Good afternoon from New York, where I visited with the Minnesota Timberwolves after their shootaround this morning and got to catch up with Kevin Love, who I covered this summer when he was grabbing a rebound a minute for Team USA but couldn't get all that many minutes from Coach K. Love had 31 rebounds the last time he faced the Knicks, who will see him again tonight as they go for 10 Ws in their last 11 games. Note: Marc Stein has Knicks at No. 12 in his Power Rankings, which I'd venture to say is uncharted territory for them. Any and all topics are open for discussion, and I'll try to post as many creative rants as I can -- whether they're from you or from me.
Before taking any questions, I want to sent condolences to the family of Philadelphia Daily News writer Phil Jasner, who was a friend and mentor. He passed away Friday from cancer. Phil was the questioner, by the way, when Allen Iverson gave his famous "We're talking about practice" speech. Go ahead and YouTube the long version, and you'll hear Iverson questioning Jasner on whether he ever played the game. The DN published a black-and-white picture the next day of Jasner in his 8th or 9th grade uniform.
Are the Knicks for real...or is the record inflated by their easy early schedule?
This month will be telling. NY has had the easiest schedule in the league, when looking at the combined record of their opponents. The end the month brings 7 of 8 games against good teams: Denver, Boston, Miami, Cleveland, OKC, Chicago, Miami, Orlando. I will say this: They have adapted quit well to Mike D'Antoni's offense and the spacing required to make Amar'e Stoudemire effective. And their uptempo style is fun to watch. You couldn't use "fun to watch" and "Knicks" in the same sentence for the past 10 years.
Can we agree that Amare is better than Chris Bosh overall?he would have been a better fit in Miami?
I would agree with that statement. But remember, Amar'e wasn't with Team USA in 08 when the idea of several guys teaming up really gained some legs. He was with LBJ, Wade and Bosh in Japan at the Worlds in 06, but not in '08 when the bus ride scheming took place. So he was not choice No. 1 for Miami, both because of his knees and because of the close relationship between LBJ, Bosh and DWade.
better player for the next five years: iggy or turner? who has more trade value?
Hard to choose between those two given the years they're both having. Turner has the greater trade value because he comes at a fraction of the cost. Iggy is the guy the Sixers would prefer to move because of the lack of bang for the buck they're getting for what they are paying him.
Are the jazz a legit Finals Contender?and is Dwill the best PG right now
I picked the Lakers, and I'm sticking with the Lakers, but the Jazz could take them 7 games. As for D-Will as best PG, this argument gets tougher and tougher every week. If you had to pick a top three out of him, Rose, Westbrook and Rondo, who would you leave out? And that short list does not include S.Nash or C.Paul. But if you want my answer as to which of them has the fewest weaknesses, I would go with D.Will. He has none.
With the lockout looming, if a full season is forfieted, what happens to contracts for that year?
The money is not paid, and those players whose contracts expired after '11-12 would become free agents along with those whose contracts expire next June. But as I've said before, I hold the contrarian view that it's 60-40 the sides will settle in early July without having a work stoppage.
Predictiom of the Heat lakers game on Christmas points and all
Lakers 110, Heat 101
Would a deal of Iggy for AK47 makes sense for the Jazz? They tend to get killed in the playoffs by scoring guards, and Iggy is considered a very good defender.
If the Jazz took that risk, it would be a $44 million risk because that is how much money Iggy is owed over the next three years. I don't see ownership going for that big of a financial risk. They do have Raja Bell to defend Kobe this year, and they won the teams' first meeting (plus two exhibitions against the Lakers).
Compare the current Ray Felton to the one that Jameer stomped all over in the playoffs
The new Raymond (his preference, rather than Ray) has the newfound freedom of not having to think twice about coming downcourt and firing away. If he did that in Charlotte, he'd be watching D.J. Augustine run to the scorers table second later. As Larry Brown joked when the Bobcats came to MSG, it's like Felton has been let out of prison.
Hey Chris, which terrible team has more talent, the Clips or Minnesota?
Going with Minny on this one, somewhat haltingly, because of what K.Love has brought and what Beasley has produced. Clips, though, do have their 2010-11 highlight in the books already -- their victory over San Antonio.
Stein made the point in his rankings today, but doesn't it look like the West's top eight is largely set? I can't see Portland with a hobbled Roy or Houston with a hobbled Yao sneaking into the playoffs. Also, looks like the eighth seed in the West might be a little easier to get this year, doesn't it?
I could see Houston making up lost ground if Brooks and Yao are both truly ready when they return. And I could see New Orleans continuing to fade. Don't think Portland has enough, but Wes Matthews has been steady since replacing Batum. Like I said in last week's chat, they need Wes to average 25 per night if they want to make Top 8.
Who should backup Dwight in the all star game? It's tough with Noah, Horford, and Hibbert
Horford, and J.McGee should be aded to your list of cntenders.
