Greetings from New York, where Billy Hunter is certain to push the rhetoric meter to new levels as he meets with the media in Harlem this afternoon to discuss collective bargaining while simultaneously handing out free turkeys from the Players Association. So I guess I'm obliged to take a labor question or two, plus anything else NBA-related that is on your minds. Fire away ...
Hey Chris,Since Triano has gone to a shorter rotation (mainly forced there due to injuries and now the trade), the results for the Raps have been very encouraging. Are they where you though they'd be after 14 games?...and how many / what pieces do you think they need to be top 4 in the East?
I didn't think they had it in them to beat Boston yesterday, yet they did. I like that Jay is getting out of Reggie Evans what the Sixers never did, and Amir Johnson has been lively and contract-worthy -- something you can't often say about free agents in the first year of their new deals. What they need is 3-point shooting. They are last in the league in that category, and they appear willing to let Peja shoot all he wants as he plays for his new contract. Top 4 is out of their reach, though, Darren.
How for real are the Hornets now after that stellar trade?
That trade was spectacular for them: Got them a very, very good backup for CP3, which they needed, got them under the luxury tax, which the franchise needed in order for any sale to proceed forward, and it got them an extra big body (David Anderson) who is better than folks realize. Can stretch defenses with his range. They have earned their spot at No. 1 in Stein's new Power Rankings, though I'd still take the Lakers over them in a playoff series.
How much longer till Dampier is wearing a Heat jersey?
It's about guaranteed money, and how much of it there is going to be for Erick. It behooves him to wait things out and let his services become more in demand, which will happen as big guys continue to go down with injuries. Miami can only offer him the minimum, which puts them at a disadvantage.
Raptors Laughing Stock of NBA again?
Um, no Jeff. The Clippers hold that distinction -- though I'd pay money to watch Blake Griffin play if he did every night what he did against the Knicks on Saturday. He really has a scary array of moves. He did a Hakeem drop-step on Amare Stoudemire that was as good as anything Hakeem ever did.
Has Blake moved way ahead of Wall after that monster game?
That is going to be quite the race to watch. As Stein said, Griffin might highlight-reel his way to half the ROY votes, even if Clips go 1-81, if he keeps putting on monsters like the one you and I are referencing.
I don't really understand why everyone is so "Jacked" about acquiring Jarrett...he's very average: a shoot-first PG who will take shots away from rest of team. On the flip side, you should be excited about Anderson - he is better than most people realize - great pickup.
As a starter, he is not going to lead you to the promised land. As a backup PG, and as an open shooter when he is paired alongside CP, he makes that N.O. team a whole lot better.
Forget about Wall and Arenas for a moment. What about JaVale McGee? Was his latest game an anomaly or a sign or what's to come?
I was a big supporter of his when he was in Team USA camp over the summer because of the way he defends and blocks shots. I think the 20 point games are going to be few and far between, cuz the Wiz have A.Blatche to handle the bulk of the low-post scoring. If JaVale can get 10 points a night off second-chance opportunities, he'll have taken the next step.
Do you think the Lakers make a move to fill the gap at the 5 now that Theo has gone down with an injury, Bynum has yet to return and Caracter has been shaky?
No, they'll wait on Bynum. Jerry Buss has become somewhat frugal in his old age, and Lakers don't do expensive rentals anymore. Sun Yue was the last one.
Is this the fatal flaw of the Heat....simply a lack of any kind of depth to compensate for injuries?
If there is a fatal flaw (aside from capabilities of their backup bigs), it is that Wade and LeBron duplicate each other too much. Each needs to dominate the ball to a certain degree for their team to be successful.
The Spurs are off to one of, if not the, best start in franchise history. Granted the schedule hasn't been all tough and they have the Magic tonight. It looks like they finally found the youth and athleticism everyone has been crying that they needed, but what do you think of the Spurs so far? Do you think they are ready to dethrone the Lakers?
I want to see them against the Magic tonight before I rave too much over them. As I said in last week's chat, they are sneaky deep. What's astounding is that they've gone 11-1 despite Tim Duncan scoring in single digits in five of those 12 games.
Keyword: Froakley!....CHRIS! how big of a bullet did the knicks dodge? after going 6 losses in a row and then pulling 3 off on the road...what's changed?? is it.....FROAKELY?? (you promised to post remember???)
I keep by promises, Ben. Froalkley is what I was calling Ronny Turiaf last week in a Knicks chat for what he has brought to the team with his aggressiveness and physicality. (Turiaf sat out practice today to rest bumps and bruises, as did Amar'e, who turned his ankle vs. Clips). Bottom line on Knicks is you can't get too high off building a three-game winning streak against the likes of Kings, GSW w/o D.Lee and LAC). If they go 3-0 this week against Charlotte in the back-to-back and then Atlanta, I might -- might, mind you -- back off the statement I've been sticking with since the preseason began: They look like a 41-41 team to me.
Wouldn't Andre Iguodala be great in OKC?
No. Contract too big, and they already have Thabo Sefolosha doing what he Iggy does defensively (at a fraction of the cost).
What teams do you believe Melo would give the ok to sign an extension with if traded?
Knicks, Lakers, Magic, maybe Nets, maybe Bulls.
