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March 5, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with J.A. Adande

J.A. Adande
  (3:01 PM)

Greetings from sunny Santa Monica, Calif., where I just got back from Thunder shootaround. Looking forward to watching them at the Clippers tonight. Let's get at it....

Daniel (Los Angeles)

Hey J.A, I was wondering if you think the Mavs who beat Atlanta and the Lakers without Caron Butler can compete? How far do you think they go this year?

J.A. Adande
  (3:02 PM)

I still don't see them beating the Lakers in a series, but the Western Conference finals could happen for Dallas

Teon (Richmond, VA)

J.A, What's good! Tell me, is this or is this not a championship team next year: Yao, Bosh, Ariza, Martin, and Brooks. Your 2010-2011 Houston Rockets starting five. With Scola, Battier, Lowery, and Bundinger coming off the bench, We'll be prrrrrrrretty good. Explain your answer to J.A. Thanx, love your articles!

J.A. Adande
  (3:06 PM)

Here's the problem with planning out a future with Yao Ming: you can't count on him to be there. He's played more than 60 games only once since 2005, and in that 1 year (2009) he didn't make it to the end of the playoffs. That's why it's hard for me to envision Yao leading a championship parade in Clutch City...as fun as it would be to see him on the microphone leading cheers from the crowd

JD (NY)

JA, I saw you at the Nets/Cavs game, so what did you think of Nets fans booing Lebron? Why is the media - especially your colleagues at ESPN - making this such a big deal? Isn't this better than, say, Knick fans cheering wildly for him? What kind of dedication does that show to the current Knicks roster? I would imagine players would rather get booed on the road. What's your take?

J.A. Adande
  (3:07 PM)

I thought they were booing him because he did two plain dunks on breakaways, when they expected a 360 or some Dominique-type stuff. Otherwise I heard gasps and building buzz every time he started dribbling in the first half. And I still can't believe the building wasn't close to selling out with LeBron in town. This is a guy you HAVE to see play in person, and what could be easier to get than a Nets ticket?

Jay (Montreal)

PG seem to be coming out in force those last couple years, including this year's draft with John wall. Are those guys as talented as they seem or is this due to the rule changes opening the game for them?In any case the NBA seems to be benefiting from a more open, talent-orientated game. Good call by David Stern.

J.A. Adande
  (3:09 PM)

Good point. I think the point guards are benefitting from the no-hand check rule, but remember that guys like Deron Williams and Chris Paul were great in college even when they were going against zone defenses. So I'll credit to the players more than the rules

Jason (Ohio)

Skip bayless said he would take Wade over LeBron to start a team. Do you agree with him?

J.A. Adande
  (3:10 PM)

No

Will (OKC)

How high is Russell Westbrook's ceiling? J.Kidd level?

J.A. Adande
  (3:11 PM)

I can't see Westbrook reaching Kidd's level because he hasn't always been a point guard. Point guard isn't just a position, it's a mentality. Kidd has always seen the game through a great point guard's eyes. That's why he's one of the best.

Tom (Phoenix)

I know Amare and the Suns have been civil throughout the entire trade rumor/process. The Suns aren't going to give him away, and he is intent on going to a contender. If they can work out an extention somehow (maybe after a deep playoff push) whats to stop the Suns from shipping him to anyone they want, just as long as they get back talent (Such as Indiana for Granger, or Minnesota for Al Jeff)? Players always claim "this is a business" and they skip town for more money. If the Suns are able to trade a newly signed Stat for comparable talent, wouldn't that be "good business" for the franchise?

J.A. Adande
  (3:12 PM)

Are you talking the business of basketball or the business of finance? If they could get two players for Amare's salary that makes financial sense. But how often do teams get better by trading star players? It rarely happens in this league.

Aaron (San Francisco, CA)

All the NBA "superstars" have a nickname except for 'Melo.... Broadcasters often say "Pick your Poison" when referring to Melo because of his balance between strength, post moves, and jump shot. Can you think of a good nickname relating to this "Pick your poison" phrase?

J.A. Adande
  (3:14 PM)

Strychnine? Arsenic?

Brian (Providence)

If there is any team that can actually flip the metaphorical "switch" come playoff time, I think it's the Lakers. Thoughts?

J.A. Adande
  (3:16 PM)

I was wondering this while watching them sleepwalk through mot of the game last night. Last year they really didn't start looking like a championship team until later in the Western Conference finals. Remember how shaky they were against Utah and Houston? So maybe this team can get back to that level they displayed in June...but I'm starting to get skeptical. How many great games have they played this year? Only a handful

Chris (CT)

J.A.Do you think it's unfair to compare Kobe and Lebron while they are at different points in their respective careers?? It seems people really forget how much of an athletic beast Kobe was when he was 24/25 years old.. I recently youtubed a clip of vintage Kobe during his younger years and early championship days and almost forgot how much his game has changed from a highflying slasher to the best mid-range/post game in the league.

