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February 25, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with John Hollinger

John Hollinger
  (12:06 PM)

Good morning/afternoon everyone. Got a full cuppa joe and an hour to kill, so let's talk some hoops.

Rod (Chicago)

New Orleans has $75+ million in salaries for next year. Unless someone takes Stojakovic or Posey with David West for a draft pick and players on rookie contracts, they're in a deep hole. Do they trade Chris Paul? Paul, Okafor, and Posey to OKC for Green, Westbrook, Krstic, and Collison gets them cap relief and two nice pieces. OKC is a veteran big man away from winning multiple titles.

John Hollinger
  (12:10 PM)

New Orleans is indeed in a salary pickle and I was a little surprised they weren't more aggressive in addressing it at the trade deadline -- by trading Mo Pete and a future first, for example. It seems like they're hoping Peja will show up on opening day with a rack of guns in the locker room so they can take the Arenas route and get his contract off the cap; in fact they may be discussing how to frame him for this as we speak. More realistically, they're probably hoping they can move Okafor or West at some point in the next year to get them out of it; dealing CP is a disaster scenario. Second-best option: Trade Collison but make whomever gets him take on Posey and Peterson.

Martha (Charlotte)

Paper reporting sale of Bobcats is close -- will Jordan get the team?

John Hollinger
  (12:11 PM)

It's highly unlikely. Jordan doesn't want to put any of his own money at risk, he's been trying to get a team with his name and other people's dough for a long time without success. No reason to believe it would work in this economy.

Bob (Chicago, IL)

Given the way he's stocked assets, is Daryl Morey in the best position to grab one of the big free agents this summer via sign-and-trade?

John Hollinger
  (12:13 PM)

He's in good position, but other GMs have assets in place too. The big advantage he has is that NBA players really like Houston (No, I don't know why, either; I'm just the messenger, folks) and his owner is willing to spend. He's right, however, that it's a better position than just having $8 mil or so in cap space, which is where Hou was headed.

Josh (Memphis)

What happened to the Grizzlies? They were playing so well!

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

You changed, not them. Ever heard of something called "hedonic adaptation?" Once they became a possible playoff team, winning a third of the time didn't seem normal to you anymore.

John (SLC)

Any news on possible Big Z destinations? I would love to see him in a Jazz uniform...

John Hollinger
  (12:15 PM)

Possible destinations include Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland, Cleveland, and Cleveland. I'm sure Atlanta, Denver and others will make the requisite inquiries, but he's not going anywhere else.

Ian (Fort Worth)

Do you care to revise the grade that you gave the Mavs on their deadline deal?

John Hollinger
  (12:16 PM)

You mean because of how Caron Butler dominated the game last night? Look, Dallas won, and that's great ... but they also beat L.A. before the trade. They're a capable team, but I can't see them beating the Lakers or Nuggets in a series.

Keith (PDX)

Whats your take on marcus camby actualy staying in PDX after this season's playoff push. Pritch is saying the right things about him not being a rental...but I dont know. You already have prizz and oden, unless there are question about either of those 2 big men moving forward

John Hollinger
  (12:17 PM)

High likelihood that he goes back to L.A. -- apparently he really liked it down there.

Joel (Philly via Youngstown)

Help me to understand the Cavs' #4 power ranking. Best record. Best margin. 5-2 vesus the top 3. 14 wins in last 17 games. What am I missing?

John Hollinger
  (12:19 PM)

Yep, this is an odd one. Basically, Cleveland hasn't played as difficult a schedule as L.A., who has about the same scoring margin. And Cleveland's last 25% of games aren't nearly as impressive as Orlando's or Utah's. So they rank behind all three right now. The other important thing, however, is to look at the rating number at the left -- Cleveland is within a point of No. 1 L.A. Not a lot separates these four teams right now.

Kevin (Jacksonville)

Did the Timberwolves blow it by not drafting Curry and pairing HIM with Rubio.

John Hollinger
  (12:21 PM)

Remember, regardless of whether it was Curry or Flynn, the player GS picked was going to put up better numbers -- with league's fastest pace and Nelly playing starters 40-plus minutes it'd be hard not to. Problem I have with Flynn is that I've yet to see a skill where he's really great -- he's a mediocre shooter, not a great finisher, just OK as a passer. Curry, obviously, has that elite shooting stroke.

Jeff (jax)

Please help. I cant remember if V. Carter has a team option or a player option. If its a team option, I cant believe that behind the scenes they are happy with Carter's production. Wouldnt this free up like 15M from their cap. Why arent they mentioned for any FA's this summer?

John Hollinger
  (12:24 PM)

Good news: it's a team option. Bad news: Check your calendar. His option year is 2011-12, and it's still a partial guarantee ($5 mil if I remember right). Also, even if you took away Carter's contact the Magic would still be several million dollars over the cap.

Marc (Charlotte)

Are the Cats going to make the playoffs? Injuries seem to be taking their toll

John Hollinger
  (12:25 PM)

It's injuries, lack of depth and exhaustion. I wrote about the East playoff chase in today's PER Diem so I don't want to rehash it all here, but suffice to say the schedule could help them out going forward, and remember they only need to pass one of four teams to get in.