What's your take on the Toronto Raptors nearly a quarter of the season already played, especially since they were considered to be the bottom of the East
Not a playoff team. The Evans injury took away a very key asset, and the Jack trade took away a player who was vastly outplaying J.Calderon. That said, Amir Johnson has looked very good, and who knew Bayless could shoot 3s the way he's been doing? I'll put 'em 10th in the East at best when it's all said and done.
Boozer's defense is already being questioned in Chicago. Coach Thibodeau went to Taj Gibson late in their last game against Houston. Is this a trend you see continuing?
Carlos needs to get his conditioning back, and he's going to be winded at the end of a few games for the next couple weeks. I see it more as a blip than a trend.
Realistically, do you see the Miami Heat standing ever developing or bringng back their young players? i.e. Dexter Pittman, Patrick Beverly, and/or Deshaun BUtler?
They wouldn't have cut Stackhouse to sign Dampier if they didn't see something they like in Pittman.
Amare was not in Japan 2006
My bad, meant Athens '04 when LBJ, Wade and Melo rode the bench with him.
Are the Spurs still the best Texas team?
Not after losing to the Mavs the way they did. Dallas should pass them in the standings during this upcoming six-game home stretch.
Who's your pick for second place in this year's dunk contest? ...behind Blake Griffin of course
Terrence Williams, if the Nets ever bring him back from the D-League, where he had triple-doubles in his first two games.
What place in the east do you see the Miami Heat finishing the season in?
Second, just ahead of Orlando. Boston has been and will continue to be my pick to come out of the East.
Are the Nets going to make any trades to help their awful offense?
Their Carmelo offer (Favors, Murphy and two No. 1s) remains on the table, and will remain there right up until the trade deadline. He is their primary target.
Funny you think that Carlos' lack of defense is due to conditioning. Six years in Utah and - when healthy - he never quite learned how to defend. You know it's bad when the scouting report for other team's PFs say, simply, "take it at Carlos."
I was making the case that Thib's particular sub in that instance may have been conditioning motivated. I learned much about Boozer's defensive reputation when the US played Argentina in the semifinals in Beijing, and Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and a couple other Americans all had three fouls late in the 2nd quarter. Coach K needed someone to defend Scola, who was single-handedly bringing Argentina back into the game, and he chose Tayshaun Prince over Boozer because he felt Prince was the better defender.
What are the chances that Rondo breaks Stockton's assist per game record (14.5) this season?
Rajon is at 14.1 now, and that is going to be awfully hard to maintain. He does no have an automatic low post guy like Stockton had in Malone.
Speaking of Stockton, I ran into him last summer in Vegas on the elevated sidewalk between MGM Grand and New York/New York (I covered him at the 1996 Olympics). Nobody else on that walkway recognized him, and nobody from Team USA (which was practicing there at the time) knew he was in town. He is the Johnny Carson of the NBA.
do you see the celtics making any major moves at the deadline?
No. Why would they? They are as deep as they've been in four years, and they'll be even better when Perkins is ready. Only another injury like the one to D.West might force their hand, but the most I see them giving up is a No. 1 pick.
Why are you so down on the Spurs?
The loss to the Clips, the loss to the Mavs, and my belief that every time I watch Manu, I'm thinking he might go down any second with another ankle injury. I've watched the guy battle ankle injuries since he had to sit out the gold medal game against Yugoslavia at the 2002 Worlds in Indianapolis.
Lakers-Celtics finals re-match?
Yes, and my pick is Lakers in 7 this time. (I had Celtics in 7 last year -- but you may remember that was the game in which Scalabrine got fourth-quarter minutes) because the Celtics' bigs were all hurt.
Laker fan here, but have a LeBron question. Don't you think his behavior during the Cavs game did nothing but make him more unlikeable? The taunting, trash talk, and throwing the chalk in the air. I think if he would have went about his business in a more humble manner it would have maybe helped him from a PR standpoint a little. I really don't care for the guy, but am wondering your thoughts?
If he wants to stand there and talk trash to the opposing bench and act as though he still owns the place, it's his prerogative to do so until someone in a Cavs uniform makes him stop. He was only going to have that night once in his career, and he sure showed how he still owns that building. As for his PR image, it'll never again be what it once was.
Chris, who do you think the Knicks should, target in terms of trade, to help with their depth and to fill their needs?
A big body. Despite leading the league in blocked shots, they are vulnerable down low when Turiaf is out (which has been often) and when Stoudemire has had to play the opposing center. For the player I believe they'll most likely try to trade for that big body, I'll have to ask you to click over to the ESPNNewYork site and read the piece I have up today with Knicks individual report cards. Hint: He's the only member of the team that got an F.
That's a wrap for his week's NBA chat. Backatcha next Monday at 2 p.m. EST.