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December 29, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (2:02 PM)

Greetings all from Atlanta, where we've got a bit one tonight between the Hawks and Cavaliers ... before they meet again tomorrow in Cleveland. Call it a "best-of-2" series ... and according to today's playoff odds, a preview of the conference finals. Let's get to the questions.

Michael (Irvine, CA)

26-5 looks like smoke and mirrors so far, only 3 quality opponents recently and all 3 were double digit losses, nothing matters until april, do the Lakers figure it out?

John Hollinger
  (2:03 PM)

Here's the thing -- as I wrote yesterday, L.A.'s bench is killing them. No surprise they lost yesterday with the subs having to play so much. They'll play a lot less in the postseason, which is why I still see the West playoffs turning into the Laker Invitational unless Denver, San Antonio or Dallas adds another piece. But I can't see them beating the East's powers with such a shoddy second unit.

Fei (London)

No love for the Mavs of 09-10? You said in a previous chat that they have not changed much from last season, and should expect the same playoffs situation. Having beaten a string of teams that they had problems with, including LA and Denver, and having beaten LeBron and the Cavs without Dirk, with a vastly improved defense, don't you think the Mavs at least improved somewhat this season? Come on now John, just admit it man.

John Hollinger
  (2:05 PM)

Mavs are seventh in my Power Rankings and project to 53 wins in the playoff odds ... sounds about like last year, no? Only way they radically change the forecast is via a Dampier trade.

Bryson (Salem, OR)

John: Do you consider Jerryd Bayless a solid PG for the Blazers?

John Hollinger
  (2:05 PM)

I don't consider him a PG at all -- he's an off-the-bench scorer and most of his minutes will come as a 2, with Roy sliding over to the 3.

Al (OH)

Your thoughts on a GS trade of Anthony Randolph to Cavs for maybe a J.J. Hickson or Daniel Gibson?

John Hollinger
  (2:06 PM)

I'm sure they'll gladly trade their best prospect for your leftovers.

Patrick (Sacramento)

Kevin Martin plays 2 and Tyreke Evans can play 3. True or false?

John Hollinger
  (2:07 PM)

I believe that to be true; Evans has good size and the league is getting smaller. We won't know til we see it in action however.

Steve (Rip City)

Why can't the Blazers ever beat the Sixers?

John Hollinger
  (2:08 PM)

It's weird isn't it? Philly has owned them for about the last decade, even with massive changes in personnel on both sides. Last night they made every mid-range J they put up and Brand had arguably his best game of the season.

Doug ((Medway, MA))

Currently do you see Rondo making the All-Star team?

John Hollinger
  (2:08 PM)

Yes, he almost certainly will in my estimation. Only thing that would hurt him is if some brain-dead coaches still think of him as the "fourth" star in their hierarchy.

Matt (Champaign, IL)

A Bulls writer suggested T-Mac and Lowry/Hayes for Hinrich, Salmons Miller. Buy or sell?

John Hollinger
  (2:09 PM)

There's no way the Rockets are going to use up their cap space this summer on Hinrich. Try again...

Alonzo (Miami)

T-Mac for Q-Rich, Haslem and D-Wright?

John Hollinger
  (2:11 PM)

Now you're on the right track -- Houston needs to take back all expirings for any deal to have a prayer. I'm sure Houston would do this in a heartbeat, the question is whether T-Mac can help the Heat more than Q-Rich or Haslem. Personally I kinda doubt it, but Miami may decide it's worth the dice roll.

Randy (St. Paul)

Is Corey Brewer actually decent? And is the Wolves future actually somewhat bright now?

John Hollinger
  (2:13 PM)

He's a role player. He never should have been taken as highly as he was, but he's a useful NBA player because he defends and rebounds and his jumper is less awful than it used to be.

John Hollinger
  (2:17 PM)

By the way, there are rumors circling of a Devin Brown-Jason Hart swap between New Orleans and Minnesota. It would save the Hornets another million off their luxury tax bill once they cut Hart's non-guaranteed deal, and move them closer to getting under it entirely by dealing the likes of Hilton Armstrong later this year.

Alex (Ames)

Good call on the AAU for worst development. The system is completely broken to "develop" amateurs. Why not develop a club based system like in Europe? I mean other than the problem with cutting off NCAA revenue streams.