Eric (Bronx)

Your thoughts on Tmac's return?

John Hollinger
  (12:25 PM)

The most enthusiastically covered non-story of the NBA season.

Jay (Tacoma, WA)

Everybody's saying the right things...but is there *really* a chance Boozer re-ups in Utah next year?

John Hollinger
  (12:27 PM)

To me it only works it they trade Millsap. Otherwise they're a tax team, and I can't imagine Utah going over that line again.

Chris (Los Angeles, CA)

Is Dwade playing for the Cavs next year a pipe dream? The Cavs have a few big names they can include in another monster trade, and then they can allow Hickson to develop into a potentially great big man. In this scenario, Lebron wins, Dwade wins, and Cleveland wins.

John Hollinger
  (12:29 PM)

0% chance -- Miami would have to play along with a trade and has absolutely no reason to. If LeBron and Wade play together, it could be in New York or it could be in Miami, but it sure as heck won't be in Cleveland.

namson (san jose)

What are the odds that no big free agents want to sign with the Knicks this offseason, and they end up desperately throwing their money at 2 above-average but not great players and thus ruining their next half-decade?

John Hollinger
  (12:29 PM)

High. I think that's what Houston was banking on with the draft picks in that trade.

Ray (SA)

Speaking of player options, R. Jefferson has one too doesn't he? He's gonna get paid $15 mil next year. That's like 5 Spurs role players!

John Hollinger
  (12:30 PM)

It's his option though. And since he'd be lucky to get paid 1/5th that amount as a free agent, he'll back on the Spurs' cap next year at $15 mil.

Darren (Detriot)

What kind of grade would you give Kurt Rambis this year as a coach?

John Hollinger
  (12:31 PM)

At the start of the year I would have said a D. Now I'm more in the B- range. I'm not in love with the idea of forcing the triangle, but they're still playing hard for him and have improved over the course of the year.

Joe (NY)

Do the Blazers move Rudy Fernandez this summer? He's been pretty mediocre this year and he might bolt for Spain if they don't, might as well try to get something for him. He'd be great on a team like Phoenix, Golden State, or New York

John Hollinger
  (12:33 PM)

The earliest Rudy can bolt is 2012, so I don't think the Blazers are too worried just yet. Spanish media like to stir the pot on this subject, but FIBA won't allow a player to ditch a contract and jump countries.

Kurt (Salt Lake)

Where do you think the Knicks pick will fall this year, I think top 4.

John Hollinger
  (12:35 PM)

Current projection in Playoff Odds is 4-5 range. Jazz have 8.5% shot at No. 1 overall pick according to that. It's interesting because they're the one team that might consider trading down.

michael (lexington, ky)

what are the percentages we'll ever see these high foreign draft picks: vasquez, splitter, rubio.....10, 60, 70 percent?

John Hollinger
  (12:37 PM)

I'd agree on Vazquez but go higher on the last two. Ricky is going to play in the NBA, I just don't know if it will be for Minnesota. Splitter I expect to be in San Antonio next year, provided the Spurs can find the money.

Aaron (Orlando)

I still can't believe you picked Varejao as your mid-season DPOY. Want to rethink that?

John Hollinger
  (12:38 PM)

Why? He even played DHoward well in his few times lined up against him on Sunday, and that's normally a guy he has a lot of problems covering. Among big men he's the best pick-and-roll defender by far.

John Hollinger
  (12:39 PM)

(LATE EDIT: Was asked a question about Phoenix's cap space if Amare leaves as a free agent; apparently it never showed up) I'm not sure you'd have enough cap space to do anything really major, even if Hill and Frye walked too. I think 2011 is a more realistic target for Phoenix to jump into free agency.

steve (snowy NYC)

Is Sergio Rodriguez the Knicks PG next year?

John Hollinger
  (12:40 PM)

I have a feeling they're going to try hard to bring him back at a low salary $$, especially if they don't get two of the big three free agents.

Ben Gleicher (Tampa, FL)

Are you going to be at the Lakers-Magic game Sunday? It seems like the schedule makers did us a solid... both teams are essentially tied for #1 in the rankings.

John Hollinger
  (12:44 PM)

I assume you mean next Sunday, not this one, and in that case the unfortunate is answer is no, but it's because I'm doing something better ... I will be at Geekapalooza in Boston next weekend. That's also known as the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, organized by Rockets GM Daryl Morey and sponsored by this network.

Trey (Dallas)

I hear a lot around here about how Kidd "makes everyone better." Is there any actual evidence of this in Dallas?

John Hollinger
  (12:44 PM)

No, but people try to "prove" it anyway.

CP3 (NO)

The only way I'm getting traded is if I demand to be.

John Hollinger
  (12:45 PM)

Actually, even if that happened it would be unlikely -- CP is under contract through 2012.

Mike (Akron)

Hey John, what are you looking for in tonights game in Beantown?

