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March 22, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Chris Sheridan

Chris Sheridan
  (3:01 PM)

Good afternoon from New York, just across the Hudson River from where the Wait for Eight continues tonight vs. Miami. As Marc Stein points out waaaay down at the bottom of this week's power rankings, at least the '72-73 Sixers had their nine victories by now. Questions, please ...

Chase (Detroit)

At this point in the season are bad teams, such as Detroit, wanting to lose games? I keep hoping that all these losses are at least guaranteeing us a better draft pick, but I feel like all the bottom teams are now in a fight to see who can lose the most games. Does the NBA monitor this at all?

Chris Sheridan
  (3:08 PM)

The NBA keeps an eye out for anything overly suspicious, but I do not think that has been the case anywhere (except perhaps in Minnesota, where Kurt Rambis has kept Kevin Love out of the starting five all year). Here is one interesting piece of lottery minutae to keep in mind in ranking the non-playoff teams: If the Bulls finish with a record that would put them in position to select no better than 11th in the draft, the Bucks have the right to swap their own pick for that Chicago pick. (That was part of the Salmons trade). So if there's a team with an incentive to tank, it is Chicago.

Alex (Berkeley)

Good day to be a Warrior fan. Ellison, please buy our team and fire Nelson. Wall, Curry, Morrow, Randolph running the floor!!

Chris Sheridan
  (3:11 PM)

Your sarcasm is duly noted, Alex. Strange that they would waive Raja Bell and lose his Bird rights, which could net them something in a sign-and-trade. (In case anyone is wondering, Bell's Bird rights are now gone. I checked with the NBA on that this morning, because I wondered myself whether a team might claim Raja solely for the purpose of using his Bird rights after July 1.)

Will (Houston)

Is there any hope for the Rockets? They're in the league's worst spot, just out of the playoffs but too good to win the lottery.

Chris Sheridan
  (3:14 PM)

I had 'em yesterday at MSG, and they really struggled against the Knicks. I thought Ademlam stuck with Kyke Lowry waaaaay too long, but Aaron Brooks certainly had a big burst left in him when Rick summoned him for th final 2 1-2 minutes. Probably Houstn's best hope is that the Spurs have such a tough schedule down the stretch, and last night's overtime loss to Atlanta tightened things up a little.

Rob (NY)

Any credence to the rumor that if Knick's sign J Johnson, LBJ is more likely to come to MSG?

Chris Sheridan
  (3:20 PM)

No credence that that rumor, but you get the distinct impression that word was somehow passed to the Knicks that having enough cap room for just one max player was not going to cut it for a certain free agent, which was why they were willing to throw so much into the Jeffries deal to get McGrady's contract. I ask this: Why would anyone in their right mind trade away what amounts to three No. 1 picks just to clear cap room? It's just plain crazy ... unless there is a confidence among the Knicks their Plan A will succeed.

Tyler (Spain)

Gimme your best case scenario for NBA fans with a potential lockout looming in 2011

Chris Sheridan
  (3:26 PM)

Best case scenario to avoid a lockout:a) Lakers-Cavs in the finals, with Game 7 in Cleveland -- a place where 95 percent of the people in the building feel strongly, deep down in their hearts, that the cavs are about to lose. (That's the way Clevelanders are, they expect the worst to happen.) Might be the highest-rated Game 7 in NBA history.b) The American economy rebounds quickly enough to strengthen the wallets of many of the owners who are getting squeezed hard in their other businesses.c) The Knicks become relevant again by making a huge splash this summer, and the Lakers stay a powerhouse. I mention those two teams because their owners are members of the bargaining committee.d) Players accept some sort of language softening the nature how much of their guaranteed money is guaranteed. The leagu makes a good case in whispering that the big money should be going to the players who produce, not the likes of Bobby Simmons and kenny Thomas.

Kevin (OH)

Do the cavs touch their starting lineup when Z returns? They have been so good with their smaller lineup...

Chris Sheridan
  (3:28 PM)

Don't see any need for that. In fact, I don't see a neeed to use Z more than 5 mins a game for the rest of regular season, especially if it is going to cut into Leon Powe's time when he is making such huge progress.

Tom (chicago)

John Salmons is killing it in Milwaukee for Skiles. Is it the Bucks system or did he not want to play for VDN? He was awful for the Bulls this season.

