Aloha everyone. Thanks for coming to the chat today. I'm in Maui right now covering the EA Sports Maui Invitational and trying to find my inner Katz. I'll take a couple of questions about that, but the focus of the chat will be NBA and a few NBA Draft questions. Let's roll.
What are your thoughts on the Hornets-Raptors trade?
I liked it for both teams. The Hornets are trying to win now and Jack will help them more right now. The fact that he's close friends with CP3 & the Hornets save a ton of cash this season didn't hurt either. For Toronto they get a young, dynamic player in Jerryd Bayless and they saved long term on the deal. Not sure it makes a huge difference either way, but it had positives for both sides.
So based on what you have observed so far, do us Knick fans need to worry about the Rockets having a better record than us, and thus swapping first rounders?
It's an interesting point. I'm shocked that the Rockets have struggled this much and am struggling to see how they dig out of this whole right now. It's going to be tough to depend on Yao with his injury history. I think Darryl Morey may be forced to start making some deals at the deadline and go into rebuilding mode. So ... you're right, there's a chance the Knicks will have a decent draft pick after all ... and it could be their own.
Aloha Chad!! Do you think Pat Riley would coach the Heat if they continue to not do well? If so, how long do you think before he takes over?
I talked to a number of NBA scouts and execs here in Maui about this and they all felt that Riley wasn't going to go back into coaching unless his owner forced him to. And they felt that even that possibility was slim. Instead, many felt that he may go out and find a veteran coach if things don't turn around soon. The one name that was brought up the most here was Jeff Van Gundy.
Any predictions for the MIA-ORL game? I'm thinking it might get ugly for the Heat real quick, seeing as how the Magic will want some payback for the beating MIA put on them earlier in the year....plus the obvious injury-related problems MIA has right now.
Tough to say. Miami hasn't been playing well and the loss of Haslem will really hurt against teams with a dominant big man like Orlando. But as we learned from years of watching D Wade and LeBron -- if one of them gets hot, this team can beat anyone on any given night. So while the odds appear to be stacked in the Magic's favor, a big game from either of those guys could go a long way.
Is it just me or does it seem the Lakers even starting 13-2 are still flying under the radar i still seem to see more MIAMI WEAK highlights even when they lose. Your Thoughts?
Clearly the Lakers are a better team right now. But they are also a known quantity at this point. We all know their good and don't necessarily need to see it. As for the Heat, there's still fascination with the team and there's the roadside accident effect. Everyone is slowing down a bit to see what's happening on the side of the road. Even the folks who didn't think this would work have to be a bit surprised by how much they've struggled in the early going.
The Pacers look on the rise, but they're still not a complete team. What kind of move personnel-wise do you think it would take to solidify Indiana as a real playoff threat?
Right now they'd be the fifth seed in the East if the playoffs started today and look like a legitimate sixth or seventh seed given the current competition out East. Take away a few blown 4th Qs on this team and they're 10-3. But clearly, they're a work in progress and playing better than even Indy thought they'd play. They still need an athletic four to compliment Roy Hibbert. That's their biggest weakness. They have assets, including TJ Ford, Mike Dunleavy and Jeff Foster's expiring contracts. They'll also have a lot of cap space this summer. In other words, the Pacers are primed to get better either in February at the trade deadline or this summer. Larry Bird and David Morway have done a great job of rebuilding this team. It took a while, but the Pacers are back on the right track.
Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon have been stepping it up the last 3 games. Do you see the clippers going on a mini win streak with Kaman back?
I love the young combo of Griffin-Gordon. Griffin could be an All-Star this year and Gordon has the potential to get there. I also like their young players like Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe. But they are too young to win on a regular basis. Vinnie Del Negro's inexperience as a coach doesn't help either. Even with veterans like Chris Kaman & Baron Davis back ... I can't see a long-term bump for the Clippers. I think you'll see them be very active at the deadline trying to move both Kaman and Davis.
How about Durant calling Darko "One of the best centers in the league" !!! Whaaa? I'm a wolves fan and I'm perplexed by that one. He has looked good lately though, I'm rooting for him.
I'm relieved. Now everyone can make snarky comments at KD instead of me when Darko reverts back to his 2 point, 1 rebound games of the past.
Hi Chad. Any chance Darko actually turns a corner here in Minny, to 'consistent average NBA center' at least? Would love it, but players don't usually change much after that many minutes/years in the NBA.
Sure. He has talent. Everyone who has ever coached him or played with him has said the same thing. It's always been mental for him. After his first experience with Larry Brown, he's been super fragile mentally and it shows on the court. Kurt Rambis has done a good job trying to help Darko in that way and it's paying off a bit. It also helps that defenses are so focused on stopping Kevin Love and Michael Beasley that Darko's getting some good opportunities. If he can stay focused, he can be a legit NBA center. Can he keep this up every game? Not so sure about that.
Any chance McGee can play consistent basketball going forward and put up stats like he did last night. Guy is a freak!!
I was talking about him with several NBA scouts last night. All of them love him in theory. In other words, he has so many physical gifts that if he ever learned how to play and play hard, he could be a superstar. Last night you saw another glimpse of that. But he's still a work in progress until he improves his basketball IQ and plays with that energy on every play.
One more note on that. If McGee gets it. That pairing with John Wall will be simply awesome down the road. They will be contenders.
The sixers need to go with the youth movement, and while Iguodala is young, hes also very expensive and holding the team back. Why is he still a sixer?
I think Doug Collins is asking why Doug Collins is still a Sixer. This is a team that has, sadly, confirmed what we felt about them this summer. They have a very strange mix there. The are overloaded in wings, have no real bigs other than an aging Elton Brand. It's a mess. And with Evan Turner struggling a bit, it's still hard to understand how they passed on Derrick Favors. Something needs to happen and I agree that Iguodala will probably be the bait to make it happen.