J.A. Adande
  (3:17 PM)

If anything that might be unfair to LeBron to make the comparison at this stage. Think about how much better and wiser Kobe got from 27-30. What if LeBron makes that same jump?

Dave (Sacramento, CA)

I never thought I put the words Kings and tough in the same sentence. But, I have to admit that Carl Landry's presence seems to be rubbing off on the rest of the team. Would you agree that the intangibles he brings outweigh the loss of scoring with Martin's departure?

J.A. Adande
  (3:18 PM)

Definitely. His intangibles were such a big part of that intangible-laden Houston team. Makes sense he'd bring that to Sacramento. I liked that trade for the Kings...especially since they'd been looking to move Martin's contract anyway. They got a good, young big man in return.

Nick Spadafore (Syracuse NY)

Who will be this years draft surprise?? I want to say Andy Rautins from SU would be that player with his work ethic and passion to stick around and contribute. Maybe late first round!? 3's and steals are always a great way to make a name for your self....your thoughts?

J.A. Adande
  (3:19 PM)

Athleticism rules in the NBA. Work ethic and passion works great in college, but not on the next level, so I'd temper my expectations for Rautins...who is a great college player.

Jeremy (SLC)

Whats up JA love you on the Horn. Show the Jazz some love what a win last night in Phoenix! Does this change your mind on where they finish in the West.

J.A. Adande
  (3:21 PM)

We already knew they can beat Phoenix. They've owned San Antonio this season. I'd give them the edge over OKC and Portland. But I still don't see them beating Dallas, Denver or the Lakers in the playoffs. So that doesn't change. Still, I didn't even have them making the playoffs (thought they'd trade Boozer), so they've already exceeded my expectations.

Tim (Columbia, MO)

J.A., I've been saying since Durant was at Texas that he would become huge and may even be better than Kobe and LeBron. I was laughed at then, but now I'll bet I've got a few more people on my side. What say you?

J.A. Adande
  (3:23 PM)

He's not in Kobe and LeBron's category, and I can't envision him getting there. Nothing wrong with being on that next tier with Carmelo et al, which is were Durant has already landed.

Matt (Chicago)

Have you noticed the similarities b/w the 2004 Detroit championship team and this year's Dallas team? Mid-season trade improves team, key jump-shooting player will wear a facemask down the stretch, both had smart point guards and athletic big men. Should I put my next paycheck on Dallas to win the Finals?

J.A. Adande
  (3:26 PM)

You're focusing on the surface similarities and leaving out one HUGE difference: those 2004 Pistons played Secret Service-level defense. Could totally shut you down. The Mavericks are middle-of-the-pack defensively. So put your paycheck in a better investment. Or try to take advantage of the low mortgage rates right now.

Noah R. (Miami Fl)

Was that Q rich last night making 7 3's?

J.A. Adande
  (3:26 PM)

Why yes, yes it was. I"m disappointed that he didn't do any head pounds. Or did I just miss them?

Tim (Columbia, MO)

Please tell me that Chicago has a chance to get LeBron or Wade, I don't want my team having to settle on Joe Johnson.

J.A. Adande
  (3:28 PM)

Sure, there's a chance. That's the beauty of the next 4 months: every team with cap space gets to dream. Well, except the Nets

Eric P (Naptown)

Hey J, have you read the new bestseller "How to destroy an NBA franchise in three years or less" by Larry bird and Jim Obrien? This is the owrst season in 25 years. WHat the heck is going on?

J.A. Adande
  (3:31 PM)

That's what happens when you put image and marketing over actual ability. So they got rid of everyone associated with the Brawl in the Palace, they drafted Tyler Hansbrough over the likes of Ty Lawson, Darren Collison and DeJuan Blair, and they're stuck in mediocreville

Deron Williams (SLC)

My stat line is identical if not better than some of the best PG's, but why don't I get as much attention as them? Especially my rival CP3. Is it because i play in Utah??

J.A. Adande
  (3:33 PM)

You can't blame markets in this era. Kevin Durant plays in Oklahoma City, he seems to get his share of accolades. You had Barkley calling Deron Williams the best PG in the league on national TV last night. He's not ignored.

Jim (Nola)

WHO DAT?!

J.A. Adande
  (3:33 PM)

I figured they were still celebrating the Saints championship down there. Congrats.

Jake (SLC)

What is different this year with the way the jazz are playing on the road and in close games. Since the Sundiata Gaines game winner against the Cavs, the jazz have won a lot of close games they normally lose, including a gritty win against the suns last night.

J.A. Adande
  (3:36 PM)

Last year their defense on the road was horrendous. They came up with some big stops in the 4th last night. That's how you win road games.

Ernie (The Rockies)

Why do Pau and Andrew dissapear in so many games after having a really good first quarter/half? Is this going to be a concern during the playoffs?