Chris Sheridan
  (3:31 PM)

As awful as he was for the Bulls last season, don't you remember how good he was a year ago when they got him for the stretch run? If this season has proved one thing about Salmons, it is that ge cannot be relied upon as a No. 1 scoring option, which he sort of was in Chicago after Gordon left. In Milwaukee, the No.1 option is Bogut, and Salmons is back to being a strong complimentary offensive player, which is where he fits best. (Note: I will be out in Milwaukee next weekend for a long look at the Bucks, so look for that coverage a week from now.)

Ryan (DC)

Can the Knicks sign two max free agents and retain David Lee, or do they have to use david lee in a sign and trade to to acquire one of their target free agents in a sign and trade themselves.

Chris Sheridan
  (3:38 PM)

The latter, Ryan. But they also can sign a max free agent and then split the rest of their cap money (roughly $16-17 million) any way they choose, whether it be on a second max guy or on a $10 million per year player (which some would say is Lee's true worth), or a $6 million player, or two $3 million players. They also have the option of doing a sign-and-trade with Al Harrington simultaneous to any sign-and-trade they might do with Lee.

Joe (Milwaukee)

Who do you see the Bucks matching up with in the 1st round and do you see them advancing?

Chris Sheridan
  (3:40 PM)

As well as Bogut has done against Kendrick Perkins, I'd like their chances better against Atlanta. The have a lockdown defender in Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to put on Joe Johnson, and the matchups elsewhere are even except at PG, where Milwaukee has a decided speed edge in B.Jennings. That rook could very well be the key to that series.

Andrew (Boston)

What do you make of the C's recent play? I've been watching them all season and they are finally playing with some urgency and killer instinct which were staples of the 2008 team. Is this temporary or do you consider them legit contenders?

Chris Sheridan
  (3:47 PM)

When they were struggling a couple weeks ago, Doc Rivers cautioned that veteran teams are more prone to March malaise than younger teams. This trip West seems to have galvanized them a bit. Nobody is counting them out of the championship equation, but nobody is as high on them as we all were in December when they were looking all-World.

Sam (San Diego)

What is your take on the drama in Portland regarding Kevin Pritchard's alleged conflict with other executives in Portland (Vulcan, Larry Miller)?

Chris Sheridan
  (3:51 PM)

Vulcans are supposed to be logical, correct? Any Trekkie will tell you that. But I have heard enough Vulcan horror stories to state that Paul Allen mis-named his company.

Barry (Florida)

Im confused. You say nobody is counting Boston out but that is the furthest thing from the truth. The fact that Boston cannot beat ATL, CLE, or ORL says they cannot make it to the ECF. Just like Cleveland failed to beat the Magic during the regular season last year and that carried over to the ECF. Boston does not match up well with those 3 teams. They didnt make any moves to change that.

Chris Sheridan
  (3:52 PM)

I agree with you that Boston would struggle against Cleve and Atlanta. I disagree on Orlando. If the seedings shake out favorably and there is a first-round upset, Boston's chances improved markedly.

Maxwell (Los Angeles)

Your pick: (a) Marred by injuries and a sense of entitlement, this isn't shaping up to be the Lakers' year; or (b) they can flip the switch and be up to speed by the Conference Finals.

Chris Sheridan
  (3:53 PM)

C) They are tested hard in all three rounds of the Western playoffs, and advance each time in 6 or 7.

Eric (London)

You're close to the situation. What chance has T-Mac got of returning to at least borderline All-Star level?

Chris Sheridan
  (3:57 PM)

The recovery time for players coming off microfracture surgery is considerably longer for guys McGrady's age, and you could see yesterday (big 1st quarter, nothing thereafter) how his lack of legs are impacting his game. If he could ever subjugate his ego into accepting the type of Sixth Man role Antonio McDyess has embraced the past several years, he could still be a force for the right team. But he's probably still 6-8 months away, probably longer, from being pain-free in his knees.

John (Santa Barbara, CA)

A first round upset in the east? Seriously? They pay you to cover the NBA right?

Chris Sheridan
  (3:59 PM)

Milwaukee is 14-2 since the Salmons trade, yet the Bucks will almost certainly open on the road in the playoffs. So if they win a first-round series, that will be an upset. And they are fully capable of winning a first-round series.

Chris Sheridan
  (4:01 PM)

That's a chat wrap, folks. See you next Monday.