John Hollinger
  (2:18 PM)

Exactly. The NCAA is the root of the problem -- right now everything is set up to feed players to the colleges rather than teach the game.

Mike (Mpls)

If the Wolves-Hornets deal goes through, how does Devin Brown fit into the Wolves plans?

John Hollinger
  (2:19 PM)

I'm not sure he does -- he has an expiring deal. Suspect there's a payment here, either by cash or draft pick, that we're going to hear about.

Jason (Sacramento)

Do you think the kings have a chance to make the playoffs this year?

John Hollinger
  (2:19 PM)

No, but they're a heck of a lot better than anyone expected. As are the Grizzlies. Which means once again the West is lording it over the Least, after the East briefly regained the advantage last season.

Jeremy (Toronto)

The Raps pulled off 4 quick wins against sub .500 teams this past week. They're now in the 6 seed in the East but it seems like fools gold. Are they playing well enough defensively during this stretch to prove me wrong?

John Hollinger
  (2:21 PM)

Raptors are definitely defending better, and I'm sure you folks up there have noticed that their defensive renaissance coincides with Jose Calderon's absence. I think they might end up 6th through no fault of their own, just because the rest of the conference is so bad.

Nick (New York)

Is David Lee an all-star this season?

John Hollinger
  (2:22 PM)

I think he may make it if the Knicks can stay in the 8-10 range in the East.

Bake (Albany, NY)

Are the Spurs finally getting some momentum with Pop tinkering with the line-up? (By the way is Keith Bogans really the right move to start even in a limited role?). Or are they just beating cupcakes and showing no ability to beat solid clubs. Are they on the market for any trade action?

John Hollinger
  (2:23 PM)

I think the Spurs are still evaluating. Right now they're in a stretch where they pay a bunch of bad teams so it's tough to tell exactly where they stand. I don't expect to see Bogans stay a starter for long, and I wouldn't rule out trade activity come February once they have a better idea of what they have.

John Hollinger
  (2:24 PM)

Quick side note people: please stop asking me about trades that "work in the trade machine" unless they make sense for both teams. You're not getting Kobe Bryant just because it works in the trade machine.

steve (Brentwood, CA)

Saw on Chad's chat that people are thinking that Curry is a bust. Do people even watch Warrior games? I have watched every game, many painful, this season. He is a rookie who has improved as the season progressed. I think he has tremendous potential. Reminds me of a young Steve Nash, who struggled out of the gate as well. Do you see him being a solid starter if not more?

John Hollinger
  (2:26 PM)

I think he's OK. Nothing more, nothing less. A decent guard who will be in the league for several years and probably will have some really good ones shooting the ball. On a real team he'd get more kickout chances and have coaches working to develop his game more, but I don't think he'd be a star in any case.

eric (sf)

I know he won't get selected to all-star game but Monta Ellis is playing at an All-Star level right? I also love the stat that Monta has played 7 48 minutes games while the rest of league combined has 3 also all warriors!

John Hollinger
  (2:26 PM)

No, he's not. He's putting up a lot of points but using up so many possessions in the process that I'm not sure he's really helping much.

Jake (SLC)

I listened to you doing some radio commentary during the utah jazz-atlanta hawks game. Have you thought about doing commentary on a more permanent basis?

John Hollinger
  (2:28 PM)

That was a one-shot deal -- Utah's radio guy, David Locke, normally rides solo, and asked me to provide some company when the Jazz were in the ATL. It was fun but I've got plenty to do as it is.

Marc (Sydney - Australia)

Many people thought the Hawks had on OK off-season but nothing spectacular... What has been the difference for them this year?

John Hollinger
  (2:29 PM)

Basically, Rick Sund is on fire. Every thing they did worked out as well or better than they could possibly have expected -- the Crawford trade, the Teague pick, Joe Smith coming for the minimum, Mo Evans a year ago -- about the only disappointment has been Marvin Williams, and it hasn't been that great a disappointment.

Matt (Toronto)

With Amir Johnson hustling hard, grabbing rebounds and playing well for the Raptors, how do you think they will implement Reggie Evan's when he returns (supposedly sometime in January). Do they manage Amir's minute to see what Reggie can do?

John Hollinger
  (2:30 PM)

Frankly I don't think Evans is good enough to play in their rotation. They'll probably give him some time just to see what he can do, cutting into Johnson's minutes, but Johnson is a much better player.