J.A. Adande
  (3:38 PM)

Some of it is because Phil Jackson has been putting one or the other on the bench in the fourth quarter to keep Lamar on the court. Another reason is Kobe tends to take over down the stretch. Finally, I wouldn't put the ball in Pau's hands a lot in the fourth because he can get shaky at the free-throw line

Bill (DC)

After having spent a considerable amount of time around NBA players, for most good-to-great NBA players looking back on their careers in the last year or so of it, how much would they "pay" for having earned a championship ring? Do they many more then superficially take this into account? Thanks.

J.A. Adande
  (3:40 PM)

Put it this way: I've never heard a player say he wishes he had taken a worse contract to get a championship ring somewhere. Players only get a small window to be in the league, and mst will never find a field that pays so lucratively. So they owe it to themselves and their families to make as much as they can during their career. Which means they'll choose money over rings 99 percent of the time. It's not like signing with certain teams guarantees you a ring; the contracts are guaranteed

Steven (Linlithgow, Scotland)

How many more seasons would it take of LeBron not winning a championship before it became a HUGE deal (i.e. all the haters coming out saying he can't win the big one and so forth)

J.A. Adande
  (3:42 PM)

If the Cavs wind up with the best record and if they get everyone healthy for the playoffs then coming up short this year would be license to fire away. This year and last year could very well represent his best shots -- you never know -- so he almost has to cash in.

zac (portland)

With all the injurys this year to the Blazers do you think Nate Mcmillian deserves coach of the year award for how well they have been able to do.

J.A. Adande
  (3:44 PM)

I'd give it to Jerry Sloan first

J.A. Adande
  (3:44 PM)

How about Scott Brooks in OKC?

LJ (Los Angeles)

The Lakers got better by trading Shaq. It took a minute, of course, but they retooled to perennial title contender status in 3 years time, which is mostly unheard of in the history of this league. Wait, did I just inadvertently support your point by noting how rare that is?

J.A. Adande
  (3:45 PM)

You supported my point by making the worst counter-argument ever. The Lakers got worse by trading Shaq. Went from NBA Finalists to missing the playoffs. They got better again by trading FOR a star in Gasol.

Fred (London)

If Tim Duncan demanded a trade (I know he wouldn't), how in demand would he be (his stats have been ridiculous this season)? I only ask because it is only in these hypotheticals will my favourite player ever win another championship. :(

J.A. Adande
  (3:49 PM)

Fascinating. You never think about this because Duncan seems like the last guy to ever demand a trade. And I think he's at the stage where he can't be the best player on a team, he's got to be the second-best for it to contend. If I were Miami I would go after him and think putting him next to Wade would get it done. If I were Cleveland I would have taken him over Jamison. Denver would've wanted him. Dallas too. If I'm the Lakers I would trade Bynum for him.

matthew (boston, ma)

J.A. I will you ask you point blank. Good call or bad call on Kobe charge on O'Neal in the lakers-heat game last night?

J.A. Adande
  (3:51 PM)

In Staples Center that would've have been a blocking foul. Looked like O'Neal slid over last-second. But seeing the play at full speed, on the road, I could see how refs would call it a charge.

Matt (Chicago)

We tried to get John 'Freshwater' Salmons to catch on as a nickname when he was in Chicago due to his jumpshot splashing the net and his closeness to a big freshwater lake. Can you help it catch on in Milwaukee? It's too good of a nickname to never be used.

J.A. Adande
  (3:53 PM)

Copper River Salmons? That's too tasty a fish not to wind up as somebody's nickname.

Jimmy (Portland)

JA, What should I be crossing my fingers for? The Blazers slipping to the 8 spot and playing the Lakers (which, regardless of the inevitable outcome, would be madness in the Rose Garden) or they win enough to tackle the 5/6 spot and play the Mavs or Suns? Considering the Blazers aren't equipped to make it past the 2nd round, I'd almost rather see them force LA work hard to win the 1st round - but we've beat the Mavs & the Suns (both in their arenas) this year. What are the Trail Blazers playoff realities? What would you be hoping for? A realistic try at winning the 1st round or a classically doomed match up with your arch-rival?

J.A. Adande
  (3:56 PM)

If you catch the Lakers in the first round they might not be "awake" yet. Portland would have to feel very confident in the Rose Garden, maybe they steal one in LA...stretch it to 7. I think that would be worthwhile for a Blazers team that isn't going to win a championship this year

Andy (Denver)

Thorpe has Durant over 'Melo. Who you got?

J.A. Adande
  (3:57 PM)

At the moment, I'm still going with Carmelo until I see what Durant can do in the playoffs

J.A. Adande
  (3:58 PM)

But first I'm going to see what Durant does against the Clippers tonight. Not quite the same, I know. Still worth getting ready for. Time to knock off some work before I head down to Staples. Thanks for your questions...see you next week.