Through 12-15 games, who are your top 3 MVP candidates?
Chris Paul. Dwight Howard. Pau Gasol.
Does Cleveland want to hold onto Jamison, or do they want to trade him for expirings?
For sure they deal him if they can. They need to get any future assets they can get to rebuild this team.
So what do you think about the Spurs hot start? That win against Orlando was impressive. Can't wait to see them match up against the Hornets.
I think you can make an argument that they are the best team in the NBA right now. It's a bit unusual to see them clicking like this so early in the season. If they stay healthy, they look like the biggest threats to the Lakers in the West right now.
Aloha, Chad. What's your take on the Dampier signing, especially at the cost of Stackhouse? Shouldn't a 4-man rotation of Anthony, Z, Magloire, and Juwan Howard be enough to hold down the backup PF and C spots?
I don't think it's going to help much. There was a reason that it took him so long to find a team to sign with. There's also a reason Houston pulled out of the deal. I spoke with several teams who took a long look at signing Dampier and they believe that his knees won't hold up much longer -- not if he's playing significant minutes. I think the Heat need to get younger and more athletic. All of the aging veterans bring experience, but they also serve to slow the team down and I think the Heat are at their best when they are out in transition.
Can Roy Hibbard keep improving and become a top 10 center some day?
Some day? If you take into account PER, he's the third best center in the league right now behind Dwight Howard and Al Horford. Of the group behind him in PER, I'd take Joakim Noah and Tim Duncan ahead of him. Maybe Brook Lopez & Marc Gasol
I am crazy to think that the Wizards keeping Arenas might just work out?
Yes. They need to get rid of him.
Thoughts on the Chicago Bulls thus far? I think they will be the team that Orlando, Boston and Miami do not want to see in the playoffs.
Agreed. When they get Boozer back, they're going to be really, really tough. They have a shot -- an outside shot -- at representing the East in the Finals if the Heat continue to stumble.
What do you make of the issues in Sacramento with Cousins troubles with the coaches, and word that the players don't like playing with Tyreke Evans?
I wrote about the Evans stuff last year and Kings fans went nuts on me. I was the first to write about some of the issues on Cousins as well and again, Kings fans went nuts. But now that other reporters are reporting the same thing, it's time for Kings fans to get their heads out of the sand. Both Evans and Cousins are crazy talented. But talent is only one factor in building the team. Geoff Petrie has ignored chemistry and the result is a team that has talent, but doesn't win many basketball games. Not sure how to stay excited about that long term unless both Evans and Cousins mature.
Who has worse building blocks for future success, Minn (Love and Beasley) or Sac (Evans and Cousins)? Lots of talent but teams can't build around guys like that and be successful, right?
Not sure you can lump in Love with those other three guys ... but then again I heard this week that the Wolves may be softening a bit on the untouchable label they've put on Love. If they could get a young, athletic big man like Derrick Favors, they might consider it.
Maui time! Who are the scouts talking about the most? Knight? Kemba?
Terrence Jones has the most buzz. A few scouts think he might be the best freshman in the country and a potential No. 1 pick in the draft. Kemba Walker has been the best player here. He's scored 59 points in his last three halves. 59 points in under 30 minutes is unbelievable. And Brandon Knight had a big game on Tuesday night versus Washington. All three guys probably go in the lottery. It's been a great event to scout.
What do the scouts think of Kemba? Is he too short or can he do well in the NBA?
He's been great. He's improved his jump shot. He's shown tremendous heart and toughness. He's getting knocked to the floor every few minutes, taken hard falls and gets right back up and keeps attacking. Coach Jim Calhoun said he's never coached a player who's improved more or worked on his game as much as Kemba Walker has. That's saying something. However, as great as he's been, there are concerns about his size (I've now interviewed him twice and I'm 6-foot-1 ... there's no way he's 6 feet tall) and his overall feel for the point guard position. As a scorer, he's been great. But as a distributor -- not so much. Part of that's the fault of the lack of talent around him. But it concerns guys a bit. No one is projecting he's a superstar in the NBA ... but given how far he's come, it's hard to count him out right now.
Harrison Barnes -- overplaying or overhyped?
Overplaying. I'm surprised he's struggled like he did. He was so confident in high school. He has faced some pretty tough, athletic defenders and he's going to have to adjust. For all of his skills, the one thing that he's always lacked is that killer instinct. I think we may be seeing just a bit of that right now. But it's way too early to read into anything this early in the season. Derrick Rose didn't look like the No. 1 pick either after the first 5 games.
If the draft were held today, and need wasn't a consideration, who would be the number one pick?
I did a quick straw poll of scouts and NBA execs in Maui yesterday. Almost all of them still had Barnes as the No. 1 pick. However, one had Enes Kanter No. 1 and another had Terrence Jones there. So, not everyone is on the same page.
FORD! Provided Demetri McCamey can keep up his heady play, what might his ceiling be in the draft?
Late lottery. I've really enjoyed watching him play this season. He's slimmed down a bit and it's given him an extra burst of explosiveness that's made a difference.
I know it has been a weak schedule but Chris Singleton from FSU is playing really well; even recording a triple double. How high can he go in the draft?
I think you could make an argument that he's been the best player in the country. He's really improved on his game and has all the physical tools NBA teams look for in a player like that. The fact that he gets after it defensively helps him too. We have him ranked No. 10 on our Big Board right now. He could go Top 5 if he plays like this all year.
What's the interest level in the Plumlees?
Aloha everyone. Thanks for the great chat today. I have to run over to the gym to take in a few great games today. Michigan State plays Washington at 5 p.m. on ESPN2. Kentucky plays UConn at 10 p.m. on ESPN. Should be fun. See you next week and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!