Chris is traveling today and will be here at 3:30 p.m. ET to take your questions!
Good afternoon from New York, where I'm just back from Milwaukee after filing two Bucks stories (one on Squad 6; the other on the Bucks' surge) that are up now on the main NBA page. Glad to report that Midwest Airlines is still serving fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. The preferred topic du jour is the Milwaukee Bucks, but as always we'll touch on other subjects and see where the chat takes us. Fire away.
Do you think the top 4 seeds in the east has any chance to be upset in the 1st round, if so which team poses that threat?
I think it'll depend on the matchups, and based on how well the Bucks have played against the Hawks recently, I'd say Milwaukee would have a goos shot at the upset if that is the 4-5 matchup. The Bucks blew a late 7-point lead and lost at Atlanta a few weeks back, then had a classic 4th quarter shootout last Monday between John Salmons and Joe Johnson. And when the Hawks went to Johnson on their final two possessions, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute locked him down.
Do you see any problems coming from Shaq's return for the playoffs? The teams point margin is negative with him in.
Given that the Cavs will have a cupcake opponent(maybe I should call it a donut opponent, because Toronto and chicago aren't big at the center position) in the first round, I think they'll be able to work him back in gradually rather than rely on him to contribute offensively. They're already getting enough offense from LBJ, Jamison and Mo (and Hickson lately, too). The bottom line with Shaq is he's there to stop Dwight Howard in the playoffs, because that's what knocked Cleveland out a year ago. So the Cavs don't really need him to be in peak form until the conference finals, when they could be playing Orlando again.
A BUCKS CHAT!Do we take Patrick Patterson with CHI's 11th pick, or a scoring guard?
For those who don't understand why Matt is referencing the 11th pick, it is because Milwaukee acquired the right to swap 1st round picks with Chicago in the Salmons deal, although the Bulls pick is protected 1-10. Whether they go for a shooting guard or not will depend on whether Salmons opts out of the final year of his deal. He'd be leaving a lot of money on the table ($5.3 million), and he's be risking an awful lot for a player who is unlikely to get anything longer than a three-year deal, IMO.
What do you think of the Antawn Jamison trade now that we have had a good amount of games. You think the cavs have what it takes now?
There has never been anything not to like about the Jamison trade. The best line I've heard about it (from Frank Isola of the Daily News) is that maybe it was fueled by Ernie Grunfeld's vengeful desire to ruin the Knicks LBJ plan by giving Cleveland the final piece of the championship puzzle, thereby convincing him to stay. and if the Cavs to make the finals, I hope and pray it goes to seven games so I can bear witness to the tension in Cleveland when so much will be at stake -- perhaps the city's first title in any sport since 1964, perhaps a loss that drives the best athlete Ohio has ever produced onto a future elsewhere.
Considering the way he walked off the court after losing in the playoffs last year and the confident and sometimes elitist demeanor he displays when playing, do you think Lebron has a sense of entitlement to the championship or does he realize that there are other good teams, who can beat the Cavs and he and his team are going to have to work very hard to even get the finals?
I judged that episode as the actions of a very, very frustrated young man acting out his disappointment in a genuine way. I don't think he has any sense of entitlement at all regarding the championship, because his seven years in the league (and his three stints with Team USA) have taught him how hard it is to actually achieve his ultimate basketball goals. I also take issue with "elitist demeanor." That's a little harsh.
I love how espn gives the hawks no credit. Keep disrespecting them. Please explain how the bucks would go about beating the hawks in the phillips.
I'm not giving them no credit, I'm merely stating that the Bucks have played them well and could knock them off. A couple key things: They'd have to control the tempo, because particularly athletic teams give them problems when they get out and run. They'd have to have Jennings playing under control, which he struggles to do, and Skiles would have to have the guts to turn to Ridnour if the rook looked like he was in over his head. They'd need Delfino and Ilyasova to be 50 pct 3-point shooters, and they'd need Bogut to dominate Horford and get him in foul trouble.
You are one sick SOB. You want us Clevelanders to endure another game 7, and potential crushing loss? Then again, if this curse is to be lifted, there's really only one way for it to go down: game 7 vs. the Lakers, Kobe v. Lebron, Lebron hitting a game winner.
C'mon Jim, it'd be the biggest sporting day in Cleveland history, ever bigger IMHO than Marlins-Indians Game 7 because of how much is at stake.
one thing about cleveland is one game antwan will get 13 shots mo will get 5 and the next game its the other way around does clevleand need to fix this issue and how about shaq when he comes back
That happens because of the matchups and the different opponents from night to night in the regular season. In the playoffs, they'll go to whichever of them has the most exploitable matchup.