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

Reasons I should still consider Boston a contender. I've been struggling to find them lately.

jeff (jax)

55% of m Pietrus' shots are from 3 pt range. Has there every been a player shoot this high a percentage with an avg 35% success rate

John Hollinger
  (12:46 PM)

Check out James Posey's career stats some time.

Mikey (Waukesha, WI)

How can we go this long without addressing one of the hottest underappreciated teams in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks? How amazing has Bogut been lately?

John Hollinger
  (12:47 PM)

I agree, Bucks are well deserving of a shout-out. They laid an egg when I saw them in Portland but they were also a bit beaten up at the time; I'm hoping I'll see better from them on Sunday when they come to Atlanta.

Joe (Chicago)

C.J. Watson is not mentioned anywhere on Chad Ford's list of free agents even though he has great plus/minus numbers. Do you think he'll get a decent long term deal this summer?

John Hollinger
  (12:48 PM)

Long-term? No. Decent? Yes. Somebody will sign him to be a backup point guard and provide offense and shooting off the pine, and he'll do a perfectly respectable job of it.

Enrique (Chicago)

Should the Bulls consider trading Deng for cap relief and try to get a 2 FAs? Is seems his value will never be higher and now is the time to do so!

John Hollinger
  (12:51 PM)

Too late -- the time to do so already has passed. Chicago could have tried to move Deng for expirings and get enough cap space to sign two max free agents. It would have been difficult --- probably would have cost them a first and/or Taj Gibson and wrecked their playoff hopes -- but it was worth a shot.

Bryan (Xenia, OH)

If Kidd doesn't make people better, what about Nash?

John Hollinger
  (12:53 PM)

Look, this is a very complex debate, starting with the notion of what we mean by 'better'. All I'm saying is that if you're trying to look for evidence of this phenomenon in an objective way, as opposed to the typical path of starting with a conclusion and working backward to find the evidence for it, you're going to have an awful lot of trouble finding it.

Lee (Boston)

Brandon Jennings - rookie wall or returning to the mean?

John Hollinger
  (12:55 PM)

The latter. Also, one thing we should point out about Jennings as compared to Evans and Curry -- he's the only who's being held accountable on D, asked to get other players involved and manage a game, and generally do the things that PGs on winning teams have to do. Look, Evans is going to win ROY and Curry will likely come in second, and both are tremendous talents ... but right now Jennings is the only one who's actually learning how to play.

Joe (NY)

Why would Chicago want to trade Deng? He's got a huge contract, but at 24 and averaging 18 and 8 a game, would you rather be paying him or a 28-year-old Carlos Boozer for pretty much the same production? I'll take Deng, at least he plays defense.

John Hollinger
  (12:57 PM)

Would you consider LeBron an upgrade? I know you've already sized him for a Knicks uniform, but if the Bulls had all that cap room plus Rose, Noah and actual draft picks, the idea of Wade+LeBron or Wade Bosh in Chicago would have really taken flight.

ben (Atlanta)

what's the best matchup/hope for Portland in the playoffs? vs Dallas? or OKC?

John Hollinger
  (1:00 PM)

Well, I think we can all agree it's not Utah (lost season series 0-4) ... and they've done well against Dallas this year but couldn't handle the Mavs at all last season. I wonder actually if Denver isn't the best pairing -- Batum does pretty well against Melo and Miller has the size to check Chauncey.

Alex (Ottawa)

Any chance of a first round upset in the East?

John Hollinger
  (1:01 PM)

Want to see what the matchups are first -- we basically have 20 possible pairings right now -- but I would say it's highly unlikely given the disparity between teams 1-4 and teams 5-9.

Jeff (New york)

John, you just chnged your tune by saying if Wade/Lebron play together it is either in New York or Miami. Now you are saying there is a chance it could be in Chicago?

John Hollinger
  (1:02 PM)

No, follow along -- I'm playing the what-if game saying the Bulls should have tried harder to trade Deng and get room for a second player under the cap. Right now they can only sign one player, and they'll almost certainly target Wade.

Eric (San Ramon, CA)

What should the Warriors do this offseason to improve?

John Hollinger
  (1:02 PM)

Change owners, fire the coach and trade half the players. Other than that they're fine.

Henry (Hong Kong)

Is it still remotely possible that the Knicks trade away E.Curry's contract at the end of the season to sign 2.5 max players? Say for D. Harris?

John Hollinger
  (1:04 PM)

No, nobody will take it. Knicks will have curry come of their cap in 2011 and depending on new cap rules and how they deal with Gallinari/Chandler they could have enough space, even if they use all this year's cap room, to get another max free agent.

Vinnie (ATL)

Will Josh Smith ever develop a consistent jump shot?

John Hollinger
  (1:05 PM)

Actually he hit all four of his mid-range jump shots last night. Glass half full: He's improving. Glass half empty: This will only encourage him. We'll see which is true in the coming games.

John Hollinger
  (1:06 PM)

Folks, that's all the time I have but thanks again for all the great questions. We'll do this again at the same time next week.