Danny (Chicago)

Who do you see the bulls bringing in to coach either midseason or at the end of the season? Personally I like Byron Scott or Jeff Van Gundy

John Hollinger
  (2:32 PM)

I think Jeff Van Gundy would be a fantastic choice, especially since the Bulls have built what it is basically a big, halfcourt defensive team with Rose, Deng and Noah -- the three guys who will still be here a couple years from now.

Adam (Philly)

Iguodala and Dalembert for T-mac and a 1st round pick. who says no?

John Hollinger
  (2:33 PM)

Seriously Philly people, stop it with the Dalembert for TMac trades. Nobody wants him, you've been trying to unload him for the last 18 months.

Eric (Ohio)

6th man of the year turning to Carl Landry? He has looked incredible off the Rockets bench

John Hollinger
  (2:34 PM)

I think he's the obvious choice right now, but he's had a hard time getting much traction nationally.

Matt (New York)

Isn't Iverson playing better than people are giving him credit for?

John Hollinger
  (2:35 PM)

I thought he had some good moments last night, shot the ball well and only overdribbled once or twice. He's still useless on D though.

Matt (Atlanta)

Why do people think Joe Johnson is leaving Atlanta?

John Hollinger
  (2:35 PM)

He declined to sign an extension and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. So if he really wants to go there's nothing the Hawks can do about it ... fortunately Atlanta's play this year will probably encourage him to stay.

Jamal (New Orleans)

The Hornets are pathetic. Devin Brown is a useful piece and they gave him away for nothing. Any chance CP3 asks for a trade?

John Hollinger
  (2:36 PM)

Devin Brown was the worst starter in the league, I wouldn't sweat this one. All he was doing was blocking Marcus Thornton and Julian Wright from playing.

Patrick (Sacramento)

COY: Adelman or Westphal?

John Hollinger
  (2:37 PM)

Umm, shouldn't we be talking about Lionel Hollins too? Did anyone think the Griz would end up anywhere near .500 this year?

Michael (Milwaukee)

What was the reason behind the Maynor trade?

John Hollinger
  (2:39 PM)

All about the money. Jazz saved over $10 million with that trade, once you factor in their luxury tax payment, and it sets them up to potentially trade Boozer and get under the tax entirely. The cost was that they had to give up Maynor to induce the Thunder to take on Harpring's salary. Harpring isn't medically fit to play anymore and will retire as soon as the deal runs out.

Garrett (CA)

D-Wade on the Kings next year?

John Hollinger
  (2:40 PM)

You'll see Arnold Schwarzenegger suiting up before you see Dwyane Wade in Sacto togs.

DMiz (NY)

Chad says that D.Wade is the best non#1 pick in the draft. Wouldn't that be Kobe?

John Hollinger
  (2:40 PM)

I believe he was talking about this decade. Otherwise MJ wins hands down.

Sam (University of Windsor)

We need a rebounder/shot blocker to make up for our lack of athleticism. And by "we", I mean my intramural team. Any chance we can land Dalembert for my buddy Rick, and 2 used Calculus textbooks? Who says no?

John Hollinger
  (2:41 PM)

This is a more realistic scenario than several of the ones I've seen proposed. I know some scouts who think Rick would make a great waterboy.

Marc (Philadelphia)

Thoughts on Wesley Matthews? I could see him as a starter in Utah for a while. Great defender.

John Hollinger
  (2:43 PM)

He's real good but his size is going to be an issue -- he gives up inches to a lot of the better wings and they can hurt him on the blocks. Bigger issue for Matthews -- he's got to become more of a weapon offensively. Right now he doesn't produce enough to justify consistent minutes, even though he's Utah's best on-ball defender.

Hugh (ATL)

Chance (%) Hawks sweep the back-to-back?

Jason (California Dreaming)

What is a realistic ceiling for Kevin Love?

John Hollinger
  (2:46 PM)

I'd say about 1-in-4 or 1-on-5 -- I'd put the % somewhere in the low 20s.

John Hollinger
  (2:47 PM)

As far as Love goes, I'd say his ceiling is Brad Miller with more rebounds. He could be a multiple All-Star if he can shoot consistently enough to complement his phenomenal rebounding.