Chris, what exactly are the Twolves going to do in the offseason? Alot of moveable young talent, 2 first rounders, and the rights to Ricky Rubio. Do you have any confidence that Kahn knows what he is doing? I feel like this offseason will make or break them for the next 5-6 years.
Well, Rubio isn't coming next season because he doesn't have an opt out this summer in his Barcelona contract. I think David is trying to use the Sam Presti model to build the Wolves, and I think (he disagrees with me on this) he'll need to trade Rubio's rights to further that process along. If Rubio can get paid more in Europe than he can by the Wolves in 2011 or 2012, he could end up being a guy, like Scola, and now Splitter, whose draft circumstances keep him out of the NBA for 4-5 years, maybe even longer.
How did the NBA come up with the tiebreaker that would give Boston the 3 seed even though the Hawks swept the season series?
When they went to three divisions a few years back, there was a scenario which didn;t happen, but almost did, in which a multi-team tiebreaker would have given the No. 1 seed to the Rockets even though they hadn't won their division. So they decided to make division titlist the first tiebreaker to prevent that above scenario from ever happening. I think the Hawks would lobby for a change to the rule in future seasons if that's what ends up happening, and I'm sure the NBA would consider it. They've always shown a willingness to tweak their systems when unforseen problems arise.
Still trying to convince people (or just yourself?) that Lebron might leave town? Especially if the Cavs go to the Finals? Why would he leave for a clearly inferior team when he is on the brink of a championship? It took Lebron 7 years to get a team like this around and he's just going to give it all away to start over?
Steve, you are delusional if you believe the possibility of him leaving is not real.
Question about Eddy Curry's contract. As I understand, his contract will expire after next season assuming he exercises his player option this offseason. What are the Knick's options? Will they be able to get back under the cap after their spending spree this summer and have enough room to sign another free agent in 2011? Or do you see them trading him next season to a team wanting to slash their payroll.
If he stays with NY the entire season, they'd go under the cap in 2011 when he comes off their books. It's impossible to tell how much cap space they'd have, because the cap calculations will be determined by the new collective bargaining agreement, and nobody knows what the new rules will be.
In continuation with your last answer. Who takes the shots against Orlando? It seems Orlando is happy with Lebron scoring 45 points per game as long as no one else gets into a rhythm.
Given what happened last year, I'd say the Magic would prefer that Mo get more shots than Antawn.
How are the Magic constantly overlooked? They are the defending East Champs that beat Cleveland almost handily last season without home court. Also the best defense in the league anchored by the best defensive player that leads the league in 4 different categories. Offensively they aren't too bad either. And may have the best bench in the league. But hardly anyone picks them for the Finals....why???
I disagree with your assertion that they are overlooked. Yes, they are not in the mainstream championship discussion as much as they should be (they have the NBA's third best record, after all), and there are a lot of people with doubts about whether Vince Carter will be a peak performer in the playoffs, and we've seen that an effective low-post defender (Kendrick Perkins last year) can neutralize Dwight. And since the Cavs have that type of a defender now in Shaq, and since the Cavs have an MVP who will be a man on a mkission, it's hard to pick against them against any opponent. But let's cross that Orlando-Cleveland bridge if we get to it in the EC Finals. Lots can happen to change the equation between now and then.
Chris, want are your thoughts on the west? Lakers still the favorite to reach the finals? Does the west champ have any chance in the finals? thanks
I'm still of the belief that the Lakers are the best team out there, but I also think there will be seven other playoff teams with the capability to push them to seven games. Yes, even Portland (because the Lakers almost never win there).
Would Yao Ming really consider opting out?
He has to give it serious consideration, because 90 percent of the league seems convinced there is going to be a lockout in 2011, and players and agents fear tha the summer of 2010 might be the last monumental NBA spending spree we'll ever see.
What would Cleveland fans rather see? A championship but Lebron leaves, or no championship but Lebron stays?
That is a very good question, and I am not a Clevelander so I really can't speak for them. But it has been 46 years since they won a title in that city (the Browns won the NFL Championship before there was a Super Bowl), which pretty much means that every single Cleveland fan 50 years old or younger has never experienced the euphoria that comes with having your team win a title.
That's a wrap for today, folks. Aside from my Bucks pieces, I also wanted to throw in a plug for the item I did on Hasheem Thabeet's reluctant $14 tip to a cab driver in Milwaukee yesterday. You can read about it in today's Daily Dime. Backatcha again next Monday at 3 p.m. EDT.