Would Tayshawn Prince or Rip Hamilton fit in OKC as a missing part to strengthen a deep playoff run?
Yes, better fits than Iggy, and they come at half the price. Detroit still seeking low-post scorer, and OKC doesn't really have one. J.Green more of an inside-outside threat, and Ibaka is a defensive beast who ain't going anywhere. So it's a tough fit for each team to have its needs meet unless the Pistons are merely looking for draft picks.
Who's surprised you so far? Scola? Hibbert? Weems?
Scola never surprises me. I have known he is a beast for years, even before he came to the NBA. Hibbert was my most improved pick last year, so that ship has sailed. Weems is OK, but he's no Dorell Wright. In no particular order, guys who have impressed me most lately include Beasley, Blake Griffin, CJ Miles, Vince Carter, Daniel Gibson, Darko.
Froakley. Who has better assets to give up in a trade for Melo - Knicks or Magic?
If you assume Orlando would part with Vince, Ryan Anderson, the rights to Fran Vazquez and two No. 1 picks, Knicks would have to have an offer including Curry's expiring deal, Gallinari, L.Fields and A.Randolph (or a No.1 they would get for Randolph) to trump it.
Darko? Explain please...
23 pts, 16 rebs, six blocks, 5 assists vs. Lakers. Two double-doubles in last three games. Looking confident on offense for first time in his career.
Rank the "Most Untradeable Big Contract" list right now: B Davis, R Lewis, Arenas, B Roy, R Hamilton, E Brand....seems to me like Roy and Lewis have taken over the top spot...
1) Davis. 2) Roy. 3) Arenas.
Will the Raptors trade Peja or let him expire?
Two-month tryout to see if he gets them in contention for slots 6-8 in East. If not, trade fodder.
Is Dec 15th a key date for a Melo trade? Can you explain?
December 15 is the date when players who signed as free agents can be used in trades. For you, Ben, that would include someone such as Ray Felton or Roger Mason Jr.
Does DDL start early today?
Depends on how many slices of bacon Zach Harper had for breakfast/lunch/dinner. When his cholesterol is off the charts, sometimes he jumps the gun early.
Do you think that Chris Paul still wants a trade even though they are doing really good at this point?
No, I do not. CP3 wanting a trade was the situation in June. It is not the situation anymore. He is very happy with Monty and Dell.
The Rockets aren't going anywhere this season. Is there any way that the Heat can acquire Chuck Hayes? Perfect fit, wouldn't cost them much.
Would cost them draft picks, which they don't have after using them all in the sign-and-trades for Bosh and LBJ.
The Thunder showed their defensive toughness during a 2 game stretch without Durant and Green. I know its early in the season but what do you see as the biggest problem on the defensive end from their previous 11 games?
On the defensive end? Not a lot. They won those last two with defense. If I was a Thunder fan, I would worry about Russell Westbrook being able to hit shots in the fourth quarters of tight games. He didn't in the last two, even though they won both, and he's going to need to be a reliable scoring option when teams with the best defenses keep the ball out of Durant's hands or double him up high late in games.
The Bulls have exceeded almost everyone's expectations so far, considering the absence of Boozer. With a healthy Boozer will they be able to challenge Heat/Boston/Orlando in playoffs and possibly get to the Conference Finals?
Their win over Dallas showed me a lot. Their coach knows the Celtics inside out and has shown he can game plan to beat Orlando. Could they beat Miami in a best-of-7? Not ready to say yes to that.
Any chance the Jazz could trade Kirilenko's expiring for Iggy?
I think they'd be more comfortable with the guy they've got, especially since he comes off their cap. Iggy, however, would be a better defender on Kobe in the playoffs than anyone they have now.
I believe that Westbrook is better than Rose overall. Rose may be better than Westbrook offensively, but people have stated that the Bulls need a crunchtime player. Defensively, it's not even close. Westbrook is better at every aspect: man to man, rebounding, steals....It was made obvious in the FIFA Worlds since Rose was often pulled in crunchtime for Westbrook since opposing teams would go after him, or the opposing pgs would constantly get offensive rebounds against him. Agree with my analysis?
Westbrook got the 4th quarter minuts for Team USA because he was better at penetrating and creating around the rim against FIBA defenses than Rose was. Plus, Rose wasn't shooting well from outside. Neither has been in the league long enough for me to definitively state one is much better than they other. They are very different players.
Assuming, Milwaukee gets it together and takes the 6th spot in the East, how do you see the 7th and 8th spots shaking out? I know it's early, but I think you gotta go with the Knicks and Pacers.
Knicks at 7, but that 8 spot is really tough. At this point, I gulp hard and say Washington.
Likelihood that hard cap is in place within the next 2 years?
Highly unlikely. More likely the luxury tax moves closer to the salary cap, and the soft cap stays in place. Gotta remember that there are a bunch of owners out there who have needed lux tax money to balance their books. It's not as unpopular a thing as the commish would have you believe.
That's a rap, folks. Enjoy the long holiday weekend, and we'll chat again about the NBA next Monday, same time (2 p.m. EST). Also, I am now doing a weekly Knicks chat at 2 p.m. Eastern on Fridays, reachable via the ESPNNewYork site or by following me on Twitter @CSheridanESPN, where I always provide a chat link before and after each chat.