Chip (Cleveland)

Hawks fans talking about sweeping? They ought to be giddy about their team, but have they missed the Cavs D of recent?

John Hollinger
  (2:48 PM)

Cavs have played very well of late, but so has Atlanta. These have been league's two best teams over the past few weeks. Be interesting to see how far Hawks have come since last May, when Cleveland absolutely schooled them in four straight.

Eli (Maui, Hawaii)

Just another one of the million or so Laker questions...is it me, or have just looked completely dis-interested lately? It's like they are just biding time until the playoffs...and don't get me started on that Christmas debacle (play, refs, etc.)

John Hollinger
  (2:50 PM)

It's not disinterest - their defensive #s are as good as they've ever been, Kobe is playing well, Pau and Bynum are about at their usual levels. It's that their bench players are terrible and Fisher's giving them nothing at the point, so somehow a team with Kobe and Pau is only in the middle of the pack in Offensive Efficiency.

Vlad Rad (Oakland, CA)

I'm bored. When's this NBA career thing I got gonna end already?

John Hollinger
  (2:50 PM)

Have to agree that Vlad's looked, shall we say, disengaged since arriving in the Bay. Thought he'd help them much, much more than he has.

John (Memphis)

GO GRIZ!! How good are they really? Z-Bo an MVP candidate?

John Hollinger
  (2:51 PM)

MVP is just plain silly, but there's a good chance he'll make the All-Star team.

Marco Jaric (Lap of Lima)

Yo, Vlad, it ends when you find a supermodel girlfriend.

John Hollinger
  (2:52 PM)

We have a late entrant in the "post of the year" category.

Gregg (New York)

Why was Nate Robinson fined? He didn't do anything wrong that I know of. Many other players have done the same thing before too. Poor guy, cant catch a break.

John Hollinger
  (2:52 PM)

I didn't agree with it. Agents should be able to request trades on behalf of players.

John (G-Ville, FL)

Do you agree with your playoff odds projector that Atlanta is an overwhelming favorite to win the Southeast Division?

John Hollinger
  (2:54 PM)

Agreed on favorite. Not signing off on "overwhelming" -- Magic have dealt with a lot more injuries and such than Hawks have thus far, and that won't necessarily stay the case over the final 50 games.

Kobe (LaLaland)

Did I get fined when i went on my trade tirade 2 summers ago?

John Hollinger
  (2:55 PM)

No, and neither did several other players. This whole thing is bizarre.

Thomas T (Marin, CA)

Did you say Monta Ellis is not helping the Warriors much? Really...30+ points a game is not helping??

John Hollinger
  (2:57 PM)

He has the worst +/- on the team, by far. Golden State scores 19.9 points per 100 possessions **less** with Monta Ellis on the floor. His TS% is below the league average and he has a negative pure point rating, so he needs to chill out and let some other guys take a few turns with the ball.

Rotem (New York)

Do you think Gallinari should be in the 3 point contest? Also, do you think he'll be an all-star within 2 years? I do

John Hollinger
  (2:59 PM)

I doubt Gallinari will ever be an All-Star. He's a one-trick pony but between the back and a general lack of athleticism I can't imagine him turning into a Nowitzki. I think he'd be a good choice for the 3-pt contest though.

Rui (Orlando)

I've been dissapointed that Bass has not gotten any minutes in Magic land. As sorry as Gortat has been, I would have thought he could easily play the 5 and Gortat could be traded for a much needed pg.

John Hollinger
  (3:00 PM)

I've heard he can't remember the plays, and that's what's holding him back. As far playing 5, he's only 6-8 -- not sure that flies when you're going against the size of the East's contenders.

HeathMalc (Cleveland,Oh)

Gallinari=Peja

John Hollinger
  (3:01 PM)

As a young player, Peja was great at moving w/o the ball and a better rebounder than people realized. Gallo can't touch him in those phases.

Micah (Akron, OH)

In your estimation, what is the biggest contributing factor to Chris Paul's PER dropping as far as it has? Any chance he makes it up and leads the league as you predicted prior to the season?

John Hollinger
  (3:02 PM)

You mean besides "playing on one ankle"? His numbers are going to take a beating until he heals, and as a result he's highly unlikely to lead the league in PER.

John Hollinger
  (3:03 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have but thanks again for all the great questions. We'll back to the usual time next week.