little surprised when I went to Cleveland a couple weeks ago and he said they rarely practiced with LeBron at 4; obviously that precludes them using such a lineup more often. That said, I think Brown has done a lot more mixing and matching of personnel the past couple of years than you give him credit for; I've noticed Cavs fans tend to think since they have the best player in the world any loss must be Mike Brown's fault, but that's not how it works.

Goldberg (Atlanta)

Can I come to a Hawks game with you? I'll buy ya a beer of your choice!

John Hollinger
  (3:52 PM)

It's probably easier just to a buy a ticket; I can assure you that plenty of seats are available.

Adam Morrison's Expiring Contract (AMEC) (LA)

Where do I end up in February?

John Hollinger
  (3:53 PM)

We have an Acronym of the year candidate. AMEC will be in play only if Dr. Buss approves taking on more future salary to address the point guard situation, but I wonder if he'll just think "we can win even without a point guard, so why bother?" and prevent such a deal.

Sean (La La Land)

You really think Lebron is the best player in the world?

John Hollinger
  (3:54 PM)

Absolutely. This drives the Kobe fan Army crazy, but the evidence is overwhelming.

Rick (Utah)

What West teams do you see not making the playoffs this year? Jazz, Spurs, Hornets, Suns, Blazers, Thunder....

John Hollinger
  (3:55 PM)

I think the Hornets and Thunder will be the two that don't get in, with Portland just squeaking into #8. I really like OKC and they're WAY ahead of schedule defensively, but their lack of depth scares me and at some point in the next 50 games I think it will come back to bite them.

z (sacramento)

Tyreke Evans makes it to the all star.

John Hollinger
  (3:57 PM)

He'd have a much better shot in the East. It's going to be tough with all those guards out West -- you're looking at Kobe, Durant, Deron Williams, CP, Brandon Roy, Nash, Manu the Magnificent, etc. Pretty large task to break into that group.

patrick (san antonio)

The concern for the Spurs coming into the season was health, but now it seems like Tony Parker falling off drastically is really hurting them. What's the deal with Parker and do you see him turning it around?

John Hollinger
  (3:59 PM)

I'm still trying to asses how much is Parker and how much is that they've gone back to running everything through Duncan so Parker isn't getting the same opportunities. It does appear he's scoring less in transition, though, and if he's lost a step that would be a very worrisome thing given that his quickness is his differentiating skill.

Dustin (Rip City)

John - Did you realize based on PER, Portland was starting the worst starting PG (blake) and second worst starting SF, Webster (barely above the guy from Milwaukie, can't spell). Does this make Portlands record more impressive?

John Hollinger
  (4:00 PM)

I suppose. The Blazers can't do much about Webster, but they have to play Miller and count on him getting in better shape and learning to coexist with Roy. It's the only way out of this.

Kevin (Denver)

Do you think the Spurs need to tweak the lineup by starting Manu considering their inconsistent start?

John Hollinger
  (4:01 PM)

That's always been Pop's go-to move -- change Manu from starter to bench and back -- but with Jefferson already there at the 3 it's a more difficult switch than it was in the old days. Now you're asking Manu to guard Kobe/Wade/etc. at the 2.

Goran Dragic (AZ)

True or False: I am emerging as a solid 6th man.

John Hollinger
  (4:03 PM)

He's really taken up the slack for Barbosa these last few games; I've always thought Dragic might be better as a 2 and these last few games have cemented my opinion. That said, teams are going to start guarding him on those 3s. You should have seen the looks on the Spurs faces when he made those 3s in Phoenix the other night; Tony Parker was looking back at the bench like, "but you told me he can't shoot?"

Kevin (Denver)

follow up: with Jefferson and Manu's comparable size, seems like Jefferson could guard opposing 2 guards instead of Manu if that is a concern.

John Hollinger
  (4:04 PM)

Our readers in New Jersey are howling with laughter right now.

justin (san francisco)

do you think portland should give more playing time to bayless? he seems to be a lot better this year in limited minutes.

John Hollinger
  (4:06 PM)

I like Bayless, but he's a 20-25 minute third guard type off the bench. I do think streamlining the guard rotation (i.e by trading either Miller or Blake) would help him immensely, and the Blazers may very well do that in the coming weeks. Right now it's tough to play all three of those guys, and the one they're playing the most (Blake) is performing the worst of the three.

Rich (Bayonne, NJ)

"A more realistic approach would be to deal Scalabrine and Tony Allen for a useful $6 million player who can swing between 3 and 4." Could be Nocioni or is that contract too scary? Who do you think would be the best fit?

John Hollinger
  (4:07 PM)

You nailed it -- the contract is too scary or they'd have already done it. They'd have to get considerable additional assets to make that deal palatable, and they don't really have any deadweight contracts to put into a deal to make it more even.

Done Nelson (Dallas)

Spurs/Blazers/Lakers blah blah blah! Is Dirk the MVP? How far can Dallas go this year?

John Hollinger
  (4:09 PM)

Dirk is not the MVP, but he does have a good shot at first-team All-NBA. As for the Mavs, I think they're going to be right where they were a year ago -- definitely in the playoffs, probably in the second round, but totally outclassed by Denver/L.A. The one game-changer they could throw into that equation would be dealing Dampier's expiring deal for some star power.

John Hollinger
  (4:09 PM)

Folks that's all the time I have but thanks again for all the great questions today. Be sure to check out my dispatch from the Heat-Magic game, and I'll be back next week at my normal noon time to do this again.